"" Writer's Wanderings: April, 1999--Diving Chub Cay

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

April, 1999--Diving Chub Cay

This was a diving adventure to remember. Chub Cay is an island in the Bahamas situated between Grand Bahama Island to the northwest and Nassau to the southeast. It is a tiny island and in 1999, did not have a whole lot on it. From what I could see online, the island amenities have vastly improved since then.

There was a small airport that we flew into and were picked up by the dive operator who took us to our accommodations. The motel was something out of the 50s. We were given one set of towels each to take to our room. I don't remember a whole lot about the room but it certainly wasn't the Hilton. I'm not sure it was even the Motel 6. But we were there to dive and dive we did.

There was only one dive master. He mentioned at the beginning that he had just taken over the operation from another guy. We didn't realize how significant that would be until a couple of days later. The first day we were the only divers but a group of divers joined us the next day or two. We wondered why our dive operator/dive master was having such a difficult time finding some of the dive sites. Eventually he explained.

The new operator had taken over in a bad situation where apparently the former person in charge left on disagreeable terms and had cut some of the moorings loose. We still seemed to find enough to satisfy our diving experience and didn't think a lot of it until one afternoon dive that was unforgettable for how it ended.

At the end of a dive, you are usually getting low on air, getting tired and are looking forward to some surface time to recoop. We had joined in with the group of divers who had their own dive master. It's possible she had just certified them as well. I don't recall it being a terribly experienced group and of course, neither were we at that point. We kind of all came up together from where the mooring pin was at the bottom anchored into the coral. To our shock, our dive boat was gone!

The dive master from the group yelled to all of us to inflate our vests and gather together. There was a moderate amount of boat traffic in the area and she didn't want any of us to get hit. As a group we stood out and even more so when she inflated the "sausage" she had in her vest. (A safety sausage is a tubular inflatable that is about four feet long and very bright. Held vertically, it alerts other boats of divers in the water.) 

It took a few minutes but eventually someone saw that our boat had drifted quite a way from us and we could see someone jumping into the water. We had no idea what the problem was and continued floating as a group and trying to stay together. Eventually our boat came back and we swam over to the ladder and boarded--all but one of us who had to be helped because he had gotten so tired out.

Onboard again, the dive master from the group really laid into the operator who apologized up and down. It turned out that this mooring rope hadn't been cut all the way through and when it broke, the rope wrapped around the prop. Luckily this day he had brought someone along to help him and between the two of them diving in and working on it, they had gotten it untangled and came back for us.

Our memories of that dive prompt us to always thank the dive masters on the boat for being there when we come up. Although it's never happened again, we learned that it isn't guaranteed.

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