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Scuba Diving - An Expert Review of Safety On Board

In commemoration of Don Jaime Fernández Begoña Epalza (1927-2010), I would like to share a curious anecdote about diving safety that he shared with me back in 2007.

Don Jaime was the first commercial diver in the small town of Getxo (Spanish Basque Country). While looking at his old dive helmet in a room dedicated to his collection of relics found underwater over the years, I asked him how they monitored their ascend speed and bottom time back in the day. He mentioned that they knew the US military dive tables by heart, but essentially, they would light up a cigarette as soon as they came out of the water. If the cigarette tasted ‘good’, all was fine, but if it had a ‘bad’ taste, they would return to the water and complete more decompression time and a slower ascent.

The moral of the story: When it comes to scuba safety, we don't talk about it.

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