We received the following tale via email from a couple who were visiting the island very recently, about their meeting our Boat Captain:
Now that we are leaving Roatan and sensing that we may let a certain incident fade from our memories, I am going to put to pen an experience we had on Roatan.
We were snorkeling off the west part of West Bay and were enjoying the beautiful fish and coral life and extended our swim out past the beach head. Before we really noticed what was going on we were drifting at a very good clip. We stopped to get our bearings. We were way too far out and moving fast. The chop was getting intense with 3 foot waves all around, this is where two currents converge and then head seaward.
We turned shoreward and put every effort into swimming back, because we were in about 30 feet of water and could easily see the bottom we could both tell that we were not making any progress.
The people on shore were now tiny figures and of course my attempts to hail them went unnoticed. We tried to swim diagonally out to a dive boat that was maybe a half a kilometer east of us but still inside the protective reef but made no progress. That boat dropped its mooring and headed east.
Every direction except straight out to sea was impossible. We were now a kilometer beyond the beach head and moving fast. Turning seaward we spotted a dive boat that we later learned had dropped divers at the Texas dive site and then moved east to outside of the reef to pick them up after their drift dive from Texas, as it is known here.
Our only chance left was to be able to get to the boat before they loaded up and headed back to port. I asked Victoria, who all along had maintained her cool and was not panicking, if I should try to reach the boat by myself or stay with her. We decided to swim together and as we were now another half a kilometer further to sea we still had a fair distance to swim.
At intervals I would try to get as high in the water as possible and wave and yell for help, but could not see if we had been spotted. Then I noticed that the boat was off its mooring and headed east toward its home port in West End.....it then veered our way and our adventure was over.
The West End Divers (www.westenddivers.com) boat driven by Nelson picked us up. Nelson, we found out later has eagle eyes and spotted our tiny figures in the chop and came to our rescue. We will never forget Nelson and will forever be in his debt.
That we are alive today is due to the vigilance and skill of Captain Nelson.
Frank and Victoria Nielsen
A Bit About Snorkeling Safety
Let us talk a little about water safety while snorkeling with the clarity and inspiration of hind-sight. Goodness knows that many is the time I have found myself swimming outside the reef alone with no preparation or forethought other than pulling on a pair of swim trunks. Hearing of Frank and Victoria's experience, has caused a bit of reflection and discussion around the shop.
Not mentioned in his story was that Frank had been snorkeling in that same area, the beach at the south side of the point near "Pablo's", on the two days previous to their adventure, and was not bothered by the current at all. I guess our first point is that ocean conditions may change, and currents can be unpredictable.
Also to be remembered; the ocean is a really big place, covering most of this planet I'm told, and snorkelers are really, really small by comparison. The fact that Oja de Aguila (Nelson) managed to spot the couple is amazing! Although known to be able to spot things on the ocean with abilities far above those of ordinary mortals, it was really just chance and luck that Nelson happened to be looking in the right direction as two crested on a wave. We are very fortunate to be able to hear their tale.
To this end, Captain Nelson Alexander recommends that all snorkelers take with them a safety weenie, as he is purposefully demonstrating. The Eagle Eye himself explains that with one of these even a blind captain should be able see you, not to mention it can assist with floatation should you tire.
Snorkeling is safe, and fun and a great way to appreciate the underwater sights wherever you may travel. Tell someone where you are going, ask about possible conditions, grab a safety weenie, and don't forget to take a towel.
As an added safety feature, we at West End Divers can teach you, and take you scuba diving, where Captain "Eagle Eye" Nelson will be waiting for you when you surface. (We'll bring the weenie).