Well gang I'm back
After a fun filled trip I'd like to post a dive experience that I hope all can learn from. this is a bit long but I think new divers can learn from this.
I Dove the Sherman Originally a 200 ft. blockade-runner, this 120 year old post-Civil War wreck lies in 52 feet of water about 6 miles from Little River Inlet. Always surrounded by multitudes of marine life, the SHERMAN also offers a variety of artifacts for the careful hunter. US belt buckles, buttons, bottles and fossils have been found on this site.
I dove with Coastal Scuba (http://www.coastalscuba.com). They were friendly and prices were reasonable. I got to the boat at 6:30 for a 7am departure. Thing run a bit slow down south ya know so after everyone got to the boat around 7:30 we left around 8am after everyone got their gear together. The ride was about an hour with 1 to 2 foot seas, very calm and just a gorgeous day. They tied into the wreck about 9:00 and divers hit the water about 9:30 and anyone who didn't dive with a computer was told 30 minutes max time. If you dove with a computer you could do your own profile and everyone was told to do a 3 to 5 minute safety stop.
SO FAR SO GOOD RIGHT!!!!!!
well, my partner and I were the last in the water because everyone was in a mad dash to go somewhere, as we were suiting up, a nice 26 ft fishing boat was about 50ft off our stbrd side trolling for barracuda which were hovering under our boat. our boat captain and the fishing boat Capt. was just having a good old time chatting away as divers jumped in not far from the fishing boat. (WTF)
the water was a warm 82ft and about 50ft vis, schools of fish were swimming back and forth under the boat and around the fishing line, a few huge barracuda were right under the boat just hanging out. great site to see. the top of the boilers were at 40ft and vis was excellent, after that it dropped to about 5ft at the bottom 53ft to the sand but it was nice and warm 81f. I found small ball bearings was used either for ammunition or shot for ballast. I'll ask jean later.
First dive was uneventful, the Capt told everyone they had a 1/2 hour surface interval and to hurry up back in the water. He said we leave at 11:15. it was a little past 10:00am.
Everyone jumped back in the water around 10:30 and we were back on the boat at 11:10. I dove 34% nitrox and still did a 5 minute safety stop just for giggles.
Here is the drama!!!!
When i got on the boat and started putting my stuff away, a diver surfaced about 100 yrds from the boat, not to far from the hill billy fishing dude trolling for barracuda, he said he lost his partner. it was 11:15 at this time, they had been down for 35 minutes when he surfaced. He and his partner dove with single 80's on air with no alternate air supply ( i was the only one on the boat with a pony bottle).
the DM took a role call and figured out who was missing, we were all told to look for bubbles and try to find the missing diver. it is now 45 minutes into the dive for the missing person, everyone was thinking this person would be low on air soon and no one saw bubbles. two DM's jumped into the water and went looking for the missing diver. They found her by the anchor line just hanging out, and about 500 psi left @ 50ft. it is now 55 minutes into her profile on the second dive. they brought her up to 15ft and had her breath 32% nitrox off of one of the DM's Octopus's for 15 minutes then brought her on board. We learn after talking to her that she did not have a bottom timer, and didn't make a plan, she did not know how long she was down, didn't see her dive buddy and just hung around the anchor line, she also was not paying attention to her console. (DUH!!) the DM's put her on O2 precautionary but about the time we hit the dock she said she had a metal taste in her mouth and her right hand was tingling like it was asleep. They called DAN and had her go to the nearest ER for eval and transportation to a Chamber.
This was suppose to be a shallow novice dive that could have ended worse than it did. I can't explain the feeling I had looking for bubbles from a missing diver and I expected the worse.
This is a perfect example of basic dive training going out the door with common sense.
things i picked up from this.
1. always make a plan with your partner
2. always have a bottom timer
3. always watch your time, and pressure guage
4. always dive with an alternate air source
5. In limited visibility, if you loose your partner, make a quick search and head back to the anchor line ( should be part of the dive plan for beginner divers)
6. DM's, INSTRUCTORS, AND DIVE BOAT CAPT'S SHOULD NEVER ALLOW SOMEONE TO ENTER THE WATER WITHOUT A BOTTOM TIMER AT A MINIMUM, AND ALTERNATE AIR SOURCE.
It just amazes me how resort type of diving is compared to our diving up here.
Gene, thanks for the excellent training, guidance, and, experience in running a safe dive shop and charters.