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John A. Diver

Maldives and Carpe Diem liveaboards, divers beware!

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Maldives diving beware

 

I want to tell a cautionary tale from February last year while on board the Carpe Novo, a liveaboard operated by Carpe Diem out of the Maldives. I was on a southern pelagic 10 day trip with my wife and dive group.

The trip started great, with some awesome dives and great visibility. Lots of fish both big and small. Then we had a big problem.

As with most dive liveaboards in the Maldives, you dive off the dhoni, a specialized boat where your dive gear is kept, the tanks are filled, and you are transported from the mothership to each day’s dive site. With these types of boats, the standard water entry is a giant stride from the back of the boat once the dive crew signal to dive.

On this day, we were geared up waiting for the dive master to give us the signal to dive. The boat stopped, but the engine was still running (on all previous dives this was standard to keep the motor in neutral but ready to maneuver once clear of the divers, common practice when diving in strong currents). We were told to “dive!” by the dive master, so we all jumped in.

Right away I knew something was wrong as we collided with the back of the boat. My wife and I are fairly quick “sinkers”, so we dropped below the boat, but 2 others were not so lucky.

My best friend found himself gripping the prop guard for dear life as the propeller churned with power IN REVERSE inches from his face. He was able to push down and away and get out of proximity of the prop without any major physical damage, only a minor abrasion. He still suffers anxiety when he dives from boats.

Another friend that I’ve been diving with for 10 years was not so lucky. He was caught by the propeller on one leg near his knee. He suffered a massive cut completely across his leg with his bone nearly severed from the prop.

The boat captain and crew didn’t notice my friends distress until another diver began screaming and started to drag him to the boat.

After a tourniquet and a fast run to the nearest island to a clinic, my friends life and/or limb was saved. The boat left the rest of our group in the open water while transporting the wounded diver to the clinic for around 45 minutes, but for good reason.

If the pilots blatant error had occurred the day before while we were in a more remote region, my friend would have probably died or lost his leg. The boat pilot and dive master both admitted guilt, stating that the motor was in reverse by accident when they signaled to dive, and later changed their dive procedure on subsequent dive days. The dive master was very remorseful and apologetic.

My friend recovered in a local hospital for 6-7 days afterward. DAN helped arrange a flight back to the US with a nurse, where he went thru several additional procedures and months of rehabilitation.

And per my friend, Carpe Novo paid for nothing. No refund for the liveaboard trip, no money for the flights, plain and simply nothing. Even though this was completely the fault of Carpe Novo! And lawsuits, especially to a country such as the Maldives, are long, complex and geared toward the dive operator. Tens of thousands of money lost to medical bills, airfare, liveaboard costs, and even the loss of an additional trip planned and paid for after the dive trip from the negligence of the dive crew.

Lessons learned:

-Safety is your own responsibility, divemasters and boat captains can and will be negligent 

-Review the laws of the land where you go to dive, especially the Maldives

-Make sure you have DAN insurance or equivalent before diving

-Dive informed and aware at all times

-Beware of Carpe Diem liveaboards

I wanted to share this to all traveling divers so that you can make informed decisions on your trips, and help everyone understand that some dive companies are not managed in a proper ethical way.





























 

 

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Refer to Scubaboard for a thorough conversation on the above.

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