Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sanctum-inspired Videojournalism adventure-Gallipoli

Jame's Cameron's 3D underwater extravaganza should be watched purely for the entertainment of a distaster movie where you could almost predict the outcome, if not the plot.

It's popcorn entertainment and thus need not be sniffy critiqued against some of the in-contention Oscar dramas. For me though it yielded a poignancy that extended past seat 5 row h of the cinema.

Some years back, I was rung up out of the blue by a team setting off to the demilitarised zones around Turkey - war grave waters hiding secrets from World War I.

David in Gallipoli

Excited? I couldn't contain myself. 10 days out to sea, with a professional dive crew and sonar to locate a number of ships. On board was one of the descendents of the commander in chief of that war,  Sir Ian Hamilton.

The risks were known, but on board the boat these were far removed. Until that is on the third day; my second dive with 20 mins left on my oxygen tank, I decided to go wandering.

Not a smart move, I was about to find out.

They carry various names, one of them being ribbon currents. A stream of water, unlike its adjacent waters running at furious speeds and before I knew it, I'd got caught full on.

It ripped me away from my buddy diver. By the time he noticed I was at least twenty metres away - helpless.

I finned like crazy, but all my efforts were in vain; the current was too strong. It was like one of the Olympic training pools where you're swimming at a stand still.

I remember thinking" oh ***t because I could see myself slamming onto the bow of this wrecked ship strewn with unexploded shells.  We'd been warned by the dive master before the descent to be careful; they could go off.

Then it happened; I hit the bow and fell onto a basket of them. Here's the shot below. The current was still forceful and I was running out of options.

To get out of trouble I had two routes, go further into the ship; by now I was at my limits of oxygen diving 50m, or I could release some oxygen into my tank and shoot up - risking the bends.

I went down; it seemed like eternity. Then my dive partner appeared. I tried to breath normally, finned some more and got out of immediate trouble.

However I was now faced with a second pressing problem. I motioned I needed to go up, looked at my oxygen level and noticed my hyperventilating put me down with roughly 7 minutes air, yet it would take me five minutes to get anywhere near my deco spot where I had to wait for about ten minutes for my blood to defizz.

At 15 metres, there was little option; I had to buddy breath. Fortunately it wasn't full mask and my partner was reasonably experienced.  I do recall however getting to the surface and grabbing my DV camera for a piece to camera - which is somewhere.
Bow of the wreeck - feeling my way back up

The piece I would eventually make for the BBC World Service aired without that controversy. Watching Sanctum brought it all back.

Last Christmas I joined a climbing club and caved nearby; now that is frightening, but I'll save that story till next time

You can find a trailer on viewmagazine.tv