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Never get too complacent
oceanbound - 6/21/2010 11:56 AM
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Category: Educational
Comments: 1
Never get too complacent no matter how many dives you have or how experienced you think you are or even how well you and your dive buddy work together.
My buddy and I went to Venice this past weekend. It was fun but have you ever have one of those days that things keep going wrong? I’m one of those divers who if several things on the surface go wrong, I usually back out of the dive, believing that Karma is trying to tell me something. Unfortunately this wasn’t one of those times. This time nothing went wrong until, unfortunately, underwater. Not major mind you, not something that was one of those "near misses" but was an expensive lesson.
I will say my dive buddy and I have been diving together for over a year and usually log at least 10 dives a month, if not more, so it’s not like either of us were inexperienced and we are usually in tune with each other and know each other’s dive habits.
My buddy and i decided to do a shore dive near Sharkey’s to look for teeth. We checked conditions, did all are buddy checks, brought the dive flag, and brought an extra reel to hook between us if viz wasn’t too good. Got in the water, and eventually we start finding a few teeth.
Viz was not wonderful that day, and us digging in the floor bed for teeth, and swimming along bottom wasn’t helping a lot either. So eventually we got out of each other’s sight. Our usual protocol is that I stay put and my buddy backtracks. He probably never was over 10 feet away but with the silt you could not see much. He found me and both signaled "OK". He went back to his spot and i stayed at mine.
My thought then was that when I get up to him we would attach the reel we brought with us for this case. BUT...he had signaled me to follow him and thought I saw him. I didn’t. I was finding teeth where I was and didn’t see his signal. So when i noticed he was again out of sight, I stayed where I was and continued looking for teeth.
What we think now what happened is that I may have drifted off a bit, as did he. Anyway, he attempted to go back and search for me. viz was really bad by then. We began to use the noise makers and could hear each other. but could not locate each other. I did not notice how long we had been separated but still hearing his noise maker i knew he was ok and still around. Problem was that his noises were getting further apart.
Another thing we had practiced in the past was that when we are uncertain as to where we are (when together), he will do the "pop up" to check on visual. We were only about 15-20 feet of water. My buddy had the dive flag attached to him. So once I realized that his noises were getting further away, I attempted to deploy my safety sausage. I wanted to deploy it before going up due to having heard boats in the area. I was actually never overly concerned because we were not deep, and I could still hear my buddy and knew once I get up I could swim to shore. But the safety sausage would not deploy. (More on that later) While i was working on it, I laid my very new camera down beside me. Eventually, i decided I was just not going to get the thing to deploy so I was going to have to do my own "pop up". By then deciding i would be able to see the float and find him. i came up, he saw me and we both signaled we were "OK". He was already at the shore. I started swimming toward shore. I decided a few minutes into the swim that it would be easier to go underwater to swim to shore.
Once i got to shore, met up with my buddy, who was highly upset, stressed and worried, I assured him i was ok. Of course i got fussed at for my mistakes (I wouldn’t expect less) because he had been very worried and was about to call for assistance before i surfaced. After assuring him i was alright, he asked where the camera was. It was not until then that i realized that i had left the camera where I tried to deploy the sausage. i had the stupid sausage with me though!
We were standing on shore, both a bit upset (me with getting fussed at) and him still stressed from thoughts of having loss me took off our fins and started walking to shore. I kept the regulator near my mouth as I then realized there were still some mild waves. I put my mask and reg back in my mouth and we walked to shore. When we got to shore, i found i had dropped a fin. Looked for it but had no luck.
Missing items: one very expensive camera and housing, one yellow fin, and a mesh bag with sharks teeth in it (buddy dropped while searching for me).
Lessons learned:
1. DIVE YOUR PLAN! had we actually attached the reel and line to each other this entire incident would never had happened.
2. Discuss plans in detail, planning for unexpected problems. Remember your training, not the fact that you and your buddy have dove 100 dives together. Had I remembered the 2 minute rule, I would have surfaced and looked for him instead of waiting. Even if i waited an extra minute or two it would have been better than the 12 minutes he was going thru with the stress of not being able to find me.
3. If there is any surf, don’t take your gear off until you know for sure you can safely get out of water.
4. don’t go back underwater unless discussed this too as buddy was concerned something was wrong when i went back underwater.
5. Be sure your equipment works. Even the things you don’t think you’ll ever need . I had bought that safety sausage new when i started to dive, and it had never been deployed. It appears there was a piece missing which resulted in me not being able to get it deployed. Also need to practice with it. I always assumed i had enough sense to figure out how to deploy it if needed. Wrong thinking. We practice other skills but never practiced using my own.
6. Even DAN’s equipment insurance does not cover loss of equipment while in divers hands or care or loss underwater during a dive. :( But I did have my name on the inside of the housing so maybe some nice honest person will locate it.
We did go back the following day, with reel attached and found some teeth.
But didn’t recover any of the loss items.


oceanbound - 8/10/2010 9:18 AM
I just sold my older canon and repurchased another camera like I lost. Now, I will be sure to always have this one attached to me!!!! and will look into other insurance other than DAN equipment insurance