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Scuba Diving Is a Team Sport

This subject has been written about, talked about and taught for years. When I was being certified I did eight scuba dives in three days with four different scuba trainers, and several different dives. I have seen the dive buddy system work in different ways and all people justify their chosen way. It’s not my intention to take a side but to share my experience and let you and your dive buddy decide what the most comfortable method is for you.

When I was getting scuba certified the trainer had me follow just behind him and being a novice I was comfortable with this method. This method is very common among scuba divers. You have a lead diver and a follower and each one has his role. The scuba trainer turned often to get the “I’m ok” hand signal from me then we would proceed on our adventure. The problem I found as a novice diver is that I was so excited and enjoying the underwater adventure that I lost my trainer. I should say I was certified in a lake and visibility was 15′ to 20′ at the time so when I got to looking around it didn’t take a second and he was gone. No fault of his I must say. We had a dive plan and a good one. I knew exactly what we were doing and where we were going but I didn’t keep my end of the plan. I have seen this happen with the most adept diver as well because of the comfort level they have in themselves. The thought is I can find my way back to the shore, boat or dock. But you won’t make it if you have regulator failure. Some scuba trainers prefer to follow the student and the logic is that I won’t lose the student. Trainers also like to follow the student so they can identify if there is a problem. One problem that might occur with this method is a student making his descent too rapidly or the ascent too rapidly.

There is what is called a side by side method. We did this method after some training just for fun but we weren’t going anywhere just hovering at the bottom and feeding fish. This is also alright just off the docks in Cozumel for a relaxing dive. But with the design of scuba mask the scuba divers are unable to see one another without turning their heads causing the scuba divers to be continually looking to the side to find their dive buddy. This can become tedious on deeper scuba diving hoodies. Some scuba divers prefer this method because they can share the underwater adventure at the same time and the excitement of seeing their first nurse shark together simultaneously.

Here is where choosing your dive buddy very carefully comes into the equation. I went out with another diver for the first time and he was a more experienced scuba diver that I was at the time. We had a plan for depth and bottom time. But not what method of the dive buddy system we would use for this dive. I only knew two and either one was fine with me. I thought I would be following being the less experienced diver. We started our descent side by side the next thing I know I can’t find my buddy. Looking around frantically when I get a tap on the shoulder and it’s my dive buddy up above me. Now in the beginning I said I wasn’t going to take a side but this is unacceptable because I had no chance of seeing where my buddy was located. Being the more experienced diver he thought this would be the best way to keep me in his view. This doesn’t work and is not safe.

Scuba diving is the ultimate team sport and dive buddy is a term to be taken seriously because of the consequences if the divers don’t take it seriously. Scuba diving is safe as long as scuba divers take an extra minute to make it safe. The dive buddy method chosen is only as safe as the team using it. The most enjoyable scuba dive is the one that the whole team makes it safely back to shore.

 

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