I don't want to be a bore but I am becoming increasingly concerned about the number of diving incidents occuring along the Dorset coast (this is my local area, I presume similar incidents happen around the coast at a similar rate).
On friday a scallop diver became seperated from his dive rib (skippered) and ended up having to swim over a mile back to shore to end a search by the coastguard.
On sunday I was alone fishing on my rib and spotted 2 divers frantically waving on the surface of the water. They were about 1/2 mile from me and had a 4ft long flourescent yellow marker tube. They were lucky I spotted them as it was not easy to spot even though the swell was only about 1ft. I picked them up and we looked around for their boat which was over 2 miles away and took us some time to find.
Their story was that the rib had dropped them in then manouvered (with skipper and 1 other on board) to collect a glove which had been dropped overboard. I believe this is when they lost sight of the divers AIR bubbles. The divers were planning on using a delayed surface marker buoy which is only inflated and 'sent' the the surface at the end of the dive. The boat crew maybe had not realised how quickly the divers would drift in teh tide and how far the boat would drift in the wind (travelling opposite directions at this time).
My thoughts very briefly:
DIVERS: 1) Keep in pairs. Use a buddy line or similar even if you are experienced!!!
2) Always use a permanent surface marker buoy. The boat then knows exactly where you are. Carry a knife, have it accessible and know how to use it!! If you lose your SMB surface promptly and re-locate your boat
3) Carry a whistle and an old CD. Both can be very useful for attracting attention on the surface. Preferably carry some flares in a watertight container attached to your marker buoy.
4) Make sure your boat crew know the maximum time you will be diving for and what to do if you don't surface, agree how the crew should try and make contact with you - I use a series of 6 pulls on the marker buoy line.
CREW: 1) Note the time the divers went in and GPS location.
2) Keep close to the divers buoy(s).
3) If multiple divers in water start to drift apart so that seperate pairs cannot easily be seen at the same time consider re-calling some of them.
4) Fly an 'A' flag
5) Alert the coastguard immediately when you suspect there may be a problem.
Obviously there is far more to diving and crewing dive boats than this but I think if people thought more carefully about what they are doing then there would hopefully be far less incidents and trajic stories.
Nothing new unfortunately.
When I worked full time in the Solent it seemed like there was at least one serious and/or fatal incident most weeks.
PADI - pay and die imminently...
It seems more divers go missing on Dorset Coast than elsewhere, it seems the area known as the 'Lulworth Banks' seems a hot spot. Ive also noticed divers missing for a time off swanage, but get found in a short time perhaps becuase more boats are around. Ive personally helped look for two of them this year and intercepted boats about to run them over a couple of other times as ive been passing that area. Considering the number of deaths this year alone im surprised not more is being done. It is very hard to spot some divers on the surface and the tide/wind etc does push them away.
Having dived all over the world myself some 100+ dives I wouldn't dive in this area.
Great news on the diver who swam ashore, I bet he had a few beers that night.
I agree there are some crazy people around that take silly risks! Why do people only use the DSMB at the end of the dive. Our dive club rule is if there is a current the blob comes up straight away.
I don't agree it's the dive area that's the problem, it's just more noticeable due to the number of dives that are done in that area.
I have safely completed hundreds of dives in this area, all it takes is a bit of common sense and a sense of self preservation to keep safe!
Maybe it's the Darwin effect that's finally coming into play?
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I've boat handled a lot over the years for Divers, having taken my BSAC Boat handling course when I was a teenager.
We tend to run two cover boats, one anchored and one as pick up/cover, which also acts to fend off boats that haven't seen the flag, don't know what it means, or don't care.
In my opinion there is no substitute for a decent SMB, especially when there is more than one pair down.
From a boat handlers point of view the best I've 'worked' with was a guy who had a bright orange space hopper in a cargo net, which was easy to keep track of.
No SMB on a drift dive and no GPS mark at start of dive make it very difficult to track divers, however, a GPS showing a breadcrumb trail could still track back.
Sounds like more to it than may have been reported, I have lost divers for a time but there are techniques for looking for them and proper planning makes a huge difference.
I have never lost any divers in my time as a BSAC Advanced diver.
Made sure each Pair had a SMB or if we were wreck diving made sure they would only return to the descent/ascent line.
If I droppped divers in shallow waters 5-10 mtr its dead easy to keep a track on them by looking for their bubbles surfacing. simple.
but as I say I was Old School BSAC. Plan your dive. Dive your plan. very strict club but fun.
even when we took the 3 ribs out full of divers we never even had a pair end up on the wrong boats.
But I do admit it would be easy if your not paying attention or only using DSMB's to loose a pair of divers.
When I get in the water because its my boat and I feel responsible for whoever is crewing it for me at the time I ask that the follow my marker buoy ticking along with 1 engine running. If they have problems on the surface either 6 quick revs of the boat engine or 6 tugs on my marker buoy and I come up. If I can't hear the boat engine for 3 mins or so I come up. I have a large bright orange marker buoy with diver written in big letters and that is always on the surface, I am always connected to it. If its foggy etc then I don't dive or I use the boat as a marker bouy with direct line to the skipper. If I dive a wreck etc I anchor and only swim connected to the anchor line. If I'm not 100% happy or my crew isn't 100% happy I don't dive. DSMB's are for back up only to be used if my smb line ever got tangled and I had to cut it. Have done thousands of dives and never had to cut an umbilical or smb line. I just feel sorry for the RNLI really. What a waste of everyones time for such simple things.
Well said diver1
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