This is the moment I have waited for for years. I sit comfortably on the side of Denis Bignand’s dive boat and under my fins, which are already dangling in the water, I have a 400 meter drop off.
I look around. I see Porto Polo just a short distance down the coast. At my feet is a big buoy under which 350 meters of rope is suspended with a 50kg weight attached in the other end. It is waiting for me. Pity that I still feel this knot in my stomach despite of all my relaxation, calm breathing and the good conditions.
Around me the team has sprung into action: Hubert, François, Tono, Christian, Sophie, Frank and Denis from U-Levante. I have already put on the 18-liter double set with another 7-liter for the dry suit, and very compact double wings. I have reduced the equipment to the absolute minimum in order to lower the risks of making mistakes and becoming confused at the bottom. Only the gas quantities have been over-dimensioned. I have always been afraid of running out of gas. I enter the water and finish gearing up in a somewhat meticulous manner.
I find it necessary, as I don’t want to leave anything to chance. I focus on holding on to my concentration despite some small last minute problems.
I visualize the dive one more time and make sure I don’t forget anything from the checklist, as if preparing for a spacewalk. The analogy is not entirely out place as the ascent from the bottom will take longer than a return journey from space.
It really is a trip into the unknown for which I am preparing. In spite of all the meticulous preparations, uncertainties remain, especially concerning my state of mind and body at the bottom since there have only been three other scuba divers who have gone below 300 meters.
With my movements being slightly restricted by my six large tanks, I finally commence my dive. I leave the surface, the barrier that separates the air, my friends and security from the depths of loneliness. At this moment, my stress is supposed to disappear only it doesn’t.
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