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If you dive alone, you die alone ...

Discussion in 'Solo Divers' started by BCSGratefulDiver, Sep 11, 2016.

  1. BCSGratefulDiver

    BCSGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: On the Fun Side of Trump's Wall
    This is a refrain I heard more than once on a recent trip, while getting castigated for diving to 75 feet alone in crystal clear, benign conditions using independent doubles. Never mind that there were people zipping around on scooters on single tanks, 100 feet from their "buddy" (because what the heck, they could still see each other), or there were guys on rebreathers diving inside wrecks below 200 feet and losing sight of their "buddy", as each went their own way while exploring the holds ... that was OK with the dive op, because they went into the water together, and therefore they were somehow "safe".

    It's horse manure ... people don't die from diving alone. They die from poor planning, bad decisions, inadequate preparation, or simply not having the chops they think they have when something unexpected happens and they suddenly find out they're not equipped to deal with it.

    It'd be different if the agencies that promote this sort of nonsense would actually train people how to dive with a buddy, rather than simply telling them that they're supposed to. I see too many examples, regularly, of people who know the slogans, but have completely missed the concept ... even, lately, among some who have trained with the so-called "team" diving agencies.

    Diving with a buddy won't remediate bad decision making, insufficient technique, or a deficiency in awareness skills. It won't prevent people from doing stupid things, or pushing their limits beyond a point where they can deal with what should be a routine problem. Buddies can often be the source of stress during a dive ... and underwater, stress is not your friend.

    I really wish, sometimes, that the dive ops with the "no solo" policies would come to their senses and understand that a properly skilled and equipped solo diver is, in many instances, safer than the guy who's out there with a clueless dive buddy ... or one who's so distracted by their camera that they neglect to look around every once in a while ... and nowadays, pretty much every vacation diver carries a camera, which makes both them and their dive buddies, in many cases, unsuspecting and ill-prepared solo divers.

    Slogans like the one in the title serve a purpose for new divers ... they help them remember important concepts, assuming that the concept was learned at the same time the slogan was. But after a while I think they sometimes do more harm than good. Enforcing policies out of a blind adherence to a slogan often result in less safe conditions than the ones the people enforcing those policies think they're trying to prevent.

    I had a great time on the trip ... but if there's one thing that would prevent me from using that dive op again, it's their no-solo diving policy. That, and having to listen to some dive guide spouting silly slogans he really doesn't understand ...

    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
  2. ScubaGypsy

    ScubaGypsy Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Aquidneck Island, Rhode Island (The 'Ocean State')
    I feel your frustrations, particularly with the Florida State Parks no-solo diving policies.
    kelemvor and Imbodie like this.
  3. RyanT

    RyanT Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Maryland
    I have to disagree with you on this one. Having a buddy provides the one piece of "equipment" that you can't bring with you...the redundant brain. A good buddy can provide additional checks and spot problems that you may not be able to see yourself. A good buddy can provide an additional hand or offer a solution in increased task loading situations.

    With that said, I actually agree with your point. I was recently chastised for letting my insta-buddy go to the surface when he ran low on air. I remained down on the reef in 30' of warm clear water, while I watched a DM lead a group of 6 flailing newbies. I was pretty confident that I was less of a liability risk to the dive op than the flailing group.

    I personally enjoy solo diving and the key word in my comment above "good buddy." A dialed-in buddy team is a thing of beauty, but in my experience, many buddy teams fall near the other end of the spectrum. I have no doubt that an experienced, competent solo diver is safer than many buddy systems. Like you, I wish more dive ops were open to solo diving.
    FiddlerOnTheRoof likes this.
  4. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    Just to be clear, Bob means solo diving, not diving without a buddy. One involves skills, equipment, and training. The other requires a redundant brain to be safe.
    Schwob, adurso, jrltenn and 13 others like this.
  5. Patoux01

    Patoux01 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Geneva
    If you dive with a buddy, you die with a buddy... I guess at least you might take someone with you on your last trip, isn't that nice?
  6. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    When we drive down the road, we could, in theory, have a heart attack, new-onset seizure or other serious mishap. In theory, if a 'drive buddy' were present, paying attention and ready to intervene if we lost control of the vehicle, that person might reduce the odds of serious injury or driver fatality.

    And yet, most drivers drive alone, or with one or more passengers, not a 'co-pilot.'

    A good, compatible buddy team are be a serious asset in diving, but I wonder how many pairs consist of a capable diver + a passenger? Of same day, same ocean 'buddies?'

    You can die on a shallow solo dive in benign conditions, but what are the odds? Are you willing to play those odds to have a good time? If not, how does the expected risk compare to other things you do alone?

  7. mdb

    mdb ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    I have been diving for 45 years. Most of the time I dive solo. It is peaceful, calm. relaxing and, IMHO, very safe. if the conditions seem bad I simply end the dive.
  8. Brandon

    Brandon Shop Independent Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Alaska
    I've heard it locally too. Same instructor spouting it actually tried reporting me to a training agency for solo diving, in an attempt to have my tech certs pulled. Short version of the story: they failed.

    I've been solo diving since 2002. I prefer to dive with a competent and capable buddy, but solo diving remains a tool I have in my belt. On some dives, I'd argue that (for me) it's the right tool for the job. And sometimes (due to buddy availability), it's the only tool I happen to have at the time. If I can still accomplish the task 'safely', and to a high standard, why not use it?


    northernone and Nemrod like this.
  9. DevonDiver

    DevonDiver N/A

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Subic Bay, Philippines
    When I hear of 'dive pros' expressing opinions like this ("dive alone, die alone") it merely illustrates to me that they failed to progress intellectually beyond entry-level diving concepts.

    That's a very bad sign in a "dive pro". I think it's indicative of when qualification level grossly exceeds experience level.

    The same applies when I hear other 'gems', such as; "BP&W is for technical divers only" or "Sidemount is for cave divers only" etc etc etc.

    The worst thing is that these 'dive pros' are often the biggest hypocrites. They talk about the importance of a buddy system, but then empower/encourage divers to abandon that system. Not through prudent solo diving, but rather, through the notion of supervised 'group' diving.

    This is where the 'pro' assumes the real responsibility for keeping divers safe. The buddy system is touted in name-only, but not through proper application.

    Diving 'Safety Nets'

    The buddy system is prudent for most divers, especially those still gaining basic scuba proficiency. IF APPLIED DILIGENTLY, it provides a safety net that compensates for inconsistent and/or not 100% reliable skills, knowledge and experience.

    The training given to recreational divers assumes that the buddy system will be applied. If it didn't, then training would have to be much more comprehensive.

    All too frequently, the dive industry attempts to enable a type of solo diving through a notion that 'professional' supervision forms an adequate alternative as a safety net. I am talking about 'shepherd divemasters' leading group fun diving. Groups where individual divers don't apply a formal buddy system in any practical sense.

    Where incidents occur, it is because the divemaster becomes over-stretched, or is under-aware... and isn't actually providing a safety net to their 'herd' of customers.

    However, there comes a point when some divers gain sufficient diving competency that they can choose to dispense with that safety net. Instead, they can utilize a refined approach based on principles of self-rescue, redundancy, self-discipline and psychological robustness. This, in essence, becomes their new safety net.

    Solo training is a necessity because it tests assumptions. That testing is critically important. More so than the skills training given. There is always a risk that a diver might over-assess their competency; deciding they are ready to dispense with the buddy system due to complacency, not competency.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
  10. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

    Cliches are the intellectual refuge of idiots.

    Apparently I have been reported also, for a lot more than solo diving (for which I am certified).


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