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.