The San Diego scuba diving community is devastated by the deadly fire aboard a popular diving vessel Monday morning off the Channel Islands.
The fire started at around 3 a.m. on board the vessel Conception about 20 yards offshore from Santa Cruz Island. Conception is a popular diving charter that many divers throughout Southern California are familiar with.
“We have a very large tight knit scuba community here in southern California. Chances are there may be somebody I know on this boat and that’s what I am really worried about,” said local diver Steve Barber.
Barber, a dive instructor at The House of Scuba just north of Pacific Beach in Bay Ho, has been diving for 19 years and has developed a large network of divers.
“It’s devastating,” Barber said. “I’m at a loss for words for this. It’s heartbreaking, it really is.”
Barber said he has dived off the Conception many times and said its one of the best charters a diver can take because it’s safe and the crew is experienced. He also said the its diving destinations around the Channel Islands are some of the best available.
“They are a very good crew, they know what they are doing, they have been doing it a long time,” Barber said. “There is a big briefing at the beginning of every charter that goes out before, talking about safety; what you do if this happens; where all the safety equipment is on the boat. It was very, very shocking. This boat is known for their safety, the fact that it was this boat, I’m just speechless.”
Barber also shared pictures of him diving off the Grape Escape, which happened to be the good Samaritan boat that rescued some Conception crew members.
“I’m sure we will come together as a community and get through this together,” said Barber.