The Last Dive – Bernie Chowdhury

Go to your local bookshop and get this book.

Go to your local bookshop and get this book.

A chance mention on a Facebook post by a friend of mine (who completed their IDC/IE with me), lead me to look up this book and the story of Chris and Chrissy Rouse.

If you are interested in learning more about diving back in the “good ol’ days” when the main tables used were the US Navy ones, then this could be the book for you. It is an interesting tale about the Rouses, from their beginnings in scuba diving until their unfortunate death on the U-Who. Chowdhury tries to make sure that he doesn’t miss out any detail in the story but in doing so he repeats himself a lot and the book is a bit disjointed. However, it does have lots of interesting information about the development of cave diving and the techniques that are now standard practice for entry into overhead areas; especially the use of a guide line.

The Martini Effect
As I am still a recreational diver, not yet a technical diver, it seemed crazy to me that they were doing dives to over 60m/200ft on air. The effects of nitrogen narcosis must have been incredible. Chowdhury talks of the Martini Effect. He states that for every 15m/50ft the effect of nitrogen on the brain is like that of having one martini. Now, if you have ever drunk a martini you know that they are strong drinks and on a good night I can cope with about 4 or 5 of them. So by his scale going to 60m would be the same has having 4 martinis.

Decompression Sickness
The book goes into quite graphic detail about the symptoms of decompression sickness. It was in fact one of the most honest accounts of it. In all of my training, so far, I haven’t come across. Most of the books or manuals I have read skirt around the symptoms and don’t really go into much detail. I think that all divers should be given a more open description of what actually happens to the body as it goes through explosive decompression.

I felt that I learned a lot from this book. It was a real eye opener into what diving was like back in the ’80s and early ’90s. It can be a chore to read but I got through it in a couple of days because I became gripped to know the events that caused their demise.

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