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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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September 2002 Vol. 28, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the September, 2002 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Great Coral Park Photos Wanted: Become a month on the Coral Reef Alliance 2004 calendar by submitting one of your super shots taken within any coral park, marine park, or marine reserve. The Coral Reef Alliance’s calendar is the most widely distributed calendar of underwater photos anywhere. The deadline is November 15 and submissions must be in the form of slides. For details visit, contact Marty Dawson at, or call her at 760-603-9115 for the rules.

Cayman Follies: If you’re among the hundreds of thousands who have put secret money in a Grand Cayman bank account and use your bank card to pay your bills, Uncle Sam is going to get you. Looks like MasterCard and VISA will be turning over their records to the IRS, who want to discover who is hiding money offshore and slap back taxes on them. We know one very prominent, well-published diver, a frequent visitor to Cayman, who is sweating bullets. To replace the tourism lost now that the money launderers will be staying home, the Cayman government will soon create an “underwater theme park” by submerging five ships in the waters around Grand Cayman. The name: “Shipwreck City.” No, it’s not a joke. Project manager Nancy Romanica rationalizes the project by saying, “In addition to providing a very popular underwater attraction for our visitors, shipwrecks also offer great opportunities for scientific studies.” By the way, why is it that a diver who would never tour a floating ship in port would, when it sinks, fly all the way to Florida or Cayman to swim around a fishless wreck with no coral growth? Who are these people?

Hugh Parkey Dead of Heart Attack: Hugh Parkey was a largerthan- life dive guide and instructor, a massive man with terrific teaching skills, and great to dive with. He certified a friend of mine in Antigua, I reviewed him when he ran Turneffe Island, and he helped me investigate and expose a fraudulent Belize dive boat investment deal, in which he lost a bundle. More recently he ran Hugh Parkey’s Belize Dive Connection, and with his wife operated the Fort Street Guesthouse. Following a shallow-water dive in Cancun on July 13, he died of a massive heart attack. Parkey, fifty-six, an American who lived in Belize for many years, had planned to move to Placencia later this year, where he was to run the Turtle Inn dive operation. Parkey’s body was cremated and the ashes scattered on his beloved Turneffe Atoll.

Life Is Too Short: When I see contemporaries like Hugh make their final dives, I realize that eventually I must end my career writing Undercurrent ( I wrote the first issue in August 1975) to pursue other dreams. So, in a few years, I might just wind it down and say goodbye, though I would consider eventually selling it to someone who will continue the consumer spirit. Or perhaps some sort of subscriber-based Web site publication will be possible. As a subscriber, you can have a voice in this, so e-mail me at with your thoughts. In the meantime, however, I’m not going anywhere, even though I know some industry folks will be sorry to hear that.

Why?: Jerry Hall, who has been a certified diver for a year, emerged from South Holston Lake near Memphis Friday morning, August 8, claiming the world’s record for the longest open-water scuba dive. “I felt very heavy,” Hall, thirty-seven, said. “I wasn’t used to the gravity.” Hall stayed below for seventy-one hours, thirtynine minutes, and forty seconds. The previous mark was sixty hours and twenty-four minutes. Hall used thirtysix tanks of air during the dive, which began Tuesday morning, swam as deep as thirty-four feet and took fours hours to surface. While submerged, he was given bottled water, fruit, vegetables, and small candies. He got a couple hours of sleep each night with his dive team watching. They pumped warm water into the waters to prevent hypothermia when temperatures dropped overnight. He used petroleum jelly to help his shriveled hands and feet, and, yes, there is a joke here, but we won’t be the ones to tell it.

Appalled at Undercurrent:We wrote about a lawsuit against a dive shop owner who is accused of murdering his ex wife underwater. His ex wife was the plaintiff’s daughter. We received this letter from Greenwich Connecticut subscriber Wally Szaniawski: “I am appalled by your lack of judgment and your poor taste. While you may be following a public record (Providence Journal) you are publicizing among the diving community unproven allegations, with full name and affiliation of the man who has been serving thousands of divers over many years, and has been well known and liked. You proved total disregard for the feelings of a person who is certainly going through a difficult and probably very painful time. Instead of reviewing scuba destinations and equipment, you lowered yourself to the level of The National Enquirer.”

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