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Concern for Other Divers Safety

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Dubious, Jul 8, 2020.

  1. Dubious

    Dubious ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Wisconsin
    285
    166
    43
    I have been sitting on this for a few days now and somewhat alluded to it in another thread. As a new diver myself, I am not sure it is my place to say something.

    When my wife and I were out diving this past Saturday, we were stopped by a gentleman who was asking about the dive site. I was happy to help We had just completed our first dive for the day. None of the platforms had buoys on them but we knew the area pretty well since it was one of our favorite dive sites. I walked him to the shore to point out where the 30-foot platform (my dive flag was tied to it), compass course, and fish cribs were located. He asked if he could use the line as a reference.

    As we talked we learned he was just certified and looking to get dives in before taking his AOW. I had mentioned that my wife and I started diving in May of 2019 and were hooked instantly. I had also told him this was the first time we were out this season due to covid-19. I offered to share our tent/canopy we set up but he had his own.

    I watched as he carried his gear to the shore even though there were dive tables for easy in and out of BCD. I was going to ask him if we wanted to join us since he appeared to be alone, but at some point, he drove away.

    Lisa and I kitted up and entered the water for our 2nd dive. As we worked on our drysuits, I couldn' help but worry about this new diver we met. I knew he would be staying close to the dive platform based on the conversation we had so I chose not to venture far. I kept a lookout but did not see him. I grew concerned. After about 30 minutes without seeing him, I signaled my wife to go up for our 3 minutes safety stop and ended the dive.

    Lisa asked why I ended the dive. I told her I was worried about the diver we met. His stuff was still on the shore. We chatted a little bit and saw two other divers while we floated by our dive flag. As we were about to get ready to go back down, we saw him come down to the shore. He struggled to get into his gear while in the water. I yelled to him asking if he wanted to dive with us. He originally said no, but changed his mind.

    He didn't do a weight check. We did a quick check to make sure his air was on and everything was in order. We explained the dive plan to him. He seemed concerned about losing us, so my wife suggested that I take the lead and she would bring up the rear behind him.

    It became apparent right away that he was overweighted. He struggled with his buoyancy which we all experienced when we first started diving. I wish I would have suggested we descend down the line but when I asked he was ok descending were we met him. This meant we had to go through some sunken trees, not the easiest thing to do when learning buoyancy.

    As we approached the dive platform, I looked back and notice him sinking to the bottom. He used his hand on the bottom to stabilize himself which stirred up the bottom. He failed to make little adjustments which meant he was up and down. I brought him over to the railing on the platform and attempted to help him get neutral. He seemed under control, so I proceeded to lead him through the compass course. He was still struggling with buoyancy but not as bad as before the platform. We went back to the platform and I attempted to gesture him to use more breath instead of his inflator. As I did this, I thought to myself I am not an instructor, who am I to try and help.

    We moved from the platform, a good point of reference, and headed to the fish cribs. He was looking better. As we moved through the fish cribs I had lost him. I turned around and saw he had a camera out taking pictures of the fish. I had no idea he even had a camera with him. I gestured to turn the dive. We went back to the platform and I signaled we were going up to do a 3-minute safety stop.

    Once on the surface, we talked a little bit. He admitted he was overweighted because he is fearful of shooting to the surface from the bottom. I told him that being properly weighted would make it easier for that not to happen. Lisa and I were now low on air so we told him we needed to go to shore to switch out tanks and have some lunch. He stayed behind to continue diving.

    As we had lunch I was relieved to see him come out of the water. We chatted a little bit. He knew some other divers that had set up on the other side of the road. We told him we were going to do one more dive before heading home. I am kicking myself for not asking if he wanted to go with us again.

    We completed our last dive and headed home.

    I am not sure why I was so concerned about him. I know PADI teaches to buddy dive. I know there are risks to diving alone, especially without proper training. I wanted to say something, but I couldn't. I am not sure it was my place to say. There was also a part of me that didn't want to offer him to dive with us. It was Lisa and I first day out in open water for this season even though we both had been practicing in the pool (this goes a long way).

    A conflicted diver.

    Dubious
     
    -JD-, Colliam7, wKkaY and 3 others like this.
  2. Esprise Me

    Esprise Me Kelp forest dweller ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    730
    844
    93
    I've experienced this struggle: seeing someone who clearly needs help, not wanting to watch them get hurt, but also not feeling like it was my place to intervene. From where I'm standing, though, I think you were fine, and could have even said more without being out of line. He should not be diving solo as a new diver; he should not be bringing a camera when he hasn't even figured out his buoyancy and is relying on strangers to show him around a new dive site, and he should not be overweighting himself to prevent shooting to the surface--and you can tell him that. It's not your responsibility, of course, but I think we're all within our rights to speak up when we see a disaster waiting to happen.

    You do have to ask yourself in these situations how much you want to get involved. It's unlikely but not impossible that you could be named in a civil suit if you took him under your wing and something happened to him. It also sounds like helping him might be more stressful and less fun than just doing your usual thing with your wife. On the other hand, your intervention could possibly save his life, and maybe even make a good dive buddy of him someday.
     
    EireDiver606 likes this.
  3. KWS

    KWS ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SE TEXAS
    4,816
    1,212
    113
    @Dubious

    This is a very common experience. It points out many problems. training ego fears. overloading your self on dive selection. many things. I have to admit the sound of your part is not a normal one to be able to recognize buoyancy issues and how to fix things with so few dives. This guy was hurting from the start. That to is not uncommon. at least it was not on a ocean dive to 100 ft. It sounds like you are more than ready for AOW and he is far from it. It sounds like he needs a mentor of sorts. I hate that word mentor, to start from scratch and redo the OW training but not with books,,, all in water work. it may take several trips. first of all buoyancy to get close to right. other things will work it self out with close buoyancy. He needs to get in a 30 foot lake where he can bolt to the surface if he needs to rather than from 60 until he gets control of him self and developes self confidence in his abilities. Most often I get the names and contact info of those I dive with. Had you done that you could have made a friendly post dive health and welfare check with him. that often opens doors to better diving. Once that is done most do not feel like they are alone in their lack of abilities. Yes it is a big jump from getting your OW card and being a teacher of sorts to others. Its a tough place to be. but the experience reinforces planning accepting individual and combined shortcomings in all that are diving in your group. Every dive is a learning dive. that never ends. there is always a better way to do things whether it is using a BCD inflator or a compass. Guys have a way of not asking for directions as gals say. You being new per se' is not as intimidating as a new guy diving with another with a divemaster card when it comes to exposing your weaknesses in the water to others. Its just the way guys are. your job right now as the guy is to be smarter than a guy if that makes sense. It sounds like your wife is fairly accomplished herself. I think you probably had a great instructor for your OW. If so you can really see the difference is what different instructors put out as a finished product. As far as its it your job to teach another diver. I dont think teaching is the right term.. You are not a teacher but you are a buddy whether you like it or not. Look at it as,,,,you are making a buddy quality diver out of him. Someone you would be comfortable diving with. The teaching phase is over with. Now is the time you work on profeciency in skills. something that appears he drastically needs, and that takes a second person to support and give feedback. A second person is most important when it comes to things like buoyancy. When you become a mentor of sorts at your level of experience you both have a tendency of learning things you had not planned to learn. YOU tend to work in things that,, unknowingly,, you both need but in different degrees. all parties benefit and you often end up with a dive buddy for life. look at the up side,,,,,, you don't have to marry him for the life buddy status. It just happens. Eventually you both use each other to get better at skills. such things are compass use or navigation or what ever. one thing leads to another. I would guess that neither one of you could shoot a buoy and hold depth today. 6 months who knows what you two will be able to do.
     
  4. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    13,239
    3,202
    113
    I'll be quick-- if not "turse". You helped him and talked. Good. You are not responsible for him, but chose to be. Good. He has no business diving anywhere solo just after OW cert. He may have been one of those OW students who was not an experienced "water" person prior to the course. Or, we can choose the argument that "quickie" courses are the agencies' fault.
    I've helped out several new divers while diving on my own solo. Glad I could be of assistance, though not my job or responsibility. I had that when I was a working DM on OW courses.
    You were concerned for him because you are a good person. Don't fret about completing your last dive and heading home.
    Diving is serious business. I am conservative on all of my shore dives, which are usually 30' or less. To be honest, I like diving solo and feel it is foolish for someone to do things they are not prepared for.
     
    Boston Breakwater likes this.
  5. Dubious

    Dubious ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Wisconsin
    285
    166
    43
    I am sure it is. This was only the 2nd dive I had with a buddy that was not my wife. The first time I left my wife at home with the kids to do a dive shop fun dive. That experience was not too good either. At that time I only had a handful of dives past certification.

    I did get his information. He made it home from the dive. He is from the other side of our state so I am not sure we will be diving with him often, but I did say I would let him know the next time we are in his neck of the woods.

    My wife Lisa and I did not have a good instructor. We had scubaboard and a drive to be better divers before we flew to Jamaica. We have spent a lot of time working on our skills. With Covid-19 I have spent more time in our Intex pool than I would like to admit (Back finning is hard). Lisa worked in the pool a bit as well but not as much.
     
  6. ScubaWithTurk

    ScubaWithTurk Bubble Blowing Buddha

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE
    993
    950
    93
    I think your concern and willingness to dive with a new diver is refreshing. I had a very tough time finding people who were willing to dive with me when I first got certified. I would like to see more people willing to take new divers under their backplate and wings and make them feel like they belong.
     
    Lorenzoid, KWS and Esprise Me like this.
  7. 2airishuman

    2airishuman ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Greater Minnesota
    2,488
    1,706
    113
    Sounds like Wazee.

    I like to help people. I like to dive with my kids.

    But sometimes I like to be by myself, in a remote area, where I can focus on my own dive without keeping a watchful eye on someone else.

    A fact to consider is that it is a tiny minority of divers who ever become self-sufficient and able to dive (by themselves or with a peer) safely without some sort of minder
     
    Colliam7 likes this.
  8. Dubious

    Dubious ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Wisconsin
    285
    166
    43
    I don't think anyone will debate this. I guess for the sake of this thread I was more questioning how much should I chime into another divers business.

    I have been lucky to have a wife buddy. She and I have done "fun dives" with three different shops. I had unrealistic expectations. I pictured divers helping each other, but with two of the shops the divemaster never entered the water and we were left to explore on our own. My LDS at least has the divemaster lead the dive even though I don't recall getting any sort of dive correction/tips. I think that requires us to pay for a class :wink: .

    I wish more recreation divers used a backplate and wing. I just moved over to the long hose which is not hard to manage at all. I thought it would be more troublesome. I look forward to getting my wife onto the long hose soon.

    You know it. It is a great place to dive on the weekends. I like not having to worry about all of the boat traffic, granted there was an insane amount of kayaks out.
     
    shoredivr and ScubaWithTurk like this.
  9. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    13,239
    3,202
    113
    Interesting last sentence. I would debate that this is true in Nova Scotia, as I see buddy teams and soloists often. But from what I read here on SB, I have no doubt it seems unfortunately true. Maybe we need a thread on the scuba industry......
     
  10. KWS

    KWS ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SE TEXAS
    4,816
    1,212
    113
    My apologies for the assumed good instructor comment. I am impressed that you went on to not only improve on your own but to have the continued drive and ability to find sources to keep you on a productive path.. The level of proficiancy you are pursuing is amazing for any new diver. Your wife will learn to love the long hose. It appears that my wife had one of those instructors like you perhaps had. we had to start all over from scratch in a shallow lake. It takes time and frog kick takes time and back fining even more. I am switching to side mount and my success as back fining has been pretty good lately compared to back gas. dont know why as yet. In dry suits to boot.
     
    shoredivr likes this.

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