Posted 10 May 2017
WHERE THE HELL DID OUR BOAT GO?
In February IAN PEACH and his buddies went through a nightmarish boat-separation experience off Mozambique. In a DIVER exclusive he explains what happened – and how to avoid it happening to you.
Posted 10 May 2017
In February IAN PEACH and his buddies went through a nightmarish boat-separation experience off Mozambique. In a DIVER exclusive he explains what happened – and how to avoid it happening to you.
WHERE THE HELL DID OUR BOAT GO?

WE HAD TRAVELLED as a group of three to South Africa and Mozambique for a 10-day package with ScubaAddicts Diving Adventures. I had dived with the company three times before, including a Sardine Run trip. I’m 49, Martin Hull is 62 and Andy Campling 52, all of us from the UK and with some 7000 dives between us.

 

We had enjoyed some fantastic diving and great shark encounters, the main point of this trip. We had seen plenty including raggies, tigers, leopard, oceanic blacktips, silvertips, schooling hammerheads, bulls on every dive in Mozambique and a whale shark.

 

The diving was from an 8m RIB, generally challenging and usually involving a beach or river launch through the surf to reach open ocean.

 

In South Africa the RIB skipper hadn’t dived, and we were accompanied by a dedicated guide, while in Mozambique the RIB skipper also acted as dive-guide, with a local “mariner” acting as cover when the guide was diving. In both locations, the dive-guide towed a surface marker buoy.

 

All the diving in Mozambique was at an advanced site called Pinnacles, a seven-mile ride out from Ponta do Ouro and known for shark and pelagic activity.  I have dived there before, but it was Martin and Andy’s first visit.

 

The day of our incident was the final day of the planned diving on our trip. It would be the 13th dive – on the 13th of February (but a Monday, not a Friday!) There was nothing untoward, except that the visibility was probably the poorest we had seen so far in Mozambique.

 

We saw schooling hammerheads almost immediately, because we seemed to have dropped into the middle of them. We also saw the odd bull shark, but generally it was a quiet dive compared to what we had been seeing on previous days.

 

After 52 minutes our group of six divers, including the guide, confirmed that their computers were clear, and we all surfaced together.

 

What followed was the nightmare scenario that I had only previously read about in dive magazines and seen in the film “Open Water”.

 

A diver’s natural reaction on surfacing is to look around for the cover-boat. That’s what we did, but conditions had changed a little while we had been diving, and there was now a considerable swell.

 

I assumed that the RIB would appear imminently, but my 360° turn revealed nothing. I could see the others doing the same before the penny started to drop that the RIB was not in the vicinity.

 

Our guide Mike was now muttering about James the Mozambican mariner, and I could see that the seriousness of our situation had dawned on him. We were on the surface at an offshore site known for its shark activity, with no boat cover.

 

I looked down into the blue. We had been joined by three bull sharks, each about 2.5m long. They had followed us up and were now circling about 5m below the surface. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to us.

 

I had a large SMB in my backplate, so popped that up immediately. Martin and Andy did the same. Whistles were blown, and with our three more prominent marker buoys up we waited, but there

was still no sign of the boat.



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