Diving Ring Rescue In A Freak Lightning Storm, Hillary’s Boat Harbour, Perth, Western Australia.
Well this was a first! When called out to Hillary’s Boat Harbour to dive detect for a sentimental wedding ring recently I got to roll onto my back and observe a powerful lightning show from 4 meters underwater!
Weren’t you scared Sean? mmm.. yeah.. um.. well yes.. quite a lot actually..
I’d arranged to meet David and his wife who were here on holiday from New South Wales at the bathers beach in Hillary’s Boat Harbour. I’d asked David to bring along his swimming gear so he could swim out to where he thought he’d felt his precious wedding ring slip off into the depths a few days before.
I donned my diving gear on the beach and made my way out as well. When David gave me the o.k. I dived down to the bottom which was at about 4 m or so and started a circular search pattern with my metal detector. Initially the visibility was pretty good for a harbour with perhaps 6-7 m but as there is virtually no current in the harbour the water was soon full of sediment and darkness. It is always difficult to explain just how disconcerting being underwater in total or near total darkness can be. It is truly one of those things you have to do to fully comprehend.
When I had returned to my starting position on the first search circle with an assortment of junk I extended outward another meter and started to search a second larger circle around the first when all of a sudden there was one hell of a bang, an intense flash and a pressure wave which made me spit my regulator out into the darkness somewhere in front of me! I didn’t have time for panic to set in, I dropped my detector to the seabed and searched frantically in the darkness for the hose my regulator was attached to and once found, returned it to my gob for a long suck on the oxygen it provides!
As I concentrated on getting my heart and breathing rates back under control I realised there was a lot more light now and that the light was flashing different colours in the clouded water. It now dawned on me that what had happened was not an explosion but a lightning strike somewhere very close by and the flashes were further lightning reflecting off the bottom. Amazed, I decided to move out of the cloud I’d created and to roll onto my back and watch this rather surreal show unfold for a few minutes as I contemplated just how safe it was to be in the water just now! Which I might add it is not, certainly not in shallow water, however being on the surface is less safe again.
When the flashes were getting less frequent I returned to the task at hand which was to finish the second search circle. I was really hoping to find the ring by this method but would only do one more larger circle before switching to a running jack-stay search which is more efficient when searching over larger areas.
Not long later whilst squeezing yet another target filled handful of goop I felt something solid.. and heavy.. and round.. with a hole in it, a big hole as in finger big. As usual when I’m at this point my heart rate goes up a bit as I draw the object in my hand to an inch from my dive mask.. is it is it is it? That turned into an oh yeah that’s the glint of gold, and then an oh yeah its got a pattern on it.. and then.. surely? A quick exit stage left to some clear water and another look confirmed it.. there she was, David’s triple-tone gold wedding ring!