Is a Pony Bottle too complicated for a beginner?

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Julius SCHMIDT

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Balls to one side it's far more relaxing diving with a decent sized pony. Depends on the diving. In Australia mainly Queensland over the past few years I have seen two divers with a pony and one solo diver.
 

MaxTorque

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I understand what you are trying to say but I don't believe you are 100% correct. Solo diving (for those properly trained, equipped and experienced) also requires some form of air source redundancy. In this instance there is no buddy for air sharing.

I'd hope that as a newly qualified, in-experienced diver the OP wasn't considering any solo diving quite yet!!

And whilst you can of course dive to recreational limits as a solo diver, was was kind of aiming my post to buddy'd up standard recreational diving as the majority of divers do it. Here, your buddy is your backup, and hence the only reason for a futher back-up is when there is "reasonable chance that your buddy may be unable to provide that back-up" for what ever reason.
 

MaxTorque

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Divers being self reliant, and diving with friends, makes sense to me.


Absolutely this ^^^

But not until a diver is able to demonstrate and has suitable experience of getting the basics right imo, and it should certainly not be used to replace a signficant level of conservancy in all aspects of their dive planning and execution
 

gamon

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When it comes to terms we can’t just make it up. There are industry standard definitions. Yours is not a pony bottle. What you really have there based upon your usage pattern is a kind of independent doubles. The way you use it it’s NOT a pony bottle.

You absolutely can dive however you wish. But be careful about co-opting terms and using them incorrectly. It can cause significant confusion especially for new divers.

Thanks for this post. It's about the only time someone who disagrees with my use of a "pony bottle" to extend my dives wrote anything that actually makes sense.

Ponies are not to be incorporated into ones gas plan as has been mentioned to you on several occasions. How about you just call your pony a stage and stop pushing your particular brand of diving

Yes. No. Nothing wrong with my style of diving- or at least not one single fellow diver has given a valid reason why it isn't other than "you're not supposed to do it that way".

Using a pony improperly to extend bottom time, especially on deeper dives, has the potential to put an untrained diver into deco..

@Jim Lapenta Your post makes no sense. A diver can go into DECO on deeper dives even when using only a single AL80. This has nothing to do with using a Pony to extend a dive, it's about properly monitoring gauges and bottom time and responsible diving, nothing more. As I've explained MANY times there's no reason to "pretend you don't have a full extra tank" if you've actually GOT a full extra tank.

Unless you agree with the others who say that by simply "calling a pony a stage bottle then it's ok to use it to extend a dive"
 

johndiver999

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The other thing divers need to understand when they decide to carry a pony is that it is NOT part of your available gas plan. It's for when stuff hits the fan and you have no other option. You still dive as if you were not carrying it.
.

This advice seems to be a reasonable and conservative way to look at the situation, but for recreational diving, it seems a little over-kill.

For example, if you are recreational diving (with a buddy) and comparing the scenario of having a pony bottle versus NOT having a pony bottle:

If you DO NOT have a pony bottle, then you need to reserve enough air to get you and your buddy to the surface, while sharing the gas in your primary (and only) tank. In other words, you need to preserve roughly DOUBLE the amount of gas it will take you to get the surface (and maybe more if you assume the buddy will be over-excited).

If you DO have a pony bottle, then it is 100% reasonable to assume that your pony bottle has enough gas to get you to the surface (otherwise you are doing it wrong). In this scenario, (with a buddy and a pony bottle) you need to reserve in your main tank ONLY enough gas to get your buddy to the surface.

This means that you should be able to run your main tank down to roughly half the pressure that you would normally need to reserve should you not have a pony.

Thus, it seems like you can "safely" run your tank down lower than "normal" and you therefore are using the pony bottle volume in your calculations and contingency plans. I view this as one of the benefits of a pony bottle - you can safely extend you bottom time due to an increase in emergency gas supply.

What is the problem with this line of thinking?
 

MichaelMc

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From a recent thread rehashing this.
Pony refers to how it’s used not where it’s mounted. If it’s a redundant air source not factored into your gas plan it’s a pony. It’s there for emergency use only and is primarily used by solo divers. Regardless of whether it’s back mounted or slung.

If it’s factored into your gas plan in any way, meaning you plan to use it at a point in your dive, it’s a stage or deco bottle. If you’re diving CCR it’s a bailout bottle. These are almost always slung at the side.

TDI has some very good definitions, presumably applicable in the UK as well as elsewhere in the world.
Diving with redundant air source for recreational divers - SDI | TDI | ERDI | PFI
Pony cylinders (3-40 cuft) are categorized as redundant air sources...not to be included in your gas plan. They are for emergency use. They can be slung or back-mounted. How they are carried does not change their name or their use.

PADI also defines a pony as a reserve cylinder (6-49 cuft, 1-4 lt). The reserve cylinder is defined by its intended use, not its mounting.
NAUI also defines a pony as a "completely separate source of air," used "as a back-up system"

A stage bottle is part of your gas plan, and extends your dive...no matter how it is carried\, or whether you drop it or not.

See Pony bottles VS stage bottles for a succinct description.

The point: ponys and stages are distinguished by their intended usage, not their method of being carried. In my travels around the world, this seems to be agreed. Here on SB, the argument comes up sporadically, often from UK divers who maybe don't get out and about much. :)
 

gamon

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This means that you should be able to run your main tank down to roughly half the pressure that you would normally need to reserve should you not have a pony.

Thus, it seems like you can "safely" run your tank down lower than "normal" and you therefore are using the pony bottle volume in your calculations and contingency plans. I view this as one of the benefits of a pony bottle - you can safely extend you bottom time due to an increase in emergency gas supply.

What is the problem with this line of thinking?

Fom what I've been told there's no problem with it but you HAVE to call it a Stage Bottle not a Pony Bottle (and have a way to monitor the pressure during the dive) or the scuba Police will arrest you and place you in Solotary confinement at the bottom of a pool until you run out of gas just to teach you a lesson of sorts.
 

MichaelMc

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A short take on it:
Pony is small independent redundant gas source.
Stage is part of what you plan to use, just in a separate tank.

If you plan to use your first tank, switch to your second, and then carry on with the second just like with the first: That is a stage.

If you plan to use a tank only if something unexpected goes wrong with the first tank: That is a pony.

Just be sure that if you thought you had a separate reserve, fully independent from what you are breathing, that that is still the case. That if the tank you are breathing implodes, your other tank can still get you to the surface. Not your main tank 'fails' by going dry as you expect (an expected event), you switch to the 'reserve' which you made no longer redundant by breathing down the first tank, that second tank actually fails unexpectedly, and you no longer have something to breath.
 

stepfen

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To answer the topic question: As usual, it depends on the beginner. IF the said beginner has buoyancy control developed to the point that he/she can comfortably hold position: to deploy and use pony's second stage, then to be able to stow it away neatly, remove the said pony from his rig and then reattach it, then I think he is ready for it.

I am not talking about doing all these comfortably and effortlessly from the beginning. That's impossible because it requires a lot of practice and without using a pony to begin with one can't learn/practice it.
But before starting using a pony (and hence practicing these skills) he/she should be able to hold position (buoyancy control) well enough.

I don't know exact statistics but I think/guess that most beginners do not have this level of buoyancy control and situation awareness out of OW. Hence I would say that ponys are not for beginners unless they are that good with buoyancy.

All these apply of course to slung ponys. No idea about back mounted ponys and the related procedures.

As always that's just my 2c and keep in mind I am not even an instructor hence I might be totally wrong with this.
 

60plus

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Mosquito rediscovered 60 years after crash

See above news article. People do this dive on a pony / stage bottle and a single reg and stones for dive weights. The reason being its about 2500 ft above sea level and too far to walk carrying full dive kit. Some even snorkel / free dive a few bits of the tarn.
 
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