Re: Diver safe; 4 others rescued - More Driftin' Dans?

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Posted by on March 29, 2005 at 11:56:44:

In Reply to: Re: Diver safe; 4 others rescued - More Driftin' Dans? posted by Chuck Tribolet on March 29, 2005 at 11:15:08:

It was my boat and the person on the boat was not as competent as I
thought. He didn't know he was drifting because he was hiding under
the front of the boat from the ocean spray and wind. Before the dive
the anchor line was set and we gave it a few minutes to assure it
was going to stay set before we started the dive. I think that we
caused the anchor to detach when we were going down the anchor
line. I did set about double the needed line due to the wind. When
we reached the bottom the vis was 2 feet and we all decided to abort
the dive. This is when things went bad. We got separated trying to
ascend due to a ripping current and no vis. When we surfaced the
boat was gone and I could only see one of the other divers and tried
to swim to him. When we met up we thought that the boat was going
to come back once my friend on the boat figured out he was
drifting. After an hour of hard swimming we knew he was not coming
back and we attempted to swim to shore. On the boat my friend did
call the Coast Guard but he was about 5 miles from the dive site
before he realized he had drifted. We were pretty much on our own.
After a while I could see two safety sausages closer to shore so I
new that four of the five of use was accounted for. I also could
see the emergency vehicles flashing lights at Lovers Point. I used
my canister light and began waving it back and forth towards the
shore, when I could see the shore between swells. I later found out
that a bystander on shore saw the light and notified the authorities
who were looking for the Kayaker who was lost and not us. The four
of us were all picked up by a private boat which was also looking
for the lost kayaker. We then continued the search for the missing
diver and kayaker. About 2 miles off shore we met up with the Coast
Guard and the four of use divers were transferred to their vessel.
We again continued to look for the missing diver (My girlfriend).
We first stumbled across my boat with my friend trying his best to
power through the waves back towards shore. The Coast Guard dropped
me off on my boat when I told them that my friend had little boating
experience. The Coast Guard Captain also asked me to lead them back
to the original dive site so they could get a bearing on the current
to help find my girlfriend. When I boarded my boat and started
heading back to the dive site I found out that the bilge pump had
failed from an electrical short caused by sea water. The back of
the boat was holding about two feet of water so I was instructed to
head back to the breakwater. I had one hell of a time obeying the
Coast Guard because I wanted to help in the search. I also wanted
to punch my friend, I still couldn't believe he did not know he was
drifting. My friend is a doctor and a very intelligent man. I made
it back to the break water with sea water coming out of the valve
cover gaskets of the boat; it almost sank and surely would have if I
would have disobeyed the Coast Guard. I pulled the boat out of the
water and every thing started to become real to me and the tears
started, I was terrified that my girlfriend was dead. I went to
Lovers Point and watched from the shore as the helicopter went back
and forth in the wrong area. I called the Coast Guard and explained
that the current was very strong and would have carried her North
East. The Coast Guard then continued the search further out into the
bay. The press arrived at Lovers Point so me and my buddy left and
went back to the break water. The Coast Guard dropped off the other
four divers at the dock and I was able to talk to the captain for a
minute and I told him once again the direction I thought she would
drift and that she had a flash light. They left the dock and
continued the search. The sun was setting and I called my
girlfriends mother and we both cried, I tried to keep my composure
but it wasn't happening. I sat in my truck listening to the Coast
Guard on the radio. The helicopter had left the bay to refuel and
then I heard the weather advisory from the San Francisco Coast Guard
station over the radio. There was a big storm heading in and it was
raining hard and still no sign of my girlfriend. I thought she was
dead. I called the Coast Guard on my cell because I was afraid they
would call off the search and I heard the radio say we found her. I
feared that they only found a body but they informed me she was
alive. The rest is a happy ending. All of us survived! All of us
are experienced divers and have combined experience of well over a
couple of thousand dives in Monterey and Carmel bay. This was by
far not the worst conditions I have dived in. I learned a valuable
lesson yesterday. There are many things that can go wrong and they
all happened to us. Thank God for the Coast Guard and a group of
tough divers that knew what to do in an emergency. The single piece
of equipment that saved her life was a $30.00 UK flash light. Many
of us divers leave our boats unattended while diving which can lead
to the same circumstances. If you leave a person on your boat make
sure that person has basic seamanship skills. If you guys have any
questions fell free to e-mail me. I'm sore and tired and will
answer anything questions other divers might have. I love Monterey
and the dive community I hope that this helps explain what happened
to us and others may learn from our experience. One thing I know
for sure is I have a smart, strong, and beautiful dive buddy. She
kicks ass.


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