The early days and my nascent Diving career.

Diving

Some fifty five years ago, I was seven, and while on a family holiday in Killala Co Mayo, my parents bought me, after much whining on my part, a full diving kit consisting of snorkel, mask and fins.

The memory of my first diving equipment is clear. Blue rubbery type plastic, but not modern pliable rubbery plastic, the old stuff, that was almost as unflinchingly non-malleable as the material used in the making of buckets.

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Shuaibah.

In July 1989 the diving company Algosaibi, asked me to take a diving team to the Red Sea, for a civil engineering job. I readily agreed because a new environment would break up those excruciatingly long 110 day trips.

My day rate was increased as I would be supervising the job.

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Algosaibi Agreement, two years off Diving & Starting With Oceaneering in Angola.

 The neurologist showed me the scans and the lesions, and for the first time I fully understood what a bend was, there were physiological consequences!

The gas forced into solution in the tissue of my spinal-cord during the dive, had not been given time to come out in decompression, so it expanded where it was, forming tiny bubbles, which caused lesions in my central nervous system (CNS) and some reduction in faculty, even though that reduction was so tiny as to go completely unnoticed.

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Banana Base Zaire.

Malongo was Chevron’s operational base for their offshore oil and gas production in Angola.

Apart from the camp there is nothing in Malongo except jungle.

Cabinda is a ten minute helicopter trip away, and Luanda is an hour and a half south down the coast, by Fokker fifty.

The mouth of the Congo River is only three hours steaming south.

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Malongo, Guinea current.

Ninety percent of the diving work carried out by us during my time in Malongo, was inshore, within ten miles of the coast, and as such hugely influenced by the Congo/Zaire River emptying into the Atlantic just south of where we worked.

Specific adaptations, horrific to some people, had become routine to the diving team and we dealt with the current and the sometimes almost zero visibility.

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Christmas 1995 in Malongo.

Christmas 1995 in Malongo.

The Night before Christmas

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore

Written in Malongo December 1995

It was the night before Christmas and all through the camp.

It was bucketing rain and all things were damp.

The cicadas and crickets were making such noise.

No kids in this place, just a lot of big boys.

Then a flash and a whoosh, up in the sky.

A bright sleigh and reindeer is passing close by.

The bar had been closed for three hours or more.

While the rain in deluge from the sky it did pour.

The sleigh came in safely, I’m glad to report.

And made a beautiful landing in the heliport.

Not a soul stirred, no one had seen him arrive.

Except the mosquitoes, he was being eaten alive.

Of course it was Santa who’d just found that berth.

And of course it’s Malongo, the end of the earth.

He looked quickly round and thought what a hole.

Come  Dacher and Dancer, get us back to the North Pole.

They sped away quickly away from that area.

And after twenty-one days he came down with malaria.

But on that rainy night as they sped away North.

Santa looked back and he issued forth.

This place that you work, it fills me with grief.

I’m sorry my visit of necessity was brief.

But on this Christmas day, with this wish I will go.

Soon you’ll be back with your loved ones I know.

So just for the present make the most of your plight.

And to you all Happy Christmas, and a very good night.

Christmas in Equatorial Africa falls in the middle of the very hottest and wettest time of the year.

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