Can I Breathe With This Thing?
When I was a new diver, my Scuba Instructor, Wells Martell, gave me my first dive computer. As it turned out, the first time I used it was on a night dive. It is never a good idea to use unfamiliar equipment at night! I had always used my depth gauge as a navigation tool, but with my new computer, I could not tell which number was my depth! So when I followed that cool squid…I got disoriented! Fortunately, I eventually figured out where I was and got us all back to shore safe and sound. Lesson learned…
Recently, a couple of situations have come up that reinforce the importance of being familiar with your dive equipment. The first was when one of Jon's students forgot how to purge his alternate air source which was attached to his inflator hose. Jon was able to get the student back on his primary air source immediately and then reviewed how to use the alternate properly.
The second instance was when two certified divers asked me about practicing some skills on their own, which I agreed was a great idea! I asked them if they had alternate air sources attached to their inflator hoses. They both said yes. So I recommended that they practice the alternate air skill by giving up their primary and then going to their alternate air source. I also recommended that they practice the skill on land first and then try it in shallow water.
The next day, they came back to the shop and said they had done the practice session. The first diver said the skill went great and she now felt confident that in the event of an emergency she could safely use her alternate air. The second diver said that there was something wrong with her equipment, and that it only worked when she held the button in continuously…then she showed me her manual inflator hose, with no regulator attached! She had done the skill by trying to breathe off the air in her BCD! She did not realize that this was not an alternate air source.
My recommendation to divers everywhere is to practice your skills regularly. It's one thing to learn skills during your initial certification courses, but what about when you get new equipment and/or those skills aren't so fresh by the time you need them? Our instructors and divemasters are always available for skills practice sessions and we find that divers really enjoy refining their skills and gear familiarity. Ready to brush up with some skills practice? We're ready to help! Aloha, Teri
May 2, 2013 @ 6:35 pm
Nice post. I too was certified by Wells back in 19XX. :) Thanks for the reminder. I gotta get a refresher course.
March 29, 2013 @ 7:29 pm
Professional golfers always hit practice balls before playing, even though they are "professional." Good divers would benefit by thinking the same way. Good article Teri.
March 28, 2013 @ 6:18 pm
Teri, I totally agree with you here. A few months ago, I took a couple of divers out and most of what we practiced was out-of-air drills. The divers Ed & Judy both have Air Sources, so we did lots of "quick draw" run throughs until the removing and offering of a primary while grabbing their alternate to use themselves was fluid - second nature even! Then we toured around and did "pop quizzes" where I'd signal one person to be "out-of-air" and see how fast and smoothly their buddy could help them. Way fun and successful too!