Re: Account from diver on board the boat

Outer Bamnks diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by . on April 26, 2004 at 19:03:21:

In Reply to: Account from diver on board the boat posted by Melvin Pasley on April 26, 2004 at 19:00:29:

Did not get the name of the wreck due to the chaos that this trip turned out to be, boat name and name of the shop chartering it will remain unnamed. The incident was diver and mostly DM error. The boat captain handled it extremely well, though he was not happy to say the least.

Date: 4/25/04
Time of Dive: 11:24
Dive Time (duration): 21
Vis: 5@0-80ft 30-35@100+
Wave height: 3-4ft (Strong Surface Current)
Water Temp: 54@119fsw (Suunto)
MAX Depth: 119fsw


First time I tried to go down the anchor line, the current was a pain in the butt and my mask was flooding, so I came back up and called the dive. After the group got back up, they said it was neat, so I decided to give it another go.

Dropped down the anchor line. My buddy flew down the anchor line and I had to rush to keep up with her. Found the wreck 30 feet off the anchor line. Swam around the wreck for about 6 minutes until my computer was beeping away warning my about my NDL (Suunto computers are VERY conservative), so I signalled to my buddy that I had to ascend, she signalled OK and that was the last I saw of her. Tuned around after ascending 10 feet and she was not behind me. Guess she decided to hang with the rest of the group. Crap. Oh Well. Glad I got the pony on me. Had a compass heading back to the anchor line but never found the line.

Made a nice slow 25ft/min ascent and did an abbreviated safety stop at 15ft since I was afraid that the strong current would sweep me too far from the boat. Had 700psi in the main tank, so did not have to break into the pony. Surfaced about 200 feet off the stern of the boat, not too bad considering the strong current and crappy viz. Then swam to the current line and they dragged me in. My buddy surfaced about the same time I did, only closer to the boat.

Got back on the boat, the DM did a roll call and one of the divers was missing. due to the fog, visiblity was about 500 feet. Boat captain called the CG and a search ensued. Could not find him anywhere. Divers were sent down to survey the wreck, he was not there. Turns out the DM screwed up the roll call and we left him back at the last site! Scary part is the DM slate had him out of the water at the last site and back in the water at the next site! Apparently he got separated from his 3some, the other 2 in the 3some assumed he had his own buddy so they did not notice him missing. He drifted for 4 hours and ended 3 miles away from the last site where a sailboat happened upon him and pulled him out. The Coast Guard was not too thrilled with the DM. At least the diver made it out alive. What a mess.

This dive shop is going to have to heavily revise it's DM policy. The DM and the shop owner are going to have to sit me down and explain to me what corrective action has taken place before I will book another trip with them. This shop does 50+ charters a year and has never had an incident like this before.

I am not going to reveal who this DM is as he is a very cool guy and a fantastic instructor. We all make mistakes and have bad days, but on the other hand, this diver could have died. Thank God this diver stayed calm, didn't panic and did all the right things (I'm not sure I would have been able to remain that calm floating around in the fog with ships passing around) Also, this DM was not the only person DM'ing that day. In my opinion, there were breakdowns in alot of areas but I do not have all the facts. I can only report what I saw and I did not see everything.

Lesson learned: make sure the person who you think is your buddy thinks the same as you. Review buddy procedures and make sure your DM is taking his job very seriously!

One other thing, I have been having very mixed experiences with stranger dive buddies, i have been getting on dive boats. Some are great (like the one I had yesterday), others totally suck (like the one on this dive) I wish I could find a buddy I can trust that likes to go boat diving as often as I do!

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