A state-of-the-art RCS-5000 roller coaster seat at Blacktip Island’s Club Scuba Doo prior to installation on a Scuba Doo Divers dive boat’s bow. (photo courtesy of Dusso Janladde)
Blacktip Island Club Scuba Doo this week installed roller coaster seating on the bows of its dive boats so guests can safely ride there in rough seas.
“People always want to sit on the bow, even when the waves get gnarly,” Scuba Doo Divers dive manager Finn Kiick said. “And they get cranked when we make them come back.
“With these new seats, though, they can have a thrill ride going to and from the dive sites,” Kiick said. “We strap ‘em in and let ‘em scream.”
The seats are amusement-park grade RCS-5000s, standard on most modern high-speed rides, with padded lap-bar restraints to keep riders in place.
“These jobs will take a three-meter wave at 15 knots – about four and a half gees of force – and stay latched,” Club Scuba Doo general manager Polly Parrett said. “Basically, a wave could smack you unconscious and you wouldn’t come out of the chair.
“We do charge extra for bow seating,” Parrett said. “But guests are happy to pay. There’s even occasional fisticuffs over who gets those few choice spots.”
Some industry experts, however, worry the seating may have a negative long-term impact.
“Those things are a disaster waiting to happen,” said scuba watchdog Wade Soote. “One broken neck or one drowning, and Blacktip’s tourism product will have a permanent black eye.
“Last week a guest had to spend the night on the bow when Finn lost the key to the lap bar,” Soote said. “And what happens after a few salt-water drenchings and a rusty latch fails?”
Scuba Doo touted the chairs’ reliability.
“On the mondo-wave days, we make people wear full scuba,” Kiick said. “Folks usually opt for that on their own, so it’s not a huge deal. And we have an awesome cutting torch of the bar ever gets stuck again.”
The bow seats have also received an unexpected endorsement from the International Coaster Enthusiasts roller coaster club.
“It’s a different ride every time, what with the seas always changing,” ICE president Busch Matterhorn said. “You don’t get that kind of unpredictability on a static metal tube ‘coaster. We had seasoned old timers squealing like little girls today.”
The resort offers new Bow Rider Diver specialty courses via most certifying agencies.
“It’s a pretty straightforward course,” Kiick said. “We blast you through a quick class, then do mask clears and out-of-air drills in the chair at full throttle. NAUI divers have to do the skills with only a mask and snorkel. PADI divers just pay double.”