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7 divers missing off Indonesian island

Discussion in 'Accidents & Incidents' started by bubbleBob, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. IyaDiver

    IyaDiver Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Indonesia
    I suggest everyone diving areas similar to Nusa Penida/Lembongan/Ceningan island group, more so in a country where SAR assets is unlike USA, meaning poor.....please carry a marine VHF radio IPX7 rated in a cannister and HANG one more, on the neck of the boat crew.

    Burdening any SAR of any country or any of our friends and relative with the thoughts that we are lost at sea, is both expensive and a very sad affair. Imagine our wife/husband/kids being lost 3 days like the poor Japanese divers ?

    Nusa Penida has not only taken live of divers, even Jetski ( Yamaha waverunner ) riders been lost there.
    ABG Jetski race director gone missing | The Jakarta Post
    Above is not the only one. There is at least one more local rider lost and 1 survived by eating the foam of the jetski seat material and the guy hid inside the baggage bay, to keep sun away. Engine breakdown or out of fuel are the cause.

    If one think a diver head size foot print is small, jetski is near 2.5 meters long with at least 60 cm height, yet SAR could not find them because of the potential current pushing victims out to open Indian Ocean.

    I personally without a radio on me, would have been either a statisctic, news material or be in a obituary column in the newspaper....4-5 times over.

    Some Scubaboard members have such radio set up in a cannister and some has PLB as 2nd back up.

    I carry such radio since 2002, Icom M88, IPX7 rated in a UK D8 torch as a cannister. Its 500 feet rated for the UK D8.
    Now I use Icom M72 due to biggest battery size. I always travel with minimum two radios, 2nd one is to be HANGed on the neck of the boat crew. This way audio power is close to crew's ear. Volume set at 70%, squelch minimum and channel lock to 69 ( pleasure ship to ship ).

    I also carry McMurdo PLB,model FF210 since 2009 when it first came to market....and small. In a Custom Diver black nylon cannister. In my NOAA PLB registration, I wrote on the Additional Data field :
    'bla bla bla.....user is a diver and has a marine radio and will stand by on channel 16 whenever this SOS transmission is made".

    That is the reason I now use Icom M72, because it can stand-by like 24+ hours with the big batery.
    PLB only has 24 hours battery transmission life. EPIRB can do 48 hours, but its too big.
    In Indonesia SAR activation wont be as fast as USA, so battery life of the gear choosen is very important.
    Touch wood....I never get to use my PLB nor do I want to ever use it. Radio has been sufficient.

    I report my dive locations ( the region and the sea ) to my wive and my good friend before any dive trip, more so when it is remote area and on a LOB. They are my emergency contact for the PLB. This will reduce false alert and speed up rescue activaton.

    I conduct radio drill often when the crew is new or not my own. If I am on my own boat, or my regular charter boat ...the crews are very familiar. Radio drill is when I actually use the radio in water and call the boat to pick me up while giving them magnetic heading to my direction or my magnetic bearing away from dive spot.

    Here is some radio selection :

    Best to stick to Icom and if you are in Indonesia, Icom is the BEST way to go.

    Icom IPX7 is 30 minutes waterprooof, 1 meter depth.
    Icom IPX8 is 30 minutes waterpfoof , 1.5 meters depth.

    - Icom M88, IPX7. Short n fat. Antena is hard plastic. Big battery. When in cannister and antena must be bent, it will crack in approx 2-3 years. Will sink.

    -Icom M72. IPX8. Biggest battery of all and 6 watts power. I use this nowadays and this is the radio of choice for the one hanged on crew neck, due to battery able to run full 12 hours a day at stand by and with some TX in between. Rubber antena. Will sink.

    - Icom M34. IPX7. Low cost. Will float. Battery small. Suitable for diver use but not for dive boat crew.

    - Icom M24. IPX7. Low cost. Will float. Battery small. Suitable for diver use but not for dive boat crew.
    This is the only Icom I have, which its battery charging port is inside the radio, hidden and has waterproof plug.
    So it will not have issue with battery contact point corroding over time. M88 and M72 battery is like half of the radio body.
    M24 battery is inside, like a cell phone with removeable battery.

    Newer Icom I do not own : M72, M88-IS, M92D, GM1600

    Other brand I owned and I do not like :

    Standard Horizon HX850 GPS embeded , SOS strobe light yada yada. Small battery. Poor plastic material. I got two units,
    1 chipped/crack already. Rubber grip overtime will become sticky/slimy in the tropics.

    Standard Horizon HX lower series. I forgot the exact model. It still uses non Lit-Ion ( has memory )
    It got flooded and total lossed when I used it where waves were pounding on me, the water enter the front LCD screen.

    Indonesian rescue is under the body called BASARNAS ( National SAR ). Its not by a US Coast Guard equivalent.
    Indonesia does not have US Coast Guard in full capacity like USA version. Marine Police or Navy is the one guarding the water or border, but their assets are not rescue asset. BASARNAS does everthing land or sea or flood rescue or evacuation...so they are spread real thin.

    Do not rely soley on PLB only when diving Indonesia, use PLB as 2nd back up and last resort.
    Rely on the radio I mentioned and keep all rescue to become local rescue between dive boat and diver . It then is not a rescue but a distant pick up....that is all.

    PLB signal/message need time to be received by the final SAR party at the location.
    The ground station or LUT of BASARNAS for any PLB/EPIRB/ELT SOS transmission recieved by/via COSPAS-SARSAT satttelite is in Jakarta International Airport, that is 1000KM away from Bali. The actual positioning data one get is not very new. 2 knots current is 1,856 meters distance drift per 30 minutes. 2KM postion error is not something easy to find in open sea. Time for SAR to reach the position add more position drift of a diver. So keep this in mind if one think PLB is the ultimate solution....it is not.....not for Indonesia, but it is a good back up.

    Anything east of Bali , all straights or channel is current infested. This is due to the water movement called Indonesian throughflowhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_Throughflow

    Nusa Penida can be of strong current, but when one venture to Alor ( more eastern ), where the Karl's Dream is located on that narrow straight.........Nusa Penida is then quite "calm" compared to Alor, if both area at its peak evil.

    The fastest current in Indonesia is located at Capalulu Straight. Its north of Ambon but still south of Halmahera or Manado, there one can find MEASURED 9.4 knots current. It is Tidal Station no 15 in the Indonesian Tidal Stream Table issued by the Navy.
    View attachment 178191

    I had my near miss many times over the life of my diving career since 1990.
    So I am extra careful and I add extra safety gear/asset whenever they are available, example PLB McMurdo FF210 in 2009 when it was then ( still is ) the smallest unit in the world with 406 mhz and GPS chip embedded. Too bad pyrotechnic like smoke kit can not travel in airline and also rather huge and housing it a problem, otherwise I would carry one.

    Diving in any country with minimum SAR asset, one must cut short the time between drift and found. More so if the location one will drift to is open Ocean like the Indian Ocean.

    The more east one travel in Indonesia, using Bali as center line, the poorer the region is and the poorer the SAR asset will be. Indonesian BASARNAS only has 12 chopper, 2 new ones just arrived, but 4 older ones are under repair. So during the Bali rescue, BASARNAS only has 6 chopper. 6 chopper serving a country with water a distance of 5,600 KM east to west and thousands of islands...... is indeed a nightmare.
    Beli Dua Helikopter, Basarnas Butuh Rp 370 Miliar | -nasional- | Tempo.co
    Use Google Translate
    Google Translate

    Always think SELF-RELIANT when diving Indonesia. That is the best mentality, but do equipt oneself to be that reliant.
    You maybe the most experienced diver, but once you need to do a dive with boat assist, your life depends on how good/trained the crew is. How healthy the engine/s are. Not forgeting what mother nature may want to throw at us and the Murphy Law shadowing us.

    An IPX7 marine radio as robust as Icom carried by a diver and one on the dive boat crew neck, is as good one can get to have a longer range re-call system beyond marker sausage. One other need is, do study the map of the dive area. Google Earth is your friend or get a Navionic chart on iPad, its cheap.

    Forget Nautilus, it is not as robust as a regular Icom. USB charging and software based radio is not that reliable. Stick with KISS principle.

    Forget DSC capable radio, Indonesia dive areas do not have much big ship where DSC alert is read by a DSC capable radio and linked to a chartplotter. Even compass you may not find on some boats...ha ha ha. Anytime a dive boat is powered by a 40HP hand pull start outboard engine, that means the boat has no battery. Some remote areas, the diesel engine is hand crank too. So again, no battery. So don't dream on mounted marine VHF common on simple boats.

    Do not trust a fix mounted radio on a small boat. Corrossion at the antena connector and the 12V DC supply is a problem. Small boat is wet, always wet. Hence bring that extra Icom M72 and hang it on the crew neck.

    I personally carry these safety gears at all times :
    - Icom M72 in UK D8 torch housing. PLB FF210 can fit with Icom M72 in this UK D8 torch housing, but very tight.
    - McMurdo PLB FF210 in Custom Diver cannister
    - 120 lumens light blinking, regular AAA battery
    - 750 lumens light, narrow 10 degrees beam, Lit-Ion rechargeable
    - 35 lbs big sausage floater with 30 meters of Spectra 600 lbs on a finger reel. This is my anti down-current float.
    - Regular size sausage marker, with 20 meters line also on finger reel. Typical marker when doing deco or safety stop.
    - Fold-able snorkel, silicon. Kept in BCD pocket. I use this when I dump my dive gear to swim to distant shore. Done that once.
    - Back up radio for dive boat crew hang on his neck, Icom M72 and/or M88
    - Whistle on BCD
    I got digital compass on my dive comp and analog one on my gauge. I will not dive without a compass.
    Riffe knife serrated, capable of cutting 500 lbs cable.

    The older I get, the more I value my life...because I seen my friends near-miss or have experience more myself and seeing all these sad lost diver stories in Bali or elsewhere. Loosing diver/s every year in Indonesia is not news. It happened all the time due to the amount of tourist divers and some areas being very fast current. Its all about probability and Murphy Law.

    So there are basic rules I try to follow when doing dives.

    01. Never dive on a single engine boat, unless there is 1 extra dinghy or rubber boat. If boat is small and can do 4-5 knots with small back up 25 HP outboard engine, I accept that single engine boat with back up engine. If boat is a single engine wooden one, I rent two boats.

    02. When boat is a not a regular dive boat, but just regular rented boat. The dive team I will split. So there will always be a diver not diving and can conduct SAR for those in the water. Its only 45 minutes a part between team 1 and team 2, no big deal. Using a boat crew with zero diving experience is dangerous.

    03. When doing LOB dive. Minimum 3 rubber boats, does not matter 3rd one is small or a 2 diver capacity. The other two dinghy or rubber boats must be able to accomodate all divers without needing to do 2nd run to mother boat.

    I avoid as much as possible scenario 1 and 2.

    Dive safe guys..............
    Dan, Dogbowl, eelpout and 15 others like this.
  2. AggieDiver

    AggieDiver Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Houston, Texas
    Oh...like the PADI 5 star location in Cabo that provided tanks loaded with CO that killed a diver? Or the PADI 5 star location in Roatan that provided tanks with CO that killed several divers and resulted in PADI removing the requirement for air testing from their agreement with their 5 star shops?

    The point of my post was that PADI has a system of rating shops that has nothing to do with the quality of the shop and everything to do with how much business they generate for PADI. Are those shops still possibly better than an unaffiliated operations? Perhaps, but I was responding to somebody saying that they hoped PADI would work with the BALI dive operators to improve their standards. That is a laughable concept given that PADI lowered its own standards in 2009 after CO in air caused fatalities in Roatan. Instead of taking the opportunity in the wake of the tragedy to lead a new program to ensure the quality of air at its shops, PADI decided to lower their own standards to protect themselves from future liability. So if anybody is looking to an organization that lowered its own standards in response to several fatalities as a role model to guide the response of other groups to a tragedy, I would say that their hopes are misplaced.

    Oh and for what it is worth, I don't have any special hatred for PADI. All my training has been through PADI and if I go back for more, I will probably go with them. What I dislike is their willingness to use their rating system to imply quality where they have not independently evaluated it. If they stuck to training only and said "these are shops or instructors employing PADI trained personnel", I would have no problem at all with it. But when they rate certain facilities as "5 star" facilities, it implies that they have evaluated those shops against a set of standards and placed them above their other affiliates based on their performance. Most divers assume that those standards include some measure of safety or quality, and they do not. They are based on amount of business done with PADI.
    Wingy, japan-diver, Mr. Black and 6 others like this.
  3. Shasta_man

    Shasta_man Contributor

    gekodivebali has an excellent point in that the overriding concern for so many is price/cost. For so many purchase decisions, nothing else is considered and it just goes on into travel too. What's the cheapest and afterwards why didn't I get the full experience for my lower cost. You can't fix that attitude with rules and laws because they just find another way to go around it and in these places, people need money so they provide the service.
    charlier and divewench1 like this.
  4. Centrals

    Centrals Barangay Pasaway

    # of Dives:
    Location: Hong Kong
    At the end of the day the dive shop still has to be responsible for the boat that she was chatering!
    The outcome might be different if different boat was used!
  5. gekodivebali

    gekodivebali Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Padang Bai
    Agreed from a moral point of view. Then again from a liability point of view this may not be the case...
  6. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas Central Plains
    I admit that I got my ACR 2881 PLB mostly for day to day safety. I carry it in my car anytime I leave the house, and often end up on roads hardly ever traveled, as well as back country hikes with the kids, etc. I take it diving, but rent a canister for those trips. It may not be idea for Indonesia, but if the ladies had carried a few - even one, it would have helped a lot.

    If I planned a trip there, tho - I might rent a diver radio too. Outdoor Equipment Rentals here in the states is great. He was not carrying CO testers when I asked, so he got some. If he hasn't got what you need, he might get it. GoPro Rental| Avalanche Safety Rental | PLB & EPIRB Rental
  7. Doubler

    Doubler Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Bremerton, WA
    Don thanks for the point of contact. I will add it right next to Lens rental. Com.
  8. jjek

    jjek New

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Indonesia
    There's been a lot of comments about operator responsibility etc., but I think that's not all.
    Blue Corner is one of the most notorious dive sites in Bali. As reported in news the divers were experienced having ~50 dives under their belts. 50 dives is far away from being experienced outside fun dives. The operator of course shouldn't have taken the group to such site, but considering the information available in internet individuals should do their homework in advance and realistically think about the risks vs. skills.
    Operators in Indonesia are often quite flexible and don't say no to a customer and tend to underestimate risks at certain sites. Personally I prefer it that way, but also easily say no way if feeling so.
  9. Zippsy

    Zippsy Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: SIngapore
    Just because the news says that the divers all "had more than 50 dives", you may not be correct that this is all they had. The news is often wrong with such "facts" but you basic point, jjek, is good. Divers do have a responsibility to do their homework too. They should choose to dive places within their experience level but more often than not, they do very little homework. I've seen divers show up in Raja Ampat with 5mm wetsuits complaining that the water is too warm and too many others being surprised that there are currents and ask to dive only when / where there aren't any currents. Huh? They also come to the Similans and complain that they didn't see any whaleshark (okay, they aren't complaining this month but that's rare). Do your homework folks!
    dorkito, divewench1, matts1w and 2 others like this.
  10. John C. Ratliff

    John C. Ratliff Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon

    This is probably the most useful post on this thread. It is so good that I am copying it into a Word document so I'll have it if I ever plan a dive vacation to that part of the world.

    Thank you,


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