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Chamber Dive

March 11, 2010

Going for a dive in the hyperbaric chamber has been on my list of scuba-related things to do for a while.

A few visits we had planned when I was studying in Florida were cancelled and I finally got the chance to go for a dry dive at the Wesley Centre for Hyperbaric Medicine in Brisbane last week.

I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit that while all of the information about the chamber and what it’s used to treat was interesting, I was most excited for getting narced.


We were going for a 50-metre dive, the second-deepest dive I’ve ever done, and I really wanted to see what it was like to fully relax and let the nitrogen narcosis do its thing.

When you’re doing a dive in the ocean at 50m (or at least when I am), all I can think about is my bottom time and air supply. I get very paranoid and don’t relax until I am back at a more familiar depth like 20m.

Ten of us, plus our supervisor Archie, were crammed into the smaller section of the chamber, which is rated to 52m. The initial pressure change caught us all a little off guard and we were furiously clearing our ears on the entire descent.

When we finally reached 50m we all relaxed.

We could hear Archie’s voice getting higher and higher during our descent as he communicated with the chamber tech on the outside but when the first person started to talk and sounded like a munchkin from The Wizard of Oz we all burst into uncontrollable laughter.

During the few minutes before our ascent we tried to say things that made sense but all we could do was laugh, especially at the men and their unusually high voices.

The fog of narcosis lifted as we slowly made our ascent. We moved into the larger section of the chamber at 15 metres to sit in big comfy chairs and enjoy pizza and soda for dinner (my second favourite part of the night).

Going for a chamber dive is an entertaining and educational experience and something I recommend every diver try once. It’s not something I would do more than one or two more times (unless I had to of course).

If you live in southeast Queensland, or northern NSW, visit the Wesley Centre for Hyperbaric Medicine’s website:

Their staff all have previous professional dive experience and have more than enough interesting stories to keep you entertained during your decompression stops.

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