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Safety stops in OW with no line - tips?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Mantra, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. Mantra

    Mantra Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Brisbane Australia
    Hi all!

    I've been lurking here for a few weeks and loving it. Thanks for a great community!

    I have a question regarding safety stops. My wife and I are brand new OW certified, and are just looking to dive as much as we can for now to get our skills and comfort levels up.

    We are lucky to have a lot of great, tropical diving here in Queensland, so finding nice spots is easy :) We are just back from a 3 day trip to Tangalooma resort where we put three OW dives in.

    So my question - does anyone have any tips or hints about maintaining a 5metre safety stop in open water, in current, with no line to ascend along?

    At the moment, the best thought we can come up with is to remain close, to keep neutral (we are working hard on buoyancy, which is no problem at depth but harder for us at 5m or shallower if there is a surge) and to watch our computers and adjust accordingly.

    How much does it matter if you bob up and down a bit? I'm looking at a dive profile from a dive we just did and we are swinging between 4 and 6 meters like yo yos during a 3 minute 5 metre stop. With developing buoyancy skills I'm concerned about the possibility of champagne corking.

    I much prefer coming up a line, but this won't always be possible where we dive (a lot of current, etc and often drift type dives rather than same entry/exit). I feel we need these skills to be really comfortable in local conditions. We just had an incident (no problems) where this was rammed home. I will elaborate if anyone interested, but this is long enough already! Any tips are appreciated.
    beaverdivers likes this.
  2. rk288

    rk288 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: East Aurora, NY
    One thing we do is to spend a few minutes at 1/2 maximum depth. Then if we know there is surge or current we stage a gradual ascent trying to accomodate 3 minutes at 5m. Haven't had any problems using these rules. In fact on a liveaboard that sometimes really swung in the wind I checked my depth during my safety stop and I was flying sideways at 3 ft (1m)...what a cool ride!!!
    Mantra likes this.
  3. Mantra

    Mantra Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Brisbane Australia
    Thanks, rk! A few minutes at half depth sounds like something useful to consider. Thanks for that tip! May I ask please - when you are doing that last stop, what does 'trying to accommodate' mean? It reads to me like maybe this is an imprecise thing and you get some vertical movement too? What are you doing at this point to maintain the stop? I'm trying to get a feel for what is normal, I guess, so my expectations and technique are in the right place. Thanks, mate!
  4. Scuba_Jenny

    Scuba_Jenny Buoyancy Babe ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Hollywood, Florida
    Sometimes it's easier to shoot a SMB at the safety stop. Then you have the reel to hang on to, giving you some guidance. But since you are newer divers, getting your buoyancy under control is probably more important, then the safety stop won't be as much as an issue.

    Converting from meters to feet, our safety stop is at 15'. I try to hold it a little bit deeper, in the 17-18' foot range, rather be a little deep, and it's easier to hold than at the 12-13' depths.
    D_B and Mantra like this.
  5. Scuba_Noob

    Scuba_Noob Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Victoria, BC
    I think generally anything from 15-20ft is fine, as long as you don't fluctuate excessively (e.g., over a foot a second). Even if you hit a bit under 15ft, that's still okay and you can adjust. Just keep an eye on your gauges the entire time and wait. Look every few seconds at your buddy to make sure your buddy is doing fine if you're worried about her.
    gtxl1200 and Mantra like this.
  6. smellzlikefish

    smellzlikefish Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Oahu, Hawaii
    As an add-on to the buoyancy comments, get yourself properly weighted. This means you can empty your bladder at 15 feet with 500 psi and be completely neutral, making safety stops a piece of cake. If you are fresh out of OW, you ar probably severely overweighted. I'm close enough to neutral that I use my BC on the suface only. When under, I don't inflate the BC at all. I'll even go without a BC on dives that don't require a surface swim.
    D_B and Mantra like this.
  7. diveprof

    diveprof Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives:
    Location: Evans, GA (underwater of course)
    Good suggestions thus far. If surfacing away from the boat a SMB is definitely a good investment. Other tips,
    1. Maintain neutral bouyancy throughout the ascent. As you ascend, you will need to dump air to achieve this. Stop at 20' and verify that you are neutral before proceeding to 15'. No need to rush the last 30' of ascent.
    2. If in a heavy suit or rough seas, a stop between 20 and 15' works -computers give credit between 20-15' (and sometimes 10') for safety stops.
    3. If you have dove deep or multiple dives during the day - 5 minute safety stop is a good idea. A safety stop is part of the dive.Enjoy it. Observe the marine life in this layer.
    n2ogto, Mantra and D_B like this.
  8. D_B

    D_B Biilápache, Dii Shodah? ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: San Diego, Ca.
    one trick to holding a depth I learned when trying to deploy a SMB from about 5m , was to look at the particulate matter in the water , it would give me instantaneous feedback on whether I was rising or falling in the water column and I could just vary my breathing to hold a depth.. your depth gage is too slow to react and you end up chasing it
    simskiscuba and Mantra like this.
  9. beaverdivers

    beaverdivers ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    Stop @ about 10 meters/33' for about a minute, dump all the air out of your B.C., swim up to about 7 meters/25', stop for about 3 mins., then go up to 5 meters/15' for about 5 minutes.

    Then spend as much time as you can at that depth until your air gets down to 35 bar/500 PSI ( make sure your boat is right above you ). The more time, the better you will get. At this point you should not be sinking or floating, No air in the B.C., now you have the proper weight. If you can have a DM help with giving or taking wt, then it makes it easier.

    As you work on your buoyancy, use your ears to detect your depth. Use your lungs to fine tune your buoyancy.

    Then with the DM spotting you on the surface and with a flag/SMB or boat, touch the surface with your fingers without breaking the surface and try and hold it!
    RMAdventure and Mantra like this.
  10. Mantra

    Mantra Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Brisbane Australia
    Thanks all. Just so you know, I'm listening carefully. I don't want to flood the thread with follow up questions just yet. Yeah, I think we are still overweighted a little - diving with less than during OW, but needing air in the bcd to be neutral. We are certainly practicing staying neutral on descent and ascent, but our gear isn't dialed in yet. Weighting for neutral @ 5m/15ft at the end of the dive sounds like a great goal.

    I guess at the moment while getting this stuff right I'm wary of underweighting as I'd rather have to fin to rise as opposed to being out of control on an ascent. Happy to have this logic questioned though. We had a great instructor and course (Mark at Bali Scuba in Sanur, for the record) but the real learning is just beginning now. I'm loving that about it actually :) Thanks all for helping me get better at this.
    beaverdivers likes this.

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