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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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March 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 33, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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75 Hours Afloat At Sea and Survived!

an unplanned feat of endurance and lessons learned

from the March, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Every diver's worst fear is surfacing and finding there's no dive boat to be seen. And then drifting aimlessly at sea.

In Undercurrent September 2016, we recounted the stories of divers getting lost near Malpelo in the Pacific and at Mauritius in the Indian Ocean during the same week. Clearly, every diver needs an effective surface signaling device such as a large surface marker buoy or even a large flag on an extending pole. At night, you should carry a fully charged back-up flashlight that you've not used during the dive. Moreover, you should consider high-tech solutions, such as the Nautilus Lifeline Marine Rescue radio beacon or the McMurdo Smartfind.

New Zealander Robert Hewitt had none of those when he went diving near Mana Island (Cook Strait) in New Zealand in February 2006. An experienced Navy instructor, he became separated from his buddy but continued diving alone. He had intended that instead of returning to their boat, he would swim to the shore 220 yards (200m) away.

However, when he surfaced in a strong current, he found himself several hundred yards from where he expected to be, and the dive boat with his buddy had moved on. Wearing a farmer-John wetsuit and jacket, with a hood and gloves, he was alone in the ocean while his friend, noting eventually he hadn't made it to the shore, and unable to find him, raised the alarm....

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