Hilma Hooker Coney

Bonaire, March 9-26.

Underwater photographs! )
Four-eye Butterflyfish

Bonaire, March 9-16.

Underwater photographs! )
Having landed at Cleveland Hopkins at eight this morning, dozing through only one disc of Aaron Copland and some of "Bring the Noise," and coming after two straight nights of no more than four hours of sleep and a solid week of no more than six, I'm far too exhausted to write a recapitulation of the 2006 ATPo Gathering with concision, coherency or tact. Will I persevere through anyway? Perhaps; I keep floundering wading in the littorals of this post, rather than just diving deeply in. But what washes over me currently is sleep, and what sentiments I might bubble out burst before they breach my placid surface. And I'm half-tempted now to swap the ATPo icon for one of my SCUBA ones, so I will quit before my only public recollection of the Gathering becomes my snide spite at the painting at the seafood restaurant that paired a (Caribbean) Queen Angelfish with an (Indo-Pacific) Clown Trigger. That would be paralipsis, by the way, and for tonight the rest will be ellipsis . . .

Leaving for Tripoli today, where we will meet up with the fifty-nine other people on our intimate little eclipse tour. Managed to be somewhat lazy in Sharm and get nine dives in five days. I saw many blue spotted stingrays, two eagle rays, two giant morays (gymnothorax javanicus), a few huge Napoleon Wrasses and about six billion Anthias (Anthiases?). But of course the real reason I come to Egypt is for the lemon juice. Thick, creamy, frothy and tart -- the lemon juice, more so than the Sphinx, is the true enigmatic sublimity of Egypt.

I don't expect to have too much internet contact in Libya. Perhaps Tunis.

I prefer shore diving over boat diving, partially because my streak of anti-authoritarianism makes me sullen and resentful towards a few rare dive guides, partially because I prefer to start my diving day on my own schedule (i.e., after lunch) rather than on someone else's, and mostly because I am so cheap and four dollars and ninety-five cents a tank suits me more than $150 for a two-tank boat trip. Of course, reading stories like this, from the April Undercurrent, doesn't help:
Undercurrent subscriber Russ Woolery (Dallas, TX), eight other divers, and a snorkeler got a lot more excitement than they expected when they went diving with Vance Cabral's Advanced Diving in Placencia, Belize. On December 29 Woolery and his fianceé, an inexperienced diver, signed up for Advanced Diving's Glover's Reef trip. No one requested their c-cards.

The boat departed at 9:30 a.m. and, while motoring to the first site, struck a piece of reef. Russ says Vance, who was running the boat, didn't even slow down, which is probably just as well as he said there was no spare prop on board. There also was no orientation to the boat, no working radio, no oxygen, and no first aid kit. There were no flares or running lights.

After the first dive, the group went to Glover's Reef for tea and bologna or peanut butter sandwiches, but Vance had not packed enough for all 10 customers. Then they waited three hours for the ten tanks to be refilled, at last departing at 3:30 p.m. After the second dive, they left for home at 5:20 p.m., with the sun sinking over the horizon. There was no GPS, the compass was not illuminated, and there was no flashlight on the boat. Luckily, Russ had 2 flashlights, and shined one on the compass so Vance could attempt a westerly heading, but apparently Vance's compass navigation skills fell short. An hour later, there were still no signs of lights from South Water Cay or Placencia. And Vance said that he was "about out of gas" except for a 5-gallon reserve can. The boat held 80 gallons and apparently had been under-fueled.

Understandably, the group began to get anxious and asked for the life jackets. There were only two for the 12 persons aboard, so folks started filling BCDs [Buoyancy Control Devices: inflatable vests -- d'H]. The divers pressed Vance to call and alert someone to their situation. Two times he called, "Mayday, Mayday, this is Advanced One," with no response. This was not a surprise since earlier in the day a diver had received a shock from the antenna when he brushed up against it, a sign of malfunction.

But the real fun had yet to begin. About 7:30 p.m., the sound of breaking waves grew louder and one smacked the 30-foot boat. The next one rolled it over. Some divers found themselves between the reef and the capsized boat (with its motor still running full tilt), while others were washed onto the reef. Still others were momentarily trapped under the overturned craft.

Vance seemed flummoxed and surveyed the situation while standing on a shallow reef. He didn't ask if anyone was injured but did ask them to help right the boat, but it was impossible. So folks crawled onto the overturned boat to wait it out. The two small flashlights were the group's only means of signaling help.

Fortunately, two friends who were waiting on shore began to worry about the group's absence, and they contacted Turtle Inn, where Russ was staying. About 10 p.m., the Turtle Inn dive boat set out in search of the group and. thanks to the divers' flashlights, found them at 3:00 a.m. They were ten miles offshore and fourteen miles south of their intended route.

The U.S. Embassy in Belize has requested a formal investigation. The Belize Ministry of Home Affairs announced that the operator's license had been revoked pending and investigation. At press time, however, Advanced Diving was still operating out of the Barefoot Beach Bar.


Feb. 24th, 2005 05:52 pm
A gratuitous icon post, for this:

Some might remember that I exclaimed "Icon!" when we reached this moment (just after Flash has accidentally fired several Thanagarian missiles into the east wing of Wayne Manor) in our viewing of "Starcrossed" at the last ATPo Gathering. And here we are, only eight months later!

This icon was an unintended consequence of my recent dalliance with BitTorrent. Before, making my own screencaps was a laborious process involving a camcorder, a memory stick, and technical assistance from Rube Goldberg. Now, it's just a matter of PrntScrning the right frames in VirtualDub.

I could go on about the technical process, but what most interests me is that I managed to misquote Batman. What he actually says in the episode is "That's not helping!" I have managed to make a statement more antisocial than that made by a semi-psychotic, overly violent loner.

And, indeed, looking at my icons . . .  )


Apr. 6th, 2004 01:54 am
Yet another gratuitous icon post arising from my experiments with the digital camcorder's ability to transfer still video from tape to memory stick as a JPEG. The annoying thing is that this transfer involves hitting a button marked "photo" exactly as the frame I want rolls onscreen. There's a lot of trial and error, and I got a little trigger happy, meaning that if anyone wants about forty-nine extraneous screenshots of giant Green Morays, I'm the man to ask.

The first shot is from my most recent trip to Bonaire. It is the only one shot with the digital camcorder; it is also the only frame I felt I had to lighten. The other two pictures come from last year's trip. When I encountered the moray in the second frame, he was trailing about three feet of fishing line from his mouth. A situation like that is exactly why I always carry a pair of dive scissors, and I left him so that he was burdened with only nine inches -- nine inches being about as close as I was comfortable extending my hand towards his mouth. The third moray was being cleaned by three different shrimp. Two Coral Banded Shrimp were working on his head and body while the Scarlet-Striped Cleaning Shrimp in the picture took care of his teeth and gills. I spent about ten minutes videotaping the process.

For those who have wondered at my interests, the Linnean name for the Green Moray is Gymnothorax funebris. Gymnothorax translates, more or less, to "bare-chested," a term which in LiveJournal icon circles more often applies to James Marsters.
My presence will be a rare one online for the next two weeks.



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