Manta Divers, November, 2012 UW Communication
Probably the number one predictor of a successful marriage is good communication skills. The same can be said for diving buddy teams. The difference between a so-so dive and a great one can come down to how well the buddies communicated before, during and after the dive.
Critical to smooth diving, pre-dive communication is especially important when you are diving with someone for the first time. Just as a diver should be in the habit of becoming familiar with a new buddy’s gear, a good diver also reviews common underwater dive signs before hitting the water. Signs for “up” and “down” are fairly universal, but there is more than one convention for signaling “time for safety stop,” the amount of air you have left, or names of creatures. A quick review pre-dive will prevent confusion later.
For really superior underwater communication, it is worthwhile to take an underwater sign language course, such as Sea Signs. This course, a scuba adaptation of American Sign Language, will expand your unspoken vocabulary so you can communicate things like, “look under that rock,” “your tank band is loose,” and “you dropped a weight:” in short, useful phrases that would be difficult to pantomime underwater.
The pre-dive discussion is also the time to decide how you and your buddy will be positioned relative to each other underwater. One diver may want to conserve air by diving shallower than his buddy, and will position himself above his buddy. Conversely, the buddy time may prefer to be side by side to make it easier to stay in contact in low visibility. Knowing where to look for your buddy will save on stress, energy and ultimately, air. Buddies should also discuss whether they want to go through coral swim-throughs and wrecks (when they are open and guided tours).
Underwater photographers can save themselves much frustration if they brief their buddy as to how they want them to behave. Should they be a model, give perspective to photos, or just act as a spotter? For those unused to diving with a photographer, it is important to understand that progress along the reef will be very slow and it will be especially important to carefully maintain good buoyancy so that the bottom is not disturbed. If marine animals are spotted, any approach should be super slow and careful to avoid spooking the animal.
Above all, buddies need to establish the limits of their dive. When will we ascend? When we reach 500psi? When we are within 10 minutes of our NDL? After 50 minutes? What will be our maximum depth? Once the buddies decide to end their dive, they should get close to each other and ascend slowly, completing their safety stop and then making the final ascent to the surface. At the surface, debrief each other and share what worked well and what could be tweaked.
Good predive communication makes for happier underwater partnering, as well as decreased stress for buddies. Making a habit of setting clear plans for dives and reviewing gear and hand signals will set the stage for many good dives. In addition, when buddies can continue that good communication underwater, it can make a good dive a great one.
In other news………
Sea Signs underwater sign language course, November 19 and 28 at 6:30pm. Expand on your ability to communicate underwater. This is a great class to take with your dive buddy or your dive group. If you are already a sea signing diver, you can join us to refresh your skills for only $25.
Are you interested in finding out what it takes to become a divemaster? Manta Divers is having a divemaster information night Tuesday, November 27 at 6:30pm. Manta instructors will discuss the prerequisites, and how to prepare yourself for the course, show you the course materials and lay out the time commitment necessary. This is an important first step towards the goal of becoming a diving professional.
Feeling a little scubacidal? Been dry too long? Sign up for Manta Divers buoyancy clinic. This clinic is for new and experienced divers who want to brush up on their skills (and get wet!) There will be one classroom session, December 4 that will focus on proper weighting and visualization techniques. In addition, we will discuss buoyancy techniques vital for photographers. During the pool session, December 6, we will set up some underwater obstacles and play some games. Photographers are encouraged to bring their cameras and work on their approach to fish, hovering with camera in hand, and other essential skills.
Please note! Due to unforseen circumstances, the shop will be closed November 7 through November 11 and again November 14 through November 16. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Happy Thanksgiving to all or Manta friends. Blessings and good diving to you and your families!