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was this TARAVANA ? Was I wrong to get DRUNK?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.


senior water baby
Jan 29, 2002
hi everybody,

one sweet sunny day quite a few years back,
whe I spearfished for a living,
I was freedive-hunting on a drop-off.

This was on the island of Rhodes/Greece.
The water was of Aegean clarity(about 60m/200 ft)
I could not see the bottom beyond the drop-off.

About 20-25 m (65 to 80 ft) down
a horizontal crack
runs across the vertical cliff's face.

That rare day there were 5 or 6 grouper
swimming in and out of that uneven crack.

These were chase-smart fish.
They fooled me mercilessly.

In almost 1 1/2 hours of constant freediving and
trying to outsmart them
I'd nailed and gotten to the surface just one
4 to 5 pounder.

I was beginning to get that numb feeling in my legs
and decided: 'one more dive and I'll call it quits'

I dove down and spent my air chasing and actually
spearing and keeping a 3-pounder.

I was just beginning my final uphill climb
when the biggest of the fish, about
12 to 15 lbs stuck his head out of the crack.
I stuck the spear in the arbalete,
left the 3-pounder on it, reloaded both rubbers
and went
down again two meters.
Nearly got a good shot at the fish,
decided against it.

When I wanted to start upwards
my legs didn't work.

And wouldn't work.

I ended up desperately
clawing my way to the surface,

using everything I knew to make it happen.
Several times seemingly sucking my mask
through my face.

I made it.

(Idiotically I did not drop the gun with the fish
I just hooked my elbow through the spear line).

On the rocks I dragged myself out
with my elbows.

Then I turned over,
sat myself up
and began to massage my legs.


When i lifted each leg separately
with both hands
by the knee and let go.
It just flopped down.
I pinched myself hard.
- no pain anywhere.

I was paralyzed from my hips down.

(didn't even think to check on my
reproductive gear)

what a desparate scene!

I did not stop massaging.

a good half hour later
my right leg began to tingle
as if very much asleep.

My God!


That night, Malcom, a Brit
whose girlfriend had just left him,
and I
got very drunk
- we threw up three
times and each time drank some more.

an excellent classical guitarist growled
played 'Roll over Beethoven'
on his guitar for over two hours nonstop
his fingers were bleeding...


Was this TARAVANA?

Of course it was wrong to get totally blotted out
but can anyone explain why it is (might be)
(very) harmful?

thanks !

...peter, www.juprowa.com/kittel

Taravana - now there's a word you don't hear very often (for those unsure of the meaning - it is a term from asian pearl divers who used this term to describe and bad event that happened on a dive. If you read the literature on it now it looks like it encompasses both having DCS and/or SWB).

Wow (again) - if it was a bend then you probably wouldn't have recovered. It obviously wasn't SWB either. The only theory that I have that may shed some light is that you extinguished your glycogen stores in your legs, which would certainly account for the lack of response and also the lack of feeling. You must have a strong dive response (peripheral vasoconstriction) to mange it too.

  • Like
Reactions: Klaas Feenstra
Hi Peter and Ben,

Taravana is an Polynesian word and means 'to fall crazily'. Historicaly it was used for (free)divers who where affected by DCS with permanent neurological damage. An excelent article can be found at the Scubadoc and the Scubamed site:

Breathold diving: Taravana by Ernest S. Campbell, MD


Taravana: Decompression sickness from free diving by Fred Bove, MD, PhD:

Since I am not a Medical Doctor (yet) I would advice to see a diving doctor for when you want to be sure about what is was, or if it left any damage.

It is my opinion however that accidents like this should be examined and gathered to research phenomea like this, just like the DCS studies of Divers Alert Network. Some intrested to start a research like that?

Rik Rösken
Medical Student
am I the only one or have YOU...?

Hi Ben and Rik,

thanks for the comments!

I thought that if you did a lot of consecutive
freedives to near your limit
you got that logy(lazy, heavy)
feeling in lower legs

- a good indication that you
ought to: STOP

Q: Am I the only one
or have more of you experienced this?

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