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Personal Limits to Solo Diving

Discussion in 'Solo Divers' started by bradymsu, Jan 25, 2021.

  1. Bert van den Berg

    Bert van den Berg Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: New Zealand
    My personal solo limit is 30M. Besides potential narcosis issues, the dive operators would likely not want me diving solo deeper than 30M.

    I only buddy dive with the "open water certified" wife and son who are both limited to 18M. So when buddy diving I am more severely limited!
  2. Jeff Dickman

    Jeff Dickman Registered

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: USA
    I'm only recreationally trained, and this is what I've come up with from much reading, class, and practice, taking the most conservative approach when sources contradict each other.

    Redundant air, mask, computer, light, cutting tools.
    Familiar areas and sites only.
    No solo diving in places with high entanglement/entrapment hazard.
    Night diving only in places I've personally dove >100 times.
    Max depth of 60 FSW (2x my safe free diving depth)
    Follow the "rule of thirds" on primary gas. (steel HP 100)
    Pony bottle (Aluminum 30) filled with Nitrox 40.
    Dive aborted the moment something doesn't feel right.

    This gives me a solid 45 minute dive with plenty of air to spare, well within deco limits. Should I need the pony bottle for anything (which should never be the case if I'm sticking to the plan), nitrox reduces risk of getting bent. Should I need to go directly to the surface from depth, I'm confident I can make it on a single breath from my planned max.
    Cdncoldwater likes this.
  3. MichaelMc

    MichaelMc Working toward Cenotes ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Berkeley, CA
    In rec., I'm more conservative solo than with a trusted equally-capable teammate. By each being available to aid the other we can handle a little more chance or degree of mishap or difficulty. I'm thinking of narcosis chance, surf exit, entanglement degree, or disabling injury yet still needing to exit an empty beach. On simply gas in rec. and redundancy, I'm comfortable with what I carry so no change there.

    I think a team of equally-capable divers is safer than them solo makes sense. We see that in many domains due to mutual aid, planning, reactions: firefighting, police, military, teaching. That assumes the members are all individually very capable in the environment. Said differently: a team likely brings up the weaker member. Weaker may be in general, that day or just that moment.

    With buddies whom I am not as sure about, I am more conservative than I am solo.

    (A side note for newer divers reading all this: Note that the divers commenting have higher dive counts and several are instructors or cave divers. Of which, my dives are on the very low side. We likely have the core skills to be safe underwater rather well-honed by now.)
    DiveClimbRide and Esprise Me like this.
  4. Wibble

    Wibble Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: UK
    All my dives are solo dives whether or not diving with someone else. Most of my diving's off of 'independent' dive boats which is a bunch of divers diving; if they need a buddy they bring one. Most dives I can do I would do solo; so 60m / 180' and up to 2h30 on 'mix. Am quite happy at deco alone; it's rather zen-like and it's amazing how quickly an hour goes by. Now dive on a rebreather and dive solo on that too; saves a fortune in helium! I do dive with others, but am not interested in leading other divers around -- too much to see.

    I use the right gases for the depth, trimix on OC below 40m / 120', or below 25m on CCR. I do plan for failures and take adequate bailout. I always do a test bailout on the bottom to check everything and the muscle memory. I will penetrate wrecks, but am a bit more cautious diving on my own. Most kit is duplicated, some in triplicate. Boat prep is never rushed; always checking, double checking and check again before jumping.

    I don't change more than one thing in a dive and don't make big jumps. So if changing kit, the depth needs to be moderate; if deeper than before then no kit changes or differences in location.

    Was a guillotine-like slab of metal dislodged from a big wreck by my bubbles a couple of years ago that flashed just past my head that was a surprise and made me think about life. "For you Tommy, zee diving is over... " Six inches closer and it would have taken my head off! Even if diving in a unified team of synchronised divers, if that had hit me in the neck, it would have been curtains.

    If your number's up, that's it.
  5. GJC

    GJC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southern California, USA
    I don't think there would be a situation where I would not be comfortable diving solo but be comfortable doing the dive with a buddy.

    I only do recreational dives.

    Most of the time I am more comfortable and feel safer diving solo than diving with a buddy because I find the responsibility of paying attention to my buddy is distracting me from paying attention to my own situational awareness, my safety and my ability to just enjoy the dive.
  6. Wibble

    Wibble Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: UK
    The attitude to solo diving may well be affected by the circumstances of the diving you do. Where I dive the visibility is frequently poor, it's cold, dark and tidal. If your buddies are experienced with using a torch for signalling, it's much easier to dive together where you use your torch beams to indicate where you are. These techniques are taught by some more technical agencies, but not by others.

    I've found that few people understand and practice this. Diving with them can frequently include constant stopping and turning around to see where they are. Buddy separation is a fact of life when moving around a wreck in poor visibility. The old "if separated search for your buddy for one minute and surface if not found" is understandable for entry level diving, but not appropriate for more experienced technical diving.

    It's only a short step from self-reliance -- which all non-novice divers should be -- to full solo diving.

    Poor torch etiquette in low visibility and dark conditions is a real nuisance. It's not for me to lecture people on this common-sense approach. It also requires the right equipment where a narrow beam is required as opposed to the wider beam popular in recreational diving. It is frustrating that the recreational agencies don't learn from the technical ones.
    Cdncoldwater and Esprise Me like this.
  7. mac64

    mac64 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Ireland
    If you dive often enough for long enough it’s inevitable you end up on your own. And the limits you place on solo is a slippery slope to doing exactly what you were doing with friends. Last year all my dives were solo and I ended up out on the wrecks I was going to with friends with just the sea gulls for company:
    Boston Breakwater and Wibble like this.
  8. jale

    jale Contributor

    My limits diving solo are further away than diving with a buddy...
  9. bradymsu

    bradymsu ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
    Thanks guys. This conversation has been enlightening. The consensus I've seen emerge in the discussion is that for experienced divers who dive solo, there usually isn't a limit on the types of recreational dives done solo compared to with a buddy or group and many solo recreational divers feel safer diving alone than with a buddy.

    With technical diving, although some experienced technical divers do solo open water decompression dives, in most situations with hard overhead environments, a buddy or team is preferred for the additional redundancy.
    Wibble likes this.
  10. EFX

    EFX ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: North Central Florida
    I'll do any dive solo that I would do with a buddy. I always carry an alternate gas source when solo diving. Regardless of whether I have a buddy or not I always breathe from the alternate source or secondary reg underwater to make sure it works. If it doesn't work I abort the dive in either case.
    bradymsu likes this.

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