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Thread: Safety stops in OW with no line - tips?

 


  1. #21
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    In my experience safety stops are either really easy or really hard. If surfacing alone and or in a situation where rest of your group continues diving below you need to surface at the flag. That is especially true if you are doing a drift dive. Unfortunately currents run in different directions so you have to fight staying with the flag, holding your depth and being pushed in opposite direction by surface current.

    If there is no flag to keep up with then surface interval becomes really interesting. Usually I have time to clip all my gear, turn off the video camera, enjoy schools of tuna swimming about, occasional loggerhead and schools of mackrel. Some of the best surface intervals I have had were in Cozumel where entire group surfaces at end of dive and there is nothing but blue sea all around you.

    But here is my trick to drift dive surface interval.
    I clip myself to the dive flag line and watch my group disappear in completely opposite direction. Since I am overweighted by 4-5 lbs I dump most air out of my bc and start swimming in direction of group below. 3 mins later I surface still clipped to the flag line. My group is about 200ft somewhere up ahead. I pump up my bc with air and start swimming backwards on the surface until boat circles around a while later and picks me up.

    For that reason alone I am less fond of diving at Boynton Beach, FL. There are 4 currents. 1 on reef top north or south. 1 on reef wall north east or south east (usually in opposite direction of top side current). Then there is sideways current at 35-40ft. Last one is top side where surface current pushes you in opposite direction of any current below.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dumpsterDiver View Post
    You do NOT want to be weighted to be neutral with 50 bars in your tank at 6 meters and an empty BC! You want to have a few lbs extra lead to be able to hold down an SMB at depth AND you want to be able to hang neutral at that depth with zero air in your tank, should that become necessary. Diving doesn't have to be a game of seeing who has the least amount of lead.

    It is always better to have a little too much lead, rather than too little. You do NOT want to be in a condition where you will float up the last 3 meters with all the air out of your BC and a nearly empty tank... what happens if you screw up and use the reserve that you were saving (for a screw up) and then some boat is coming toward you or over your head? The LAST thing you want is to be floating up into that kind of situation!. Wearing 2 kilos of extra lead is not going to be a problem when you have a BC on and you can ditch the lead if an emergency warrants it.
    Wow. The SB celebrities are out in force! :p thanks, DD.

    This reflects my earlier thinking where I said I'd rather be a bit overweighted than risk an uncontrolled ascent - even from 5m. OK. I'm going to consider this more. I will always err on the side of caution when it comes to this stuff.

  3. #23
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    Before you practice deploying and using the SMB and reel , one thing you might consider is to use a permanent magic marker on the line, and color in the area on the line between 15 and 20 feet from the surface buoy/safety sausage. When you are under water, work to stay in the colored zone. That way you can work on your buoyancy without having to focus on the depth gauge the entire time, and as some others have mentioned, the depth gauge will likely have some lag in either direction. While glancing at the colored area on the line, you can immediately see if you are rising or decending.
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  4. #24
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    Actually yaric raises a really good point. Im only 60 dives in front of you but even so I have found some safety stops really easy and others for some strange reason Ive yoyo'd 1.5 initially. -Somewhere a few months back I asked advice on how to do a safety stop in ROUGH conditions where I was getting utterly pounded at 5.0m near a reef.
    Something I am reading is you are doing shore dives rather than boat dives. If so other than for practice why bother with an actual safety STOP?
    By that I mean why not just do a slow ascent from 18m following the bottom. Mooch around and go slower once you hit 6.5m-Ie take the last bit of the Ascent really slowly
    Last edited by Frosty; March 5th, 2012 at 04:17 PM.
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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonFrank View Post
    Remember SS's are not required.
    Quote Originally Posted by ben_wilson3301 View Post
    its only a safety stop and not required. So even though its a good idea, you should be fine without it.
    The issue is misleading. Safety stops aren't required for dives above 18m/60ft, or that don't go close to the no-deco limit. They are however, best practice and help reduce the risk of DCS (which you can get, even on a 'perfectly' conducted no-deco dive).

    However, [for PADI divers] safety stops should be planned for any dive below 30m/100ft, or if a dive is calculated to take you within 3 pressure groups of a no-deco limit. Divers should plan to conduct them.. and should maintain that plan once in the water. However, should an emergency, or other risk, arise, the safety stop can be aborted in preference of an immediate ascent. That is not the same as "not required".

    The same principles should be applied to using a dive computer. Depth isn't the critical issue, because multiple dives can quickly stack up the nitrogen in your slower tissues. If I go within 15 minutes of an NDL... I treat the safety stop as a critical component in my dive plan, in respect of the need to add that extra safety margin.

    Let's be honest... a diver shouldn't be going below 18m/60ft unless they can reliably hold a safety stop with reasonable accuracy. Diving above 18m/60ft is more forgiving if buoyancy skills are not reliable.

    It's also worth noting that a 'bad' stop can be worse than no stop at all. Pressure differential is greatest in the shallows... and variation from a 5m stop can significantly impact on bubble formation because of this. I've heard of (directly from a diving chamber) several recreational divers getting bent during open water training dives (<18m). Undoubtedly, there are likely to be other pre-disposing factors (dehydration, hangover, fatigue)... but one common factor was that all these divers were encouraged to 'loop the loop' by their instructor during safety stops. Sadly, that instructor is still teaching in Thailand, despite having bent several of his OW students!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by dumpsterDiver View Post
    You do NOT want to be weighted to be neutral with 50 bars in your tank at 6 meters and an empty BC! You want to have a few lbs extra lead to be able to hold down an SMB at depth AND you want to be able to hang neutral at that depth with zero air in your tank, should that become necessary. Diving doesn't have to be a game of seeing who has the least amount of lead.

    It is always better to have a little too much lead, rather than too little. You do NOT want to be in a condition where you will float up the last 3 meters with all the air out of your BC and a nearly empty tank... what happens if you screw up and use the reserve that you were saving (for a screw up) and then some boat is coming toward you or over your head? The LAST thing you want is to be floating up into that kind of situation!. Wearing 2 kilos of extra lead is not going to be a problem when you have a BC on and you can ditch the lead if an emergency warrants it.
    1) You might want to be weighted neutral with 50bars at 5m with an empty BCD. That is 'sufficient' weighting for your needs. Many divers opt to exceed their minimum 'sufficiency' in weighting. That's a product of poor buoyancy control - but is to be expected with developing divers.

    2) It doesn't take "a few lbs" or "a few kilos" to hold a DSMB upright. 1lb of neutral buoyancy is more than sufficient. If you don't believe me, just tie a 1lb weight to the bottom of your DSMB and see what happens.

    3) Every extra kg of surplus weight adds a litre of air to the diver's BCD. All of that air expands to double its volume between 10m and the surface. 1 litre becomes 2 litres. 5 litres becomes 10 litres etc etc. Each litre of expanded air represents a 1kg positive pull to the surface. Every kg over the minimum represents one extra litre of air that will double in volume as the diver ascends around the stop depth. The less surplus air, then less dramatic buoyancy. It is the expansion of air that screws up most novice divers on ascent, especially in the shallows. Adding "a few kgs" for the hell of it just makes their buoyancy harder to control. It is the single factor that most novice divers struggle with, when they are seen to 'over-correct' between drastic positive and negative buoyancy. It is the single biggest factor that causes uncontrolled ascents for novice divers.

  6. #26
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    Story .. While on one dive I had trouble with buoyancy, it seamed it was all sensitive/touchy , and I was kinda chasing it a bit .. I thought my buoyancy skills had gone rusty between dives
    ... then after cleaning gear I was chagrined to find those 2 "missing" 1lb weights (I put in for wearing a 3mm vest the trip before and forgot were in there) but pleased to find the cause of my buoyancy issue and that I could readily tell the difference of just 2 extra lbs

  7. #27
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    Focus on your breathing ... the biggest reason people yo-yo on safety stops is that they're ignoring that "other BCD" that's built-in. Slow and steady breathing, a horizontal position in the water, and minimal movement are the keys to holding a stop. Think about it like being balanced on a unicycle, or the top of a big ball. Once you establish balance, the less changes ... and the slower those changes occur ... the easier it is to maintain that balance.

    That said, I'm going to bring up another point that's commonly neglected by new divers focusing on safety stops ... namely, what happens after the safety stop is over. The last 5 or 6 meters are the most important time to maintain a slow ascent ... because the closer to the surface you get, the greater the percentage of change in pressure per meter of depth. Take a full half-minute to surface after your safety stop ... minimum. That will do more for your well-being than the stop itself ...

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  8. #28
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    As you dive more your ears will become more sensitive to pressure changes.

    At 5 meters, I can feel the depth. If I go .3 meters deeper, I feel the pressure. I know I need to go back up to 5 meters. If I close my eyes, I can hold at 5 meters by feel.

    I would recommend a Buoyancy speciality course.

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  9. #29
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    You are quite right, that you may well want to do the last bit of your ascent vertical! Especially where there might be boat traffic, this is good practice.

    However, it is quite possible to vent your BC via the inflator hose when you are horizontal, or nearly so. Just a very small deviation in trim will move the air to the top to dump. Of course, using the butt dump/s is good practice as well, in part because it's good for everyone to practice using all the vents the BC has, for the day when one or another is more appropriate.

    You might enjoy the Buoyancy Masterclass essays on THIS site -- they're full of fun exercises to do, to begin to hone that midwater buoyancy control.
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  10. #30
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    Others have already suggested the addition of a "deep" stop or two which can add an extra margin of safety. The most important thing is to improve your buoyancy control skills as much as possible. It isn't always easy doing an open water stop, especially with current. Practice ion an area where you have either a line available or good landmarks (hallow enough water and good enough visibility). Do your stops without using the line, but keep it and/or the landmarks as guides. By the way, after 50 years of diving on my last series of blue water stops, I was blown all the way out of our dive park into the primary boating lane. Not enough visibility and I was over deep water (100-200 ft) so no landmarks! I think given another 50 years I may eventually master this skill!
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