Propeller accident after diving at Galápagos Islands

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by Nathalie_nl, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. Nathalie_nl

    Nathalie_nl Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: The Netherlands
    This is my personal story about my accident with all my pain, my sorrow and my emotions. I recently shared my story on the Dutch scubaboard. I received many positive feedback and that is why I would like post it also on the US scubaboard. The main reason for sharing my story, is because I feel my accident could have easily been prevented. By sharing my story I hope to achieve that other divers are more aware of the necessity of using a surface marker buoy, even if there is only one boat nearby.

    My accident happened on May 9th of this year, while ascending from a beautiful dive at the Galápagos Islands. The captain did not notice me, my buddy and the diveguide. He ran us over. My left leg got cought up in the propeller of the motorboat. My whole story I've written down and can be read in my blog: Going home after 16 nights in Ecuadorian hospital - Reisverslag uit Guayaquil, Ecuador van Nathalie - The first part is Dutch, but when you'll scroll down, you'll find the full English translation.

    On Saturday May 25th we arrived at the airport of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. An ambulance took me straight to the academic hospital, where on Monday a they performed a new surgery on my knee. Because of this surgery, it might take a couple years more, before I need to have my knee replaced with an artificial one. Nerves and muscles are damaged. In total I spent 43 days in a hospital. First in Ecuador, later in my home country, the Netherlands. At this moment I'm staying at a recuperation clinic. I've been here now for four weeks and will have to stay at least a couple weeks more. It's too early to tell if over time my knee and ankle will fully function again. I know that I need at least one more surgery. Recuperation will take at least six months up to a year.


    ** MOD POST: **

    We had some trouble getting the link to work. This one should be used instead: Going home after 16 nights in Ecuadorian hospital - Reisverslag uit Guayaquil, Ecuador van Nathalie -
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2013
  2. Wookie

    Wookie ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    Her translation....

    ...and dance like no-one is watching...

    Buenos dias!

    This is going to be the last blog of this journey, which has abruptly come to an end and it has to be written. The last couple of months have been extraordenary. So many amazing things we've seen. Without this last blog, the story wil just not be complete. Second reason why this blog needs to be written is because for me it's a hard and emotional story (BE AWARE!). At the moment I live by the day. I don't want to talk about what happened or what is still to come. Not yet. I only want to talk about the bits and pieces that I can handle at that moment. This blog will be the exeption.
    The third reason why this blog has to be written, is because there are lessons to be learned by other divers. I hope that when you are finished reading you feel the importance of using a surface marker buoy during your safety stop. EVERY TIME AND IN EVERY PLACE!! We share the water with boats and everyone makes a mistake now and then: either you get lost or drift off or boats accidently enter a diving area. You can get angry about that, but this will not help you in case you get overrun. Prevention! Let not happen to you, what just happened to me.

    But let me start by telling how special Eke is. He got me out of the water, feared for my live, hold pressure on my wounds, realizing it could have well be him. He never left my side, coping with his own emotions, continuesly translating Spanish into Dutch and vice versa, organizing and coordinating so many things, kept everyone back home well informed, and so much more. I would have been nowhere without him. Eke, I love you dearly.

    It's Thursday, May 9th. The ingredients of the day are: a dive site at the Galápagos Islands about 1,5 hours off shore, one boat (ours), four crew members of which two are dive guides and besides us, seven other divers.
    At 50 minutes into the dive, Eke points out a turtle to me. Wouw! I look for the guide to see if we have time to stay with the turtle for a short moment, but I see he's busy handsignaling with the other two divers in our group. One of them is low on air and as previously agreed will end the dive. The diveguide accompanies the buddyteam away from the rocks so they can safely start their ascent. He then joints us again to look for the turtle at around 12 meters depht. The whole dive has been shallow, so we still have enough air. Unfortunately we quickly run out of time, because we agreed not to dive longer than one hour. No rejoining the turtle. At 57 minutes into the dive the diveguide gives us the signal to start our ascent and our safetystop: always a harsh reality at the end of any dive. But this ascent is different. A fourth member joints us: a curious fish. He follows us closely until we reach a depth of five meters. At this depht we, divers, have to wait three minutes before returning to the surface. The fish, curious and brave as can be, stays with us and swims from diver to diver keeping less than have a meter distance. When the three minutes are up a wave the fish goodbye and slowly go up to the surface. The fish is still there at three meters. And also at two!! So funny! What does this fish want? Eke stays a brief moment longer at two meters to say his goodbyes. I make it to the surface.

    The following takes place in less then a second:
    When I get my head above the surface I see the right side of the bow right before my face. The boat is moving and distance is less than a meter. The captain could never have seen me. All alarmbells ring. I cannot get away. I'm going to be overrun. In a split second I realise that I have to avoid the bow to run right into my face. I try to turn over my left shoulder and get the divetank between myself and the boat and perhaps a bit of depth. This does not work. I feel a light sucktion and the fast rotating motor blades grasp my left leg and release it again. The boat has passed.

    Right behind me Eke surfaces, unaware of what just happened. I lift my leg out of the water but it's gone. Where my knee should have been, I see a lumb. I lost my leg. I don't feel pain and don't feel panic. I start to scream as loud as I can. Everybody must know immedialy something is realy wrong. Eke sees my injury and blows air into my bcd and drops our weights. Within second the boat is in the right position to lift me on board. I feel how people get hold of me and how they unbuckle my diving equipment. I surender; it's all up to my rescuers now. I get lifted on board and laid down on a soft bench and to much of my surprice, my leg follows as well. First I think Eke has found my leg, but then I realise I can wiggle all five of my toes. My leg is still attached! I still have my leg! And I can move my toes! Hope!! I need oxygen right away! I need to breath so much oxygen, that enough will reach my foot an toes so they get a chance to be saved.

    On board Jen (AU) and Lynzi (GB) move super fast. Within thirty secondes they turn a weightbelt into a tourniquette and place this thight around my leg. The second one is about to be ready. Jen is standing on my righthand side and is managing the scene in a more than perfect way. She has complete overview, delegates tasks and talks to me. Above me I see Ekes face. I hear him say that he loves me and that I should try to remain calm. His eyes and his trembling voice tell me that this is something he can hardly do himself. My mind is extremely clear. Never before had I have to ask myself the question if I was going to live. My head stays clear, I do not feel any lost of concious, I understand the bleeding is under control and I can still wiggle my toes. Yes, I will survive this. I tell Eke and Jen that all will be fine in the end. This I believe. Why is there still no oxygen?

    A short discussion wether to wait for the other four divers is ended when they surface. They are in the boat within no-time and we leave full speed for the main island, still one and halve hours away. Several persons support my leg and they place towels around my knee. Finally there is the emergency oxygen and when I tell them I get cold, they imediately cover me in more towels. I feel no pain and I feel completely calm and fully awake. Today I will not die.

    I hear lots of radio communication with shore. The captain slightly changes direction. We're not heading for the harbour anymore, but directly for the airport. I have to be transported to mainland hospital, about 1.000 km away, as soon as possible. Medical assistance on the airport is ready to receive me en some people from the diveshop are on their way to our hotel to collect all our personal belongings and bring them to us at the airport. Still fifty more minutes by boat, they tell me. I still see Ekes face right above me. He seems calm again. He tells me how great I'm doing. I still fully focused. I going to survive this.

    When we reach shore, we have to wait a couple of minutes, because the ambulance has parked in a different spot. People board with a stretcher, which they place under me. Than they lift me. My leg is not in stable position anymore and rolls from left to right. This hurts badly, especially my knee. The ambulande brings us a couple of hundred meters to the first aid post of the airport. The doctor gives me iv fluids, emergency oxygen and the first pain medication. Under my leg they put two alumnium bins, to stable my leg. When I get cold, they cut me out of my wet wetsuits and replace it for towels and blankets. I hear fierce discussions about where I should be brought next. Persons in charge decide that I must be transported to the mainland immediately. I'm very lucky that the last commercial flight is delayed by quite a bit, so there is enough time to handle all procedures and formalities and get me on that flight. I asked one of the dive guides to stay close to me all the time, because he's fluent in Spanish and in English language. He has been of such a great value in helping with all conversations with both rescuers and the autorities.

    I don't know exactly how long I've been laying here, but all of sudden we're moving. We're going! An ambulance takes me to the airplane, the bins remain under my leg to give support. They carefully carry me up the stairs of the plane, but one of the bins gives way. When someone on my righthand side lowers the stretcher a tiny bit, my knee moves in that direction. Pain!! I scream and for a short moment they put me down on the floor of the already fully boarded airplane. I manage to explain which movement they have to avoid, to exempt me from agonizing pain. They lift me again and carefully put me on the last row of seats (stil including two metal bins). Once the doctor who accompanies me on the flight has declared that I won't die during the flight, we take off. Eke is sitting backwards on a seat directly in front of me and keeps the bins and my knee in position. Next to him the face of a friendly hostess appears. She is going to take care of my during the whole flight. She immediately gives me emergency oxygen. I look at my hands and see that they are covered in blood. Then I notice the blood on all the seats and stow tables. I'm still very concious and I still can wiggle my toes. I'm going to stay alive and we're now on our way to a very modern privat hospital, and a excelent orthopedic surgeon. Within one and halve hours we arrive in Guayaquil and from there the ride to the hospital takes five minutes by ambulance. The doctors there take a short while to decide on which actions to take. In the meanwhile I go through the process of making extremely painfull x-rays. I get everyones attention by calling to them: "Look! I can move my toes. please save my leg!" It is 10 pm. I say goodbye to Eke. Finally the moment of liberation is there. I get to breath anestatic gass. When I feel I'm drifting away, I wave to the aneastasiologist.

    Today is Thursday May 23th. Tonight will be the sixteenth and also the very last night in this hospital. Tomorrow we'll fly home!!! This whole day I have no control over my emotions. Tears of happiness: tomorrow we'll fly home.

    I've had multiple surgeries. On the day of the accident, Thursday, they cleaned the wounds and put bandage around them. On Friday morning they did the same. This needed to be done first to prevent infections. On Monday they fixed all fractures and closed the wounds. I have three fractures: just above my knee, my knee itself and my ankle. I also have deep cuts and damage to my muscles. The surgeon told my he can't believe that, seen the with damage to my leg, my artery and my nerves were still in tact. He used 21 bolts and two plates to put my leg together again. He promisses me that within a couple of months I will fully recover and that I will keep all of my legs functionallity. He's a bit more pessimistic about my knee. Some bone fragments are missing and my kneecap doesn't have a smooth surface anymore because of that. This will cause erosion over time and this is why I'll probably have to have my knee replaced in a dozen years or so.

    Recovery right after the sugeries went with ups and very painfull downs. All the personal support messages that I got from Holland as well as from Ecuador gave me a lot of strength. I thank you a lot! Even more support I got from Eke. There have only been few that he was not directly at my side. There is a large couch next to my bed. This is where Eke has lived during the past two weeks. He took care of me, translated as much as possible for me, tried millions of times to get the nurses into action modus, continiously kept contact with the emergency desk of the insurance company, held almost daily meetings with the financial department of the hospital about the payment of the fast growing bills, kept everyone back at home well informed, but more than all... helped me through all hard and painfull moments, day and night. I know how hard this has been for you. I would have been nowhere without you. I love you.

    Tomorrow we fly home. At 7 pm there will be a direct flight from Guayaquil to Amsterdam. We'll fly business class. At Amsterdam Schiphol Airport an ambulance will take me directly to the hospital in Amsterdam. We're already in contact with a excelent surgeon of this hospital. They know I'm coming. I think I'll only stay in this hospital for a couple of days, so the medical team can decide on plan for the near future. I'll need a lot of support in the upcomming months.

    This is where our dream journey ends, but we'll soon be back for sure. We still have to do many more dives here, but only with a surface marker bouy. This is not only applicable for us, but also for all other divers all over the world. This is going to be my mission. This is where I want to put my story at use.

    Now it's time to let my emotions run free again: TOMORROW WE'LL GO HOME!!!

    Take care! Nathalie.

    …and dance like no-one is watching…
  3. DiverGirl1972

    DiverGirl1972 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Lititz, PA
    Nathalie, thank you for taking the time to share your terrifying experience. I wish you all the best as you continue your recovery and I’m glad to hear you have a strong support system to help you through. I am always striving to learn from others so that I might be fortunate enough to prevent a diving accident myself.

    You mentioned that your accident was easily preventable and you stress the importance of using an SMB. In retrospect, and given your intimate knowledge of the events that led to your accident, I wonder what other preventative measures or actions you might take if you could go back to those moments prior to your final ascent?

    While I have never been diving in the Galapagos Islands, my understanding is that full exposure protection (including hood) is required. Having learned to dive in a quarry in PA, I am no stranger to 7mm wetsuits/drysuits, heavy gloves and thick hoods. That said, I am surprised that neither you nor your dive partner heard the boat’s engine as you approached the surface, given its close proximity. Do you feel as though your preoccupation with the fish on your safety stop distracted you to the point where you temporarily lost your situational awareness?

    Thanks again for posting and best wishes on your recovery!
  4. Bopper

    Bopper Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Diego, CA

    It's very thoughtful of someone to go out of their way to educate others from the "mistakes" they have made. I'm sorry this happened to you. I wish you the best in your recovery.
    Brodydog, brrrandi and Moray like this.
  5. Ayisha

    Ayisha Surface Interval Member

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    Nathalie, thank you so much for sharing what happened to you and your concern to try to prevent this in the future. I'm glad that you're healing well and are expected to have good use of your leg. Please take care of yourself!
  6. vladimir

    vladimir Giant Squid

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Thank you, Nathalie, for posting that. Propellers are my worst fear, and, I believe, the biggest risk that is substantially out of our control as divers. But, as you say, an SMB could make all the difference.

    Best wishes for a complete recovery. My buddy has a patellar implant—no big deal, especially compared to what you've been through.
  7. Nathalie_nl

    Nathalie_nl Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: The Netherlands
    Dear DiverGirl1972,

    Thank you for your response. I'd love to answer all your questions as good as I can.

    I often think back to the moment of the accident, and the thing that keeps me wondering is why I can't recollect any sounds of the boats engine. You would expect a 200 hp engine to make quite some noise. I was wearing a hood indeed. I'm used to wearing one, but it could be one reason. Another possibility is that the sound was there, but that I did not recognise it as something dangerous and did not register because of that. All dives at the Galápagos are drift dives, where it is common for boats to follow the divers. I've experieced this practice also in other countries. The incident report gives a possible third option on why I did not hear the boat comming. The story about the captain, told by the owner who speaks reasonably good English: "He activated one of the engines with a speed of 4 knots and a couple of seconds later he realised that he hit something." The boat was not moving before, but was located just beyond where we could see it. The engine was only activated for a mere few seconds. I was just at the wrong place.

    I cannot think of another thing I would have done different before the accident, than to make sure I had my smb with me. If you or anyone else has a good thought on this than I'm happy to read about it. For now I think that making sure you are seen before you surface is the key in preventing this kind of accidents from happening. At the same time the dive company is experimenting with tunnel housing which they place around the engines, so the propellers are sheeld off. Till now they have not been very successfull with this, because the bolts keep on breaking off.

    Though I did give the divecompany some advise on the post accident handling. The company and the crew had not experienced an accident in the twenty years before, so they were not ready for it when it happened. They paniced and they frooze. I was very lucky with the two fellow divers were on board that day and immediately took over the incident management. There were no incident procedures, e.g. how to call back the divers that were still in the water. Of the two oxygen bottles on board, one was empty and the other was only half full (as I have been told). It took a while before the equipment was assembled. And another small thing: there were no decent sissors to cut me out of my wetsuits. The company took my criticism very well and have improved on every single issue and more. They now check the oxygen tanks on a daily basis, at while they get a lot of practice of setting up the equipment. They also invited a special instructor to update there knowledge on first aid procedures specific for remote areas. We still have frequent communication about these kind of things and I'm very happy about this.

    The curious fish is a total different story. It was very bizar. It was constantly in our faces, like trying to get eye contact. I remember that I was thinking: what does this fish want to tell us? When I started my decent, I was aware of the fish, but it did not destract me. I'm not superstitious, but me and my boyfriend do give a meaning to the presence of the fish, be it two different ones. My boyfriend thinks that without the fish we would have surfaced half a minute earlier and no accident would have happened. I believe that without the fish we both would have surfaced at exactly the same time at exactly the same spot and both of us would have been struck by the propeller. No-one knows.

    Today I received a link to the following website. It keeps track of all the fatallities in propeller accidents involving divers and snorklers worldwide. The site owner told me that the list is incomplete. He's aware of more accidents, but seeks a bit of time in which he can update this list. Still the numbers are quite impressive. Apparently the chance of being hit by the propeller is not that small for us to ignore it.

    Tourists Being Struck and Killed by Boat Propellers in Diving / Snorkeling Areas :: Propeller Guard Information Center

    fozzy, D_B, openmindOW and 10 others like this.
  8. KomdoDiver

    KomdoDiver Angel Fish

    Nathalie_nl, Sorry to hear about your accident. Thanks for posting the info to help others. Hope you make a full recovery.
  9. phoenix31tt

    phoenix31tt DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Trinidad and Tobago
    thanks for sharing your story...

    until recently I didn't think a DSMB was necessary... however recently more and more scenarios keep popping up that made me realise it was necessary to acquire DSMB's for both me and my wife and learn how to shoot them...

    this another such scenario that i can see easily happening as all we do are boat dives
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
    DiverGirl1972 and Nathalie_nl like this.
  10. peterbj7

    peterbj7 Dive Shop Owner

    # of Dives:
    Location: San Pedro, Belize and Oxford, UK
    Very sad, but wholly avoidable. I can't help wondering what the boat captain was doing.
  11. Queen Triggerfish

    Queen Triggerfish Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
    Thank you so very much for sharing your story. The description and emotion will cause me to not forget it. I am sure that I will remember your story when ascending. I, too, am one who would be captivated - and perhaps distracted - by that fish. I'm sure you have a long road ahead of you, but I'm so glad to know that you are here to share your story!
  12. DandyDon

    DandyDon ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas High Plains
    Scary story, :eek: and I really admire Nathalie's attitude as well as thank her for sharing. Wishing you all the best, dear lady.

    I have always carried a SMB, from dive-1, including practice dives in a nearby, spring fed hole with no boats possible, and I shudder at divers who go to sea without one in case of a search need. I have not always shot it from the SS or taken that as especially necessary, but I will now. ;)

    It's still no guarantee against getting hit tho. I hung at 15-20 ft with others on a northern Cozumel reef once, outside of the park, as one of our group shot his - then listened to a speed boat approaching, and finally saw the boat run over the floating SMB! Then we listened for any more before surfacing.

    Listening is no guarantee either, as you have explained from your not hearing the one that got you. Maybe it was the hood along with ears muffled from days of diving, perhaps with a boat engine with a lower, softer tone - I don't know. Together tho, all good tools to use.

    It's also scary that the boat & crew was so poorly prepared for emergencies, Oxygen tanks not full, etc. I've seen that before too. Not so scary less than a mile from a dock well served by local ambulances and a nearby hospital, but for such a remote outpost - wow!
    Para Goon and tracydr like this.
  13. Dive California

    Dive California Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kailua-Kona

    Thanks for your story. I dove the Galapagos Islands a few years ago (on the Agrressor) and the requirred SMBs for all you said most dives are drift dives. Perhaps the operation you used will start that policy as well.

    Again, thanks for sharing.
  14. WimW

    WimW Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Belgium
    Wouldn't it be possible to have a procedure to avoid situations like this - I mean where the boat starts moving just as you are ascending? Agreeing on some visual sign given by the boat that it is not safe to approach? Then again, it will depend on visibility as the OP did not even see the boat while surfacing - which seems a bit contradictory to it hitting her within seconds after starting the engines. Or is visibility in the Galapagos so bad?
  15. brrrandi

    brrrandi Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Washington DC
    SMBs - so so so important. I'm going to unroll mine and practice with it this weekend, even though I'm just going to the quarry.

    Thank you Nathalie for your courage and story. Best wishes on your speedy recovery.
    tracydr and Nathalie_nl like this.
  16. vladimir

    vladimir Giant Squid

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    I think that THIS THREAD, about a diver off Phuket that died in a propeller accident, yielded some useful insights. Among the suggestions was the use of propeller guards on dive boats, which seemed like an affordable, common-sense solution a dive operator should consider.
    Quero, openmindOW and Ayisha like this.
  17. Nathalie_nl

    Nathalie_nl Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: The Netherlands
    Dear all,

    Thank you all for you supportive replies. Especially the ones where I read that smbs are going to be used more make me happy. I read a couple of questions or remarks, which I'll try to answer or comment on.

    #10 Peterbj7: "Can't help wondering what the boat captain was doing" - the captain (12 years with the company and captain for even longer) was strongly leaning on his experience with waves and currents. He anticipated where we would surface, based on the time passed and the spot he picked up the two girls from our group and made his way up there (but not to close). From what I've heard, this was the first time that his knowledge let him down.

    #13 Dive California: the use of an smb by the diveguide became standard practice, the day following my accident. I suggested they should provide all diving customers with an smb, but they are affraid divers might get entangle in the rope. I agree that it's always a good idea to practice it a couple of times to master the skill of using an smb. For safety reasons they also no longer allow dive couples to surface by themselfs if one becomes low on air. As of now it's always the whole group who surfaces at the same time, close to the buoy of the diveguide.

    #14 WimW: the visibility that day wasn't good. We had 'only' 7 meters, being 21 ft. The procedure now is that the whole group surfaces close to the buoy. When everyone has surfaced the dive guide signals to the captain that it is save to approach.

    #16 vladimir: Regarding the sheelding of the propellers (2 engines of 200 hp) the owner states: "We thought about the remote possibility, that a propeller can hit a diver, many years ago. My partner bought 4 year ago, 2 diesel jet sky engines (100.000 US$) to try them out, but it didn’t work out, they where to slow and to heavy. We bought one year ago very expensive engines/propeller protector for our Yamaha engines, but it didn’t worked out. Our engines are to strong and to big. The vibrations loosen all the times the screws.Those propeller protectors are only working well on small out boarder on low speed. I guess that we need to invent our own propeller protector because not one of the day dive speed boats in Galapagos has find a solution up to now."
    At the moment they are experimenting again with tunnel protection. But attaching them in a way they actually stay on, still is an issue.

    Then I asked an expert why engine builders have not solved this problem yet. It turns out to be a political issue. Some classic reasons: 1. If the industry ever starts to use them, those injured in the past will sue them for not using
    them earlier.
    2. The industry has said they do not work and are no good for decades. If all of a sudden they
    start to use them, how will they explain their statements from the past.
    3. If they do start using guards, some people will still be hurt, some from the guard itself.
    4. If they start using them, those with existing boats are going to say the industry should pay
    to retrofit them to existing boats, and the industry does not want to pay for that.
    5. Each step in the distribution chain (propeller manufacturer, drive builder, boat builder,
    boat dealer say they do no know how or where the boat is going to be used so they don't
    know what kind of guard to put on.

    All in all very discouraging...

    I also have a question. Being a PADI IDC Staff Instructor, I'm familiar with the PADI curiculum, but it would not surprise me if this applies to more recreational diving organisations:
    During the open water course, the use of smbs is only mentioned briefly. This subject is gets more in depth coverage in the 'boat' adventure dive or specialty course (as facultative part of the advanced open water course). Problem is that this facultative part hardly ever gets taught, because there are more usefull modules to choose from. In my country it's common to learn diving while shore diving, in places designated for divers without any boats. And after the course the new divers take a plane to one of the tropical places in the world and dive off boats. Therefore many new divers dive off boats, without having any knowledge of this safety aspect. I would like to know if you agree with me that the use of smbs should be one of the skills students have to master during the open water course.

    I'd also would love to get your attention for the relaunch of DANs campaign regarding propeller safety:
    DAN Europe - Safety Campaigns

  18. tracydr

    tracydr Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina, 3 miles from South Carolina
    Shoot, I'm going to start playing with them in the pool instead of just floating around on near the bottom! I don't practice my SMB skills nearly enough.
    Natalie, thank you so much for sharing this story. I realize this must be terribly hard for you. I'm currently stuck in a wheelchair myself. If there's anything I can do to help, please let me know. I recently found an amazing orthopedic clinic. They're world renowned for saving difficult joints and limbs. And, they do have some funding and even college scholarships, if you're in need of that sort of thing.
    write me a PM if you need anything at all.
    I'm going to be a patient at the clinic for my own strange issue, multifocal avascular necrosis.

    ---------- Post added July 18th, 2013 at 05:47 PM ----------

    I dove the Aggressor in Galapegos a few years ago as well. It was my understanding that the SMBs were given to us in case we were adrift and lost. Since ours didn't include spools nobody could have deployed them below the surface, even if they wanted to. I don't remember seeing anybody but the DM ever deploying an SMB,either. In fact, I'm not sure i remember the DMs even deploying the SMB. I still have that SMB and it definitely doesn't have a spool or any kind of line to allow you to deploy it from beneath the surface.
    However, it seems to me that since the large boat was at a distance and the smaller pangas were used for pickups, we were at much less risk of injury from the propellors. Not zero injury but certainly less than when a large day boat is doing the pick-ups. The pangs are closer to the water's surface and slower so they are able to see the divers better, plus, I would assume that since they have much smaller engines, the damage might be less? I know nearly nothing about boats so I'm just guessing.
  19. Brodydog

    Brodydog Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Braselton, GA
    Nathalie, thank you so much for telling your story and bringing it to our attention. I really admire your attitude while telling the story and also in answering the questions and the fact that you are able to do this without laying a lot of blame on others. Sounds like you are one strong woman. Glad to hear you have done so well.
  20. DandyDon

    DandyDon ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas High Plains
    Well, that's one approach, and I guess safer. Some Cozumel Ops are like that, but I won't dive with them. I do carry my own Smbs & reel and use it. One trip I had to get onto my home bud so he'd take turns with me. I carried the Smb from day-1, dive-2 in case I needed to be found but it took me a few years to accept that carrying the reel, shooting it from below, after first practicing in controlled practice dive settings was an important practice. The first time my home bud saw me shoot mine in a practice dive location, from 70 ft, he decided to shoot his too for the first time - then floated up too fast, so I had to tend to my own line while untangling his from about his body & gear.

    I'd think it even more important for the Gallops, but I guess it's challenging to get the idea across to all. For those without their own Smb & reel and experience using it, I can see the all-ascend-together plan, but those with their own would then be without a guide unless they also ascend at the same time.

    Taking only well trained & prepared divers out would be the preferred answer, but not good for business. My dad decided we needed our first ski boat in the 70s for some reason and insisted on a jet for safety. We never had to worry about props on our own boat, but we discovered many more problems. I taught my grown sis some basics about driving with a trailer, backup, and offloading the boat - but none of us were ever trained in boating. She & I lost interest after a few years, my brother traded for a larger one, but he burned out too in time. Besides, our lakes are all too low now, and he's into flying again.

    Yet, even tho I am not well educated and experienced on boating, I just do not see guards as the answer for the bigger boats. It's always been a danger worldwide, and divers need to learn.

    It's been over 10 years since I did the OW course, but I just do not see including Smb & reel in that accelerated training. AOW would be a good course for it, but I had to learn on my own as we didn't cover it then.

    Damn Doc Tracy! MAC sounds dreadful. Wishing you the best there.

    I understand you to be an experienced and accomplished traveling diver, so I am surprised you don't use your Smb & reel more - but your Gallops experience illustrates shortcomings in training for boat diving. I guess it's just not pushed enough. Yeah, I want to use them for pangas and ribs too, even tho I have witnessed a panga run over one we shot once. Still the best approach.
    tracydr likes this.

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