A guy with ear problems goes to Notos Mare on the southern coast of Crete, parties a little too much the night before going diving, and ends up “narked” and faced with a life-threatening situation. Moral: don’t drink and dive.
A submerged shoal is an area of the seabed that is shallower than the surrounding area. Also known as “pinnacles,” you can see lots of these in Greece. Why am I telling you this? Because in anticipation of this trip, I got certified to do Advanced Diving. I also knew I needed something made by IST Sports called a ProEar dive mask for my bad ears, so I chose a 4 windows ProEar dive mask.
Everything worked out fine. The mask I bought, the travel arrangements, everything. I have just returned from the trip to Greece where I booked to go on a couple of dives, then asked if there were any other opportunities to get any more diving in. But it could have turned out badly: Here’s why.
The instructor at the Greek resort, Notos Mare in Chora Sfakia on the southern coast of Crete, said that he was going out on a Wednesday with a student but one of the other instructors could come along, hook me up with a buddy, and we could go for a dive which sounded fine. I wasn’t expecting a deep dive and have to say that I had a beer or two the night before. OK, let’s be honest, I was drinking ouzo’s like Zorba and The Greek, and I pretty much closed the bar last night. They told me I was downing shots and throwing glasses down until dawn. Then there was the dancing on tables, but that’s another story.
The instructor led me over a shoal and kept descending and giving the OK sign which I responded OK to. Except I wasn’t “OK.” In fact I was pretty darn not OK, badly hung over from the previous night, and felt sick. I wondered how you throw up while diving. There’s something the instructors don’t teach. Finally we bottomed out on a sandy area past all the sea grass and he gave me the OK sign and I suddenly I felt utter panic.
I rationalized that I was ‘narked,’ not hung over. Also known as Nitrogen Narcosis, narked is a condition in which divers face when underwater. It generally feels very euphoric but is extremely dangerous. I was in denial. It seemed like I had tunnel vision, I think there was a boat traveling overhead but the droning seemed like it was coming from inside my head and I was sure I was going to pass out. I even kept touching my regulator thinking it was falling out.
I kept centered and signaled that no, I wasn’t OK, and he led me back up and the symptoms finally subsided but I have to say I was still a little disoriented about 15 minutes later when we finally surfaced. The ProEar kept my ears equalized, and probably saved my life. But I can tell you one thing: My drinking and diving days are over!