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January 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 42, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Hazards of Diving Choppy Waters

from the January, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The perils of diving in cold waters and high waves, such as missing buoys and capsized boats, were illustrated on two separate botched diving trips that happened within days of each other in different parts of the world.

On November 12, nine divers surfaced after a shark dive with African Dive Adventures at Protea Banks, near Durban, South Africa, to find their boat was nowhere to be seen. They floated in 13-foot waves and winds of up to 30 knots until they were found four hours later. Apparently, the rope attaching the market buoy to the divers broke off, and the boat captain raised the alarm after he couldn't see the buoy. The strong current had dragged the divers off the site. But the group, experienced divers, kept calm and started swimming toward shore, stopping to rest regularly.

The search and rescue team included seven boats and two helicopters, which the divers could see, but the helicopters were flying too close to shore. Chris Korsten, one of the search and rescue boaters, placed a makeshift flotation marker in the water to see where it would drift. "I sat for 10 minutes measuring the distance and degree," he told the South African news website IOL. "I worked out that they would be about 18 kilometers down from Southbroom. So when I saw them, I was ecstatic." He was the one who brought the divers back to shore.

On November 15, a 22-foot aluminum boat holding nine divers capsized off the coast of Victoria, B.C., after being buffeted by high waves. Eight were wearing drysuits while the other diver had to shiver away in a wetsuit. Fortunately, four rescue boats were dispatched to get the divers, who clung to the hull of their overturned boat. Only one diver had to be taken to the hospital but was in stable condition.

Those warm-water Caribbean dives look pretty good right now, don't they?

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