Authorities say Avoid Mabul for Now
What's Going On with DAN's Travel Insurance?
What You're Missing in this Month's Issue
Drop the Dive Weight
Help Florida's Manatees Stay Safer
A New Galapagos Liveaboard
Other Dive Travel Groups
Chivalry or Chauvinism?
Forget the Poor Mexicans, Go After the Big Hotel Chain
Wakatobi's New Turtle Nursery
Coming Up in Undercurrent
Authorities say Avoid Mabul for Now: July 22, 2014
We reported in our May issue about the kidnapping of a female tourist and a resort worker from a dive resort near Sipadan, attributed to the Filipino militant group Abu Sayyaf. On July 12, they had a shootout with police on the island of Mabul, a divers' favorite off the east coast of Sabah, killing one policeman and kidnapping another. The shootout occurred just before midnight when eight gunmen in military fatigues landed on the island. Divers staying in Mabul resorts reported to the Star newspaper in Malaysia that they heard gunshots. There had already been several attempts by the gunmen to breach security around Mabul. Malaysia has tightened security measures in the region after a spate of killings and abductions, and its government officials now warn everyone against anything but essential travel to all islands off the coast of eastern Sabah.
What's Going On with DAN's Travel Insurance?: July 22, 2014
If you're trying to get a new policy or change your current one, you have to wait, says a posting on the Diver Alert Network's website: "Due to regulatory issues involving the previous provider of DAN's travel insurance program, we are in the process of updating our suite of travel insurance products. . . .the process is taking longer than expected . . ." Current policyholders still have the same coverage and benefits. DAN's marketing director Rachelle Deal tells us that starting the first week of August, DAN will introduce two insurance plans: a per-trip plan that covers one dive trip at a time, and a revamped annual plan for those who take multiple dive trips a year. Details will be posted on www.dan.org/travel. If you have questions in the meantime, call DAN at 800-446-2671.
What You're Missing in this Month's Issue: July 22, 2014
NAD-Lembeh Resort, Indonesia: great critters, people and prices . . . three under-the-radar-Caribbean diving gems, bad air in Honduras, and our "jerk of the month" in Florida . . . when your safety sausage fails . . . help a wounded warrior learn how to dive . . . readers respond to Ben Davison's "disrespectful" remarks about dietary issues and diving . . . Why Divers Die: Part II - over weighted and overwhelmed . . . Florida court rules that divers must sign the right waiver . . . why air fills are cheaper than they should be . . . and much more.
Drop the Dive Weight: July 22, 2014
Luggage fees: the bane of the traveling diver. You may be the best bargain hunter when it comes to scoring airfare deals to Indonesia, but if you don't know how to cut down on dive gear, photo equipment and personal items, your savings will be eaten up in excess baggage costs. These days, finding an affordable flight to a dive destination is only half the battle. We asked our Undercurrent contributors -- heavy-duty travelers -- as well as our readers for their tips on saving money and shedding weight to hedge the cost of flying. Read their advice - we made the article free for all to read - on our homepage at www.undercurrent.org.
Help Florida's Manatees Stay Safer: July 22, 2014
One of my favorite Undercurrent travel stories this year is about snorkeling with manatees in Florida's Homossassa River. However, they live in dangerous waters -- they're struck by power boats, infected by pollution and harassed by tourists. Last year, 830 manatees were killed in Florida waters. The advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife is urging the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to give manatees more protection by creating a new winter sanctuary for them, expanding two current ones, and starting a no-touch policy for the marine mammals. There's a petition for you to sign that Defenders of Wildlife will send to Washington. Go here.
A New Galapagos Liveaboard: July 22, 2014
If you read our April issue, you remember the big story we did about the legal issues that made Buddy Dive shut down its two Galapagos liveaboards, M.Y. Wolf Buddy and M.Y. Darwin Buddy, limiting the number of spots available for divers to book their trips down there. But the British liveaboard group Blue O Two just announced it will offer Galapagos trips aboard the M/V Galapagos Master starting next year. The 105-foot boat, built 10 years ago and currently undergoing a complete interior retrofit, will offer eight cabins for seven- 10- and 14-day trips. They're touting a camera set-up station with multiple charging points (US round pin plug), a plasma TV for slideshows and lots of storage drawers for photographers. For details, e-mail email@example.com.
Other Dive Travel Groups: July 22, 2014
The standard dive club's travel outing is not for everyone. Say you prefer early nights but every other diver wants to party. Or you'd like to do other things besides diving on your trip -- posh spa treatments or volunteer work -- and you don't know of any other diver who wants to join you. There are some specialized dive organizations that serve single divers, female divers, gay divers, Christian divers and others. Read our article about them, for free, at www.undercurrent.org.
Chivalry or Chauvinism?: July 22, 2014
We received a lot of reader comments to help us put together our story in the May issue "Are Some Male Divers Too 'Helpful?'" Ken Kurtis, owner of Reef Seekers dive shop in Beverly Hills, CA, sent us this note from his Bonaire group dive trip in May. "I'm standing on the dock at Buddy Dive, waiting to load up for the 8:10 a.m. boat. Among the 16 divers is a husband/wife team, and all I hear is her saying, 'I don't need any help. I can put it on the boat myself.' And he simply ignores her and grabs her bag. She goes, 'Really . . . I . . . can . . . do . . . it . . . myself. Or not.' So I walk over and say to her, 'There's this article in this month's Undercurrent that I think you should read because it describes exactly what just happened here.' She laughed. I told him about it later too, and he basically said, 'I never thought of it that way. I thought I was just being chivalrous. I'll file it away way.' So maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks."
Forget the Poor Mexicans, Go After the Big Hotel Chain: July 22, 2014
We've written about the fatal dive of Ronda Cross in March 2012 while diving off Cabo San Lucas with her cousin, Roxanne Amundson. Cross didn't surface, and her body was later found floating nearby. Her husband believed she was overcome by carbon monoxide in her tank, and he filed a lawsuit against PADI late last year. Now Roxanne Amundson has filed her own suit for "personal injuries and emotional distress," naming the dive operation that filled the tanks -- and the tenant that leases space to the dive shop, the Wyndham Cabo San Lucas Resort, because it "supervised, controlled, advertised, endorsed, recommended, employed and contracted with [the dive shop] to provide said excursions." Wyndham Hotels and Resorts moved to dismiss the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego, CA, because "Mexican law provides adequate alternative forum to hear Amundson's claims." Her lawyers replied, among other things, that Mexico has a very limited system of damages, and Amundson would have no meaningful remedy, whereas the U.S. courts do provide for liability for defendants. The court ruled that Wyndham failed to show Mexico as an adequate forum for the lawsuit and denied its motion to dismiss, so Amundson's case moves onward. And, of course, of all the potential defendants, Wyndham has the deepest pockets.
Wakatobi's New Turtle Nursery: July 22, 2014
This Indonesian dive resort's latest attraction: playing surrogate parent to tiny sea turtles. While they can live to be 100 years old, most don't survive their first few days, due to a gauntlet of predators between their nests and open water. Wakatobi staff have been seeing more female sea turtles crawling onto its beach at night and laying eggs, probably due to their typical habitat being in decline, so to give the babies a better chance, Wakatobi built a turtle nursery. Once hatched, the tiny turtles are moved to holding tanks, in a former greenhouse, with a seawater circulation system, where they're fed a diet of salad, seagrass and a little raw fish. They are kept for about a year, and then released near their original nests.
Coming Up in Undercurrent: July 22, 2014
Our undercover travelin' divers review diving in Bali, St. Vincent, the Red Sea, the Texas Flower Gardens and more . . . Part II of our advice-filled story on how to trim the weight and cut the costs of dive travel . . . a new device to make freediving safer . . . why you should research weather conditions before you book a dive trip . . . John Bantin's advice on picking the right liveaboard for your needs . . . and much more.
Ben Davison, editor/publisher
New and Improved Site Search: July 22, 2014
We are proud to announce a new site search facility that provides you with more relevant results while allowing more flexibility in how and where you search: making it easier than ever to find exactly what you're looking for. There are search boxes on virtually all pages of our site, or you can use the advanced search facility. If you have any comments/questions, please contact our webmaster Dave Eagleray via our contact form.
Website Problems? July 22, 2014
If you encounter any significant problems with the operation of our website at any time, PLEASE report them to Dave Eagleray, our webmaster. We're doing some major site upgrades and would appreciate hearing of any problems that pop up -- that's true now and anytime in the future. Contact him using our contact form and selecting webmaster.
Dave Eagleray, webmaster
Note: Undercurrent is a registered 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization donating funds to help preserve coral reefs. Our travel writers never announce their purpose, are unknown to the destination, and receive no complimentary services or compensation from the dive operators or resort.
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