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    The publication date for issue 289 is the 10th of December, meaning subscribers should receive their copies during the week leading up to that date. It is also available from caving suppliers such as Inglesport and Starless River, or from our new website

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Aquanaut ? a life beneath the surface (Rick Stanton)

Duncan Price

Active member
?Aquanaut ? a life beneath the surface? by Rick Stanton (with Karen Dealy)

aquanaut.jpg


Published by Michael Joseph (2021)

HB 448 pages. Size 156 x 240 mm ISBN 978-0-2414-2126-0 ?20


?What could possibly go wrong??

These are the opening words from Rick Stanton?s book about how a ?pensioner? (Rick) and a ?computer geek? (John Volanthen) became embroiled in the rescue of a youth football team and their coach from Tham Luang Cave in Thailand during 2018.  The same question crops up throughout the text as we are treated to a candid account of the life and times of one of the world's most accomplished cave-divers (despite the fact that a doctor described him as ?temperamentally unsuited? for such an activity).

I have been privileged to have known the subject of the book for over 30 years and when we first met in 1990, he was called ?Richard.?  I have documented some of our antics in my own memoir and I am touched by the affection shown to me in the main body of the text despite a libellous remark buried in the endnotes which put my nose out joint - I guess that it is Rick?s revenge for all those years of mickey-taking about the size of his own olfactory apparatus.  I also consider Karen Dealy (Rick?s co-author) a good friend and am embarrassed that I was sent a copy of Aquanaut before she was able to see it.  It?s impossible to be uncharitable about this publication given my connection with its writers.

Aquanaut is framed around the story of the successful extraction of 13 boys and young men trapped by underground by floodwaters.  These events are spiced up by a lot of additional detail.  For example, whilst the Australian contingent of Craig Challen and Richard Harris had secured diplomatic immunity should the situation in Thailand turn nasty, British officials simply planned to spirit their contingent off to the embassy in the back of a van for ?extraction? later.  ?Very James Bond!? according to Rick with typical dry humour.

However, no-one should be defined by just one action: Rick has been fortunate to have done so much that his biography would have made fascinating reading before the Thai rescue occurred.  Cave exploration has always been Rick?s vocation as becomes quickly apparent from the description of his lifestyle.  His discoveries in the UK and abroad are documented in addition to the numerous cave diving related rescues and recoveries that he and his friends have undertaken.  This book is long overdue and number of words (125,000) barely do him justice.  (For those too lazy to read it, Aquanaut is being released as an audiobook narrated principally by actor Don Gil?t.  From personal experience, I can thoroughly recommend listening to Rick?s stories to occupy long car journeys).

It is difficult to find serious fault with the story telling - despite being familiar with the plot, I found it hard to put down.  There are few pictures and illustrations: by his own admission Rick is not a person to take photos and couldn?t be bothered with organising permissions to use those of others.  The schematic cave maps reflect his economy of effort in providing enough information for the reader (but not plenty) and the text is scattered with citations contained in chapter-specific endnotes.  The latter add to the narrative, although I found myself frequently turning to the back of the book to read them immediately rather than refer to them later.

It is tempting to draw comparisons with John Volanthen?s book (Thirteen Lessons that Saved Thirteen Lives) which came out shortly before Aquanaut ? I understand that the release dates for both books were brought forward due to competition between the respective publishers.  Thirteen Lives illustrates the thought processes required to plan and execute the rescue whereas Aquanaut reaches the same conclusion by a different route.  Both books have a glossary to help the reader, but Aquanaut lacks an index which would have been useful for anyone wanting to employ it as a reference to specific caves explored by Rick (or quickly finding out what he has to say about them) ? you?ll just have to read the whole thing.

One thing that struck me most about Aquanaut was the amount of emotion conveyed by the authors.  It really is a rollercoaster of feelings ranging from the elation of discovery, sadness from the loss of a friend, to the stark realisation that one has become a victim to one?s own success.  Several themes run throughout the book which unite in the cave divers? bold attempt to save the Wild Boar football team using every bit of ingenuity and determination that they could muster.

Join Rick on his adventures...

What could possibly go wrong?
 

PeteHall

Moderator
Rather embarrassingly, I've not managed to get very far reading my copy yet and it arrived two days ago...  :-[

In my defence, I have been busy tinkering, sorting and fixing kit ahead of the weekend's caving/ diving. To quote Rick again "Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. Probably"
(I've used the 7 P's for many years, but Rick's addition of "probably" made me smile  :LOL:
 

MinimalMayhem

New member
Duncan Price said:
?Aquanaut ? a life beneath the surface? by Rick Stanton (with Karen Dealy)

aquanaut.jpg


Published by Michael Joseph (2021)

HB 448 pages. Size 156 x 240 mm ISBN 978-0-2414-2126-0 ?20


?What could possibly go wrong??

These are the opening words from Rick Stanton?s book about how a ?pensioner? (Rick) and a ?computer geek? (John Volanthen) became embroiled in the rescue of a youth football team and their coach from Tham Luang Cave in Thailand during 2018.  The same question crops up throughout the text as we are treated to a candid account of the life and times of one of the world's most accomplished cave-divers (despite the fact that a doctor described him as ?temperamentally unsuited? for such an activity).

I have been privileged to have known the subject of the book for over 30 years and when we first met in 1990, he was called ?Richard.?  I have documented some of our antics in my own memoir and I am touched by the affection shown to me in the main body of the text despite a libellous remark buried in the endnotes which put my nose out joint - I guess that it is Rick?s revenge for all those years of mickey-taking about the size of his own olfactory apparatus.  I also consider Karen Dealy (Rick?s co-author) a good friend and am embarrassed that I was sent a copy of Aquanaut before she was able to see it.  It?s impossible to be uncharitable about this publication given my connection with its writers.

Aquanaut is framed around the story of the successful extraction of 13 boys and young men trapped by underground by floodwaters.  These events are spiced up by a lot of additional detail.  For example, whilst the Australian contingent of Craig Challen and Richard Harris had secured diplomatic immunity should the situation in Thailand turn nasty, British officials simply planned to spirit their contingent off to the embassy in the back of a van for ?extraction? later.  ?Very James Bond!? according to Rick with typical dry humour.

However, no-one should be defined by just one action: Rick has been fortunate to have done so much that his biography would have made fascinating reading before the Thai rescue occurred.  Cave exploration has always been Rick?s vocation as becomes quickly apparent from the description of his lifestyle.  His discoveries in the UK and abroad are documented in addition to the numerous cave diving related rescues and recoveries that he and his friends have undertaken.  This book is long overdue and number of words (125,000) barely do him justice.  (For those too lazy to read it, Aquanaut is being released as an audiobook narrated principally by actor Don Gil?t.  From personal experience, I can thoroughly recommend listening to Rick?s stories to occupy long car journeys).

It is difficult to find serious fault with the story telling - despite being familiar with the plot, I found it hard to put down.  There are few pictures and illustrations: by his own admission Rick is not a person to take photos and couldn?t be bothered with organising permissions to use those of others.  The schematic cave maps reflect his economy of effort in providing enough information for the reader (but not plenty) and the text is scattered with citations contained in chapter-specific endnotes.  The latter add to the narrative, although I found myself frequently turning to the back of the book to read them immediately rather than refer to them later.

It is tempting to draw comparisons with John Volanthen?s book (Thirteen Lessons that Saved Thirteen Lives) which came out shortly before Aquanaut ? I understand that the release dates for both books were brought forward due to competition between the respective publishers.  Thirteen Lives illustrates the thought processes required to plan and execute the rescue whereas Aquanaut reaches the same conclusion by a different route.  Both books have a glossary to help the reader, but Aquanaut lacks an index which would have been useful for anyone wanting to employ it as a reference to specific caves explored by Rick (or quickly finding out what he has to say about them) ? you?ll just have to read the whole thing.

One thing that struck me most about Aquanaut was the amount of emotion conveyed by the authors.  It really is a rollercoaster of feelings ranging from the elation of discovery, sadness from the loss of a friend, to the stark realisation that one has become a victim to one?s own success.  Several themes run throughout the book which unite in the cave divers? bold attempt to save the Wild Boar football team using every bit of ingenuity and determination that they could muster.

Join Rick on his adventures...

What could possibly go wrong?
If I?m honest I think I prefer this to JV?s book. Both are good but the writing in Aquanaut stands out.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

badger

Member
Having read both books it shows I think the different personalities between Ric & Jon. And hence why they work so well together. For me what Ric book brought to the table was the frustration and emotion of the rescue of the wild boars. Must have been difficult trying to do what you know your skill set can achieve with all the hurdles put in front of them. The one thing that frustrated me was the references you had to turn to the back of the book instead of the bottom of the page. Both books thoroughly good reads.
 

wellyjen

Active member
For those that are happy with ebooks, there are now deep discounts on this one. Just purchased it for 99p from Kobo (because they aren't Amazon). Also available from Amazon for the same price. Looking forward to reading this.
 

JoshW

Active member
Bear ghrls is a definition of a cock womble
Without intending on totally derailing this thread (although I haven't done that in a while..) so bored of this forum's bashing of the bloke.

He's an active inspiration for getting young people involved in the outdoors. Even if they need a bit of gentle direction at that point to ensure they're doing it safely that's gotta be better than nowt right?
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
It's very good - mainly about the Thai rescue effort but also explaining much of the life journey which led to being in a position to be part of that rescue effort. Any caver would enjoy this book.

Spoiler: don't read the St. Sauveur story shortly before going to bed; you'll not be able to sleep!
 

Ian P

Active member
I listened to Ric’s book on “Audible” and currently listening to Johns.
The audio format really brings a different “dimension” to the experience, particularly Johns as he narrates it all himself. (Ric also does a couple of chapters on his ).

Both fascinating and excellent “listens”
 

FabianE

New member
The Amazon version seems to have been renamed "Thirteen Lives Saved Aquanaut"
As it seems yeah... The Hardcover version on Amazon just says Aquanaut (£20), the Softcover version seems altered but is ultimately better for the bank 😁
 

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