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April 2003 Vol. 29, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Drifting the Day Away

from the April, 2003 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Perhaps the best dive in Maui is the backside of the Molokini. It's also the most dangerous dive there, as eight divers will attest. On a drift dive on February 15, they were swept away and spent more than six hours in the water until being spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter eight miles from Molokini and 11 miles from the Maui coast.

Two dive instructors and six divers were diving from the Maui Diamond II. Fast currents, strong winds, and choppy seas separated the divers from their boat and after they were 20 minutes overdue, the boat captain reported the group missing at 10 a.m. The Coast Guard dispatched rescue boats, an aircraft and helicopter, and several commercial and private vessels joined in the search. Conditions deteriorated throughout the day, with winds increasing from 15 miles per hour earlier in the day to 45 mph, and ocean swells as high as 10 feet.

About 3:30 p.m., the Coast Guard helicopter dropped a flare, indicating the location of the divers. Two boats brought the divers back to the harbor around 5 p.m. "The first thing they wanted to do was drink beer," Paul King, a crewman aboard the Piper, told the Honolulu Advertiser.

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