Wednesday, August 3, 2016

How to be a Good Dive Buddy

Diving with a buddy is more practical, safe, and fun.  © PADI 2016

Dive buddies are great.  They are someone to travel with, someone to explore with, and someone to create new memories with.  They may be your boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, your kid, your mom or dad, your friend, your co-worker, or someone that you just met!  The purpose of a dive buddy is to make your dives more practical, safe, and fun.  But do you know what it takes to be a good dive buddy? 

Practice your buoyancy © PADI 2016

Mask skills should be practiced often - Image by TauchSport_Steininger via Flickr

1. Stay sharp on your own skills so you can help yourself and your buddy 

Make sure you are up to date with all of your dive knowledge and skills.  Just because you are certified does not mean that you don't have to practice.  Read our blog "Skills every diver should practice."  It is also very important to stay fit for diving.

Know your buddy's equipment © PADI 2016

2. Be familiar with your buddy's equipment

Know how to release your buddy's weights in case of an emergency, and be familiar with your buddy's alternate air source in case you need to use it.  If your buddy has an underwater signaling device to get your attention, make sure you know what to listen for.

Image by Vera Kratochville via Public Domain Pictures

3. Don't pressure your buddy into a dive (s)he is not comfortable doing 

Staying within your training and personal limits will help to keep you safe.  Respect your buddy's limits; they may be different than your own.  Emergencies happen much more often when you dive outside of your training or personal limits.

Pre-dive safety check with your buddy © PADI 2016

4. Do a pre-dive safety check with your buddy before every dive 

Practice good habits to prevent accidents before they happen.  Do a buddy check together, remembering BWRAF.

B - BCD (inflate),
W - Weights (do you have them, are they secured properly, and are they balanced?),
R - Releases (all releases clipped and snug),
A - Air (Do you have a full tank, is it fully open, and can you breathe through both of your second stages?),
F - Final check (Do you have your mask, fins, and any accessories you plan to dive with?  Are conditions reasonable?  Are you both feeling up to it?). 

There are some silly sentences that can help you remember what to check.  Here are a few examples, but feel free to be creative and make up your own:

Image by Ross Little via Flickr
Big White Rabbits Are Fluffy

Image by Leonardo Laporte via Public Domain Images
Beans With Rice And Fish

Image by Yuya Salto via Flickr
Burgers With Relish And Fries

Image via Wikipedia
Blonde Women Really Are Fun

Image by Parafly via Pixabay
Brunette Women Really Are Fun

Image by Loren Javier via Flickr
Bruce Willis Ruins All Films

Once you have made the pre-dive safety check into a habit, it will become quick and easy.  I can't even count how many times I've seen even experienced divers jump into the water without doing a pre-dive safety check.  At the least they look like a fool when they hit the water and they forgot something important.  At the worst it can lead to an emergency.

Descending with buddy © PADI 2016

5. Descend with your buddy 

A good buddy stays at the same level with his/her buddy while descending.  Even if your ears are capable of equalizing rapidly, don't rush down to the bottom.  If your buddy has a problem and needs your help you won't be there to help him/her.  While you're sitting on the bottom waiting for your buddy, you're chugging through your air because you consume more air at depth. You are also absorbing more nitrogen at depth, and wasting no-decompression time while your buddy makes his/her descent.

Stay close to your buddy © PADI 2016

6. Stay with your buddy during the dive 

Though you don't have to hold hands during the dive, you should always be within about 10 feet or less (depending on visibility).  This is to avoid buddy separation, and to be readily available for one another in the event of an out of air emergency.  Work on your buoyancy control, though, so you're not constantly running into one another.  It feels very claustrophobic to be constantly colliding with your buddy.  There is no reason to rush on a dive.  The slower you go, the more you usually see.  Don't make your buddy have to struggle to keep up with you.

Share interesting encounters with your buddy © PADI 2016

7. Share the interesting things you find with your buddy 

One of the most fun things about diving is finding interesting fish and creatures.  Make sure your buddy sees what you are looking at so you can share the experience.  There are many hand signals for fish and creatures, and they are fun to learn.  You can make up your own, too!

Alternate Air Source Ascent © PADI 2016

8. Check your buddy's air 

Check your buddy's air from time to time.  It is important to know how much air your buddy has so you can both get back to the boat or to your exit point with at least 500-700psi of air left.  Avoid running out of air, since it puts both of you in unnecessary danger. 

Safety stop with your buddy © PADI 2016

9. Ascend with your buddy 

At the end of your dive, ascend together with your buddy.  You should both get into the habit of doing a 3 minute safety stop at 15 feet before ascending, and ascending slowly from every dive - no faster than 1 foot per second.  Remember to deflate the expanding air from your BCD's as you ascend so you are always in control and never being buoyed up by your BCD.  As soon as your heads touch the surface, make sure you both inflate your BCD's so you are positively buoyant and not in danger of sinking back down.  Grab onto the line behind the boat if you are boat diving so you don't drift away.

Log your dives with your buddy © PADI 2016

10. Log your dives together & talk about them

Every dive can be a learning experience.  Even though you are certified, you are never finished learning.  Was there anything either of you could have done differently?  Did you stick to your dive plan?  How clear was communication with your buddy?  Are there any skills either of you should work on?  Did you see any new fish or creatures?  Talk to your dive guide, grab a book from your local dive shop, or go online to find out what interesting new creatures you saw.  

The ocean is an amazing place, and is best when shared!  Now you know how to be a great buddy!

Dive buddies © PADI 2016