Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Monday, February 06, 2006

Perfect Void

My League of the New Worlds team geared up just after breakfast for a dive offshore Cape Canaveral, Florida. Our mission: just to get wet in the void. For many years, I had wanted to dive in the open ocean void – out of sight of the land and in water so deep there was no bottom – at least for a SCUBA diver.

The boat sped away from Cape Canaveral’s modest harbor toward the open sea on a brilliantly lit Saturday morning. The boat was a simple, 22’ open cockpit craft loaded with four divers and gear. We ran quickly across the shallow waters colored a bright, almost pastel green and immediately into blue water. The swells were light and the surface relatively flat – a perfect morning for such a run out to sea in such a small craft. We cranked the engine wide open – we wanted to get out and away quickly before something kicked up and forced us back home. But in just a few minutes, we reached our destination and shut the engine down. As I looked behind us, the land had disappeared behind us and we were out and away – just what I had wanted. Quickly we geared up and dropped a sea anchor off just for good measure. Just as advertised, even though there was not enough current to detect with our eyes, the boat lazily drifted about and the anchor blossomed beneath us.

The only problem was – the sea was covered as far as we could see in a massive flotilla of balloon like objects that indicated thousands of Portuguese Man of War were hovering just beneath the surface. I measured the distance between their light blue colored balloon floats – it appeared we could safely dive around and between them. And so we cautiously dropped in the water.

The nearest jellyfish contingent was safely away from us so we deflated our buoyancy compensators and dropped down. Immediately, we entered a cloudy layer of water near the surface. It made me nervous enough – I don’t care for limited visibility in an environment I know about – but certainly not the open sea. I even committed to returning to the surface if it did not clear away. And I was not disappointed. In just ten feet, it cleared and I will never forget what I saw.

There was a layer of nearly forty feet of crystal clear ocean water below me. And below that, another cloudy layer of ocean water swirled. Like flying between cloud decks, we hovered there in the blue void – suspended without a visible surface above and above a feathery, swirling deck of submarine clouds below.

It was not what I expected to see. I had come to hover beneath the surface I could see and the blackness of the deep beneath me. Instead, I was suspended in a crystal clear layer of ocean with no clearly defined surface and no clearly defined bottom. It was the perfect void. As I looked across and away into the distance, I knew that the nearest land to the south was South America and to the east, the shores of Africa. As I hung there motionless, suspended and perfectly balanced, I was awed by what I was witnessing. Not just emptiness, but perfect emptiness, suspended in a layer of clear ocean water that was moving slowly north, caught in the far edge of the massive Gulf Stream just a few miles east.

Far too quickly, I had to look to the surface and begin floating slowly back again through the cloudy layer above my head. But before I lost sight of the vast blue void I stopped for one last look. It was unbelievably awesome and at the same time it was frightening. It was way too vast and far too powerful for the likes of one tiny human. And I was only permitted to stay just a brief little while. It was certainly worth the trip. And we just managed to again avoid the fleet of Man ‘o War waiting for our return.