When is it okay to abandon your dive buddy?

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garak112

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I recently had a situation where my buddy abandoned me on a dive and was interested in more experienced divers view of the situation.

I've got 25 dives so pretty inexperienced and booked a deep dive and nitrox course with the company I did OW/AOW with. It had been 2 years since the last dive because of covid so we agreed for 2 rec dives first to assess skills etc.

There were 7 divers plus 2 instructors on this dive and I was randomly paired up with a buddy who didn't speak English.

Entry was from the beach with a short swim out before dropping to 5m. My buddy struggled with the swim and I had to keep beckoning him closer as we prepared to descend.

We signalled to each other and descended. At the bottom we checked over again and signalled the OK before swimming off with the group on a gentle descent to 15m. Viability was about 20m.

One of the other members of the group had an issue with his mask and we all stopped together whilst he took it off to put an alternate on. When we stopped I checked in with my buddy (who was behind me of his own choice) and he signalled he was OK, the second dive instructor was immediately behind him. At this point I was having an issue with my mask as well and was trying to fix it.

At some point in the next minute my buddy swam off by himself. The instructor behind him didn't see it happen and there wasn't any obvious reason for it to happen. The lead instructor realised he was missing as I put my mask back on and asked me where he was, confused I span round to where he had been and couldn't find him.

The instructor who had been behind him swam off and located him elsewhere else and finished the dive with him but afterwards was unable to find out why he had swam off. The diver then cancelled the rest of his dives.

Afterwards the lead instructor expressed some displeasure with me for losing my buddy although he conceded that he had seen me checking on him several times. I apologised but at the same time was left thinking that I had my own problems and it wasn't really my job to babysit someone who wanted to do their own thing.
 

Wibble

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This is pretty much the "instabuddy" problem many have mentioned. Some people are just crap buddies.

The good news is you've learned from it. All diving experience is good, even if the actual experience is bad (if that makes sense).

Being self-reliant is a good thing to aim for, even when buddy diving.
 

Chavodel8en

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I also prefer to swim side by side w/ buddy, if the site allows. I hate having to constantly look behind me.
 

wetb4igetinthewater

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Right now, I'm certainly a crap buddy as I'm getting sorted on my rebreather. I had a big regression due to a 6 week window of no diving. Things are coming around though.

During the week, I meet up with a friend (OC SM) to dive in a lake for practice/skills dives. Wednesday night, I thought I was leading (should have worked out our dive plan a little better). He looked away for a moment, I swam on, and then I got my bailout bottle entangled from this float on a rope attached to a weight. Now I'm at 100 feet, but I'm not worried as I have all the time in the world with a machine. I didn't want to cut the rope as it was a landmark of sorts. So I tried to free myself at first. As a result, I kicked up a whole lot of silt. And a result of that, my buddy couldn't see my light at all.

He did the right thing. He tried to find me, but seeing no sign of me whatsoever, he headed back to the surface.

Just as I was about to use my shears to cut the rope, I got free and headed back. We were separated, dive was over. We have set up lines that we use for navigation back to shore, and I found him waiting for me.

We had a chat of course about this. When you are separated from a buddy, spend some time trying to reconnect, and then meet at the surface/meeting point (as we have lines to follow a meeting point is easier).

Given that I make no bubbles, if my light dies and I have some sort of medical emergency, I would never want a buddy to risk their life trying to find me. Make a best effort as hopefully my light is working, but stop before you put yourself in danger. One fatality is better than two fatalities.

Now if your dive buddy is a crap one, goes off in whatever direction they want and doesn't care about you at all, don't abandon them (unless they are putting you in danger - try thumbing the dive and if they ignore, then abandon them), but don't ever dive with them again.
 

Wibble

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Completely agree, I end up with neck ache otherwise. I've noticed that some people like to be behind though.
Bright narrow beam torches will help. Back person shines below the front person. Front person shines it on top of that beam. If buddy clears off, their beam will go too. Then turn around to find them gawping at a guppy/whatever.
 

wnissen

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I would say choosing to separate from your buddy should occur only when there is more risk caused by staying. So if you are hitting your NDL or overexerting in a current by trying to stay with or follow a buddy, you are putting yourself at risk and should separate (with notice, if possible).
 

Subcooled

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Is there ever a legitimate reason for ignoring and swimming away from your buddy?
Examples:
1. You show the low-on-air signal and your buddy shows an OK and continues swimming.
2. You need to resurface immediately (e.g. because of low on air) but your buddy ignores your thumb.
3. Your buddy dives below your safe depth.
4. Your buddy dives into an overhead environment that you are not trained for or you do not feel safe entering.
5. You still have mandatory decompression stops to do (probably because something went wrong and you stayed for too long at too great a depth) but your buddy skips them.
6. Mutual agreement in some situations. You had better agree on that on land already. Happens often with photographers.

In short:
You do not need to endanger your own health or life.
Plan the dive. Dive the plan.
Try to make the safest choice.
____________
ps. this is a quick list and there can be other good reasons too.
 

Scared Silly

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7. Your buddy forgets the post dive adult beverages (aka the beer).
 

boulderjohn

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I think you're right. I just found my old OW manual and remember being told to read chapters 1+2+3, and ignore 4+5 as they were AOW material. Chapter 4+5 are the ones containing info about computers and tables. And I learned nothing from AOW as that was a total disaster.
Ignore what I said, all my courses seem to have been very substandard.
I did not follow this thread earlier, but I can explain the problem here.

Back then there was a transition from learning tables to learning computers. It was very common to teach a computer course to people who had OW books that taught tables. Students were taught to do chapters 1-3 only in the OW book. Chapters 4-5 were all about tables, and they had nothing to do with AOW.

BUT...

The instructor was supposed to supply materials for learning computers instead of the material on tables. Such material was available, but I am sure some people did not teach it and just told people to read the computer manual. That would be a standards violation.
 
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