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January 2001 Vol. 16, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A Father and Son's Last Dive

A must read for serious divers

from the January, 2001 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

I may be jaded. I dont recall any diving book so enthralling that I simply couldnt put it down. That is, not until I read The Last Dive, A Father and Sons Fatal Descent Into The Oceans Depths. For a serious diver, its a must read.

Bernie Chowdhury, the founder of Immersed, the international technical diving magazine, has written a suspenseful and haunting tale. Not only was I immersed in his every word, but when I finally closed the cover I realized Id gotten the best lesson in the limits of my personal diving safety Ill ever read.

The Last Dive is three tales woven into one.

The first, perhaps less important than the title suggests, is the story of Chris Rouse and his son, Chrissy, only 18 years apart in age and locked in a sophomoric relationship that played itself out every day and in every dive. Their maniacal devotion to diving leads them into more and more complex dives, progressing from Pennsylvania quarries to Caribbean reefs, to Florida caverns and caves, to Atlantic wrecks and, eventually, to 230 feet and a German U-Boat. All in four years.

The second story is the Chowdhurys own diving biography. His research to chronicle the life and death of father and son, his friends, leads him on his own voyage of self discovery, as he learns painful lessons about what diving, in the context of his life, means to him. His gripping account of a dive gone wrong, his own terror, and a bends hit that takes him near death is a cautionary tale for all of us.

The third tale, the back story to the main characters, tells how sport diving metamorphosed into technical diving as adventurers unsatisfied with look/see dives to 130 feet, push into extreme conditions of deep caves and wrecks. As diving becomes more extreme, as equipment becomes more technical and complex, the psychological and physical demands on divers too become more extreme. Who are the people that turn sport diving into an adventure as extreme as a walk on the moon? After all, it seems that the best, inevitably, one day dont return.

A Father and Son's Last Dive

The Last Dive is a grand adventure, a remarkable book, a page turner. It consumed me. Disoriented in the silt, I removed my tanks, pushed them through crevices, then crawled through after them, grasping for the guideline. In 40-degree water, I moved through the passageways of a German U-Boat, having to free myself from the entanglements of wire before I could return. I struggled with the decision to run out of air at depth or rocket to the surface, figuring that the pain would kill me. Then I turned out the light, fluffed my pillow, and tried to fall asleep.

You can order The Last Dive by going to Undercurrent, scrolling down to Editors Book Picks, and clicking on the photo. That way youll get the best price of amazon.com ($20 plus shipping) and a percentage of the sale will go to support the Coral Reef Alliance. (The Last Dive, published October 2000, by Harper Collins, is available in local bookstores for $25).

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