, April 29, 2009
(view all comments by Rebecca_Harrison)
Some of the best helmet stories in print
Deep Dark and Dangerous is a splendid collection of early, gritty, helmet diving stories.
The tales come from the north-west of the USA, an area that I have not seen covered before. The type of diving work described is largely salvage work, the toughest sort of diving there is. The diving conditions are also the most challenging, with poor visibility, cold water and often, treacherous currents.
The author, Rebecca Harrison, has carefully researched the lives of many of the toughest and most accomplished of the divers of the period, which extends from the 1800s into the 1900s. She has colourfully described many of the gruelling and sometimes gruesome jobs the divers carried out. Indeed, the book is an excellent representation of the work of the early helmet divers.
The feeling the reader is left with, is that these men (and in one case, lady) earned every penny they got. The book rolls easily from one adventure to another. Diver-readers will enjoy sharing the experiences, though probably shivering and wincing with many of them. Non-diver readers will certainly be shocked and amazed at the courage and tenacity of the selected divers. However unbelievable the stories may sound, they are authentic, true accounts.
Much of the material comes from 'oral history' and the author is not a diver herself. So we have to forgive a few historical and technical inaccuracies. The main thing is the quality of the stories!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this action-packed book. Unlike many other books about helmet diving, it is not about an ego, boasting about his personal prowess. It's about remarkable feats of a selection of some of the most capable, helmet divers, as seen through someone else's eyes.
The account of a classic fight with a 9-foot octopus whilst entangled in the netting of a fish trap at 85 feet, is the best I have read so far. The surface tenders had the unusual benefit of listening to the diver's slow and desperate progress over his telephone link.
Certainly the most melancholy story was that of the diver who drowned when he was trapped in a trench cave-in and had his helmet dislodged by falling debris. The surface tenders couldn't haul him up, so they sent for another diver to recover the body. That diver turned out to be the son of the dead diver.
These are amongst the best helmet diving stories you will ever read. I strongly recommend this truly fascinating book.
Deep Dark and Dangerous, by Rebecca Harrison, 89 pages, BookSurge Publications, 2006, ISBN 1-4196-2583-7; available from: www.booksurge.com; email: email@example.com; Tel: + 1 866-308-6235. Check also the website: www.deepdarkanddangerous.com.
- John Bevan
Underwater Contractor International Magazine