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Mexican Dive Bum
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Reading some of the threads in the equipment and DIR sections, it seems that there are a few people who carry extra equipment "in case they run out of gas".  I would always advocate diving a configuration with a back up gas source in case of equipment failure, but am not at all convinced of the need for an additional source (i.e. twinset plus bail-out pony) to guard against failure to monitor your gauge.

What I would like to know is:

Have you ever experienced an out of gas situation?

What was the cause?

I think it would be very useful, informative and a good learning experience if we had some "salutory lessons" recounted.  It would also be interesting to know exactly how common this is.

Safe diving all,
 

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Yes, once, 12 years ago, when I was a lot less experienced than I am now. I've told the story before on this forum but here it comes again. It was at Tarpon Alley, Grand Cayman, at about 30 metres, towards the end of the dive, when I was about to start my ascent and was starting to get low on air that my regulator (Cyklon 300) free-flowed and it was unstoppable. I was using a single cylinder without any back-up, which, of course, is still the normal procedure in the tropics, unfortunately – I've tried to awaken people's interest on this forum and Divernet in starting a campaign to get the leading overseas divecentres and liveaboards to get some pony bottles for rental but few people seem interested.
Anyhow, my remaining air disappeared long before I reached the surface – when a Poseidon reg free-flows it does so with a vengeance, which is why the DIR people won't use Poseidon regs, I believe. Fortunately, the guide/instructor was nearby and gave me his octopus, which I used to get to the hang bar, where there was a spare cylinder and reg, so I was able to do a safety stop and then a free ascent the last 4-5 metres.
 

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There was a guy in my old club, whom we shall refer to as Tom, had a major cock-up on the Wallachia in the Clyde. Here's the story:
He rolled off the side of the Rib and his 50/50 pony free-flowed and he blew all his gas. He turned his pony off and went down for his dive with Dick. Tom had a free-flow off his only working reg at about 30+ mtrs. He looked round for Dick and he was nowhere to be seen.
 Harry then appeared from nowhere and gave Tom his reg of his rig and turned off Toms free-flowing valve. After a couple of seconds Harry turned Toms valve back on and it had stopped free-flowing. Tom sticks his own reg back into his mouth and swims off.
 After a couple of seconds the reg stopped working. He went hurtling back up to harry giving the OOA and Harry couldn't find his occy again as Tom had just dumped it at his ar*e when he swam away.
 Cue a situation with 1x12ltr, 1x50/50 pony, 1xtwin 10's and only one accesable reg. These two guys are well qualified and should have known a "LOT" better. It was stupidity that put them there, but it was the ScotSAC buddy-breathing that got them out. 30+mtrs to the surface inc. stops.

Now that's going OOA in style!!!

Peter
 

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These 2 scotsacs sound a typical blend of experienced competent divers who have given little thought to their equipment configuration, and what thought given in this case was seemingly flawed.
It works until it doesn't, have they changed their gear layout yet?
No comment on the 50 mix as ? only redundent supply at 30m.

Cheers, Malcolm.
 

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The story I have is far less dramatic but demonstrates the need for self monitoring as well as buddy checks.

On my last dive hol this summer out in Sardinia we did a nice dive down to about 55 metres. We were all on 232 bar 18l from the dive operator.

On our ascent, one poor fellow, who I later discovered had only recently qualified and should never have been at the depth we were at, ran out of air...he'd simply sucked it dry.

CARDINAL SIN....no equipment failure just a lack of experience, lack of self and buddy monitoring and going beyond his own safe limits...which no doubt caused a slight nervouseness and hence a rapid air consumption.

Lucky for him the dive leader was there to help.

I think that's more a warning for the newer diver but also something we all should have our eyes peeled for when diving with strangers.

Kinetic
 

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I never ran out yet, the closest I came was in my novice days at Stoney Cove.

Our instructors had to get a lot of us students in the water and through our basic dives - Uni clubs never suffering from high numbers of instructors..

On on of my dives, I signalled when I was down to the agreed "time to surface" air level, and we went up from 20m to the 6m area.

At this point, the instructor had to stop to do deco, as he'd been to 20 and back too many times that day


I hit 50 bar with several minutes of his deco left. Showed him my gauge, and asked if I should leave & surface or break club rules by surfacing with less than 50bar.

He handed me his octopus and we sat there a few more minutes while he finished his deco, then switched back to my air and surfaced with exactly 50bar
 

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Dom,

Where do you do most of your caves or do you try and get around?

Graham
 

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Only once, a few years ago and not so long after I had been qualified. I was on a liveaboard in the Red Sea and was buddied with a much more experienced diver. They suggested an exploration of a coral head which was quite a long swim so checked with me that my air consumption was OK to do this. I, foolishly not wanting to lose face (can you see where this is heading yet?), said I would be fine.

And so it was I spent a very nervous dive glancing at my gauge every 30 seconds, doing the mental arithmatic and not liking the answer. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to start heading up before the needle starting hitting zero. As a result I was only (!) 3m from the surface when the supply gave out but that feeling of drawing a breath and the valve going tight was the most awful feeling in the world (as I am sure others who have had the same a**e twitching moment will testify). I shot to the surface to discover I was only 20 yards from the boat and nobody, including my buddy, had noticed anything was wrong until I told them.

So there you have it, entirely my fault and entirely preventable. I spend a lot more time planning dives these days and I am never afraid to call I dive if I don't think I'm up to it. In the 400ish dives since then, I'm glad to say, I've not had anything close to a repeat performance. It does, however, give me a good 'it happened to me' story to tell to trainees when teaching dive planning.

Iain
 

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Well, I suppose it's time for my story on one of my early dives on the Zen. One of the hardest lessons learnt in a long, long time. Not an OOA, but an ascent at about 30m a minute to get to a drop tank. And a gauge reading 0 when I got there.

As a fairly newly qualified AOW, with about 20 dives under my belt, few of which were beyond 30m, I was on the Zen for the day to do 2 dives, max depth 40 and 30 respectively. Looking back, I was not really ready for the first dive, but me, being a nob, thought I was, and got bitten in the ass for it.

Basically, mate leadig a group, me at the back, I was in first, as he had other bits to play with. first few customers jump on in no problems, last one in jumps and loses torch. Worth about £25 maybe. I spot it going down, and make a note.

Dive goes fine, all well and good, everyone round the wreck, down to 60/70 bar, and up the line from 16m to do their stops. I signal to my mate that I'm off for the torch, with about 80 bar in my tank. The torch was at 42m. I knew this. Nob? Yes, I was. I get to the bottom, look around. See tank boot lost from other centre on bottom, they'd jumped off the same boat, so I'm thinking torch can't be far. Have a look about. Nothing. I'm on my way up, look down and see torch. I go for the torch. I pick it up, and then look at my gauge. Less than 20bar. Oh dear. My ascent begins. Rather quickly. This is when I get the narrowed thinking problem. All tat's on my mind is the drop tank at 5m, and how long it's going to take. I could practically see it from 30m.

I did my ascent, without adding air to my BCD, swimming pretty damned quick. Not advisable on a profile which basically runs from 40 gradualy up to 16 just avoiding deco, and then back down to 42. Anyway, get to the drop tank, turn on the valve, and breathe free air. Look at gauge. Nothing. Mate was sitting on the top of the wreck looking at me. At 16m. Waiting for me to come back up, with a reg ready. If I'd have known this, I could have done a realy nice, slow ascent from 16 to the surface, and probably given my body a bit more fighting chance.

As it was, no bend, as close as it comes to an OOA, and a very relieved Digger. 2 not so impressed mates, who could only laugh at my foolhardy behaviour, and the fact that there were no customers to see it.

Guess what I got for that torch? A fiver tip. A fiver! If I had my time again I'd have just pretended I never found it, and let the guy live without it. He'd have never known.

I learnt my lesson after that. Plan the dive, dive the plan. Never had a problem since.
 

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I haven't personally run out of gas but I've had a very young diver on the same dive as me run out and we did an ascent from 25m with him on my octo.
 

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Looks like i started this so:

Point is I dont use a pony with a twin set I will use travel gas as bail out. A pony only goes on the twin set for one of two reasions. Depth from the bottom to first gas switch is 15m + or I am diving a second dive on a twin set that is low on gas.

that said

Got to 20 bar at 30m in the Muldives whilst watching a bait ball being formed from the entrance to a cave. Joop (my instructor) got me out and safely up on his long hose.

I got a pony streight after that trip.

I had a free flow on my twin set at 42m deep on a wreck off of Folkstone last year and I lost about 50bar of gas before I could shut it off but didnt run out and I only had to cut the dive short. Sand in reg caused problem.

On my last dive trip I unexpectadly ran into deco doing a scallop dive after doing a deep dive in the morning on the remnents of gas in my twin set and had to ascend and do 18mins of stops on my pony from 25m as I had run back gas down to 20bar.

Please note by way of comparison. I always carry a spare mask but I have never lost a mask duiring a dive.

ATB

Mark Chase
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] ]I always carry a spare mask but I have never lost a mask duiring a dive
I have - surface rescue work, it sank into the sea.
Luckily, we had a First Class diver with us who went and found it
 

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A couple of times when I have been using up odd bits of deco gas it has run out earlier than I expected. To be honest they have been no more than doh! situations where I have swapped to a n other gas.

Andrew
 

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Almost...

3l Pony in a swimming pool


I won't go into the ins and outs of why I ended up using a 3l pony in a pool but I finally decided to go to the shallow end and stand up when it showed about 15bar.  


It is interesting to note the differentiation between equipment related OOA and human error...

I don't know how often timewise I check my air during a dive but It  normally works out about every 5bar ish.  

And for those who hate air integrated computers, they do have one advantage from my experience, every time I check my computer I automatically check my air (So pretty often - The same should apply to a analog depth and pressure guage).

Daz
 

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Yes I wish I had a vytec now, I always check my air and comp at the same time but it takes twice as long when I have to look at my console for my air.  
Never had OOA personally, had buddies run out due to equipment failure though.  
Had my reg fail once - wasn't so much a freeflow but more of a very poor mouthpiece that fell apart and made it nearly impossible to breath from (it was hire gear), I just used my octopus though and carried on.
 

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Twice now.
Some time ago on my first trip to the box at stoney I managed to drain a 15tlr and pony dry. Got low on my 15ltr so decide to switch to the pony and carry on diving. A pony doesnt last very long at 35m as I found out, so had to switch back to my 15ltr which was almost dry and just about to managed to do my stop and get back to the surface with only a few breathes left in it.

Second time was in Lundy last year on the Roberts. I was taking a guy down for his first proper wreck dive in the uk but I had a o ring blow on my tank as I was about to get in and lost half my gas. Replaced the oring and jumped in however being in a rush I hadn't realize that my pony reg had got jammed up when re-kiting up. Got in and did the dive and I had to decided to drain my tank and then come up on my pony as I didnt want to ruin my buddy's dive. This was going to plan and I run out of air coming up the shot line however I couldnt reach my pony reg because it was jammed up so I pointed at it to get my buddy to past it to me but he had no idea what I was on about and I really didnt want to panic him anymore as he was new to uk diving and grap his oct so instead I managed about 2mins without air before surfacing.
 

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Just remembered - nearly ran out of gas once on a night dive when I started the dive on the wrong reg! My pony reg had come out of its clip and I stuffed it into my mouth and went on a dive thinking it was my primary. (this was a while ago!) 10 minutes into the dive my spg still read 200 bar - only then did I realise I was on my pony which had 2o bar left!
 

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Not a 'real' OOA, but have had to stand up in the pool shallow end when with students, and using a low tank due to logistical snafus. Luckily we were done at that point so no-one noticed 'cept me
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (dave archer @ Sep. 03 2003,12:51)]Not a 'real' OOA, but have had to stand up in the pool shallow end when with students, and using a low tank due to logistical snafus. Luckily we were done at that point so no-one noticed 'cept me
Yep and that just mirrors my reason for using a pony in the pool with students (Logistics snafu)...  Like yourself I had just about finished so got away with it.

Daz
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (dan @ Sep. 03 2003,10:27)]Twice now.
Some time ago on my first trip to the box at stoney I managed to drain a 15tlr and pony dry. Got low on my 15ltr so decide to switch to the pony and carry on diving. A pony doesnt last very long at 35m as I found out, so had to switch back to my 15ltr which was almost dry and just about to managed to do my stop and get back to the surface with only a few breathes left in it.

Second time was in Lundy last year on the Roberts. I was taking a guy down for his first proper wreck dive in the uk but I had a o ring blow on my tank as I was about to get in and lost half my gas. Replaced the oring and jumped in however being in a rush I hadn't realize that my pony reg had got jammed up when re-kiting up. Got in and did the dive and I had to decided to drain my tank and then come up on my pony as I didnt want to ruin my buddy's dive. This was going to plan and I run out of air coming up the shot line however I couldnt reach my pony reg because it was jammed up so I pointed at it to get my buddy to past it to me but he had no idea what I was on about and I really didnt want to panic him anymore as he was new to uk diving and grap his oct so instead I managed about 2mins without air before surfacing.
Dan,

Please tell me you don't use your pony anymore as additional gas to continue a dive or as a reserve supply for ascent due to poor gas planning.


Your honest replies at least demonstrate the dangers of treating a pony as additional gas to continue a dive.

Daz
 
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