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Current Upwellings

Last updated September 13, 2000

The Latest Dive News

Keep Away from the Waters of Borneo
Special Galapagos Live-Aboard Offer for Undercurrent Readers
Florida Reverses Fish Feeding Ban
Deeper Problems at ALM Airlines
Aggressor Fleet Leaves the Solomons
Easier Frequent Flyer Routes to the Caribbean
Dramamine Dangerous for Divers
Recalling Our Recommendation of Provo's Flamingo Divers

Previous Upwellings

Keep Away from the Waters of Borneo September 12, 2000

Sunday, gunmen arriving in speedboats, snatched three Malaysians -- the resort manager, and divemaster and a guest -- from a diving resort, in what may be a fresh Philippine Muslim rebel attempt to seize hostages for ransom. Pandanan is near Sipadan Island where the 21 were grabbed in April by Muslim rebels and taken across the Sulu Sea in a short boat ride to jungle hide-outs in the southern Philippines. All but one, a Filipino resort worker, have since been released. Authorities had vowed after the Sipadan incident to tighten security in the area, yet Pandanan is a five-minute boat ride from Mataking Island, a base for Malaysia's coast guard. We have received many reports from readers who have been on Sipadan since the kidnaping, reporting that all is well and they felt protected. I suggest that you don't get so cocky -- the rebels are serious about raising money for their cause, and will get you on land, on the water, wherever they can. Last week they added a Californian to their hostage list, and have threatened to kill him.

Special Galapagos Live-Aboard Offer for Undercurrent Readers September 12, 2000

So, find other places for your adventures. Like the Galapagos. Marc Bernardi emailed us to say he's had a couple of cancellations for his Aquatic Encounters Galapagos excursions in January, so he'll give members of the Undercurrent family a $500 discount on two trips. He's got room for four divers January 10-21, and four Jan 17-28. Both excursions, aboard the 90-foot luxury live-aboard Reina Silvia, include three days at the Northern Islands of Darwin and Wolf, where hammerheads, dolphins and whale sharks abound and three in the central archipelago where you'll get a mixture of land and diving. For more information, check his web site at www.AquaticEncounters.com or e-mail him at Aquatenctr@aol.com. He'll send video on request. He says to mention the code word "Darwin" to receive the discount, but if you're already under deposit for these departures he can't give you the break. I can add that I've been editing the 2001 chapbook and noted several great reports on excursions to the Galapagos run by Bernardi. Our readers say he takes care of you from arrival to departure.

Florida Reverses Fish Feeding Ban September 12, 2000

While the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously in February to develop a rule to ban diver fish and shark feeding, they reversed themselves on September 7, and called for the two sides -- one composed of DEMA, PADI and dive operators, and the other of environmental groups and spearfishermen -- to work together to create a plan. An article in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel called the decision "a colossal copout or a cave-in to special interests." Regardless, it was certainly a victory for the diving industry. In our October issue we'll have a full story of the politics of the issue.

Deeper Problems at ALM Airlines September 12, 2000

ALM airlines is in big trouble and I wouldn't fly it to Curacao or Bonaire for love nor money. They are eliminating 120 of 900 positions and increasing the monthly flight hours from 55 to 80 per month for their pilots. They have an enormous debt they can’t pay, making one wonder how well they do with maintenance. It will only get worse. Divers have found them a pain in the ass for years and we have a longer report in our October issue.

Aggressor Fleet Leaves the Solomons September 12, 2000

Due the political unrest in the Solomon Islands, the Aggressor Fleet has left for a year or two.

Easier Frequent Flyer Routes to the Caribbean September 12, 2000

It will be a little easier to use your frequent flyer miles to get to the Caribbean, at least if you're a United frequent flyer. Beginning September 9, United will partner with British West Indies (BWA), which flies nonstop from Washington, D.C., New York-JFK and Miami to Antigua, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

Dramamine Dangerous for Divers September 12, 2000

Don't take Dramamine to prevent seasickness if you're going diving. Researchers found that under pressure it seriously affects mental ability and is a serious risk to divers. They also tested Sudafed and found no problems. More on this in the October issue.

Recalling our Recommendation for Provo's Flamingo Divers September 12, 2000

In July we wrote a full review of Provo's Flamingo Divers recommending it highly, very much enjoying Andrew the Brit who ran it. Andrew has now resigned, so we withdraw our recommendation. Here is a piece from his letter to his customers:

"Some two and a half years ago, my employer arrived on island, sacked his then Manager and asked me if I would take over the job. I agreed to try to lose him less money, running one boat with three dive staff. I inherited a deficit of $40,000, plus outstanding local bills of $10,000, one working dive boat and no working compressor. Albeit all old equipment, Flamingo Divers now has two working boats, a working compressor and we have recently moved to new premises in a prime location. We do not have any outstanding bills incurred during my management. This year's figures show a 66% improvement in the company's financial performance; had we not had to pay out over $20,000 in repairs to old capital equipment we may have shown a small profit. Coincidentally, a recent unsolicited front page article in Undercurrent suggests that Flamingo Divers is offering a service many scuba divers enjoy and appreciate. My employer, on a recent visit, refused to comment on the above. But, over the past few months he has been increasingly critical of my performance as manager. He has told me I need to improve my customer relation skills. He is insistent that I am not a good manager and has recently encouraged someone to invest in the company, then to come to Provo to manage Flamingo Divers because he believes I cannot do the job. In spite of the tremendous enjoyment I have had, I am no longer prepared to accept unending and increasing criticism, with absolutely no appreciation or even recognition for what has been done. My resignation as Manager of Flamingo Divers will become effective 9 September, 2000."

[Note to Andrew: not to fret; use our article as a resumé and other operations will be dying to have you come work for them.]

Ben Davison, publisher

Previous Upwellings



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