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 Post subject: Lesson Learned - Diving Di Bawah Kapal (Ambon)
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:49 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 5:51 pm
Posts: 1574
Location: Jakarta
Kejadian di Ambon, a good story, lesson learned :)

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Boat trouble

You need to be as vigilant on the last dive of your holiday as the first, Michael Maes discovers

In February I took a trip on a liveaboard from Sorong to Ambon in Indonesia. Having arrived in Ambon, I had time to do two last dives before my flight.Arriving at our dive site by RIB, I saw several large fishing boats all lined up next to each other.

I asked the divemaster where we were going to dive. 'Underneath the boats and the dock,' he said. So I asked him if he was joking, diving under such big boats. 'No,' he said 'they never move. In fact, they're used to having the local dive school diving here daily.'

So I trusted the guy – after all, he's been diving this region for years. As we were all underwater photographers or videographers, we quickly found our own subjects to shoot. My wife, who was my buddy, stayed in shallow water (10-20 feet) taking macro shots while I went a bit deeper, following a huge school of catfish.

As my air started to decrease, I finned back towards the RIB, helped by the current. As it was close by, I still had around 50 bar (700psi) of gas left in my tank when I got there. One thing that did worry me, however, as I swam along, was a heavy pounding in my chest and ears: big engines were running. 'That's weird,' I thought. 'These boats never move.'

So I was at 5m after a 50-minute dive, with 50 bar (700psi) left. Everything was going to plan, except that my wife had exited the water already. Instead, seeing another diver, I signalled to her that we should buddy-up and do our three-minute safety stop together.

Then suddenly, about 7m away, I saw a big propellor starting to revolve. I looked around and saw another one to my left, and one more to the right. There were four or five boats with their propellors engaged!

I looked at my buddy and saw she was frozen with anxiety. I grabbed her and fiercely signalled that we had to go deeper to avoid the propellers. We were right above a drop off, so we emptied our BCs and fiercely finned down to about 15m where we would be safe.

But I only had 30 bar (500psi) of gas left, and the adrenaline meant I was draining my tank quickly. I recalled the dive briefing, which had said that we would go diving under the boats and the dock. But thinking back, I couldn't remember seeing a dock. 'Maybe I passed it without noticing it,' I thought. So I decided I would stay as low as possible, find the dock and go under it, as that would be clear of propellers.

In all the commotion my buddy had already chosen another way out and I had no idea where she had gone. I started finning like crazy against the current, thinking 'This is wrong, but under the dock I'll be safe'. Half way past the moving boats I was down to around 10 bar (200psi), and emptying my tank as if a vacuum were attached to it.

'There's no way back,' I was thinking, 'I don't know where I am!'

So I kept on finning, preparing mentally for an emergency ascent and hoping I'd have reached the dock by then. But I was hardly making any progress due to the current. Breathing became heavier, so I knew I had just a few gulps left before I was out of air. And I was still underneath the moving and revving boats! My only option was to ascend. So I did, and surfaced between two boats who, fortunately, had not started their engines.

I shouted for help, and finally the RIB picked me up. I was safe and sound!

At the surface, I finally saw what was happening: the boats where all shuffling positions – none were sailing away. We found my buddy downstream – she had drifted clear before surfacing safely. Once on the RIB, I noticed there was no dock. There was only a tiny jetty, which one boat lay alongside, and all the others were lined up next to it. I had been finning like crazy to an escape route which didn't exist!

This shows the importance of good dive briefings – with maps – so you know what to do in an emergency. It also showed me the importance of sticking to your own judgement. I felt it was unsafe to dive under the boats, and I should have stuck to my guns. ●

Ngeri yah... stay safe buddies! Perhatikan briefing dengan jelas, kalau kurang jelas tanya lagi sampai jelas... Kalau dalam hati sudah merasa ada yang janggal atau meragukan, tanya lagi sama dive leadernya, jangan malu bertanya 'what if....'


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