Vandalized While Night Diving
Scuba diving at night can be exhilarating yet truly relaxing, but this night dive assumed a different demeanor after we discovered our vehicle had been vandalized while we were underwater.
The dive site was named Andrea II, and it had become one of our favorite shore dives on Bonaire, especially for night diving during several trips we had made here in the past. The shore entry was fairly easy, and lots of nocturnal critters come out here at night to dine, making for good underwater photo opportunities for my dive buddy, a professional underwater photographer. We were excited to dive here.
We enjoyed the dive immensely, observing a large octopus, several crabs, anemones, and numerous varieties of fish as the reef came alive with creatures in search of a meal or two. We were able to dive in relatively shallow water for all of the dive at about 30 to 40 feet.
I was wearing my underwater compass, practicing my underwater navigation skills, which creates a different set of challenges when diving at night. When we were about half way through the dive, I checked my compass and signaled to my buddy that it was time to head to shore and complete the dive. I always track time and depth so my dive buddy can take photographs to his heart’s content. We slowly started our ascent and completed our first safety stop at about 20 feet.
At this juncture, my compass reading was not what I expected it to be, and I was not sure exactly where we were underwater, so I pointed to my compass and motioned to my buddy that I wanted to surface to get a better bearing on our exact location. He nodded in agreement and accompanied me to the surface once we made another safety stop at 15 feet.
After we surfaced, we chatted briefly about our location and my compass reading, and we looked to the shore to determine where our landmarks were. The night sky was glittered with stars above us. The beams from a beautiful full moon glistened off of the dark water.
We immediately noticed what looked like car headlights flashing ashore by what appeared to be another vehicle driving in the vicinity of our dive truck. We figured the lights were probably from other night divers. I took a compass reading at the location of the lights on shore and we descended again and completed our dive.
We assisted each other ashore and walked the brief distance from shore to our truck. As we were taking off our gear, my buddy went to the back seat of our truck to put his camera inside the fresh water he had in his portable cooler, and he asked me where the cooler had gone to? We shined our dive lights into the cab of the truck and noted that the few items we had inside were disheveled, and indeed the portable cooler was nowhere to be seen. It was then we realized our vehicle had been vandalized.
Though it was unfortunate that our vehicle had been ransacked, we lost only an inexpensive, entirely replaceable cooler filled with water, and we figured the lights we had seen when we surfaced to find our landmarks probably belonged to the thieves.
In all of our years of dive travel in many different countries, we are happy to report that this has been only the second vandalism of this type we’ve encountered. We also use common sense and leave our rental vehicle unlocked, take absolutely nothing with us of value, and anything we don’t want to lose we take underwater with us. This includes our room key, vehicle key and driver’s license. (These are secured in a small dry pouch I wear around my neck inside my wetsuit.) We always bring cheap sunglasses and hats just for our dive trips, leaving prescription sunglasses, clothing, credit cards, anything electronic and other valuable items behind and/or locked in the safe at our condo or hotel.
With a little preparation and forethought, it’s easy to discourage theft, limit valuable losses, and not ruin a perfectly wonderful night dive.