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The DiveBuddy that WASN’T
DiveGirl55 - 3/29/2010 4:53 PM
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Category: Educational
Comments: 9

I had a recent incident (in Cayman, last Fall) where I met up with a DB on a trip and partnered up with this guy. His certs. were high, dives were recent, he was strong, had just come back from serving in Iraq. He got us lost 3 times and couldn’t find our boat. Finally, he surfaced to find the boat. I stayed on his tail, but the current was too strong, so I went below a few feet and swam towards the boat. I couldn’t see him any longer and was basically left to fend for myself. I was getting tired and the current was carrying me further and further from the boat. Soon, I was fatigued and my PSI was a little under 100. I kept my eye on the boat the entire time, but it was a good 75-90 yards away by now. I never panicked. I told myself: Take a deep breath, inflate your BCD and swim on your back and kick. Unfortunately, it didn’t work- the more I kicked, the more I stayed in the SAME place. Finally, without shame, I signaled by waving, and INSTANTLY two DM’s leapt off the boat and swam towards me! Within seconds, I was being towed back to the boat.

I got back on the boat and found my supposed DB, he wasn’t even concerned about me, nor did he apologize for leaving me behind! I was irate at him, and angry at myself for trusting him. It was at the moment he got us lost 3 times, that I realized: even WITH a buddy, you will ALWAYS have to rely on yourself! The Dive master who saved me came up to me the next day and said " I noticed you sat with your head down on the boat after we rescued you. There is NOTHING to be ashamed of. You did EXACTLY what you should have done. The current was strong, the waves were high. You did EVERYTHING RIGHT! ". I was in tears as he said that, because a year or two ago, I would have DEFINITELY panicked, but I know panic does NOTHING for one’s thinking. So I remained calm, assessed my situation and only after ALL my efforts were exhausted, LITERALLY! Did I call for help and rescue.

I sadly, lost my brand new Suunto compass on a Cali boat trip (something I never even do: dive Cali waters), so sadly, without that, I had no way to find the boat on my own. So I had made the mistake of relying on my DB and HIS compass, which he let me down in every way.

Bottom line: a buddy is good (not for much really!) it is the ultimate dive rule, but it really comes down to being prepped YOURSELF to SAVE YOURSELF! Or heck! Maybe even your useless buddy!


Bruno - 4/22/2010 4:36 PM
One dive buddy will cut your chance of being eaten by a shark by 50%! Always have a dive buddy!
Kemperite - 4/05/2010 6:48 PM

You may encounter these people on a boat and think that you are in good hands by being paired up with people who give the appearance you spoke of.

Bottom line: be prepared to dive every dive on your own whether you are or not. Ensure you are well trained and place an emphasis on real courses with proven information delivered by a competent Instructor who believes in the education rather than just another commission check. The agency from which you receive your training is nowhere near as important as the Instructor. Having an Instructor who puts forth knowledge and helps you learn to enjoy the activity with realistic ideas on safety is the best piece of equipment you can have to properly learn how to use the rest of your gear.

One day I’ll bribe Greg to increase my character limit on these posts. It’s rare for me to get my thoughts put out in 1,000 characters or less.
Kemperite - 4/05/2010 6:47 PM

In reality my buddy is there for fun. If I dive with a buddy then it is someone I know and we are simply adding to the enjoyment of our respective dives. If I don’t have a known person available then I am on my own.

Don’t mistake me for saying that everyone should dive solo. Gone are the days when everyone completes a 6 month course of scuba instruction to cover all the possible scenarios with full scale harassment in the water by their Instructional team. Most agencies now frown upon the hazing of divers by turning off their air supply at depth. Knowledge is gained through continuing education classes – which many people in fact do not take due to a lack of presentation skill from their Instructor or dive shop. Stopping after just a 3 day Open Water class leads to many divers lacking in the skills to even be a buddy, let alone care for themselves. The real issue is that there are Instructors out there who I wouldn’t consider fit to dive solo.
Kemperite - 4/05/2010 6:46 PM

For the nay-sayers who will claim this isn’t true or that waivers have no value, I have a waiver for certified divers outside of class diving which has been prepared for my insurance company by our mutual attorneys. It is a good waiver and it has held up in court for others. If I don’t use it then my policy doesn’t cover me for liability. You dive with me then you sign the waiver.

I am a Solo Diving Instructor Trainer. One of the best concepts we teach in that course is that whether you are alone or with another you are ALWAYS on your own. Every time you go underwater you should be equipped to complete the dive as if you were alone regardless of how many people are in your group/team. Responsible divers carry just the right amount of gear – not everything in the dive shop and not lacking in critical items. A compass, computer, pony bottle, and cutting device are some of the items that should be considered primary gear.
Kemperite - 4/05/2010 6:45 PM

Great blog of your experience. I want to reemphasize what the DM said to you. You did nothing wrong. There is no shame in calling the DM from the boat to come get you. No DM wants to assist someone who doesn’t need it. That being said, when you know you won’t hit the boat for any reason then it’s time to call for help BEFORE it becomes an emergency. From what you’ve written I’d say you went through the steps and you asked for help at the appropriate time. That is the mark of a good diver.

I’m not a fan of the mandatory buddy system for many reasons. For me, I conduct Instructor Trainer courses. As a senior IT, if I were paired randomly with a buddy I instantly become liable for her/him. Before you can be my buddy my insurance company requires you sign a waiver. It also requires that the waiver be signed on land before we get on the boat.
badintexas - 4/01/2010 8:12 AM
Great blog. 
LatitudeAdjustment - 3/30/2010 12:12 PM

I don’t know why they keep preaching the buddy system, I saw an inland DM with hundreds of fresh water dives take a student on both their first ocean dive down current from the boat (also in Cayman). She was in better shape and made it back to the boat, he needed to be picked up and I was pissed because we got recalled and had to blow the safety stop.

Better to be prepared for anything than to rely on a buddy.

As for finding the boat, three of us got turned around on a reef in the Tortugas and lost track of the boat, as we drifted with the current (which if the current hadn’t changed should take us back) we saw two tech divers who we assumed must know where the boat is. We swam parallel to them back to the boat, back on deck they said "thank you" for leading them back to the boat!
steelheadfish - 3/29/2010 10:17 PM
yep every dive should be as though it was a solo dive!!! never rely on anybody!
Nesher - 3/29/2010 8:40 PM
Although it’s true that each of us as divers should be prepared as independent divers at all times.

I am a very strong advocate of having a dive buddy. It’s unfortunate that you had a real-live jerk on your trip. I just hope you won’t lose faith in the team concept or buddy diving.

Losing faith or confidence in the buddy system could greatly diminish your capacity to be a good buddy to someone else as a result of this experience.

I along with many others who read this post will take to heart this lesson. We are really glad that at the end of the day you made it home safe and sound.

Dive Safe always....