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Book Review: The Diver’s Tale by Nick Lyon

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In the spirit of the quoted acclaims – A brilliant book and thank you Nick for making it not too thick and having large writing.

This book could be re-titled ‘Everything you wanted to know about diving but were afraid to ask’. As I started reading my mind immediately jumped to the Monty Python song ‘Always look on the bright side of life…da dada dadadadada’.

Having known Nick for a few years now I was expecting a book that would be informative, emotive, honest and funny. It didn’t disappoint. For those of us who have been diving for quite a few years now, it evoked great memories of our own experiences, whilst for those who are relatively new to diving it will entice you to make your own adventures.

The Diver’s Tale cuts to the essence of diving, the rough and the smooth, the charm, the adventure, the romance, the pitfalls and the tragedies. It looks at the hard truths, the sheer fun and a few of the scary bits too.

There is a delightful honesty to this book as Nick takes us on a random journey through his diving days from the very beginning in the 80’s to today, and in doing so, highlights the true definition of the British Diver who was typically in the past the man who had his shed at the bottom of the garden and could make everything from wire coat hangers to rocket engines but who now is happily joined by the entire family.

He writes about equipment, medical science, boats, on board toilets, dive companions, weather. He describes beautifully the difference between a dive holiday and dive expedition and it’s not what you would expect. He covers hotels, B&B’s and self catering with the pros and cons of each. He looks at conservation, salvage and the perils of underwater photography and many other aspects of getting wet.

The story concludes with the loss of his great friend Paul in a rebreather accident just off the beach. It is a sad part to a wonderful tale but brings forth a great feeling of humanity and love.

About Nick (in his own words…)
I was passionate about the sea from an early age, inspired by the films of Cousteau. I was a keen snorkeller from the age of 7 and had my first dive aged 18 in 1981. I have over 4,000 logged dives and hold qualifications from several agencies, primarily BSAC where I’m an instructor trainer. I was a columnist for Scuba Magazine for 7 years and still write for them. I’m about to relocate to Orkney with Julie (also a diver) to Skipper the dive boat Valkyrie.

The Diver’s Tale is available now in paperback & ebook | RRP £12.99 | Available from Divedup.com, online and from retailers. ISBN 978-1-909455-24-5 | 174 pages | 234 x 156 mm

Jeff Goodman is the Editor-at-Large for Scubaverse.com with responsibility for conservation and underwater videography. Jeff is an award-winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker who lives in Cornwall, UK. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

Marine Life & Conservation

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Andy Forster of Dive Project Cornwall

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Gemma and Ian chat to Andy Forster.  Andy is the Project Director at Dive Project Cornwall.  He tells us about his own passion for diving as well as how Dive Project Cornwall is going to educate and inspire many youngsters over the coming year.

Have a listen here:

Find out more at www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk


Find more podcast episodes and information at the new www.thebigscuba.com  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: The Boys in the Cave

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Review of The Boys in the Cave: Deep inside the impossible rescue in Thailand (2018)

On the 23rd  June 2018 twelve members of the Thai Wild Boars youth football team, and their coach, strolled into the Tham Luang Cave in northern Thailand. Hours later they were trapped, over a mile inside the cave, by monsoon driven, rising flood water. Initial attempts to find the lost group were thwarted by the torrent of water rushing through the cave system. After ten days without contact, food and warm clothing, it was feared the group were dead from hypothermia or drowning.

Two experienced British cave rescue divers, Rick Stanton and John Vollanthen volunteered to swim against the current, through over a mile of pitch black, flooded tunnels, negotiate sumps and slither through crevices in an attempt to discover if they were alive or dead. They found them alive on a raised sand bank, over one and half miles into the cave system; thus started ‘one of the largest cave search and rescue operations in history.’ (p.93). However, their rescue was perilous. Josh Morris, the intermediary between the rescuers and the Thai political and military decision makers, announced: ‘You have two terrible choices… In one, everyone is going to die. And in the other, some people are going to die.’ (p188).

Twenty-five days later the boys and their coach emerged, cocooned on special stretchers. They were bound, sedated, in wet suits and breathing via positive pressure face masks. If, at any time, during the tortuous journey, in pitch blackness, the face masks had been dislodged the boy would drown.

We may recall that all thirteen of those trapped were rescued alive, but a Thai Navy SEAL drowned. However, this does not detract from the story of the rescue told and illustrated by Matt Gutman. He manages to capture the race against time drama as the strength of the boys, and oxygen levels in the cave fall to dangerous levels. Gutman describes the tension as water levels continue to rise and more monsoon rains approach. He also describes the toll on the rescue divers as cuts and scratches, grazes and blisters become infected and sheer exhaustion starts to overtake them. The story is enhanced by maps of the cave system and the forty-nine colour photographs; they convey the enormity of the rescue.

A noteworthy feature of The Boys in the Cave is that Matt Gutman does not shy away from describing the bizarre and chaotic attempts at rescue by well meaning people who didn’t know what they were doing. He records the politically driven, bureaucratic public announcements that were at odds with reality. He also acknowledges the rivalries, antagonism and emotional involvement of those present. It was a testing time for all – especially when failure was the most likely outcome.

You do not have to be a diver, let alone a cave diver, to appreciate the challenges that the volunteer rescue divers undertook. Exhausting eight to ten hour swims, in pitch darkness, through a tangled web of lines and tubes, ropes and electrical cable that are waiting to snag you. It was a booby-trapped labyrinth in which you could becoming jammed in a choke point, lose the line and get lost, running out of air or be caught up in a flash flood. It was a heroic endeavour and one I’m sure you will enjoy reading.


The Boys in the Cave: Deep inside the impossible rescue in Thailand (2018)

  • Author: Matt Guttman
  • Publisher: New York: Harper Collins
  • 307pp
  • ISBN 978 006 29099 23

Matt Gutman was part of the international news team that reported on the rescue. He was born in Princeton, New Jersey, USA on 5th December 1977 and graduated from Williams College in 2000. As a reporter he has worked for the Jerusalem Post, USA Today and ABC News Radio. He is currently the Chief National Correspondent for ABC News in America. The Boys in the Cave is his first book.


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

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