Routine or frequent repeating of the same diving tasks has two sides. The first one is positive, because we perform certain movements quickly and skillfully, which is a great advantage in crisis situations. For example, divers who follow the practice that „repeating leads to enjoyment” in case someone accidentally pushes the regulator out of their mouth, do not have to think about how to find it and put it back into their mouth. Instead of a panicky reaction, they almost unconsciously follow the procedure of looking for the regulator, which they have previously done hundreds of times as a drill, and thus solve the problem in just a few seconds.
However, routine has another, more dangerous side. Sometimes divers with multiple dives start performing certain procedures routinely or without thinking, and some procedures they might even decide to skip, which can quickly lead to problems or even accidents.
Experienced instructors, who are not always role models
On diving trips, where divers from different backgrounds gather, we can sometimes see confident divers or even instructors, who no longer perform the basic procedures the way they learned or how they should teach their students. Their equipment is perfectly assembled, they are ready to enter the water on time, but it quickly happens that they miss a crucial procedure for safe diving, and sometimes mistakes can become visible during the dive. Here are some of the most common ones:
„Briefing” (or pre-dive agreement)
When diving, “old and experienced” divers often listen only to the general briefing of the diving guide about the new location and some special features or pitfalls of the location, while they simply fail to hold a briefing session of the diving pair. Although the briefing of the two divers is intended for diving planning by agreeing on the diving depth, diving direction, synchronization of communication signs and other important information, many are convinced that they do not need it. The result of a superficial briefing is manifested in the form of misunderstanding under water, missed attractions, exceeded diving time without decompression, diving too deep, and on night dives even losing the partner can occur.
„Debriefing” (post-dive analysis)
Instead of the usual questions of who saw what, all divers, without exception, should also devote some time to dive analysis. This is the only way to correct, change and improve diving routines, especially if you ever return to the same place. Also write down how many weights you had, how much air you had left, what kind of underwater currents were there and, of course, all the specifics of the diving location. If you enter the findings from the detailed briefings into your diving diary, it will eventually become a great database for future dives.
Consequences of a missed or carelessly performed check of a diving partner can be either fun (jumping into the water without weights, fins or even a mask) or tragic (closed tank valve, incorrectly buckled belt with weights, etc.). Unfortunately, many diving pairs relax too early about inspection of their diving partner’s equipment, even though it is the last preventive inspection before diving into the water. Are all shoulder straps and zippers attached? Is the tank valve open and how much air is in the tank? Does the inflator charge and empty the dive compensator? Is the belt with the weights placed correctly? Where does the diving partner have a knife, in which compensator pocket does he have a buoy and where is the reel with the rope? How many lamps does the pair have? All this should be checked by diving partners before each dive, whether it is the twelfth or three hundred and seventy-seventh one …
Proper entry into the water
Entering the water is one of those moments when everything can go wrong very quickly. Especially on a diving boat, where everyone is usually in a hurry to jump into the water as soon as possible, so diving is a real circus of all possible styles and problems. When entering the water from a diving boat, diving leader also have some responsibility, but sometimes they do not pay enough attention to it. The mask must be on the face, the regulator in the mouth, before the jump you must inflate the compensator, then the right hand goes to the belt buckle with the weights, and the left to the mask and the regulator. And only when everything is OK, you can jump into the sea. And if everything is fine after the jump, it should also be shown with an „OK” signal to the diving partner and the dive leader.
So what… An English diving proverb says: „Plan the dive, dive the plan”
This means you have to plan each dive first and then dive according to that plan. Such is the theory, but in practice there is often an excuse „so what…”. This comes in handy when diving at 42 instead of the agreed depth of 35 meters, extending the time in the area of decompression diving, entering dangerous parts of wrecks or narrow underwater caves, swimming without the agreed intervals of checking the diving partner and many other cases of irresponsible actions. This is particularly dangerous during night dives. If one of the diving buddies decides to swim a little outside the agreed protocols, that cannot be justified with „so what” in the underwater darkness.
Remember the basic rules
Although it may seem to you that you could empty the mask in any circumstances or take it off and put it back on your face, do this exercise on every, say, tenth dive. Practice lowering the buoy, removing weights and other exercises, but you must not fail to do the briefing, buddy check and debriefing on each and every dive. Only then will your dives be safe no matter how many dives you have entered in your diary and what diving category you have achieved..
Text: Matej Ogorevc