The abridge version of this article appeared in the October '95 issue of Sport Diver magazine.
We all remember those first dive classes when we were bombarded by new terms, complex charts, and the thought of coming face to face with dangerous sea creatures. But there is a whole list of terms that we were never taught but had to pick up on the back reefs of the world — hushed definitions and observations whispered from diver to diver when the instructor isn't looking. I hope you enjoy my tongue in cheek reference to "proper" diving terminology.
MASK: Storage container for sea water samples until you reach the surface.
FINS: Torture device invented during the Spanish Inquisition.
SNORKEL: Breathing tube used to suck in seawater and insects while swimming at the surface.
WET SUIT: Exactly what a diver does when the cold and caffeine kick in.
DRY SUIT: Glorified inner tube and just about as comfortable.
WRECK DIVER: What you become after running out of air at 100ft.
OCTOPUS: Large eight legged sea creature which attaches to your face at inopportune moments.
SHARK: Bottom feeding, cannibalistic, spineless, invertebrate (sure it's redundant), often found in courtrooms, newsrooms, and car lots.
GIANT STRIDE: An acrobatic maneuver so called because of the 15 foot drop to the water which occurs when the boat rolls to port while you are exiting the starboard side.
BUDDY BREATHING: An often impossible task because your buddy has long ago left your side in search of the bikini clad, web-footed, neoprene fish.
1/3 RULE: Use 1/3 of the day thinking about throwing up, 1/3 of the day actually throwing up, 1/3 of the day being glad you threw up.
REPETITIVE DIVE: "We're going to the quarry again?"
DIVE TABLES: A complex chart using numbers and mysterious signs created to scramble a diver's already overtaxed intellect.
ECO-DIVER: Short for E-Coli (bacteria found on third world dive trips).
MAX DEPTH: Your actual depth minus 50 feet. Used when describing your dive profile to the dive instructor.
DIVE COMPUTER: A $700 addition to your weight belt.
BOTTOM TIME: Time spent sitting on the narrow, uncomfortable bench on the way to the dive site.
FLOOD: What your sinuses do to your mask.
DIVE LIGHT: A waterproof carrying case for dead batteries.
GEAR BAG: Storage device for sand, shells, old sandwiches, mildewed T-shirts, and stowaway sea critters.
DIVE KNIFE: An underwater magnet for rust that in an emergency won't cut through hot butter.
THE SECRET OF DIVING: Inhale, exhale, repeat as necessary.