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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
    629
    372
    63
    I'm going to make one of those trash bag kits too!

    But, from the OP... Here's what happened:

    While at Cocoview, I hooked up with an instructor for a 'refresher' dive. Here's what we did:

    1. Gear location practice - while underwater at 60 feet, I practiced the hand motions (three times: once eyes open, once eyes closed, and once without mask):
      1. Dive knife usage
      2. Cutting tool usage
      3. Pony tank valve opening
      4. Pony regulator retrieval and breathing.
    2. Swam for 3 minutes, maintaining depth, without mask.
    3. Replaced and cleared mask
    4. Practiced switching to pony tank for real.
    5. Practiced manual inflation of BCD while breathing from pony
    6. Practiced deployment of DSMB
    7. Practiced ascent on DSMB line, with safety stop.
    8. Practiced manual inflation of BCD at surface
      1. Using air from atmosphere
      2. Using air from my regulator
    Observations/learnings

    1. My dive knife is under the slung pony bottle. I can get to it easily with my left hand, but it is a long reach for my right arm. Maybe move it.
    2. My ears are great for sensing depth deviations. I stayed within 2 feet of my starting depth while swimming without my mask.
    3. Since I use 'Frog Spit' as a defog, and it seems to work differently than other defog, I had an annoying mask fogging problem after the Frog Spit washed out.
    4. I usually use my octo to inflate my DSMB. I should practice using my primary 2nd stage, as it is a little harder.
    5. Manual BCD inflation from the atmosphere at the surface is annoying. I had to kick up, inhale, & inflate BCD in a coordinated rhythm. Would be easier if I dumped my weights (as in real emergency).
    6. I hate carrying a snorkel, but being on the surface in some chop and an empty tank would suck without one.
    Next time maybe I'll add:

    BCD off/on underwater, with some pretend gear adjustment
    Lost fin swimming
    Breathe pony to zero
     
    markmud, Fastmarc and couv like this.
  2. 73diver

    73diver Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    104
    54
    28
    I agree. I was really OOA only once (crazy busy day and I had redundant air) and fortunately there was plenty of warning. Initially the reg seemed a bit harder to breathe but I could still take full breaths. With my steel tank there was also an interesting sound or tone during inhalation of the last couple of breaths. I’m glad I experienced it. I don’t feel the need to practice it. I dive sidemount. For my regular solo practice, I deploy the DSMB and ascend using it as the reference hands free. I also do valve drills. I usually dive in 40F water. I’ve done the maskless swims for Solo, Adv. Nitrox/Deco, Trimix, etc. in 40F water. Being without a mask in 40F water is painful and I consider it too risky to practice solo. I always carry a spare mask but I don’t practice mask drills unless I have a fully briefed attentive buddy nearby.
     
    BlueTrin and markmud like this.
  3. lermontov

    lermontov Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: christchurch
    807
    370
    63
    what about getting your buddy to entangle you slightly and then try and get yourself untangled without losing buoyancy - use old line so you can cut it at will. try it in a silty area too
    also find a spot where you can get a reel messed up and then sort it out without getting more entangled or cutting the line- work out a system where you have to unwind it with creating a birds nest - i think line work is a very underrated skilled and dealing with a tangle when solo is crucial
     
  4. Basking Ridge Diver

    Basking Ridge Diver Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Jersey
    1,898
    922
    113
    I am curious do you only vacation dive? You and I have similar cold water environments and I find that I can do almost any drill in bare hands. Put on cold water gloves and those tasks become much more difficult due to lack of dexterity.
    So where I am headed is if you do dive in other than tropical water put on a pair of 7mm gloves or dry gloves and everything will become more difficult. Including stowing a regulator hose, replacing your mask, almost everything you can think of...
    But then again - you may want to try it anyway and see how well you do and that is what practice is all about.
     
  5. 73diver

    73diver Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    104
    54
    28
    I learned to dive back in the J-valve days. ( I did use a submersible pressure gauge). There is a difference in the sensation of emptying a tank vs closing the valve. I’ve only breathed a tank down to zero twice. As the tank pressure approaches the first stage intermediate pressure the breathing resistance increases but it is possible to take a full breath. I also noticed a “ringing” upon inhalation with my steel tank. The next breath still full was very difficult. What is interesting is that there is still a bit of air to inflate the BC. This experience is a bit different from turning off the valve.

    In tech/decompression diving, the standard practice is to select the tank with the desired deco mix, turn the tank valve on then off, put the reg in, take a breath and verify that the pressure drops to zero, then open the valve. This is to be doubly sure that the desired mix is being used.
     
    vovanx likes this.
  6. SoloMonkey

    SoloMonkey Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Hertfordshire United Kingdom
    20
    7
    3
    1. DSMB deployment - Absolutely (±1metre control)
    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 reckon you need to be doing decent hover control within the DSMB deployment.
    The Switch to other bottles, Isn't always a pony. Could be a twinset, Twindy or even a side slung bottle.
    A maskless ascent? How are you keeping out of rapid ascent? Listening for computer and lack of bleeps? Some older computers like the VR3 didn't have audible warnings.
    Remove gear and place on bottom and mount it back onto your back again. I.e. to remove the fishing wire that may have wrapped round your gear. Redon the kit underwater.
    Inverted Hovering mask clear - The ultimate waterboard test of your ability not to panic.
     
  7. Diver-Drex

    Diver-Drex Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: US east coast
    267
    140
    43
    “I hate carrying a snorkel, but being on the surface in some chop and an empty tank would suck without one.”

    I know that SB can be very anti snorkel but this is important. I was on a LOB recently with several very experienced divers. Only one of our group wants an instructor, tech diver or both. The dives were all essentially ‘same ocean’.
    Before the first dive we were talking about gear and I brought up taken a snorkel, which everyone balked at my suggestion. There was chop, 3-4 foot seas, strong current and viz was hit or miss. On the second dive, the least experience in our group surfaced away from the boat. We got him back on the boat without incident but he was not comfortable with what had happened.
    I spent some time going over things like inflating an SMB, because even though he can see the boat it’s a lot harder for the boat to see him. Benefits of a DSMB and how to use it. I asked if having a snorkel would have helped on the surface waiting to get picked up? I also asked if it made sense, that even if you have gas in your cylinder, to use the snorkel and save that gas for when you really need it?
     
  8. tkaelin

    tkaelin Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: CT
    1,812
    1,026
    113
    I never dive without a snorkel. I had an issue with a DM one time who tried to belittle my kids for having snorkels. It was a short conversation. :)
     
  9. Panther1880

    Panther1880 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: The Netherlands
    15
    7
    3
    If you really want to carry a snorkel but don't want it attached to your mask why not use a folding snorkel? You can deploy it from your pocket when needed.
     
    woodcarver likes this.
  10. Diver-Drex

    Diver-Drex Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: US east coast
    267
    140
    43
    Have you had success actually using a folding snorkel at the surface? The ones I’ve used do not work well at all. I carried a roll up model for a while, just checking the block that I had one even though I knew better.
    My ‘real’ snorkel has a quick connect to my mask strap. Two small bungee loops on my back plate or side mount rig make it easy to stow and access when needed. Or I just dive with it attached.
     
    BlueTrin likes this.

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