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How Did You Go Solo?

Discussion in 'Solo Divers' started by DBPacific, Jul 23, 2019.

  1. DBPacific

    DBPacific Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Oregon, USA
    Hello all,

    I hope I'm not transgressing in this section of the forum since I've never dove solo, but I'm curious as to how you all went solo? How did you train, who with, what skills were emphasized and actually set you apart from buddy divers (beyond complete redundancy and familiarity with gear/gear removal and replacement)? I'm a pretty inexperienced diver, less than 100 under my weight belt, but I have no dive buddies outside of work and at work, our dives are more or less self-sufficient. My buddy and I are just within eyesight of each other, each working on data collection and measurements, and we're just in our own separate worlds with the understanding that once he reaches the agreed upon air reserve, we surface. He is one of only two buddies I've had that I actually felt okay with - one diver at work actually scares me because of her ability to reduce a 20ft vis day into 0ft vis and she doesn't even bother to keep her buddy in visual range. I'd like to practice drills and neutral buoyancy outside of work but all of my work buddies are otherwise occupied or have no interest in practicing drills, plus once the school year starts again everyone's schedules will be filled with work and classes and I can't imagine being dry for an entire academic year until someone might be free to dive. Everyone I know in person has a very poor/angry attitude towards solo diving, so I'm worried to ask them. All I really want is to practice so even with a buddy who makes me blind I'm self-sufficient, and I can just pack up, grab tanks, and dive when I need to destress from physics. Any advice, beyond that I shouldn't ramble so much?
    happy-diver likes this.
  2. jlcnuke

    jlcnuke Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: acworth ga
    I did my first "solo" dives on a liveaboard trip. My buddy was not very good (I often go solo on such trips and get paired up, this time it was with a below average air user and overall diver). I'd dived with the company and knew the crew, so when I said I'd "drop him off at the boat, then hang around waiting for another pair to join up with" they let me. Granted, this was in shallow water and they were confident in my abilities so they ignored that I was "technically" diving alone for a few minutes. The peace, lack of having to "watch out for anyone else", etc, were all things I thoroughly enjoyed, if even only for a few minutes each dive before I'd buddy up with someone else.

    So, I decided I wanted to explore that side of diving and earlier this year I got my PADI Self-Reliant diver certification. The course taught gas management, self-rescue, and dive planning as the most important things (imo), while obviously discussing and going over (including practice/demonstration) being able to carry and utilize redundant gear safely, including communication equipment. Funny enough, getting practice on the "boring stuff" was one of the main reasons I wanted to get the cert, but I haven't done that much yet. I really need to refocus on that over the next couple months. So thanks for reminding me of that.

    I've since done about 6 solo dives and plan to do a lot more. While I greatly enjoy the freedom to just go "do what I want and not have to worry about others", I still do enjoy diving with friends and sharing those experiences too. The whole "get to just dive" thing is very pleasurable though. I'm sure at some point I'll likely move towards doing solo dives more frequently, but I have built a network of a few local divers that I'm friends with and enjoy diving with.
    BlueTrin, happy-diver and txgoose like this.
  3. happy-diver

    happy-diver Skindiver Just feelin it

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: same ocean as you
    Dude welcome 100 dives is plenty you are a diver so make a decision and go diving

    I started solo here, my first dives


    trained myself with no redundancy and never dived with anyone
    and will finish diving solo somewhere hopefully as majestic
    only when they pull that tank from my cold dead body
    and I'm one of the most responsible divers I know

    how many people have you met that judge what you can do by what they can't

    perhaps a second amendment for solo diving

    You know, a few years later when I started doing epic dives there again I actually moved in
    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
  4. Pao

    Pao Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Manila, Philippines
    Did it "illegally" for some time and the finally got the proper cert (SDI). I started by entering the water with a group and telling them beforehand that I will be going my own merry way and that I'd joint them after so and so minutes during the safety stop. Then I started striking out on my own doing my dives in sidemount with 2 tanks for redundancy. I got my recreational solo cert in a roundabout way since I got it after having been tech certified for some time.
    happy-diver likes this.
  5. diversteve

    diversteve always tired Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Probably on my first LOB - my buddy got a reverse block and I didn't want to waste the day.

    I did keep the boat overhead for the first couple of times and now I don't exceed 50-60' as I feel I can do a CESA from that depth safely - I've practiced.

    Both I and regular buddy shoot video so we're mostly buddies on board anyway. We generally know where the other is since we dive in clear water and can see the others bubbles.
    happy-diver likes this.
  6. mafi

    mafi ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
    Without cert, maybe I will do it with my agency (SDI) when I go on a trip where the operator would require it.

    Why? My GF gets cold fast (we live in Denmark) so she often skips second/third dive.

    When? Around my 120th dive. At that time, already DM / Cave / Helitrox / Multistage Sidemount certified.

    Always diving fully redundant (sidemount, backup mask, lights, an everything just as if I am doing a cave dive).
    happy-diver likes this.
  7. AfterDark

    AfterDark Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Rhode Island, USA
    During the 1960's and 1970's there were very few divers here in NE at least that were my age at the time. I was almost forced into solo for lack of any other divers. I had one reliable buddy but he wasn't quite as hardy as I was and declined often enough that I decided to take matters into my own hands. Before I could do a actual sport dive solo I was approached the sportsmen's club my father belonged to and asked if I could use my gear and set up markers for the beach to keep boats out. My buddy wasn't interested so I did it alone. After that I just started going solo, no redundancy because I couldn't afford any other gear. After a while I began toting 2 knives one on a lanyard.
    I dove solo whenever my buddy said no I can't. I did hook up with the Bay State Frogmen a dive club made up of mostly ex-navy and commercial divers, for a few years. Now that was a learning experience for a 18 year old!

    During 1980something I ran into 2 other divers where I was working. We dove often but because we were all diving solo prior we dove same ocean buddy diving so it was still somewhat solo. These days I've got all the redundancy I need and 50+ years of experience to back me up. Solo diving has been very good to me.
  8. uncfnp

    uncfnp Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    I just sort of drifted into it. I found that my buddy’s attention was very difficult to get if he wasn’t looking directly at me. Then we started lobster diving which totally blew the buddy system and we were smart enough to recognize this. We decided to get Solo certified and to go with SDI since their course acknowledged solo and it was my understanding at the time that it was more widely accepted.

    For me the biggest gear change was gas redundancy and for this I chose a slung 13 cf pony.

    But gear isn’t the most important factor, its attitude and mindset. A Solo diver thinks differently then a buddy diver. They know they are on their own and are able to handle the unexpected calmly. And have the skills to deal with it independently.

    So the most important factors to me

    Redundant gas, either a pony or CESA depending and depth and dive plan
    Ability to stay calm under stress
    Skill set to handle the unexpected
    Being comfortable with no expectation of assistance if things go south
    Acceptance that if something does happen beyond your experience or skills, or a health issue, its on you.
  9. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    For me, it just happened.

    Of course, like many, I had a few brief exposures to solo diving while finishing off a tank below the boat or something similar. Off and on, I dived with the same operator in Key Largo. I was usually by myself on these trips and was paired with an instabuddy. One day, about 15 years ago, a DM/mate who I had gotten to know well, asked me if I would like to dive by myself. I took advantage of the opportunity and it was absolutely liberating. Previously, I had nervously watched over my assigned buddy for the day, often worrying about their diving skill, judgment, gas consumption, or, just where they were. For the next several years I generally dived solo on my visits to Key Largo. Eventually, I moved north and did most of my diving in SE FL. After getting to know the operators, I was allowed to dive solo with them.

    It was not until about 6 years ago that I finally got my SDI Solo Diver certification. This has allowed me to dive solo with operators who allow solo diving with certification, who do not know me. This has expanded my dive freedom significantly. So....now I have about 600 solo dives, nearly a third of all of my dives. This is the right diving for me, I would not change a thing.
  10. AdivingBel

    AdivingBel Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Missouri
    I started solo diving because I wanted to dive more often than my wife while traveling on our own to shore diving locales. I enjoy the solitude and quite frankly, it's the only time I get to dive my tank (except for Coz, but I've found an exceptional situation there :)).

    I also enjoy buddy diving whether it's with my wife, friends on a group trip, or insta-buddies. I've dived a lot with insta-buddies, had many enjoyable dives, and met many interesting people. As long as the diving is relatively benign and "buddying-up" is approached properly (there is a skill to it), IMHO, it's nothing to shy away from and it's been integral to my dive experience.

    Follow whatever protocols you need and take whatever gear makes you comfortable for whatever type of diving you're doing. It's about having fun and that's hard to do if you're not comfy. It's all just tools in your diving toolkit. All IMHO, YMMV.

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