Diver Death Belize Blue Hole

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boulderjohn

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True, as that will give you the right to say you dove it when people post it on their FB, etc. But most want to do to 140-150 to see the caverns, maybe even swim behind a column. I stayed outside with my pony and camera, shooting pics and trying to help watch for needy. I was pretty narced tho, and I enjoy narc, so I'm glad nothing went wrong.

I keep hearing people talk about going 140-150 feet to see the caverns. I have done this trip twice and never gone that deep. I just went to an old log book (2008) to see my last dive there--130 feet. I did the whole swimming through the formations thing, and we ascended right about at the PADI table limit for that depth--10 minutes from the time we began the descent. That means by PADI table standards it was not a decompression dive. I was using a conservative computer then (Suunto Cobra), and it did not go into decompression on that dive.

In an earlier post someone mentioned doing a 7 minute decompression stop, and people started talking about whether or not people were qualified to do decompression diving. I think it is quite possible that he just used a poor choice of words. When we did our safety stops on the dives I did, we extended them well past the normal 3-5 minutes as an added measure of safety. Extending your safety stop by a few minutes does not make it a decompression stop. (Yes, I know that safety stops are really just optional decompression stops.)

I am not personally a fan of this dive. The only reason I did it that day in 2008 was because I was leading a group on behalf of hour shop, and they all wanted to do it, even after I tried to talk them out of it. On the other hand, let's not exaggerate its difficulty or level of required expertise. Done as it was with the groups as I was in, the dive is very close to PADI RDP limits and probably within the NDLs of almost all dive computers. (If it was within the NDLs of my Suunto Cobra, it has to be within the NDLs of other computers as well.)
 

Jim Lapenta

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I dove with Amigos del Mar. There were about 12 divers and they split us into 2 groups. There were 2 dive masters for each group. I was required to show my AOW card before we left port. The six of us dove one of the dive masters' computers (not our own). They had oxygen tanks hanging off the boat at our 7 minute decompression stop. We had a thorough pre-dive orientation. I think they did all they could do to make the dive safe. I dove with an AL100 (it is an option). One of the divers aborted the dive a minute into it( freaked out). Another diver in my group had to use a dive masters octo to get to the rest stop( they ran out of air).

Let's see O2 tanks for a deco stop for non deco trained divers. That's real friggin safe. One aborted after freaking a minute in. Who escorted them back to boat? Hopefully a DM leaving one DM for 6 unqualified divers on a dive requiring possible mandatory deco. Another wonderfully safe situation. Another went OOA now leaving no DM to supervise divers unqualified to do deco without leaving another DM to attend to them?
That anyone was taken on a dive where they were likely to run out of air and have the other problems noted says to me they didn't do squat to make the dive safe. They made it survivable. Barely for some it seems.
 

Dirty-Dog

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I keep hearing people talk about going 140-150 feet to see the caverns. I have done this trip twice and never gone that deep. I just went to an old log book (2008) to see my last dive there--130 feet. I did the whole swimming through the formations thing, and we ascended right about at the PADI table limit for that depth--10 minutes from the time we began the descent. That means by PADI table standards it was not a decompression dive. I was using a conservative computer then (Suunto Cobra), and it did not go into decompression on that dive.

In an earlier post someone mentioned doing a 7 minute decompression stop, and people started talking about whether or not people were qualified to do decompression diving. I think it is quite possible that he just used a poor choice of words. When we did our safety stops on the dives I did, we extended them well past the normal 3-5 minutes as an added measure of safety. Extending your safety stop by a few minutes does not make it a decompression stop. (Yes, I know that safety stops are really just optional decompression stops.)

I am not personally a fan of this dive. The only reason I did it that day in 2008 was because I was leading a group on behalf of hour shop, and they all wanted to do it, even after I tried to talk them out of it. On the other hand, let's not exaggerate its difficulty or level of required expertise. Done as it was with the groups as I was in, the dive is very close to PADI RDP limits and probably within the NDLs of almost all dive computers. (If it was within the NDLs of my Suunto Cobra, it has to be within the NDLs of other computers as well.)

But were any of the people on that trip fresh out of OW class, on dive #5? I think that's a big part of the issue people have with this dive. It's certainly the main concern I have.
If someone with a bunch of dives, and experience at deep diving wants to go to 130FSW on a single AL80, then that's their business. They ought to know (roughly) their gas consumption. They ought to know (roughly) how narced they're likely to be. They ought to know how to control their buoyancy on a dive that may not include good visual markers.
The same cannot reasonably be said of that guy on dive #5.
 

chillyinCanada

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Jim, the error is in the way the Brnt999 perceived and has reported. Among other things, the hanging tanks are not oxygen tanks.

Like BoulderJohn, I have never gone into deco, as it is not a deco dive. I always have plenty of air left and could happily linger in the shallows but the boat is on a schedule.
 

Doubler

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The problem with hanging tanks is they never hang enough. Worse case is what needs to be planned for and hanging 2 tanks for 6 divers is in a word dumb. In Truk, the Odyssea hangs 2 tanks at 90 ft for the San Fransisco Maru dive. The day we dove it they dove in three groups ten minutes apart. So I asked if someone in the first or second group grabs the hang tanks are they replaced? They said nobody had ever asked that before and no they had no plan to do so. That kinda sucks for follow on groups. One difference is that with the Odyssea you can get 100's or doubles.
 

boulderjohn

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But were any of the people on that trip fresh out of OW class, on dive #5? I think that's a big part of the issue people have with this dive. It's certainly the main concern I have.
If someone with a bunch of dives, and experience at deep diving wants to go to 130FSW on a single AL80, then that's their business. They ought to know (roughly) their gas consumption. They ought to know (roughly) how narced they're likely to be. They ought to know how to control their buoyancy on a dive that may not include good visual markers.
The same cannot reasonably be said of that guy on dive #5.

I said I am not a fan of this dive, and the fact that many people do it with too little experience is only one reason for it. The other reason is that it is really a boring blah dive that is horribly oversold as some sort of peak experience.

On the other hand, it is not the super advanced technical dive that some people make it out to be. It should be within recreational limits if done correctly. People fresh out of OW training should not be doing it, but for people with not all that much experience, it is not that big a deal. In fact, it is definitely not worth the effort to get there. It is quite the opposite. If it were not for the fact that you get a great surface interval on Half Moon Caye and two fine dives afterward, I don't think anyone would a lick of sense would pay for the trip.
 

chillyinCanada

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I have always maintained that I wouldn't go to do only the Blue Hole dive. It is the whole day that I love and if the Blue Hole was switched out for another dive elsewhere in the Atoll or even doing the Halfmoon Caye wall twice, would suit me fine. I find Halfmoon Caye itself, for lunch break and SI to be quite a beautiful addition to my overall trip. Quite my 'happy' place. Recently, a friend of mine who lives in San Pedro but not a diver, came along for the day. I wasn't sure she'd enjoy it since she can be subject to a little seasickness. Also was concerned that is a very long day for most anyone let alone a person that doesn't dive (or much of a snorkeler). She has proclaimed it to be one of the best days she's ever had in over 15 years living there.

---------- Post added July 11th, 2014 at 03:49 AM ----------

Boulderjohn is right on the mark with his overall description. And as he stated, the stalactites have a ceiling slightly above 130'. I,'ve never bumped my head nor even close whilst holding my depth as I weave amongst the pillars.
 

flots am

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If someone with a bunch of dives, and experience at deep diving wants to go to 130FSW on a single AL80, then that's their business.

On a solo dive, I'd say you're right.

On a mob dive, it's an indicator that they haven't actually thought about gas planning, since there's no way to get the donor and a panicked OOA dive up from the deepest part of the dive, using what's left in a single 80. A freaked out diver who shows up at 130' with no air will suck the remains of the tank dry in about 3 minutes, leaving the choice of whether the donor wants one or two fatalities.

It's a nice, easy, short dive when done with a little planning and enough gas. It's just a spin at Darwin's wheel-of-survival on one tank.

flots.
 

Mike

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Like BoulderJohn, I have never gone into deco, as it is not a deco dive. I always have plenty of air left and could happily linger in the shallows but the boat is on a schedule.

and you said you're trained and qualified by experience for the dive.

You do realize the issue isn't about people like you or me who are qualified, it's about the Belize dive industry taking unqualified divers to this site.

If you had a family member for example a niece or nephew who got their OW 5 years ago, had completed 6 or 7 dives at that time, came to Belize with you did 3-4 more shallow reef dives, and she wanted you to take her to the blue hole and your favorite dive operator said they'd do it, would you take her?
 

flots am

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Like I have to tell the Cozu-holics who get so upset anytime you bring up any reality that doesn't fit into their Cozumel experience of unicorns and rainbows... The blue hole diving is a problem, it's un-deniable, it violates diving standards, PADI has officially recognized it, the State dept of the USA has recognized it, it's been recognized over and over again a hundred times on this very forum. It's a problem. BUT, because it is and admitting it is, that doesn't have to lessen your enjoyment and excitement for Belize and your experiences there, it's simply acknowledging a blatant issue that is not a secret to anyone, it's not saying Belize sucks, its just acknowledging a single issue.

I've only had one bad dive op in my entire life. The boat left while I was on a drift dive, to pickup some students (he was double dipping). If the boat got to the dive site and was there to pick me up, they've done their job.

Anything beyond that is my fault.

The dives in Belize and Cozumel are only dangerous because the major agencies have portrayed SCUBA as a safe tourist activity, no more dangerous than the roller coaster at Disney World. If SCUBA classes actually taught what they need to, including analyzing risk and objectively considering diver qualifications and dive difficulty, dive boats would be packed full of divers who demand that they be taken to dive sites with names like "Fun Happy Reef", not to a hole in the middle of the ocean, with no reachable bottom or a dark tube with an exit deeper than the diver has ever been.

The Blue Hole and Devils Throat and pretty much anyplace else you can think of are perfectly safe dives for divers that are qualified to do them.

The danger in SCUBA comes from divers who believe the advertising and the implied level of safety, built up over the years by marketing and instructors who are afraid to scare anybody, not because it's Belize or Cozumel or wherever.

Better education would mean that when the DM tells Mr. 10 Dives that he's "Going to the Blue Hole on Thursday", the reaction would be "Are you insane? Not with me, you're not." instead of "Cool!"

flots.
 
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