Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Undercurrent -- Consumer Reporting for
The Serious Scuba Diver since 1975

November 15, 2005


Diver Death in Belize: In our April issue, we gave a big thumbs down to Advance Divers in Placencia, because of their safety practices, which included their motors conking out far from land. Unfortunately in October, a motor conked out again, so the four tourist divers aboard decided to swim for land. Failing to make it, they drifted for three days, and eventually one succumbed to the exposure. It's a tragic story and in our January issue, we will have an exclusive interview with one of the divers and look at the incident in greater depth.

The Devils Teeth: a true story of Obsession and Survival among America's Great White Sharks: Perhaps the greatest gathering in numbers of great white sharks in the world is at the Farallon islands, 26 miles from downtown San Francisco. Researchers have been tracking and studying them for years and at least one diver still collects sea urchins for the foreign market in the midst of their gatherings. Journalist Susan Casey lived on these barren islands to write a fascinating, awe-struck account of the sharks, their amazing behavior, their killing strategies, their travels, and life with the researchers on these barren islands. Purchase at and our profits will go directly to coral reef research. (This year we will give away $4250; details in the January issue).

Emily Hurricane Damage: Cozumel was hit hard, but nearly all dive operators are operating and many hotels are open. As for the reefs, we have reports of plenty of shallow damage here and there _ we read emails from people who found splendid toadfish on the street _ but the deeper Cozumel diving is out of hurricane range. If you have pending reservations, contact both the hotel and dive operator for information, but here's a website that can help you with the status. And, here's a link to an interesting piece written November 1 by Dave Dillehay, owner of Aldora Divers, a favorite with Undercurrent readers. Or, see a few photos at

Have Problems Clearing and Equalizing? Then you may wish to participate in this study of a simple nonprescription FDA-approved sinus rinse, conducted by several physicians, David Covard MD, included. They are soliciting divers to receive a product sample and then participate in an online survey to discover the validity of the rinse, which in a small survey has showed some effect in helping clear and equalize ears when diving and in reducing the need for pre-dive decongestants. If you choose to participate, go to the Diver "Before" Survey and follow the instructions.

Insurance Company Refuses to Cover Bent Diver Who Went Beyond Policy Limits. In August, a British scuba diver got seriously bent in the Red Sea, and as he recovered in an Egyptian Hospital his Insurance Company refused to cover the nearly $70,000 in treatment costs. The firm said 68 year old Anthony Allen went deeper than the 30-meter limit stipulated in its small print. Allen's sons said doctors had told them their fathers illness was caused by dehydration, and not the depth to which he dived. Lloyds TSB insurance said the terms of Allen's policy exclude coverage for diving beyond 30 meters. The tour company that Allen was diving with confirmed that he reached a depth of 49.5 meters before seeking medical assistance. Egypt threatened to keep the diver, but eventually allowed him to travel home, after he paid much of the bill.

So, We Have a Question. Have ever been refused reimbursement for a diving-related incident? Have you been refused coverage for an injury on a trip that is not diving related? Do you have a policy with limits? If so, we'd appreciate hearing from you as we research this story. Write me at

The 464 page Travelin' Diver's Chapbook will be sent to all print subscribers about December 10. It's chock full of reviews of hundreds of dive resorts and live-aboards, each carefully edited by our editors. Any written by people with an agenda _ either unfairly critical or shamelessly gushing _ don't make the cut. You can count on what you read. If you are not a subscriber, there is a special one time introductory offer at that will get you the 2006 Chapbook.

The Easy Holiday Gift for your Dive Buddy: Give your dive buddy the 2006 Travelin' Diver's Chapbook and nine issues of Undercurrent for $33. We'll send a diver's holiday card from you announcing the subscription. (And, if your diving buddy is already a subscriber, we'll let you know). Sign up at

Coming Up: New proven remedies to stop no-see-ums . . . A great Galapagos trip . . . Wrecks at Midway Island . . . How gear gets stolen at airports and how to prevent it . . . a British Virgin Islands getaway . . . Why divers die . . . Guaranteed diving with Mexico's great whites . . . PADI loses lawsuit to shut down critical website . . . Another inexpensive Sea of Cortez venture . . . Why not a live-aboard in Australia . . . Those secret limits on injury and travel insurance . . . Nicaragua's undeveloped Caribbean islands, on the cheap . . .

Subscribe to Undercurrent today.

Note: Our travel writers never announce their purpose, are unknown to the destination, and receive no complimentary services or compensation from the dive operators or resort.

Ben Davison, editor/publisher

NOT AN ONLINE SUBSCRIBER? If you're a subscriber to the print newseltter, you can become an online subscriber at a reduced, one time rate. While the newseltter itself isn't online, you can access all current chapbook reports submitted for the 2006 chapbook, past reports and past articles.