• Welcome to ScubaBoard

  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

Narcosis Charters; WPB FL, LOST Diver Today?

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by dumpsterDiver, Sep 11, 2011.

  1. dumpsterDiver

    dumpsterDiver Banned

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location:
    8,319
    4,017
    113
    Today I was out diving and heard on the radio that the Narcosis Dive charter out of West Palm Beach reported a lost diver. We listened on the radio for quite a while. The dive boat was searching for the diver, it sounded like other charter boats were also looking on the surface.

    The police helicopter was searching the surface and the USCG had at least one vessel deployed in the search.

    The police helo left the scene after many passes and the CG helo was enroute after the other aircraft left.

    Conditions today were PERFECT less than 1 foot seas all morning and about a 1.5-2 kt current on the surface, winds were probably less than 5 mph.

    After a few hours, it sounded like the dive boats were assuming the worst and began doing underwater sweeps (obviously with the intent of making a body recovery). I think at least one private vessel was deploying divers to search as well.

    We were diving offshore of the scene and could see the boats and helo etc. After being lost for hours, I was pretty sure that the diver was dead, because the surface conditions were super calm, clear skies, and no restriction on visibility. I figured there is absolutely no way a diver could have gotten away from a charter boat on a recreational drift dive (I think the depth was 75 ft or so), to the extent that even a helicopter could not spot him.

    I was making my way over to the scene, the Narcosis boat was dropping more divers and they sounded like they were appreciative of any help with searching of the bottom by other boats. I was preparing to do a dive and sweep the area, when we heard on the radio that the lost diver had actually made it to MacArthur Beach Park and had walked up on the beach and made a phone call from there! Thank GOD.

    That is incredible, the distance is roughly 3 miles north (down current) from the dive site and the diver must have swam in (across the current) a distance of close to a mile (rough estimates).

    Does anybody know what the story is? It is absolutely amazing to me that the diver's drift pattern was apparently not predicted accurately and that he wasn't spotted on the surface under these ideal conditions this morning.

    How does somebody get lost on the surface, in perfect conditions, for apparently hours and nobody is looking in the right place for him?
     
    Tricia and openmindOW like this.
  2. Insta-Gator

    Insta-Gator Giant Squid

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Georgia, United States of America
    12,431
    10,914
    113
    Happy ending to a bizarre story. Surely someone knew the current direction and speed and had a watch.
     
  3. Reef_Haven

    Reef_Haven Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Winter Haven (Central FL)
    494
    75
    0
    Hope he didn't get cited for failing to stay within 100 yds of a dive flag!:D
    I wonder where the original drop was? Where his buddy was? How long it took Narcosis to realize he was missing?
    Doesn't seem like he had a safety sausage. Lucky he wasn't hit by a boat. Amazing he wasn't spotted by anyone.
     
  4. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Sonoma County, CA
    3,336
    2,350
    113
    It's a really big ocean and divers are really small wearing gear that blends into the surroundings.

    Additionally, if you misjudge the position lost and/or the drift rate the target may be outside the search area. You would assume the diver was near the boat, but say he was following the pretty fish, taking pictures, kicking with the current for an hour. Upon surfacing he would probably not even see the boat, just the search choppers.


    Bob
    ----------------------------
    I may be old, but I’m not dead yet.
     
  5. deeper thoughts

    deeper thoughts Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location:
    5,509
    1,239
    113
  6. danvolker

    danvolker Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
    5,884
    2,975
    0
    I was out then on the Shearwater, and the current was not all that large either...I am looking forward to hearing this account directly, but as of this moment, I can only think the diver was swimming west looking for patch reef, oblivious to the normal mandate that you stay "near" the reefline, trending south to north...For him not to be seen in those conditions, he would have to have come up ridiculously far west of where divers surface, and then must have chosen to swim toward beach, rather than swim toward the main reef area after the corridor...
    Pure conjecture, a fast swimming diver "could" get pretty close to shore, swimming with a mostly West direction, in the course of an hour long bottom time.... I can't wait to hear what the real story on this is !!!
     
  7. danvolker

    danvolker Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
    5,884
    2,975
    0
    I just spoke to the Captain of Narcosis, Van..
    1. Everyone was asked if they had a safety sausage multiple times, and everyone on the boat said they did...... Narcosis HAS sausages for anyone that does not have their own....As you know, no sausage went up, no one saw him.
    2. This guy left his buddy, and disappeared soon after the dive began.
    3. Apparently he headed West, most likely right from the beginning of the dive....
    4. He stayed down for around an hour and 20 minutes, which is well longer then the dive site briefing allowed, which also means this would put him far from all other divers, if swimming throughout the dive
    5. In all liklihood, he made it almost to the beach, before surfacing..not that hard to do from the area known as the Corridor.
    6. He got a ride from MacArthur Park to PBSO and then to the dock to get his gear, and he slipped away.... without even a word to Van about the huge mess he made by not following the briefing, and having multiple helicopters and boats dispatched to search for him.. No appology, nothing.
    With all the boats and copters, if he had been anywhere near the areas divers dive in, he would have been spotted.... It almost begs the question, did this guy "purposely navigate due west, and stay down for an hour and 20 minutes, so that he could say he swam to shore ?? ".... I would love to hear from him :)
     
    Jax and Tricia like this.
  8. Splitlip

    Splitlip Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Jupiter
    3,913
    462
    83
    I was thinking along those lines as well. I too can't wait to hear the story.

    Edit: That was fast Dan. :)
     
  9. Reef_Haven

    Reef_Haven Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Winter Haven (Central FL)
    494
    75
    0
    Just curious,
    If he spoke to noone when he picked up his gear, How do you know he stayed down 1 hr 20?
    Must have been one boring sand dive, there isn't any reef to speak of NW of the corridor is there? Does kinda sound on purpose.
    Was he missed immediately after the other divers surfaced?
     
  10. danvolker

    danvolker Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
    5,884
    2,975
    0
    I think the dive duration came from the interview with PBSO....not sure, but it was admitted as being well beyond the guidelines allowed.

    There are patches and rubble that can interest a diver heading west( for a while) , but not all the way in to the beach..at some point he would have to have known he was so far west of where he was supposed to be, that no one would be looking any where near where he was....
    MAYBE this guy wanted to be able to brag that he had swum to shore from the wreck dive.........but considering the cost of helicopters, police boats, coast guard boats, and other dive boats which had to respond and drop what they were doing to look for him, this wAS REALLY NOT cool.

    To put this in perspective, if he had just kept swimming over the normal reef line area, heading north with the current, he would have been seen by someone in "minutes", particularly on a day like this with flat calm seas. There were boats all along that reefline, Sunday morning when this happened.... Instead, he went directly sideways to the current, which is an effort, and must have purposely "navigated" west to stay on this course....to get this far from the reef line area all divers stay in.....
    This just sounds "fishy" to me :)
     

Share This Page