It was time to go.I loaded up my pile of gear and threw it in a jumbled pile into the back of the NED GCA and fired her up.


A sixpack of aircooled cylinders started pumping and I looked forward to a pleasant d(r)ive this evening; its 90 liter tank was full of its favorite mix.Over the whale tail I looked to the rear and slowly backed out of her slip with just a slight nudge on the throttle.Others were leaving also and a fleet of diverse transports, mostly virtual tugboats and barges were underway.I wondered if they took ginger to prevent getting seasick from their SUVís spongy suspensions.


Channeled out over the bridge out to the main drag, I was first in line by the red marker, waiting for its green flash so I could join the rush hour traffic that ripped swiftly along, an outgoing tide in a sea of humanity.


As I waited, I activated my Valentine computer so as to make sure that my multilane d(r)ive would be performed without having sudden decompression in case any PADI Police on patrol happened to see that I was d(r)iving solo today.


As the light turned amber, I almost held my breath.


In another moment, we could claim 'starboard', then the signal came and I plunged in.My lead weightbelt slid down around my right foot.I knew it wouldn't be a problem as I had new rubber on my heels...


First gear, Second...


Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a big old Barracuda, claiming the empty road ahead as his territory."NOT!"I thought and pulled open the J valve on my little pony bottle of Nitrox and shifted to Third.


Plunging deep down into the darkness as a bridge became an overhead environment, I turned my driving lights on as the EAS (Equivalent Air Speed) bounced to 260fsw, then shifted to Fourth.


Rearview mirror...what 'Cuda? :-) Ahhhh.Then I realized that I was d(r)iving without my SNELL hood or Nomex driveskin, so I reduced my air:fuel mix and coasted up to a shallower, more recreational velocity.


But then I saw that old Barracuda was again closing in from behind.From its rusty stripes on its sides, I could tell that he was a great old one at that, one with REAL teeth.Up ahead, there were cattleboats from Bob Soto's Red & Tan Bus line overflowing with scores of retirees going to try the waters at the Atlantic City casinos monopolized the HOV channel...a gap!


"He's as crazy as I am!" I though to myself as we clipped passed "130fsw limit" signs with very Narcosis-glazed eyes too busy to read them.My gages were redlined, so I knew that this must soon stop, for safety.Then, there in the median, a dark shadow of a car and then we saw bright flashing lights pull out.I knew that we had been caught, BIG time.


As we pulled over, I stewed..."I'm a NAUI" I thought, "Its just not fair that the PADI Police make the rules."As I sat waiting, the Barracuda pulled out from behind and as he went past, its driver gave me a big smile and a wave.Dang, that was way too quick for a ticket."He musta been an instructor", I mused.


"C-Card, DAN Membership and your regulator's maintenance records, please", the officer tersely said.I dimly remember handing them over as I was thinking that it must be hard to rip up plastic, even with a titanium dive knife.


"I see that everything is in order", she said with a smile."But fortunately for you, I'm really from NAPI._They_ are a nautical mile up the road, so I say 'Enjoy! ...BUT...know your limits and d(r)ive within them.'"


Then, with a twinkle in her eye, she waved me goodbye.


To all, a joyous Yule and a Merry - and safe - New Year.



copyright:1994, 1997, 2006H. Huntzinger