Things to do when you find a bad current.
There are a couple of theories to explain the crazy currents that we have being facing in Cozumel for the last 2 weeks:
1.Global warming ( of course…in our days whatever we can’t explain must be the global warming fault ).
2. A domino effect from all those funky earthquakes around the earth.
3. The beginning of the end of the world according to the Maya prophecy.
4. Somebody pull the plug at the bottom of the Caribbean and we are just suffering a “toilet effect”:
Never mind… I do not really care about the why and how of those currents but I do care about the consequences, truth is that it’s not fun to dive in such strong and weird currents but we still go and do it.
It is also truth that there is no way to control the ocean and that many times, if not always, we have to just tag along and deal with whatever we find down there…of course, must of the times we only deal with nice, moderate and friendly currents that make it so easy to just go with the flow and enjoy the view of the reef…the kind of currents that you guys like so much.
But the currents that push divers off the reef, into the “blue” and transform diving into a real 60 minutes work out session…well… those ones are a different kind of bug.
Last week I had an excellent group of divers, high ranked training wise and with many years of experience, many years diving together and having all kind of dives with me ( not to mention countless incursions into the untamed depths of Cozumel´s night life as well ) and I feel so lucky to had such a great group of divers because I faced one of the must crazy dives of my life with them.
It was at Santa Rosa wall.. 4 divers and myself. I checked the current and it seemed to me that it was “death”…meaning.. no current at all, I gave the ok for the divers to get in the water and by the time they all were at the surface with me ( perhaps 1 minute ) I felt that we had move just a little tiny bit from the initial point…I looked down and checked that my reference point was still there…and surely there it was…I told my divers to go down not before giving them instructions about doing a little swim to get to the wall since we had move a little…well… 30 seconds later and 40 ft underwater we found ourselves in the $(&·$%() of nowhere and with no sight of the wall at all!!! I knew…they knew that the wall was RIGTH there underneath us just seconds ago..and now we have to kick and kick and kick some more just to realize that we were not going any closer to the wall…now.. here comes the real issue… 2 of my divers went deeper looking for some sort of “current protection” rather that stay at 50 ft with 2 more divers and I….now they are out of my sight within seconds…not because they were that far away but because we were now getting surrounded by particles in suspension… for a brief moment I believed that I was in fact swimming on the opposite direction, therefore I checked my compas..nope…rigth direction!! just not walk at all…ok…now we have 5 minutes trying to get to the wall and 2 things are for sure, one: I can´t see my divers and two: there is no way we will get to the wall….
Here is my question: what would you do in such situation?
keep swimming?? keep banging on your tank until your arm hurt without getting any signal back from the other 2 divers that went deeper? call 911 ? abort the dive?
hmmmm…I just decided that we had enough leg exercise for a day and call the dive to the end.
3 of us got to the surface in Fairy tale land: FAR, FAR AWAY… the boat came and get us and once on board we were waiting for the other 2 divers to surface any time soon…well..they didnt. Did you ever have had that feeling of “this is not happening to me” ?? I had that one a few times in my life before, like when the border patrol so kindly pointed their searchlights to the fence I was attempting to jump on the Tijuana border…but…thats another tale… any way…yes… I got that terrible feeling of knowing all the possible bad scenarios that could take place . I don’t really recall how many minutes passed by…but I will say no less that 15 by the time we finally spotted the bubbles of the 2 divers on their way up to the surface…by them we had all ready ask the help of another boat to look for bubbles. At the end of the day my divers were fine ( thanks to their level of training and experience )…it turned out that they did actually reached the wall and were waiting for us to show up there…waited and waited and couple of times the current changed directions on them…finally and after waiting for a period of calm, they decided that it was time to get to the surface…
Later that day we all sat down and talked about the dive…we share some good laughs and added that one to our book of adventures…
…but…that feeling was still there, knowing that perhaps with a different set of divers I would have to inform to somebody that a dear person was not going back home anymore.
So… divers. This is how you deal with a bad ass current.
1. If possible signal to the dive master that it’s not a good idea to continue the dive and abort the dive specially if there is not sight of a clear reference point
2. please, stick with your dive buddy!! and your group as well.
3.Before the dive, be sure that you have any sort of emergency signal device…a bouy, a sausage signal tube, a whistle, a dive alert, a mirrow, a jar of female moose pheromones!!!! …ANYTHING that will help others to spot you on the distance
4. Remember… if you get separate from your group, search and wait for a minute..2 minutes top and if you still don’t find the group or your leader: go to the surface…nice and steady.
5. Pay your dive trip in advanced ( just in case )
6. If you are all ready down there, stay close to the bottom and or wall where the current is weaker that off the wall or away from the bottom and please: follow your divemaster.
7. Be wise, perhaps this is not the best time to stop and take all the sweet time of the world to take the picture of that lobster…no matter how big it could be.
7. Navigate between swim trougths and cannons to find some shelter from the current.
8. If possible, swim towards shallow areas and away from the wall.
9. Remain calm, currents can be and are very strong at times…but its the panic and bad judgement follow by even worse actions what trigger accidents.
10. Remember that diving can be a very demanding physical activity…stay in shape divers.
We all should learn from our mistakes and from the situations we live…
In Alexscuba we learn quick, all our divers have now a floating signal device (those sausages with red, yellow or orange colors) and a whistle as a standard piece of the gear we provide to them…just a little action that will save me having another of those uncertainty feelings.
We care for your safety and want you to become better and safer divers.
We all know that 99 percent of the times diving is all about fun and good times…but keep in mind the other 1 percent and be ready for it.
See you around.