Port St Mary Lifeboat Station - Callouts: 23rd July 2001.
Weather: fine; Visability good; wind S 2-3
A DIVING trip proved ill-fated for a visiting club as divers ran into trouble twice in as many days. The divers were from the Royal Vale Diving Club in Winsford, Cheshire.
Two divers had to be plucked to safety on Monday, 23rd July, by lifeboats, after they were swept 5km from their dive boat in strong currents off the Calf of Man. The previous day the Coastguard had to be alerted when two other divers faced similar problems in the same area.
On both occasions the surface marker buoy snapped, leaving the dive boat with no idea that the divers were in trouble.
In the first incident on Sunday 22nd, the surface marker buoy snapped when the two male divers were away from the dive boat. It was only when the divers failed to surface at the designated time that the boat realised they were in trouble. The Coastguard was alerted but the divers were found shortly after by the dive boat. One diver was taken to the hyperbaric chamber at Douglas as a precautionary measure.
In the second incident both lifeboats from Port St Mary and one from Port Erin, had to be launched. At 12:29 BST the skipper of the dive boat Vale Royal Diver alerted Liverpool coastguard when the two divers, one male and one female, were 45 minutes overdue from a dive. The divers had entered the water off Gibdale Point on the north west side of the Calf of Man at 11:00 BST on a 45 minute dive . But the strong flood tidal current (spring tides of 4 to 5 knots) swept them from their marker buoy which had snapped after becoming entangled with a lobster pot.
Ten minutes later, at 12:39 BST Liverpool Coastguard alerted the crews of the Port St Mary all weather and inshore lifeboats by pagers for immediate launch. 14-26, "Gough Ritchie II" proceeded to sea under the control of 2nd cox Mick Kneale, as Cox Johnny Williams was at sea fishing lobsters in his own boat. An RAF Sea King helicopter, Rescue 122 from RAF Valley, Anglesey was also tasked to assist in the search and it was due off the west of the Calf at 13:20 BST
The lifeboats arrived at the scene at 1pm and the surface marker buoy of the divers was located wrapped around the marker buoy of a string of lobsters pots by the lobster fishing boat, "Blue Fin", skippered by the emergency cox. of Port St Mary lifeboat. Also the yacht Haliquin joined in the search. A down tide search commenced from Gibdale in a southerly direction towards the Stack at the SW tip of the Calf and then onwards towards the Chickens rock lighthouse, a mile offshore.
Sixteen minutes later the RAF Sea King helicopter, Rescue 122 whilst flying into the search area being conducted around the south west tip of the Calf, spotted the divers. They went into a hover above the divers and an orange flare was dropped to aid the nearest lifeboat, which was the Port Erin crew, locate the divers. They picked up the divers just south of Chicken Rock. The divers had ascended to the surface correctly and were not requiring further decompression, consequently Rescue 122 was released to fly back to RAF Valley.
At 13:25 BST, after tranferring from Port Erin lifeboat and a brief reunion with the rest of the dive team, they were ferried back to Port Erin in their own dive boat.
PSM ALB and ILB were back on station at 13:45 BST.
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