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Unread 07/20/2004, 02:27 PM   #6
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maractwin's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Cambridge, MA
Posts: 258
Here's something that happened to me on my last dive trip, and illustrates why I always carry a snorkel no matter what certain people may say about them. And now I always carry a safety sausage too.

We were boat diving in the Bahamas, on a slope on the exposed side of the island. The boat anchored in about 60' of water. When we entered the water was moderately calm and there wasn't much current, so the plan was to go out and back along the slope. There were about 10 of us in the group, all with at least intermediate skills, a local divemaster and an instructor who traveled with us.

At the end of the dive the boat was visible above us as we made our ascent. However, the current had picked up near the surface, undetectable on the reef. By the time myself and 3 other divers realized we were caught in this current, it was too late to reach the boat. The other divers used the anchor line for their safety stop. Given that we had just completed a 90 foot dive and the amount of air we had, we completed our safety stop and surfaced rather than descend below the current to try to make it back to the boat. We were fine, but ended up at least a quarter mile from the boat in what was now somewhat choppy water. The boat had to wait for all of the other divers to return before coming to get us, so we floated and continued to be washed further away.

I may have had enough air for the wait, but it would have been close. But I pulled my fold-up snorkel from my pocket and was able to wait without worrying so much about the waves passing over our heads. It was only after the boat did come to pick us up that we found out that the dive master and instructor were really worried about us. We were in exposed rough water a long way from any boat and they had seen sharks on the surface (which we hadn't noticed).

In the post-dive de-briefing, we were reassured to learn that we had pretty much done everything as we should. Two of the divers did not have snorkels and had to pay careful attention to the waves as we waited. And none of us had a safety sausage. While our boat knew where we were, if there had been other boats in the area, they would not have been able to see us.

Luckily, that's the worst problem I've ever had while diving. And I hope to keep it that way.


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