Books about Survival and Desert Islands

May 11, 2016

I like books about survival and desert islands, and here are some of my favourites.

Extreme Survivors: 60 of the World’s Most Extreme Survival Stories

27 Sep 2012

 

https://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/card?asin=B005GUQYGI&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_f3TmxbSN61RED

This exhaustive book is split into sections called Survival, Prison, War, Shipwrecks and Hostages. To some degree, it’s like reading the Wikipedia pages of 60 incredible stories of survival, with two or three pages on each including pics and maps. It’s very well researched and written, covering everything from Apollo 13 (“The astronauts were 199,995 miles from Earth when they heard a loud bang.”) to the Chilean miners. The only downside of this book is trying not to accidentally see the maps until you’ve finished reading (avoiding a spoiler). Definitely recommend this one.

An Island to Oneself

Tom Neale was a quiet, introverted New Zealander, who craved the solitude of a desert island. In the 1950s he made his way via freight ships to the tiny (600 acres) Surarov atoll, in the South Pacific. His book is about the six years he spent there by himself, growing vegetables and living in a hut.
Most survival books are a whiteknuckle ride through wretched despair and tear-jerking self-discovery. But this one is a pretty chilled out book about a guy tending his allotment, in the middle of nowhere. I enjoyed it, and it’s free to download here:

http://www.privateislandsonline.com/an_island_to_oneself.pdf

Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea Paperback

1 Aug 1996

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0345410157

It’s 1982, and an American yachtsman in a tiny boat, capsizes off of the Canary Islands. He’s left in an inflatable life raft, and drifts for weeks and months across the Atlantic. This book is his recount of that journey, and it’s a brutal life-and-death struggle against the ocean. I absolutely recommend this book.

 

Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. The Impossible Task. The Incredible Journey

Paperback – 7 Jun 2012

https://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/card?asin=B0055CS5TQ&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_ZIUmxbNQKW16G

It takes a special kind of lunatic to get into a survival situation on purpose. Ed Stafford is a grizzled ex-army rhinoceros who decided to hack his way down the whole length of the Amazon River. What made this book more interesting than most is how frank he is about the hardship. Most adventurers have a kind of ‘..as we watched the sunrise over the Sahara’ mindfulness. Ed, on the other hand, is pissed-off, waist-deep in a swamp and cursing at the world.
You know you sometimes read about an adventure and think ‘I’d love to do something like that’? Not this one. It’s Hell. Great book.

 

TV Shows

Escape to the Wild

Television – 2015-2017

In each hour long episode, Kevin from Grand Designs (for series 1) or Jimmy Doherty (series 2) spends a week with a family of Brits who have moved to the back of beyond.  It’s like Channel 4’s long running No Going Back, but instead of going to rural France to do up a chateau, they’ve gone to Belize to build an eco-house.

I loved this show, not just because I’m a sucker for anything with campfires and fishing, but because these are fascinating people. At its core, they’re all living in a paradise, and a paradox. Paradise, because the family is always eager to show us the gorgeous sunset (‘You don’t get this in England!’) and the kids playfully chasing their chickens. A paradox, because they talk about how they escaped the rat race, yet they’re on a new, much more relentless treadmill, of farming, foraging, building and surviving.

The occasional frustration of watching Escape to the Wild is the smugness of the escapee (some worse than others). I’m happy that they love their jungle life, but can’t help getting slightly defensive when they act like those of us who haven’t upped and left must be blinkered slaves to the system.

So why do they do it?

The reality of subsistence living in the tropics is a backbreaking slog from dawn til dusk, so it’s not the rat-race’s hours or repetition that they’re trying to shirk. The kids get an old-fashioned, outdoorsy childhood, although it’s a shame the parents are relentlessly farming and building while the kids disappear into the undergrowth.

Some are drawn by a hobby (kayaking in Uganda, dog-sledding in Sweden, diving in Indonesia). Some are just on a long family holiday (Chile, Tonga). The most intriguing (and uncomfortable) are those who can’t bear real life because they need to control everything (Belize, Canada).

Kevin and Jimmy do a great job of prising the truth out of them, whilst getting stuck in (Jimmy is especially useful). They always ask the host family “Would you ever go back?”, to which they laugh and shake their heads. Sorry, but I can’t help wondering if their answer will change when they got old, or ill. I suspect they’ll be on the first plane back to the UK, and all that terribly boring stuff like like pensions and taxes, will suddenly seem like a really good idea.

 

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Candy Crush Saga: Scarface in a Tutu

October 24, 2013

Candy Crush Saga is like a whole pantomime of characters all in one app.  These are the many faces of this fascinating beast.

Personality 1:  The Disney Princess

The first ten minutes of Candy Crush are like dropping acid at Toys R Us.  Rainbows of joy , bubblegum pink hearts and the beaming circus master.  You are congratulated constantly for tracing an arrow, and the pings and pops just melt into your ears.

Deep down you know it was all created by some devilish AB-testing Terminator, which divined its way to the pitch and tone and shade of fuchsia that delivers maximum ROI.  Candy Crush is a princess at Disneyland, at a kiosk selling blue meth.  Behind her inch-thick make up and muscle-cramping smile is a woman with targets to hit.

Personality 2:  The Super Athlete

To understand why Candy Crush is so devastatingly effective at separating us from our money, we need to cast our mind back to the late 2000s when King.com was taking over Facebook gaming (prising users from Zynga, which took a particularly sharp scalpel).  It’s hard to make money on Facebook because you have to convince players to enter their credit card details.  Apple has done that bit of hard work for them, so successful Facebook developers moving to iOS are like Kenyan runners coming to Boston.  They laugh with their spare lungfuls of oxygen as they overtake the wheezing locals.

Personality 3:  Nicky Santoro

Once you’ve been seduced by the Disney princess, you’ll find yourself trapped in a sickening labyrinth of monetisation loops.  Candy Crush taught other app developers that casual gamers (read home makers) will spend, you just have to act like Nicky Santoro to get it out of them.

‘Can I try again?’.  PAY ME
‘I don’t want to wait 15 minutes’.  PAY ME
‘I don’t want to spam my friends’. PAY ME

Personality 4:  The LAPD

In the end I played Candy Crush Saga because it was the only refuge from a torrential thunderstorm of ads for Candy Crush Saga.  With the millions being spent daily on user acquisition, every other game developer submits and offers up their players as humble sacrifice to the gods.

And with all cultural tidal waves, like Facebook, Star Wars and smartphones, there comes a realisation that ‘I still haven’t…!’ doesn’t make you seem quirky – just old.

Eventually I was surrounded, and I came out with my hands up. Then I moved through the stages of “Well, I play but I never spend!” (denial), to a beaten addict who ‘Had to stop’.

Haven’t played it yet? This one cannot be outrun, I’m afraid. It’s like the Noro virus effortlessly working its way round a primary school.  My advice is just hole up for the weekend, stock up on tins of tomato soup and get to the other side.

The difference between Americans and Brits. Burning Man versus Reading Festival

January 5, 2011

I’ve been lucky enough to live and work in the US, having  been born and raised in London, and i occassionally find myself in barroom conversations about the differences between English people and Americans. The longer i live here, the more they evaporate. Americans have toasters these days, lots of them drink tea (“what kind of tea would you like sir?”, “err..just tea“) and you can now buy ranch dressing in Tescos (paul newman RIP). Clothes are no longer so much cheaper in the US that you can pay for your flight with savings on a christmas shopping trip, and British people only think the weather is better in america because they only visit Florida, Vegas and California. in fact a good proportion of america has winters bleaker than scotland.

But there remain subtle differences in outlook, and by way of a comparison I’m gonna compare Burning Man versus Reading Festival; both of which, i love. At first glance there’s a lot on common. Each is a festival with about 50,000 people, paying about £180 a ticket for a four day bender. Things that separate the British and American approach run much deeper.

What’s the point of these festivals? Well, Burning Man is ostensibly about art and radical self expression. Translated, it’s a festival without bands. So what do you do all day? Most of the time you do what you’d be doing at Reading when you’re not watching the bands – getting pissed, having transient interactions with strangers and completing missions (e.g., get water from the car, find a place to skin up, break into the main arena). At burning man the equivalent of the main arena is ‘The Playa’, a 2 mile diameter circle of desert on which regulars have built giant art works and drive around on ‘mutant vehicles’.

The desert is, strangely, an attraction in itself, with the savage environment becoming a core part of the Burning Man experience. It’s in the middle of nowhere, a six hour drive to San Francisco, where it seems like a lot of the Burners are from (this is burning man jargon for a visitor. MOOP is ‘matter out of place’. Even a festival built on anti-commercialism can’t help branding). Once you’ve made it there, the alkaline sand starts attacking your skin, and dust relentlessly works its way into your clothes, your skin, your eyeballs, your car. From the minute you arrive you’re locked in a day and night battle against petrification; constantly looking for shade and water to fight the desert. People that have been there a week normally look like they’re dead.

Reading, on the other hand, is in a field near the station. And even though the Burning Man environment is antagonistic, everyone loves to take care of it. ‘Pack in, pack out’. ‘Leave no trace’. They have no bins, so you have to carry your empty beer cans back to the car, and take it home. People are amazingly good about it – a city of people 4 miles wide and no trash in sight. Reading has bins all over the place, and yet the ground is carpeted in cups and cans, like the discarded fuel tanks of a rocket ship on it’s way to space.

People aren’t just nice to the planet in BM, they’re nice to each other. Burning man goes as far as having a gift economy in which nothing is bought or sold. ‘Take what you need, and more to give away’. Now let me tell you a story from Reading. Someone stole my shoes from outside my tent one night, literally inches from my head. They were my only pair. No worries says Chud, ‘what size are you?’ and a few minutes later I had a new pair of shoes. That night my stolen shoes got stolen, and I ended up going home wearing the feet cut off an inflatable plastic alien, with duck tape for soles. Burning man has a gift economy; Reading has a theft economy.

One unique thing about Burning Man is that you somehow feel invested in the festival itself. Burners build camps which more often than not have a bar to which everyone’s welcome. Sit in our hammock and drink our beer! Reading has a free bar to some degree, but it does require the rigmorole of pretending to order a second round of drinks and then darting into the crowd without spilling the first lot. Both organisations must take in well over £8m in revenue, but Reading seems to have inadvertently established itself as a corporation ready for war, where Burning Man has you feeling like a patron for their charity. The fact they tried to name Reading “the carling weekend” (or something), the systematic abandonment of the toilets, the security twats looking down from their patrol towers. Like in Das Experiment; if you get cast as the prisoner, you start acting like it. Except now you’re breaking in not breaking out. Soundcheck goes on too long? bottle the band! Toilets are rotten? Burn them! Reading has a longstanding friction between organisers and guests. Breaking in is a sport (walking backwards through the exit is a favourite), and bottling acts offstage has been going on since (according to wikipedia) Bonnie Tyler got pegged in the head by a baying mob.

Burning Man feels a community rather than a corporation, and you find yourself willing it to succeed. It’s particularly bad form, for example, to sell a ticket to Burning Man at more than face value, and you wouldn’t get high fives for busting over the fence. At the end of burning man everyone crowds round, gets stoned and watches a 50ft effigy burn. The next day you pack up the RV, hug your neighbors (sic) and leave no trace. On the last night of Reading everyone crowds round a burning toilet block and does their part to instigate a riot. The last day is a four-day rollover hangover with no snooze button, so everyone must leave immediately. It’s the opposite of Leave no Trace, and you typically leave everything.  Get the fuck out, Do Not Pass Go, just set your £19.99 Argos tent on fire and speed away to reveal a car shaped footprint of rubbish. The endless sea of destruction and the sound of fire engines failing desperately to stay on top of the flaming carnage is actually my favourite part of Reading. Burning Man is like a Mad Max fancy dress party in good humour, but Bank Holiday Monday at Reading is the fucking apocalypse; a genuine window into what total dystopian meltdown will look like.

 

Burning man is about creating, and Reading is about creating havoc. I stumbled drunk into a tent at BM with a nude model surrounded by rows and rows of people silently sketching on paper and charcoal. how lovely! Here’s another scene; A crowd of mostly strangers are around a guy passed out at Reading, inserting cigarette butts behind his ears and in his mouth (like a living game of Operation) and decorating his face with whiskers and cocks. Eventually someone takes out his actual cock and colours his bellend black with a permanent marker. You know, it’s harder to argue it’s art but there is something ingeniously creative in the squalor.

It boils down to this.  Remember this chart, from school? the idea, i think, is that you start at the bottom needing to sort the basics out like shelter and food, then you can get a family, and eventually get one of those wristbands like madonna.

To the people who go to Burning Man, it’s much more than a festival. It’s not just a chance to bosh mushrooms and dress the trip up as trancendence; to relive your frat house days in your own bar; to play Scrapheap Challenge with some propane canisters. It’s about ascending this pyramid, and bettering yourself. Reading, and i’d go out on a limb and say British weekends in general, are about unashamedly plundering the depths of the pyramid, unraveling into a world of mind-numbing drugs, setting stuff on fire, fucking and passing out.

 

Here’s where we get to the difference between Brits and Americans. In actual fact, we end up at the same place, but we get there in a different way. in both cases, we’re going away for the weekend and getting trashed, but in doing so the Americans are finding themselves and the Brits are losing themselves. Burning Man is about unleashing your inner philosopher creative, and Reading is about unleashing your inner sid vicious. After a British festival you continue to celebrate the depths to which you plummetted (“Heavy weekend… i’m too old for this! ” [translated] “i am still a rockstar”).

Americans are an optimistic bunch, who bond through creation and community and want to better themselves. British people are cynical and bond through communal misery, but it’s laced with a sense of humour so dark that it’s funny. A group of Brits trying to rock a security van over are as bound in that moment as a group of hippies in a sunset drum circle. Ask a stranger at a party in america what they do and they’ll make it sound good, like “I look after an up and coming office supplies store. here’s my card, you should come by if you’re in the neighbourhood”. Equivalent Brit is more likely to say, embarassed, “I work at staples. it’s shit”.

Sometimes I’ve felt like maybe Americans are smug about their profound sense of self-awareness, but they’re really not. We might cynically believe that Burning Man is simply a chance to get fucked up in the desert and play out a mid-life crisis in good company. But the truth is, even if it is, they don’t realise it and do it in good faith. And the sum of that much positivity is warming, even to the most miserable Brit. And for all it’s gnarliness and discomfort, there’s something brilliant about Reading too that brings me back.

It’s like how it’s raining back home in london, and i’m kind of looking forward to it. Yeah i know, it rains in america too, it’s just that here someone will probably say something unbearably cheery like “the yard’s sure lovin’ this!”. ugh.

Spearfishing marbella

November 15, 2009

Marbella’s one of my favourite places to go spear fishing, even though the fish are small. You just have to accept that you’re mostly fishing for fun, and if you catch something big enough to eat that’s a bonus.

If you swim out from the beach about 100 metres, it’s about 20 feet deep and when visibility is good you’ll see lots of bream and wrasses.

I tend to go in august when you don’t need a wetsuit but a tshirt or rashvest stops you burning without realising. There’s a shop in Marbella (like everywhere, closes at 1pm for siesta) that sells guns and spares. I’ll look up the address….

Ideal gun (in my opinion) is a 40cm pneumatic with a multiple-prong tip. Really important to use a diving float as there are lots of other boats and jet skis around.

Most interesting things we’ve got there are octopus and have seen a moray eel but not recovered it. Best way is to dive and chill atthe bottom, look really carefully under rocks, and look for places with a natural shelf where it drops down in depth.

Also there’s more fish at the slightly rougher beaches down toward Gibraltar, and apparently big tuna out of Cadiz although I’ve never tried it.

Spearfishing in lake powell

November 15, 2009

My first time spearfishing was in lake Powell, which is a huge (biggest man made lake in America I think) expanse of water that straddles Utah and Arizona. It was formed by damming the Colorado river, and looks like the grand canyon in some ways – huge sheer red burnt cliffs and crystal clea water.

We hired a houseboat for a few days, which i’d recommend to anyone. You just drive around and look for nice beach coves, and then ram the boat half onto the beach to stay the night. Lake powell takes a while to drive to from Vegas, but was worth it (looks way nicer than lake mead).

Anyway I’d stumbled upon a spear gun on eBay, a 75cm sommap (french company) gun for less than £40 new. We swam around with it at sunset, and within about half an hour I remember my mate reappearing with a fish. I couldn’t believe it….and after that it was on!

We spent hours in the water for those few days and got maybe three or four fish each day (bass, with a good one a foot long). Mostly we found them in the shallows, but I’d be interested to hear from anyone that dives down properly deep there.

Spearfishing in croatia

November 15, 2009

I went to Croatia on a boat trip for a week, which ran from split to dubrovnik and back, visiting a different island evey day (with catarina lines, booked with onthego).

We went at the very start of the summer season in late may, and it was mostly hot enough to sunbathe on deck but I needed a wetsuit to dive for a long time.

Spearfishing was really disappointing, probably the worst place i’ve been for fish. I spent a lot of time in the water in every island we went to (brac, hvar, korkula, makaska), and tried swimming near shore and offshore.

Most of the fish I saw (and I’d go for half hour with nothing at all) were smaller than a mobile phone, and very occasionally I saw one as big as (to stick with lounge comparisons) a sky remote.

It was a shame because I had high hopes after I found a shop a split harbour with racks of spearguns. I’m sure there’s good fishing to be had there, maybe the locals know the best spots. Maybe you have to take a boat way out into the Adriatic.

Still, the visibility was normally really good and the whole coastline is stunning. I’d be interested to hear if anyone’s had more success there.

Spearfishing; for total beginners

November 14, 2009

What is it?

Spearfishing is the art of catching fish by shooting them with a spear gun. So at the very least, you need a gun, and a mask and snorkel.

The gun tends to be powered by rubber bands (like the ones on black widow catapults), and on pulling the trigger they propel the spear (say, a 75cm steel shaft) about 8 feet. The shaft has a string which connects it to the front (muzzle?) of the gun.

So you go snorkeling, and dive down looking for fish, and shoot them. And eat them.

It’s fucking awesome, and if you were beginning to tire of beach holidays it’s an ideal sport to break up the cycle of books and beer.

But as with all hobbies, you soon find yourself needing more stuff, and the types of equipment you need depend on where you go.

What spear gun?

You’re probably male (that’s my stats counter, not sexism) and consequently you want to buy a gun. You don’t really get a gun for all situations, and they’re relatively inexpensive (compared to, say, air rifles) so you don’t need to. As with all hunting sports, my advice is to buy the smallest gun that’ll do the job.

Lets say you are fishing in the mediterranean, in somewhere like andalucia, and are just swimming from the beach. The med is pretty fished out, but that coast is still really fun to fish. Best case scenario, you might get an octopus or a fish a foot long (of course, it’s possible you could get something bigger but unlikely). Most fish there are smaller than a CD (to futureproof it for a few more years, lets say DVD), stuff like bream. So in terms of a gun you could use something as small as it gets, like 40cm long.

Why not get a bigger one?

A gun longer than 65cm might not fit in your suitcase, and £15 extra baggage fee each way is more than it’s worth. Also if you are hunting fish around coral and rocks, too powerful a gun will result in bent spears or getting them stuck. Plus as tempting as it is to buy a huge gun, it’ll be cringe when Rambo returns to the beach with a bream. So I’d advise if you regularly go to the med, get a small pneumatic (like a Cressi SL 40cm or 55cm). More on pneumatics vs banded guns in another post.

Crucially, get a diving float and a string that attaches it to you. This is super important everywhere because it tells jet skiers and boats that there’s a diver down, and people die every year getting hit in the head when they surface. Especially in the med with so many drunk-driven jetskis around, and on that note stay well away from the lanes they buoy off to let them ride up to the beach.

The float I have is inflatable, and has a line attached to it which runs to you. It bobs about on the surface 20ft from you.

On another safety front, you should get a knife too in case your string gets tangled in some rocks while you’re down. Also you need it to kill fish. And if you have a knife and string spool (coonected to the float), you need a belt. Rubber ones are best because they don’t slide loose when you get deeper ( and thinner). Finally you need a fish keeper which is a string with a metal rod, to hang your catch from while you keep fishing.

Snorkel, mask, speargun, belt, string spool, float, knife, fish keeper; that’s about the minimum stuff you need to go spearfishing in the south of Spain, or elsewhere in the mediterranean. Yep, that’s a lot of stuff but you can fit it all in one small rucksack.

More stuff….

You have to dive down to get the fish, and if your as unfit as me, you don’t have long underwater before you return to the surface for air. it’s way quicker to go up and down if you have fins (flippers), and freediving fins (which are narrow, long and flexible) are best.

Even more stuff…

If you go to andalucia in July/august/sept you probably will get away without a wetsuit, but you’d be surprised how cold it gets when you swim out and down. If you can, tough it out without one because it’s bulky to carry. Worse, wetsuits float so you need weights to counteract it, and all of a sudden your travelling with lumps of lead. If that’s the case, call a scuba diving place in your resort and arrange to borrow some for the week. Weights go on your belt.

Spearfishing in Bali

November 14, 2009

I’m writing this blog because I’m in the hotel, and I’m in the hotel (rather than spearfishing) because I lost my gun yesterday.

There’s not too much info about spear fishing here, and not too much I can add. Having asked lots of people here, nobody seems to know whether it’s legal or not. One dive centre I went to in benoa:

‘hi, do you take people spearfishing?’
‘spear guns? Yes I have! I have!’
(he shows me two 4ft very home made spear guns)
‘great, can we go?’
(speaks to his mate, who is playing bubble breaker)
‘no it’s illegal; I take you scuba banana boat special price?!’

But balidives.com maintain it’s legal with no restrictions except marine parks, and i think it’s obscure enough (although locals do it) that it’s far from the cops’ radar.

Anyway it’s not cheap to go with the lovely mr Toron and his friends, who took me out around sanur as I didn’t have all day free (apparently spearfishing on honeymoon = faux pas). It was fun, and much as I extoll the virtues of smaller guns, it was cool to use a six foot long triple banded bazooka.
The gun was attached to a float (bodyboard) and the water warm enough to not wear a wetsuit. We went to about five sites around sanur, never more than about half a mile out, with depths of between 15 and 40 feet.

I barely saw any big fish, anything over about 20cm. Took a couple of shots at the biggest of the small fish and disintegrated them with the rocket launcher, and my guide (mr torons brother) got one small fish. Bit disappointing, but you get used to expensive failed missions in sports like hunting and fishing, and I was only out for about 2 and a half hours.

Just as we were about to go in, we did a drift dive and I made the mistake of taking my own 55cm pneumatic (given the small fish) which wasn’t attached to a bodyboard. A deep shot pinned a fish to a coral, and the gun was stuck. As I tried to dive back down to get it, the current was so strong I could only helplessly see it disappear from view as I drifted away from it. We took a couple more passes at it but only saw it once more and same thing happened; the currents in Bali are really powerful in places, like a fast flowing river.

Sucks! But oh well, lesson learned; attach the gun to the float, especially when its deep or strong currents.

I might have gone back to nusa dua where I saw loads of big unicorn fish not far from the beach, which are good to eat apparently. Although having witnessed the force of the sea here I’d be wary of diving alone, even near the shore.

So I’m not really any wiser about spear fishing here, only that it costs a fortune. I’m really amazed balidives charges 175 US dollars for a day on a traditional fishing boat, when you consider the cost of living here is low (to put it into perspective, the average wage in Bali

Spearguns; pneumatic versus banded

November 14, 2009

There are two main types of spear gun; banded and pneumatic.

Banded guns are between 40-140cm long and are powered by one to four rubber bands (perhaps 10mm tubing). They have the advantage of being cheap (you can still get a great sommap 75cm gun on eBay for £36 last time I checked), and simple to fix (or replace rubbers).

Pneumatic guns use compressed air to fire the spear, and are shorter (40-90?cm). They’re not like air guns that use a spring to compress the air (actually I think they are like the ‘gas spring’ airguns that gamo make), or even like pneumatic air rifles that you fill with a pump or scuba tank. there’s a chamber of air (which is already compressed in the factory) that gets compressed even more when you drive the spear down the barrel, literally backing it into the muzzle. That’s the hard part, they can be really difficult to load. When I first got my Cressi 55cm gun I thought it was faulty because it felt impossible to get the spear in. But it’s just hard, and with practice it became second nature.

People say pneumatics are overcomplicated and give troubling breakdowns, and it’s true that you could probably get a banded gun fixed in a far flung village where it might be harder to fix a pneumatic.

Mine never gave me any problems until it was swallowed yesterday by the Indian ocean.

Diving with weights

November 13, 2009

I’m no expert on freediving but know it’s got the potential to get dangerous really quickly, and am always cautious of the sea. My only point on weights is that I’d recommend you do lots of hours of snorkeling and diving down before you use diving weights.

Yes, even with no wetsuit it can be a slight hassle to get down without them. But on the plus side when you get short of air, your buoyancy does a lot of the work to bring you to the surface. When you use weights I sometimes find i’ve gone deep too easily, and when you see the surface is a long way away it can be quite frightening, especially knowing you aren’t naturally floating towards it.

There’s lots of useful info on the web about shallow water blackouts which you should read even before you go ten or twenty feet down.
This is probably the most responsible thing I will ever post. I feel very grown up