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Fish Rock fatality - South West Rocks, New South Wales

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by DandyDon, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
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    From what I've seen over the years, an intellectual understanding of conditions is not necessarily an indication of how a new diver will react to the conditions when they actually encounter them. Without some introduction to the conditions of say tight spaces, zero viz, and solo, a new diver has no context to make an informed decision to make that dive.

    That would mean that peer pressure was most likely deciding factor. All the training a new diver has reinforces No solo, No overheads, and low viz is an advanced skill best done first with an experienced night diver, and one has more than enough time to think about that in the chimney. Boogyman Effect

    Although I would do the dive in a heartbeat, when I dove with my adult daughter when she was a new diver, I would have never considered the dive. I would have dove the cavern side with her to see her reaction. The bigger point is that I don't want to find out how a diver reacts when we are diving where they (we) probably shouldn't be in the first place.


    Bob
     
    chris kippax likes this.
  2. Dan

    Dan Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Texas
    5,005
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    “...has spat out a regulator”

    I wish there were earlier some type of test to weed out people that would do such a thing before the person got certified and got to such accidents. That is really bad, illogical reaction to panic underwater. Those type of people shouldn’t be divers.
     
  3. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    6,165
    6,027
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    There was, but it would be considered abuse today. Not to mention it would, and did, eliminate a lot of divers that would have eventually learned and be good divers.

    Spitting out a reg is gear rejection caused by panic, in an open water environment and having had decent training the diver would have wound up on the surface thinking about whether to ever dive again. Its a game-changer, but not necessarily a reason to quit diving. The problem is where you find out, in a cave is not the proper place.

    Panic is not necessarily a matter of logic, once panicked there is no logic. Some divers have a lower threshold, but everyone will given the right conditions, I've been close enough to know that I'm not immune.



    Bob
     
  4. Dan

    Dan Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Texas
    5,005
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    Ya, but your reg is your lifeline. Spitting it out when panicking is suicidal reaction, unacceptable behavior for diver.
     
  5. bowlofpetunias

    bowlofpetunias Oh no, not again! Staff Member

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sydney Australia
    12,481
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    I think you hit the nail on the head here Bob! With well over 800 bottom hours I find the chimney not worth bothering with unless necessary to get to the shallow entrance when the currents are running too hard on that side. Nothing to see except perhaps a lobster or occasionally a wobby you want to avoid bumping into. Hubby with over 900 bottom hours is uncomfortable in the chimney still and won't bother doing it.

    I will confess my first dive through it was a trust me dive. I didn't want to look like a wuss subtle peer pressure (everyone does it). The situation was explained clearly but I will admit all the time I was in the chimney I was reminding myself I wouldn't get stuck because I was much smaller than two of our dive friends who had done it before me! I just wanted to be out of it and back to the light zone. Sure I had seen pics, the map, done a fair few night dives, been in "Looking Glass Cave" and had over 200 bottom hours in varied conditions but I was still not really comfortable. I was surprised my buddy who was much more experienced and competent than I was admitted after the dive to be even more uncomfortable than I was. Non of us were putting pressure on anyone else to do the dive but there was that subtle self applied pressure!

    It is a lovely dive site, you can't silt it out, you can't really get lost but it is a cave. It is subject to strong currents around the island. There can be strong upwelling and downwelling currents near the walls around the island (outside the cave). There is a solid bottom at 24 to 30m max. The gutters around the island have great variety of life but can be subject to significant currents as well. It is a magnificent site, I highly recommend it but to experienced divers only.

    You are right anyone can panic, revert to nose breathing, compromise their hold on the mouthpiece, suck in water, feel like they are suffocating and need to get their mouth clear of obstructions. Unfortunately the thing obstructing the airway is what needs to stay there and in blind panic reverting to training and clearing the reg is not always the reaction.

    I will say it again. The most important skill a diver needs to master is the ability to say NO and call a dive before the ship hits the sand!
     
    Marie13 and Bob DBF like this.
  6. huwporter

    huwporter DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Sydney, Australia.
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    Last time I went through the cave, I was in a twinset, going last of a group all in twinsets. When we went in the deep entrance, there were no other divers anywhere in sight so we were going slow and having a proper look around. Half way up the chimney, another group started urgently pushing at my fins - I tucked myself sideways into a crack and waved them on, they swam past at breakneck speed, all haste and uncomfortable body language, basically crawling over another of my buddies as they went, presumably just so they could say they had 'done the cave'. I mean, what is the point?

    I basically vowed then to never go back through unless I could somehow guarantee no other groups of divers would be anywhere around. For myself I was perfectly relaxed and comfortable, with redundant regs and a couple of hours of gas on my back, but the barely-controlled urgency of the other group of divers gave me the willies. I've also never gone through in a single tank and I never would, I think that would be far too anxiety-generating.
     
    Marie13 likes this.
  7. bowlofpetunias

    bowlofpetunias Oh no, not again! Staff Member

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sydney Australia
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    I have done it from deep entry up chimney to shallow entry.. the guide determined the current was running too strong so we went back through the cave down the chimney and exited in the shark gutter. I have never been in a position where someone came past us. You must have hugged the rocks tight to get anyone through. I wouldn't have thought it was possible until you said you experienced it! Still not the place to be with a panicking diver.

    Amazing that the first to explore the cave were free divers! A couple years back some free divers competed the cave.... up to the bubble cave breath...then on to the next bubble cave... breath and out the shallow entrance. Crazy stuff IMHO!
     
    soldsoul4foos likes this.

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