A woman died on Thanksgiving when the dive boat was struck by a rogue wave off Pompano Beach, Florida. The vessel was capsized and the lady was trapped underneath according to ABC News. There was probably nothing mechanically wrong with the boat. I assume the captain was experienced and competent. Based on my personal experiences with the USCG I feel certain the vessel was up to federal standards. This tragedy should remind us to be ever vigilant; no one ever expects to be taken out by a rogue wave.
Scuba diving is a risky endeavor. The Florida Sea Base is very conscious of these risks as we take your 14 year old 60 feet underwater in a beautiful but alien environment. Thanks to the foresight of the General Manager of the Florida Sea Base, the support of the Florida Sea Base Advisory Committee, the Boy Scouts of America High Adventure matching fund, and several VERY generous individual donors, we have invested about $1.5 MILLION in dive boats since I became the Program Director in 2002. Our FIFTH Newton Dive Special is under construction in Slidell, Louisiana. Dive boats are a part of scuba safety that is frequently overlooked by divers; taken for granted I guess. Divers are taught about nitrogen narcosis, decompression sickness, barotrauma, embolisms, oxygen toxicity, hazardous marine life and other scuba diving risks. But dive boat safety? That’s the worry of the vessel owner, dive operator, captain, crew and the United States Coast Guard. Or is it?
I will be on the road again Sunday and Monday, making my way back to the Florida Sea Base, and probably won’t get to post again until Tuesday evening or Wednesday. I have attended a week of BSA committee meetings in Dallas, spent another week at the BSA Aquatics Workshop in Arkansas, and a third week at the DEMA show in Las Vegas. I have spent hours working on the Divemaster Academy and preparations for our first PADI Instructor Development Course. I have answered 100s of emails and phone calls.
But I have had the opportunity to spend a few days with family and many evenings like a real person instead of watching TV alone on Escape or sitting in the office until 9 pm working because I have nothing else to do. Now its time to return to my chosen profession of overseeing another year of over a thousand “other peoples’ children” making over ten thousand dives incident free.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Stay safe in the malls!
Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713