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The Planning Necessary for Solo Dives

Discussion in 'Solo Divers' started by wcj786, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. wcj786

    wcj786 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Diego Garcia, BIOT
    This is not a post dealing with the positives or negatives about solo diving. Take it as a given for purposes of this thread that solo diving is acceptable. That means that comments stating that soloing is bad are not welcome. If you post that I am not qualified, then I do not mind, but there should be no general statements made about how wrong solo diving is.

    I am a diver who has not had a dive in a couple of years. I do have 50+ dives to my credit, but do not want to start back without a pre-dive planning refresher. I am comfortable in the water and will be diving in a shallow, tropical no-overhead environment, no deeper than 60' to start.

    What I am looking for is your typical pre-dive planning. What areas do you pay special attention to when planning your solo dives? I will be diving in Diego Garcia, BIOT, in the Indian Ocean. They have started allowing diving on the island again. I may not be allowed to solo. I haven't found this out yet, but even if there is no solo diving allowed, the planning that goes into the solo diving can be helpful.

    I am familiar with the planning of a regular buddy dive, so I am interested in any differences that people feel are necessary when doing solo, besides making sure that somebody on land knows about the dive, where it is happening, how long the dive is, etc. Are there any special details you pay attention to concerning gear? What about the air reserve? Do you limit your depth, based on being solo?

    Let me know your thoughts on the planning requirements you use.
  2. Dsix36

    Dsix36 Solo Diver

    The most important thing to plan when solo diving is to make sure that you are not diving with an idiot.
    Lemmeron likes this.
  3. Darnold9999

    Darnold9999 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Victoria BC Canada
    I can't say I do anything different than when diving with a buddy. I do carry a pony, but otherwise everything else is the same. A buddy isn't a replacement for planning the dive so that you get back to the surface safely, so I prepare for every dive as if the buddy was not there, because they might not be.
  4. Atom

    Atom Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Montreal
    Whether you're diving alone or with a buddy your planning should be similar...but if you're going solo you should be especially thorough.

    -NDL: depth + estimate time, so you can plan your dive.
    -Air Consumption: What's your SAC? Adjust it for local conditions (against current, cold water, ...), with this and a planned depth and time you can compute a turn around time/pressure to ensure you have enough to share with your buddy for the return trip (rule of 1/3)... or to deal with a problem underwater when soloing. This will prevent you from going on a dive for which you'd need 100ft of gas with an AL80.
    -Navigation: Do you know the site? Currents? Landmarks? Depth at which your boat in anchored? Direction to shore? Are you familiar with using your compass to navigate underwater? Again this is the same thing as when you dive with a buddy, but you don't get a second opinion if you're feeling a bit lost.
    -Equipment check: Something you should do when diving with a buddy too, but it's even more important if you're diving alone. Make sure everything is tip top and don't skip anything.
    -Fitness to dive: Are you feeling ok? Are you apprehensive about this dive? How advanced is this dive compared to your current experience? If something is bothering you, either skip the dive or change your plan. This applies to buddy diving, but even more so to solo diving, solo is not the time to push it.
    -Redundancy: This will usually be your buddy, but if you plan to go solo you have to provide your own. You should take a pony bottle and know how to use it with or without your mask, a small backup mask might not be a bad idea. Cutting devices, easily accessible from both arms (not on your calf).

    Personally if I hadn't dived for a couple years I wouldn't start by soloing, but planning it like you were going solo is not a bad idea.
  5. LeadTurn_SD

    LeadTurn_SD Solo Diver

    Exactly the same drill as a buddy dive, minus the pre-dive briefing :wink: Well, I do talk to myself, so maybe that is a pre-dive briefing :rofl3:

    For shallow solo tropical dives, I typically dive the exact same configuration as for buddy dives (i.e., single AL80, no pony). If I plan to dive beyond about 50', then I carry a pony. Other folks who solo carry a pony (or use doubles) on every dive, even shallow dives.

    Have fun!
  6. knowone

    knowone Regular of the Pub

    Do I go clockwise?
    Do I go anticlockwise?
  7. BCSGratefulDiver

    BCSGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: On the Fun Side of Trump's Wall
    First off, I'm gonna say that given the above information I'd recommend you not dive solo for a while ... in part because 50+ dives isn't very many to have developed a good understanding of what CAN go wrong and what to do about it without assistance, and secondly because you haven't been in the water in a while and solo diving requires, above all else, a degree of comfort that you will only get by diving. Finally, you need to achieve a balance between confidence in what you're doing and avoiding the overconfidence that leads to complacency.

    Shallow has nothing to do with it ... one of the world's most accomplished divers just died on a shallow reef dive when he intentionally separated from his dive team for a short while to go back to the boat and change out his video cartridge. Avoid the "it's just a shallow dive" mindset ... give the dive the same degree of care whether it's 20 feet or 100 feet.

    If you have not dived solo before, perhaps reading this article can point you toward some of the things you should be thinking about and preparing for.

    I don't mean to be discouraging you ... but I do want you to go into it with a realistic assessment of the risks involved ... and encourage you to not solo until you have a reasonable assessment of your ability to handle any emergencies that arise without assistance.

    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
  8. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    Solo diving is something like pornography; you will know when you are ready. It is more about understanding yourself and the environment than policies, procedures, and merit badges.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  9. BCSGratefulDiver

    BCSGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: On the Fun Side of Trump's Wall
    I see it as being a bit more participatory than that ... and it can be a lot of fun as long as you take appropriate precautions ...

    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
  10. DCBC

    DCBC Banned

    I agree with Bob. You should have much more in-water experience, be comfortable in the water and take appropriate precautions for the fact that you're diving solo. To answer your question, when I dive (solo or not), I pay particular attention to everything. Even then, I've been bitten on the ass all too often. For this reason, I don't dive solo unless I'm on air past 150' (unless I know the other diver and he's good-to-go), or am in constant communication with the surface and a standby diver is on-deck.

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