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The Self Sufficient Diver


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33 replies to this topic

Poll: Do changes need to be made...? (33 member(s) have cast votes)

Are todays training and equipment standards for OW divers sufficient?

  1. Absolutely (2 votes [6.06%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.06%

  2. Some small tweaks might be needed (9 votes [27.27%])

    Percentage of vote: 27.27%

  3. Minor changes are required (15 votes [45.45%])

    Percentage of vote: 45.45%

  4. Major changes are required (7 votes [21.21%])

    Percentage of vote: 21.21%

  5. Time to revamp the whole darned system (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

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#16 Landlocked Dive Nut

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 08:05 AM

At the end of my OW class the instructor gave us all a little "this doesn't mean you know what you are doing, this is a license to learn" lecture that I think was correct then and remains correct today......I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong with the training regime today if the students all get some little lecture like this and take it to heart.


I think this is a fantastic way to end basic OW training!
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#17 Geek

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 05:29 PM

To travel with a Pony you need to de-pressurize it completely and unscrew the valve so it can be inspected inside. From the TSA Website:

"Compressed gas cylinders are allowed in checked baggage or as a carry-on ONLY if the regulator valve is completely disconnected from the cylinder and the cylinder is no longer sealed (i.e. the cylinder has an open end). The cylinder must have an opening to allow for a visual inspection inside."

"Our Security Officers will NOT remove the seal or regulator valve from the cylinder at the checkpoint. If the cylinder is sealed (i.e. the regulator valve is still attached), the cylinder is prohibited and not permitted through the security checkpoint, regardless of the reading on the pressure gauge indicator. Our Security Officers must visibly ensure that the cylinder is completely empty and that there are no prohibited items inside."


Once at your exotic locale I would give it to the dive shop and have them assemble and fill it. No idea if you need to fill/purge it a couple of times to remove standing moisture in the ambient air. They would know.

Pony's are not specifically taught on the PADI Deep Diver beyond a brief mention. They are certainly not promoted as much as I think they should be. Pony bottles are highlighted in the SDI Solo course though and an independent backup is required as a course equipment. You can attach them to your main tank as SDM described (That's the way I do it), but many people "sling" them using the D-ring on your hip and the D-ring on your chest strap to mount them. I found this gets in the way, but some people swear by it.

Posted Image

To be clear, a Pony is not a substitute for proper gas management. In a perfect world they would never be needed.

If it saves only one person a year from DCS or AGE then it is more than worth the trouble. DiveOps and resorts will come around soon enough. Many of the places I have been offer Pony's, but you have to ask for them, they are not offered or widely advertised.

Capn Jack makes an excellent point about surface survival. Remote possibility of being out alone after a dive, but like anything else, it can happen.

Tons of SCUBA abbreviations here... OOA - Out of Air, LOA - Low on Air... He missed FUBAR and SNAFU... :P


Locally, slung bottles tend to get introduced for Deco gas, while the term "pony" implies a redundant source of whatever you are using for back gas. Around here, you will tend to see pony bottles mounted on the back until the diver migrates to doubles, after which he may sling Deco gas. There is absolutely no difference in the tank, regardless of the purpose for carrying it. There is no rule that says you have to mount a pony in a particular fashion. If it is on your back, you want to make sure you can reach the valve. Personally, I prefer the sling method. It looks like it is in the way, but turns out to be very convenient.

Regarding travel with a small pony, you can remove or install the valve yourself with a large crescent wrench. Don't try to take the valve off with pressure in the tank! Pack the valve separately in a baggie. To keep moisture and dust out, put a small piece of masking tape across the end of the tank. If TSA wants to look inside they can easily remove the tape and put it back.

Regarding the surface survival equipment, I would not consider any of that "redundant", unless you are carrying two of them. However, I have been known to carry a lift bag and a huge SMB, which can substitute for each other in a pinch, and two reels. :teeth: Then there is the dive alert and the cheap plastic whistle, multiple lights, . . .

#18 Scubatooth

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 06:58 PM

Simon: good luck at getting TSA to follow there own publications as its been proven more then once that they make it up as they go, even if you have printed info from their site. The documentation will help but it still may be "confiscated, or voluntary surrender" or what ever buzz word there using this week to take/ steal your personal property.


For me i posted in another thread about my feeling of how having a H-valve would have been a great help when my first stage blew the high pressure seat. Beyond that the bailout is perfectly acceptable to me, and would hint at a diver that is more aware of whats going on and has more then just a plan B in there head. Plan the dive based on you back gas, put then take the extra tank just in case there is a catastrophic failure. Solo diving is a completely different topic for a different thread, but im looking at it in the future so that I can have a little bit more latitude on certain places i dive, but i will still be diving with a buddy though.

PADI and NAUI dont teach a redundant breathing system but ANDI (http://www.andihq.com/) does, and teaches this from there open water classes and beyond. This is a very good thing because a prepared diver from the onset of there certification. PADI and NAUI could learn alot from ANDI and would result in a much better program. I know that all agencies have issues with standards, but I think the current system to be overhauled as the standards are a little lax and leave divers lacking in many areas leaving OW. Im not saying we need to go back 1960's standards, but relaxing standards to get more people certified is not the way to do it.

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#19 shadragon

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 07:42 PM

I got a PM saying that teaching better team skills and self-rescue techniques are the answer with all else staying the same. Problem is 85% don't go beyond OW rating and self rescue is taught around the Rescue level. Proper team skills are not developed (and practised thoroughly) until technical diving. Bit of a gap there.

I remember a 'buddy' on a dive boat. Was not mine thankfully. As soon as he hit the water Diver A headed off, away from the DM and rest of the group without Diver B, his buddy (Buddy was just OW qualified, 18 - 19 years old and had 12 dives, no redundant gear) who was left solo. I grabbed Diver B and he joined me and my partner. We ran across Diver A 45 minutes later when he re-encountered the group, probably by fluke as he returned to the boat. Saw the DM ask him where his buddy was and he gave the universal shrug. Once we were back on the boat I overhead Diver A say he was a Rescue Diver. He then blamed Diver B for 'ruining his dive' as he was not quick enough to keep up. Now to my credit, I saw the weight belt on the deck and knew I could wrap it around Diver A's throat and push him overboard with a fair probability of getting away with it; but I didn't...

There are folks out there I would trust with my life. Diver A and his ilk are at the opposite end of the scale regardless of what c-card they have. That situation and a few more like it are the main reason I took my Solo course. A buddy with a crap attitude means I am going solo even if we are shoulder to shoulder. At least I have a Pony to get me to the surface. Only reason I don't go solo locally more often is my dry suit zipper is across my shoulder blades and I need someone to help me. :blush2:

Two self-sufficient divers going together beats two traditionally trained divers any day of the week in my book.
Remember, email is an inefficient communications forum. You may not read things the way it was intended. Give people the benefit of the doubt before firing back... Especially if it is ME...! ;)

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#20 damselfish

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 09:22 AM

As a single diver I have learned not to trust that anyone really "has my back" when I dive. I have been diving single for a year now and haven't had the same buddy more than twice. Most of which have been strangers. I have been fortunate not to have gotten myself into any trouble and check and double check my equipment. Most of the buddies I have been put with don't know me or my experience level and they probably assume I am a self sufficient diver. Most do their own thing never looking back. I have been in a situation in strong current at 50 ft down watching my buddy loose his weights and already heavily weighted I had to pick them up because he was too far away swimming with the current and I couldn't catch him nor signal him. I have been in a few situations where I knew someone was being left behind and had no way to alert the others. Of course I went back and stayed with the person being left, who knows where his buddy was and mine had no idea I was gone.
Pony? I'd definately consider it if I was diving deep.
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#21 Bubble2Bubble

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 08:27 PM

Geek

"this doesn't mean you know what you are doing, this is a license to learn"

I agree, The last day of my OW training the Instructor told me " whatever happens underwater..don't panic" words of wisdom that I carry with me to this day. Being a Self Sufficient Diver sounds more like Solo diving to me, I would advise divers to go back to the basics they learned in OW and revise a few lessons like Sharing Air or Octo. It is taught that giving your spare/octo to another diver is only for emergencies but I disagree with this teaching because many of my dive buddies have either lent me there octo to extend a dive or visa versa. For example Scubapunk and I have done this on several occasions while diving together, I would have 700psi while she still had 1400psi we would always plan our dives and dive our plans. I am no stranger to this 'Murphy's Law" either, I have had my share of troubles while diving and lived to tell about it by following basic OW training practices. I have never used a J valve before but have seen them in LDS show cases, I like the Idea of when your tank gets to a certain point it stops giving the diver air and then the diver reaches around and pulls a lever or ? and a small reserve of air is supplied to get you to the surface..so I have been told. I wonder why they stopped using the J valve ? seems practical and more on the lines of being a self sufficient diver.


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#22 pir8

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 09:06 PM

At the end of my OW class the instructor gave us all a little "this doesn't mean you know what you are doing, this is a license to learn" lecture that I think was correct then and remains correct today. Today I hear instructors specifically stating to their new graduates that they are not qualified for a NJ wreck dive and explaining what classes you need to take to get ready for that type of diving. I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong with the training regime today if the students all get some little lecture like this and take it to heart.

There are differences in training and equipment that you get introduced to during training based on your instructor, where you are training, the agency, etc. Locally, the OW class and equipment is viewed as sufficient to do quarry dives, other local fresh water dives, go to the Caribbean, and take more classes. AOW is generally supplemented, and the goal is to be ready for a NJ wreck dive, without penetration. To get on a boat you'll need either a pony or doubles, etc. so you can rent a pony in almost any dive shop. Additional classes tend to introduce additional self sufficiency, depending on the class objectives. This makes sense due to the low vis you may encounter.

Obviously, if you live or train elsewhere your expectations of your classes will have to be adjusted. The thing to do is after each class have a long talk with your instructor about what classes you might want to take next, and the expectations you should have for those classes.

Almost sounds like my closing speech.
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#23 secretsea18

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 07:44 AM

I have never used a J valve before but have seen them in LDS show cases, I like the Idea of when your tank gets to a certain point it stops giving the diver air and then the diver reaches around and pulls a lever or ? and a small reserve of air is supplied to get you to the surface..so I have been told. I wonder why they stopped using the J valve ? seems practical and more on the lines of being a self sufficient diver.


Mike



Hmmmm.... seems to me that use of a "J" valve is really no better than actually monitoring your tank's air supply and adds a failure point to the situation. How do you know that you will be able to reach the lever, that it will work properly, or that you will really have that "whatever is in reserve" amount in the tank down there at depth? I would hate to use one and instead rigorously monitor my tank pressure. When I "run out of air", it is essentially on purpose.... :birthday: since the boat/dive op never gives a rebate for unused air returned with the tank :birthday: I like to get my full money's worth from the tank!
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#24 shadragon

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 07:55 AM

I wonder why they stopped using the J valve ? seems practical and more on the lines of being a self sufficient diver.

The J valve went out as a lot of folks were depending on that instead of an SPG (which came along later). They would dive until it got hard to breathe then toggle the reserve. Problem was the reserve would sometimes be triggered accidentally, the diver would breathe through it without knowing and you would end up at depth with no air (That was before OCTO's too). That resulted in a lot of CESA's and subsequent injuries. The SPG and air supply monitoring discipline came from that reducing the amount of injuries.
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#25 shadragon

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 07:58 AM

As a single diver I have learned not to trust that anyone really "has my back" when I dive.

Same here. Trust is earned, not freely given. I will give $10 away fairly quickly to someone I barely know as the consequences of being disappointed are small. However, placing my life in someone else's hands is another thing entirely. The number of divers I trust implicitly can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Remember, email is an inefficient communications forum. You may not read things the way it was intended. Give people the benefit of the doubt before firing back... Especially if it is ME...! ;)

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#26 Bubble2Bubble

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 07:36 AM

secretsea18,
I agree with you, I try to get the most out of every dive as I can returning to the boat with a safe amount of air and not much more :birthday:

shadragon,
Thanks for explaining the J valves downsides and how are industry has changed over the years.
I have alot of :teeth: for the pioneers of scuba that gave there lives to make the changes in equipment we all share today.

More equipment can trump the lack of experience or training in most cases.



Example

Your a diver is in a drift dive along with some other divers and your taking photos so your lagging behind a bit of the group. The Dm has just checked on everyone and has got the OK sign from you and all the other divers and starts heading the group around a huge coal head, suddenly your tank seal blows.



A few scenarios

1.Suddenly your tank seal blows and you decide you cant make it to the group so you stay with the current and ascend at a slight angel upwards towards the surface not going any faster than your slowest bubbles and hope you have enough air left to do a safety stop.

2. Suddenly your tank seal blows and you know that it will take a few minutes for your tank to empty and this will give you enough time to rejoin the group and kindly ask the first diver you come across if they would be so kind to lend you there octo because your having an issue right now.

3. Suddenly your tank seal blows and you take a breath and undue the shoulder strap and cumber bum and slip out of your bcd and turn your tank valve off and remove your 1st stage then crack the tank valve and take a few breaths, then start ascending with the current opening your tank valve as needed or leave it on the whole time taking normal breaths and doing a proper safety stop.

4, Suddenly your tank seal blows so you slip out of bcd and turn your tank off then remove your 1st stage and take a few more breaths then using your shears or other tool remove your tank seal. Take a few more breaths than install and new seal that you had handy near the tank valve area. Install 1st stage back and take a few breaths from your 2nd stage and return to the group or ascend safely to make a proper safety stop.

5. Suddenly your tank seal blows so with no troubles at all you change over to your pony bottle and rejoin the group and tell the DM your having and issue and would like to ascend at this time.

Sawy one moe :birthday:
6. Suddenly your tank seal blows so you spit out your reg and flap your arms like a sissy all the while calling for your Momma :birthday:

I could see how a pony bottle would be very handy and If I was to carry one I think I would have it on a tank mount right off my regular tank.

Mike

Edited by Bubble2Bubble, 01 September 2008 - 09:03 AM.

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#27 finGrabber

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 09:00 AM

Bubski,

numbers 4 and 6 are a HOOT!!!

#28 SeaSeeker

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 01:03 PM

Shadragon, great topic and thanks for starting it.
I'm still pretty new to diving, with my grand sum of 50 dives. I had the great good fortune to have a really good instructor for my PADI OW class and confined water dives. I had the great mis-fortune to have a horrible instructor for my open water certification dives (a whole other long story which includes an underwater emergency in my second dive). I finished my certification dives knowing I was not ready at all and I had no confidence. I then had the great good fortune to become good friends with one of the DM's that was travelling with a dive shop group at the resort. He buddied with me and the whole group included me. I know that I was totally lucky and that without him I likely would not be diving at this point.

The group left the resort a day before I did - leaving me with an unknown buddy on each of my dives the last day I was there. Even after discussing how far apart we would be and the dive plan, he just wandered off and I found myself constantly looking for him and spotting him here-there-and-everywhere but where he and I had agreed upon.

I travel a lot by myself, and in doing so I have learned to think about aspects of safety and self-sufficiency in advance of situations. It took only that one day of diving for me to realize that I had to apply the same principle to diving. The buddy system is excellent in theory, but in practice it does not always work. It is clearly up to the individual to make it work, but I can't always trust people I don't know. And, trust is earned.

I realized coming out of my confined water dives that I wanted my own gear. I knew that it would make me more comfortable and allow me to improve my diving skills more rapidly. After my first diving trip, I invested in a spare air. I have heard pros and cons to them, but the convenience and simplicity of the integrated reg and the ease of dis-assembly and assembly for transport are attractive. On my dive trip to Costa Rica, other divers on the boat were curious about it and they all thought it was a good idea. Not one gave me a hard time about it. I also bought myself a small light and a signal kit with signal tube and whistle. We actually used my signal when the dm's was torn and wouldn't work. I'm now thinking there are a few more things I should add to my gear from the lists on this post.

I also would like to suggest that it be encouraged on SD dive trips that buddy teams agree to practice certain skills on dives. I do not believe divers practice sharing air and other emergency skills, and I know I feel a bit like the pedantic and nerdy one suggesting it on the dive boat.

How many of you regularly test or check your octopus in the water to make sure it is functioning? When was the last time you practiced an ascent sharing air? What about removing and replacing your BC underwater? I think we take skills like that for granted sometimes and we should practice them.

I know three things:
I must always keep my head under the water - read that as never panic.
I must do all I can do to participate in the buddy system and make it work as it is intended.
I must plan for the worst, or the possible failure of the buddy system, and take contingency steps to make myself as self-sufficient as is realistic and possible.

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#29 Tech-Admin

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 01:45 PM

Being a Self Sufficient Diver sounds more like Solo diving to me...

Nope, it merely means that you plan your gear and your dive so that you can get YOURSELF out of most emergencies, which isn't a Bad Thing in my book. I skydived a bunch years ago, so I've always been in that mindset. A little redundancy doesn't hurt, as long as you're not so weighted down with extra junk that you can't find what you NEED when it all hits the fan. I can find all of my gear upside-down with my eyes closed, and I'm not going on any more trips that are so severely weight-restricted that I can't bring my own kit.


You missed one scenario in your 'tank seal' explosion at depth:

7. You dive a DIN first stage, so you hear someone else blow an o-ring at depth, look around and toddle over to give 'em a hand. :hiya:

About the only way you can lose a DIN seal is to not screw it in snugly... it's trapped WAY better than on a yoke connector. Even if it failed, you'd probably only have a stream of bubbles coming out through the threads. I'm guessing here, and haven't tested it yet. Without a wet test, the best I could do was to back the DIN out a turn so that the o-ring didn't seat, and all I got was a small amount of air (much less than I'd normally be breathing). At depth, it might not have looked much different than the (Sherwood?) regs that puke a tiny stream of bubbles.

I blew an o-ring on one of my first handful of certified dives, so when I went looking for gear I decided against a yoke connector. Most regs today will accept a DIN in place of the 50+ year old? yoke connector, and a lot of resorts are slowly changing to the convertible Thermo valves as they replace tanks so I don't have to use my dinosaur technology adapter. :teeth: I also carry a small box of o-rings in my dive kit 'cos rental tanks frequently have o-rings that are as hard as rocks, and I've handed 'em to buddies several times.

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#30 hambergler

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 08:11 PM

Bubski, I am now the proud owner of a used-but-recently-hydrostated-and-VIPd devil-gas compatible 30cf aluminum pony, with a fairly new Mares regulator. We'll see how this goes through airport security if I decide to take it with me. It also gives me an excuse to build up a second regulator rig, after I buy a new computer and console arrangement. Now all I have to do is buy or build a harness, and get newer eyes to read the tiny pressure gauge that came mounted to the first stage.

The main plan is to use this for ERDI certification, but also as a backup for open-ocean diving just-in-case...

bada--BING!

Chuck

Edited by hambergler, 02 September 2008 - 08:11 PM.

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