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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975 | |
For Divers since 1975
The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
"Best of the Web: scuba tips no other
source dares to publish" -- Forbes
June 2005 Vol. 31, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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No Safe Harbor

Contents of this Issue:
All publicly available

Tobago, West Indies

The Cypress Sea

Nitrox Myths?

Aqua Lung’s “Mistral” Regulator

Dive Computers: Part II

Unfriendly Skies for Divers

No Safe Harbor

Scubapro MK20 Cracking Problem Reported

Flotsam & Jetsam

Editorial Office:

Ben Davison

Publisher and Editor


3020 Bridgeway, Suite 102

Sausalito, CA 94965

Contact Ben

from the June, 2005 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A new book on the Wave Dancer tragedy

On October 8, 2002, the biggest tragedy ever hit the sport diving community. Peter Hughes’ Wave Dancer capsized during Hurricane Iris, killing seventeen divers from the Richmond, Virginia Dive club and three local residents. Moored next to the Wave Dancer, the Belize Aggressor weathered the storm. Aboard the Aggressor was Joe Burnworth, a member of the dive club. After the tragedy, he spent many months interviewing participants and researching the story, to produce this well written yet chilling account of a tragedy that could have-- and should have -- been prevented.

For many months, the divers had planned their dream vacation aboard a live-aboard dive vessel they presumed was in safe shape and in good hands. When the Wave Dancer leaves Belize City for the barrier reef, a hurricane is brewing at sea. By citing official weather reports, Burnworth details how the storm changes course and builds, how the rookie boat captain Philip Martin dismisses advice from his second captain and ignores local knowledge of the Belizean crew, to continue the cruise. Burnworth knows how to build tension, putting the reader right among his fellow divers on board, blissfully unaware of the threats from the building storm. Opportunities arise for the Captain to head to shore, to disembark his passengers, to save his ship, but he dallies too long, his cavalier attitude getting him deeper in trouble. The crew argues, the divers are told not to worry, and eventually the Dancer reaches its last refuge in Big Creek Harbor. Burnworth is at his best describing the fury of the storm and the tragedy itself – the panicking crew, lines ripping from the dock, unsecured heavy equipment sliding across the deck, a 140-mile/hour wind and a 14- foot storm surge ramming the boat, and passengers slammed off walls in the salon. In the dark, the Dancer capsizes, quickly filling with water. People struggle to survive, holding their breaths underwater feeling for a door, an air pocket, anything. Three guests and five crew, including the captain, survived.

There’s no end of grief for the families of the dead. The paltry sums dished out from the $5 million insurance policy — which shrinks by more than a million to salvage the Dancer — does little to console the survivors, who can take no further action against a boat operating under a Belize flag.

Saying that such a tragic story is exciting to read seems shameful, but it is an exciting book that builds nearly unbearable tension, even when the outcome is clearly known. Every diver ought to read this book, not just for the story’s power, but for the lessons to be learned.

Be the first to read No Safe Harbor: Reserve your copy now: Undercurrent is taking advance orders for No Safe Harbor and the 224-page, hardbound book will be shipped on the very day it is officially released, sometime in late June we are told. The price is $19.95, plus $5 for shipping and handling in the United States and Mexico ($10 elsewhere). Order online at or call 1/800- 326-1896 or 1/415-289-0501.

As with all the books we sell, the proceeds will go to the protection of coral reefs and the seas we love.

I want to get all the stories! Tell me how I can become an Undercurrent Online Member and get online access to all the articles of Undercurrent as well as thousands of first hand reports on dive operations world-wide

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