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August 2000 Vol. 15, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the August, 2000 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

REAL SICKIES? British divers off to dive Grand Cayman have been discouraged by several dive operators from boarding their boats because they would be disappointed with the depth limits. One was told “we know you Brits. Your diving doesn’t start till you get to 150 feet.” The “Beachcomber,” a columnist in Diver magazine, calls this “British Diving Disease” and says most British divers do not consider themselves as having been diving unless they exceed 30 meters. He says “no one criticises a British diver’s training and ability to cope with depth [but that] foreign instructors fear that BDD will infect their students. After all, it is easier to be paid for a nice shallow dive with lots of little thingies to see, than having to earn your crust in the depths with the biggies.”

NOBLESSE OBLIGE? An ad in Conde Nast Traveler proclaims “Cayman Islands, the most accommodating islands in the Caribbean,” and goes on to talk about “providing tailor-made accommodations for all travelers.” Unless you’re a Cuban refugee, that is. Nine landed on Little Cayman in June and were ushered back to sea when they learned that Cayman sends refugees, even political refugees, back home. The eight men and one woman “had nothing,” said Constable Neil Williams. “No food, no clothes, no water, zero.” So, they collected supplies and gasoline, some gratis from the Little Cayman Beach Resort, and headed off to sea in their wooden fishing vessel, with no running lights, radio or radar. Their fate was unknown. However, the Caymans are awfully friendly to money launderers, having recently been listed among several nations posing “the greatest potential impact on global financial stability.” The Cayman Islands was blacklisted by several international banks that said they would not handle U.S. currency transactions with them because of laundering concerns.

WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU LEMONS: We gave a big razzberry to a device displayed at DEMA, an underwater scooter with a big bubble helmet for the diver’s head so he can motor around underwater, sans scuba gear. While the device is used in some tropical areas, it’s still not used commercially in the U.S. Two companies in Hawaii are trying to get permission, but commercial use requires approval by the Coast Guard, and the wise folks there are taking their own sweet time.

"X" MARKS THE SPOT: While out for a 4th of July weekend dive in Austin’s Lake Travis, a diver tooling around came across a grisly scene: a body on the bottom of the lake. He finned out of the water, rushed ashore, and called his wife, who called the sheriff. They responded with three boats and two divers, and, in short order, returned with the body. They’d found it along what appeared to be an underwater scavenger-hunt trail that ended with the body, a long-dead department store mannequin. Normally, Undercurrent prints the names of divers we write about, but we have no need to further add to this chap’s embarrassment.

SOLOMONS UPDATE: In the Solomon Islands, several New Zealand divers were “trapped” for days in their hotels while flight after flight was canceled because of deadly fighting in the streets of Honiara between warring factions. While the divers reported no hostile action directed toward them — in fact, they were often greeted with a smile and handshake — it may be months before the islands open to divers. The Aggressor Fleet has canceled all trips for the remainder of 2000.

BONAIRE MARCH: We’ve long reported on crime problems on Bonaire, but after the executionstyle slaying of two Bonaireans in their home June 18, Bonaireans had had enough. With the island’s police force seriously eroded and the Central Government in financial trouble, white tee-shirt-clad Bonaireans in unprecedented numbers took to the streets June 26 to say “enough.” Estimates of the crowd size placed it at 4,000 to 5,000 people — nearly half the island’s population. Organizers invoked Article 26 of the Antillean constitution through which Bonaire can appeal directly to the Netherlands to intervene. (For photos, see

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