I’m not giving away any plot points when I say that the new movie “Open Water” is about a scuba-diving couple whose day-cruise boat at a resort inadvertently abandons them at sea after a screwed-up head count. It purports to be based on a notorious incident in Australia where such a thing probably happened, but the boat operator tried to claim that the couple–never heard from again–had staged their own disappearance.
Forget the movie. My question is how often does this happen in the real world? I would think that taking an actual name-by-name roll call before and after the dive wouldn’t be that hard, and I also would think that counting the tanks before and after would be a basic back-up. But no system is perfect. How would you avoid being left behind, and if you were, what would you do? Do you hand the skipper your picture–nicely laminated–and say “Remember my face!”? Do divers typically carry signaling devices? Flares, mirrors, whistles? A cellphone in a waterproof bag? How far could a whistle be heard over water? If a random boat heard a whistle or saw a flare, could you rely on the skipper coming to investigate? Would you try to stay put at the dive site and hope your boat came back, or would you try to swim to where you thought land might be? It would give away too much to talk about what the movie couple did, but how would real divers in the real world deal with this? (I’m not a diver, but I know people who are, and I like it when they get home safely.)