Docieramy pierwsze rozdziały autobiografii najglębiej nurkującego człowieka na świecie. Poniższy pochodzi z rozdziału 282.6, poświęconego rekordowemu nurkowaniu w Boesmansgat wczesną jesienią 1996 r. Książka jest prawie na ukończeniu, jej polskie, jesienne wydanie zbiegnie się z premierą amerykańską, brytyjską, niemiecką, portugalską, południowoafrykańską i australijską. Nieopierzony fragment w języku oryginału przed wami. Zadajemy sobie wciąż to samo pytanie – wciąga?
„If the sonar didn’t show 290 m, I wouldn’t probably get stuck in the mud at 282 m. I still thought I had some time to inflate the wings before the bottom shows up. I didn’t. And the whole process of pumping the compensators is pretty complicated under the pressure of over 31 kg per square centimeter. Afraid of adding too much, you inflate the BC with two short bursts. At almost 300 m there was no time for that. And I landed on all fours, deep into silt. The world as I knew ceased to exist.
For everybody it was 282.6. For my friends, wife, Guinness World Record it was 282.6 m. For me it was 339 m. And it doesn’t really matter how many times you repeat that number, the other one – 282.6 is glued to your CV. Nobody is really interested in how much you endure accomplishing something. They care only about the result. 339 was a real value behind the dive, 282.6 was only a number. Not only that. The decompression schedule for Boesmansgat dive was even longer than world record 11 years later. The sinkhole lies at the altitude of 1550 m, the comparable dive at sea level will take approximately 3 hours less. 9 instead of 12 plus hours.
I knew also the bottom of Boesmansgat lies deeper than Sheck Exley proved it in 1993 with 263 m dive. Rope and sonar measurements showed 290 m and my motivation was to be the first man to reach the ultimate bottom of the sinkhole. Sheck confirmed it saying that the bottom is “sloping down”. He knew I was listening.
Although at his expedition we had a very sophisticated sonar, it took only diameter measurements of the sinkhole, not the actual depth. Mine measured the depth from the first Sheck’s tie-off to the bottom. It confirmed the 20 plus meters difference between the points were Exley dived and I was supposed to. We marked the spot on the roof with a plastic barrel and lowered the rope at exactly 7 degrees off the straight line to the bottom. Both lines, Sheck’s and mine are close to each other at the entrance of the cave. At 100 m you can’t see them together. After the world record dive the indicator was positioned at different place and the rope was taken off for measurements. Did I care about anyone following my footsteps? Yes, I do. Call it intellectual property.