For about the past month I have been interested in Solo Diving and attempting to find more information on it. Every PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) instructor that I have spoken with about my interest in it say the same things, “solo diving is dangerous and should never be done” or “PADI does not allow solo diving“, or my favorite “as a certified PADI professional I will pretend I did not hear that“, yet PADI themselves offers a Distinctive Specialty for this exact same thing. They just named theirs the PADI Self-Reliant Diver Distinctive Specialty which is taught at many PADI dive shops around the world.
So that makes me start thinking, if solo diving is so taboo and dangerous and you should never do it, then why does PADI have a Distinctive Specialty teaching you to do what they say you should never so in the first place?
There seems to be a lot of hypocrisy concerning solo diving when it comes to PADI. So I started looking outside of PADI for information on solo diving and I discovered that Scuba Diving International (SDI) teaches a course on solo diving, and guess what, they were even bold enough to name it a Solo Diving Course.
Solo diving is no more dangerous than any other form of recreational diving. It needs to be done correctly, and with the proper equipment and training, just as any other form of recreational diving needs to be. Even diving incident statistics for the past decade do not show that solo diving is more dangerous than any other form of recreational diving.
I am not saying that “Buddy Diving” is bad, or that there is anything wrong with it, but I have been paired up with a “dive buddy” on a boat dive that I have never met before, have no idea what kind of a diver he or she is, and have no idea of how competent they would be in an emergency situation.
I do know that from past experiences I do not allow myself to rely on my “dive buddy” in an emergency. I rely on myself, my training, and the equipment that I carry with me on every single dive, including a completely redundant air supply. If I am going on shallow dives I always carry a 3cf Spare Air system, and if I am going on deep dives I carry a 30cf pony bottle with separate regulator and gauge. I also always dive with a spare mask in my BCD pocket, just in case something happens to mine on a dive.
As soon as I am able to I plan on taking the SDI Solo Diver Course. One of the prerequisites for the course are a minimum of 100 logged dives, which I will be able to complete in about a month or so, I am already at 72 logged dives.
Below is a very good video that was recorded at the London International Dive Show in April of 2012.
I believe that instead of making everyone believe that solo diving is taboo and dangerous, we should teach the correct ways to solo dive, and the proper equipment that needs to be used for a solo dive. Its like a police officer giving you a ticket for speeding, then the same officer speeds when not on an emergency call. Its complete hypocrisy, and that is one thing that could make new divers leery and untrusting of diving associations and what they say and teach, and question other things that are taught to them for safety.