Diving for Whelks Urchins

A true story.

Paul has a friend who is a diver. Like in scuba diving. He is called “Doug The Diver”, and he goes out for guys who have lost things in the ocean, like traps that get cut away, etc., and he dives down to the bottom of the ocean and finds them and retrieves them. Sometimes he’ll dive underneath the boat if a piece of rope is stuck in the propeller. Whatever the guys need, Doug will accommodate them. Paul has known Doug for ages.

Doug also dives for himself which was what he was doing the other day. This was the day of the little snowstorm (just a dusting really) last week. Doug likes to go diving for whelks sea urchins. These are whelks sea urchins.

Paul will catch these in his lobster traps from time to time and sell them to the dealers, but Doug goes down and gets them himself, also to sell.

So the other day, Doug went out to get some whelks urchins. He will take a hired-hand along with him, to stay up in the boat whilst he is down under the sea. This hired hand that he had the other day was questionable at best.

So down Doug went while boat-man stayed in the boat. It should be noted that they are not in close to the land while doing this, they are kind of way out there… farther out than Paul even goes lobstering…out deep. And on this particular day, Doug and boat-man were the only people around out there.

After he collected all the whelks urchins he wanted, Doug came back up to the surface and he was all alone!

Boat-man was nowhere to be seen in any direction. OMG! Poor Doug! There he is with his weight belt on and his tanks still on, just bobbing in the Atlantic ocean all alone. After a few minutes, or maybe even less, he had to drop the weight belt and air tank because they would have pulled him down. So they got dropped onto the bottom of the sea. There’s Doug, still in his diving suit but boat-man, and Doug’s boat, are gone.

Doug spent the next HOUR all alone there, way out to sea, going over his life, and possible death. He told Paul he was actually talking to his (deceased) father at one point. His Dad passed away a couple of years ago and they were very close. So if Doug was talking to him out there, he must really have been scared. No other boats in the area at all. After all, we were having a snowstorm!

So he floated there for an hour or more and then, finally, off in the distance came the boat. When it came up to Doug, the guy had all kinds of stories about why he wasn’t there… engine trouble… etc… but in the end, Doug figures that he’d just fallen asleep in the boat and the boat had drifted for the full hour – out of sight.

Boy was Doug mad. Imagine what that hour must have been like for him? He honestly thought that was it for him.

Needless to say, boat-man is unemployed now. I can only imagine what Doug’s new wife must have said when he told her about this story…she’s expecting their child soon. Wow.

So that’s the story of Doug The Diver, our friend. I sure hope he picks a new boat-man who is a little more reliable than this creature.

This is why I have given Paul my Jitterbug cellphone. He’s out there today and probably not many others are out there. He’s very careful though. He tells me he does not want to die with the fishes…



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19 Responses to Diving for Whelks Urchins

  1. reader says:

    I don’t think you ever get used to anyone in your family being on the water regardless of how long they have been doing that. I live in a lobstering village, and my son used to go fishing and lobstering. My grandfather was an inshore fisherman and used to lobster inside. I read somewhere that soon it will be mandatory for every guy out there on the water to actually WEAR those life belts. Some new sort of protection is on the horizon as well, so the excuse that, “You can’t work with that stuff on” will be off the table.


  2. Reenie says:

    I am laughing so hard. Still a great and harrowing story.


  3. Bex says:

    Attention! Attention! Attention!

    I misinformed you in my story about Doug the Diver. When I was relating this blog entry to Paul, when I got to the part about the whelks, he said No! He wasn’t diving for Whelks – he was diving for sea urchins!

    Oh, of course! Paul gets those things in his traps all the time, as well as whelks, so I got confused. But just for the record, and I have corrected this blog entry, they were SEA URCHINS he was diving for.



  4. t.s. says:

    Alone on the open sea can be so terrifying. Good story. That might end my whelking career.


  5. Bex says:

    We live in such a metropolis of cities, there are plenty of cell towers around for good reception. Paul has called me several times from the boat while out lobstering so I know he can do it. He also has access to a radio direct to the harbormaster that he could use in an emergency (may-day may-day! type of thing).


  6. crochetlady says:

    I am glad all turned out ok for Doug. And that Paul now carries a phone of some type. Does it work at the range he goes out?


  7. Michael says:

    What an awful experience. That’s the kind of thing that could scar a person for a long time. You’d have to be pretty strong in the first place not to let the panic do you in.


  8. ~ Sil in Corea says:

    Wow! That could have turned out very badly indeed. Shame on that boatman!!! Doug’s story brought up a whole lot of feelings for me, as I’ve known too many people who “went overboard” and didn’t survive.
    {Glad Paul is carrying your cellphone, just in case he has trouble on the water.}

    Your tree is delightful! 🙂 May you both have a joyous Christmas and a safe, warm winter.


  9. Joan says:

    I read your post around 1:00 today and thought about it all day. I can’t even imagine what went through his head as he waited for that boat to come back. Shame on that man for his dereliction if duties!
    I’m so glad this story had a happy ending!


  10. Nina Camic says:

    Bex, that’s a well told story. Splendid writing. Thank you.


  11. mz. em says:

    What a lovely tale of life on the sea. Yes, I can see that Dougie the Diver will think twice about hiring boat man. I would feel that a lot of stuff Dougie went over in his mind, I would have too. I’m glad to read that lobster man has his cell phone. It is too scary to think about if he didn’t having it.


  12. TopsyTurvy says:

    A cell phone won’t help if you’re not within range of a cell tower and it’d be pretty hard to use bobbing around the ocean in a divingsuit, anyhow.

    Doug the Diver needs to get himself an emergency GPS locator device that he can carry with him when he’s diving.

    Thank goodness he was in his divingsuit, so excessive hypothermia wasn’t an issue – at the time. If it had been longer, though…

    Glad he’s back safe and sound!


  13. Bex says:

    I have to admit my blinking tree isn’t really “mine” – I just borrowed it off a google search….

    I want to put up my tiny faux tree but I just can’t get in the mood yet…maybe tomorrow.


  14. Betty Lou says:

    What a story ! So scary. I am so glad it had a happy ending. And your blinking tree is beautiful.


  15. Reenie says:

    *sigh* I’m searching for words, my mind reeling. It’s like the feeling when a child or pet is lost. Emotions run from furious to elation. Ultimately, I feel gratitide for Doug’s safe journey home.

    Bex: Post more often! Gives me an excuse/opportunity to linger with your blinking tree. So much fun! Actually, I don’t need an excuse. I’ll just pop in and out. 🙂


  16. Rhubarb says:

    What a lovely Christmas picture! It is beautiful. And grateful to hear that everything turned out OK.


  17. Eric Mayer says:

    That’s a frightening story. You’d think keeping a boat in one spot wouldn’t be too much to ask.

    Love your blinking Christmas tree by the way.


  18. l'empress says:

    What a horror story! Or is it just another example of why the work force as a whole has no more credibility?

    Add my gladness that Doug is all right.


  19. Sandy Freel says:

    OH MY GOODNESS…so glad it had a happy ending…I to worry about Paul out there alone…thank god for phones now that he can use


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