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Big plan, many failure points

Discussion in 'Near Misses and Lessons Learned' started by fsardone, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. fsardone

    fsardone Solo Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Rome, Italy
    432
    372
    63
    Hello everybody, yesterday I did learn something from my dive, and I am going to share even if it might rise some (justified) criticism.

    Plan was to dive the wreck of Salpi, a cargo ship sunk in 1942 by a mine laid by the HMS Rorqual (a mine laying British sub) while navigating from Civitavecchia to Cagliari.

    The wreck lays in 60 meters of water (not an extreme dive but nothing to be taken lightly) and about 3/4 of a mile from shore. The wreck has a permanent shot line to descent and for the boat to anchor.

    Now the plan:
    - Dive the wreck for about 30 minutes we are with eCCR so we have full 3 hours of autonomy (even 4 or 5) but we had to have bailout. I had 2 S80 (deep bailout and triox 50/20) plus an S40 of oxygen – my buddy elected to have only deep bailout and EAN 50;
    - At the end of bottom time shoot a DSMB for the boat to track us and use the scooters on a track of 320 degrees for a half a mile to reach the batimetric of 25 meters;
    - Once there another diver joins us to dive with us while we decompress. (!)
    See pictures.
    Map_salpi.jpg
    vlcsnap-2019-07-22-15h15m09s436.png

    What went wrong.
    While the visibility was quite good on the wreck especially in the southern part it went down to a few meters north and we had to scooter north. The leading diver had a scooter with higher performances. I was loaded, so he shot the DSMB on a reel and we ascended to about 50 meters. I have not much experience with scootering long distances … actually this was my first and, while I had a compass, it was on my wrist (good to take a bearing but not to navigate high speed with a scooter).

    Guess what … we got separated. I was pretty much in the blue, trailing and seeing my buddy disappear in the haze. Now I am in the blue, a bit disoriented with no way I could navigate with confidence to the shore (missing the cape would be a disaster) and without a surface support. A bit of stress at 50 meters. You might notice I raised to 25 meters and then back down to 40 because of stress. I go in emergency mode:

    1. Breathe (no issues there on a reb although breathing rate went up and used up a lot of diluent with ADV firing when it should not!) so bring it down under control also in such dive buoyancy needs to be under control.
    2. Once breathing assured, analyze the situation: I could not navigate on my own too much of a risk in a unexperienced situation I also needed to make known my situation and avoid to be run over by a boat obviously I could not surface …. I had about 80 minutes of decompression to do.
    3. Take proper action: shot a DSMB and do own deco in position, hoping that the third diver and the boat captain would see it.
    DiveProfile.jpg
    Good points: I had my PLB and 2 DSMB, I was self-sufficient for bailout gas, so I was tense but not stressed. I have a lot of solo experience so being solo was not a stressor. I had to compartmentalize: solve the decompression and then solve the lost at sea (not a biggy I had PLB, I was in high traffic area and I had my signaling mirror).
    In the end (after action) when I shot my DSMB the boat was also close by and saw it pop out, the buddy realized I was not there and was circling to find me but he could not and elected to stick to the plan (we did not brief what to do in case of separation) while I decided to stay in place for the above mentioned reasons.
    The boat was trying to provide support to both and the third diver snorkeled to us for signals (deco times and if we were ok) but aborted the dive.

    Lesson identified:
    1. Need good contingency plan
    2. Maybe not try a new big thing (navigate for a mile with a scooter) in a deep deco dive … (should have known that!)
    3. To navigate with a scooter the compass NEEDS to be on the scooter
    4. Having a good kit and know how to use it lowers the level of stress
    5. Take care of the important thing first and then solve the rest (breathe, analyze, act then first decompress and then worry about being lost at sea)

    Now everybody, weapons free but please be kind!
    Hope this might help somebody avoid the mess we did!

    Here below we are recovering the scooters at the end of the dive on the wreck.

    vlcsnap-2019-07-22-15h16m25s210.png
    [​IMG]
     
  2. johndiver999

    johndiver999 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Gainesville FL
    738
    625
    93
    Once you sent up a marker, you should have been able to maintain depth relatively easily. Once that is established and you calm down, why was it hard to scooter? Even if you heading varies and meanders, being within 20 degrees of the bearing should have put you close to the intended location. Shutting down and not moving on deco seems like a strange decision. I’m really not understanding why that would be hard? Did you have the smb on a good reel
    Or were you hindered with a spool?
     
  3. PfcAJ

    PfcAJ Orca

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: St Petersburg, Fl
    7,450
    5,912
    113
    Fwiw, just because your compass is on your arm, it doesnt have to STAY on your arm.

    If you take it off and hold it in your left hand you can easily see it while scootering with your right hand. This way youve got all your nav tools up front (depth, distance, time) and can focus on keeping that heading on target.
     
    EireDiver606 likes this.
  4. RyanT

    RyanT Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Maryland
    1,706
    1,333
    113
    Seems like a failure on the part of your buddy. Granted I don't scooter dive, but I'm always keeping track of where my buddy is. Doesn't seem like it should be different on a scooter.
     
    tep and sunnyboy like this.
  5. fsardone

    fsardone Solo Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Rome, Italy
    432
    372
    63
    Both good points

    I was on a spool (also had a reel with 90+ meters but it di not occur to me to move the DSMB from spool to reel.

    Right, but in crisis you refuge in what you know how to do. I could have but with a spool and unfamiliar with scootering ... I choose the best (at the time) course of action.
    BTW I had 3 compasses ... one in the reb electronics, one in the computer and a sunto analog one.
     
  6. johndiver999

    johndiver999 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Gainesville FL
    738
    625
    93
    Thanks for the response. Setting up a dive where you must scooter long distance while on deco seems like an aggressive plan if you are not practiced in it. Seems like it would be important to assume that buddy separation would occur and scooter failure would occur.

    So if that were planned, then the smb should have been sent up on a reel as part of the plan? Yes, why would a spool be used?

    Do we assume that you are not really comfortable using a scooter and this was the primary source of being unable to control depth, inability to maintain buddy contact, inability to navigate in even a crude manner? Is that the primary element here?
     
  7. fsardone

    fsardone Solo Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Rome, Italy
    432
    372
    63
    Well the contingency plan was .... light.
    You are obviously right. I am a relatively new scooter user, inability of maintain buddy contact when you are going straight ahead and have a slower scooter is a given, if the guy in front does not slow down.
    The right plan would have been the slower scooter goes in front .... which would have meant I would have to take over responsability for navigation and I was not ready for that. Probably, that is also the main reason why I choose to stay in place.
     
  8. PfcAJ

    PfcAJ Orca

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: St Petersburg, Fl
    7,450
    5,912
    113
    Id suggest side by side for OW scooterin'.
     
    MinimalMayhem, tep and fsardone like this.
  9. johndiver999

    johndiver999 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Gainesville FL
    738
    625
    93
    Thanks, that was my guess. A scooter adds a lot of complexity and potential failure points etc.

    side by side would seem to make sense becomes in the mid water column it is so easy to get separated and with no visual landmarks, you can hardly go back and search effectively. Thanks for sharing your experience.
     
    RyanT likes this.
  10. jadairiii

    jadairiii Solo Diver

    369
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    As stated, your problem started with your buddy having (seemingly) no idea how to dive as a team. You scooter to the slowest scooter, simple. As AJ suggested side by side in open water is good, or have the guy with the float slightly behind you (at your hip) so you can see him and he can see you, sort of a wing formation.

    I have stated this before but if you are going to do long scooter dives in open water, tow a torpedo float from the beginning.

    Doing deco on the fly is the best and with competent buddy (or buddies) it is a breeze.

    BTW, you can always mount a compass on the scooter, they work great.
     
    RyanT likes this.

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