Manta Divers, June, 2015 Solo Diver
It’s finally June! Hope you’ve pulled out all of your gear, inspected it and/or got the necessary maintenance done to ensure you are ready for the coming dive season. If you have not already checked out the calendar page, you will want to coordinate with your favorite dive shop for some fun diving this summer! As I’ve mentioned often, the best divers are those who dive the most and continually expand their knowledge of diving by taking specialty classes. Manta Divers’ summer is already packed with many continuing education courses, so think about joining us!
One course that I had the pleasure of teaching recently is Solo Diver. Admittedly, it is generally more fun to dive with a buddy, but there are circumstances in which diving alone may be necessary or better. In addition, the skills that are taught in the Solo Diver course, such as more detailed dive planning, air management, underwater navigation and use of a pony bottle, will serve the student even if he never actually dives alone.
In order to start the course, the student must have the Advanced Open Water certification and a considerable amount of diving experience in various dive environments. By that I mean a minimum of 100 logged dives, accumulated over 1-2 years, with documentation that shows those dives were in various environments and conditions. Specialty course certifications are also useful to show the diver’s experience level. Superior navigation skills are a must, so the Underwater Navigator certification is recommended. The diver must also be aware of his limitations, including which dives he would not attempt as a solo dive.
During this course, the diver will gain a deeper understanding of his gear, dive planning, emergency response, and navigation. This will lead to increased confidence and comfort moving toward his actual solo dive. In order to plan a solo dive, the diver must know how much air he will need. Therefore, one of the first things we teach is how to calculate surface air consumption. Surface air consumption is the amount of air a person consumes per minute at the surface in calm conditions. This is simple if you have an air integrated dive computer, as most software calculates this automatically, but if not, you may have to pull out a calculator! This bit of information is then corrected for the planned dive depth and a contingency cushion for unexpected occurrences and environmental conditions is added. The total air needed is then plugged into your dive plan. Since the solo diver has no room for error, the dive plan is necessarily rigid and the diver must adhere to strict timing and depth control for the actual dive.
Solo divers need to have the ability to respond to emergencies such as a free flow, out of air, entanglement, etc., so they are equipped with and proficient in the use of, cutting instruments, lights, surface markers and, of course, a redundant air system. With no buddy to serve as back up, the Solo diver must be able to navigate both by compass and natural navigational techniques. They will figure how to measure distance by fin kicks, time and breath cycles.
The Solo Diver course is very demanding, but the rewards are great: more confidence, increased safety, (with and without a buddy) and the knowledge that you are equipped with the tools and composure to deal with problems that might occur. This is a great course for the diver with a lot of experience who would like to push his personal envelope, as well as the diver who is the most experienced in his group. Right or wrong, your buddies may at times use you as a crutch and having the knowledge from the solo diver course will ensure you are prepared for whatever situations arise.
In Other News…………………………….
Manta Divers is pleased to announce our trips for 2016. First, we are heading to Grenada Feb. 20-27, 2016. We will stay at True Blue Bay and dive with Aquanauts Grenada. Grenada is known for its rums, spices, and of course diving! Two of Grenada’s signature dives are the Bianca C, a cruise ship that sunk in 1961, and the Underwater Sculpture Park. Belize is our destination for the spring. Leaving March 27 and returning April 2, we will enjoy a week of diving and cultural experiences at Ramon’s Village. Hope you will join us!
There are 3 spots left on the Munising Trip, August 6-9. This is your chance to dive the clean, clear waters of Lake Superior and get up close to some of her storied wrecks. We plan to caravan up there and have accommodations reserved in Munising. Call the shop for details.
Rescue Diver open water skills and scenario pracitce are scheduled for July 11 & 12. If youare are still interested in this course, you can complete the classroom portion online, then sign up for the open water part. Current Emergency First Response (or qualifying certifcation) is still a prerequisite for the course.