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There has of late,as I'm sure the more observant of us will have noticed,been quite an interest in this subject.Now while I don't profess to be an expert on this or anything in particular I have in the past(largely due to something my old man started in the early 80's)done quite a bit of digging into the buddy system,it's application,its pros and cons and most interestingly for me where it came from and why it's such a cornerstone of recreational diver training.I "presented" this with some other stuff about 12mths ago to a mixed group of divers(mainly PADI trained)of varying experience and it went down really well.I just thought it might be of interest to breifly recount it here.All the research I did is available,much of it via the net and I'll give some links.Right,recreational training for divers instills the buddy system from the onset of training.As we progress through our diving career we (usually if with the agencies)remain in this mode and rarely question it.Leaving aside BSAC for a moment,much of recreational diver training today is US based via PADI,NAUI etc.Amongst the 1st people to draw up training progs.for rec.divers was - the YMCA.Now the YMCA recruited lifeguard experts to assist in the training programme,this is circa 1954.At that time US lifeguarding was pushing a "never swim alone"programme for obvious reasons.The programme was built into the diving training and that was the start,the other US agencies did virtually identical progs.(Even the USN brought NAUI in to advise on Scuba use!).BSAC went their own way and it was more of a natural progression,you were taught with someone in the water with you and it just seemed common sense to continue as such-yes?Now,just to make a point,NOWHERE is it recorded/stated that the buddy system came into rec.diving as being a proven safer system,it just happened to be that way.I'm not saying it is'nt safe ,just that it started out as an unknown but accepted factor.Right,parallel to this,military and commercial divers had always generally worked alone.Even if there were others in the water with them the emphasis was on the diver themselves.There was and is always an out of water,but dressed "standby diver" on hand.Now the CDG,the oldest diving club in the world,generally taught themselves.These guys were pushing caves in standard gear at times(brass hats)as early as the 30's.Given the nature of what they do,they generally dive solo.or,in a self sufficient mode.(There are CDG people here,Scoff for eg.who can correct any points,apologies for any mistakes made).Many US people(or those trained in US agencies/philosophy state that cave diving sytems used throughout the world originated in the US,this is'nt exactly true.It works on the principle that only US teams play in their "World Series".The US cave divers developed their skills in different conditions and probably with scuba as a starting point.They were primarily divers(mainly rec divers),not cavers trying to push a flooded system as in the UK,and trained as such.From cave practices grew technical diving,again commercial/military had long been using mixed gases etc.and much of the cave and later tech divers took much from these arenas as they were more demanding etc.Now,I am in no way knocking anybody here,let it be said.Can you see where different influences have shaped different systems,DIR advocates strongly diving with a buddy(not buddy-diving!)and that is fine,records will no doubt prove that DIR trained divers(not the half way wannabes)and indeed tech.diving as a whole has a much better safety record than rec.diving.Yes I realise there are many more rec.divers,but even compararitvely speaking they are much safer,especially given the conditions.So are CDG,so are commercial and military,etc..All this can't merely be down to just the buddy system of course but the more "concrete thinkers" amongst the buddy system supporters should take note.So where does it leave us,all the safer systems discussed above have one thing in common,whether they advocate solo diving or not.They all, without exception,advocate self sufficient diving,solo or otherwise.If you are trained to be so and are safe with your buddy of the same abilities this is possibly a very safe system.So is the Police diver who goes into a black hole alone.Are either wrong? No.If you see someone kitting up to do a dive alone,just consider that because your instructor says he is,he might not be a suicide candidate,but trained/dived/survived/learnt somewhere we'll never get and do things we'll never do.If they are like that then ask,not with an attitude but with genuine interest,we may learn something."Buddy diving" is fine when training,how else are we supposed to learn? "Diving with a buddy" is different and is what most of us I feel should be aiming not the former.Agencies should strive to make divers able to do the latter safely for both sakes.I apologise for the long thread but it's an important issue I feel,please do correct any factual errors there or ask questions as this is still  quite a basic account all said and done,the rest is merely my opinion although I have tried to remain unbiased.Here's acouple of links for anyone not yet bored. http://www.saudidiving.com/solo-diving.htm.  There's acouple of excellent articles by Halstead and Gerzner also at the bottom of this article.Also  http://divenewzealand.com/issue67/solo.html
 

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Wow, long one Hobby…..I’ll add my thoughts

The problem with using data based on comparitive accident rates is that the groups you are comparing are not equivalent in all other ways.  Amongst “recreational” divers who dive the buddy system you have a range from complete novices, to very experienced divers.  The may dive once a year, or several times a week.  Their kits may be configured with some self-sufficiency in mind, or they may not.  
The more technical divers are, on the whole, drawn from divers who already have experience and therefore the experience profile of the group is likely to be higher.  However, the dives they do are also likely to be more difficult.  Cave divers fall across a completely different range from cavers who dive, to divers who cave, and the risks and skills are quite specific and hence they train to cope with these special circumstances.
To try and use statistic to back one way or the other is a huge challenge when faced with no base-line other than these groups all breath underwater!
What feels right to me though is that ultimately you have to be able to rely on yourself.  Whether this means limiting your diving to that which you can surface from safely in an OOA or carrying redundancy, and varying that by depth & bottom time, depends on the individual and their personal ambitions and reasons for diving.  It is a slightly different argument to buddy diving.  
I believe a buddy goes much, much further than someone to carry an octopus.  A buddy is there for you when you feel uncomfortable, narked, or plain scared.  They can cut you out of entanglements that you may struggle with.  They can see problems begin to occur before you have any idea (bubble checks etc).  A buddy is anpother pair of eyes on a dive to spot trouble, or things of interest.  They are your sanity check.  Most of all they are your best friend in those moments under water and over those pints above it.  Really they are another, valuable and equally important, way of mitigating the risk.  You can do a lot of things yourself, but there are few of those that two of you couldn’t do better.
 

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Quite Lou yes.I was merely pointing out some of the history and also looking at some of the points people seem to get mixed up with,hence the "buddy diving" and "diving with a buddy"analogy.Accident statistics in the UK at least are far from realistic.The BSAC ones are by their very nature not very indicative of the true state of affairs.They rely on reports filed by DO's etc,who have incidents reported to them post dive.Most of less serious incidents do not get peported at all steps of the ladder,that's human nature.Other reports MAY come via the Police,EMS or in the worst cases the coroner.Many people such as hyperbaric centres compile data but in reality only the HSE has access to the overall picture that is nearest to the truth.It is not the actual HSE figures I based my comments on, but actually worked off the level of concern shall we say that has risen in the last few years in this area.When I was at Fort William a few years ago,there was talk of impending HSE involvement in rec.diving circles due to appaling incident rates the Govt.had.I can only say that the following involment that we see today supported this argument.There are others,Bren for one,Mark(Waterfairy) who are aware of how these incidents rates have come to my attention.It was made as a passing comment in my orig.post but yes it's an important point.All one can do is look at the picture generally,with a "change" or as some would argue a drop in standards over the last few years,there are many factors re.incident rates.It is however enough for another(not unworthy) v.long thread!Maybe we can do that one next eh?It does tie in well with the above and was part of the orig.lecture/presentation and would probably have gone some way to supporting it.Thanks for your time in reading it though Lou,that after all is what it's all about!Hope it was of interest.Hobby.
 

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Sorry if I got a bit hooked up on incidents, but the genreal gist in response to "self-sufficient diving" is that I consider self-sufficient to be a different argument to solo vs buddy.

Your potted history was interesting, it is strange how things get embedded in a structure and therefore are seen as irrefutable for no other reason than they are there!  
 

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Nice one Hobby.  Well put and good reasoning.

You at the show this weekend?
 

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Hobby,
you are an asset as always.
Lou, quite agree, self sufficient is a very good idea. I quite like the idea of solo diving though in a very non-threatening environment, but where is a major problem. I agree with you (and Hobby) that the Buddy is there for some back-up e.g. line entanglement as you mentioned etc. but not a reason to be slack in your own kit/attitude etc.
Again the statistics can be very mis-leading, look at som e of the reasons US rec. divers are dying (some where the diver is massively fat or totally unfit) and the figures get distorted to show rec. divers are at huge risk, some are, but by the law of averages the safer ones must be very safe so as to average out the figures.
Dive safe see you Saturday peeps?
Matt
 

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Hey Mat,

Any reason you can't make it on the Sunday instead of the Saturday?? We'd all like to see ya and get a YD team photie at the various stands for the 'Gallery Page' on YD.....that and have a sherry or five.....OK, so I had ulterior motives, so sue me ;)

Hope you can change your day mate.
 

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Just not enough dive time.
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I would like to have done the Sunday, but we (son & I ) also do Archery and its on a Sunday. Shame cos the wife is really happy about me swiping the car Sat & Sun. I'll see what I can do, except I do Know some of the other 'softies' are doing the Sat.
Matt
 

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I hope you are not referring to me, Mr Binnie!

"Southern softies do the Saturday" - sounds like a good title for something.

I *have* to do the Saturday to make sure all the lady's sizes are available for my new drysuit - (have i told anyone I am getting a new drysuit?  Yes?  Are you sure?  Can I tell you again?....come back!!)

Wanna meet up for some cake and lashings of ginger beer, Matt?
 

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Hobby - just spent some time re-reading your post and I got a lot out of it this time. Much of what you say is, I believe, what many of us adhere to. Self-sufficiency is, in my opinion, a must. I expect and plan my dives to be able to primarily, look after number one - me! I also plan and have trained to be of as much assistance as I can to my other diving partners BUT I expect them to have the same priorities as me.

We have all seen 'buddied divers' at dive sites who:

1. Do NOT buddy check (not smart)
2. Have no dive plan ("lets jump in and go as deep as we can" )
3. Carry no safety equipment (DSMB, whistle, pony / stage)
4. Are ill prepared for the dive in question (warm water regs in UK waters, 3mm wetsuits in November etc)
5. GENUINELY believe they are safe divers because THEY ARE DIVING IN PAIRS

From your post, I get the impression that you differentiate between self-sufficiency and solo diving (in that one does not automatically mean the other) and I agree wholeheartedly. We all dive the 50 bar rule but how many of us carry additonal gas for emergencies? We all know the 'out-of-air' procedure but how many dive within reaching distance of a buddy (how far can you swim under stress with no air in your lungs and a mouth full of water?).

The more I think about it, the more the 'buddy system' seems not a safety feature, but a talisman - believe in the buddy system and all will be well. Something goes wrong and you've got someone there to get you out of the shit. WRONG - chances are, he's been trained in the same standards as you and you'll both die.

Don't get me wrong, I am personally more comfortable diving with someone else (although I have done some shallowish solo dives to consolidate knowledge and confidence). But the people I choose to dive with regularly have the same if not better self sufficient skills than I have AND I LEARN FROM THEM. I challenge their configurations and adapt if I agree. I don't have to keep checking where they are because I already know they are beside me. If we split on the dive I am comfortable because we have discussed this before the dive and we are both kitted accordingly.

SO yes, lets promote self-sufficiency and if necessary, in the context of diving with other people.

Good post by the way!

Regards

(Edited by Heads Up at 11:00 pm on Oct. 16, 2002)
 

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Give the man a cigar.There is indeed a difference in self sufficient diving and solo diving,that was the main gist of the thread.The problem is that peoples interpretations of the two get confused and tend to consider them the same.There are instances,ideally where they should overlap,somebody doing a solo dive should be self sufficient(I'm not getting into the rights and wrongs of solo diving here),but they may not be.Same as the difference in "buddy diving"and "diving with a buddy",it's two seperate entities,or at least it should be.What prompted me to waffle on about it was some people apparently decrying someones admission of a solo dive.I wondered on what grounds.Again without condoning or condemming solo diving,are we really in a position to judge if that person was self sufficient in the terms you discuss?I fear I'm making little sense here so here's something that springs to mind.George Irvine's girlfriend caused uproar some time ago when she admitted taking part in a rec dive where she ended up diving solo.People were screaming at George that she had blatantly broken a primary rule of DIR,George however defended her,rightly so i feel.The way I interpreted it was as thus,DIR does not condone solo diving,DIR strives to instill in it's divers self sufficiecy (and all this entails,mental attitude etc.)Why shoud this be so?Well,if by some chance you end up on your own,seperated somehow or even by choice,by being self sufficient you are in a much more able position to get out without harm than not,yes? I don't know the girl's name or details,however I can only presume that she is familiar with DIR and it's concepts,the long and short of it was that when it came down to it she was able to safely complete this dive.I would go so far as to argue that had she not been DIR trained (or similar?)that she may have still completed the dive,but not with the same level of safety.Her training gave her the self sufficient ability to do this.Whether she chose to put herself in this situation maybe another point,I don't know the full story,but the lessons are there for all to see.Look round at your buddy next dive and ask yourself the question,of them and yourself.If you can't honestly say you'd be able to function correctly if you ended up alone(buddy seperation,medical problem etc)should you really be there? Solo diving's only part of a bigger picture,I feel that even the newest divers should be exposed to the mindset of self sufficiency at the onset of training,and be trained towards it from there.Take care,Hobby.
 

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The next question has to be - does self sufficiency incorporate fully redundant equipment? In the event of a separation from your buddy, on a single 12l tank, you no longer have an alternate air supply should your main tank/reg/o-ring/first stage fail.  

I would theorise that self sufficiency and full redundant equipment MUST be synonymous, i.e. you can't have one without the other.  Just like you can't be self sufficient without redundancy, there's no point in having extra equipment if you can't deploy it yourself.

This ostensibly leads on the same parameters of what I have attempted to convey before - i.e. it will help any diver if they aspire towards being self sufficient in a buddy pair, effectively carrying all their own equipment and being able to sort out their own problems, only relying on a buddy in an absolute emergency.  

Redundant equipment is important in any case because if a dual failure were to happen between a diver and their buddy then they are of course looking to get out of a very difficult situation.  

If you trust your buddy's equipment then you are putting blind faith in a situation over which you have very little control.  You also do not have the motor skills which come from knowing your own equipment and redundant equipment inside out.

If you have to go to your buddy for a piece of equipment - you have no motor skills, because you will never have managed to develop them - particularly if your buddy's equipment configuration differs from your own.  

From personal experience - I have had a very serious failure while buddy diving and witnessed my buddy going into a dangerous panic - they were definitely unable to help me because the situation I found myself in frightened them so much. Cue my hours of solo pool and open water practice with my redundant equipment saving my life and then me calming my buddy down.  I'd say they learned a more valuable lesson than me on that dive!!

One is none and two is one.

**In my humble opinion, if you cannot locate, unclip and reclip all your own equipment, then your personal configuration is fundamentally flawed.

**Disclaimer - (the above is excepting back mounted tanks, I DO NOT advocate practicing this in open water).

(Edited by Ammers at 2:01 pm on Oct. 17, 2002)
 

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I agree totally!! The choice to solo dive is one each diver must make of their own accord and it involves the acceptance that if it goes tits up, then tough. The self sufficiency bit should be EVERY divers primary aim. And yes, Anne Marie, I agree that the natural progression is that self sufficiency should include carrying the equipment needed. This then leads on to the diver developing new skill sets to ensure that they an deploy the kit in an effective method.
 

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Well put Ammers
The question one should ask one-self is: can I afford not to buy my own equipment. Let us not forget that water is an alien enviroment in, which without man (woman) made aids we cannot survive for any length of time over a few seconds. Boys and Girls it is unforgiving, something we should always remember!
 

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"Does self sufficiency incorporate fully redundant equipment?". The initial response must of course be yes.However(Oh Christ here we go),there are some instances whereby a diver in scuba gear a)dives alone, b)wears twins,with no contents guage(Hobby's attempt for Plain English - SPG my ar*se, c)Physical breathing apparatus(tanks aside) consists of a 1st and 2nd stage only, d)in "some" cases no BCD(should be Stab jacket in plain English LOL) or similar device. e)dry suit worn at all times,"membrane type" or neoprene depending on conditions etc.This is of course a simple overview.It must be admitted that the diver equpped as thus is certainly not carrying anything to excess.Minimalist springs to mind,not only is "he" carrying the minimum but actually less than acceptable equipment levels for some people.This configuration is and has been, via development and experience, used in many severe conditions eg.nil vis,OH environments etc.It also has an unapproachable safety record,especially where kit etc.is concerned.
Perhaps the only redundancy the above has is that "he" has 2 seperate cylinders,they are however manifolded and have 1 common connection to the only 1st stage(all DIN of course).
I'm obviously playing Devil's advocate here,we cannot however argue with the track record of this system given its development etc.The divers who use the above configuration:Mad?,maybe, you're unlikely to see them at Capernwray of a weekend (altough you might at Oban and other places now and again).All of them however have a healthy respect for their own lives,are aware of many different configs and even utilise these at times,they do however have a complete working,informed knowledge of "their" system above and regularly trust their lives to it.Now Ammers et al know where I'm at here,how can the above config. support a diver in event of equipment failiure etc?There are ways we need not concern ourselves with here,but the point is,is their redundancy more about them as divers than their kit? Take care all,Hobby.
 

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Excellent points Hobby, there are a few jammy gits that can get themselves out of anything...like the old skool brigade that didn't have all the fancy gear but had the b*llocks to go and do dives without all the faffing around and planning.  

I've deliberately ran myself out of air a few times so I know how it feels when the tank gets real tight and I can tell without looking at my gauge where my gas supply is down to. Reason being, I had a gauge failure inside a cave in the dales, the gauge stuck on and showed me I had much more air than I did, I felt the tank getting quite tight and realised the gauge had failed and I had a big swim out.  

After that little epic, I took the gauge off and started diving without it for a bit, up until recently I only had a gauge on one tank,on indie twins,because if you can manage your gas you don't really need a gauge. People managed before gauges were invented, we're just conditioned to using one because we can.

I've dived off my drysuit with no wing also because a wing can fail and it's good to be able to swim yourself out. There's no point having a wing in most caves anyway, you can pull yourself along and glide out easily so a wing is pointless and just makes the profile bigger.

Minimalist solo diving versus full redundant solo diving?  I've done both. I enjoy both. My most minimalist dive was a pair of sevens with no gauge and no wing to 50 metres. No big deal really. There are risks there of course, but mitigated by the useful practices of no gauge diving and learning to estimate your gas supply by how the tank feels, work of breathing, depth and time etc.

To regularly undertake minimalist solo is the talent of the much more experienced diver, who's had loads of "oh shit" moments and doesn't bat an eyelid when it goes wrong, I prefer the redundant approach in the meantime. But redundant doesn't mean shit doesn't happen - it just happens on a bigger scale!  

This is something I now have to completely rethink with CCR because there are two *very* different schools of thought, one being that you can dive alpinist with no bailout and the only situation you can't fix is a TLF, the other being that you should bail out to OC and attempt to fix loop problems on the fly. All very interesting.

Learning to deal with task loading and stress is THE definitive and most important skill that any diver can learn. There are NO tickets or courses that can teach this, and no badges to wave around under the water when failures happen.  I don't advocate self training as I have done but I will say that it has *really* helped me big time when things have gone wrong, including complete loss of light at depth in pitch darkness, followed by primary reg failure and air loss inside a sump alone, to name a few.

In those instances, no course would have saved my life, but my own "self teaching" methodology did. There is a lot to be said for diver logic, i.e. trust yourself not your equipment, anyone who spends hours practicing task loading in controlled conditions stands a better chance of survival on difficult dives than the fully ticketed up diver with a big pouch of badges.
 

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To regularly undertake minimalist solo diving could well be the realm of an acclompished diver.It could also be the realm of a poorly equipped,ill informed billy no mates.You get my meaning though.I think I said it before somewhere,I know where you're coming from with the self teaching bit and agree with your philosophy.I must point out though for the less experienced( to such debates at least),that structured training(ideally)has come about via people doing exactly this.Feeling their way,carefully and at times,sadly, fatally along a path of discovery.In many cases the lessons learnt have become part of training,be it structured eg.HSE,DIR etc.or via a mentorship like the CDG.To decry or ignore training,agencies whatever,is,in my view tantamont to ensuring that those experiences,hard lessons and even deaths of those"pioneers",whatever, have been in vain.In training we (should)have the opportunity to learn those lessons without many of the inherent risks faced by those who have gone before us.To what extent we utilise that knowledge/experience is then up to us.Many feel content to remain with what basics they are taught(some dangerously do it through ignorance),others,like most here I beleive,strive for more information,knowledge etc.They may or may not put this into practice,but a better knowledge base muat surely lead to safer divers.Solo and self taught? Solo,I have no problems with this given certain circumstances as we've discussed before(I reckon more people dive solo than realise it!).Self taught,mmm,taking that literally I'm not sure.Hone your skills,capabilities and get to know yourself in the water and build upon your experience etc.Yes.Maybe that's what you mean.But I can't see a scenario today where one would benefit from self teaching,do you see my meaning?We have a responsibility to divers,who by nature are inquisitive beasts to varying degrees,stay on the side of the angels as much as we can.There maybe one person reading these posts who may take self teaching in a literal sense,(well you never know),from someone with much more experience.We must ensure they don't,it'll kill em surely as snow fades from a ditch.Take care,Hobby.
 

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Q.how can the above config. support a diver in event of equipment failiure
A. It can't

Why would anyone wish to conduct any sort of extreme diving with such an absolute minimum level of equipment, I can see no logic in it at all, unless said diver
a) Loves to risk life just for the sake of it.
b) Is so absolutely skint that he/she can only afford one of everything.
c) Said diver is completely off their proverbial box.

If there is a track record of safety (And I do believe you Hob)I can only believe that it is down to the fact these sort of people are a tiny few and that the equipment has taken them there and brought them back, that the added experience and dedication to self preservation on such equipment means that they are highly trained and able to control themselves during stressfull situations versus one of your averagely trained quite redundant weekend recreational divers who might die through pure panic cos they've been task loaded at 20m.

An analogy might be a rock climber of many years who is a natural and can climb up sheer faces using only his limbs and some chalk dust and comes home every night, against your average weekend rock climbing enthusiast who falls quite regularly even though he/she is using all of the availabel aids and is only lucky that the ropes, caribiners etc have broken their fall to an untimely death.

Why is redundancy so important, simple, because equipment can fail, the fact that a very small minority have/do dive with such little backup and return home is a reflection on the equipment they used and not on using a configuration that reduces support to dangerous levels.

And to add to this lunacy of zero redundancy there also dive solo... WTF is that all about?


Some crazy mofo's in the world thats for sure..... ;)
 
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