Manta Divers May, 2014 The Buddy System
We are another month closer to summer and here at Manta Divers, our open water courses are filling up. I have been phasing in the new revised PADI open water course, (See March 2 blog post) and as I delve deeper into the new materials, I keep finding things that I usually touch on during the open water course, but are explored in more detail in the new course. It really has led to some great discussions.
During a recent classroom session, we got talking about buddy separation procedures. Most people think in terms of a buddy team: two divers together exploring independent of other divers. In the new course, the discussion of buddy teams is expanded to explore the logistics of buddy teams of three and buddy teams operating within a dive group. Since we will soon find ourselves in the relatively low visibility in our local dive spots, I thought this would be a good topic to discuss.
When diving in a group, pairs often can become trios, but if one of the three divers becomes separated from the team, the same procedures apply for three as apply for two. The two divers should search for their buddy for one minute, tracing back on the reciprocal of the compass heading if the lost buddy was following, ascending a bit and looking in all directions for bubbles, banging on their tanks, or signaling with another noise maker. After one minute, the two ascend and complete the 3 minute safety stop, then continue to the surface, hopefully to reunite with the third buddy. The single separated diver will follow these same procedures.
Another scenario to consider is what happens when you and your buddy are diving in a group led by a dive leader and become separated from that group. Remember that the dive leader is responsible for keeping the track of the divers, and each diver is in turn responsible to stay with the group to the best of his ability. If the dive leader notices that some of his charges are missing, he will follow the same procedure as described above: search for one minute, ascend to safety stop and then surface. He will do this with the entire group. Again, one would hope that by the time the group surfaced, they would find the missing buddy team at the surface.
On one of our trips, two divers apparently did not know about these procedures. We were all happily exploring the beautiful reefs in Cozumel in a fairly loose group, when the current changed and caused the visibility to decrease. Two of our divers, not even buddies to each other, became separated from the group. The abandoned buddies drew the attention of the divemaster, who initiated a search, and then after one minute, the remaining divers gathered together for the safety stop and then surfaced. The divers were not at the surface. We waited a bit longer, and when there was no sign of them, we signaled the boat to pick us up and we got on board, officially aborting our dives. By the time we all were again in the boat, we saw the missing divers and went to pick them up. They were bubbling over with tales of a turtle they had pursued and how once they noticed that they were separated from the group, they decided to buddy up with each other and finish their dive. While we were all relieved that they were not truly missing, we were also angry that because of their thoughtlessness, we all got gipped out of a dive. Additionally, this could have ended quite differently for the two, if they had gotten more off course and the boat had been unable to find them.
The buddy separation procedures are there for everyone’s safety, and buddy teams can be two or three divers as well as a group of buddy teams with one leader. Indeed it is a bummer if a dive has to be shortened because of a missing diver, but if you would be that missing diver, you would want everyone to look for you! Follow the procedures and everybody wins.
In Other News……………………
Congratulations to Ken Jeep, Madi Maritato and Lisa Koenes on earning their Advanced Open Water certifications while in Utila with Team Manta.
We have had a wonderful response to our planned tropical trips for 2015. Only 3 spots are left on the live aboard, so get those deposits in soon! The liveaboard is taking us to St. Kitts and Saba April 4-11, 2015. We are also going to Bonaire January 17-24, 2015. We have reserved several two bedroom condos at Buddy dive, each with a full kitchen and a vehicle.
There is still time to get in on the Eurasian Water Milfoil dive on June 14. This is your chance to do something wonderful for the freshwater lakes while enjoying a dive!