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Solo skills to practice?

Discussion in 'Solo Divers' started by gr8jab, Dec 10, 2018.

  1. gr8jab

    gr8jab Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Oregon, USA
    Greetings solo divers and instructors.

    I'm going to have some one-on-one time with an instructor at the beginning of my next vacation. With the help and oversight of the instructor, what skills do you think I should practice? Could you give me some feedback on my list?

    1. DSMB deployment
    2. maskless DSMB deployment - thoughts?
    3. mask removal, deploy and use spare mask
    4. OOA, switch to pony bottle
    5. maskless ascent?
    6. maskless swim?
    7. ascent on DSMB line
    8. simulate OOA by closing tank valve?

    I'm not sure about #8. I wouldn't generally think this was a good idea, but I'm considering it. I've never been OOA, and don't know what it really breathes like. Does closing the tank valve simulate a real empty tank? If not, might it simulate another common failure mode?
  2. rjack321

    rjack321 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Port Orchard, WA
    It simulates a "roll off" (bumping on a ceiling or rubbing on an anchor line). Or just some idiot messing with your valves on the back deck of the boat. So yes, you should absolutely be able to reach your valve. Be able to turn it easily both directions, but there's no need to shut it completely off.
    NothingClever likes this.
  3. uncfnp

    uncfnp Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    Regarding #8. Turning off the valve isn’t a true simulation for OOA. Better is to breathe a pony down to zero while at your safety stop.

    Practice the skills you are uncomfortable doing and skills you need an instructor’s help to perfect.
    gert7to3 likes this.
  4. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    I frequently deploy my DSMB and ascend on the line, not practice. I practice switch to pony. Nothing else.
    NothingClever likes this.
  5. Johnoly

    Johnoly ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    I guess you could add any type of failure to practice. But the take-away should be that it results in an automatic quick reaction since 'thinking' instills panic that kills. Time isn't on your side in most cases.

    *) Total bladder failure and unable to hold any air at depth
    *) Zero viz deco ascent without looking at any gauges
    *) The boat sank drill {or can't find you in the rain drill}
    *) How to send a message to the surface immediately {I'm blown off the drop site the boat's anchored to in strong current}
    *) What steps to take if in the water overnite.

    I have my own solo solutions, but you should discuss with your instructor what works for you.
  6. MichaelMc

    MichaelMc Working toward Cenotes ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Berkeley, CA
    I started thinking of solo skills in two categories:

    - Baseline risk reduction. Risks I have with or with out buddy and how to reduce them. Lost, swept to sea, boat sinks, etc. If 'we' stink at navigation, 'we' get lost. Regardless of how many 'we' are. Just I'm now always 'our' best navigator. Most do not really seem drastically changed by having two people. Except in the two brains are, often, better than one department. Reducing them reduces my overall risk and ensures I'm doing my share of 'our' response.

    - Solo exacerbated risks: OOA, entanglement, no mask ascent/deco, injury, bite. I need to handle with zero outside help and that makes it significantly different.

    I practice swapping tanks every dive, but I dive sidemount, so multiple tank swaps are a normal, though not emergency ones.
  7. tkaelin

    tkaelin Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: CT
    I am not sure I completely understand your post. Are you going to be a student taking a solo cert course next month with a solo instructor and you are asking about what skills you might practice in advance and with a buddy?
  8. Billy Northrup

    Billy Northrup ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Key Largo / Norcal
    Are you already trained in those skills?

    If not don't do them without training because it creates "training scars". It takes allot more time unlearn then add the time it takes to learn it again. You can't really learn in a vacuum.
  9. Stoo

    Stoo NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Freelton & Tobermory, Ontario, Canada
    No harm in practising all of those skills, although I'll echo what others have said about #8 and your OOA "simulation".

    I wear doubles all the time, and since I'm an old bugger, and have had my share of shoulder injuries over the years, I take special care to make sure I maintain flexibility in those joints so I can easily get to my valves and isolator. One of the things I do is when I am on longer drives, is I reach behind me and grab the headrest and stretch my shoulder. (I live out in the boonies, so empty roads. I'm not suggesting doing this while you're driving on a busy road!)

    And of course I roll my valves off and on while I'm diving. That should be a second-nature skill...
  10. AdivingBel

    AdivingBel Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Missouri
    I would practice doffing & donning your rig midwater. Get comfy removing and making any adjustments including repositioning your tank. Get to where most any rig manipulation (other than tank/reg) is no big deal. This is not only good for the obvious stuff; entanglement, loose tank, broken cam buckle, etc., but more importantly it will build your confidence and self-awareness at depth. You can also practice the mask stuff, but IMHO, if anything to do with a mask isn't already automatic (i.e. no big deal) you're probably not ready to solo. You should be of a mindset that as long as you have gas you're confident and capable of making good decisions and handling most gear related situations. You can also practice solo bubble checks. All IMHO, YMMV. Good luck. :)
    Phil H., AfterDark and NothingClever like this.

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