The Spanish called us ‘Pesca Submarina’ – underwater fishermen. The name carried respect and we were proud of the kudos. We were treated well and so considered ourselves honoured and tried to live honourably when in their company. But after ten minutes in a raging sea, fear dispelled pride. I recalled his final words as we entered from the harbour wall. ‘Stay with me!’ The fuckity, fuck I felt earlier was nothing compared to what I felt now. I finned a metre out of the water and realised he was no where to be seen so I began to fish. Over weighted by the lead we sank quickly, solitary dark shapes gliding down through the gloom. On the sea bed you lay still, waiting for the curiosity of the fish to take over and hoping your lungs would last out the time. That was on a calm day with a hundred foot visibility. I attempted to dive into the gloom but mother ocean decided it would be fun to tip me upside down and return me to the surface, coughing up seawater and retrieving my snorkel and started again.
The visibility was nil and I estimated around 60-70ft to the ocean bed, but at least it was quiet. Upon my return to the surface the land appeared to be much further away, but I was intent on fishing. Several dives later I was rewarded with a Red Mullet, but on the same dive I discovered a pile of rocks. The mighty Grouper love to snuggle up in piles of rocks and there was a gap big enough to squeeze into. On my next dive, spear gun first I entered. As my eyes adjusted to the gloom I saw him. Grouper, he was big and black and deep as a Grouper can be. I thought about how long I had been under, on a good easy dive I had a two minute bottom time at sixty five feet, but this wasn’t a good easy dive and I guessed I had less than a minute left. I speared my dinner and began to edge out. Then I felt something pushing me back in. A huge force rammed against me from behind and I was pinioned against the roof of the hole. I pushed back to no avail, I started to feel light headed and knew that if I didn’t get some air soon I would black out. Then the force ceased, it ceased as quickly as it had begun and suddenly I was free of it. I pushed and scrambled out of the hole and finned to the surface with my lungs aching.
As my head broke the surface I blew hard clearing the seawater out and letting the air flood in. Fear had taken me, the pounding of my heart in conflict with the foaming mass of ocean left me weak. I needed to get out but there was nowhere to go. What was it that had just tried to drown me? I looked towards the mainland and I saw the back of it. A huge wave, the biggest I had ever seen crashed into the harbour. I had to take control I heard his voice in my head. ‘Panic and you die. Control your fear or it will kill you,’ he had said.
I’m 200 words over my post limit, so you’ll have to come back next week to see if I survived. 😉