Tag Archives: underwater scooters

Underwater Scooter-Sharing Comes To Blacktip Island

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Bamboo You founder Piers “Doc” Plank demonstrates one of his D-PEEVE underwater scooters on Blacktip Island’s Jawfish Reef Thursday. The company launched a DPV-sharing service on the Caribbean island this week. (photo courtesy of Marco Busdraghi)

A Blacktip Island entrepreneur is betting underwater scooter sharing will be the next scuba craze by launching a diver-propelled vehicle-sharing service this week on the Caribbean island’s dive sites.

“D-PEEVE is a riff on the bike sharing that’s all the rage now,” said Bamboo You founder Piers “Doc” Plank. “We scattered them across all the popular reefs, along with underwater charging stations that look like coral heads.

“Tap your resort key fob on the payment box, and off you go,” Plank said. “We charge it straight to your room. Each charge gives you 15 minutes of DPV time, then you leave the D-PEEVE wherever you happen to be.”

The unattended scooters surprised some island divers.

“I about spit my reg when I saw a DPV plugged into the coral,” Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort guest Missy Mahi said. “I thought it was a joke and hauled it up to the boat to clean up the reef.

“Everybody laughed at me, but I got even on the next dive,” Mahi said. “I shot through a tunnel full throttle and popped out – FWOOM – like a cannonball. It silted the tunnel so bad the jokers behind me couldn’t see a thing.”

Some scuba professionals are leery of Plank’s new service.

“This scooter crap is eat up with safety issues,” Eagle Ray Divers operation manager Ger Latneer said. “Most divers aren’t trained in DPV use. And if the battery dies, we got divers stranded off who-knows-where.

“The biggest worry’s unless there’s two scooters together, that means guests are solo diving at 10, 12 knots,” Latner said. “Or one diver’s hanging onto his buddy’s fins, getting dragged behind.”

Plank said those worries are unfounded.

“There’s an instruction card on top of each D-PEEVE that explains how to use it,” he said. “And we have GPS trackers, so we can always find the units.

“If someone decides to go off on their own, well, that’s not our fault. Divers are always wandering off anyway,” Plank said. “And with only a 15-minute charge, how far can they really go?”

Plank said Bamboo You plans other, similar gear-sharing programs.

“We’re gonna do entire scuba rig-sharing,” he said. “I’m talking the tank, BC and regulator, the whole shebang. People can swim down, slip into the gear and do a quick reef tour. Then when they’re through, they just float the rig in to shore and we can top off the tank.

“You won’t have to lug your scuba gear with you on vacation anymore,” Plank said.

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Traffic Accidents Mount On Blacktip Island Reefs

Increased use of diver propulsion vehicles is causing traffic snarls on Blacktip Island dive sites. (photo courtesy of Matthew Hoelscher)

Increased use of diver propulsion vehicles is causing traffic snarls on Blacktip Island dive sites. (photo courtesy of Matthew Hoelscher)

Blacktip Island marine park officials are urging caution on the Caribbean island’s scuba dive sites after a spike in the number of accidents involving underwater diver propulsion vehicles.

“We’re victims of our own success,” said Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner. “We’re teaching so many D.P.V. classes, it seems like everyone’s using scooters now.

“We tell students slow and steady’s the way to go with the scooters, but our guests never listen,” Latner said. “We’re seeing single- and multi-vehicle wrecks underwater about every day.”

The scooters also have many of the island’s scuba divers upset.

“Bunch of knuckleheads racing around is what they are,” diver Georgie Passaic said. “It’s just ZOOM and you’re blindsided by bubble trails and flapping fins. There’s even traffic jams on some of the sites.”

Officials say the problem is made worse by divers coming to Blacktip Island from different parts of the world.

“The Americans circle coral heads clockwise, whilst the Brits circle anti-clockwise,” Marine Parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “And the Americans insist on using four-way stop right-of-way rules. The Brits use roundabout rules. The result is a right mess.”

Attempts to enforce underwater safety measures have been ineffective.

“The island constable’s jurisdiction ends at the shore,” Schrader said. “And we don’t have the personnel to patrol every dive site. We have plans for underwater traffic signals, but that’s a long way off.

“Meanwhile, the underwater wreckage is piling up,” Schrader said. “People just mash the accelerator and go. On some of the more popular reefs you can’t see the coral for the debris.”

Local dive professionals bristled at criticism they’re to blame for the situation.

“We crack down on scooter use, that takes beer from our mouths,” Club Scuba Doo dive operations manager Finn Kiick said. “People pay top dollar for D.P.V. courses and rental. We about went out of business last week when we banned scooters completely.”

Other industry insiders insist underwater scooters are here to stay.

“These D.P.V.s are a boon,” Eagle Ray Divers’ Latner said. “All the wrecked scooters out there mean we’re teaching more Wreck Diving courses, more Search and Recovery courses and more First Aid courses. We even have instructors working up Underwater Traffic Routing course outlines for NAUI, PADI and SSI.”

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