Key West: The Boat That Tried to Kill Me

It was a beautiful summer morning in Key West, Florida and I had plans to go scuba diving. Diving was the whole point of being in Key West. It was a fairly easy destination to get to (if a 24 hour drive is easy) and I’ve enjoyed my previous trips.

I dove with the same company every dive I did on this trip. However, this particular dive was about to go very wrong.

Me. And the boat.

Me and the boat, during happier times. All pictures in this post are scans of prints. I took a lot of picture even back then!

Scuba diving in Key West

As usual, I prepped my own stuff and put it on at the appropriate time. We get briefed about the dive spot, depth of the dive, etc. Everything is normal. My dive partner takes his big step off the boat and into the water.* I’m ready to go. I take a giant step. Suddenly, my body stops mid-air and I’m slammed into the side of the boat. I hang there for maybe a second or two, though it feels longer. Then, I splash into the ocean.

I turn around to signal to the boat staff that I’m fine and ready to go, completely oblivious to the hose moving around like a possessed snake behind me. My arm hurt, but not enough to stop me from diving.

That hose had caught on the boat railing. It was attached on one end to my tank and the other end to my gauges. It couldn’t support my weight long before breaking at the weakest point and dropping me into the water.

“You’ve got to come back on board,” says the dive master. Oh yeah, without the gauges attached, I’d have problems bigger than the large bruise that formed on my upper arm.

I'm feeling fine during this dive!

I’m feeling fine during this dive on a different day!

My dive partner was the patient type and snorkeled a bit while I was getting reequipped to dive, which involved a gear change. It’s worth finding a great dive outfit; I was in good hands! I’d been using my own and they provided me with an extra they had on board. I went on to have an excellent dive!

I love and hate scuba diving. I love it when everything is just right and when you see something amazing! I love it when it’s pure relaxation. I hate it when I feel uncomfortable or nervous because I haven’t been diving in awhile. It takes me awhile to get the weights right. I’m also fully aware that emergencies can happen under the water. When you get certified, you learn how to deal with those emergencies. Snorkeling is far easier, in that regard.

The cat show at the sunset festival, early 2000s.

The cat show at the sunset festival, early 2000s.

I’ve been in a couple of precarious situations while diving.  I once suffered an inner ear injury and slight hearing loss because I struggle to clear my ears under the water. This happened during my first week of diving in the ocean, also in Key West. I was trying to keep up with my buddy, who did not have ear issues under the water. At 35 feet, I was okay. At 40 feet, searing ear pain. Don’t do this to yourself. It is not worth it. On that trip, there were two staff members diving and we switched partners with them so my buddy could keep on diving. I missed out on an amazing dive – my partner got to see a shrimp I’d been dying to see in the wild. None of these problems required using my dive insurance,  but I’m still glad I had it! I never dive without DAN (Dive Alert Network).

*side note: the giant step is the only way I have ever entered the water while scuba diving or snorkeling.

Do you scuba dive or snorkel? Have you ever had to use your emergency training while diving?

10 thoughts on “Key West: The Boat That Tried to Kill Me

  1. mark wyld says:

    I have done a bit of snorkelling in y younger days. I cam imagine that diving must be such a rush when things go right and you are having fun exploring, but at the same time, it must be the scariest place on earth for things to go wrong. Good on you and keep at it

  2. Christina says:

    Going diving is one of my favourite activities. I have always wanted to Key West. It is a long drive from where we are in Canada but definitely doable. Glad you were okay! Too bad about missing the shrimp for sure but just another reason to go back!

    • natalie says:

      Exactly! I can always go back and try again.

      It’s a really long drive for you! You could fly into Ft. Lauderdale/ Miami and rent a car. The other keys are pretty awesome, too!

  3. Jennifer Melroy says:

    My worst diving experience was diving in Key Largo on Duane. We went down in no current. We did a minor penetration dive with the plan of going through the ship and then swimming across back to our moring line. My dive partner exits the wreck first and the current has changed. It is so strong he gets slammed into the edge of the porthole we are exiting. I have about a half second to decide if he got swept was I going after him (knowing that if we lost the ship we were going to be floating and have to hope they find us). I grab the edge of the ship and come out the hole. I find my buddy on the other side of the ship railing holding on for life and looking at his leg. I join him and look at his leg. I check his air and I’m currently fine but he is lower than I would have liked. We both know we aren’t making our morning line. We pick the closest and start up. We have to buddy breath for the safety stop but we surfaced and find a boat on the morning line. That boat. We board that boat and they radio our boat that we surfaced and needed medical attention for an 8 in gash.

    Then there was the time, the same dive buddy got bit by a shark. I was too busy having a laughing fit underwater to help him. I am on the NURSE sharks side. He got what he deserved for pulling its tail.

    • natalie says:

      Yeah, you pull a shark’s tail, you get what you deserve! Or mess with a moray, etc!

      What a scary story! I also had a situation where the current got pretty strong by the end of the dive. No one was injured, but we did struggle to get back on the boat.


    I tried Scuba diving twice, and I have come to realize its just not my thing. I love the water, but I hate the fact that I have to breathe through my mouth and cant use all my senses effectively. But I am still willing to try it until I make it successfully sometime.

    • natalie says:

      I haven’t been diving in awhile. I would like to take a diver refresher course beforehand because it takes me several dives to be comfortable!

      I can understand it not being your thing, too. It isn’t for everyone.

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