Low Pressure Hose Failure at Depth

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DCAL1986

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Good morning folks. Long time reader, first time poster. Wanted to share my experience as it is still fresh in my mind. This happened on a multi-day liveaboard trip 2 days ago. First day of diving, dive number 4 or 5 for the trip.

I will preface by saying I had noticed some leaking on my regulator hose where it meets the first stage a month or so before the trip. I took the reg set in to my local dive shop with the intent of having them replace all of my hoses as they were nearing 10 years old anyways. The techs checked them out and said they didn’t need to be replaced and would essentially be a waste of money. I did make a half dozen or so dives afterwards without incident but it’s my fault for letting them talk me out of replacement.

The Incident-
So right before the incident at the surface I tell the DM on the liveaboard that my hose was having some leaks on the previous dive and asked him to double check the tightness of the hose, which he did and we played around with it and couldn’t identify any more leaking so I geared up and splash with my dive buddy. On descent I notice if I tilt my head back that it’s the pressure of my head hitting my first stage that’s causing small releases of air so I think to myself just don’t tilt my head and I will be ok. I hit the sand at 80’ and take a shot at a grouper which in this case I am glad to say that I missed the shot. I reload my speargun and about the time i get my second band loaded there is a loud POP noise and i am immersed in bubbles screaming all around me. I take a breath from my regulator and i have nothing so i look to my buddy and he is looking at me trying to figure out whats happening and i give him a pretty dramatic Out of Air sign and start swimming down to him (i must have ascended 20’ in the rush of bubbles). My buddy was kinda fumbling around still trying to figure out whether he is going to give me his regulator out of his mouth or his octo so I just grab for the yellow and get some air. Now we are spinning around eachother trying to keep from being all tangled up. This whole time is basically a whiteout of bubbles and it is LOUD. Somewhere in the chaos I think i pounded my air inflator before my air ran dry- because we broke the surface in what seemed like 2 seconds. i will say i didn't necessarily intentionally inflate my BC so i imagine it was instinctual (right or wrong). Now we are at the surface. My tank is completely empty so i go to snorkel and look for the diveboat who are clearly wondering WTF just happened. I symbol the OK sign and start frantically swimming back to the boat as the current at the surface is very strong and 4-5 ft seas. Finally make it back to the boat and tell everyone what happened and realize that my regulator and hose are just gone. the only part left was the compression fitting that screws into the first stage. The hose had come completely out of the fitting. After a few minutes talking it over, my buddy and I decide to go back down to 25’ and hang for 20 minutes. A few more mentions, we had only been at 80’ for a minute and all previous dives were in the 40-50’ range. While we did ascend quickly, after talking to the captain and DM who watched from the boat they think that we didn’t ascend as quickly as I thought we did. I did have my GoPro with me but have not watched the video yet. I will try to post it tomorrow when I get back home.

Lessons Learned-
Trust your instincts on your gear. If something doesn’t seem right then don’t dive or don’t think twice about replacement. Your life is worth more than a few replacement hoses.

Practice self rescue. At home I almost always dive 100+ so this could have just as easily taken place on a 2nd dive to 120’ which would have likely ended in me (and my buddy) being bent. I realize that this incident should have gone a little differently with the responsible thing being to use MY Octopus and ascend on my own but quickly diminishing air source. Or I should have used my buddies octopus like I did and just had controlled our ascent better. Turns out I panicked a little more than I wish I would have. I think we are really lucky that this happened in 80’ with very minimal nitrogen load. I intend to promptly look into taking a rescue diver course to get some knowledge and practice for this type of situation.

Using a snorkel in 4-5’ seas SUCKs. Also if I had come up unconscious or bent it would have been pretty ugly as the dive boat had a pretty firm ‘we won’t come pick you up until all the other divers are up’ I’m not confident that my buddy could have done much for me in those conditions and we might have drifted for 20 or so minutes before we got picked up.

Anyways just wanted to share my story and I will add that I did finish out the trip, doing another 8 or so dives on a loaner regulator.
 

rjack321

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Glad you're ok, getting talked out of replacing 10yo hoses sucks. Not only were you right to trust your instincts there (in this case they actually failed) but having that nagging monkey on your back wondering if they are ok is no fun either.
 

cerich

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I realize that this incident should have gone a little differently with the responsible thing being to use MY Octopus and ascend on my own but quickly diminishing air source. Or I should have used my buddies octopus like I did and just had controlled our ascent better.
with a complete LP hose failure like you had, your octo would have worked, for a few seconds, and you'd be out of gas and doing a free assent. I think you did the right thing going to buddy. Once you got to your buddy and on octo, a calm down first then an normal assent would have been better. That said, you were a little freaked out, most folks will be, no question, even if you had been diving doubles and fully redundant, that sudden issue, noise etc is gonna be a shock. Training can help mitigate this in the event you have that less than once in a lifetime event again. Glad all are ok.

trust instincts on gear
 

aviator8

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First, thanks you for sharing this, as I find these type posts enlightening. I hope that this post can stay civil and not devolve into the mess in several threads recently.

the dive boat had a pretty firm ‘we won’t come pick you up until all the other divers are up
This statement made me raise my eyebrows. Is this because you signaled ok? I would think a boat operator would go to the immediate aid of a diver who indicated a problem. I don't think I would dive a boat in currents that wouldn't.

This whole time is basically a whiteout of bubbles and it is LOUD.

Every time I have read about a LP or HP failure it is this. LOUD, confusing, and a wall of bubbles that confuses and can cause panic. Can anyone comment at what level in training can you actually get to actually experience it so you know what it is like and training can condition you to automatically deal with these issue?

I can equate this to pilot training I had. One item covered is carburetor icing. They discuss it, go through why carbs ice, tell you the conditions it occurs in, but you never actually hear it and feel what the engine sounds like when it happens. On my very first post certification flight I wanted to take my dad up, who has thousand of hours flying helicopters in Vietnam. I do normal flight planning and preflight, and tell him what we are going to be doing. It was a hot summer day in the south so humid too. I go show him an emergency descent over an abandoned racetrac. Then I go to pull out and ascend. The engine starts sputtering and he asks whats up. I didn't know so I immediately went to my emergency checklist and it shortly went away, so I called it and we headed back. When I got back and discussed with the flight center owner, he just casually said "sounds like you had carb ice" My emergency procedures fixed it as the step to pull carb heat melted it off, so my training worked and avoided a problem. I pondered on this awhile and thought how much better prepared I could have been in recognizing and then dealing with the issue if I knew what it sounded like and felt like. I think the same thing could apply with placing yourself in a controlled situation whet you see and feel a hose failure.
 

happy-diver

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I hope that this post can stay civil and not devolve into the mess in several threads recently.

Why bring it up on this thread, if you want to comment on those threads comment there

I do a bubble check every time I wash my gear always hooked up to a tank charged

A week later on the day before the dive I charge my regs and check the spg

There is more wear on my hoses from the checking than the diving

full.jpg


I have no issue having an issue with hoses

I hit the sand at 80’ and take a shot at a grouper which in this case I am glad to say that I missed the shot. I reload my speargun

as far as this goes I've got some special hoses for you, so long as next time you make the shot
 

DCAL1986

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Thanks everyone for the feedback. @Landau i suppose that definitely could be a possibility. I know that I was surprised to find ourselves at the surface. It all happened very quickly. I was focused on getting my buddy’s octo then we were at the surface. I don’t recall a focused thought of going to the surface. The other thing that never crossed my mind was ditching my weights. Either way looking forward to working on some rescue muscle memory so to speak.
 

cerich

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Every time I have read about a LP or HP failure it is this. LOUD, confusing, and a wall of bubbles that confuses and can cause panic. Can anyone comment at what level in training can you actually get to actually experience it so you know what it is like and training can condition you to automatically deal with these issue?

.

I simulate it quite convincingly when teaching solo diver, tech or PSD, honestly I don't in rec because it is a cue they need to isolate the gas loss and go to redundant in that training, where as in recreational, it's a go to buddy, and if too far do a CESA event. Isolate and go to redundant is no so much a choice in "standard" recreational configuration.

That said, for whatever reason, hose failures have become more common anecdotally the last 10 or so years than I recall over the last 38 years of diving (the first 5 years I wasn't that active.. ) and the last 24 full time in the recreational dive industry
 

Soloist

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Thanks for an unvarnished and forthright description of your dive. Moreover, it’s very constructive and pragmatic to assume responsibility for panicking. Most would excuse or justify their actions. Glad you shared this story and you are alright.

You may consider taking a solo diver course before pursuing rescue. Essentially hunters are solo divers, especially aggressive speargun hunters, so you were very lucky your buddy was not too far away. I suggest finding an assertive and thorough solo instructor that will put you to task. This course is only as good as the instructor. Self reliance and redundancy are key and would have turned this catastrophic event into simply a very short dive. Initially it’s a hassle carrying a pony bottle, however, it becomes second nature after a while. Considering you typically hunt at deeper depths a pony bottle may just save your bacon.
 
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