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Old 12-23-2016, 11:22 PM   #1
Bob Ballew
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Diver stranded on Catalina for 2 Days..

...The wind is blowing the rain sideways outside, as my windows rattle in the latest storm ...Good night to be by a fireplace and not on stormy seas....so, on to the latest waterworld story:
....Fifty-year old diver takes his sailboat to Catalina Island on a solo trip this week....anchors off the backside where it can blow up suddenly at any time in the winter...comes back to see his sailboat drifting westward..swims after it but, soon realizes it is too risky and returns to the island...climbs ashore....spends the next 2 days waiting to be rescued...after 40 hours or so, he is picked up by a Coast Guard helicopter that was searching for him....
...Gives me flashbacks to the time Gary Thompson and I had to abandon my 25' Whaler off the backside when Mother Nature paid us a visit. A storm blew in while we were underwater diving commercially for abalone near China Point...cresting.waves washed over the bow, flooded the boat up to the gunnels and we couldn't get the big Merc outboard started manually
....Worsening weather, late afternoon an hour before dark and building 8' waves made the choice for us...we grabbed our wallets, hit the water and started swimming westward toward a beach with less rocks to go over than where we were at...Half-mile later, we pick a spot, time the big waves, and go for it...luck was with us, as we surfed over the tops of the big boulders up onto the rocky shoreline, yanking off our fins and running like hell to escape the backwash...climbing the goat trails, we made it into middle ranch at midnight, awakening a ranchhand who was scratching his head over the two odd characters standing on his porch, wearing wetsuits...
...My boat was found two days later, drifting 3 miles off the island...it was so rough, the 3/4" anchor line snapped and the boat drifted out rather than onto the rocks...a new starter motor and I was back in the commercial diving business....luck of the Irish....
...Moral: Always use lots of anchor chain, buy a boat with self-draining decks and never pee into the wind...

Last edited by Bob Ballew; 01-06-2017 at 02:56 AM.
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Old 12-24-2016, 12:55 PM   #2
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Re: Diver stranded on Catalina for 2 Days..

I'm guessing he wont do that again.

One time at Clemente our anchor slipped and three of us went charging out to sea to catch our boat. We finally caught it after what seemed like a ten mile swim (it was probably a mile). It was pretty scary. The fourth member of our team (older and more experienced) instead of swimming off shore to get the boat like the rest of us, swam 25 yards over to another boat and asked the guys who were fishing if they would mind giving him a ride out to the boat in the event that we didn't catch it.
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Old 12-24-2016, 02:12 PM   #3
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Re: Diver stranded on Catalina for 2 Days..

Good stuff, guys.

A friend of mine and I went diving in the Tampa bay Skyway shipping area. We'd hid it at slack tide and only had a 45 minute window.
Anyhow, we were suiting up...The boat was anchored good and we had a rope on a float out the stern such that we could freedive down, shoot, and catch the rope to pull us back to the boat. This was during the early stages of the tidal phase.
Anywho, my buddy was suiting up and decided to jump in and cool off...summertime and all. He jumped in, forgot he had his weight belt on....he started swimming furiously back towards the boat. The rope wasn't out yet. Well, his instant response was to start swimming rapidly back towards the boat, forgetting about the weight belt around him. Yea, he was freakin'.
He never called out to me...I guess he was too embarrassed. I finally turned around and noticed him struggling and threw out the rope so he could pull himself in. He was TIRED...and exclaimed "Damn, Marcus...I almost died just then."
Silly stuff can get you killed.
“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”
― Frederic Bastiat, The Law

Last edited by Marcus; 12-24-2016 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 12-24-2016, 08:53 PM   #4
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Re: Diver stranded on Catalina for 2 Days..

Have chased kayaks all over the earth it seems; one headed from Punta Chivato to Mazatlán without me.... Pretty good swim. Had to shoot the reef and let the reel line out, and hang my weight belt and fish on the line; just let it slide to the bottom.

In Hawaii, at the nationals; chased my board a mile and a half before it left the boundaries. Someone else got their anchor tied up in mine,a nd when they dropped it back over, it missed the reef.

LA Breakwall; Santa Ana's came up and chased a buddies board out for 45 minutes at full sprint. Boats all over the place...... no one helped. (Thanks fellas!)

All my times being stranded were thread worthy, so I won't pollute Bob's thread. But yeah; all- Good times!!!! Lol
When you bite the octopus, and your dive partner can hear the brain pop from 10 feet away...... Nice!!
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Old 12-25-2016, 07:55 AM   #5
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Re: Diver stranded on Catalina for 2 Days..

Not everyone helps, but everyone reading this theead must.

I live for days like these!
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Old 12-27-2016, 09:45 PM   #6
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Re: Diver stranded on Catalina for 2 Days..

Another Fathomier had his boat drag anchor and drifted towards the Philippines.... he was able to reach it after a desperate mad swim... Otherwise he would have been stranded in a deserted Pacific islet and never been found alive...
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Old 01-05-2017, 10:18 PM   #7
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Re: Diver stranded on Catalina for 2 Days..

So much experience so much knowledge thank you Bob
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Old 01-07-2017, 04:51 PM   #8
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Re: Diver stranded on Catalina for 2 Days..

I was diving with some buddies several years ago and had a related experience. I had anchored off of a reef and one of my friends was supposed to stay on the boat to make sure everything went smooth. Well the conditions ended up being killer and the fish were thick so he decided (without asking, or telling anyone) to jump in and start hunting despite having told me he wouldn't.

Well, the anchor slipped immediately after he jumped in and our boat quickly got swept away. The whole point of that day had been for me to teach another friend of mine how to spearfish and I was pretty focused on what I was doing as I wanted to make sure he was safe and relaxed. When I looked up I saw the boat drifting away with the anchor chain hanging straight down, and my buddy hunting the other side of the reef.

I was 16 at the time and I was using the family speedboat and as soon as I saw this I had one of those "oh ****" moments and immediately dropped my belt and gun and B-lined for the boat. Luckily we had noticed before it had gotten too far and I got there pretty quick, but the whole situation rattled me pretty bad.

Luckily my parents were pretty understanding about it when they heard later, but I still have a phobia about boat diving.
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