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Changing dive op attitudes to "solo"

Discussion in 'Solo Divers' started by uncfnp, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
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    Some dive op.s specify a maximum depth limit on dives, such as 110 feet or what-have-you, even though some customers may have PADI Deep Diver specialty certification. It would be interesting to know whether PADI would push affiliates to allow solo diving, though given PADI's prior history of opposing solo (reflected in the name they gave their solo course), I doubt it.

    You bring up an interesting point; will PADI offering a 'self-reliant' course (by any other name would it smell as solo?) help drive solo acceptance amongst PADI shops? For that matter, will SDI? And will it mainly be because the shop wants to make money selling the course, or because agencies push for it?

    Richard.
     
  2. danvolker

    danvolker Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
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    While the training is far less rigorous than it was in the 70's...in the 70's I did not hear about many that could not handle it....I think the gene pool interested in diving in those days was the Adventurer gene pool....the same group that in the early 60's, heard about scuba, saw James Bond -- Thunderball...then went out and bought scuba gear and just dove it...and were fine...The kind of people taking up scuba today is the biggest change.

    It is more like school sports where you have the natural athletes that easily join the football team, or basketball team, or whatever, and they become stars quickly. They don't need much, and they know how to train themselves to get better--they are wired this way....But grab some kid off the chess-club, or the AV club, or other nerd farm alternative to sports, and drop them on the varsity football team....and Houston, we have a problem.....no amount of training will make these kids star running backs or Qbacks or good players, period. They are not wired mentally for the hard impacts and denial of pain, they don't want to suffer harder in training on the obstacle course than their friends can. and they don't have the basic coordination. And they are not physically strong or fast enough....

    The dive industry today is pulling from the adult equivalent of all the nerd farms ever imagined, along with all the average person sources ( which would not have been on the competitive teams like Varsity football) .... This group could not handle the tougher training ( easy for the Running back types) of the 70's, and would never sign up for it.

    The dive industry likes to pretend that diving is the same for everyone...It is not. Individuals can have dramatically different off-gassing abilities and dramatically different Oxygen tolerances....Individuals can have radically different abilities to multi-task or to maintain optimum peripheral awareness for buddy and all life around them....Individuals can have dramatically different breathing rates at a given swimming pace, and some individuals could become better divers after one hour long chat, than many instructors with one year of diving behind them( i.e, people that should not be instructing)...

    Put some people in fins for the first time, and they move around like fish...put fins on some others, and they thrash around and go no-where. Sure training can help a little, but there are real differences between divers...just as there are differences between potentials on a Ski slope. Regardless of the instructor, there are many skiers that are NOT going to become expert mogul skiers that can blast down "Look Ma" at Vail... as if it was nothing for them.

    In diving, we have some dive sites with occasional conditions, that get us to dive versions of "Look Ma at Vail"...
    Bigger currents, or waves, or poor vis...huge fish and monster sharks...whatever the challenge, there will be some that don't see it as anything but fun..and there will be some that could not survive it....This goes far beyond training. This comes from the industry thinking that everyone's money is good, and that everyone can be made into a good diver.

    Back to the central issue of the thread.....put 2 adventurer gene(adventurer gene divers also have the critical mental portion needed for diving),AND star football player types, that found diving so easy for them that they wondered why they even needed an instructor.....into rough conditions, 6 foot vis, aND ALL THE BAD STUFF.... and they will handle it easily. This is true as a buddy team that sticks together, because they know how to function on a team, and can easily maintain peripheral awareness of where there buddy is at all times....along with the whole 6th sense thing....and it is true if either of these was doing a solo dive in the same conditions---the real difference being what a strong team can accomplish, versus what a strong individual can accomplish.

    The best excuse for solo...or solo "excursions" from a larger buddy team or group, is going to be spearfishing or video....When your concentration and your mission is going to remove you as a functional buddy, there is no point in pretending to be one--during this period of "the mission" ...and for most recreational depth dives, the functional buddies may not be interested in acting as indentured servants to the spearo or videographer...following at the heels.
    There are divers that can do the spearing or video or still photography, solo, and that will be safer solo, than 95% of all buddy divers....but that is because of the gene pool they came from, and it does not change the fact that there would be situations where the "shooter" would be able to accomplish an even greater challenge, if accompanied by the ideal buddy.


    *** As to my "Look Ma" at Vail reference...this is a tough mogul run that most people considered "good skiers", can NOT ski well. Many ski instructors from mountains all over the country, can not ski Look Ma well. The skiers that can, are wired for it, built and trained for it....and were not manufactured from average skier stocks....I did a quick Youtube search to show this slope...here is one that shows a guy with skills equivalent to a fairly decent skier anywhere else, but on Look Ma, he is way over his head. Most skiers that try Look Ma, either walk down, fall all the way down, or try to traverse back and forth all the way down....a good bump skier, just blasts down.
    [video=youtube;ICOTKKyoxcY]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICOTKKyoxcY&[/video]


    Now go to the right gene pool....real bump skiers....and they are very different --see how:
    [video=youtube;g6vcf_CpMVk]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6vcf_CpMVk&[/video]


    To take this back to diving.....I have a friend that went through GUE fundies as if it was a walk in the park with his grandparents....it was so easy for him, it was humourous....and he was also a fairly new diver.....the issue here, is what he was...He was an elite athlete, AND smart...he was, and is, a lineman for the Miami Dolphins. Ever seen a guy walking down the street in doubles, carry two Gavin scooters ( one for him, one for a friend) and the rest of the gear, and do this like he is carrying about 5 pounds?
    You might think, how coordinated is a lineman going to be? At 6 foot 7, and about 300 pounds, this guy could do ANYTHING that I or Errol could in the water, and do it easily.
    And, learning Fundies was almost the wrong word, because it was so easy for him. I'm sure Errol wants to believe it was because Errol is such a good instructor.....but that's not it...Errol is good, but not that good.

    There is a gene pool, that just finds any kind of diving....EASY.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  3. uncfnp

    uncfnp Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
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    Dan. Interesting and thoughtful post but I have to disagree with most of it. Yes. There is a physical component to diving but I believe the mental aspect is much more important. I think this is even more true of solo. And by mental I mean both attitude and aptitude.
     
    Ana likes this.
  4. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
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    People vary in both mental & physical (& combo.) talents; whether it's writing essays, playing chess, painting or athletic specialties. Some people can be put before a task and 'get it,' and for some, it's cumbersome & miserable even when they're making an effort (if they can figure out how to go about making that effort). Kind of like me & 3 dimensional relationships; having to back a car up between 2 others that are anywhere near close/tight is bad news, and I still think parallel parking vehicles near each other is insane. Yet some people can do these things with much less drama. Gotta have written/drawn directions to get places, too; very bad with oral route directions - the GPS is an incredible advance!

    Richard.
     
  5. danvolker

    danvolker Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
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    I don't know that you and I are disagreeing on this.
    Part of my point, is that in order to have your mind TOTALLY tuned in, and maximally effective for diving, you need to be absolutely comfortable --physically, in the water environment of the dive. A large majority of divers today, will NOT be physically capable of this in many dive conditions. They come from the wrong gene pool for the really demanding dives.

    Have you ever tried to teach someone to dive, that can barely swim? They tend to be so scared that they have a very hard time concentrating on what you are trying to teach them...and learning and performance is terrible...They could be brilliant..they could be genius level...but if they are not comfortable, the connections needed will not occur.

    So if we start with only divers that will find the physical component incredibly easy for them....then we move in to the area of what becomes really important if you want to be a good diver....how your brain works with your surroundings, and with the mission, and with everything that the diver must keep thinking about or have in-mind, throughout the dive.

    So many divers we see on charter boats, can get to a point of "sensory overload", all too easily. If too much starts to happen, they fail to remain connected to inputs from their buddy, or to react properly to each new input from the environment...they are overwhelmed, and they sometimes dont get back to normal until they get out of the water.

    The divers with the right stuff, just don't experience this overload...they just love the dive all the more, and handle it like the good bump skiers. The more they need to do--the more they do, and the faster they do it.

    Peripheral awareness, for someone totally at comfort in the water.... or in conditions that would be extreme for some--where they are still totally in a comfort range---peripheral awareness is still an easy thing to have....they always know where their buddy is, they don't forget to keep track of breathing rate or air supply for them or buddy...and they remain acutely aware of everything around them...and of everything they must do. For those that are being physically challenged by conditions, many become so nervous about the conditions, they begin to concentrate on issues they should not need to concentrate on....and with this overhead, they can't remain as connected as the diver that was totally at ease in the conditions.

    I am saying, you need the whole package for a really challenging dive...for easy conditions, you don't....It is really easy for many skiers to look good on a bunny slope.
    For the really challenging dives, you need the adventurer genes...the elite athlete genes...AND you need your mind to be functional for everything required.
    The general population can not do this. Even if they are smart enough, and trained well enough, without the physical skills, they will not be able to handle the extreme challenges the adventurer divers can handle with ease.


    That being said...I do believe you can MITIGATE for many divers, and with the right physical training, they could handle much more without overload. This would be propulsion skills, fitness for dealing with high currents and emergency speed swimming for as long as needed....techniques for hand over hand on the bottom ( dead rocks and sand) , it would be losing nonsense fins and learning to use fins that can provide torque and speed when needed, or precise control when needed. That means no splits, no slingshots, and none of alot of mass market fins...fins marketed to people so that they don't work too hard..fins that are a tiny little gear--like the gear you ride a bike up a steep hill with.
    There could be skills programs for divers, where power and fitness come into play, and where 20 weeks of training on their own afterwards, turns these divers into much more than they could have ever been before.....and this class and plan could even culminate in some high current training dives....whether extreme tidal flow in a narrow inlet, or some other related environment where the skills can be tested, and the diver can learn that no matter what, they CAN handle it!
     
  6. uncfnp

    uncfnp Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
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    I think you are right Dan. We do mostly agree. I think where I take exception is when you equate the best divers to extreme athletes but I admit I don't have the experience to give a personal opinion, just a theoretical one.

    So, there is always going to be the elite in any activity but that doesn't negate the abilities of us just average folks. I am not and will never be a good athlete despite my being physically active most of my life. I just don't have the physical characteristics necessary for this. I compensate with heart and hard work. And it doesn't take an athlete to have the soul of an adventurer. Would I be able to handle all dive environments? Obviously not to the extent or in the same way as anyone younger or stronger than I. But I don't think that makes me any less of a diver. In a sense I think it makes me more of a thinking diver since I know I will have to think my way out of a problem rather then power through it. Or more ideally, avoid those situations before they occur. And know my limitations, we all have them.
     
  7. danvolker

    danvolker Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
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    And this goes to the mitigation concept.... this Miami Dolphin friend of mine...Nate....He happens to be a really smart guy...he has all the mental tools to become a good diver, and learns like a sponge. As to the physical, it is almost impossible to tax him on a dive. So in a sense, this just gives him a head start on many divers, in that learning starts in instant number one, and there is never a concern that he would not physically be able to handle something--he KNOWS he will always have a solution to anything that happens. The fear just wont happen.

    TAKE a smart diver, with "average physical abilities". We can actually put this diver through physical training, that will make them much more like Nate in the water..they dont have to go and play ball for Miami..they just need to dramatically increase their aerobic and anaerobic fitness, train themselves on more powerful fins and to the point that they can do far more than they could ever have done before--if the need arises. The differences on the football field, are much greater than the physical differences underwater...but differences between the diver like Nate, and the average diver in the water, should be mitigated. Today, nationally in the US, there is pretty much zero attention to mitigating for this fitness disparity, pretty much no thought to making the average diver go through underwater fitness and aerobic training. Pretty much no thought to making the diver be physically "all that they could be".

    And there is also the training for the extreme moment...a kind of thing guys like Nate naturally want to do...but the "average diver" just wont think about...
    Long ago, this was harassment training....today it could be taking the AOW student into the Palm beach Inlet at full tidal rip, with current at about 6 mph, and having them do mask drills, buddy breathing, hand over hand on the rocks and sand on the bottom, navigation, and to get comfortable doing dives in this environment. When you can see no sensory overload is going on any more in this kind of a site....when you get them to a challenging advanced dive site like the Hole in the Wall off Jupiter, a swim through cave 135 feet down, with a stiff current blowing through it, and tons of goliaths and sharks all around....Physically this diver is at an idle....their brains can be 100% on what is going on around them, and what should they be doing. The typical AOW counterpart, without the mitigation training, swims in to the cave, finds the current bowling them over, and finds themself being blown into big rocks, and breathing like a freight train..and now they are worried about air supply, being blown into a shark, and a dozen other worries the diver other diver has no concerns over--because they are at 100% mentally...because physically, they are unchallenged. Much of this is not even about pure fitness..much is about knowing how to hide from currents, and to be able to use them to your advantage. And it's about having lots going on, and for this to be FUN.

    For this reason, I do believe a diver with just average physical skills, that is willing to train them...can become an exceptional diver...they can become an "adventurer diver" and do what the guys in the 60's and 70's took for granted.
     
  8. uncfnp

    uncfnp Solo Diver

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    Location: North Carolina
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    Dan. I think that we will just have to agree to disagree on some of the fine points. I think some of this comes from differing definitions of "exception diver." Yours with a greater emphasis on the physical. And perhaps it comes from our different backgrounds and the fact that I came to diving later in life.
     
    danvolker likes this.
  9. Texasguy

    Texasguy Solo Diver

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    I dove with Explorer T&C in 2014. I had a SDI Solo cert that I took prior just to fit their requirements. I also brought my own pony. They were luke-warm to the idea of letting me soloing, specifically at night time. I hated the night dives, they were pretty much a square pattern around the anchored point. Most of the time it was just sand, while a good reef was like 70 feet away. I was allowed to solo on some of the day dives or break away from the group after a group escort where a DM would show divers around. Thus, I found asking for solo there was like pulling teeth.

    I had ABSOLUTELY a different experience with Juliet liveaboard. I was treated like an adult and no one was against solo dives even if a person did not have a cert. DM would stay on the boat and how you dive is totally up to you, total freedom. I dove sidemount on that trip. Dove solo at night and during day. I would so recommend Juliet over Explorer. Also, Bimini where Juliet went was better than T&C too.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2015
  10. RJP

    RJP Scuba Media & Publications

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    On the other hand, I had no problem solo diving on the T&C Explorer. Day or night.
     

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