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I'm the Pariah again

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by FPDocMatt, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. FPDocMatt

    FPDocMatt Barracuda

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Middletown, Maryland, USA
    It started out an excellent dive. Beautiful reef, lots of beautiful fish. After 50 minutes my (stranger) buddy and I decided to head back to the boat. There was a strong current, and we had spent the whole dive swimming into the current, so we surfaced to look for the boat. It was about 200 yards away. We descended and began swimming toward it. After awhile my buddy swam into a coral crevice. I followed him into it, but it was a tight squeeze. I could tell we wouldn't fit. I saw him begin to ascend to swim over it, and I swam over it myself as well. Then I resumed swimming in the direction of the boat. After about 40 feet, I looked back and couldn't find my buddy. I looked all around, couldn't see him. Then I heard his noise device. Couldn't tell where it was coming from. Looked all around, didn't see him. So I swam around looking for him for one minute, per protocol. Didn't find him. Surfaced. Looked around. He was nowhere to be seen.

    Then I'm thinking, "I've lost my buddy. This is a missing diver situation." So I waved to the boat. But nobody saw me. I'm thinking, "We need to organize a search." Since there was nobody to help me, I decided to descend again and look for him myself. I realized that this was not the protocol, but didn't know what else to do. I couldn't just leave him there stuck in a crevice or something. With the current, it would have taken me a long time to reach the boat, and then it might be too late to rescue him if he was stuck between the corals. But after swimming around for about 2 minutes, I realized that I was putting his life in danger by not organizing a proper search. So I surfaced again, and waved at the boat again.

    This time some people on the boat saw me, and the captain came to the railing, and yelled, "Are you okay?" At this point, I thought, If I say I'm okay, then he's just going to turn around and ignore me, and my buddy will die. Besides, I'm not okay if my buddy is missing. So I yelled, "Is Joe on the boat?" Then he yelled even more loudly, "Are you okay?" Now I could tell he was irritated. I yelled, "Is Joe on the boat?" Somebody said "Yes", so I gave the okay sign.

    Then I began swimming to the boat, but could not make progress against the current. After not making any progress, I waved again. Someone noticed me, and I said, "I can't make any progress against the current." I was about 50 yards from the boat. Then one of the instructors jumped in the water with a line attached to a buoy, swam over to me, and told me to pull myself in hand over hand. That worked very well.

    When I was back on the boat my buddy came up to me and asked me if I was okay. I said I was fine. He told me that when he signaled me with his noise maker, he saw me look around. He was holding onto a coral outcropping. But I didn't see him. Then he saw me swim off in the wrong direction, away from him. So he swam back to the boat.

    I told him I was looking for him. He said, "You were looking for me?" I told him, "Yes. Then when I came to the surface, the captain was irritated with me because I didn't give the okay sign." At this point, the captain, who was standing right nearby, turned and said, "I wasn't irritated with you." Then he made the okay sign over his head, leaned real close to me, and said, "What does this mean?" I just looked at him. He said again, "What does this mean?" I just looked at him. When for the third time, he said, "What does this mean?" I replied, "Bill, I don't need you to quiz me on what the okay sign is." He then threw up his arms and said, "I'm through with you. We're through. Are you going on the second dive?" I said, "No."

    Then I said that if I had said I was okay, my buddy might have died. He then said, "The okay sign means that you personally are okay. I just needed to know if you were okay." I replied, "If I had said I was okay, you would have ignored me and my buddy might have died. Besides, I wasn't okay. My buddy was missing." He said, "That's not what the okay sign means. You should have learned that in the basic open water course." Then another person sitting nearby said, "You have taken Rescue Diver. You should know that you are responsible for your own personal safety."

    I said, "So what am I supposed to do if my buddy is missing?" One person said, "You should swim back to the boat, and we'll deal with it." I said, "But that would have taken 10 minutes, and for all I knew my buddy was down on the bottom in distress." The captain said, "You're overthinking it."

    Another person said, "A missing buddy is not an emergency."

    Then my buddy said, "What I should have done is go to the surface to look for you instead of swimming back to the boat." I said, "I'd agree with that statement."

    My buddy asked me if I was going to do the second dive, and I said no. He said why not, and I said, Well, for one thing, I don't feel like diving any more. He said Okay. Then he said, "I apologize if I've done anything to upset you." We should hands. He could tell I was still upset though.

    A little later the captain came up and shook my hand, and said, "I'm sorry I yelled at you. I just want you to know that we're all good." I said, "Okay", but he could tell it wasn't okay at all.

    So I spent the next hour sitting on the boat by myself while everybody went diving. The crew were still on the boat, along with a couple of other people.

    Then when everybody came back on the boat, I helped people with their fins as they came up the ladder. But during the 45 minute ride back to the resort, I was sitting by myself. It was weird, because the boat was crowded. I could tell nobody wanted to go near me. One person asked me if I was diving this afternoon, and I said no. I could tell he was going to offer to be my buddy. Another person walked by and asked me how I was doing, and I said fine, how are you? These gestures were much appreciated.

    So once again, I'm the pariah. And all I wanted to do was save my buddy.

    I still feel like crying. You know, I love scuba diving. But I'm not so crazy about scuba divers.
  2. Tigerman

    Tigerman Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Norway
    I agree. Missing my buddy is a problem. If I have a problem, Im NOT "ok" in any way but physically. If youre starting to panic for whatever reason, thats not physically a problem (yet), but you dont signal youre "ok" all the same..

    Maybe not for you, but it might very well be for the missing diver..

    We have a subforum for that, its called Solo Divers.. Its an opt-in under the technical section..
  3. jonnythan

    jonnythan Knight Scublar ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Upstate NY
    You needed to communicate with the captain. You did not. He needs to know whether to get in the water to give you aid or rescue you. Give him the OK then explain the situation.

    You say all you wanted to do was save your buddy. That's nice, but I hope you now realize you didn't go about that in the best possible way.
  4. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    I was obviously not there for this particular incident, but I have been here for many threads on ScubaBoard that have gone bad for you in a similar manner. I also read the thread you recently started about all the incidents that are similar to this when you dive. I hope you don't mind my going through your report and reacting to what I see there.

    At this point there was a realization between the two of you that you as a team did not handle a buddy separation process properly.
    the captain tried at first to tell you in his own way that you should have given the OK sign. It was a bit clumsy, but if you had answered him as he expected you to, there would have been no escalation. I would say your response was an escalation of a mildly uncomfortable situation.

    Why not? What was the reason you were not going to do the second dive? The only thing that happened prior to this was a misunderstanding on the buddy system (easily fixed), a clumsy attempt by the captain to explain a concept to you, and your less than responsive reaction.

    Your buddy realizes he made a mistake and admits it. It is a form of an apology, but your response does not accept it and implies that the apology is not accepted.

    Seeing you are still upset, your buddy made a formal apology. You shook hands, but you did not accept the apology and made it clear that you were still angry at him.

    The captain apologized, and once again you did not accept it.

    What kind of body language were you displaying during this time period?

    No one wanted to be near you, and you assumed that everyone on that boat must therefore be unfriendly. Is it possible that you were giving off a very unfriendly vibe that was pushing others away?
    So two people tried to be friendly, and once again at least one was rejected.

    DO those people know that?

    What I see in this case is that there was a relatively minor problem to which you took great offense, made sure everyone knew you had been harmed, refused to accept apologies or other offers of conciliation, and made sure that everyone knew that even at the end of the entire trip you were still angry. This created an atmosphere in which no one wanted to talk to you because they felt very uncomfortable in your presence. I think you could have defused the situation, genuinely accepted everyone's apologies, and then had a great second dive. Everyone would have been happy--including you.

    If everyone you meet in diving is having a confrontation with you think about it. Is it possible that you might have a glimmer of fault in these situations? I have never had even a hint of a problem such as you say you are having on every single dive. Why is it that I always run into such different people?
    Nosnhoj, vcblklion, dvankirk and 15 others like this.
  5. AaronRiot

    AaronRiot Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Toronto ON
    Hey Matt :)

    First, stand up for your decision. If you seriously think someone might be in trouble, screw other people's feelings and whether or not they'll be mad at you. If that person is actually in trouble, what then? Do feelings matter? No. Doing what needs to be done matters, and I applaud you for making an effort in a potential situation.

    Now, I may have handled things a bit differently, personally, assuming that the lost buddy was unavoidable. When you came up, you were able to talk to the captain at a distance yes? Now, given that, it would make sense to signal OK and then explain why you came up away from the boat. Like: "I lost my buddy, is he on the boat??!" If yes, great... if no, I'm sure the boat would have reacted differently.

    However, had I been too far away from the boat to communicate that I had lost my buddy I would have done as you did and signaled for help, then I would have dipped my head back underwater to listen for that sound device...because if I was in trouble and had a noisemaker you better believe it'd be going off more than just once if I could manage. The boat would have to come to me. Screw their annoyances.


    Two more points... compass? I don't know how deep you are but I'd be making an effort at nav so I didn't have to pop up and down a bunch of times. Good skill to practice too.

    The coral bit. Why are we hanging onto corals and trying to squeeze through corals that we know we won't fit through? Just bc some idiot wants to squeeze through a hole and wreck the marine life doesn't mean you have to follow...even if the hole had been barely big enough.
  6. spectrum

    spectrum Dive Bum Wannabe ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: The Atlantic Northeast (Maine)

    I can see the situation you were in and the communication you improvised. I don't know that the subtleties of the OK sign were covered in that sort of detail in my classes either. It think I would have started with the big O and then improvised. If a "come pick me up" signal had been offered that would high on the list. This is often not an option.

    Kudos for your concern and loyalty to your buddy. When we end up surfacing alone it's easy to jump to the worst possible scenario and act on it. In the VAST majority of cases it amounts to a false alarm and in many cases the root is buddy indifference where they just didn't bother to rendezvous on the surface as planned. After a while it gets easy to be indifferent to a wandering buddy especially when it happens in spite of good visibility in benign conditions.

    Odd are this won't be last lesson to learn with a procession of insta-buddies. Your goal needs to be learning to anticipate and have good understanding before going under. Talking a friend or significant other into becoming a permanent buddy would be nice too.

    It is a shame that you let this ruin your day of diving once everyone offered their understanding. If you were truly rattled then it was a good call.

    Mitchell Teeters and AfterDark like this.
  7. HowardE

    HowardE Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Boca Raton, Florida
    Let me say this as an experienced diver, and USCG Licensed Captain:

    When the boat signals, "ARE YOU OK?" and the diver does not respond with an "OK" back, you (the captain) assumes it's NOT OK, and prepares for rescue.

    You seriously thought your buddy was going to die? Would you have died? Would you not be smart enough to surface? Should we assume that everyone else is a dumbass, and would just hold on to the bottom until they ran out of air, and just gave up on living and died? Really?

    Your mistake here is: You didn't signal the boat. The moral of the story is, "signal the boat that you're ok, otherwise the captain or someone on the boat is going to jump in to rescue you"
    Bigd2722, awap and jonnythan like this.
  8. Mike

    Mike Great White

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denver, Colorado
    Matt, you didn't do anything wrong. Your buddy certainly did. He ignored lost buddy protocol. He was on the boat with no worries about you while you were in the water worried about him and doing the right thing.

    Your not giving the okay sign sounded like the right thing to do to me. You needed help to find your buddy below and not giving the okay got their attention which is what you needed to do.

    Don't beat yourself up, tell that captain to go suck it and tell your buddy he sucks as a buddy.
    Hatul, MarkHerm, NAM001 and 1 other person like this.
  9. JamesK

    JamesK Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: SW Florida
    No matter what you do in life, you are going to run in to buttholes. You have to learn to deal with it. Also, you need to learn to look at yourself. You stated that no one wanted to go near you, yet you had two people attempt to make conversation to see if you were ok and you blew them off. Your buddy tried to apologize and you did not accept it.
    AfterDark likes this.
  10. jonnythan

    jonnythan Knight Scublar ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Upstate NY
    This is the key. You didn't indicate that you were OK, nor did you indicate what was wrong. You left the captain in a very difficult situation.
    oly5050user, AfterDark and Hawkwood like this.

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