Thursday, July 25, 2013
Scottie the Scuba Diver
Scottie the Scuba Diver Acrylic on Museum Board on Panel, 16 x 20 inches, 2013
As a part of my series of modern women doing adventurous things I present Scottie the Scuba Diver. (I know Scottie is not a usual name for a girl, but I kind of like it. I'm wedded to alliteration and the only other choice was Scarlett, a name that didn't seem appropriate here.) In the picture, she's on a dive boat just preparing to go below. The boat, which probably should look a lot smaller, is a rigid inflatable -- the gunwale or side is inflated to make it easy for the diver to do a backwards somersault into the water. To her left, Scottie has her bag to carry her gear and a diving cylinder, which would contain a breathing mixture called nitrox -- oxygen is actually rarely used. The tank is still connected to its carrier. Hey, these things are 30 pounds even when empty, so I think even Mike Nelson (remember Sea Hunt?) would use a carrier. Scottie holds her spear gun, for use against angry sharks and hostile mermen. And she is holding in her other hand the regulator, the part of the scuba that you put in your mouth; it steps down the pressure of the air from the tank and has a valve that opens to allow the diver to breath in air and closes after inhalation. (These things are delicate instruments it took decades to develop, and they cost a fortune.) The familiar older ones connect to the tank with two hoses, but newer models almost always employ a single hose. On hand are her swim fins. Surprisingly, these were not used much till the 1940's. The Italians in World War II were pioneers in underwater demolition and their divers were the first to use them extensively. Also, to watch what's going on, is a friendly and curious sea bird, a dovekie. Incidentally, the scuba (short for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) was only developed in the late forties, in part by the legendary Jacques Cousteau. Before that, rebreathers, using a different technology that recycled air, were used, but mostly for escape from submarines. Most early divers used cumbersome diving suits with air pumped down from the surface.
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