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Death in Number Two Shaft – now available

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Please help me celebrate the launch of my latest book Death in Number Two Shaft at a book signing / meet & greet at the NEC Dive Show in Birmingham on Saturday 27 October. Drop by the Scubaverse stand 112 and say hi. Books are available on my website or from Amazon UK.

Here’s an introduction:

In 2007, one of a team of expert cave divers died in strange circumstances while exploring Bell Island’s flooded Iron-ore Mine in Newfoundland, Canada. Joe Steffen’s death was a terrible shock for his team mates and an unexpected and unwelcome tragedy for his friends and family. Although the expedition continued until its scheduled conclusion, and successfully placed two kilometres of permanent guideline in the mine’s network of passageways and galleries, Steffen’s death closed the mine to further exploration and the possibility of guided dives for almost a decade.

In his new book, best-selling author Steve Lewis tells the story of Steffen’s death and its aftermath, from his perspective as expedition leader and Steffen’s roommate during their time together in Newfoundland. He writes honestly about the profound effect his friend’s death had on him, how it wove itself into his life — both underwater and above — until finally, somewhere on the road to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela, how he rid himself of the heartache and guilt associated with it.

He says: “I needed to write this book because it turns out the story of Bell Island is more important than four shipwrecks, several square kilometres of flooded mine, and a dead friend. What started out as one local man’s quest to put Bell Island on every diver’s bucket list, became much more complex than anyone — certainly any of the people involved in that quest — would have guessed.”

From Lewis’ childhood dream of sinking below the surface of the ocean into “a blue world as quiet and as soft as cotton wool” to dropping in on a shark out for a morning constitutional, all the way to floating in a Mexican cave and reading in the flowstones and stalactites “all the complicated activities acted out in the sunlit jungle overhead,” this book is not your average dive book. This is not an average story.

According to one reviewer, Lewis’ narrative “delves into the very nature of adventure and what drives people to push the limits of their existence.”

Robert Osborne — a Toronto-based documentary film-maker who produced a TV show about the 2016 expedition to Bell Island Mine — writes: “Death in Number Two Shaft is not only a book anyone fascinated by adventure should read, but everyone interested in a good story, well told and giving us insight into the human condition.”


A BRIEF PEEK BETWEEN THE COVERS – Excerpt from Death in Number Two Shaft

A reproduction of La Pinta is moored in Baiona, a few hour’s walk north along the coast from where we were standing. You can see it for yourself if you travel there. It is the size of a dill pickle, not much bigger, but made out of wood rather than a cucumber. It looks beautiful, staggeringly small, and appallingly fragile compared to the ocean beyond its mooring. It is a faithful, modern rendering of a significant piece of Spanish history and pride. More importantly, it is a hard-edged and tangible illustration of what stepping outside one’s comfort zone actually means.

Christopher Columbus, a crazy Italian, and his little band of equally crazy fellow explorers set off into a night sea similar to the one Sue and I were watching. They were bent on finding Japan. They had funds from the king and queen of Spain, three little dill-pickle ships, and enough faith to overcome doubt.

All they knew for sure was the world was round, and if they kept sailing towards the setting sun they’d find land, perhaps the Orient. That was about it; the rest was pure balls and luck.

Eventually, they made landfall in the Caribbean, a whole half world away from Japan. But so it goes. They made a mistake, a miscalculation based on a false assumption, and things turned out very differently to what they expected. Nevertheless, it was a remarkable accomplishment and a noble one. Action and faith in the face of a challenge brought them much better results than sitting on their collective arse waiting for the sea to be calm enough so they could work safely within the confines of predictable circumstances. They took a monumental chance; moved beyond what they knew, gave into their curiosity, risked it and won!

It’d be a huge stretch, and comically self-centered hubris to compare what we did — signing up for our little expeditions swimming around in a flooded iron-ore mine — to sailing across the ocean and finding a new continent. But looking out there into the blackness, reminded me of the dark threat and allure beckoning from the water’s edge in Bell Island Mine.

If Columbus or any of his men were alive today, I thought out loud, they’d be pulling similar capers to exploring Bell Island themselves. They too would be swimming into holes in solid rock with a rebreather on their back, a smile on their face looking for something to lay claim to.


Find out more about Steve at www.techdivertraining.org.

Steve Lewis is an author, adventure travel writer, and generalist, who dislikes dive gear but who loves to dive. A specific interest is cave diving, which he regards as "the most creative way to learn mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation.” He lives in a converted schoolhouse in Ontario’s cottage country with coyotes, white pines, and the Great Lakes as neighbours.

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Scubaverse UWP Winners Gallery: Christian Horras

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Each month we give the winner of the Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition the opportunity to show off a little more of their work in a gallery. The March winner was Christian Horras and you can see their winning image at the top of this page.


What do you love about diving & underwater photography?

For me it is all about showing the beauty of our world underwater to people that don’t dive and thus can’t see it for themselves. I want to share my own passion for the amazing ecosystem that is so much older than everything we know living on land. As I am from Germany, there are only a few people in my surroundings that have ever seen a coral reef or a shark with their own eyes. It is a big privilege to be able to go diving all over the world and in return it should be our task to arise awareness of this fragile and endangered ecosystem.

What equipment do you use?

I use a Nikon D810 in a Isotta Housing and various lenses, depending on the subject: a Sigma 15mm F2.8 Fisheye, a Nikon 16-35 mm F4 and two Nikon Macro lenses (60mm and 105mm), as well as a WeeFine +13 Diopter. The Fisheye is my main lens, as it allows me to get really close and still cover a big field of view. For lighting I use two Retra Pro Strobes and a Retra Snoot.

Where can our readers see more of your work?

Website: www.christianhorras.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/christian.horras/


To enter the latest Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition, with a chance to win some great prizes as well as have your own gallery published, head over to the competition page and upload up to 3 images.

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Emperor Divers reaches halfway in Covid Diver Heroes Initiative with fourth award

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Emperor Divers have reached the halfway point with their #coviddiverheroes initiative and are still receiving worthy nominations every day! Here, they recognise their 4th winner, another awesome hero from the diving community with an inspirational story of selflessness through the pandemic. Nominated by David White, Phuong Cao wins a free liveaboard trip in the Maldives when she can finally take some time off, and here is her story:

I, David White, would like to nominate Phuong Cao (36) for her tireless efforts fighting this pandemic. Not satisfied with being a frontline hospitalist in New York she took a second job on the COVID team in Guam to treat patients under even tougher conditions on her weeks off! She continues to commute 7750 miles each way and apply herself to both jobs for three months already and counting. Her energy level has no limits and she’s only happy when those in her care are on the mend. I think she definitely deserves a break! I guess the Maldives would be the best choice for her as I know she has dived with you in the Red Sea already.

Phuong Cao

We have been in touch with Phuong who had this to say: “Wow what a surprise! Thank you for the recognition. Holding my breath until I get back underwater!”

The halfway point is a good chance to remind people that the initiative is still running and the Emperor Divers team would love to hear about more heroes, as there are four more to award in the next 2 months!

Do you know a diver who has been heroic this past year? Emperor know that, worldwide, people have had to step up during this pandemic which has affected so many lives. They want to reward some real heroes with free liveaboard trips in the Red Sea or Maldives.

Luke Atkinson, Emperor’s Red Sea Manager, said: “This initiative is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to all those hundreds of people who have taken a selfless interest in looking after the vulnerable in their community. Examples could include healthworkers, carers or those who have come out of retirement to volunteer locally, but really we know there are many other ways people have been heroic.“

Emperor want to hear from people who know a heroic diver who would love to have a free liveaboard trip to look forward to in the future. People need to nominate a Covid Hero Diver and tell Emperor (in 100 – 200 words) why they deserve a free trip, and whether they would prefer the Red Sea or the Maldives. A multinational panel of Emperor’s most loyal and compassionate staff will judge the entries and pick a winner every 2 weeks for the next 2 months. There are two remaining Red Sea and two more Maldives liveaboards to be earned, so get nominating and give that hero a reward for their amazing work!

Winners will be announced by 14th (Maldives) and 28th (Red Sea) of each month. Final entries for Red Sea by 20th May ‘21 and Maldives 5th June ’21.

Entries, comments and questions should be sent to heroes@emperordivers.com.

Terms & Conditions apply: Please contact heroes@emperordivers.com for details.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

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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