The Last Dive
A Father and Son’s Fatal Descent into the Ocean’s Depths
by Bernie Chowdhury
The sport of technical diving was until very recently a fringe passion, undertaken by a few fanatics smitten by the captivating world that lay beneath the ordinary limits of recreational diving, usually defined as diving shallower than 130 feet using only compressed air. Only in he last five years or so has technical diving – which involves using mixed gases, complex equipment, and elaborate decompression stops, and is theoretically limitless in depth – become accepted by the dive community. Along the way, there have been some awful deaths, including Chris and Chrissy Rouse, a father and son team who were killed in a mystery submarine off the Atlantic coast in October 1992.
The Last Dive is a chronological tour of technical diving that guides the reader through two stories: a trial-and-error process to understand the limits of the human body at depth, and an explanation of how the Rouse team fell victim to deep-diving’s lure. Chowdhury is well positioned to present this tale, since he is himself an accomplished diver and dived frequently with the Rouses.
The book is extremely technical at times, which makes the author’s attempt to spin a gripping narrative falter, but one can empathize with the characters as they reach ever deeper into wrecks and caves to retrieve artifacts and pursue a sense of wonder.
HarperCollins, New York; 355 pages; $25.