hobza: diving through europe #4September, 2009
der totale horror
On Day 7, I made it to Vlaardingen. As I tried to dive the Nieuwe Waterweg, I felt an overwhelming pull towards the center of the waterway, where the gigantic container ships are pushing through. There was no other choice but to cling on to an iron beam that happened to be sticking out of the water and wait for help. A group of retired seamen, who come to watch seafaring vessels at the Europoort, soon took notice of my plight. One of them, a man who has the vastness of the ocean burnt into his eyes, is in the habit of carrying a rope with an anchor in his car at all times. With a proud sense of honorable duty, which soon turned into amusement, he pulled me out of the water, joking with his buddies about his catch of the day.
It was clear that taking this main industrial route, the Nieuwe Waterweg, would be too much of a hazard at this point. To those currents, a human body means nothing more than any floating piece of garbage. I needed to dive a detour, so I took a swift, sharp left into the Delfskanal. This is a much narrower body of water, going right through the center of Rotterdam. The canal looked very still and peaceful, and I was looking forward to a more relaxed, introverted dive. I instructed Piet to film this sequence in perfect balance, keeping the water line at the classic golden section, moving very slowly, almost sluggishly, like you would move through mud.
The water was much cooler than I expected. Visibility was lower than ever. Holding my hand before me I could barely make out my five fingers. Yes, it felt claustrophobic. But you should have seen those colors! The mud revealed a stunning spectrum of ever-changing shades, continuously shifting from grayish green to almost neon yellow, then to reddish brown and back to grey. Looking upwards, I could make out glitters of sun and the most intense, perfect mid-blue tint of the sky. I turned onto my back, diving face up, feeling sucked towards the sky. Any sense of time or gravity had disappeared.
Suddenly I felt a deep certainty that I should come up, perhaps to find some orientation. The moment I reach the surface, I hear Piet scream in utter panic: KLAARAAAA!!!! KLAAAAAARAAAAA!!!! This was the primal scream of mortal fear, a yell that is still sitting in my bones. What? I didn´t see anything. I turned around. A container ship is rolling straight towards me, this mass of steel, tall as a building, oh shit, I swam and swam I don´t even think I had time to breathe.