Coast Guard rescues two divers off Atlantic Beach

Even 50 feet underwater, a pair of scuba divers exploring a wreck eight miles off Atlantic Beach heard the loud pop.

Only later did they find the frayed, broken end of their boat’s anchor line. Divers Michael Sparks and Samuel Ragsdale shot to the ocean’s surface to see the 17-foot Seadoo riding a wave three miles away.

With the drifting boat went the divers’ cellphones and the boat’s radio beacon and marine radio.

“At this point the gravity of our situation really hit me,” Sparks said later. “We decided to drop our dive weights because they prevented us from floating properly.”

Sparks and Ragsdale are alive to recount the July 6 adventure for a couple of reasons. Both are in the Coast Guard, stationed at Fort Macon. And they had told Ragsdale’s roommate, and other colleagues, the coordinates of their dive and their plan to return by dark.

As night fell and swells began to crash over their heads, the divers clung to a three-foot “safety sausage,” an orange, tubular device that could help them be spotted in the water, the Coast Guard reported in an account of the event.

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