When I learnt - ships were made of wood and men were made of steel

I was fortunate enough to be paid to gain my PADI qualification through the Royal Australian Navy and was ably instructed by ProDive and Kevin Deakin.

Being the macho Navy types we were all prepared to give it our best and dive into the deep blue briney. Of the 10 junior officers invited to participate form our class - 4 said NO thanks, 1 said he had a special arrangement with sharks - he didn't swim in their ocean and they didn't swim in his beer, 3 declared themselves sick - so that left Glen and Myself (Glen went on to become a navy Mine Clearance Diving Officer).

Like all good dive buddies we worked on our hand signals, codes and dive plans, but our greatest plan was that in the event that we saw a shark, the first one to see it was to stab the other member and save themself.

On our last dive of the course we dived Jervis Bay - Bowen Island, on our surface interval all didn't go well as we swam into a swarm (?) of blue bottles and both got badly stung on the face and around the regs (lips) - things started going bad. Having got over the pain (after all we were navy matelots so what was a little pain and inflammation) we descended and swam around some of the underground reefs.

Turning a corner we were presented with a head that only a mother could love - it looked to be four feet across and ugly. With eyes bulging we turned to each other to see that we had both drawn our knives ready to despatch the sacrificial diver to the gods. We both wondered why they didn't make wetsuits in corduroy! Fortunately the laughter nearly drowned us when we realised the menace from the sea was in fact a grouper!

Having proved our manliness we returned to the boat and boasted about how we had faced death and laughed in its face - I dread to think what would have happened if we saw a real shark.

Over the coming months we dived frequently in Jervis Bay for scallops and pleasure but no time will remain with me more than that last dive.

Ric Mingramm
PADI Advanced Open Water Diver

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