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How A Submarine Diver Works

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We steaui quietly down along the coast for nearly two hours, until we reach the wreek, which is indicated by the topa of three masts taperiug a few feet above the surface. It is not certain yet that the vessel can be saved, and beforo work is begun a survey of tier bottom must be made by divers. We have noticed a atalwart fellow on the tug, who has a couragfcous face and a thick-set frame. He is one of the divers, who of all seaman have the strangest experiences. They go deep beneath the sea, separated only by a thread from death. Watch this man as he dona his submarino arinor and prepares to descend into the water. Over a suit of thick flannels ho puts a pair of trowsers and a jacket made from Indiarubber cloth. These fit close to the ankles, wrists, and across the chest. Xext he thrusts his head through a copper breast-plate provided with grooves, into which the body of the jacket is fitted and screwed down by an attendant. The head is now covered by a heimet, with a glasa face, which is also screwed to the breast-plate, - heimet and breast-plate weighing together about fifty-six pounds. Twenty-eight pounds more are added to this burthen by a pair of shoes with leaden soles, and thus equipped the diver resembles neither man nor fish. A nearsighted naturalist might puzzle over hiin for hours, without finding out to which species he belongs, so monstrous does he appear. And it is not surprising that the sharks themselves are afraid of the divers, and nee incontiuontly if one of their arma be outstretched. The extreme weight of the diver is fatiguing above water, and he ia glad to embark in the surfbnat, which hae been launched from the tug to convey hiin nearer the wreek than she daré approach. A few strokes of the oar bring the surveying party directly over the sunkeu vessel, and the final preparations for the descent are made. You and I watch breathlesaly, but the diver thinks very little about the dahger of what he is to do. One end of a coil of atrong rubber tubing is faatened to a mouth-piece at the back of the heimet, and the other end is connected with an air-pump in the boat. A hempen line is also secured to the outside of the heimet, and passes down the diver's right side, within easy reach of his hand. Upon this tubing and line his lite will depend. Four blocksof lead, weighing fifty pounds, are now slung over his shoulders ; and a waterproof bag, containing a hammer, a chisel, and a dirk-hife, is fastened over his breast. A short iron ladder is lowered over the starboard side of the boat, and the diver heavily clirabs down each round. His weight causes the boat to dance and rock unsteadily. It is a very exciting moment for a novice, I can teil you ! His comrades watch. his movementa attentively, and in another moment he is standing on the bottom round oí the ladder. Two men stand by the handles of the air-pump at the other end of the boat. All is ready. The diver grasps a rope, to prevent a too rapid descent ; he releaaes the ladder, and the green water awella over and hides him. Full fathoms five he sinks; and as the sea closes about him, the greaL weight of his arinor dwindles away, and his movements ure as free as an athlete's. - Smoothly he deseends, and soon feels his feet touching the hard sand. His foothold is unsteady ; for notwithstanding the weights attached to him, he is stiil too boyant, and once or twice he pulls the signal-line for lesa air. Well he knows that, unless the aupply be rightly adjusted, he will either be suffocated or sent bubbling to the surface feet first. But his signáis are heeded, and as hia tread becomes firm, he glancea around him out of the little window in his helinet. Shoalg of fish crowd inquisitively near, and some daringly rub their noses against his breast ; but a wave of bis band drives them off in utmost terror. - A few yards away hes the wreek, bedded in the sand, and plainly visiblo in tho green ligbt of the depths. There is as muoh light, indeed, as we have on shore during ordinary foggy weather. Tho diver approaches cautiously. His greatest pcril is in the tangled rigging and splinters, which might twist or break the air-pipt) and signal-line. He does not move a step without first finding out whitber it will lead bim, and in good time be safely ronches the buil. ïhus far he is pleased with the "job;" the water is clear and bis feet do not sink into the sand. líow he begins bis search for the damages, and works for four or five hours without interruption, examining the vessel in every part, and humming a lively tune as he moves briskly about. The water is cold, and if he loiters he will be chilled ; and, moreover, be understands that industry is the best cure for the loneliness of his position. At last, he signáis to ascend, and he is brought on board the tug-boat. The inaster wreckers crowd about bim for information. " Can the vessel be saved ?" " She oan," be answers. The planking amidships, a few feet above the keel, has been torn away ; but she holds together, and if the weather is fair sbe inay be atloat again in two weeks. The diver, having removed bis dress, then calinly sits down to eat, while preparations are making for another descent. An old diver is as comfortable under water as above, and can do eight hours' work a day in seven or eigbt fathoms. - As the business is precarious, however, the men are paid $150 a month, and supplied with board and lodging. Do they serve an apprenticeship 'i Not exactly tbat, but must of them have been attendants to other divers, and have picked up the secretó in that way. "I waited on a man myself, and didn't get promoted until I knew the service like a book," says the diver, as he rises and calis for his boy. - " All ready, Torn '{ Excuse me now, sir ; it's time to go down again." And so be leaves us. Two other men accompany hiin in his next descent, and after they have been down for an hour or two they signal to the men in the boat, and the heavy cable that we have Been is_lowered to them. In their curious dress, they work togetber with a will, and drag the massive links of iron underneath the huil of the ship, - one length amidships, a second leugth astern, and a third length forward. This is slow work, and before it is complete night has set in, and the divers are brought to the surface. Betimes next day it is resumed, and when the center of each great chain is right under the keel, the pontoons are towed over the wreek Meanwhile, constant commumcatiori is established between tbe men below and the men in the boats, by means of the signal-line. Once in about four hours the divers come to the surface for fresh air and food. But these pontoons- what are they 'i Let us pause a moment to glance at them. Tbey are built of wood, and painted black. The largest measure 120 feet in length, 18feet in width, and 14 feet in depth. Those selected for the present case are much smaller, and three are stationed at each side of the wreek to buoy her. In each pontoon there areseveral wells, or holes, running through the center, from deck to bottom. Into these the divers insert the ends of the three cables, wbich aredrawn upward by hydraulic power. This part of the work costs severe effort and much time, and wben it is done theiujured vessel, as a doctor would say, in on the the fair way to recovery. The cables are drawn up through the wells, link by link, and are tightened gradaally, until the wreek lifts. She rises slowly, and the pontoons groan from the weight bearing upon them as they are drawn nearer to her. For some time yet she is out of sight ; but, at last, her deck is seen dimly through the waves, and soon afterwards it is above water. The wïeckers, as we observed, are impassive in their manner ; but they cannot repress their entbusiasm over tbe suqcess, and two or three of the more excitable


Old News
Michigan Argus