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Bob Baird, Author

ISSUE 5 ARCHIVE - BEST DIVE, WORST DIVE, BOB BAIRD

BEST: Looking back on thirty years of diving, and loving nearly every minute of it, there have been so many good dives it's hard to pick just one. Being asked to make that choice is a bit like asking a keen golfer to describe his best round (no, don't go there! Within a nanosecond he'll bore the pants off you and go on for hours). How anyone can be interested in that utterly pointless waste of time defeats me. Golfers talk a lot of balls!

Diving, on the other hand, is as good as sex! It's different, I grant you, but that statement should establish where I consider it to be in the hierarchy of pastimes!

Others have already described the ecstasy of diving with various sea creatures, and I would echo their sentiments. Diving among coral reefs in the clear warm waters of Florida or Bermuda, for example, surrounded by multi-coloured tropical fish, barracuda and moray eels is certainly very beautiful, but I remember astonishing a group of Bermudians when I told them, after a particularly stunningly beautiful dive, that nevertheless, I was looking forward to going back to Scotland for some real diving! (They glanced at each other with looks of utter incredulity! But they obviously didn't know what they were missing).
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Getting Wrecked Being buzzed by seals, whose agility under the water is absolutely staggering, and to be greatly envied, has a magical quality. Their inverted swim-pasts as they fly below you at high speed, missing you by at least four millimetres is a bit like being caught up in an underwater display by the Red Arrows! Seabirds demonstrating their diving skills and flying under water is another wonder to behold!

Much as I enjoy that type of experience, however, my true passion is shipwrecks, of which Scotland, fortuitously, has a plentiful supply. I've spent countless frustrating and freezing days looking for them (I must be a masochist), and many exciting hours diving them.
WORST: Just as there have been innumerable good dives in thirty years, I would be less than honest if I said there had been no bad moments. Among the worst experiences that spring to mind is of running out of air inside a wreck at 44 metres, banging my head on something unseen in inky blackness deep in the engine room of another wreck and suddenly discovering a spiral iron staircase dangling by a thread above me, narrowly avoiding being dragged down by a submarine, and a lucky escape from being caught in a trawlers net. Perhaps worst of all was becoming snagged on the corroded spikes of a steel walkway inside the dark engine room of yet another deep wreck while attempting to retrieve my dropped torch.

Happily, I survived all of these incidents, but my wife tells me I am now too geriatric to continue diving. Fortunately I enjoy researching and writing about shipwrecks almost as much as diving them.

Bob Baird's interest in shipwrecks was sparked over 50 years ago by an attempt to save the sinking Flying Enterprise in the Atlantic. He has just finished writing his fourth book Shipwrecks of the Forth and Tay, with meticulously-researched guides to 300 shipping losses, with fascinating stories of how they came to be there.
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