A recent wreck dive trip to Wilmington NC opened my eyes as to questionable practices by Aquatic Safaris operations.
First, I want to reinforce that Atlantic coast diving in the Gulf Stream is not for the unprepared. Conditions are unpredictable and be challenging, both above and below the water. There can be no guarantee for visibility, current, and other conditions such as thermoclines.
Diving is accomplished by the manual attachment of a down line to the wreck by the dive operator's staff person. They are the first to be aware of the conditions on the wreck. Our first dive of the week was the previously scheduled Rosin wreck. Per the operations WEB site, the wreck is located 40 miles off the coast and rests in 95 to 120 feet of water.
Here is the problem with this operator. They provide no pre-dive drawing of the wrecks nor any sure description of where the downline is attached to the wreck.
The staff person who attaches the downline makes no topside report on the conditions on the wreck prior to divers entering the water. The dive boat has no provision for picking up divers who may loose contact with the wreck and have to make a free ascent to the surface. They do not try to determine the qualifications of the divers to determine if they are qualified to dive in the open ocean.
When we reached the bottom from the down line, the current was 2 to 3 knots. The visibility was 4 to 5 ft. There was no line attached to the wreck so that you could retain contact with the wreck and take some type of tour.
About half the divers lost contact with the wreck and were forced to make a free ascent. They were scattered on the surface. Luckily all were able to swim to the boat and none were injured.