June on the Great Barrier Reef 2013

Little Ducks, All in a Row

By Captain Trevor Jackson

Imagine that you were trying to lose some weight.  Not dive weights, body weight. You wouldn’t just choose one avenue. That is to say, you wouldn’t exercise and keep wolfing down the burgers. Nor would you go on a strict diet and then just sloth around all week. You might also try knocking back a few less glasses of ale. In short, you’d have a much better chance of achieving your desired outcome if you adopted a multi- pronged approach.  A lot of things in life are like that………insurers call it “comprehensive coverage”. Tech divers might think of it as “redundancy”…….what I’m talking about is backing up your basic premise with everything you’ve got, dotting all the I’s, crossing all the T’s.

We were thinking about this on board recently while doing a bit of de-cluttering.  On the top deck we had three Lost Diver Buoys stored away. We developed these buoys a few years ago and when combined with some special techniques and basic math, they help us find someone lost at sea. They hadn’t been used in a while and we had begun think that the recent addition of the Nautilus Lifeline submersible GPS radios to our inventory had made keeping the buoys unnecessary. At the start of a trip we give each diver a Nautilus Lifeline so they can now raise the alarm and direct searchers themselves! Surely that meant our Lost Diver Buoys could be consigned ashore?

We thought about it for a few days and decided to leave them on board. “You never know, someone might lose their Nautilus Lifeline and themselves at the same time”.  A prophetic statement as it turned out. The very next trip, as the first dive was almost completed, there came a realization…….. “Two divers are missing”. The radios remained silent; the Nautilus Lifelines weren’t going to solve this.

The weather wasn’t doing us any favours. With an outgoing tide sweeping across our stern and heading to seaward, time was critical. There was little doubt that the two divers had been swept out beyond the confines of the reef and into the open ocean. Once out there, the conditions would shuffle them along at up to 3 knots.  They could be anywhere.

The buoys were dusted off and set. I won’t bore you with the ins and outs, but less than an hour after being deployed, at a range of nearly 4 nautical miles, the buoys led us straight to the location of two very relieved guests. We retrieved the buoys and returned them, permanently, to the upstairs storage area. And that is where they will stay, coz when the chips are down, there’s nothing like having your little ducks, all in a row.

Rogues Gallery

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