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#1 CZMDM

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 05:28 AM

Found a lost diver adrift in the Channel yesterday afternoon. Although I believe this to be the fault of the DM we should all remember to stay well with in the visible range of the group we are diving with. This could have ended in a tragedy.
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#2 diverhorn

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 10:07 AM

People snicker when they look at my bc with an orange "sausage", a whistle and a shaker hanging off it. However, the two outfits I dive with let experienced divers ascend alone and several times I have gone up and the dive boat is a couple of hundred yards away. Having the sausage and the whistle saved me some floating time on the surface.

I am sure the diver is indebted to you for your hospitality. BTW thanks for all your insight through your postings.
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#3 Carey

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 12:09 PM

I would expect that diver had a few choice words for the dive op he went out with. Sounds pretty careless. But, to give the benefit of the doubt, maybe the diver decided to strike out on his own thinking he could stay close enough but didn't take into account the currents?
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#4 divadiver

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 01:17 PM

Thanks for retrieving the lost diver. I don't imagine this is the first time you've provided this service.

Over the years, I've seen it happen time and time again, especially on night dives.
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#5 nauticab

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 04:02 PM

what is often the case in so many dives on walls or "hills", like punta tunich, is that it is NOT explained well to the divers (who are new to diving currents) that the closer you are to the reef, the calmer the current. therefore the more control. if you are floating 3 yards above the reef, or away from the wall, the current will sweep you away faster than you have the control.
while i am a dive master, i do not work in that realm anymore. but when i dive with friends coming down and we do a wall, i will sometimes hear to stay near the wall, but never hear to stay LOW to the reef. i have been on several dives where the experienced diver ends up being WAY ahead of the group, totally in control of HIS diving, but not paying attention to everyone around who is saying "COME BACK DOWN". upon surfacing, the person simply did not understand that concept, even though it is clearly explained in the open water manuals. i need to mention that in my experience, an experienced diver isn't necessarily a good one. i had master instructors in my groups who inflated their BCD upon ascent. UGH! anyway.... yes, the DM needs to ask all new people if they have DRIFT diving experience and simply do a friendly reminder to stay low to the reef, and BEHIND the DM, and if ascending apart from the group, to ascend with the sausage over the sandy area. again, i hear the sandy part, but rarely "follow the sausage line" so that all ascent together and under the safety net of the boats' visability.

just like dumping your BC upon ascent needs to be reminded, so do the physics of current diving and how the surface currents can be 5 times faster than the reef. i am sure that is what happened to this guy. thanks for saving him.
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#6 CZMDM

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 06:36 PM

This guys boat was a couple of hundred yards away. I mean he was 3 miles off-shore. When I asked the crew who the DM was they responded in Spanish that the guy had gotten lost the day before. When I asked the guy if this was true he said hardly, as he was a cruise ship diver. This happens all of the time. We are always picking up straggler divers here and there, but usually it's underwater.

Everybody should have an inflatable surface marker in their BCD. Never let yourself get pushed out into the open water. The captains are not looking out there and the water can be so big that even if he looked in your direction the captain may not be able to see it or you.

Whistle is a good idea, but even they have limitations, such as if you are blowing into the wind and are distant from the boat the crew will not hear you. The air horns are very loud.

The main things (IMHO):

Stay together. Do not try and have a personal experience outside of the visible range of the DM. You could wind up lost or swimming out to the open water. If you want to dive alone hire a private boat.

NEVER let the current push you over the wall and into the deep water. If you are u/w when this happens immediately surface. If the current is that strong you will never make it to the reef anyway.

If there are very strong down currents at the wall (like when your bubbles are going down instead of up) abort and go to a lagoonal (interior) reef.

At the surface, once again, try and stay togther and keep positioning yourself over the sand and away from the dropoff. Do not let yourself be pushed out into the channel by the current.

Make sure to have a float at the surface. If you do not have one stay next to the DM's buoy, which should have been released prior to your ascent.

Dive with somebody that actually pays attention to you, the group and not just the cutest diver on-board.
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#7 Carey

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 06:18 AM

You reference 'the channel'. That is at the north end of the island, right? And can you tell us how the northern reef dives differ from the southern ones? For example, there's no channel in the southern sector, correct?
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#8 CZMDM

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 06:36 AM

I am speaking of the Channel that runs between the island and the mainland. As a DM I feel that no matter what the situation was it was the DM's fault for losing the guy. We were diving the same area. The current was brisk, but all of our divers made it without getting into this type of situation. So did many other dive groups. And when the captain lied about the diver being lost before....that about took the cake. If the DM loses someone he needs to get the divers back in the boat and start looking for the lost one. Personally as a DM I don't see how you can lose a diver and just proceed with what you are doing (continuing the dive) as if everything is ok while knowing someone is out there in the blue and only god knows where they are.

Just FYI and this is just my opinion: The DM is responsible for picking a safe site, keeping the divers together and making sure that they all get back in the boat. If the current is so strong that divers are being swept away, then maybe this is a case where they need to surface together or just pick another spot altogether. On the other hand if someone decides to just take off and swim to the surface as fast as possible or decides to drop down to 200 feet I do not feel the DM is required to kill themselves to save someone else from doing something stupid (unless that diver happens to be a student diver).

Newbie as far as the diver being in our debt.....the guy did not even thank us, but he was probably scared S#$%less. Good idea to keep that buoy in your BCD. If others laugh at you for being prepared for an event in which you need one, let them. Sooner or later they will be wishing they had brought one.
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#9 divadiver

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 01:38 PM

Darn the capt., maybe he was confused an they lost another diver the day before.

I remember many years ago we had a big dive club group down, about 18 people. At that time we had 2-3 DMs. I think we were on Santa Rosa. I got away from the wall, and caught a down current. I was out in the deep blue. Of course, I panicked for a minute when I realized no one knew I was missing. My training kicked in and I was able to ascend a bit and catch a return current. It can be very frightening and how someone reacts during a panic situation can vary drastically.

Thank goodness, Mike found the guy and returned him to his boat. We don't need another cruise passenger death, as with last week's drowning at St. Martin.

I can recall many a night dive on Paradise with 6 or more boats around and people getting on the first one they saw. Eventually, it would all get straightened out.
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#10 nauticab

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 08:06 PM

and then you get the obnoxious divers, who, on their last day, want to do a wall, no matter what. we were off to colombia one day and the couple had not done a wall yet (bad currents that week) so they insisted on it. i was a DM but not THE DM for the group...i was a passenger that day. as we approached the sandy channel entrance, the current changed. the DM and i looked at eachother and simultaneously did the "current is changing" sign, and we moved to the sandy side of the reef and stayed inside. the couple, upon surfacing, was PO'd, even after explaining what happened and what COULD have happened. obnoxious. down currents ain't fun and any good experienced DM (referring to DMs experienced in COZUMEL waters), can tell at the surface if there are down currents near a dive site, as well as the captain, and there are natural signs as well that experience can teach you, and how to react if you get caught up in one anyway.
fish scatter and hide when the wicked down currents are about to start. stay close as you can to the wall and if need be (and this should be rare as rare can be, but it has happened to me on yucab wall once), "climb" the wall. tis the season for the currents being weird, so just pay attention to your DM and stay close to the group as previously mentioned, as well as signalling devices.
the DM screwed up here, and the captain was prob not paying attention to the wandering bubbles going away from his group or he would have gone to save the guy. i've had captains who did just that, and came back to the rest of the group to pick us up after "rescuing" the others. that's a damn good captain who pays attention.
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#11 CZMDM

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 07:06 AM

This is why the Captain and the DM have to have the final word. Not the divers, as they don't know. If they get pissed because they are not allowed to do something which is obviously dangerous...too bad. Beats drowning or getting bent. I have seen days when the surface looked like a lake and the currents were still going all over the place once we got in. You cannot always tell from the surface what is happening below, but in many cases it is obvious.
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#12 liverbird

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 08:05 AM

I'm with you, Newbie. I have a sausage, whistle, shaker, and now one of the signalling devices that is like a horn, that you can use underwater or above that uses the air in your tank (assuming you have some!) I bought that after experiencing the current in Cozumel and getting sped past my DM. She had seen me, that was not the problem, but I was petrified at not being able to swim to the point where I was behind her. There was no actual danger because my DM is excellent and knows I am a nervous diver but it showed me just how quickly something can go bad. If she hadn't been watching me as well as she does, the speed the current was flowing could have taken me very far away. Hence the new device that I hope never to have to use. I don't think you can be too cautious.
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#13 DanB

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 08:26 AM

This has been a great thread to read. Kind of like that "stories of dives gone bad" feature towards the end of each Sport Diver issue. I had a dive a year ago where my reg went into a free flow in the beginning of the dive and I lost a fair amount of air. So that I wouldn't make the dive short for the other divers I stayed above the rest of the group during the dive to use less air. However, the current was faster where I was and I keep getting ahead of the group. By the time we all surfaced I was a ways away from the rest. The boat came for me and picked me up as soon as the others were on board. But I did have a moment where I was wondering how far Cuba was. And this was just with normal and surface currents. I've never experienced a down current yet although I've done some walls. Perhaps my DM has been protecting me from more risky dives without me knowing it. It great to hear to conversation above about people's experience with the currents. Great reminder of one of the "local factors" the keep in mind while diving Cozumel.
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#14 liverbird

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 08:55 AM

I'm sure CZMDM and the other DMs on this forum get it all the time but what kind of diver would demand to be taken anywhere? And if the DM advises against something then that is the end of it. I can't imagine how stupid or arrogant you would have to be to think you know better than the people whose job it is to know the local conditions.
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#15 nauticab

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 08:42 PM

a liverbird, if you only knew! i dealt almost exclusively with cruise ship pax, where i would dive with them for 2 tanks and never see them again. we HAD to be overprotective. we demanded they stayed behind us at all times, denied their 2nd dive if they ignored our commands underwater that were discussed on the boat (touching corals, not staying with the group, etc). some folks were a pleasure to dive with. others, pure hell.
DMs are responsible for not just you having a great time diving in cozumel and finding the splendid toadfish on yucab. DMs are responsible for your LIFE and when they say do something, or don't do something, follow their direction. a DM who doesn't, isn't being responsible to his own job. you wouldn't disregard what a fireman would tell you in a burning building. same for us in the water.

this goes for any kind of job where your health is involved. off the topic....i was teaching my indoor cycling class this morning and a chick came in for a trial class. she was not into the class at all and had an attitude. i get off my bike and check everyone and it was really bothering me that she was chewing gum. i asked her if she was ok and she proudly stated she has been taking these classes for 15 years. i said "great, me too, and i get nervous seeing anyone chewing gum in this type of exercise class, please take it out" gave her a papertowel to spit it out. i wanted to say "so then you should know better than to chew gum in class where you could choke if you overexert yourself". she was NOT happy, and left early with not even a thank you, but all my regulars were on my side cause they know that THEIR well being is in my best interest. same goes for DMs who hold their ground. they may seem a bit strict to those NOT in the know, but remember they are doing what is right for your wellbeing.
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#16 CZMDM

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 03:45 AM

Liverbird I have been in the middle of a dive briefing, in front of 8 people, only to have 3 walk off and go into the cabin and start having a private discussion. When asked if they were not interested in the briefing, they replied that no they were not, that they were dive insturctors who had no interest in doing any type of dive other than what they felt like doing and not to wait for them as they would be off doing their "own" thing. I've had newbie divers jump in at a wall and I end up catching up to them at 180 feet. I have seen captains with hangovers drop their divers and then lay on the deck to sleep, while others rescued their divers.

It's dangerous out there. Be careful!
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#17 Carey

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 06:17 AM

Liverbird I have been in the middle of a dive briefing, in front of 8 people, only to have 3 walk off and go into the cabin and start having a private discussion. When asked if they were not interested in the briefing, they replied that no they were not, that they were dive insturctors who had no interest in doing any type of dive other than what they felt like doing and not to wait for them as they would be off doing their "own" thing.


So how did you handle the arrogant, know-it-alls?
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#18 liverbird

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:44 AM

Frankly, you all deserve a medal. What these arrogant fools don't consider is that, if they want to endanger themselves, well that is one thing but their stupidity is endangering your life, and that of fellow divers.

I am a nervous diver, so always dive with a private DM for me and my husband, even though he is more capable than me of going with a group. I can't imagine disobeying or disregarding the person I am trusting with our lives.

You should all get together and write a book.

Anyway, you do a great job of keeping us safe, rescuing the less circumspect among us, and helping us to enjoy the underwater beauties of Cozumel. Thanks.
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#19 CZMDM

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:44 AM

Usually everything works out (kind of). The very worst and it only happened once I had an instructor on board that was so obnoxious and refused to listen to anything that we were trying to tell him, so we put him and his gear on the pier at Wyndham and gave him taxi fare back to his hotel.

We had a guy who got on the boat with all new gear. Just FYI if the bcd is new the tank band tends to slip once it gets wet. The mate kept trying to get the guy to let us repeatedly wet his tank and tighten the band up. He pictured himeself a "world class" diver and became abusive with the mate and the captain and began swearing and thinking the mate and the captain couldn't understand English even used racial slurs against them. I told the guy that was enough and to cool it or get off of the boat. To make a long story short, we let him set his bcd the way he wanted it, but when he did a giant stride entry the tank popped out of the bcd (with the reg). The kicker was the idiot was wearing false teeth and when the reg popped out of his mouth it yanked the dentures out with it and they were lost in the blue. How the guy ate the rest of the week I don't have a clue
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#20 austinacoustic

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 06:55 PM

I had a dive at Hurradura last week with seven new divers. During the breifing the DM repeatedly stressed the importance of following the two DMs that were leading the dive. Well, when all divers were in the water they scattered like roaches.. Bouyancy problems, equipment that didn't fit properly, and one diver that just wasn't comfortable underwater.. These two DMs had their hands full!! I took the three guys that decended to the bottom.
I was keeping my eyes on them at the same time trying to keep the others in sight. One diver took out on his own and the others drifted toward the other two DMs. I found this guy (clueless) that he was alone. when he realized, he shot to the surface looking for the rest of the group. I followed him up, trying to slow him down, but couldn't.
I reached the srface and this guy was in full panic mode. I pointed out our boat and told him the other divers were under it. I had to calm him down, take him by his arm and lead him back underwater. We reached the other divers quickly, and damn if he didn't do it again..
All respect to DMs....
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