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October 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 30, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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No Diver Left Behind?

still no foolproof system to get divers get back on board

from the October, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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It's still not uncommon for a dive boat to motor away from a site, then have the crew realize later they left a diver behind. The most recent occurrence (public, anyway) happened in March when Odyssey Charters in Pompano Beach, FL, left a diver floating off the coast, realized its mistake and sent out an emergency call. Another dive boat, the Sea Siren, arrived and luckily found him floating unharmed.

Moral of the story: Some dive boats, even in First World countries, still don't have foolproof systems to count divers before departing dive sites. Some boats do have good systems, either voluntarily or because the country they operate in requires it. But there are boats, from Key Largo to Komodo, that can be lax, even downright sloppy, in ensuring everyone is back aboard. That's why you must find out what their diver-counting system is before you jump off the boat.

We asked Undercurrent subscribers in our mid-month email if they or a fellow diver had ever been left behind, and if so, what system did the dive operator use to account for passengers? A few dive operators also told us their side of the story.

"Er, Where's My Husband?"

It was a fellow diver who saved reader David Cuoio (Las Vegas, NV) during a dive trip in the Turks and Caicos. "I would have been left behind if another diver had not asked the captain where I was. He had started the engines and would have left if she had not stopped him. Obviously, he did not have a wellplanned method for accounting for the divers on his boat."

If you can pick a place to be left behind, then Jeff Janak (Dallas, TX) is happy it was Cozumel, where if your dive boat forgets about you, another boat is often nearby to pick you up. "We were diving with the now-defunct TTC Diving, and my dive buddy and I watched as our dive boat, a mile from us, pulled away. I don't know how they could have missed two of us. But in Cozumel, there are so many boats in the popular areas, we just swam to the nearest boat, 50 yards away. They radioed our boat, which came back to pick us up, so we just stayed in the water. If things got really bad, we would have just swum to the beach and walked until we found help." That's maybe an easy option in some places, but less so in the vast Asia-Pacific....

"Instead of a head count, they counted fins on the dive deck to determine if everyone was back from a dive."

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