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Diving expert teams up with young widow to share the tragic story of her husband’s sudden death

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High risk diver and human factors expert Gareth Lock has joined forces with American widow Ashley Bugge to share the story of how her husband Brian died unexpectedly during a dive.

Gareth, who lives in Wiltshire and who travels the world sharing his knowledge of how human behaviour can affect diving, has privately funded a documentary about Brian and Ashley’s story. The film, If Only…, will be premiered at TekDiveUSA in Orlando, Florida on April 25 this year.

This is the latest move in a long-term campaign by Gareth, who is also a published author, to encourage the diving community to embrace personal responsibility in diving, to ensure continuous professional development of diving trainers and to understand that it’s not just technical problems which can crop up in diving. The behaviour of all divers and instructors can play a key role in saving or, unfortunately, ending lives.

“Ashley is the first person I know who has not followed the litigation route,” Gareth said. “She recognises that without sharing the story of what happened, others may be injured or die too. She didn’t seek to blame, she sought to learn. She knows Brian made mistakes, as we all do, but the context which led to his death is what needs to be explained if we are to learn from this.”

“Telling stories is how people learn, even if those stories are painful and emotional to tell. In diving, the ability to tell context-rich stories which highlight all the mistakes and errors made is really hard, especially when someone is seriously injured or dies.”

Gareth went to Hawaii in November last year to film the story of Brian who was an officer with the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems department. He died on May 20, 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii while off duty on a leisure dive. He was 35 and Ashley, a diver herself, was weeks away from having their third child.

On the day of the accident, Brian was using a rebreather device that allows divers to recycle air and inject metabolized oxygen. Unfortunately, he did not turn on his oxygen supply for his rebreather before entering the water, and within minutes, he passed away and sank to the ocean floor. The manufacturer of the equipment was not found to be at fault in Brian’s death. It would be easy to blame Brian for simply not following procedures, but events were more complicated than that.

“I made contact with Brian’s widow Ashley in November 2018 but it wasn’t until April/May 2019 that we began to put the documentary together,” Gareth said.

“The first part of the process was to bring together the three other members of the dive team, myself, Ashley plus a videographer from the Netherlands and go to Hawaii to film it. The film is currently self-funded. However, I have found a sponsor in Paradigm Human Performance Ltd, whose leadership recognises the value of talking about such events to help improve safety.

“I hope this film will provide an example of what can be done when a story can be told, and save lives in the process. This is only the start of a very long journey to improve diving safety by looking at the role human factors in diving incidents.”

Ashley said: “I took part for several reasons. The first was to do whatever I can to ensure that Brian’s name is still heard. When someone dies in a tragedy, people are often sad about it for six months and then it’s over.  I want Brian to continue to be relevant in people’s minds, particularly those in the diving community.

“I don’t care if people blame Brian for this death, I care that people don’t get complacent, they don’t get arrogant, that they take personal responsibility for their actions and their equipment. Brian was a good diver and he died. I may never know if telling our story will save a life, yet I believe it can and it will.”

Ashley avoided diving for many months after her husband’s death however she did get back into the water for filming.

“It was very emotional for me as it was when I took a memorial stone containing some of Brian’s ashes into the ocean to create a living reef. Diving was very important to us as a couple. It probably won’t be such a big part of my life now however I can assure you when I did dive again, I was ten times more stringent around my own behaviour and checking my equipment than I had been before.”

Watch the trailer of the film here:

Trailer: If Only… from The Human Diver on Vimeo.

Gareth, who lives with his family in Malmesbury, in Wiltshire had a 25-year career with the RAF as a squadron leader and flight instructor. His company – The Human Diver – educates divers – or any team undertaking any activity – the importance of decision-making, situational awareness, communication skills, leadership, teamwork and managing stress and fatigue.

Last year he published his first book titled ‘Under Pressure: Diving Deeper with Human Factors’ which has since sold thousands of copies.

Find out more at: www.thehumandiver.com

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Save £500 on Maldives liveaboard – but hurry, there’s only 2 spots left!

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Join The Scuba Place on board the award-winning (Best Liveaboard, Maldives Tourism Awards for 2 consecutive years) Sachika for a week in the sun!

Taking in the very best dive sites of the ‘Best of Central Atolls’ itinerary, including manta cleaning stations, Whaleshark Alley, the Fish Factory and the legendary night dive with hundreds of nurse sharks, this is one trip not to be missed.

To make it even better, they have taken a big chunk of cash off the price to fill the last TWO SPACES (twin or double cabin) on each of the following sailings:

  • Outbound 5 November, return 13 November
  • Outbound 12 November, return 20 November

The Scuba Place team can arrange flights from any major UK airport, and the whole package will be ATOL Protected. Price includes flights, taxes, full board in a twin/double cabin based on 2 sharing, 17 dives with Nitrox included, all soft drinks and meals and snacks. Bar bill is extra and extra dives are available too!

The prices are based on flying with Emirates and include 30kgs of baggage per person.

Don’t miss out – get in touch today! Call 020 3515 9955 to find out more!

Brochure link: https://bit.ly/TSP_Maldives_Nov2021

www.thescubaplace.co.uk


Boat images by Top Class Cruising

Underwater images by Nigel Wade for The Scuba Place

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The Scuba Genies head to Bonaire! Part 1 of 2

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In the first of this two-part blog, The Scuba Genies share their trip report from the Come Dive with Us hosted trip to Bonaire in September 2021…

Travelling during the Covid pandemic has been challenging for some, impossible for most, and missed by all. We have been scanning the rules and regulations daily, and as soon as the UK Government allowed us, we were off!

What was supposed to be a trip to Mexico for a gang of 12 of us, just like most trips over the last 18 months, we were forced to change as the travel rules changed – we have been trying to get to Bonaire for ages, and this became the perfect opportunity – at last!

With our bags packed, negative test results and completed Bonaire health forms in hand – we made an early start for Heathrow, prepared for an 0630 departure. A quick flight and we landed in Amsterdam. As a Dutch Caribbean territory, all flights from the UK to Bonaire on KLM go via Amsterdam. In the airport, we met up with the rest of the gang who had travelled from Birmingham. After a quick layover we took off for Bonaire, where we arrived about 9 hours later. Our health documents were checked at the airport, and we grabbed our bags. It seems odd to have to fly East to then go West, but as we stepped out of the minibus at Buddy Dive Resort, only 10 minutes after leaving the airport, the sunshine and blue sky told us it was worth it!

Our accommodation for the group was made up of two 3-bedroom apartments, a stone’s throw from the water, dive shop, dock and Blennies, the main restaurant and bar. Buddy Dive also has 1- and 2-bedroom apartments along with studios, all comfortably furnished with either a garden or ocean view.

Each 3-bedroom apartment is spread over two floors – but a floor up from ground level. The ‘ground’ floor of each apartment offers a double bedroom (beds can be configured as twins or double in all rooms), a bathroom, lounge with balcony, and a very well-equipped kitchenette. Microwave, toaster, hob, fridge/freezer with ice-maker and enough pots, pans and utensils to satisfy the avid cook! On the upper floor, there are two further double rooms with ensuite bathrooms, both with balconies of their own. Each bedroom is air-conditioned, and the lounge and kitchen have celling fans. All in all, quite perfect for a home away from home for a fortnight!

The rules of group travel say we must unpack (empty bags onto floor or bed), sort kit out (look at dive bag and save it for later), put cameras together (er….NO!) and hit the bar – so being rule-abiding people that we are, this is what we did. Picking up the rental van for our stay would have to wait!

The next morning after breakfast, served in the Ingridients restaurant and right on the water, we attended the Buddy Dive orientation. The staff gave us a quick tour of the dock and resort including the famous drive thru tank shed offering both air and nitrox tanks ready and waiting to be loaded into your vehicle. Check in at the dive centre was easy… we all completed our diver forms online before arrival so with a quick hello we were handed locker keys for our kit storage. Time to head back to the room and get ready for our first dive!! That is why we’re here after all!

As with all trips, the first dive was a check dive, so we climbed down the steps into the water off the dock to go an explore Buddy Dive Reef. Finning over the sandy bottom, past the coral restoration project ‘trees’ and following well laid lines with directional markers we hit the reef after just a minute or two where you can drop to 35+ metres over simply stunning corals. This reef, just like the rest of the sites we dived, is super-healthy and teeming with juvenile fish wherever you look. Moray eels, turtles, octopi and HUGE tarpon on our first dive! What a great start!

The following day we decided it was time to explore the island. We picked up our 6-person minibus from Reception, pulled up to the drive thru tank station and grabbed 12 well filled Nitrox 12l aluminium (A-Clamp – not DIN) cylinders. With our guidebook in hand, off we went driving on the right of course, in search of marine life.

There are over 50 dive sites scattered around the coast of the main island, and even more on the island of Klein Bonaire accessible by boat. We chose a comfortable start by picking dive sites to the South where the entry seems to be a little easier on old knees and hips. We packed up sandwiches we made after a quick shop at the supermarket the day before, along with waters and a few essentials – towels, sunnies and bug spray.

I won’t bore you with every dive site name and description – the guidebook is the tool for that – but it is more than safe to say that we dived, dived and dived again! Every dive gave us far more than we expected, and the marine park surrounding the whole island delivered the goods without fail. Super healthy corals, plentiful marine life, warm and very clear water at 30 degrees made life easy. Parking the van up at the marked dive sites wasn’t difficult, and a few strides across the sand was far simpler than we had expected.

I will say that some sites are a little more challenging to get into the water from – anything more than three or four steps doesn’t float my boat! We adapted our entries for the group – some kitting up in the water, some not, but the rule of thumb quickly became step in up to thigh-depth, inflate bcd, fall flat on your back and paddle out before putting your fins on. Simple! Getting out of the water was pretty much the reverse of the above – stand up when you can, remove fins, and then navigate the rocks and sand channels before you walk up the beach. Nothing that an over-weight, under-tall chap in his mid-50’s with dodgy knees and even dodgier hips couldn’t cope with! (That is me by the way…..no offense to anyone else intended and no animals were harmed in the writing of this either).

We saw stuff – lots of it! Huge tarpon, French and Grey Angelfish, forests of Christmas Tree worms, anemones with Peterson, sexy and cleaner shrimp, clinging crabs, nudibranchs – especially lettuce-leaf slugs, coral-banded shrimp, lobster and so much more. Turtles everywhere, trumpet-fish in unbelievable numbers, and that was generally the story – all in very good visibility too! The corals and huge sponges were stunning with fascinating reef-structures offering all sorts of hidey-holes for critters!

There were some really special sited that we loved, and Salt Pier was one. The Cargill solar salt facility is easily found with its distinctive line of white salt pyramids.Each pyramid, roughly 50-feet high, can contain up to 10,000 metric tons of 99.6 percent pure salt. Even more noteworthy, in addition to the acres of salt ponds, the facility is also home to largest pink flamingo sanctuary in North America. Our very own Chloe has written an in-depth blog about Bonaire and its pure salt so be sure and check it out!

Back to the diving! We were given a hint to drive just past the pier to park where we would find an easy sand entry to the site. We kitted up and finned out through the shallows where we encountered three juvenile hawksbill turtles along with a few smooth pufferfish fighting to feed on patch of sponges, and then made our way under the immense structure of the pier. There are several platforms supporting the conveyor belts that move salt to the container ships and there wasn’t much diver-traffic to contend with. We were amazed by all things weird and wonderful – big scorpion fish hiding under the metal work, angelfish battling for food, schooling fish up above you, and frogfish! Barracuda, Caribbean reef squid, spotted drums, octopus, oh! and more frogfish! Even a flying gurnard in the shallows! What a dive! And as it is shallow, it can be a very long dive too, especially with the 200-210 bar fills the drive-thru often gave us.

Check back for Part Two of this Blog tomorrow!


Find out more about the worldwide dive itineraries that The Scuba Place offers at www.thescubaplace.co.uk.

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Egypt | Simply the Best Itinerary | 04 – 11 November 2021 | Emperor Echo

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies with a ‘Book 5 and 1 dives for FREE’ offer all year round.

Price NOW from just £1275 per person based on sharing a twin cabin/room including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Subject to availability.
Alternative departure airports available at supplement.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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