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.
My local dive shop has been recommending the new Nautilus Lifeline divers emergency radio since I started diving with them back in January, so I decided to try it out.
The Lifeline is a self-contained marine VHF radio enclosed in its own watertight case that is capable of being taken down to a depth of 425 feet. It was designed with the recreational diver in mind, but it is so well designed that it can go way beyond the recreational diving limits.
When the diver surfaces, he can open the case, extend the antenna and speak via marine VHF radio to his dive buddy, or the boat. In an emergency he can also use channel 16 to speak with all vessels that are nearby.
But what if the diver still can’t find anyone nearby? He can also activate the “Distress Mode” which sends out a signal with the divers GPS location and an emergency message to every vessel and Coast Guard station within a 4,000 square mile area of the diver for up to 24-hours. It even activates a flashing light in case it’s too dark for the diver to be easily seen.
The Nautilus Lifeline displays the divers exact GPS location as well as other information on the built-in LCD display screen. Besides in an emergency, this is also a good tool to have around for pinpointing that awesome new dive site that you just happened to stumble upon. Now you can see exactly what the GPS location of the dive site is, and even upload it to Google Maps with the computer software provided.
With all the horror stories out there about divers getting left behind by their dive boat by mistake, or divers becoming lost at sea, the peace of mind that this little unit can bring is priceless.
I believe that every diver should have a Nautilus Lifeline with them on every dive. You never know when an accident or emergency is going to happen on a dive. As my mother always told me when I was growing up, “Better to be safe, then sorry”.
This little unit has now become part of my permanent dive gear. I will not dive without one again!
To find out more information, or to purchase the Nautilus Lifeline, check with your local dive shop or visit http://www.nautiluslifeline.com to find a dealer near you.
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Today a dive buddy of mine asked me why I am writing this blog about my diving activities. I teach food safety through the Hawaii Foodservice Academy, I teach First Aid, CPR, & Prehospital Emergency Care courses through Oahu CPR TRaining, and I still take time to dive and write a blog about my diving.
I thought about it for a moment, and the answer just jumped right out at me.
If someone out there who has been through a traumatic event in their past that has scarred them and changed how they live their lives happens to read this blog and is encouraged to overcome their fears and take back control of their lives like I am, then they are why I am doing it.
I let my fears control my life for 25 years before I decided to use SCUBA diving to overcome them. Since I started diving back in January my whole life has changed for the better. Now thats not saying that my fears are not still there, believe me they are there, but I do not let them control me anymore. I am now in control for a change, and it feels great!
If I can help just one person to overcome their fears through diving, it will be worth it.