LOW VIZ TIPS
Diving in Low Visability situations, a few tips:
(Don’t forget, I DIVE BLACKWATER)
Here’s your diver’s wish list of stuff to have and use in low viz dives:
1) COMPASS (standard) or should be!
2) LINE REEL ( 200’ at least)
3) SURFACE SIGNALLING DEVICES (Sea Me Sausage, Whistle, Dive Alert(works of your tank pressure) , even a mirror for signaling. (AIR HORN, if you can fit in your BC pocket, you can never be too safe, LOL)
4) BUDDY LINE (a short length of rope with loops at the ends for your hand), the under sea version of an idiot string for keys!!
5) LIGHTS (when cave diving I take 4), cyalume sticks, head lamps (I’m not kidding).
6) KNIVES OR CUTTING SHEARS ( lines, fishing lines,kelp, idiot’s fishing using metal line and not monofilament and of course not seeing the Diver down flag!!).
PLAN THE DIVE (Not like my friend, who plans the dive, dives the wreck, wrecks the plan!) You know who you are Steve!! :)
Agree on the simplest route with your buddy if conditions are less than ideal, even if they are for newbies. Like a simple out and back from a platform or down line. I like the KISS method (keep it simple stupid).Most divers aren’t known for their judgment, look at me!! LOL
Review what you are going to do if you become separated. Really important on wrecks and caves. Talk to each other folks, just because you’ve been buddies for 20 years and know when each other changes underwear, TALK TO EACH OTHER!!
Who is going to be the navigator and who’s "going along for the ride".
ALWAYS HAVE AN ALTERNATE EXIT!!
YOU HAVE TO GET A VISUAL:
In a weighless environment visual clues are neccessary to maintain your sense of direction and balance, this helps prevent Vertigo. And helps with your up/down movements. When diving in low viz you should conserve your visual clues and let your instruments help you out. Another thing to do to help with Vertigo is to let a bit of water in your mask and use the water line as referance. Focusing on your bubbles is another great method.
USE A LINE:
Using your down line gives you a sense of stability as you descend and ascend.
DESCEND HEAD’S UP!!:
When you can’t see much to begin with you rely more on your inner ear’s sense of balance. Don’t go screwing that up by turning yourself upside down, this isn’t the air in the dry suit legs lesson, that one is coming!!
DON’T HIT THE BOTTOM!!:
You’ll likely hit silt and stir it up making a less than perfect viz situation worse than it is. Instead stop 4-6 from the bottom, you will be able to make it out at this level, and if you know the depth at bottom through chart’s or previous dive’s, use your gauge.
Near the bottom hang on to the down line, let your eyes get adjusted to the ambient light, check your gauges, try your light, does it help or just make things worse? And a little known fact that when diving low viz conditions, USE A BLACK SKIRTTED MASK!! WHY?? IT DIRECT"S THE AVAILABLE AMBIENT LIGHT RIGHT TO YOUR EYES WHERE YOU NEED IT MOST!! That is an old PSD and Cave diver trick.
TRUST YOUR COMPASS:
If you’re thinking, "that can’t be right, I know I’ve been going in a straight line", check that the compass os level and the card is swinging freely, if it is, trust your compass, not your sense of direction.
It’s hard to stay close to the bottom but far enough away to not kick up silt. Try finning side-to-side so you don’t force the water towards the bottom. Or better yet, adopt a cave diver’s posture: head slightly down, feet slightly up!! Lamar Hires of DiveRite taught me that, IT WORK’S!!
IN A SILT OUT FREEZE!!:
That’s right, freeze and hang motionless, wait for the silt to settle down.
START BACK UP EARLY:
SH_T HAPPENS, and it is harder to deal with when you can’t see, to figure in an entanglement problem add about 500 psi to the planned psi’s you were going to go back with. AIR is CHEAP, your life isn’t!!
ASCEND ON THE LINE!!:
Lowered viz makes it harder to judge your rate of ascent so use your line. Even a little bit of anxiety can trigger the "get me outta here/ flight or fight response" and you don’t want that!! Following the line up gives you a stable and very reassuring reference that "YES, I’M GOING UP!!".
HAPPY DIVING!! (And by this I don’t mean narced!!)