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Phuket Dive Boat Swamped by Wave, 12 Escape Safely

Saturday, May 5, 2012
PHUKET: Storms and strong winds are blamed for the sinking of a dive boat off Phuket yesterday and difficulties that have been reported on two other boats.

Eight customers and four crew escaped from a Kamala Dive Centre boat when it sank near Ko Kiew on a trip back to Phuket from Phi Phi yesterday afternoon.

A spokesman for Kamala Dive Centre, which is based in Patong, said today the vessel sank after being hit by a big wave and strong winds.

''The boat had made it to Ko Kiew before it went under,'' he said. ''Everybody was picked up safely by another boat that was nearby at the time.

''The customers arrived back at the pier about 7.30pm and the crew stayed with the boat and returned about 10.30pm.

''We will let them rest and talk to them today in detail about what exactly happened.''

The 24-metre dive boat was still on a beach at Ko Kiew but holed, he said. It was on a normal day trip to Phi Phi when the wave struck, he said.

''I have heard there were at least two other boats with problems yesterday,'' he said. ''But I've heard nothing definite.''

The damaged boat was owned by Aloha at Chalong, about 10 years old, and well-maintained, he said. It was checked and repaired in dry dock once a year, he said.

More storms are being forecast for today and coming days.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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I was on this boat. There was no life raft. It was a hole in the left hand side of the boat. The captain and crew got us to safely to the island but this boat was not fit for purpose the bottom looked rusty to me. Some of the life jackets were broken. Why did we sail out to Phi Phi if there was a storm brewing? Our dive company was Sharkey Scuba. Several boats had problems and were breaking down. Very scary and thanks to all that helped.

Posted by Wendy Bain on May 5, 2012 12:19

Editor Comment:

Care to give Phuketwan a call on 076 255114 please, Wendy?

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Wendy,
These operators are highly ranked on TripAdvisor - I would share your thoughts about how their trips are truly run. Many people here know the truth but the online impressions that have been 'put together' make them out to be top notch dive companies.
A little truth on TripAdvisor would be a nice change of pace.

Posted by Ty on May 5, 2012 13:00

Editor Comment:

Three different dive companies, and no way of ranking the boat . . . Wendy tells her own story in our latest article.

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All the dive centers knew that the forecast was very bad that day ! waves 1.4 to 1.6 meters and strong winds but for money, only for money, they bring customers out ! It's a scandal !

Posted by serge on May 5, 2012 13:11

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I am a dive instructor and have worked for more than three years with Kamala Dive Center. I can testify that their boat is well-maintained, confortable and equipped with life jackets. It is taken to the dry dock once per year for maintenance.
This was just bad luck. Useless to beat them afterward, they probably couldn't do anything, except taking care of the passengers (which was well done).
Do not forget that they lost their mean of subsistence too. All my thoughts to them.

Posted by william on May 5, 2012 16:29

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(moderated)

Posted by Steve C. on May 5, 2012 19:16

Editor Comment:

So far we've published the views of one of the spokespeople for a dive company who had tourists on the boat, and one of the tourists who was on the boat. Your viewpoint may be valid, Steve C, but unless you have some first-hand experience of this particular ''sinking,'' I suggest you hold off on expressing a view until you are absolutely certain it's relevant. We look forward to hearing from anyone who was on the boat, or any of the other boats involved. We also welcome the comments of those in the industry who can explain how some boats can decide not to go out on a particular day because of the weather, while other boats venture out. Why isn't there a Chalong Harbormaster? Is this good for Phuket tourism?

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You ask if it's good for tourism and then go ahead and publish the near-hysterical account of a publicity-seeking tourist who knows nothing about marine engineering yet still feels qualfied to comment on the state of the hull? How is that good for tourism?
To suggest that it's dangerous to go out when there are 1.4 to 1.6 waves forecast is ridiculous. Which boats did not go out? All of the boats we use went out yesterday and the forecast wasn't that bad. Kamala Dive Center (sic) are a reputable company who operate and maintain their boat properly and professionally. I think it's irresponsible the way you've reported this story.

Posted by Lil on May 5, 2012 20:09

Editor Comment:

Lil, I guess you think it's responsible to take tourists out on days when a rescue is required to bring them back to Phuket? Oh, really? My view is that there should be an independent person without financial involvement responsible for judging whether it's safe to take tourists out in monsoon weather. Having seen five bodies brought to the surface from a diving mishap that killed seven people, my view is based on personal experience, and with user safety as the only real priority. Yours is based on . . .what? The usual guesswork that goes into putting to sea off Phuket in dangerous, unpredictable weather? Your personal knowledge is that every boat that puts to sea off Phuket is equipped to handle every storm and wave? The Phuket dive industry needs a reputation for putting user safety first, not devil-may-care ignorance.

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Point taken. I have no knowledge of this particular incident. Just general knowledge having worked in the industry for a few years and though I'm not a trained marine engineer, I've had boats and worked with engines of all kinds all my life.

My views are just based on what I've observed and as such naturally not all that objective or valid.

The point of outsourcing especially daytrip boats I do think however to be relevant, though what effect it has on this or other incidents remains to be proven. If anything, it certainly complicates the issue of liability when something goes wrong.

It's pretty much like the Tailor shops. They number in hundreds but actual tailors who do the work are just a handful.

Posted by Steve C. on May 5, 2012 22:53


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