The real bonus came when Hurricane Dennis arrived. The vast majority of troglodytes that normally swarm over the Keys disappeared in a blind panic, leaving the place to the brave and the foolish. I was the exception. I was ignorant as I hadn't turned on the news for the previous five days as I roared down through Georgia and Florida on a borrowed Harley Davidson. By the time I arrived, Dennis had just left the building and had not done the damage expected to the Keys. The one thing it had done though was to cause such a swell on the seabed that the Spiegel, which had originally sank crooked, was now perfectly upright and we were about to be the very first divers to go down to it.
I tried to remain anonymous on the boat ride out to the site. There were a gaggle of Brits on board and normally if I'm spotted in these situations they tend to inform on me to a confused foreign captain and tell him that I'm going to ruin it for everyone by doing something stupid. As if. So I kept my head down and tried to look like a local by wearing a tiny pair of Speedos and reading Hemingway's The Old Man And The Sea. It didn't work. Even the locals got worried when they spotted they had "a reader" on board.
The dive master asked me how many dives I'd done and I mumbled something about more times than he had had sexual relations with his cousins and he got quite upset. When things calmed down the other dive master told me to look after the two novice Scots. Not wanting to make the situation worse I told them to follow me and proceeded to jump into the water without my mask. I tried to pretend that this was an old superstition of mine but you could see in their eyes that they knew they were in trouble.
We eventually went under and started our descent towards the magnificent wreck, three times the size of a football field. I'd just purchased a rather snazzy dive computer in South Beach and I hoped this might help me to remember all the crucial things that I'd forgotten about safety and stuff. The problem was that it was so complicated and I became so engrossed in the various readouts that I managed to smack my head on the side of the wreck.
By this stage the Scottish couple had realised that something was very wrong with me and were snapping away with their underwater cameras, determined to record this event as no one back home was going to believe them. Images of my photo in tight little Speedos appearing in Heat magazine made me swim away from them as fast as possible. Unfortunately they obviously thought that I was taking them somewhere interesting and followed me.
My attempted escape coupled with a very strong current soon took us well away from the wreck and from our dive boat. I tried to use the compass on my computer but only managed to get the local time in Hong Kong. Starting to panic, I signalled to the couple that I was going to surface to see where we were. Having reached the surface I realised that we were a good quarter of a mile from our boat. I dived back down, got them to surface and then we trod water and waited, like extras from Open Water, until a passing fisherman kindly picked us up and took us back to our boat. I don't know if this couple have managed to sell their story to any press outlet but this is my version and I'm sticking to it. If you see any photographs please remember that things look bigger under water.Reuse content