When is it okay to abandon your dive buddy?

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Wibble

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A highly solo mentality can easily become one where the buddy-pair diving principles clash. With solo you're completely dependent upon yourself for all foreseeable problems, hence anything that's important you carry two, etc. Generally solo divers are experienced divers, aware of their kit and regularly practice with it, performing 'shutdown' drills, etc.

The buddy and team mentality is that your reserves and redundancy are on your team-mate / buddy. The weak link here is that some buddies are terrible. People who refer to buddies as "team mates" tend to train a lot for working together, frequently for technical diving.

The problem with the recreational buddy system is the variability of buddies; skills, experience and training. Not forgetting their attitude, observant, helpful, understanding, risk-taker, selfish... or not. The ultimate problem with the buddy system is simply the insta-buddy. Hopefully the experienced solo-types tell you so; the lunatic self-centred reckless gas guzzling ones generally won't own up in advance.
 

Marie13

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When your buddy abandons you!
 

agilis

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I'll bet there are a whole heck of a lot of divers out there who get a chance to dive once or twice a year in a tropical place and never become (or haven't yet become) dilignet, careful, skilled divers who can keep their head. I know two at least but we're working on it because we love diving :)

You can only become one of these "increasingly rare breeds" through experience and learning, so shouldn't we allow divers the chance to learn and grow?

If I go back to my training, I was taught to use the buddy system, not to depend on others, but as redundancy for worst case scenarios. I don't see how that makes anyone a fool.

*shrug*
Read with more diligence. I wrote that divers who rely (note: 'rely') on other people to help them if they get in trouble are fools. If circumstances limit a person's ability to gain substantial experience, then that should be factored into what they attempt to do. Training is a great help, I'm sure, but practice. even in a pool, practice of the repetitive and demanding type, is more important than formal lessons. Doff and don under water, breath hold swimming until it becomes effortless, spending hours familiarizing oneself with equipment, doing it blindfolded, and various other forms of amusement and torture can be done anywhere. Buddy diving is not redundancy. There is nothing much wrong with it, but thinking it makes one safer is a dangerous illusion.
 

pauldw

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I wish I knew how to be a good buddy. But I definitely don't. I certified in the 80's while at college inland, then dove on a remote part of the Oregon coast thereafter since it was near home and my favorite place, and a buddy was never a thought. I didn't know a single diver in the area or even in the state. Dive plans weren't an issue either, since I was exploring. Off the shore, down twenty feet or so, come up when the tank got low. Shore support from family was important to me when available; a buddy wasn't.

When we had kids, they got certified, and I dove a little with each of them, always watching them like a hawk, but that wasn't a conventional buddy experience.

In my late 50,'s getting back into diving , I went to Mexico and did a boat dive while on a largely non-diving vacation with my wife. My buddy was an incredible young woman from Texas who had perfect bouyancy and trim. I liked being her buddy just to follow her and try to learn how to dive well. But I did also wander around the reef some. Not past where I could see her, but a ways off at times.

Back home, I took some classes. One was a dry suit class. That class made it clear to me that I had physical fitness issues and anxiety issues (the former often causing much of the latter), and also some claustrophobia issues I'd never had before my fifties. I bailed on that dry suit during my first pool session, due to anxiety and hating the neck seal (which seal I trimmed down shortly thereafter). In the open water session, our instructor wanted me and two young women to swim around together for twenty minutes. Thing is, it was a mudhole. I couldn't see anything, not even my hand unless it was close to my face. The only way to not lose track of a buddy was to physically hold onto them, and that wasn't something that seemed like a good idea. So it wasn't much of a dive.

Then came a deep dive class, which well and truly sucked. I was tired on the surface, and nervous. And it was a high altitude dive, which probably didn't help. My mask seal wasn't good because of my beard. I'd only had the drysuit a short time, the dry suit class being it for my experience in the drysuit. My buddy was a lady in the class who came with her extremely vocal DIR husband who was constantly correcting her. She was really nervous. When it was time to descend, I dumped all my air and started slowly down, since I wasn't overweighted and so could only go down slowly. Turns out she was overweighted. She dropped out of sight almost immediately. I tried to invert and kick to follow the glow of her light, but then got ear pressure and mask flooding issues distracting me. It was a complete cluster. Her husband was with her, and the instructor chased her, and I stopped in midwater and tried to get a grip on things. Then I surfaced and they surfaced, to discuss a second shot at that first dive. However, I bailed and went home. This was traumatic for me because I didn't think of myself as a weenie, and hadn't been one when I was young. Running away isn't my thing. I'm painfully aware that I was not taking the baby steps to get back into diving that I should have, and that I was pushing past both my training and general abilities, in unsafe ways.

That said, my instructor told me later to never leave my buddy. I certainly didn't argue. But I did think about how 1) I didn't really leave her, she left me, although my own failings (and equipment issues) kept me from boldy charging down after her; and 2) I don't even know how to be a good buddy when I'm staying next to someone. I've had rescue class, and I'm clear on doing whatever I can to help someone in trouble because that's my job as a dive buddy and as a human being. It's more the mundane details. Sorry about writing so much, but this has bothered me for over a year now, and I want to get it off my chest. Unfortunately, I get the impression that maybe I'm not an unusual buddy, but a typical one. A lot of non-Scubaboard divers seem to be in some version of the same boat, so to speak, as me. I'm increasingly confident in my own diving, but I sure don't know how to be a good buddy, including when to abandon someone.

Maybe it's just back to solo diving. I'll probably travel for some Puget Sound diving this winter. But in the meantime I'll follow this thread, because some constructive ideas would be really helpful even if it is something of a rehash of a perennial topic.
 

TMHeimer

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I only abandoned a buddy once. I had less than 20 dives and we were in a group shore diving in Rhode Island (King's Beach). A fair bit of surge. We went out oh, maybe 20 feet on the surface and descended as a group. Within seconds I saw nothing. Viz was nil-- no fins or anything. What I THINK happened is the locals knew there may be a layer of low viz until you get below it. Think that's what I was told anyway. I didn't feel comfortable at all with my lack of experience and headed up and to shore. I felt that my safety was in danger. Lot of water under the bridge since then.
There was one other time a buffy and I split up (FL panhandle), but that was via signaling. He wanted to follow a bunch of Southern Rays and i wanted no part of that-- so we agreed that I would lead back to shore and he would continue.
 

Centrals

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After a dive especially if he/she was a lousy insta-buddy! Otherwise I would have said thank you before parting company.
"Abandon" too strong a word.
 

Wibble

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I wish I knew how to be a good buddy. But I definitely don't. I certified in the 80's while at college inland, then dove on a remote part of the Oregon coast thereafter since it was near home and my favorite place, and a buddy was never a thought. I didn't know a single diver in the area or even in the state. Dive plans weren't an issue either, since I was exploring. Off the shore, down twenty feet or so, come up when the tank got low. Shore support from family was important to me when available; a buddy wasn't.

When we had kids, they got certified, and I dove a little with each of them, always watching them like a hawk, but that wasn't a conventional buddy experience.

In my late 50,'s getting back into diving , I went to Mexico and did a boat dive while on a largely non-diving vacation with my wife. My buddy was an incredible young woman from Texas who had perfect bouyancy and trim. I liked being her buddy just to follow her and try to learn how to dive well. But I did also wander around the reef some. Not past where I could see her, but a ways off at times.

Back home, I took some classes. One was a dry suit class. That class made it clear to me that I had physical fitness issues and anxiety issues (the former often causing much of the latter), and also some claustrophobia issues I'd never had before my fifties. I bailed on that dry suit during my first pool session, due to anxiety and hating the neck seal (which seal I trimmed down shortly thereafter). In the open water session, our instructor wanted me and two young women to swim around together for twenty minutes. Thing is, it was a mudhole. I couldn't see anything, not even my hand unless it was close to my face. The only way to not lose track of a buddy was to physically hold onto them, and that wasn't something that seemed like a good idea. So it wasn't much of a dive.

Then came a deep dive class, which well and truly sucked. I was tired on the surface, and nervous. And it was a high altitude dive, which probably didn't help. My mask seal wasn't good because of my beard. I'd only had the drysuit a short time, the dry suit class being it for my experience in the drysuit. My buddy was a lady in the class who came with her extremely vocal DIR husband who was constantly correcting her. She was really nervous. When it was time to descend, I dumped all my air and started slowly down, since I wasn't overweighted and so could only go down slowly. Turns out she was overweighted. She dropped out of sight almost immediately. I tried to invert and kick to follow the glow of her light, but then got ear pressure and mask flooding issues distracting me. It was a complete cluster. Her husband was with her, and the instructor chased her, and I stopped in midwater and tried to get a grip on things. Then I surfaced and they surfaced, to discuss a second shot at that first dive. However, I bailed and went home. This was traumatic for me because I didn't think of myself as a weenie, and hadn't been one when I was young. Running away isn't my thing. I'm painfully aware that I was not taking the baby steps to get back into diving that I should have, and that I was pushing past both my training and general abilities, in unsafe ways.

That said, my instructor told me later to never leave my buddy. I certainly didn't argue. But I did think about how 1) I didn't really leave her, she left me, although my own failings (and equipment issues) kept me from boldy charging down after her; and 2) I don't even know how to be a good buddy when I'm staying next to someone. I've had rescue class, and I'm clear on doing whatever I can to help someone in trouble because that's my job as a dive buddy and as a human being. It's more the mundane details. Sorry about writing so much, but this has bothered me for over a year now, and I want to get it off my chest. Unfortunately, I get the impression that maybe I'm not an unusual buddy, but a typical one. A lot of non-Scubaboard divers seem to be in some version of the same boat, so to speak, as me. I'm increasingly confident in my own diving, but I sure don't know how to be a good buddy, including when to abandon someone.

Maybe it's just back to solo diving. I'll probably travel for some Puget Sound diving this winter. But in the meantime I'll follow this thread, because some constructive ideas would be really helpful even if it is something of a rehash of a perennial topic.

I only abandoned a buddy once. I had less than 20 dives and we were in a group shore diving in Rhode Island (King's Beach). A fair bit of surge. We went out oh, maybe 20 feet on the surface and descended as a group. Within seconds I saw nothing. Viz was nil-- no fins or anything. What I THINK happened is the locals knew there may be a layer of low viz until you get below it. Think that's what I was told anyway. I didn't feel comfortable at all with my lack of experience and headed up and to shore. I felt that my safety was in danger. Lot of water under the bridge since then.
There was one other time a buffy and I split up (FL panhandle), but that was via signaling. He wanted to follow a bunch of Southern Rays and i wanted no part of that-- so we agreed that I would lead back to shore and he would continue.

These neatly illustrate the fallacy of the buddy system. It kind of works, but doesn't when you push it. This is especially the case for novices and when diving in non-ideal conditions where buddy loss is a fact of life.

Practice makes things better, but it still won't solve the basic issue of not being able to help someone in poor conditions.

Therefore you only have yourself to rely on. Self sufficiency is vital.
 

fisheater

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"When is it okay to abandon your dive buddy?"
When staying with your buddy would cause real life threatening situation for you.
Yep. I was diving with a random "insta-buddy" on a boat dive in Carmel, California. We were down around 80' and I was running low on NDL time. I signaled him that we'd better go up. I waved me off. I gave him the "thumb" for the dive and he again waived me off. (I strongly believe that the "thumb" from either diver ends the dive for both divers.)

I again pointed at my dive computer, signaled "small" and gave the thumb. He again waived me off.

I was down to two minutes of NDL and still had to navigate back to the anchor, so I said to myself "F it, I'm out of here," turned and swam away.

He got the idea and followed me to the anchor and we ascended together.

Back on the boat, I asked what they was all about and why did he waive off my repeated signals to end the dive. He explained that he was used to diving in a rather shallow lake (Lake Folsom, near Sacramento) and his dives were limited by the amount of air he had or his tolerance for the cold water. When I signaled him, he was only looking at his remaining gas pressure and didn't pay any attention to his NDL time. He had gas, so he wanted to stay.

He apologized and was a bit shaken by allowing his complacency to undo his training. He thanked me for being persistent, as he would have wildly overstayed his welcome at that depth and gotten himself into serious trouble.
 

TMHeimer

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These neatly illustrate the fallacy of the buddy system. It kind of works, but doesn't when you push it. This is especially the case for novices and when diving in non-ideal conditions where buddy loss is a fact of life.

Practice makes things better, but it still won't solve the basic issue of not being able to help someone in poor conditions.

Therefore you only have yourself to rely on. Self sufficiency is vital.
Agree. Fact is if you buddy dive both must always know exactly where the partner is. There are ways to do this, but basically checking every 5-10 seconds, even sooner if it's like 3 foot visibility. It can be a pain in the neck (figuratively and literally). If you can't easily make contact you probably can't be of help and whatever rescue skills you may have become useless. Perhaps that's the main reason so many dive solo?
 
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