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January 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Revisiting a Dive Incident from 15 Years Ago

from the January, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Ben Davison was diving with Blue Waters in Speyside in 1998, and noticed that one of the tanks was autographed "Vivienne Slear." The "why" was an interesting story, and he wrote about his trip in the March 1998 issue of Undercurrent. I thought it was worth a follow-up. I located a 1997 interview with her in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Wanting to know more, I finally located her on Facebook, established an email correspondence and invited her to accompany me to Tobago, but alas, she declined.

In 1997, Slear, then in her mid-40s, went down to Tobago with a group of friends, and they found themselves diving in strong currents around Bookends, south of Little Tobago. Vivienne had logged 61 dives, but she and her friends had no experience drift diving, and she had no safety equipment. After struggling with the currents for 30 minutes at 75 feet, she decided to surface, and signaled her intention to the divemaster, who was trailing the group, towing a buoy. She made two safety stops, and when surfacing, found the boat was "quite far away." She did not know if they saw her. After two hours of waiting, she decided to "take control." And that she did for 27 hours, drifting around Bloody Bay Point to the Caribbean side of the island. Battling strong currents and high waves, she kept the island in sight and never stopped finning, both to keep warm and stay on course....

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