August 2021 – Newsletter

Michigan Underwater Divers – August 2021 – Newsletter

Next Meeting: Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Southwest Michigan Regional Airport, 1123 Territorial Rd, Benton Harbor, Mi.

Meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. – (3rd Tuesday of every month)

Standard Agenda –

Club President / Officer calls the meeting to order.

  1. Club Officer asks if there are any Visitors and ask them to introduce themselves.
  • Present Specific Club Information
  • Identify dive events upcoming or planned. (Dives & Road Trips) 
  • Identify & discuss diving-related news important to divers.
  • Present any Show & Tell that anyone would like to share – Please!
  • Attendees speak about current diving experiences or “lessons learned” or reinforced from a dive near miss or not!
  • Open session.

Wow, its August already and this will be the 3rd actual “in person” club meeting at the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport. With the fence around the old parking lot down be extra careful driving in or out though.  As a side note, for those who may want some “refreshments” after the meeting, please mention your ideas before the meeting ends – who knows who might show up.   😊

For those who are going to attend the club meeting and have not already reviewed your “own file” membership application form and waiver documents, please get with the club secretary and update them as necessary. After you review these forms, date and initial them that they are now current and correct.

Again, if you are unable to attend, as I know some of our distance challenged members are, you can either download the two forms from the club web site or if you need, the Secretary can email you a current member application form and waiver for you to complete and return. Let me know please!

There is progress on the new club Tee shirts. It was noted last week that our Tee shirt provider has been without power since the most recent storm, and it will be several days before it is restored. So, club shirts will be delayed probably a week or so as he tries to catch up. Perhaps with a little luck we may possible have them by the next meeting.

There are no plans for a club picnic this year. Hopefully this COVID-19 will be history and we can have a planned one next year.

As a reminder, though the club is not sponsoring an Ecology dive this year we ARE still interested in any community, located on a body of water, that would be interested in working with us to sponsor one. Or, if we are not up to having one, perhaps we can plan as a club to participate in a local established one such as the annual Underwater Cleanup in Marquette’s Lower Harbor.

Jim Schulz & Co. are back from the “Annual Mackinaw Shipwreck” dive week where most of the week was great for diving and a good number of divers participated.  I am sure some of the participants will be at the meeting to brag, I mean, talk about the great wreck dives that had. (For example: Cedarville, Minneapolis, William Young, Eber Ward, Sandusky, Barnum, etc.)

Now, Kevin and Amy may not have been on the Mackinaw Shipwreck trip, they got in some heavy diving adventure’s as well. Boat camping at Mackinac might be the upcoming adventure as well as diving underwater bridges and participating in the 3rd Annual Underwater Cleanup in Marquette’s Lower Harbor.

The Muddies have been getting wet this month in the big lake’s, inland lakes and rivers which include dives in the St. Joseph River, big Paw Paw Lake, Lake 16, and local shipwrecks that include the Havana, Ann Arbor 5 and “searching for the Verano”. Summer is burning through fast so get wet soon and often!

Do not forget that there will be a Mermaid Mega Fest 2021, on August 20 thru 22 at the Lake Arvesta Sports Complex, 06464 Arvesta Dr., South Haven, MI 4909. Be aware that Festival admission will be added to general admission during MerFest.

Check their web site for additional details.

Let’s not forget our “Tankful Tuesday” dives. If you can make it, please join on in.

Aug 24: Upper area Lake Cora

Aug 31: Lake 16, Martin, MI

Sept 7: Tiscornia Pier, Benton Harbor (Which pier N or S as determined by the weather)

Sept 14: St. Joseph River, Niles, MI

Sept 21: MUD CLUB meeting (7:30) 1123 Territorial Rd, Benton Harbor, Michigan

Sept 28: South Haven North Pier, South Haven, MI

And lastly, Kevin Ailes posted the following on the club site which is a word to the wise: “Hey boating buddies, I hope you’re being diligent with changing out your water separator. Adding a little HEET for good measure would be wise too. This is nearly a quart of water I decanted out of my 6-gallon reserve tank. Just imagine how much may be sloshing around in your metal tank below the deck. A humid boating season leads to lots of condensation.” (The picture is worth a thousand words).                      

And it would not be surprising if there was another end of meeting “game time” (or something similar).  Who know, you 2 could be a winner—  

See you at the next Mud Club Meeting!

Comments – Questions – Concerns?  Write to                                         

Mary Beth Thar – President –     

Amy Ailes – V.P. –

Ted Tomaszcwski – Treasurer –

Don McAlhany – Secretary / Newsletter / Club Site & FB Site

Lessons for Life

It was the second dive of the day, and Ann felt good. She was diving with three friends and had seen great things. She returned to the mooring they used, but as she ascended, she couldn’t see the boat. She was confused, thinking maybe they had surfaced at the wrong mooring. Yet she was certain this was the right spot.

On the surface, the divers looked in every direction. No boats in sight. They hadn’t surfaced on the wrong mooring. The boat was gone.

The Diver

Ann was 58, with no known health problems. She was an experienced local diver with an advanced open water ­certification. She exercised ­occasionally but not regularly and was somewhat overweight.

The Dive

Ann and her friends often dived ­together from a private boat. They had ­several local dive sites they liked to ­visit, to take photos and just relax ­underwater.

Each site had a mooring ball permanently attached to an underwater ­anchor, making it easy for them to run out, tie up and dive. Most of the time they left the boat unattended while making their dives.

Today was no different. They split up into two buddy teams and made their dives, leaving no one on the surface. They completed their first dive and then moved the boat to a new location during the surface interval.

For the second dive, they were ­underwater for more than an hour, with an average depth of approximately 25 feet of seawater.

The Accident

On the surface after the dive, the divers were confused. They debated whether they had surfaced on the wrong mooring ball or gotten lost during their dive.

The owner of the boat was confident they were at the right spot.

Small waves and a light surface ­current crossed the location. As each wave passed, they tried to look around for their boat, but it was nowhere in sight. There were no other boats ­anywhere in the immediate vicinity.

They finally concluded that their boat had gotten loose from the mooring ball, and they were on their own. They were going to have to swim to safety. They were several miles from the dock where they kept the boat, but only about 2 miles from shore.

The divers dropped their weights and inflated their buoyancy compensators for the long surface swim. They were tired after spending two hours ­underwater.

Ann was nervous and worried, and said so to the other divers.

To stay in contact with each other, the foursome decided to float on their backs to swim for the beach instead of swimming face down and using their snorkels.

That way they would be able to talk to each other and no one would get lost. It would also make it easier to stay on course.

About two-thirds of the way to shore, Ann’s buddy, Gil, noticed she had grown quiet and was slowing down.

He tried to get her to respond, but she didn’t answer when he called her name. She stopped moving.

He attempted to check for ­breathing and a pulse, but his own exhaustion made it difficult to be sure. He was cold, and his hands were shriveled from ­being in the water for so long.

Gil began towing Ann toward shore. As they got closer, they signaled people on land and got help.

Emergency first responders evaluated Ann on the beach, and she was ­pronounced dead at the scene.


While it’s common practice among some boaters to dive or swim away from their boat, it is dangerous to leave a boat unattended.

Making an hourlong dive with no one on the boat is an invitation to trouble. Lines can come loose, vandals can cut lines, and thieves can steal boats left unsupervised.

In this case, the boat was ­recovered a few miles away. It had come ­untied from the mooring due to the regular wave action and had drifted with the prevailing current. No foul play was suspected.

Regardless, leaving the boat unattended left four divers stranded with no way back to shore but a long swim. Even if they had surfaced within ­moments of the boat coming unsecured, it is ­unlikely they would have been able to swim after the boat and catch it.

An average diver in full gear can swim at only approximately 1 knot per hour, and these divers were tired after two dives.

In this case, Ann suffered cardiac ­arrest and died in the water. Like most people who suffer a heart attack, she had an undiagnosed heart condition. The emotional stress of the situation coupled with the physical work of the swim was too much, and she went into cardiac arrest.

This is a great reminder for all ­divers, and especially older ones, to make sure you are fit enough for the dive and to consult with your doctor regularly. Divers are taught to move slowly through the water, making their average level of work very low. But in an emergency, you might be required to respond by swimming hard, fast or for long ­periods. You must be fit enough to handle ­emergency situations, not just the easy dives.

The report doesn’t include information about the safety equipment ­carried by the divers. At a minimum they should have been carrying surface ­signaling kits with safety sausages to raise their profile above the surface of the water and waves. Heads floating just above the water’s surface are difficult to see under the best of circumstances. A ­signaling mirror would have made it easier to gain someone’s ­attention at a distance as well.

For divers who dive from ­personal boats or from shore, consider a ­personal signaling device such as an emergency position-indicating radio ­beacon (EPIRB). Boats have had these for years; they are now being manufactured to be carried by individuals and are made to take along on a dive.

In this case, the decision to swim ­toward the shore was probably sound. It was only a couple of miles away. Had it not been for the undiagnosed medical condition, they would have been fine. Had they been farther from shore and not in sight of land, or not sure of the direction back to land, they could have stayed floating together and waited for rescue.

That, of course, depends on someone knowing where they were, and missing them when they didn’t return. For that reason, it’s always important to share your plans with someone not along on the trip so they can watch out for you.

Of course, this all could have been prevented if they had brought along someone to watch the boat while they were underwater. A bubble ­watcher with enough experience to handle the boat on the surface would have ­prevented all of this.

Lessons for Life

  • Have a boat master. This is just as ­important as a beach master. Have someone on the surface waiting for you who can render aid or call for help if something happens.
  • Use proper safety equipment. Especially when you are diving on your own, carry the proper signaling equipment to get the ­attention of others on a boat or onshore.
  • Be healthy. Fitness to dive includes r­egular exercise to make sure you are healthy enough to respond to emergency situations in the water. Talk to your doctor to confirm your heart is strong enough for the dive or start an exercise program to make it so.

Leaving the boat unattended has disastrous consequences for four divers in this Lessons for Life scuba diving accident analysis.  Eric Douglas – March 13, 2019

REMEMBER: There is nothing more dangerous than breaking a basic safety rule and getting away with it. It removes fear of the consequences and builds false confidence.

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