The more I shore dive, the more this topic peaks my interest. I dive many spots repeatedly up and the down the East Coast of Florida. I would venture to say that I probably know Lauderdale by the Sea like the back of my hand. This year, I am hoping in weather and Sea Gods are with me to know Rio Mar and Wabasso the same.
There is a sense of security that comes with diving the same spot repeatedly. I always find it comforting to sea the “nursery”, the fingers, the anchor, the local resident nurse shark or even that favorite honey hole with with bugs. However, as I dive dozens of dives with my dive buddy and life buddy, hubby Rich, I can’t help but notice that we wander further apart till just about out of each others sight. Don’t holler, we have the 30 second rule of going to the surface and meeting and looking for the others bubbles and regrouping. This past season when we got separated it was generally because I was watching a shark and he was watching a group of reef squid. As you can see from these posts, we really don’t get freaked out diving inn our usual locations.
I also see multiple divers, solo diving on these shore excursions. Add to the fact that I tend to have about 500-700 more psi than hubby at the end of the dive, and I have on occasion, gone back out on the first rubble reefs and had some fun on my own. My curiosity got the better of me, so I thought, let me check this out and see how many other peeps are having that same curiosity. Little did I know that you can now sign a solo diver release on boats. But I get ahead of myself.
Welcome to the new age of diving…solo in 2013. I discovered almost every major agency has embraced a self-reliant or solo diver course. Charter boat companies are reviewing standards and procedures for solo divers. It has raised consciousness at the recreational level that divers are thinking about self-sufficiency, redundancy, and fault tolerance. By being prepared for solo diving are you preparing for the taboo of getting separated from your buddy. I would think so.
So technically, how do you prepare? Here is where I have a bit of an issue. Look at my beginning sentence…technically. That one single word. I thought I was not interested in tech diving. It appears that in some tiny way, tech diving has wormed it’s way into my life.
Apparently, I need a solo diving card plus I should carry an extra mask. Good gravy, half the time when shore diving I don’t even bring my snorkel! (Please for the love of God don’t tell my dive instructors). I do bring cutting devices like a knife…ummm most of the time. I should also have a qualified redundant air system (that was my buddy before). And apparently I should let my mom know when I hit the water before I do solo. Or someone else who can point the authorities inn the right direction if I don’t come back.
Ok, so after all my reading and searches, you can see I am a little skeptical and once again have a healthy respect for my best friend, hubby and DIVE BUDDY. I should bring to your attention, that…YES I am still thinking about it and may do so on my last PSI leftovers. I do feel that there are some simple basic concepts to the core of what you will find in a solo diver…CONFIDENCE and calm, cool collectiveness. I do feel that I dive prepared to come back from every dive. I still equipment check and follow dive awareness skills I was taught initially. I do find most things come second nature know after dozens and dozens of dives. Hopefully this never makes me lazy.
I would tend to agree with John Flanders who writes, “A solo diver is not someone who just dives on their own, on occasion. A solo diver is someone who is prepared at the highest levels with a host of contingencies for even the most remote problems that may occur. A solo diver does not just review a quick checklist and jump in the water. A solo diver spends weeks, maybe months, reviewing their equipment, reviewing dive plans, getting site briefings from local experts, and learning all the angles that go into a particular dive. A solo diver is someone who attacks every dive with the highest degree of complexity. Yes, even that 30 foot reef dive has protocols of redundancy, self-sufficiency, and fault tolerance. The heart of solo diver beats in one rhythm: Be prepared, come back alive! A solo diver is not just a solo diver when they are alone, but the heart of a solo diver beats on in every dive, regardless of their buddy plan. It never stops beating. At the beginning of every dive, a solo diver knows he can count on himself or herself first should any problems arise.”
This is way too true. Looking back I can see how personally I have grown more confident and for those of you who have followed me for a while, Rich has overcome a whole host of personal fears and phobias to become what I consider to be the best dive bud in the world. Now I look closely at the scary moray eel or mother nurse shark. Initially I would have run (or swam as fast as possible). Currents or conditions changed and I aborted dive. Now I persevere and learn to adapt.
Ok, so I love to shore dive…would I even be considering this if I only went out on boats? I am of the school of thought, no rules, just right when it comes to diving but am I fiddling with catastrophe? The fact of the matter is, I still rely on my buddy, Rich, a little too much so perhaps…just for a while…I will hold on the thought of solo diving as I consciously try to become more self reliant and aware of my surroundings under the massive beast we call our oceans.