Any other scuba divers out there?

Do people ever scuba dive in rivers? I do have the Missouri River (aka the Big Muddy) right next to me, but having lived here all my life, I have never seen anyone scuba diving in it. For one thing, I can’t imagine it being any fun diving where you can’t see anything. Also, it’s mostly very shallow and has a wicked current that kills a few people around here every year.

When I was a student at Virginia Tech we went scuba diving in a deep section of the New River (which has remarkably few deep sections). It was a singularly unimpressive experience.

But I did actually enjoy my certification dives in an abandoned quarry - there were a bunch of sunken vehicles to explore and the visibility wasn’t too bad… well, actually it was. It sucked. But I still enjoyed the dives.

The next week when I got an ear infection from all the shit in the water was no fun though.

I think the short answer is that in a panic situation you’re not going to be monitoring your depth accurately, and the last ditch move is an emergency ascent, so always exhaling prevents embolism. It’s not really practiced enough in class to become a reflex though, so probably of limited worth.

Just when they’re looking for bodies or ditched murder weapons, I imagine. After I got certified, I dove some rock quarries like Tin. But, really, the lake diving was just for the certification process so I could dive when I traveled. I can’t imagine the average river or lake is going to provide much by way of recreational diving.


Did some scuba (never certified, but that is PNG for you!) while in the tropics and while i liked it, i found i preferred the more simple snorkel or free diving the guys out there did more or less all the time (to hunt food on the reef etc). It was just a lot more simple and immediate, a little ‘closer to nature’ perhaps? I suspect if i decided to get into wreck treasure hunting i’d go sort out my PADI license etc :)

I’ve been certified 25 years ago, haven’t dived in 15 years I think. Last time was in the red sea which was amazing. I’ll probably need to be re-certified as I lost any documentation I had and can’t even remember which organization I was certified by. Maybe I’ll do that with the kids in a few years when they are old enough.

I’de echo the recommendation not to buy the ‘heavy’ gear and stick to mask, snorkel and possibly suit. Personally I wasn’t a big fan of donning equipment that other people peed in ;)
As for fins, I’d also buy them (same reasons - verrucas etc), or better yet get diving boots and just rent attached fins. Fins are not the best to lug around, boots OTOH are small and will fit in any suitcase. Boots are also great in some situations where you have to walk in or out of the water, sometimes over rough terrain. You carry the fins until you get somewhere you can float and pop them on, then off on your way out.

I got certified about 10 years ago but haven’t been since. I can’t see myself ever diving again because it freaks me the fuck out. Maybe it’s because I’m mildly claustrophobic, or maybe it’s because I lost my dive buddy, or maybe it’s just not for me. There’s a reason fish and stuff live in the ocean and I live on land where it’s warm and I can do things like breathe.

Says a woman whose job involves getting people into outer space.


…and this is a water world, ‘we’ all came from the sea originally, although i do admit losing our gills has cost us in relation to diving comfortably.

So I lost my mind in the dive shop and bought a bcd/reg/dive computer. Figured I would want my own regulator as opposed to trusting my life to a rental in Mexico, and a dive computer takes anxiety out of the dives. Now I just need to find a way to justify the BDC. It came with a free knife. So now I have 1 tooth vs the great whites hundreds of teeth.

I think you’ll be glad you bought it when you realize what a difference it makes to put on something comfortable instead of something rented. It’s like the difference between going running in your own shoes or renting running shoes. I can’t imagine anyone serious about running would want to use rented shoes.

Okay, maybe not the best analogy, since you can get running shoes relatively cheap. But still. Being comfortable with your gear is 90% of the battle when it comes to having a good dive.

Ha, diving knives! They’re really just prybars. And they absolutely shouldn’t be sharp. You don’t want a sharp implement around rubber hoses when those rubber hoses are required for you to breathe. :)


This happened to me about four or five years ago, and posted to ScubaBoard not long after it happened.

I also just got back from a week in Key Largo and would recommend Scuba Shack, they limit to six passengers and include a guide on each run.

With that said, on Thursday, I went on my first deep dive ever, the Spiegel Grove. It was my 8th dive of the trip (and my 17th ever dive). Went to 93 feet deep, did a swim through the ship, and after 25 minutes, started a slow ascent up the tow rope that was tied to our boat. I followed the instructor and the computer said we were going at the correct rate. At 15 feet, I stopped, along with everyone else for a 3 minute safety stop. Not long after it started, I found I could not lift my left arm to view the computer, and my right hand was holding on to the rope through some strong current. When I saw the wife got the okay to surface, I did as well, got to the top, pulled myself to a back corner of the boat and then passed out face down, fortunately not taking in any water.

After about 20 minutes unconscious, I woke up with oxygen on me, and was able to walk myself to the ambulance, talking to the wife to let her know I was okay and taking off my boots, the rest of the gear had been stripped off of me.

Once at the hospital, I spent about 5 hours in the decompression chamber, came out feeling fine (I went in with my left hand tingling) and was released.

A couple of hours later, I went out to dinner with my wife, son, mother, and a friend to the Pilot House for dinner. Had water to drink and shared some nachos. Shortly after, I stared at the ceiling, pointing at it, and had a seizure. I guess I was out for about another 20-30 minutes as I came to again as I was being unloaded off of the ambulance.

I spent the night and next day in ICU where they ran a bunch of tests: ECG, MRI, EKG, ultrasound on my heart, chest x-rays, and then two more hours in the chamber. Everything looked fine, they think it was an AGE, arterial gas embolism, although they found no traces of it. They put me on anti-seizure medication (Dilantin) which is wreaking havoc with me at the moment, and I was finally allowed to fly home yesterday afternoon.

I see my regular doctor this afternoon but I need to go in for another MRI and some test with a neurologist where they run a camera or sonograph down my throat to better check my heart. I can’t drive, no alcohol or caffeine allowed, this sucks, but all things considered, I realize that had I panicked and skipped my safety stop, or let go of the rope to check my computer and drifted away, I’d have probably died.

A couple of notes:

  • They never did find anything wrong with me after I got back but was not allowed to drive for six months.
    ScubaShack had an incident about three months later where they were taking six people out to dive, the boat took on water and capsized, killing one (her first time diving) and critically injuring another. Rumor has it the owners fled the country to their other shop, had their captain load up their other boat with stuff from the US shop, and then that boat capsized on its way to deliver the stuff to the owners.
  • I have not been diving again since this happened, but have skydived so not a total wimp, just didn’t want to go back in the water without knowing for sure what was wrong.
  • The Dilantin, I honestly don’t remember how it made me feel back then, light headed I think, but also something about having trouble with memory around that time (that time as in most of the year, not just the accident).
  • Lastly, sometimes, although less often, I do have nightmares thinking about what would have happened if I let go of the rope or if the captain didn’t see me when I passed out face down into the water, shiver.

Creepy story. My plan is to stick to no stop diving. I don’t want to flirt with decompression sickness.

Jeezus. That’s scary all right.
Is it solely the fact that they never found the problem that keeps you from diving again?
If they HAD found the problem, would you still be diving?

Wow, LT, that’s seriously scary stuff. And although it sounds like you were experienced enough to know what you were doing, there’s a reason the basic certification puts a cap on how deep you can go. I think it’s 60 feet? It’s been a while. Going to 93 feet, staying down there for 25 minutes, and furthermore penetrating a wreck is relatively advanced stuff.

When I was working on one of my certifications, helping teach the basic classes was one of the prerequisites. I remember taking a class out on their first check-out dives. I went down the anchor line to the bottom, where I was supposed to wait for the instructor who was bringing up the rear. When I got there, I noted the depth at seventy something feet, and didn’t think much of it as each of the students came down. I checked with everyone as they arrived, we waited for the instructor, and then he took over and ran them through whatever drills they were supposed to do. When the dive was over, the instructor chewed me out for letting them break the depth limit for their level of certification. I guess I was supposed to abort the dive, but I figured ten or so feet wouldn’t make that much of a difference and, besides, the guy running the boat must have known what he was doing when he chose that spot, right? But I was the one who got in trouble because I was the one leading the way for a class of a dozen or so new divers to go deeper than they were supposed to.

I don’t want to sound preachy or like I’m blaming you, but the deeper you go and the longer you stay down there, the more the risks increase exponentially. In your case, a bubble of air got trapped somewhere and didn’t dissipate. The difference in the size of that bubble at 93 feet versus 60 feet is serious. If you had ascended at the proper rate given your depth and the time you spent down there, that bubble wouldn’t have happened. Again, I don’t mean to sound like a dick, or like I’m scolding or blaming you, but what happened to you shouldn’t have happened to you. It’s simple physics and experienced instructors and guides have conducted thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dives keeping people safe because they understand those physics. Your 17th dive should not have been your last dive and I blame the folks who were supposedly protecting you.

Anyway, I’m glad to hear you’re okay. I can only imagine what a nightmare it must have been not being sure what was going on and having to sit in a decompression chamber.


Giles - I think, had they said ‘it was definitely this, if you can prevent this from happening you will be ok’ or ‘we can tell this happened in the hand, make sure you come up more slowly’, I would have gone back for the shallow (<60 feet) dives going forward. Even with my limited dives, being lucky enough to dive in Key Largo I saw some really amazing things that willl be impossible to relive.

Tom - you are right, and we were working on our advanced certification (too soon, but I gave in to my spouse’s wishes), and went with a company that looked good on Trip Advisor, but turned out to be really shady. Hell of a lesson learned, but still better than the poor woman who died because ‘six pack’ boats do not require the same level of inspection that larger boats to from the Coast Guard.
I think a lot of little things combined that added up to disaster, which I think is often the case: advanced certification too soon, penetrating a wreck which our instructor should not have done, getting instruction while our instructor was guiding more advanced divers, my panic and breathing too hard when someone accidentally kicked my mask at depth, going down to 90+ feet reading the side of the ship and getting away from the group, being the first one coming up after the penetration and likely going up too high so that the others would not be too low for their safety stop, and finally, not letting anyone know (I could have kicked my wife in the head to get her attention but that’s about all I could do) that I was in danger.
I definitely blame the crappy company and our naivete in trusting them, but ultimately I should have called the dive and surfaced when i first panicked (doing safety stop) and not signing up against my better wishes to begin with knowing it was way too soon. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but even with the best dive buddy, you are ultimately responsible for your own safety and decisions.

Wow, looking up information on the story (haven’t done in some time), it looks like the owners were not caught until last summer! My accident for which there was no fault was August 2011 it seems and the drowning was four months later in December 2011 -

You’re talking about an air embolism, right?

And after reading that Wiki article, that is some damn serious shit.

Lionel - Your symptoms match those in that Wiki article. I think Tom’s correct in that that’s what happened to you. Thus, if I were you, I’d go ahead and get back into it. I can’t imagine what else it could have possibly been to cause your symptoms. lol But don’t listen to me; I know zip about any of this. I just really hate to see you write off a wonderful activity that you really enjoyed because of this incident. Totally understandable that you did however. God knows if that had happened to me, I’d be reluctant to go near a glass of water afterward.

EDIT: I guess Lionel already mentioned gas embolism in his post. And if I’m understanding correctly, it’s a gas embolism when it’s related to scuba diving, not an air embolism?

Lionel, was your wife your buddy on the trip?

I don’t think there’s a difference, is there? I’m pretty sure the terms are interchangeable.


Yes it was, very good question. She very much wanted to get her advanced even with so few dives under our belt and the dive company recommended it (big red flag but I was naive). I said no initially, knew it was a bad idea, but we had initially found this company to go on a night dive, and they pointed out that that would be able to be counted towards our advanced if we signed up (I’m fairly certain this was the case, memory a bit shaky), so to make her happy and the whole ‘what can go wrong’, I gave in.

It was a bone of contention for some time after and now we just don’t talk to each other about it.

Oh and Giles, I am sure you are right, but without knowing what I did specifically that caused it, with so few dives under my belt, I would likely be too panicked to enjoy anymore trips. Heck, having the initial incident, had I just been able to remedy with the single hospital trip, I would have been more likely to reconsider it. The second trip for the same reason presumably terrified me, plus there is a whole separate nightmare of getting billed for nearly two identical visits for the same thing in a 24-hour span. So many phone calls explaining I was not double billed!