I don’t know how many of his case-studies are based on real experiences and how many are fictional or a bit of both, but it hardly matters – your heart always sinks as you follow the hapless divers into inevitable difficulties, and wonder how they will be resolved.
These tales are followed by an analysis of what went wrong and why, and how the situation might have been avoided.
This, of course, makes the book immensely readable. We will already have drawn our own conclusions from the unfolding incidents and are looking for these to be vindicated, so turning the pages keeps on scratching an itch. And without playing God, the author takes a lateral view and draws constructive conclusions.
Areas covered are many and wide-ranging but I found the final chapters on rebreathers, present and future, especially thought-provoking.
Others include getting lost at sea, failure points, equipment servicing, reverse dive profiles, harness-and-wing systems, flying after diving, nitrogen narcosis, in-water recompression – I could go on but that gives a flavour of the topics, with a lot of new thinking that we might have missed neatly summed up. There are also repeated warnings about rip-off operators and how to spot them.
I found myself dissatisfied only when reading the chapter on corals – nothing wrong with it as a marine-biology standalone piece, and I can see that it’s included so that environmental awareness isn’t left out, but to me it felt out of place and filler-ish in this book. Otherwise, there’s a wealth of food for thought to be found here – essential reading.
I read the Kindle version, but it is also available in paperback.