Before returning home I thought I'd share with everyone the events of yesterday in brief.
We decided to take the opportunity to dive the Blue Hole with Amigos Del Mar and of course the few amazing dives that go with the trip. All started well and the blue hole complete with large numbers of sharks had all 18 divers on the trip elated. On to our next location on the wall and again an amazing dive. Lunch and some sight seeing on the beach and it was time to head off for our final dive. The weather was great...the dive conditions good. Cameras full of great pictures and video, everyone in great spirits.
What happened next is embedded in memory for many years to come.
At around 1:15 pm we were briefed on the final dive of the day and we settled down for the short trip to the next dive site. At about 1:25pm the crew were saying the oil pressure on one of the diesels had suddendly dropped, 30 seconds later there a huge bang from below decks in the engine compartment and a few trails of grey smoke started to rise from the hatch. The crew shut down both engines and one of them dropped anchor as soon as he could. The smoke continued to increase making it difficult to breath so everyone moved to the dive platform. However the boat was rotating on the anchor in the wind/current and within seconds the smoke covered the stern of the boat, everyone now moved to the bow. Several of us including the crew were still trying to find the cause at this point...only a minuit or 2 had passed. It was soon eveident the engine compartment was ablaze and the smoke went from grey to a thick black smoke making breathing in the boat impossible. Flames then started to burst out of the hatchway and it was evident that there was no way to contain this...time to get the hell out of here. My buddy and I moved back to the stern down the outside of the boat and started to try to unload jackets and cylinders (which were all ready for the next dive) into the water. However the fire was now so great that it was impossible to get any equipment that was not in the last 4 or 5 rear most storage slots. As people moved to the rear dive platform they grabbed what they could and jumped off the boat. The crew grabbed armfuls of life preservers and threw them into the water for people with no means of floatation. My wife was unable to lift her rig as the flames had now reached the platform making it to hot for her. With nothing but her swimsuit she had to jump...she's is not a strong swimmer so had grabbed the life ring, one of the crew also passed down a jacket and cylinder to her before jumping himself. (My wife has named the ring Wilson as per Tom Hanks in Casterways where he named a ball Wilson...lol)
As you will see from the photographs I took as we tried to get as far away from the boat as possible the boat was ablaze.
We were about a mile off land... luckily... and fishing boats plus another dive boat came as close as they dare to pick up those in the water. The wind / current and of course no fins made getting clear of the boat very difficult. A quick head count confirmed all divers and crew were safe in the water and we were transported to a dock on a private island where a resort is presently under preperation for high season.
Once on the island the crew managed to call back to their office and 2 boats were dispatched from San Pedro. With the weather now cooling and many people with nothing but swimwear or lycra suits at the the most we sat and waited for our boats home. At around 4pm, 2 boats arrived and we loaded what dive equipment we had left. The boats were open top and very soon everyone was chilled and tired...not a fun return trip.
After being dropped off at the hotel we recieved a brief "thankyou for diving with Amigo Del Mar. No apologies and no request to return next day for instructions regarding insurance etc etc.
In my estimate each dive couple lost around $3000 US in dive equipment, camaras, personal belongings, cash and even their hotels room keys where we will be billed $50 US for the pleasure of having our keys a molton blob on the reefs.
As of today we don't know if a police report has been made etc but suspect not. For insurance purposes I believe this has to be done. Any advise in this particular area is welcome.
This brief report has missed out on many other details as I can only report from my perspective. We are now left with a lot of questions that will be raised later.
We will all be converging on Amiga Del Mar today so hopefully componsation or police reports can be arranged for insurance purposes. I'll let you know what happens.
To be fair to Amigo's, when the divers arrived at the dock they had pizza's, beer, water and drinks waiting for them. T-Shirts were also handed out to the divers so they could cover up (long and short sleeved.) A meeting was also scheduled with everyone involved for 10am this morning. I think Amigo's is being made out to be the bad guy when you need to remember that they have suffered a huge loss to their business and had a lot of things to take care of last night. An impromptu meeting without all the required information was probably in no ones interest. The smart decision was to have the meeting this morning.
Why would the police be involved? I don't see anywhere in your account where anything criminal occurred.
You should submit a list of your belongings to ADM, giving them time to respond. Assuming they have insurance for such a force majeur (sp?), they should add your equipment/belongings to the claim. Hopefully you get compensated to your satisfaction. But maybe you won't, be prepared for that. I'm sure if you apply the Golden Rule to ADM and be patient and respectful, you will get their full cooperation and maybe even a dive voucher for your next trip.
I guess I see a reason for them to say a bit more that "thanks for diving with us", but be thankful that you and the crew were safe at the end of the day. You cannot blame them for not having all the answers there and then... remember what they have lost... a lot more than $3000us. Be happy the crew saved your life instead of worrying about your gear. Gear is replaceable, and so is a beautiful day of diving in Belize.
wow what a total bummer. VERY sorry to hear this. glad you guys are all ok... i also feel very much for the Amigo people. they sure didn't plan it!!!!! i would say they did very well under the circumstances. i'd imagine they were as shocked as the divers. where are the photos?
I am not a diver,sad to say , but a once a month vistor who loves sanpedro !! Ship does happen in life even though this was a million to one long shot ..Thank god nobody got seriously hurt...I can share with you there are some very good dive operaters here and Amigos is one of the good ones .Since the island and this fine company makes a living on tourists I am sure they will do right by you..!!!!!
While I am not a dive operator, I have been an instructor. I am so sorry that you had a bad event. As Cappy says, Ship happens. You and the crew reacted to the fire, and without any loss of life, and it sounds like no injury, due to so fast thinking.
I understand your concern ofver material items, I'd be concerned also, but be glad to excape with my life.
Swap hats with the dive shop... what would YOU do for the divers?
Support Ambergris Caye Emergency Rescue The life we are trying to save may be a loved one of yours
Hopefully all the divers carry D.A.N. insurance. That is the best bargain on the face of the earth - or underwater. It sounds like an ACCIDENT! I'm eager to read other reports. And, as has been said, everyone is safe and uninjured. This could have been terrible. You must have been put ashore on Long Island at Lighthouse. I hope they treated you well there
I'm astounded that someone can be as self centred as the original poster. I can only presume a case of shock and now you're feeling a little embarrassed.
A truly awful accident, that from their account seems to have escalated in minutes. Yet Amigo's staff made sure you were all accounted for and safe in the water, risked their safety to make sure you had life preservers, got you all home safely within hours - quite a feat in itself and entails getting additional boats captains and fuel 50 miles offshore and back - fed and watered you and got you back in your comfy bed that night - and you're bleating about a regulator or two before you've even spoken to them the following morning and let them have a chance to explain what will happen !!!!
They just lost a Million Dollars and you want to make it far worse in tarnishing them too. Shame on you. Give them a chance to actually do something and see what happens first. They will do the right thing but it takes more than a couple of hours. You should thank God, or whoever you thank, that it was Amigo's you were diving with otherwise you might have really had something to moan about.
Anyone who travels abroad without travel insurance is taking a financial risk. Any diver that travels abroad without DAN Insurance is nuts. People are too quick, including me here perhaps, to lay blame at someone else’s door - you roll the dice and take your chances in life and try and look after yourself and minimise risks as best as possible.
Congratulations to all the staff at Amigo's - and plenty of non Amigo's staff too I'll bet too - on their rapid response and actions to help ensure no injuries or deaths and a quick return to the Caye for all involved in this horrid accident.