Dozens of divers were in the water at Hubbards Beach last Sunday and they were doing it to raise money for one of their own.
The 15th Annual Torpedo Rays Treasure Hunt, which usually raises money for the IWK or Children's Trust Fund, was reconfigured this year to support the family of Wayne MacInnis, who tragically passed away while diving at Birchy Head, Nova Scotia, on July 21, leaving behind a wife and seven children.
MacInnis was 36 at the time of the incident and he had taken to his new hobby with enthusiasm, training for the activity and joining Torpedo Rays' Seawolves Dive Club. He worked for a shipping and receiving company in Dartmouth, where he also lived.
A Facebook group called RIP Wayne Andrew MacInnis has since started where family and friends can grieve and share memories together.
Sadly, MacInnis wasn't the only person to die in a scuba incident this year. Later Sunday evening, after the fundraising event in Hubbards, a 56-year-old man died while scuba diving off of the Cape Breton shoreline near New Campbellton.
Participants registered for $30 to take part in a scavenger hunt, which included searching for golf balls scattered all over the ocean bottom, each with the potential for a prize, big or small. Organizers were hoping to raise $3,000.
One of the divers who took part in the event said it has become a tradition for members of the diving community to come every year.
"We've been coming here for the last eight years now," said Dave Hackett. "You get to come out here, see some old friends, get together and have a good time."
Hackett, who has been diving for 25 years, says he keeps at it because there's something different to see every time.
"I did find one of the golf balls with a number and I also found one without a number, so clearly someone has been practicing their golf swing out here."
One of the event organizers, Devon MacCarthy, said that top prizes are the coveted exposure suits, life support systems and buoyancy vests. Smaller prizes include t-shirts, pencils and other merchandise.
"People from all walks are welcome, some of the more seasoned veterans prefer the snorkeling technique because you're in and out very quickly and up to the barbeque right away with very little work," said MacCarthy with a laugh.
MacCarthy also works for Torpedo Rays, which is based in Burnside and offers scuba equipment and training services. They have a location on Chain Lake Drive in Bayers Lake as well.
"There's a fair amount of preparation that goes into this, most of it is related to just having staff available to operate equipment. We've got it down to a science now, this being our 15th year, but it still takes us about a month to prepare and get everything going."
The event was supposed to be held the week prior, but the threat of Hurricane Leslie prompted organizers to reschedule to last Sunday. The weather couldn't have been more ideal.
Safety Tips for Divers:
- Never scuba dive alone.
- Make sure you're fit to dive by having a medical examination.
- Get trained from certified instructors.
- Know your limits.
- Inspect your equipment before each dive.
- Breath normally when in the water (when using an oxygen tank).
- Don't over exert yourself.
- Never dive below 40 metres, which is considered the limit for recreational diving.
- Equalize frequently as you descend to avoid pain/disorientation from your ears.
- Use common sense, if something isn't right, let others know and re-surface.