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Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: Raising the Dead by Phillip Finch

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Sometimes a dramatic story, coupled with a skilled and perceptive narrative can take us to another world. Raising the Dead, by Phillip Finch does just that; it takes us to places we are very unlikely to reach in our life time. In truth, after reading this book and getting a glimpse of their underwater world I have no desire to enter it!

The book tells the true story of two exceptional cave divers – Dave Shaw and Don Shirley. It charts their lives and experience up to, including and after a remarkable dive into the Bushman’s Hole. The dive site is a remote sink hole on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, about 500 kilometres south west of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is one of the largest freshwater caverns on earth.

When Dave Shaw dived to 270 metres to the bottom and discovered the body of a diver who had disappeared ten years earlier, he created history. According to Phillip Finch, “Shaw became the fifth sports diver in history to exceed 700 feet (213 metres) and survive; more men have walked on the moon.” (p.4-5).

To recreational divers, like many of us, a dive to 270 metres is beyond our comprehension. Certainly, when torches and dive computers implode due to the surrounding pressure of the water. When rebreather controllers (the sophisticated electronics that control the amount of gases injected into the breathing loop) are crushed and the diver loses all data, it tells us the equipment has reached its limits.

When a diver is suffering from decompression sickness and is vomiting through a regulator; when he is tied onto the shot line in case he loses consciousness and drops into the void; when he is so tired, he doesn’t have the energy to draw gas into his lungs and has to purge gas into his mouth by pressing the diaphragm on the regular; when he is draining bail out tanks at an alarming rate; when he still has dozens of decompressions stops and hours of decompression time ahead of him, it represents a nightmare scenario.

However, Raising the Dead is more than a tale of amazing individuals pushing the boundaries of human ability and technical sophistication. It is a story of friendship and respect, camaraderie and understanding, belonging and empathy.

The book has many tender, poignant and tragic moments. In a few hundred pages it succeeds in creating empathy with Dave Shaw and Don Shirley and describing the bond between them. You want them to survive. The book also brings home the impact of serious injury and death on relatives and friends. Raising the Dead is more than a memorable account of an amazing series of dives. It makes us think about the implications of our actions and the risks we take.

You do not have to be a diver, or even technical diver, to appreciate this book and the exceptional talent of Dave Shaw and Don Shirley. The author painstakingly explains the technical details associated with cave diving and diving to extreme depths. It contributes to our understanding and appreciation of the planning and techniques required. The collection of photographs supports the narrative and the index allows the reader to return to people mentioned and events. It is a compelling read.


Phillip Finch was a journalist. He progressed from being a junior reporter on the Washington Daily News, to the San Francisco Examiner and later became a columnist for the Peninsula Times Tribune. He was the author of more than eighteen books.

Phillip was an experienced cave diver; he died on 31st January 2012.

  • Raising the Dead (2008) London: HarperSport by Phillip Finch
  • ISBN 978 0 00 726524 4   (310 pages)

Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

Dr Fred Lockwood is Emeritus Professor of Learning and Teaching, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. He is also a PADI Master Scuba Diver and dived in the waters of Central America and Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia, Australasia and the Pacific Islands. Follow Fred at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

Miscellaneous Blogs

Jeff chats to… Jill Heinerth – underwater explorer, author and presenter (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Jill Heinerth.

Jill is one of the world’s premier underwater explorers, and the first person to dive inside iceberg caves. According to filmmaker James Cameron, “More people have walked on the moon than have been to some of the places Jill Heinerth has gone right here on earth.”

An acclaimed polar explorer, cave diver, author, speaker, filmmaker, and climate advocate, Jill is the first Explorer-in-Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. She is the inaugural recipient of the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration and Canada’s Polar Medal.

Jill leads expeditions into extreme environments to advance scientific and geographic knowledge. Her projects have been broadcast on the CBC, BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, and television networks worldwide. Jill was announced as the recipient of the William Beebe Award from the Explorer’s Club and was inducted into the International Scuba Divers Hall of Fame in fall 2020.

Her bestselling book INTO THE PLANET – My Life as a Cave Diver  has drawn acclaim from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and O Magazine. Heinerth details her journey into the extreme world of underwater cave exploration, where she has had to overcome fear in order to go where no one has gone before.

Find out more about Jill and her work at: www.intotheplanet.com


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Gear News

7 Scuba Hacks In 3 Minutes Plus: Bonus Hack That Could Save You $400! (Watch Video)

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I’ve wanted to make this video since the start of our channel! Here are 7 Scuba Diving hacks to make your life as a diver easier.

These are the kind of insider tips and tricks I love to share with you, my scuba diving subscribers! Thanks for making Divers Ready the strong and troll-free dive community that it is.

Today, we’re covering how to…

  • Fashion an emergency fin strap to save-a-dive 00:28
  • Get your dive slate shiny and new again 00:42
  • Disinfect/dry out swimmer’s ear 01:00
  • Defog your mask without harming coral 01:14
  • Organise your O-rings 01:25
  • Get urine smells out of wetsuits 01:43
  • Secure an Octo with a snorkel keeper 02:08

PLUS… Bonus Hack! How To…

  • Give a lost action camera a fighting chance of being recovered.

All of this in a 3 minute video! How much more value can I give you guys?!

Thanks for watching! James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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