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I swam for more than one hour...

In my story I will not mention any name or places, because I think everybody learned their lessons. This was the second time we visited this vacation spot. We made several enjoyable dives the previous year. This was our third dive on this vacation. Something has changed since our visit last year and it is my fitness level. Over the past year I gained more than 30 pounds. My confidence level, however, was still the same as when my wife and I used to work in the dive industry.

Since it was only my wife and I diving, and we knew the Dive Master and the boat driver, we asked for a nice dive site. We didn't think twice of it when the Dive Master pointed on their diving map to one of the farthest dive sites on that map.

We loaded the equipment onto the boat and about twenty minutes later we were there. We started to get ready and I realized that my BCD had a malfunction on the top overpressure relief valve. Since I have dove with worst BCDs in my glorious days of working in diving industry, the leak for me was nothing and we proceeded with the dive - this was my stupid mistake.

Once under the water I noticed that keeping my neutral buoyancy was a problem due to the leak and some extra weights. I was always sinking, I could not fixe the valve and I was using to much my legs. I gave two of my weights to the Dive Master and continued the dive. Less than ten minutes later it was too much for me, the air was constantly escaping, I was exhausted and pretty grumpy. I gave the signal to my wife and the Dive Master that I was going up but for them to continue with their dive.

Diver's Buoyancy Control

I started ascending slowly. I tried to keep an eye on my wife and the Dive Master but the visibility was very poor, as it had rained over the past few days. During my deco stop the water was murky and the surroundings were confusing, but I did not panic and looked at my depth gage to complete my savety stop.

Once at the surface I tried to inflate my BCD and realized that the boat was not there. In fact, it was too far away and moving away from me, towards deep waters.

I used my small whistle to call the attention of the boat driver to no avail. I decided to continue following the bubbles from the divers below, but I could not find the bubbles anymore. I was straggling to keep myself a float even though I kept pressing the air button on my BCD. I decided to remove the remaining weights from my weight belt.

With 2000 Psi in my tank, not sure were my wife and the Dive Master would surface in approximately 30 minutes, the boat moving further away I saw a little beach in a small bay surrounded by high cliffs. All of a sudden I thought, what if there are currents in this location that can push me far from the area?? What if I run out of air and have to abandon my equipment?? ... Hey, what if all these scenarios will happen and I get tired of swimming??

At that moment I realized that it was better to get lost in a desert beach than at sea. So I started to swim towards the shore but kept an eye on the boat. I also saw some fish jumping in the water to add to my misery.

Problem signal at the surface

After more than 20 minutes the boat turned around and started approaching in my direction. I stopped swimming and by making the signal of distressed diver or problem at the surface I thought that the boat driver will see me, but after 5 minutes of trying I gave up. I saw when the boat driver picked up my wife and the Dive Master. As I learned later, my wife thought that I was trying to play a joke on her by hiding on the boat as she did not see me standing on the boat when she surfaced. I saw them when they started looking for me. It was hard for me to do the distress diver signal, whistle and inflate the BCD to stay a float all at the same time.

The boat was on the move but it was moving in the opposite direction. I tried using the small waves and was making signals when on the top of the waves. This either did not work and I was running out of air.

I kept swimming and signaling to the moment I was inside the little bay and lost eye contact with the boat. I removed my BCD and changed my swimming position. I was swimming now facing the beach. When I was almost 2 meters from the shore and clould touch the bottom I looked back and saw the boat coming back. The boat was not facing me but they were looking to the shore this time. I made the distress signal again and I saw the Dive Master pointed in my direction. At that moment I knew that they found me. Since I was already at the shore I swam back out to get closer to the boat.

Everybody, including me, looked relieved and had a smile on their face. I had 100Psi left when I checked the gage on the boat. The Dive Master and the boat driver told me that if I would have stayed in the area they would have found me sooner. I laughed.

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My wife was very happy to see me, and hey, it will definitely be a good story to tell our kids. We were on our way back to the hotel and now joking about the whole experience when all of a sudden I remembered that when we were loading our equipment on the boat, the driver brought not only extra gas but also a fishing pole.

And just for the record, my wife and me will dive with then any time.