I’m currently reading Shadow Divers, by Robert Kurson. It’s a very well known book in the dive community; it’s very well written and I recommend the book to any diver at any level. The book; if you’ve read it then you understand why it pertains to this topic; chronicles the discovery and subsequent dives by several divers of a WWII German Kriegsmarine U-Boat off the New Jersey shore line in just over 200 ft of sea water. Some basic dive physics are discussed by the authour as well, which are well to pay attention to for those new divers out there reading the book. Something that is discussed as well is the deaths that result from over extending a diver’s training or limits. This is very important, and a topic which I think is beginning to be ignored by recreational scuba divers. The more DAN safety messages I read, the more I think every week, “What in God’s name were they thinking?”. Basic appreciation of physics (as well as some common sense) often times appears to have been thrown to the wind. Read them, you’ll laugh. But hopefully (and I believe this is the objective of the DAN safety messages) you’ll take pause, and consider yourself in a similar circumstance. Safety is paramount in diving; there is no point in diving, if you’re not returning to the surface to dive again. Ego should be left on the surface; in all seriousness, mother nature doesn’t really care how cool your equipment is; she will chew you and your ego up and spit you out, and politely leave you for a public safety diver to get recovery experience. Shadow Divers discusses very good examples of panic underwater beyond 18 metres, where nitrogen narcosis affects judgement calls, and knee jerk reactions get people killed. Always dive within your limits, and seek training for new depths and activities; especially when engaging in overhead enclosures (wreck, cave/cavern, overhang, etc…), where a CESA may not be possible at all. Understanding the dangers and safety steps/ equipment needed for the dive is vital to a safe, well conducted dive. Have a plan. This is not a secret plan either, your dive buddies should know your plan, be familiar with your’s and your buddy’s equipment. Make sure your buddies are just as comfortable with that plan, as you are. Give your plan a conservative estimate within your limits and comfort level. Base the plan conservatively and use the least experienced diver’s limits as a gauge. Ensure your plan sticks to the rule of thirds, and make tasks and objectives allowable within that rule so you have extra air left for your safety stop.
Make sure your equipment is well maintained, and serviced regularly by trained technicians. Regulator technology has gotten better and better with each passing year; this does not mean you should just start finicking with your underwater breathing device, it’s not like that XBOX in your living room; you need to be sure it works, the fun factor lowers drastically if it doesn’t and you suddenly find your regulator and octopus malfunctioning at depth. So, take it to a qualified, trained professional technician (you thought I was going to say nearest PADI dive resort/centre didn’t you? lol). Just remember whatever dive centre or shop you use, make sure your equipment is well serviced and ensure that you clean it regularly; especially if you’re diving in salt water. Something really smart to do when using new equipment for the first time is to do it in a pool, where any errors or jitters can be worked out in 3 metres rather than 18 metres or more. Be safe and smart when using new equipment that you’re unfamiliar with, and get familiar with it.
Dive within your limits; have fun, but DIVE WITHIN YOUR LIMITS…
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