Some small details can drive a simple dive into an accidental situation.
It’s an ordinary story that could happen to you and I’m going to tell you now.
True, really true, only the names and the photo of the article do not stick to the truth story to keep the anonymity of the people and the dive center.
It starts like a lot of stories, in a rather banal way, just willing to go on vacation, not so long ago, Debby had the pleasure of going diving with family and friends in a destination with clear and warm waters .
… Unfortunately, her first dive did not go as she would have liked
Back on a dive that could have gone wrong
During her family vacation, Debby and the other members of her group form a heterogeneous team: two very experienced 60-year-old divers, Debby and Alan both diving instructors and their two teenagers.
As soon as they arrive, they inform the person in charge of the dive shop of their respective levels and explain to him what they wish (their children being divers allowed to dive up to 30 m but only exceeding exceptionally the threshold of -20 m as a precautionary measure )
For their first dive, they ask for a cool dive, because the children are there and because it’s always good to start cool.
So the next day the boat is heading towards a spot apparently very nice and they are awarded a young freshly certified instructor. That’s not a problem, they are autonomous and just want to be guided.
On the boat, impossible to know where they are going because it is a “surprise” (or because the captain wants to see the current, …).
A little before arriving on the spot, weights are distributed: 6kg for women, 8 kg for men, that’s it. And, of course, they have to use aluminum tanks.
If most of the divers on the boat are using a 3mm shorty , this is not the case for Debby and her team. They dive in 5mm because they planned other dives requiring a thermal insulation a little thicker.
Obviously, they have no choice and will dive with this weight that may be not enough…… (I had already explained in a previous article this kind of phobia (underweight) that can really be a problem.)
Just before the immersion, the instructors explain that they will dive on a wreck placed on a bottom of -27m. For a first dive of “rehabilitation” for children, it does not suit at all Debby who exposes her fears to the instructor who answers her that there is “no worries, you can easily explore the top of the wreck and stay at -20m ” Not convinced but in front of the desire of all to go diving, they decide to jump into the water.
As there is a little current, the captain drops them a little further so that they can let themselves be carried and arrive at the wreck.
Debby and Alan brief the children and decide that the youngest of the two will stay with her.
At the signal, they jump and follow their young guide to the bottom (-27m) in a harsh manner … and …no wreck!
In three signs, Debby reports that there is no wreck, that they are too deep and that there is a lot of current and she asks to stop the dive because these conditions are unsuited to their heterogeneous team.
The guide beckons her to follow her (against the current)
Euuuh, she’s not good at it?
Debby gestures to her son to stay cool (what he is), she grabs his tank and slowly kicks for two !
After a few minutes that seem endless, and still no wreck, one of the members of the team clings to a rock because he feels breathless. Debby is also almost breathless and decides to exchange her buddy with Alan … No way to hesitate, they ask the guide to stop the dive.
The guide then makes a U-turn, goes up on the wall to a depth of -20 meters and asks them to follow her by being carried by the current.
Very quickly, the members of the team see the wreck and other teams busy explorering it … The young guide (who had never visited the spot) took just the wrong direction going opposite to the wreck . Debby and the others arrive on the wreck with 90 bars in their tank ( a little less than half tank)!
While Alan makes her a sign to warn that he goes back on the top of the wreck with the youngest one, Debby continues with her daughter, the guide and the rest of the team.
Hardly the time to get around the wreck by the stern and the current takes them back in the face. The guide asks Debby what’s left in her tank: 70 bars for her 90 for her daughter. She gestures for them to come with her on the bow of the boat to complete the dive and release the SMB. Debby seeks the other members of the team. Her two friends are in front of her and her daughter next to her but she sees Alan with the little one above the wreck at the mast making her sign that it’s not OK.
In two strokes she catches the guide and tells her that there are two members of the team higher and that it is not OK. The guide makes her understand … that she does not understand!!!
Without asking, Debby goes to the mast followed by the rest of the team to join Alan who have reached the reserve of air and fighting against the current.
The guide eventually follows them and begins to waver in all directions to try to deploy her SMB. At this moment Debby and Alan lose patience, push the SMB and the disordered movements of the guide away from them and calmly pull their SMB before starting calmly to ascent.
Their two friends didn’t catch everything, and thinking that Debby and Alain want to be “with the family”, stay close to the guide for the ascent.
Arrived at the deco stop, things get tough because, as the tanks are much less filled, Debby and Alan are obviously not enough weighted and therefore, it’s difficult to hold a safety stop according to the computers of the children and a mandatory stop according to theirs, very complicated to stay at the right depth and to keep the children there!
Debby and Alan then decide to break their deco stop, go back to the surface and order the children to hang on the buoy of the SMB before descending directly to 5m to complete the mandatory part of their deco stop (40 seconds) to avoid at least their computers are locked for the second dive and keeping the children in sight, hopefully the water is cristal clear.
Once on the boat, the guide apologizes for this failed dive and admits that she did not know the spot at all … and she guides a heterogeneous team of 6 people (I remain speechless).
Half of their team, including children, decide not to do the second dive with this guide.
Of course, back on mainland and after an explanation with the head of the dive shop, he will admit that this is his responsibility, decide not to bill the two dives of the morning and will assign them an experienced guide for the rest of their stay.
Fortunately, this dive ended well when it could have very clearly led to an incident or a diving accident: shortness of breath, panic, too fast ascent with risk of pulmonary overpressure, …
What can this story tell us?
Of course we could be outraged about the dive shop and / or the dive guide. But rather than adopt this critical attitude (which might not bring much), I propose to see together what we can learn from this story:
- When you have specific requests, make sure they are understood by everyone
- Refuse to dive with just not enough weigt … you have the right to your comfort and your safety: don’t worry about one additionnal kilo. If you dive with beginners and / or children, take one or two extra kilos to distribute them if necessary.
- If you dive with a heterogeneous team, make sure that the entire spot (and not just a limited part) corresponds to the person with the lowest level of diving but also to the realities of the members who make up the team (age, physical conditions, ..)
- Make sure your guide knows the spot you are going to explore. If the person has just arrived in the center, ask to be guided by someone else who has a minimum of knowledge of the spots.
- Do not dive against the current (we know it, we say it … and sometimes we believe nevertheless that after this little effort we will be at the right place)
- Avoid errors that can lead to dangerous situations
Do you still see other lessons to put forward?
Share them in a comment directly on the blog so that your good ideas do not get lost in news feeds and serve to the greatest number of us
And above all … do not forget to be happy 🤗