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Veteran Divers paired with Newbies

Discussion in 'New Divers & Those Considering Diving' started by h20baby, Aug 31, 2016.

  1. h20baby

    h20baby New

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Scottsdale, AZ
    My air consumption was actually good. Only once was I sent up before everyone else. Struggled with buoyancy but that's why I scheduled a buoyancy class as soon as I returned home.

    When I was booking my dives I had called with the full intention of paying extra for a guide/DM if need be. Can't put a price on safety and comfort. However I also picked shore dives and smaller boat dives (~10 people vs 20-30) so the groups I was put in with the DM were no more than 4 people. .

    One take away I have here is it's probably a good idea to have a backup buddy/buddies in my group in case the DM does have to leave the group and me unexpectedly.
  2. nolatom

    nolatom Captain

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Orleans
    Good wisdom from all. As many have said, on a "same old, same old" dive, I'm happy with an inexperienced insta-buddy. Hell, I used to be one. In which case, a 25-minute dive instead of 45 minutes, is no big deal.

    Less so on a "destination" dive, where it's really new and different, I want someone whose experience and gas usage are closer to mine.

    But let's be open-minded about it, sometimes what "happens unexpectedly" turns out better than the dive we had planned. I've had few "bad" instabuddies, but even then I learned stuff from either helping them (that warm feeling is worth at least 400psi "wasted") or being reminded of what not to do. That learning is important to me--doing a shared-air ascent, towing a panicked diver on the surface who'd lost her fins while reaching for the trail line, figuring out where the hell we are and the boat is, doing an expanding-square search for a lost fin, don't follow crazy runaway buddy when you don't have enough air left, wouldn't have happened if I'd had "perfect" buddies.

    This was a recent dive where I learned something from buddying with someone new:
    "Harmonizing" differing instabuddy air consumption rates? Some thoughts

    So you never know what new stuff you might learn, but I'd have learned less if all my dives, and buddys, had been "good".
    RainPilot likes this.
  3. RainPilot

    RainPilot OC/CCR Instructor Trainer Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: UAE
    Ive always learned more from the "bad" dives (and flights) than from the "good" ones.
    nolatom likes this.
  4. Neilwood

    Neilwood Contributor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Scotland
    So true.

    I think a lot of this comes down to attitude - if people have the right attitude things work better.

    I, as a new diver, have the attitude that every dive is a training one. I should be learning new things each time. My first OW dive after check out was with an "experienced AOW diver" with about 100 dives to his name. Every time he got task loaded with compass work, his buoyancy went haywire. I learned through watching him not to be that diver!
    wetb4igetinthewater likes this.
  5. wspalding

    wspalding Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Grafton, MA
    Do you mean ascend on the float? Just curious on your meaning because you are drift diving, no?
  6. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    Yes, they ascend with, but not holding onto, the flag line. They do their SS, and surface near the flag for pick up. This is standard for all groups with different bottom times, not just new divers.

    Good diving, Craig
  7. wspalding

    wspalding Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Grafton, MA
    Gotcha. Most of the diving I've done in South Florida, the only one with a float is the DM. As long as the buddy team (new diver/experienced diver) stay in close proximity to the DM, the experienced diver and send the newbie up on the float and finish their dive. I guess the only problem I find with that is when you desire to separate from the group for whatever reason. Would you feel comfortable with helping a newbie shoot a safety sausage from depth and allow them to ascend on that instead of the float?
  8. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    Many of the boats I dive off do not put a DM in the water, the flag is taken by a member of the group. Some divers prefer to shoot a SMB and ascend on that instead of the flag. In very brisk current, it is not always easy to stay with the line and flag and the SMB might be a better idea anyway. I would be glad to help a new diver shoot a SMB if they were able to do that, many new divers do not have that skill, or the equipment. When I dive with a new diver that I have any concern about, or if they are anxious, I will simply ascend with them, make sure that they are picked up, and then go back down to finish my dive. This works out just fine for me as a newer diver may have a bottom time of 45 minutes or so, whereas, my average dive on the reef in Boynton Beach is usually 70-75 minutes. I enjoy helping newer divers improve their skills and gain confidence so that they can become safe, independent divers :)
  9. VikingDives

    VikingDives Mostly Harmless ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: New Mexico
    I think the diving community has far more folks who want to help and are generally good natured, but I can understand the reticence to dive with newbies. I think this has much more do with the bare minimum requirements that all the big agencies impose - new divers don't know what they don't know and that makes it inherently more dangerous for more experienced divers. Story time:

    I'm not the most experienced diver, and I hadn't dived in years, so I did a refesher course at the resort where I was staying. I felt like I'd done pretty well, but I wasn't as comfortable as I'd remembered being when I was diving years ago. I was also going out into the ocean for the first time, so I was looking forward to warm waters and seeing something different.

    The next day, I climbed on the boat with everyone else and we head out to do our first dive. Divers weren't required to buddy up, but most had buddy-spouses. I ended up hanging out with a group of far more experienced divers and the dives were pretty sedate. No deeper than 60 feet, plenty of viz, warm water. Two of the three guys I'm with are instructors and are happy to share what they know. I learn a few things, see some fish and feel confident with those around me.

    Fast forward a couple of days and the more experienced guys are poking the divemaster that they want to dive something more interesting, and there's more folks on the boat who haven't been diving with us. I guess the DM made a call to take the more experienced folks on a deeper/more challanging dive that day, and I was not included in that group. I was kind of bummed, and one of the instructors I'd been diving with even asked the DM if I could dive with them, but he shot the idea down. I wasn't going to argue the point, I'm paying the DM for his opinion, and if he doesn't or can't take me for whatever reason I'm ok with that. (I later found out that it was a deep dive, and since I'd showed my OW cert, they didn't want to take me, which makes sense).

    Off I go into the ocean with a bunch of people who had recently completed their certs, or hadn't been in the water for over a year, and we had a young (and new to me) DM. Prior to the dive, a very nice lady walks up and appoints me as her dive buddy and as we are gearing up, I notice that she hadn't strapped her tank to her BC correctly. I straighten this out and off we go.

    During the dive, I was having some mask issues, had to clear multiple times and ended up with a foggy mask for latter part of the dive. I was trying to see some bit of sea life through said foggy mask when I feel a hand fumbling on my shoulder. My first though was that someone was OOG and was trying trying to get my regulator, and as I turn, I say good bye to my regulator, momentarily, because some guy with no buoyancy control and a GoPro on a stick has swum up next to me and is flailing his arms and legs about while trying to get a picture.

    The next dive, the same dive buddy is heading for the water and I hear her say, "Oh, I forgot to put the strap around the top of my tank. Oh well, that's ok, I don't really need that, do I?" This is the same mistake she made last time. This time I explained that yes, she did need it, and why. By this point everyone else is in the water, waiting on us, so I go to get my gear on, the rest of the group has drifted about 20 meters away from the boat and is waiting at the surface for us to join them. Before I can do a check on her she hops in the water and I follow.

    As I surface I hear, "I need help over here." As I swim over to her she tells me that she can't inflate her BC. I ask her to breathe off her regulator, and check that her air is on and then try to inflate her BC, which she said she'd manually inflated before jumping in. No dice there, but a yank on the low pressure hose confirms that she hasn't connected it correctly. By this time the DM has arrived, asks what the problem is, and proceeds to re-attach the hose.

    The next day I'm back with the more experienced divers and all the inexperienced ones too. Regulator ripping guy shows up with his wife, who proceeds to have a panic attack because she's freaked about diving to 60'. They stay at the surface and the rest of us dive.

    Arriving at a short swim through I find myself at the back of the group. The swim through is a mess by the time the fourth diver makes it through. By the time the last three of us made it there was probably 2' of viability. The husband and wife in front of me start making my spidey senses tingle. I watch the wife kneel at the bottom looking at the swim through. She's breathing fast, and just kind of sitting there. Her husband swims up to her and gestures for her to go and he will follow. She shakes her head and points him into the muck. I'm understanding that she doesn't want to go, but her husband is trying to pressure to to get in there. Eventually, he swims in and as I swim closer, I can see that she is wide-eyed, close to panic, and burning though a lot of air. I swam up to her, and make eye contact. I signaled OK? and she returned the signal, but I knew she wasn't. I tried to appear as relaxed and calm as I could while I gestured that I she and I are going to swim over the top. I could see her relax, and her breathing slowed down. Her eyes stopped looking like they were bulging out of her head and I could see the tension going out of her body. She quickly nodded a very enthusiastic yes and swam over to rejoin the group. The remainder of that dive was uneventful.

    I was a little surprised that at the end of the dive she didn't mention anything to me, but then she may not have realized how bad off she looked, or she may not have even been able to tell who helped her, or she may have been embarrassed, or who knows.

    Now I'm the kind of guy who likes to help, and will run in to try and help during a problem, but in every one of those situations I've just listed I felt like I was making it up as I went along. I realized that I didn't know what I didn't know, but those divers didn't know what they didn't know and ended up putting themselves and me at risk because of their actions. I realized that I need more training, but I am not sure that any one of those divers I mentioned realized how close they could have come to a life threatening event. For me each of those divers taught me something that I'll keep in my bag of tricks, but I can understand why some people would want to avoid new divers, I certainly have a new found respect for them.

    On the upside, I just finished an AOW course with a diver who went OOG on his first dive weekend after receiving his OW cert. He thought it was funny. I think he still doesn't know what he doesn't know, but I hope he lives to figure it out.
    Altamira and RainPilot like this.
  10. Storker

    Storker ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: close to a Hell which occasionally freezes over
    I won't call myself a "veteran diver", but lately I've noticed that I have some qualities and skills that less experienced divers don't have. So perhaps I'm kinda, sorta "veteran" after all - at least compared to those with a still warm OW card :D

    Most of my diving has been in a non-profit diving club, the kind that there are a bunch of over here on the East side of the pond. I joined my club when I had about a dozen or perhaps two dozen logged dives, so at that time I was definitely a n00b. The opportunity to buddy up with more experienced divers has been invaluable for my development as a diver. I'm forever grateful for that opportunity, and the least I can do is to return the favor by gently mentoring less experienced clubmates. By natural extension, that includes less experienced divers who aren't affiliated with my club but whom I might get buddied up with.

    My fundamental attitude towards diving is similar to the airplane pilot quip that a good landing is a landing where you're able to walk away from the plane. For me, a good dive is a safely conducted dive where everyone surfaces safely and no-one gets bent. I've been quite pissed off at guide-led CFs, but a n00b buddy in a proper dive (i.e. everyone has their designated buddy and stays in contact with their buddy) doesn't bother me if that n00b is upfront with their experience and shortcomings, and willing to improve. Sure, there are great dives, and there are less exiting dives. There have been long, leisurely dives and there have been dives cut short a little prematurely because my buddy - or I - blows through their tank as if they were running a marathon. That's fine, that's quite OK. A good dive is when I had a good time when I was diving, both my buddy and I surfaced safely and neither of us had to take a chamber ride afterwards.

    I think it's about the Zen of diving.
    Altamira and RainPilot like this.

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