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refusing an instabuddy

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by ballastbelly, Jul 1, 2014.

  1. Hawkwood

    Hawkwood MSDT

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: NA
    Well said.
  2. DivemasterDennis

    DivemasterDennis DivemasterDennis ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lakewood, Colorado
    Last question first- my sign for "i won't follow" comes after my "don't go there sign." The don't go there sign is a negative head shake plus an open palm facing the other diver, with a side to side Motion. The I won't follow sign for me is to simply wave goodbye.
    As to declining to dive with a someone who asserts himself or herself, this has happened to Debbie and me. We have had a divemaster or instructor try to "place" another diver with us, someone we've never met. Those arrangements can work out very well, or they can be awful. To avoid the awful, when you are faced with diving with an instabuddy, consider these things that can make your time together more pleasant, and minimize problems.
    First off, get to know each other as divers. Talk to each other. Learn about each other’s experience level and last dive. Clarify the communications you will use and agree as to proximity and other buddy coordination. Discuss your objectives for the dive. Are you going to swim around like crazy people or focus on looking at the animals and their behaviors? If one or both are going to take pictures or video, discuss expectations you each have for staying close. A good dive buddy will get acquainted with his diving partner before the dive.
    Next, when diving with a new buddy (or any buddy for that matter) a good dive buddy will be sure to sure to do a pre-dive safety check, familiarizing the team with each other’s equipment. You were taught this in your basic scuba certification class, and it is still a good idea. There is no need to have a nightmare dive with a stranger if you take a few minutes to plan together, learn bout each other and communicate about the dive to become acquainted before the dive.
    Too often, divers who are paired up by the divemaster or boat captain, or even those who may have selected each other as buddies, will introduce themselves to each other, and then be oblivious to each other throughout the dive. That is not a good idea. A dive buddy who appreciates the importance of that role will stay close, be aware of what is going on, never have a problem with buddy separation, and be there to share air, help his buddy get untangled from the kelp, notice symptoms of narcosis, and otherwise assist as needed. Discuss and plan for these things before you get in the water. You can be a good instabuddy, and so can that other person. However, if despite you best efforts to commmunicate and plan and get a commiitment from the instabuddy to follow the plan, they are not responsive, you certainly are free to decline their company. We've done this. Rarely, but there are times.....
  3. iluvtheocean

    iluvtheocean Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Hollywood, FL
    Can I be a know it all? :)

    but seriously -- Wookie and Dennis make good points. Gas consumption differences are going to be the most common issue. I would definitely suggest getting a copy of Dennis's books -- great read for new divers and old
  4. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    It's good to read up on what to expect, but if you haven't even done your first OW dive yet, I recommend not putting too many ideas in your head yet about the hazards of "instabuddies" and everything else you hear about on SB. If you spend too much time reading SB, where every aspect of diving is critiqued by the hypercritical, you will get the idea that everything can kill you and there is little or no consensus as to what the right thing to do is. Your first few dives on a boat will be beginner dives, and you'll either be buddied up with other students who are probably just as safety-conscious as you or you'll be buddied up with someone more experienced who is well aware you're a beginner and is enthusiastic about showing you the ropes. I would increase my concern at some point after that, when you no longer feel you want to raise your hand and declare you're a new diver and wish to be buddied with someone conscious of that fact, and you find yourself buddying up at random with the proverbial "instabuddy."

    Ah, now that I bother reading the comments above, I will third Wookie's comment that Hawkwood quoted and seconded. The potentially reckless "instabuddy" scenario is still unlikely to rear its head until a number of dives from now. Keep focused on the road directly in front and don't look TOO far ahead.
    Blyslv and Wingy like this.
  5. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace

    Go back and read some of the instabuddy horror stories again. I think you will find that, in many if not most of them, the problems underwater could have been avoided by better communication before people even got in the water. Yes, there will be the person who insists on going in a wreck you've already agreed you won't enter, or who breaks the hard deck you've decided upon. But I think that's actually fairly rare. Most people want as much as you do to end a dive safely. Many divers have poor skills, and many don't know very much about what they are doing. (For example, the gas planning you are learning in your class was added to the OW class less than a year ago, so most people won't have seen it.). But we all want to come back and dive another day, or most of us do, anyway.

    Instead of figuring out how to refuse an instabuddy (it's easy; you just say "no, thank you"), spend your time putting together a plan for how to dive with one in a safe and rational fashion. Come up with a good framework for a dive plan, including the things that may be different between you. Make sure you use the same signals, for example (I'm guilty of forgetting that some of the ones I use commonly aren't in common use). Make sure you understand one another's gear, especially how to dump weights, and how you will share gas. Learn how much gas the other diver is carrying, and come up with a plan for how it will be used, as you were taught; then be diligent about asking your buddy where he is on gas, so that you can make sure that gas plan gets followed. Talk about how you would like to arrange yourselves, and what you are comfortable with for buddy separation (arm's length? Within eyeshot?). Talk about how you like to dive -- are you a slow and methodical inspector of every coral head, or a zoomer who likes to have seen as much square footage as possible by the time the dive ends? Is one of you a photographer, and is the other okay with that?

    Edited to add that someone who refuses to do what I described above would be one of my few serious red flags for this being someone with whom I do not want to instabuddy.

    The vast majority of dives with unknown buddies can be executed safely with adequate pre-dive planning and communication. And I disagree about finding buddies on the Internet. I have dived with quite a few SB members and had a great time. I have also dived with novices who post on our local dive forum. I've had some "interesting" dives with new folks with very poor buoyancy control, but the dives were planned to be simple, and everybody came home fine. I've had two dives I didn't like, and both where people who, despite the pre-dive discussion, decided to take off and leave me underwater. Both were caught, and we ended the dive together, but I won't dive with either one again. That's two dives out of 9 years of active diving, so it isn't a common problem.
    ratchet04 likes this.
  6. scagrotto

    scagrotto Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Hudson Valley
    Don't confuse your obligations, legal or moral, with those of the DM or the dive op. It's up to you to decide if you're willing to buddy with somebody when you think there's a deficiency in their gear (or knowledge, attitude, etc). It's not your decision if that person should be diving at all, though you're obviously entitled to an opinion about it.

    As far as legal responsibility goes, it's a bit risky to assume you have none at all. There are definitely places where you may be required to provide the assistance you're capable of, though you aren't required to put yourself at significant risk.

    It's entirely up to you to decide what your moral obligations are, and even where aid is required by law you'll probably have a lot of leeway in what you consider to be significant risk (especially as a newbie). Cemeteries have plenty of residents who got there through an effort to save somebody, either as a result of enthusiasm or a failure to recognize the risk they were taking. Personally, I'm not going to take a lot of risk for somebody who isn't especially important to me. How much risk I'll accept will also depend on the person's responsibility for the predicament they're in. I feel very little responsibility to preserve the world's supply of stupid people, but I'm a bit more tolerant of simple ignorance. Based on your propensity to ask questions, I think you'll figure out fairly easily how much risk you want to take. Accurately assessing the risk will take a bit more time and experience.
  7. FinnMom

    FinnMom Divemaster Staff Member

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Finland
    Communication is truely a wonderful thing. Talk to your buddy before going down, do your safety check together so you know (1) how his reg/BCD inflator/possible drysuit inflator works and also (2) that buddy boy did check all these things before he got in the water. Go over your agreed signals including signs such as "slow down", "stay together", and "stay at this depth". You can also touch your fingertips together making a sharp rooftop - that means let's head for home.; no where near as hurried as "let's go up", it just means let's start heading back.

    You might also take a small slate. Try not to use it (it's boring waiting for someone to write) but it can be nice if you really need it.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  8. hroark2112

    hroark2112 Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Raleigh, NC
    The easiest way to avoid an insta buddy is to try to show up with your own. Join the local dive groups, hang around the shop, and find good buddies.
  9. azmodan50

    azmodan50 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: New York
    Not having my own buddy, I get paired up all the time. Some of the people I know, others I do not. I've been paired with many new divers. Most people ask what I want to do on the dive and my answer is always "I just want to dive". Especially with new divers, I take the role of follower. I've had too many buddies go missing to the surface because they were having a problem and decided to just leave and not let me know. I don't blame them for that because they are new and we all had to learn how to be a good buddy.

    When I follow, I don't have to worry about losing my buddy. If they decide to go look at a fish, I follow. I just enjoy diving.

    You have plenty of options. I would suggest making sure you know the dive site, so you know what is there. If there is a DM or boat captain, ask. If they say that there is a wreck and you are not comfortable penetrating it, make sure you tell your buddy. Also, you don't HAVE to follow them as long as you stay in visual contact with them. But again, talk to your buddy.

    You will come across bad buddies, but that's not always a reason to ruin your diving. Talk it out and enjoy the dive.
  10. mathauck0814

    mathauck0814 Assistant Instructor

    Agreed. There are dumbasses out there. If you get paired with one, just swim away and do your own dive. If you're uncomfortable with that abort the dive. If they give you crap for it afterwards explain why you feel they were a dumbass and get a new buddy for the next one.

    Not sure where you're diving, but if I'm DM'ing here in California I won't even ask if everyone has a buddy - it's not my responsibility to plan your dive, that's where you come in. I'll help if you ask for it but otherwise I'll assume you have everything under control. My role is to give broad parameters about the site (general depth, areas of common interest, etc) to keep the boat on schedule by ensuring tanks are filled and you're in and out of the water on time and to be a physically strong enough person to execute a rescue if required. I'd say this is fairly normal for this area, but you're going to get very varied norms depending on where you dive. I'm certainly not going to stop someone from diving alone or force them to dive with someone they aren't comfortable with so long as that's their desire and their waiver is signed.

    I'm not a lawyer so I can't really comment here, but even if you have no legal obligation, there's nothing stopping you from getting sued. Treat every interaction on a dive boat as one with personal liability implications.

    Couldn't disagree more. Most of the worst divers we see are the ones who dive poorly quite frequently. They're not interested in learning or improving. New divers are generally quite attentive, if a little nervous, and open to coaching. Keep that mindset as long as you can and try to avoid the divers who spout off a lot (and meanwhile look like they'd have a heart attack themselves if they had to help carry you up on to the swim step in an emergency).

    ---------- Post added July 1st, 2014 at 12:08 PM ----------

    Again, none of my business what equipment you show up with or whether or not you buddy up with someone. If you and an instabuddy agree to dive together and one doesn't have an octopus, I'll assume you've discussed that and have a procedure worked out in case you need it.

    In the beginning you might want to identify yourself to the crew as being a new diver (honestly there's no stigma in that and I greatly appreciate it when people tell me that they don't know what I might assume they know so I can be very diligent in ensuring to give more detail than I would on a boat full of veterans). There aren't really any stupid questions on a dive boat. Most people don't understand this stuff half as well as they think they do. If you see something that makes you uncomfortable or that you don't understand, ask. If you still don't understand, seek a better explanation. You'll be around a lot longer and become a much better diver if you seek that knowledge rather than feeling nervous or insecure about it. We (the boat crew and the other divers on board) are there to help make everyone's day an enjoyable one.

    ---------- Post added July 1st, 2014 at 12:15 PM ----------

    This works both ways. It's good for instabuddies to recognize that they may not have the highest degree of significance to the perfect stranger they've entrusted themselves to. All the more reason for hyper-diligence when diving with new and unknown people.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014

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