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Thread: Sharing air to extend bottom time

 


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    diverrex's Avatar
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    I don't think anyone is preaching this practice. I think most agree it's not a good practice for a DM to follow. But I also don't think it's a black or white, one shoe fits all sizes situation. When two experienced divers have only the option of using an 80, they have made many dives together, they know their sac, etc. why is it a dangerous practice to share air at the beginning of a dive? Many divers practice air sharing as a drill. I think that's a good thing. Why does it become unsafe to share air but maybe do it for 5 - 10 minutes? How is that more unsafe than an air share drill? I don't get the logic, and just because no agency lists this as a normal practice isn't enough of an answer for me.
    Last edited by diverrex; May 26th, 2012 at 01:29 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaMissJude View Post
    The fastest breather lead the dive time...
    Up to the dive operator to make balanced groups whenever it is possible, to fill properly the tanks, and if possible, to have different tank size (price of the tank and location might make it complicated though)...
    I also happened to "exchange" divers with other guides (explained during briefing and agreed with the other guide) and the slowest breathers can enjoy their full one hour...
    The ops I dive with do not manage all their divers based on the LCD and don't seem to have any problem with safely sharing air to extend bottom times. I guess it is something that may need to be considered in choosing a dive op. Is your approach common in the Maldives or are there other ops geared towards more experienced, self-reliant divers?

    While I do understand and mostly agree with the concern about a DM doing this, I don't understand the perceived danger problem with buddy pairs. It is such a basic skill switching out regulators UW. So, are those so concerned with this practice unsure of their own ability to switch regulators or only concerned with the ability of other to perform?
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    LaMissJude's Avatar
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    The different dive centers I worked for in the Maldives always had the same approach regarding air sharing to extend bottom time : air sharing = emergency procedure only. They also had 15L tanks...

    But I can not talk for every dive center in the Maldives

    If you are an experienced, self-reliant diver, coming in the Maldives, it's a good idea to take a bit of time to choose your dive center, as quite a few are dedicated to "vacation divers", or if you have a bit of money, going all private.
    Some islands are strongly diving dedicated.

    Air sharing to extend bottom time if a big "what if". If something goes wrong, this few seconds both divers will need to react might be precious, and instead of one diver in trouble there will be two.

    Using bigger tank and/or working on breathing techniques are also valid solutions, and that, I'm happy to teach if needed.

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    I'm still scratching my head, trying to figure out what horrible thing is going to happen to a buddy pair which is calmly sharing gas on a long hose, swimming along. The worst thing I can think of is that somehow, the reg will get pulled out of the recipient's mouth, in which case he calmly puts his own reg in. We teach regulator remove and retrieve in OW. And if you're diving the setup we have, your backup reg is under your chin (and your own primary is clipped off neatly and very accessible).

    I'd much rather see a buddy pair spend some time sharing gas at the beginning of a dive, than see the same buddy pair face an out of gas emergency three years after their certification class, having never practiced the skill in the meantime . . .
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    OK, I have seen the light. I will no longer "share gas to extend my bottom time" but, to the contrary, only "share gas as a drill" from now on. Of course I may well do it half way through my dive and then "pretend" I'm several hundred feet back in a cave so I'll have to do a HORIZONTAL air sharing exit BUT ONLY AS A DRILL. After doing the drill, which may, of course, last as much as 5 or 10 minutes, I'll CUT THE DRILL, hand the primary back to my buddy, put my primary back into my mouth and continue the dive. BUT I WILL NOT DO THIS FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXTENDING MY BOTTOM TIME. It will be a simulated, air sharing, horizontal, cave exit.

    OK, does that satisfy everyone?
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    The scenario that the "you are going to die" proponents seem to be focusing on is the shared tank going OOA and the confusion of 2 divers going OOA simultaneously resulting in a dangerous situation. Yep, I monitor my SPG until I start sharing gas and the I just ignore it in spite of the plan.

    This is not really about the dangers of sharing air. This is about dive ops and DMs controlling their clients as they see fit as long as it is at no cost to them. No thanks. I'll look for more suitable providers or just avoid those types of destinations entirely. Funny, they are willing to deal with clients who have zero buoyancy control. The option is to turn down the $$$ and that would be dangerous.
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

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    Well I for one have not seen the light at all. Air sharing is taught in the most basic of open water classes. If performing skills taught in basic open water classes, like air sharing, are somehow considered dangerous it is a sad statement about the quality of those classes. The original poster, other than surprise, had no issues with the practice. Apparently this is a very "advanced" skill that can be learned in seconds. I've only had one occasion to use this (a short fill) but would do so again. Maybe the people who are opposed to this can explain the mortal peril is imposes.
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    After having read this thread through a couple of times, I can see where a couple of posters are coming from. I'm still surprised (given the experience of said posters) that they need to share air to extend their bottom time, but I can understand.

    If a buddy-pair practiced this regularly and has the gear configuration, gas calculations, communication skills and discipline to not do it in inappropriate conditions, then I can see its merit. I do not see that kind of diver every month. Having the foresight to communicate to the operator before engaging in air-sharing at depth is important to avoid confusion IMO.

    I still believe however, that staying a bit shallower and slowing down your breathing is the best way to have longer dives.

    It is after all Self-Contained-Underwater-Breathing-Apparatus.

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    Serious question for those who have expressed displeasure with the general practice of air-sharing "for kicks" (let's just call it that). I am NOT talking about the OP's scenario of a DM/Guide sharing for what appears to be the purpose of keeping the group together -- but, to the contrary, the practice some pairs use to equalize their gas (i.e., extending BT of the higher RMV rate diver).

    Again, this is NOT a question of should this be done -- I think you all have expressed your opinions on this.

    BUT, here is the question -- SHOULD all buddy pairs be able to do this? That is, should all buddy pairs be able to reliably and comfortably share air and swim together in a horizontal manner?

    An additional question, SHOULD all buddy pairs practice air sharing on some sort of a regular basis? And if so, in what ways should the practice be done?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Guy View Post
    BUT, here is the question -- SHOULD all buddy pairs be able to do this? That is, should all buddy pairs be able to reliably and comfortably share air and swim together in a horizontal manner?
    In so far as 'skillset' - yes, it should be achievable. The actual skill to 'perform a safe ascent whilst sharing air' should be repeatable whilst diving horizontally (rather than ascending vertically) in the water.

    However, having capability to perform an activity is not, in itself, a credible reason to perform that activity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Guy View Post
    An additional question, SHOULD all buddy pairs practice air sharing on some sort of a regular basis? And if so, in what ways should the practice be done?
    I believe that all core skills should be practiced frequently. A skill is only as good as the last time it was practiced correctly.

    As with an emergency drill, the issue of 'ingrained reaction' is critical. The skill is designed to permit divers to ascend safely to the surface, when OOA/LOA, with the support of their buddy. In that respect, if forms a prime foundation that underpins the whole notion of 'recreational' dive training.

    To properly ingrain air-sharing as an emergency ascent protocol, I believe the following critical skills and mindset are necessary in practice:

    1. Immediate recognition and acceptance of OOA/LOA as an emergency circumstance
    2. Recognition of buddy as a source of air and safe ascent - a preferable resolution to the emergency circumstance.
    3. Swift location and acquisition of the buddy's emergency air source.
    4. Maintenance of firm mutual, physical contact between the buddy and receiver (unless specific long-hose capacity is trained for - even then, mutual physical support can be a critical factor, especially when reaching the surface)
    5. Safe ascent procedures, displaying pro-active planning (actions on surfacing - acquisition of positive buoyancy etc), buoyancy control (oral, if OOA) and ascent speed.
    6. Stress management and emotional control techniques.

    If the practice does not enable those critical attributes, or worse... actively degrades them, then it can be counter-productive. That is one reason why I view casual use of air-sharing, as a non-emergency procedure, to be potentially damaging to emergency response reactions. Whilst comfort in the act of air-sharing is valuable, it should not be at the expense of developing complacency or hesitation in a LOA/OOA situation.

    I say this because I have, on occasion, found myself in low-on-air or out-of-air situations underwater.... sometimes knowingly and, otherwise, avoidably. My only explanation for that is complacency. I have a high tolerance for stress and a high degree of comfort in air deprivation scenarios. I won't bat an eyelid if I find myself sucking fumes from my tank at depth - and that does truly scare me. I have to rationalize the danger I am in, because my comfort level dictates that any sense of urgency or distress will be missing. Of course, it's very beneficial that panic isn't an immediate likelihood, but having an ingrained psychological and physical response to OOA/LOA as an emergency situation is also critical. Too much comfort can be a bad thing.... and it's often the cause of avoidable incidents amongst the experienced diver demographic. The solution, in my opinion, is the clear designation of emergency procedures as automated responses to emergency scenarios.... no ambiguity.

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