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Frightened of deep water

Discussion in 'Discovery / Salvage / Exploration / Exhibits' started by Rich Hayden, Nov 4, 2018.

  1. Rich Hayden

    Rich Hayden Member

    I apologise if this is in the wrong section, but I wonder if anyone else finds their interest in the Titanic, especially in the wreck, hampered by a phobia of deep water?

    I've been a Titanic enthusiast for years ever since I found a secondhand copy of Geoffrey Marcus's book, The Maiden Voyage. As a kid, I remember the wreck being discovered and got Ballard's books, etc. but I find it really hard to look at photographs of the wreck or video because of the depth at which it lies. It *really* freaks me out. I hated deep water and running water, even as a child, but it's actually got worse to the extent that I now try and avoid any pictures of the wreck itself. Even doing image searches on Google have to be done in daylight in case I inadvertently glimpse an underwater pic... Pathetic and really annoying!

    ETA: apparently it's called bathophobia or thalassophobia. Surely it must be pretty common?
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
    SmileyGirl likes this.
  2. Thank you, Rich -

    I have never had that problem myself as long as I'm looking at pictures or even movies.
    So thank you very much for your post.
    One of the things I have found about this website as you are always finding out something new.
    I must confess that I had never heard about that problem, so it is certainly interesting to hear about it.

    I must also confess that I am probably one of the world's worst acrophobiacs - fear of heights - and aquaphobia- fear of water.
    But as long as I have something rigid such as a low wall or frame or window I have no problem with the height. It is just a problem if I am even in the roof of the house I have a fear of the height if there is nothing between me and the roof and the ground. When I was in the Navy as a radar technician I was always afraid I would have to climb a high mast to work on the radar antenna. But luckily there was another technician who took care of this.
    Also in the Navy I feared jumping into the water in the swimming pool in a gymnasium at Navy Boot Camp at the first. But after several weeks of being in "The Non-Swimmer's Detail" training, I finally decided , for better or worst, I would give a try. I found to my surprise, that I could actually float, and kick my legs and feet and paddle with my arms and swim just enough to qualify and get off "The Non-Swimmer's Detail" Squad.But that was my first, last only attempt at swimming. Even today, many, many, years later when I go to the swimming pool at a motel, I am still afraid to swim and I just lie in the water or lie on my back at most and just go there for the relaxation at the shallow end of the pool..
    I'm just posting this for an explanation of my own experience.
    I really don't have the slightest idea of how I would have dwelt with this on the Titanic.
    I don't know if this would be of any interest or help to you.
    SmileyGirl likes this.
  3. Dave Gittins

    Dave Gittins Member

    I don't have any problem looking at pictures of the wreck. As a rock hopping yachtie I've never been in more than about 70 metres of water. I've swum in up to 15 metres without a care, other than our famous white pointers. I've often thought it would be a very strange feeling to swim in 4,000 metres. It would pay not to have a vivid imagination. I wonder if any Titanic survivors left any comment on their feelings.
  4. Doug Criner

    Doug Criner Member

    After the loss of USS Thresher, U.S. submarines were limited in depth, for a few years, pending completion of "Subsafe" modifications. After that, I sailed aboard the first nuclear submarine that descended to full test depth. It didn't bother me - even with the noisy hull creaking, piping rearranging itself, and a few minor leaks. But, I can hardly bear to climb higher than the first three steps on a stepladder. Riding a Ferris wheel? - totally out of the question. But, flying in an airplane at 30,000 ft isn't an issue. Irrational fear and irrational fearlessness are hard to fathom.
  5. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    I've enjoyed "Hands to Bathe" as we called it in the Royal Navy, in a number of locations around the globe. Not sure of the depths below us but I would imagine in some places it would have been 100's of metres deep.

    As we used to say, you haven't gone for a swin in the sea until you've jumped off a warship into the water and had a man on watch armed with a rifle to take out any sharks who may fancy a nibble.
    Steven Christian likes this.
  6. Doug Criner

    Doug Criner Member

    "Hands to Bathe"? In the U.S. Navy, it's called "swim call." A gunner's mate with a rifle would have been reassuring.
    Rob Lawes likes this.
  7. We never had a swim call on my ship. It wasn't practable as once we left port our ship never stopped. But our escorts had swim calls or so I was told. I've been scuba diving since 1975 and in 40 plus years of diving I've been below 100 ft once. In my experience all the best diving is 10' to 50'. I actually like 5' to 15' snorkling...thats the best. So I guess deep water dosen't bother me too much. Of course being stuck in open water alone would be another story.
  8. It's just never been an issue for me. It's the history that matters. It's not like I'm swimming for my life behind my monitor.
    Rob Lawes likes this.
  9. Rich Hayden

    Rich Hayden Member

    Thanks for the replies! I would struggle even to be on-board a ship above the wreck site let alone diving to the wreck itself. It's just an irrational fear but it does negatively impact my interest. For years I assumed it was probably more common than it seems to be.
  10. Deep water is anything you can't stand in keeping your head above it.
    Rancor and David G. Brown like this.
  11. Rich Hayden

    Rich Hayden Member

    Yep! That's true!

    I live in a very remote part of the UK. The other week I went for a walk along a broad, gravelled footpath, late-ish in the evening. On the way back I was surrounded by almost total darkness and empty moorland. For some reason, images and imaginings about the Titanic wreck popped into my head, very momentarily. Suddenly the gravel seemed like the ocean floor and the darkness was 12,500ft of water above me.

    I really *struggled* not to freak out and literally run back to the house. I just thought about something else and calmed my mind. As I said, it's just an irrational fear but it's annoying when it genuinely impacts upon a subject you're interested in.

    I asked someone today about it, whether, for example, they could watch video from the Titanic's wreck, and they said it didn't bother them at all.

    ETA: I didn't mean for this to turn into some of explanatory therapy session. I just wondered if anyone felt the same thing. As I said before, I thought it would be very common but it seems not.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  12. I only served on sea duty for a little over 2 1/2 years - on one ship for about 6 months and on another for a a little over 2 years.
    We never had a swim call on either ship for the same reasons.
    The only reports of swim calls I had ever read about were about ships in the Pacific Ocean during World War Two.
  13. I saw recentley where a ship in the med had a swim call. It was on an LST I believe. I guess thats pretty much up to the Captain if they want to have them. I could see on something like a mine sweeper or even a destroyer where it wouldn't be hard to have one. PT/Riverboats probably a daily thing in the tropics. But on a bird farm even if it was anchored would still be a hassle.
  14. Tim Aldrich

    Tim Aldrich Member

    Rich, I kinda have a similar fear. Not to the point of not being able to look at wreck photos and videos, but it's there. The ships themselves are what give me problems, probably due to the large sizes. Canoe, no problem. Titanic, problem. If I had been in the lifeboat (15 was it?) that drifted under the propellers as the stern came out of the water, I would have been screaming from terror. Strangely though, I wouldn't have any problem having been IN the ship.
    Rich Hayden likes this.
  15. Rich Hayden

    Rich Hayden Member

    I think all these weird, irrational fears are related in some way. I totally get the horror of being in a lifeboat, drifting under the huge propellers with this great bulk above you. Maybe it's about feeling small against something vast, like a height, or depth or structure. I have a phobia of heights too and I guess bathyphobia is just an inversion of it.

    Exposure therapy would probably help so maybe I'll start looking at some wreck photos and seeing how it goes! The famous one of the destroyed stern that I think Cameron took, spotlighted by arc lamps, has never been something I could look at so perhaps I'll start there.
  16. Dave Gittins

    Dave Gittins Member

    The sea can provide weird experiences. Back in about 2001 our ports went mad on security and when QE2 came in divers were sent to search her hull for limpet mines. One of the police divers told me that he swam along the length of the hull, with only about one metre between the hull and the bottom of the berth. He was very aware of the thousands of tons of steel just above his head.
    Rich Hayden likes this.
  17. I actually signed up to this message board just to reply to this. I thought I was the only one with this phobia. I’ve been interested in Titanic since I was little but seeing photos or videos of the wreck always made me very uneasy.

    My mom took me to see the movie back when it came out and when it the ship began to sink I begged her to take me home. I didn’t understand why it affected me the way it did until I got older and realized I had thalassopobia.

    I’ll still look at photos and videos, it’s not completely debilitating, but there are times it almost takes my breath. The water has to be really deep and dark to bother me, but unfortunately that’s exactly where she rests now. Funny thing is I’m a second mate/watchmen on a towboat that runs the lower Mississippi River. I guess it’s not deep enough to bother me, but yes you are not the only one who feels uncomfortable about it.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  18. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey Member

    I had never seen this thread before but find it interesting.

    I am a retired scuba diver and have been regularly to 40 metres and also done 100 night dives. So personally I have no fears of deep water but have met a strange character who does.

    This man is the husband of my regular dive buddy during the days when I used to dive in the UK. He is tall, athletic and a superb swimmer. But the prospect of going underwater terrifies him irrationally and he cannot even snorkel without panicking. His wife had told me that but on one occasion when she was not there, I asked him to try joining me in a trial dive in a pool (max depth 4 metres). The moment his head went underwater, he panicked so much that he nearly drowned both of us.
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  19. I have met more than than one person who has that phobia. Its understanable because if you think about it its not a natural thing for humans to go and stay under water. When I was taught to dive the rule was always go with a dive buddy. But over the years I found myself diving more and more alone. Now they have Solo Diver certifications. I never looked into it because I don't know what they could tell you you don't already know. I love to scuba but I like snorkleing in 5-15' even more.
    SmileyGirl likes this.
  20. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey Member

    I personally think that the Buddy System is an excellent idea. One never knows when help might be needed.
    SmileyGirl likes this.