Solo diving class

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DA Aquamaster

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Genesis:
That's definitely one of those "if you need a class, you're not qualified" things.

I don't see how you can teach that one, to be honest..... :D

That is the most intelligent comment made so far about solo diving.

I started solo diving since the late 80's when solo diving was definitely not approved by anyone. In light of that and in light of my own indoctrination into the buddy system I was very cautious, very conservative, very honest in the self assessment of my abilities and very rigorous regarding equipment maintenence when I started solo diving. I think those are key ingredients to safe solo diving. That very cautious attitude and the firm knowledge that I was doing something outside the bounds of accepted recreational diving kept me from doing anything stupid.

To be a safe solo diver you most definitely have to know your limitations, and if you feel you need the class, solo diving is definitely beyond your ability

I am actually concerned about the concept of a solo diving class. We have a large number of divers out there who have the mistaken belief that taking and passing a class actually qualifies them for something. A class is a compliment to actual skills and experience not a substitute for them and passing any class should only be regarded as a licence to continue learn under carefully controlled circumstances. A scuba "certification" of any type is just a licence to learn - nothing more.

I can forsee legions of newly minted solo divers trudging down the beach to do something really stupid while warmly basking in the confidence and blissful ignorance gained in their solo diving class. It's pretty scary when you consider that just about any moron can pass the average scuba class so I think very careful screening by instructors will be required to avert a solo diving certification disaster.

Now, as a solo diver I am certainly not opposed to solo diving, but to do it safely you need to be a very capable, knowledgeable and self sufficent diver who is also able to keep things together and problem solve under stressful conditions. Solo diving is not for everyone.

If you are considering solo diving, I would agree with the need to have a minimum experience of 200 dives in a variety of challenging conditions. You then need to read, know and fully understand Robert Von Maier's book "Solo Diving, the Art of Underwater Self-Sufficiency".

The book does a good job of addressing the need for self assessment and for risk assessement on every dive in addition to discussing equipment considerations as part of the whole package required to be self sufficent enough to consider solo diving.
 

glbirch

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S C:
You are right, however, solo diving need more preparation and more backup plan. I will not take the course with a new instructor with minimum of 50 certification.

Hmmm... what's your magic number then? 60? 100? 312 certifications?
 

S C

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Ya, certification is not necessary equal to qualification

Sam
 

Gary D.

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DA Aquamaster:
That is the most intelligent comment made so far about solo diving.

I started solo diving since the late 80's when solo diving was definitely not approved by anyone. In light of that and in light of my own indoctrination into the buddy system I was very cautious, very conservative, very honest in the self assessment of my abilities and very rigorous regarding equipment maintenence when I started solo diving. I think those are key ingredients to safe solo diving. That very cautious attitude and the firm knowledge that I was doing something outside the bounds of accepted recreational diving kept me from doing anything stupid.

To be a safe solo diver you most definitely have to know your limitations, and if you feel you need the class, solo diving is definitely beyond your ability

I am actually concerned about the concept of a solo diving class. We have a large number of divers out there who have the mistaken belief that taking and passing a class actually qualifies them for something. A class is a compliment to actual skills and experience not a substitute for them and passing any class should only be regarded as a licence to continue learn under carefully controlled circumstances. A scuba "certification" of any type is just a licence to learn - nothing more.

I can forsee legions of newly minted solo divers trudging down the beach to do something really stupid while warmly basking in the confidence and blissful ignorance gained in their solo diving class. It's pretty scary when you consider that just about any moron can pass the average scuba class so I think very careful screening by instructors will be required to avert a solo diving certification disaster.

Now, as a solo diver I am certainly not opposed to solo diving, but to do it safely you need to be a very capable, knowledgeable and self sufficent diver who is also able to keep things together and problem solve under stressful conditions. Solo diving is not for everyone.

If you are considering solo diving, I would agree with the need to have a minimum experience of 200 dives in a variety of challenging conditions. You then need to read, know and fully understand Robert Von Maier's book "Solo Diving, the Art of Underwater Self-Sufficiency".

The book does a good job of addressing the need for self assessment and for risk assessement on every dive in addition to discussing equipment considerations as part of the whole package required to be self sufficent enough to consider solo diving.


Very well put.

But I don't agree with any set # of dives. There are people out there with 50 dives that are good level headed divers. And there are divers out there with 500 dives that still can't get their gear together right.

What it boils down to is are you comfortable enough to handle yourself underwater.

And I do agree with the others in if you need a class keep a buddy with you.

We have had threads here saying Nobody is going to tell me how to plan or do a dive. But they will let someone tell them they are ready to dive alone. DUH.

Look at the majority of diving accidents. Were they Solo or Buddy? If I have my choice on a dive it's solo.

Gary D.
 

Doc Intrepid

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...diver error/planning was ultimately the problem in his accident... I always try and go beyond what the minimums are and inject some local reality.
Any and all ideas and comments are appreciated, so please keep them coming.

I solo dive. This is not intended as some diatribe against doing so. But it represented a sobering example to me, and may be of value to you in making your decision (above)...

An extremely experienced diver who owns part of a diving store was in the habit of videotaping his OW students and providing them with tapes of themselves finishing their courses. He would circle the group as the Instructor and 2 divemasters conducted each course, and videotape students performing skills.

After a course concluded last year, the instructors and DMs escorted them to shore. The videographer followed along a separate course. He ran into a gill net that had been strung in the area during the preceding week. The net is made essentially of woven monofilament, very thin, virtually invisible except for horizontal lines running along top and bottom. As his forward momentum took him into the net he realized what was happening and attempted to reverse course. Several things happened simultaneously:
1. camera dropped, causing net to become taut along a vertical axis;
2. his mask was swept off his face, as the net snagged where his mask strap attaches on the left side;
3. his second stage was pulled from his mouth by his effort to reverse course, as the net snagged on the adjustment knob adjacent to his mouthpiece;
4. his right arm, right wrist attached to the camera, was enmeshed in the net and held tightly against his right side such that he could not lift his wrist/arm - the net was snagged on his fins;
5. while he remained relatively 'neutrally bouyant' he could neither go forward nor backwards, right nor left, up nor down - bouyancy or not the net was not flexible.

He was able to move his left arm and was equipped with a SP Air II, which he put into his mouth. Without the mask he couldn't see where he was snagged, but without the right arm he couldn't get to the shears on the right side anyway.

Ultimately he inflated BC using left hand, and 'squirmed' (his word) to move his fins to work his way up to a point where his face could break the water, but waves would wash over his face. Using his left hand, he'd remove the Air II long enough to shout for help, then replace the Air II to breath while waves submerged his face.

We heard the shouts, but thought it was initially students in the course elated at having completed their certification dives. The DMs were first to catch on, and they went to get him only to become hopelessly enmeshed in the net themselves. But, they could hold his head above the water. The instructor ordered the students to remain on the beach and enlisted three other experienced divers, who proceeded to ginsu out the other three - carefully.

Most people don't think about things like that occurring. Whether you think of them or not, or try to use appropriate response planning, once caught as our friend was most reasonable remedies were rendered useless by the circumstances.

Solo divers need to accept the fact that while it isn't very likely, potentially fatal situations do exist that simply may not be survivable if you are diving without a buddy.

Solo instructors should make this point emphatically clear.
 

Genesis

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Yes but I even want to hear from you Karl as you actually solo dive and aren't dead yet :54:

Two years ago just after I got cleared to teach this specialty a very good friend of mine died while solo diving and since that time I have had no desire to teach solo.

Time of course heals all wounds and diver error/planning was ultimately the problem in his accident so I have been thinking about possibly teaching it this summer.(with prejudice)

The breathing rate and gas planning focus you mention are excellent points and the type of feedback that is good to hear as it is easy as an instructor to get stuck in the " what does the standard say?" trap and I always try and go beyond what the minimums are and inject some local reality.

Any and all ideas and comments are appreciated, so please keep them coming.

You have to look at the statistics.

We've been over this before here, but the bottom line looks something like this:

1. About 100 divers cack themselves from ALL causes (including those that set Pete and others off - diving in overheads w/o certification, solo diving, etc) This is, speaking realistically, a very small percentage. Of course it sucks if its someone you know, but that's true no matter how someone goes.

2. The deaths are roughly split into four camps:

a. Those who die due to a physiological problem. No way to do much about this, other than not be there at the time - then your death counts as "something else", but you still die. MOST of these are not really scuba deaths, and its unfair to count them - if you were playing GOLF when you had that heart attack, you'd still be dead. Indeed, most of these are the type of problem that unless you have an ALS unit within 4 minutes of you, no matter what you're doing, its "lights out." If you had that heart attack while FISHING, you'd still likely be dead.

b. UNINTENTIONAL solo divers. This is extremely dangerous. Two divers go into the water intending to be each other's backup, and for whatever reason get separated at or about the time of the incident. One (or even both) dies.

c. INTENTIONAL solo divers. One goes in, zero come out. MOST of the time when this happens the solo diver is improperly equipped. The most common failure is no redundancy in the breathing gas supply.

d. Buddy team deaths. Both people end up dead, or one dies and the other survives (sometimes with injuries), but the team stays together. This is usually from a problem that one initiated, and a good part of the time is really an (A) on further analysis.

Now you might think that (C) would be the largest group.

You'd be wrong.

The largest group is (B), then (A).

Statistically, there is no clear evidence that (C) or (D) are the "better" choice, and indeed, if you remove those soloists who were improperly equipped even at the basest level of analysis, (D) is more dangerous, statistically, than (C). One can argue that the reason for this is that the "spare brain" in a buddy can fail just like equipment does, and when it fails your redundancy goes along with it.

What this tells me is that there's nothing wrong with solo diving provided that one is prepared and properly equipped for it.

I'm not sure this is a class you can teach though, and I am deeply troubled by SDI's inclusion of "Spare Air" as an appropriate redundant breathing device, as it tells me that they have not discarded the CESA as a valid response to an emergency - because with one, you WILL be making a CESA of one form or another.

The problem with something like that, in my view, is that one of the tests for solo diving is the same as one of the tests for technical diving readiness - you must have discarded the CESA as an option. All problems must be solved underwater, and you must be equipped both physically and mentally to do that.
 

jonnythan

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On a completely unrelated note, I like TDI's swimming requirements much more than every other agency's swimming requirements.

"Surface swim of two hundred (200) meters / six hundred (600) feet in full scuba gear (gear configuration appropriate to local diving conditions). Must be Non-stop and performed in an open water environment."

That will definitely test anyone's fitness while keeping the activity actually related to something you'll do while diving.
 

glbirch

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DA Aquamaster:
That is the most intelligent comment made so far about solo diving.

I started solo diving since the late 80's when solo diving was definitely not approved by anyone. In light of that and in light of my own indoctrination into the buddy system I was very cautious, very conservative, very honest in the self assessment of my abilities and very rigorous regarding equipment maintenence when I started solo diving. I think those are key ingredients to safe solo diving. That very cautious attitude and the firm knowledge that I was doing something outside the bounds of accepted recreational diving kept me from doing anything stupid.

To be a safe solo diver you most definitely have to know your limitations, and if you feel you need the class, solo diving is definitely beyond your ability

I am actually concerned about the concept of a solo diving class. We have a large number of divers out there who have the mistaken belief that taking and passing a class actually qualifies them for something. A class is a compliment to actual skills and experience not a substitute for them and passing any class should only be regarded as a licence to continue learn under carefully controlled circumstances. A scuba "certification" of any type is just a licence to learn - nothing more.

I can forsee legions of newly minted solo divers trudging down the beach to do something really stupid while warmly basking in the confidence and blissful ignorance gained in their solo diving class. It's pretty scary when you consider that just about any moron can pass the average scuba class so I think very careful screening by instructors will be required to avert a solo diving certification disaster.

Now, as a solo diver I am certainly not opposed to solo diving, but to do it safely you need to be a very capable, knowledgeable and self sufficent diver who is also able to keep things together and problem solve under stressful conditions. Solo diving is not for everyone.

If you are considering solo diving, I would agree with the need to have a minimum experience of 200 dives in a variety of challenging conditions. You then need to read, know and fully understand Robert Von Maier's book "Solo Diving, the Art of Underwater Self-Sufficiency".

The book does a good job of addressing the need for self assessment and for risk assessement on every dive in addition to discussing equipment considerations as part of the whole package required to be self sufficent enough to consider solo diving.

I agree with much of this, but not the first line. If you are for solo diving, but against the teaching of it, are you saying that everyone who decides in their own mind that they are a studly uberdiver should just go out and teach themselves?

For better or worse the whole idea of a course is to codify what you have just said. Minimum requirements are set, reference material is chosen or written, required skills are determined. Then you get someone experienced to instruct, so that the student learns the right way from square one without making all the potential mistakes that they might if they try to teach themselves.

Much of what you say could have come out of my instructor's mouth. It could also be applied to a lot of the advanced skills that some divers get into. (scratch 'solo diver' from your comments and insert 'cave diver' or 'wreck diver').The guys who started cave diving did it through a lot of trial and error. They had no course manual. They learned what worked and what didn't, and now that is passed on to those who want to learn the right way.

Personally, I took the course because it sounded like a way to increase my self-suffieiency and self-rescue skills, and because it looked interesting. Haven't solo dived yet, may never. But I learned, and will continue to improve myself.
 

Genesis

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Doc Intrepid:
After a course concluded last year, the instructors and DMs escorted them to shore. The videographer followed along a separate course. He ran into a gill net that had been strung in the area during the preceding week. The net is made essentially of woven monofilament, very thin, virtually invisible except for horizontal lines running along top and bottom. As his forward momentum took him into the net he realized what was happening and attempted to reverse course. Several things happened simultaneously:
1. camera dropped, causing net to become taut along a vertical axis;
2. his mask was swept off his face, as the net snagged where his mask strap attaches on the left side;
3. his second stage was pulled from his mouth by his effort to reverse course, as the net snagged on the adjustment knob adjacent to his mouthpiece;
4. his right arm, right wrist attached to the camera, was enmeshed in the net and held tightly against his right side such that he could not lift his wrist/arm - the net was snagged on his fins;
5. while he remained relatively 'neutrally bouyant' he could neither go forward nor backwards, right nor left, up nor down - bouyancy or not the net was not flexible.

.....

Had he been with a buddy, two would have been in trouble. Indeed, deeper two would have died instead of one.

Solo divers need to accept the fact that while it isn't very likely, potentially fatal situations do exist that simply may not be survivable if you are diving without a buddy.

Solo instructors should make this point emphatically clear.

True, but in some of those situations, having another person there just increases the body count.

In the example you cite, it took FOUR people to get one out.
 

Hoppy

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Gary D.:
.

Look at the majority of diving accidents. Were they Solo or Buddy? If I have my choice on a dive it's solo.

Gary D.

Thats an invalid argument IMHO, the majority of diving is Buddy ergo most accidents happen to Buddy divers. You can't say they happen because of Buddy diving from that statistic.

Sorry I'll get back under me rock now.

Great thread otherwise, learning lots, which is why I'm here.
 
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