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June 2008    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 23, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Thumbs Down: Sunset Divers, Curacao

from the June, 2008 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A serious problem could occur if a diver, thinking his tank was filled with compressed air, actually had Nitrox -- go too deep and he risks oxygen poisoning. And a diver thinking he had Nitrox when he was really breathing compressed air could be equally in trouble if his bottom time was based on Nitrox, and therefore too long for air.

So that’s why subscriber John Bittner (Cedar Park, TX) sounded the alarm bell when he dived with Sunset Divers’ main shop at Curacao’s Sunset Waters Beach Resort in Curacao. Says Bittner, “The only way to determine if your tank was compressed air or Nitrox was to look at the color of the valve protector. If the cap was green, it was filled with Nitrox; any other color, it was compressed air.” Plenty of opportunity for confusion and error.

Bittner only dives with compressed air, but on his third day out, he found his BC and regulator connected to a Nitrox tank. “The DM said ‘oops, my mistake,’ but this was day three of a seven-day trip. You think it would be clear by now.”

When he asked why Sunset Divers didn’t mark their Nitrox tanks with permanent Nitrox labels, Bittner was told that relying on just the cap color gave crew the flexibility to fill any tank with either compressed air or Nitrox at any time, depending upon the diver count.

Of course, the problem is not only making an error in tank content, but if a tank comes back from a short dive half full of Nitrox and the next fill is compressed air, the tank has got a lot more oxygen than one reckoned for.

Sunset Divers might get away with this given the relatively short and shallow dives it offers, but should a diver deviate from the norm, he can face a problem. Rather than investing in a few more tanks, Sunset Divers is increasing the risk to its clientele.

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