12 January 2005

Boesmansgat dive disaster update

Diver did not tell wife time of mission
At 4pm, Hong Kong time, (08h00 GMT) on Saturday, Michael Vickers was waiting by the phone, hoping it wouldn't ring. A few minutes later it did.

Vickers, a vicar at Hong Kong's Anglican Church, knew it would be bad news. In December he had been told by cave diver Dave Shaw, 50, the church's treasurer, to expect a call if his risky mission in a cave in a small corner of South Africa went wrong.

The person on the South African side of the conversation (where it was about 10am) was Derek Hughes, one of the divers on the expedition.

He was calling from the edge of a freshwater cave called Boesmansgat, near Danielskuil in the Northern Cape.

"There's no sign of Dave," Hughes told Vickers. "There's almost no hope of Dave making it up."

Read more at www.iol.co.za

Diary of a daring diver's final journey
People logging on to Dave Shaw's website on Monday would have read a logbook from the grave.

The website, which also documents Shaw's obsession with deep-cave diving, gives a countdown to "D-Day" - Saturday, the day he descended 271m on a recovery mission in a Northern Cape freshwater cave but never came back.

"Be warned," Shaw wrote, welcoming visitors to his deepcave website, "I am a rank amateur when it comes to website design, and don't have the time or the plans to improve. One day soon I will pay someone to do a proper job and then it might be worth looking at!"

Read more at www.iol.co.za

In a cave you float in velvet darkness
In terms of "extreme" sport, deep-cave diving is as extreme as it gets.

Derek Hughes, 38, a cave diver, who was part of Saturday's doomed retrieval mission at Boesmansgat, explained that cave divers plunged to extreme lengths for the opposite reason why people climbed Everest.

"We don't dive for what's there; we dive for what's not there," he said. "In a cave it's dark and silent. It's a very Zen experience. You float in velvet blackness and the only sound you hear is your own breathing.

"It's the closest thing one can get to complete nothingness; it's unbelievable. You are completely detached from the rest of the world."

Read more at www.iol.co.za

I will dive again, vows Don Shirley
Don Shirley, who spent 13 hours under water in a fight for his life after he was unable to save his friend Dave Shaw on Saturday, has vowed to dive again.

On Tuesday morning he spoke for the first time as he headed out of Boesmansgat in the Northern Cape to Pretoria where he will be meeting a specialist after suffering decompression illness in the doomed dive.

"I've been receiving treatment every 12 hours," Shirley said.

"When I realised Dave was gone, it was sad but I had to accept it and get on with the job at hand, saving my own life."

Read more at www.iol.co.za


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