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Scuba diving is an activity which:
a) I really want to do
b) Scares the shit out of me

I am not good with technical equipment. Valves and hoses and such. “Clumsy” and “lack of common sense” are tags frequently applied to me. I cannot even cook for myself. I am the kind of person who requires other people to take care of me. Placing me under thirty metres of seawater in control of what is essentially a very complex life support system is probably not the best idea.

Chris, on the other hand, is a rugged and competent he-man who has recently decided upon “divemaster” as his latest career ambition, and enrolled in a six-day course scheduled for June. I’m probably going to go to Sorrento Quay and enrol in the same course tomorrow, because there are certain destinations on the Hypothetical Round The World Trip where a diving certification would be very, very useul. This includes virtually anywhere in the South Pacific or Caribbean, but the place I’m most intrigued by is Chuuk.

(Images courtesy of Where The Hell Is Matt, my favourite travel blog, in which the writer spends a substantial amount of time below the water in Chuuk.)

Chuuk is an island in the Federated States of Micronesia. During World War II it was a major base for the Japanese Navy, right up until the Americans attacked it in the largest aerial bombardment in history and sent them down to, wait for it, a watery grave. It was essentially the Japanese equivalent of Pearl Harbour. About twelve battleships, fifty merchant and supply ships, and a whole heap of planes are now lying on the seabed all around the island.

Due to the fortunate presence of a thick reef barrier, the lagoon all these shipwrecks are located in is well sheltered from waves and currents. Meaning that all the ships are still there, at a very shallow depth, with great visibility. It’s basically the best wreck diving in the world.

To do list: sit in the cockpit of a sixty-year old Japanese fighter plane, underwater.

In order to accomplish that, of course, I first have to spend a surprisingly large amount of money and six consecutive days dipping myself into the TURGID GREY SEA that encroaches on Perth during the rainy, wind-whipped months of winter. Summer would have been a much nicer time, but them’s the breaks. It will be either one of the best or worst weeks in my life.

Either way, it should be worth it.

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May 2008