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Tough Buddy Separation Problem

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by Reg Braithwaite, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. Reg Braithwaite

    Reg Braithwaite Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Toronto, ON
    Something a little like this actually happened to me last season:

    You are diving the Henry C. Daryaw, an upside-down freighter in 87' of moderately warm water. This is the second of two afternoon recreational dives, and as things happen this dive is deeper than the first.

    You are diving a fresh steel 95 and your buddy is diving a set of double AL80s. Before the dive he warns that he's a little low on air form the first dive, so he may need to thumb things early. You agree.

    We'll skip the debate about whether he should have dived at all. He said he was ok to dive and, well, you did the dive.

    The holds of the Daryaw are easily accessible and many recreational divers violate their training and take a look inside. After discussion you agree not to do this on this dive. That being said, the wreck is upside-down and many people treat it as a swim-through and swim under it without going inside even though that is technically an overhead environment.

    You descend the anchor line and pause together at the impressive rudder and screws. After giving each other the ok sign, you then descend to the deck down a narrow chasm in single file. When you reach the deck you look back at your buddy but he is gone.

    Omitting all bits of light signals and touch contact and what-not, the question here is this: What protocol do you follow? You are wearing a computer and planned to follow its profile for a "no-deco" dive. Again omitting all debate about computers, that was your plan.

    So here you are with a lost buddy at the start of the dive, you have (relatively) plenty of gas for a good look-around. But your buddy is known to be lowish on gas. do you...

    • Search for one minute around the outside of the wreck, look under the wreck without going under it, and then ascend?
    • Search around the outside of the wreck, actually go under the wreck to look for him without penetrating the holds?
    • Search around the outside of the wreck, go under the wreck to look for him without penetrating the holds, and poke your head in any openings to see if he is inside and visible?
    • Look everywhere, including penetrating the holds?
    If you fail to find him, do you follow your computer slavishly for the ascent? Or do you cut things a little short?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  2. J.R.

    J.R. Divemaster

    Sounds like a scenerio where Darwin is about to take a lead role... You've identified SO many bad practices and bad decisions in this scenerio as to make commenting on the them impossible ...

    ... too many "omit" this and "omit" that for me to reach any possible conclusion other than I have no desire to dive with the survivors...

    ["slavish", "heavy penalty", "notoriously"... wow... nothing like biasing the jury, eh??]
  3. Walter

    Walter Instructor, Scuba

    Search for your buddy for about 1 minute, going back to where you last saw him, looking at possibilities along the way (this should be a very short distance). In your seach, look for bubbles, fins, silt trails, etc. If you do not find your buddy during that time, you return to the up line and await his return. If you both follow that proceedure, you'll meet at the bottom of the up line if not before. If he's not at the up line within 5 minutes, you need to either start a more extensive search or get help for a search depending on the situation.
  4. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    Well, the first thing I'd do is rapidly review when and where I was last sure of his whereabouts. I also know the track we have taken. I would then begin to retrace my steps toward where he was last seen.

    What I would do on the way would depend on the "discussion" that was had before the dive. (You did say that, "after discussion", it was decided not to do any penetration.) If it was quick and you were both on the same wavelength (and assuming the viz is good enough that nobody was going to end up inside the wreck by mistake) I wouldn't spend much time looking inside the wreck. If, on the other hand, the "discussion" had been more of an argument, with you not wanting to do any penetration/swimthroughs and him having to be talked out of it, I would definitely look inside any opening along our path that offered entry. Being wreck untrained, however, I would not actually go inside to search.

    It might very well take me more than a minute to get back to the upline, because I would spend that time looking for the missing diver.

    Arriving at the upline, I would look up to see if I saw him on ascent, and if not, I would begin mine. (I would also at this point be both very worried and pretty irritated.)

    BTW, I don't have any problems with someone beginning a dive that will be gas limited, as is quite often the case with small doubles on a second dive. You simply decide what your rock bottom is and what your usable gas is, and that determines your bottom time.

    And the last question, about the computer, doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I would do a normal ascent and probably omit any safety stop (since the dive had just begun). The only way my "conservative" computer would impede that would be if I had gone into mandatory decompression, where I shouldn't be. (I can't remember if Suuntos have a conniption fit if you omit the safety stop -- it's been too long since I've either run a computer as a computer or done a safety stop!)
  5. Reg Braithwaite

    Reg Braithwaite Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Toronto, ON
    It's a little contrived. But I see you decided to play along, so I strike my previous comment.
  6. shawrg

    shawrg Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: alabama
    I would interpret my buddy missing as a strong indication that he noticed he was low on air, could not get my attention (because I didn’t look back often enough?)and headed for sunshine. I would search around the outside and look without going under the wreck, then ascend. I would not cut my ascent short and, yes, I would follow my computer as usual. I would expect to find my buddy at the surface.
  7. J.R.

    J.R. Divemaster

    ... but let me comment anyway...

    In the OTHER thread that's going on relating to what to do about a lost buddy... I'll repeat what I said there... "TWO VICTIMS DOES NOT A RESCUE MAKE"... You follow whatever protocols you agreed to... (... unless you omitted them too...)...

    ... my assumption is that my buddy is following the same situational protocol as I am... once he identifies separation... 1 minute look then head for the surface. Solo penetration to look is flatly stupid...

    ... whatever errors that were introduced that created your dilema were done long before your buddy came up missing... compounding the error in an attempt to rescue the situation with heroics has an extremely high probability of taking things from bad to worse...
  8. Reg Braithwaite

    Reg Braithwaite Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Toronto, ON
    Just to reiterate, this happened almost immediately, so there wasn't much of our path to retrace. Either he swam off into the blue(/green), swam the wrong way and was on the other side of the wreck, or surfaced.
  9. J.R.

    J.R. Divemaster

    Sorry... I've never consider diving safety a "game" before... it's a new concept for me...
  10. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    If the clarity is as you say, I look for bubbles. I would then retrace my route and start my ascent without my buddy. I would omit no deco time, nor would I feel compelled to forgo deep and shallow safety stops.

    Depending on the de-brief, I might be singing that ol' song: "There must be fifty ways to leave your Buddy!" I don't buddy with people often, but when I do, I EXPECT A BUDDY TO BE THERE.

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