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SAFETY EQUIPMENTHalcyon Divers Raft
THE RED SEA 12 - youve surely heard of them. They are divers who got the British press excited when they disappeared back in August. There were only two Lonergans, and they were American, but this was six times as many and some were British. They provided a jackpot for the jackals of Docklands: Twelve Gone Missing in Shark-Infested Waters.
     Alas for the cause of a good story, they had not simply gone down and not come up again, as the police spokesperson in El Quesir was quoted as saying. Like flotsam, jetsam and a million flip-flops before them, they just bobbed about on the surface of the sea until they were found 12 hours later. I bet they shared some good stories during the time afloat!
     Now you may think I am trivialising this issue. I am not, but it takes a movie such as Open Water to interest the media in something that happens more often than it should.
     I once had a bit of non-optional sun-tanning (head only) in the Suarkin Islands in the Sudan when I came up next to the reef with my party to find that our boat had developed a mechanical problem and drifted over the horizon.
     They knew where we were. It was just that we didnt know where they were. So we stayed put and waited. The first couple of hours is the worst. Im told that the worst part was that I began repeating my anecdotes long before they were able to return to pick us up.
     The Pelelui Six were not so lucky. They left a message on a slate to say that they could see boats looking for them but were unable to signal their own whereabouts. So Im glad to see that far more divers from the UK now carry surface flags. Ive been harping on about them for years.
     You would not be much luckier in a small boat. Back in the early 90s, the dive guide from Colona IV lost the use of his Zodiacs outboard while waiting for divers during a night-dive at Shag Rock. He was picked up in a fraught state, two days later, by the Jeddah ferry. He doesnt do dive-guiding now.
     Halcyon would have us all carrying a Divers Raft. Its modelled on the life-raft supplied to US Navy pilots who, of course, are better at flying than swimming. It can carry around 130kg and is under 2m long. You carry it in a rather large optional pouch, if you have the money to spare, or clipped to the steel backplate of your Halcyon Wing.
     It can be inflated by mouth if you think you have the time or the exhalations, but otherwise connect it to the hose of your BC inflator. It takes about 150 litres, which is around 12 bar from a 12 litre tank, so always keep a sufficient reserve.
     Being bright orange, it is highly visible at the surface. Of course, its usually windy at sea, so I suggest you make sure youre on it or clipped to it securely before fully inflating it.
     Jolly fireman Nigel Wade demonstrated to me that a fully kitted diver could climb on to the raft easily enough, but both wind and waves were lacking at Wraysbury Lake, and I wondered how easy it would be in a force 8 at the Brothers. But hold it upright and its a lot more visible than a safety sausage.
     The Divers Raft is not an Avon life-raft. Theres no EPIRB or freshwater-still, but it could keep your feet out of the water if youre worried about sharks. Clipped securely to you by its karabiner and tethered by its webbing, if it did catch the wind its day-glo effect would be as visible as any flag and more so, provided you managed to keep hold of it.
     And when youre picked up, burnt to a crisp and as dehydrated as a sultana, you can pull the dump valve cord to let the air out of it and carefully roll it up ready for your next dive.
The Halcyon Divers Raft costs £165. The simple zipped purse is £25 extra.
  • Silent Planet 01305 826636


  • Divernet
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    + Helps you to take getting lost lying down


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    - Not a fully equipped life-raft
    - Not cheap