The Latest Dive News
Keep Away from the Waters
of Borneo September 12, 2000
Sunday, gunmen arriving in speedboats, snatched three
Malaysians -- the resort manager, and divemaster and a guest -- from
a diving resort, in what may be a fresh Philippine Muslim rebel attempt
to seize hostages for ransom. Pandanan is near Sipadan Island where
the 21 were grabbed in April by Muslim rebels and taken across the Sulu
Sea in a short boat ride to jungle hide-outs in the southern Philippines.
All but one, a Filipino resort worker, have since been released. Authorities
had vowed after the Sipadan incident to tighten security in the area,
yet Pandanan is a five-minute boat ride from Mataking Island, a base
for Malaysia's coast guard. We have received many reports from readers
who have been on Sipadan since the kidnaping, reporting that all is
well and they felt protected. I suggest that you don't get so cocky
-- the rebels are serious about raising money for their cause, and will
get you on land, on the water, wherever they can. Last week they added
a Californian to their hostage list, and have threatened to kill him.
Special Galapagos Live-Aboard
Offer for Undercurrent Readers September
So, find other places for your adventures. Like the
Galapagos. Marc Bernardi emailed us to say he's had a couple of cancellations
for his Aquatic Encounters Galapagos excursions in January, so he'll
give members of the Undercurrent family a $500 discount on two trips.
He's got room for four divers January 10-21, and four Jan 17-28. Both
excursions, aboard the 90-foot luxury live-aboard Reina Silvia, include
three days at the Northern Islands of Darwin and Wolf, where hammerheads,
dolphins and whale sharks abound and three in the central archipelago
where you'll get a mixture of land and diving. For more information,
check his web site at www.AquaticEncounters.com
or e-mail him at Aquatenctr@aol.com.
He'll send video on request. He says to mention the code word "Darwin"
to receive the discount, but if you're already under deposit for these
departures he can't give you the break. I can add that I've been editing
the 2001 chapbook and noted several great reports on excursions to the
Galapagos run by Bernardi. Our readers say he takes care of you from
arrival to departure.
Florida Reverses Fish
Feeding Ban September 12, 2000
While the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
voted unanimously in February to develop a rule to ban diver fish and
shark feeding, they reversed themselves on September 7, and called for
the two sides -- one composed of DEMA, PADI and dive operators, and
the other of environmental groups and spearfishermen -- to work together
to create a plan. An article in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel called
the decision "a colossal copout or a cave-in to special interests."
Regardless, it was certainly a victory for the diving industry. In our
October issue we'll have a full story of the politics of the issue.
Deeper Problems at ALM Airlines
September 12, 2000
ALM airlines is in big trouble and
I wouldn't fly it to Curacao or Bonaire for love nor money. They are
eliminating 120 of 900 positions and increasing the monthly flight hours
from 55 to 80 per month for their pilots. They have an enormous debt
they can’t pay, making one wonder how well they do with maintenance.
It will only get worse. Divers have found them a pain in the ass for
years and we have a longer report in our October issue.
Leaves the Solomons September 12, 2000
Due the political unrest in the Solomon Islands,
the Aggressor Fleet has left for a year or two.
Easier Frequent Flyer
Routes to the Caribbean September 12,
It will be a little easier to use your frequent flyer
miles to get to the Caribbean, at least if you're a United frequent
flyer. Beginning September 9, United will partner with British West
Indies (BWA), which flies nonstop from Washington, D.C., New York-JFK
and Miami to Antigua, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
for Divers September 12, 2000
Don't take Dramamine to prevent seasickness if you're
going diving. Researchers found that under pressure it seriously affects
mental ability and is a serious risk to divers. They also tested Sudafed
and found no problems. More on this in the October issue.
Recalling our Recommendation
for Provo's Flamingo Divers September
In July we wrote a full review of Provo's Flamingo
Divers recommending it highly, very much enjoying Andrew the Brit
who ran it. Andrew has now resigned, so we withdraw our recommendation.
Here is a piece from his letter to his customers:
and a half years ago, my employer arrived on island, sacked his then
Manager and asked me if I would take over the job. I agreed to try
to lose him less money, running one boat with three dive staff. I
inherited a deficit of $40,000, plus outstanding local bills of $10,000,
one working dive boat and no working compressor. Albeit all old equipment,
Flamingo Divers now has two working boats, a working compressor and
we have recently moved to new premises in a prime location. We do
not have any outstanding bills incurred during my management. This
year's figures show a 66% improvement in the company's financial performance;
had we not had to pay out over $20,000 in repairs to old capital equipment
we may have shown a small profit. Coincidentally, a recent unsolicited
front page article in Undercurrent suggests that Flamingo
Divers is offering a service many scuba divers enjoy and appreciate.
My employer, on a recent visit, refused to comment on the above. But,
over the past few months he has been increasingly critical of my performance
as manager. He has told me I need to improve my customer relation
skills. He is insistent that I am not a good manager and has recently
encouraged someone to invest in the company, then to come to Provo
to manage Flamingo Divers because he believes I cannot do the job.
In spite of the tremendous enjoyment I have had, I am no longer prepared
to accept unending and increasing criticism, with absolutely no appreciation
or even recognition for what has been done. My resignation as Manager
of Flamingo Divers will become effective 9 September, 2000."
[Note to Andrew: not to fret; use our article as
a resumé and other operations will be dying to have you come
work for them.]