Shore diving the east side

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epolice

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Hi there, I understand that in order to shore dive the east side, the winds and water need to be calm.

I know there are plenty of ops who can guide us here but if we wanted to dive a few sites alone, what tips do you have? Are there any clear signs the conditions are unfavorable? Thanks for any intel.

-Adam
 

Lorenzoid

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As far as I have seen, when east side diving has been discussed on SB or written about (for example, in the Dive Guide Bonaire book), it has always been stressed that a guide is needed.

If you want to learn to dive east side sites (maybe you will be on Bonaire for a while or make frequent trips), why not hire a guide to, in essence, train you--to become familiar with specific sites and how to dive them? I would imagine that after having done the same site a few times with a guide you would know the ins and outs, including what "safe" conditions look like for that particular site. When I did some guided east side dives, we stopped at one location where the guide decided conditions were not favorable enough, and then we proceeded to another site that he deemed okay. It seems to me that one would need to develop familiarity with what "favorable" and "unfavorable" look like at particular sites. The east side has never looked "calm" to me. To me, it always looks like waves, surge, etc., and given the rocky shore, not a place I would dive in without knowing exactly how to do that site. The guides have the experience to know what the threshold is at each site, and depending on the conditions, where and how to enter, timing the surge, etc. How to dive a site on the east side can be as specific as on what particular rock to put which hand as you make your way out/in.
 

drrich2

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I don't know where people get the weather and sea condition info. I'm posting because a buddy and I had a hair-raising dive at Cai on our own, then in 2014 when back on Bonaire I did a guided dive with Bas Tol of BasDiving.com, and it made a world of difference. Still one of my 2 longest dives (the other was at Blue Hero Bridge in Florida). Here's a link to my old 2014 thread, contrasting my experiences. It'll show you a bit of what I saw.

BasDiving.com has a map with east coast dive sites and more info.

Richard.
 

Lorenzoid

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Mine were with Bas, too.
 

tursiops

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My first east coast dive was at Cai, with a few other people and no guide.
We were quite confident. We were supremely over-confident.
We all survived, but it was a seriously stupid thing to do.
 

rmorgan

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Although not responsive to Adam’s post, we went out with East Coast Diving this morning, and conditions were the calmest we’ve seen over there (not surprising because the west side is like a lake. The water’s quite warm at 84, and there’s some seasonal bleaching on the east side, but of course, eagle rays, big eels and turtles aplenty.) We went out with them in 2019; the week before, an experienced resident diver died just north of the channel while searching for a companion who didn’t come back with him. The companion survived, but that event changed a lot of lives and certainly underscores the gravity of Richard’s and tursiops’s experiences at Cai.
 

arew+4

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Calm is relative. Local knowledge is priceless.

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This is at Boka Onima, the bottom shot is looking across the cut from where they jumped in. I would guess it's like 15-20 feet down, depending wave timing.
 

rmorgan

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I write to correct my post above regarding the East Coast death of an experienced diver. It was in 2014, not 2019 as I recalled. The diver was Mike Stanfield. Per his obituary in the Bonaire Reporter, "According to reports he was guiding two other divers in from a dive at Cai when they became seperated. The divers did not see him again and called for help. A search was mounted and his body was later found in Lac Bay." According to Mr. Stanfield’s wife, who was quoted on this board,

"On Friday, March 7, my husband was doing a dive at Cai with two other divers. Yes, the waves were higher than normal. The three discussed the dive, made exit plans and reviewed signals.Weights came out of one of the diver's BCs and he surfaced. The other two also came tothe surface. Two of the divers decided to head back to shore on top of the water. Mike signaled that he was going down and back to the shore. An hour passed and we notified 911. The helicopter arrived an hour and a half later and found Mike.”

We dove Boka Spelonk with Bas Tol on Saturday and he had vivid memories of the event; the Stanfields were his neighbors and he assisted in the search. Apologies for the error, but regardless of the year, the details vividly underscore the dangers.
 
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