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Overhead environment questions.

Discussion in 'Artificial Reefs' started by Ryan Nelson, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. Ryan Nelson

    Ryan Nelson Contributor

    I dove Shaws Cove in Laguna Beach yesterday and conditions were great about 25ft viz and very low surge. We went for the swim thru/cave dive. During the first 15 minutes we were in there the conditions were excellent, then as we passed a corner we got hit by a few larger waves and the water became bubbley and white. I lost sight of my partner and she lost site of me. We did the standard wait for a minute then head to the surface, except on this particular dive though not technically a cave to surface anywhere that doesn't have anything overhead you would likely be beaten and thrashed mercifully. So surfacing wasn't an option. We ended up heading out two different tunnels and met back up safely on the surface.

    My question is what's the protocol in this situation when you cannot safely surface during the dive? As I looked back when I was out to see if she was still in there it became very apparent that if she didn't surface, swimming back to find the same spot I left would be nearly impossible considering the deteriorating conditions.

    If you dove this Cove you'll likely know what I'm referring to.

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk
  2. Redshift

    Redshift DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Finland
    I don't know the place, but from what you've said is my understanding correct that there is air above (although still inside a cave), but you couldn't go up to meet your buddy because it was dangerous due to the sea conditions?
    Then maybe that wasn't an appropriate site to dive as it became in fact a cave dive. Ocean caves are very dependent on sea contitions when they are shallow.
    The protocol when there is overhead is a lost diver search.
  3. DevonDiver

    DevonDiver N/A

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Subic Bay, Philippines
    As a recreational diver, unless specifically trained otherwise, you are recommended to adhere to the limits of your existing training. That training is for open-water diving'; defined as diving where you have direct and immediate access to the surface. Did you?

    The protocol, therefore, is to not enter situations where you don't have direct and immediate access to the surface. There is no protocol for dealing with foolhardy risk assessments, complacency or over-confidence. In those circumstances, you are reduced to simple reliance on luck for survival.

    I'm glad Murphy wasn't on the particular dive with you. If he was, the outcome may have been different. Next time, he might. Be wary. Chancing your survival to luck is never a sound principle.

    I haven't done the dive in question, but from your description, on the day concerned, it sounds like something I wouldn't want to do without a great deal of planning, equipment and preparation.... and then, only for a very sound reason.
    oldschoolto likes this.
  4. Ryan Nelson

    Ryan Nelson Contributor

    The site consists of a network of tunnels with arches and thru swims in between. Due to its location on the point the rock protrudes above the ocean and sometimes creates problematic issues. Dove the site half a dozen times so I have experience with this particular site at day and night.

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

    ---------- Post added July 23rd, 2014 at 11:07 AM ----------

    I expected some comments about how unsafe this is, but if I didn't feel like my partner and I couldn't dive this I wouldn't have done it.

    That being said I was wondering what the standard protocol is during this situation.

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk
  5. mathauck0814

    mathauck0814 Assistant Instructor

    The standard protocol should have been addressed in your training. If it wasn't addressed, my suggestion would be to acquire training which addresses it.
  6. Akimbo

    Akimbo Just a diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    Divers have been swimming through these arches (caves is a stretch) since the 1950s. I am sure breath holding “skin divers” swam through them in the 1940s and maybe 30s. My first dive there was in the early 1970s.

    Collecting opinions on the Internet is far less important than your thinking through what you are prepared to do when different problems occur while you are in them. It isn’t rocket surgery. You don’t need a cave class for this one.
  7. Ryan Nelson

    Ryan Nelson Contributor

    Yea, like I said I expected a few nay sayers...

    I agree cave is a stretch. This is a unique site none the less.

    No one has useful information?

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk
  8. Redshift

    Redshift DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Finland
    In your situation, maybe what you could have done was agreed on an exit point in case of separation and adverse surface conditions. So you'd both go out the same way.
    Without that ahead planning or further training, once you got caught in that situation it was really a case of going out and hoping for the best.
    Ryan Nelson likes this.
  9. pasley

    pasley Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Lakewood, CA
    Disclaimer: Any environment where you can not directly go from where you are to the surface is an overhead environment and outside the training of the Basic Open Water Diver. The following does not constitute advice or training or any recommended action and is for entertainment purposes only.

    The site in question is better described as a swim thru with a series of arches interspersed with access to the open ocean. The longest of the arches is about 10 feet. Probably less. Wave action, currents etc can make this area a washing machine. Due to the way the beach faces one side of the swim thru may be calm and the other a washing machine. Swimming into white water is IMHO not recommended as the white water indicates agitation and the resulting aeration of the water aka washing machine. So technically this is an overhead environment.

    My first introduction to this location was on my first day of SCUBA Open Water dives with my instructor.

    As for standard way to handle this? Well all dive agencies teach that before the dive all divers should
    1. Conduct a site inspection
    2. Determine conditions (ocean and shore) and if it is safe to dive or not.
    3. Agree on the objectives of the dive.
    4. Agree on a dive leader.
    5. Agree on a dive plan. (Route, max depth, turn around pressure and/or turn around time etc).
    6. Agree on and review Emergency* Procedures - including alternate exits if conditions should change and you can't get out where you got in. This is where you would review where working phones are, lost buddy procedures etc.
    7. Review underwater communications (it should be standard, but it is not as standard as you would think. Agree on how remaining air is communicated etc.)
    8. Gear up
    9. Conduct buddy checks.
    10. Dive your plan.
    * Emergency procedures, medical, lost buddy, low/out of air, alternate exit if you can't use the one you went in at and any special considerations such as lost buddy and lost buddy in special places like the swim thru.
    The plan should include your intent to swim through the arches from Shaws to either the big sky room or all the way through to Crescent Cove and then either back again or to exit at Crescent. In the event of a lost diver your plan should have included how exactly you would handle that in that location. White water there is not an uncommon occurrence. Swimming into white water is IMHO not recommended.
  10. Akimbo

    Akimbo Just a diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    So what do you want to know? Don’t run out of air longer than it takes you to swim out and surface… duh. It really is that simple.

    That can be on half a breath if you are able clear up to redundant gas supplies if you’re not. It depends entirely on your risk aversion and abilities.

    Edit: Why is this in the Artificial Reefs Forum instead of the Basic?

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