Opening remarks: Responsibility

Andrea DoriaRecently, I posted on YouTube some old video I shot inside the Andrea Doria, from 1991. More than one person commented to me that they were surprised I was diving solo? At that time in my diving career, like my diving peers, I was spending a lot of time on the Doria. Many of those dives were spent exploring new areas of the wreck, which meant many elements of the dive plan were subject to change with little notice. Obstructions, equipment failure, loose debris, zero visibility, and unexpected opportunity were all common.

Solo diving made far more sense in that we could travel light, have a small footprint, and push as far as we were comfortable, as opposed to as far as someone else was comfortable. For most of these dives a buddy was considered to be a liability, not an asset, simply due to the environment. We focused on being self reliant, and that made Solo diving possible. It made deep diving possible.

More than one of the diving fatalities on the Doria, had a buddy who failed to affect the eventual outcome. So, just having a buddy is not an effective survival tool because the buddy is unreliable. The answer to a serious problem can't be unreliable.

This past week, I was diving from a JC Miami Exploration Feb 6 2013private boat off Miami. We were looking at a couple of new sites, and using open circuit Trimix. The other dive team was comprised of a pair of deep divers who had never been diving together as a buddy team. This was not the deepest dive for either diver, but it was still a serious dive for them. They are both experienced, inspired guys, and excited about this particular dive to an unknown site.

So, these guys are getting suited up and talking over their dive plan, and it comes to talking about supplying gas to the other diver, in an emergency? It was like, "This is my long hose, but if you have to take a regulator, blah blah blah", kind of stuff. This was their training and they were doing what they were trained to do, but I was amazed at how unrealistic this was, and I was kind of amused by it all. I was not worried about either of these guys, but  they were looking at their dive differently than I would have.

Deep diving is different than recreational diving. Deep divers have increased responsibility, but that does not mean that recreational divers are without responsibility? The degree of responsibility is directly proportional to the depth, and/or seriousness of the dive.

If you are diving Trimix then you are making deep decompression dives, and unless you are in training I should be able to assume that you have done this before? This means you understand what could go wrong, and you have a plan for every eventuality. You have the experience, you have the education, and you have the equipment to make the dive. If not, then you have no business in the water.

Regardless of your training, if you are diving in the 200 foot neighborhood, then you need to be self reliant. I am understating this because you need more than that. You need to have a driven determination to be self reliant. You need to have done your homework, and developed the knowledge, skills, and humility to make the dive. You need to have a personal survival plan for every eventuality, which does not involve some unknown dive buddy who may or may not be around in your time of need.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/wMjIx8_MbLQ]I teach Trimix, and I train divers to share air and buddy breathe, but these are not practical skills. These are confidence building skills like using the blackout mask. These are also exercises to prove to divers that they never want to involve a buddy in a gas supply emergency other than passing off a bottle, so they need to be diligent about being self reliant.

If I am on a deep open circuit wreck dive (where I am not instructing students) I am not even using a long hose on my bottom gas. I am willing to help any diver manage a problem, buddy or not, however supplying gas to another diver, especially on the bottom, is unnecessary and incredibly dangerous for both parties.  My secondary regulator is there for me, not you! If you try to take it from me, I will fight you for it, and I will win. That is my plan. There is no reason in the world for a deep diver to need gas from me on the bottom, much less jump me. Breathe your own damn gas, any gas, even the wrong gas, and return to the surface as quickly and safely as possible. I will help you if I can, but is it fair for one diver to expect another to save him/her, as part of the plan?

I like to dive with others, especially if I am hunting. I am seldom diving solo these days. However, I am always self reliant, and I have a plan for anything that can happen. I expect the same from anyone with whom I am diving.If you need me as part of your emergency planning, then you are diving with the wrong guy. We all need to be responsible for ourselves. The deeper we go, the truer this becomes.

John Chatterton on the Captain Dan 2012

Diving has been pretty good to me. Diving, shipwrecks, and history have been an integral part of my life. I love training divers, and taking new training myself. However, I am a professional diver, and only a part time instructor/student. This is my first blog, and it is entirely my opinion. If this has any purpose, it is simply to share my thoughts and philosophy on diving.

Cheers

John Chatterton

76 Responses

  1. Good piece, John. It's refreshing to hear (read) someone who is prepared to call it like it is, or should be. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Cheers John. www.tassiediver-johnsilberberg.blogspot.com
  2. Joan Ricard
    Yes John keep posting it is very interesting reading your perspective !!!.
  3. douglas charles
    Hello john, Very very fascinating blog. I wish i could make one as great as your's i will come and see whats on here alot thanks for letting me read about the diving stuff .i draw the wrecks and study but never have dived before maybe i should sign up for a class. all best wishes Douglas charles
  4. Bernie Saccaro
    I remember when we lived in Hackensack you had white and black dress just like the one in that picture.
  5. Bernie Saccaro
    oh, and good post!
  6. Bill Conradi
    Interesting perspective! Great insight...
  7. Thanks for the perspective John, I have always respected and admired your openion.
  8. Donald Sack
    Hey John; Thanks; I dive Cape Cod with the crew out of Dive Locker (and sometimes work there); It has been a while since I have been in the water and I intend to get "back in the saddle" this season; this piece just reinforces the things Jerry Cronin and I have talked about; get in better condition, take baby steps such as lots of dives at Hathaway's Pond, essentially go back to the point of origin and start again; as a novice diver in the New England waters, I have no interest in hurting myself or trying to impress others.
    • Diving is not such a bad way to inspire yourself, to be who you want to be?
  9. ewout van walbeek
    John totally agree with you. I think that for a lot of people being unfamiliar with tec diving makes them use knowledge learned in rec diving on tec diving. I have in all my tec dives relied on myself, esspecially as there are so many bail outs for a tec diver without having to resort to a buddy. One of the nicest T-shirts I ever saw is one from the ITDA, it read os the back, "I didn't loose my buddy , I never had one".
  10. Jeff Dayton
    very well put Mr. Chatterton
  11. Vance
    Thanks John. Your Miami dive was timely as I am writing about something similar, and you gave me some visuals. I am a submersible guy rather than a diver. Casual scuba, yes. Your kind of thing? Sadly, no. Let me know if you need to go deeper in Florida, however. I've got Nekton Gamma in overhaul, and we'll be back to a thousand feet sometime later this year (I hope). In the meantime, it's great to see this blog. Thanks again.
  12. Nice one, John. Hope all is well. See you soon and love to all.
  13. Well said John and I think their are lessons for all walks of divers in this wisdom. As a Recreational SCUBA instructor I also teach divers to be as independent as possible, of course, we practice out of air drills and ascents on alternate air sources and many forms of 'buddy drills' but in the wider world of recreational diving many students are taught to 'just listen to your guide'. The information provided by local guides and instructors can be invaluable but I teach students that it is their life in their hands whenever in open water and they MUST learn to be as independent as possible, to trust only themselves, to understand exactly what they are undertaking and decide on their own limits and not blindly follow those they have never met before who may or may not be able to save them in an emergency.
  14. Kevin Lutgen
    Well written, thank you!
  15. colin
    thanx for your time and thaughts. I started diving too late in life to do the awsome dives that you have done, but love to read and watch as much as possible , if i cant live the dream, i can read and enjoy watching what those who can and have are doing. keep up the good work regards colin
  16. Hi John Great blog! You are right, as you go past the limits of recreational divers, you must reley on yourself to handle all situations. I even teach my open Water divers to reley on themselves and not their "Buddy". So when was running out of gas an option. As a Deep diver, you plan, for gas supply, you plan what if's, and shame on you if you don't. You taught me well in that area. Many times I have heard, well if I run out of gas, I'll just use my buddy.I have even witnesed 2 guys diving in the Keys, 1 ran low on air, so they share, and keep the dive going! I guess they took their training in the shallow end of the gene pool. Really liked your blog. Scott aka CB
  17. Ron Pierce
    John, You SUCK! Your piece SUCKED! You think you know everything! Dive alone? You fool! (just kidding...I thought I would spice things up a little...you have all these lemmings clamming about...)
    • Have you been talking to my mom??? Jajajajajaja
  18. Jerry Fortenberry
    I have been diving solo for almost 40 years. Hope to go diving solo with you again too, JC. Ha! Tena says hello.
  19. Jane Ellen Spencer
    Yes, John, this is a good venue for you. Keep posting, it will be instructive and fun to deep divers and the recreational folks. Oh, and I suspect Howard is right! Cheers...Jane
    • Howard
      Me too
  20. Mark Randle
    All the "Diving Societies", ie PADI,SSI, have been spewing the "buddy system" for decades. The solo diver definitely bucks the trend.
    • All Solo Divers should be self reliant divers, however not all Self Reliant Divers need to be solo divers. There is nothing wrong with having a buddy, what is dangerous, and counterproductive, is planned reliance on a buddy in an emergency, as opposed to planning ways to handle an emergency oneself. :)
    • PADI do a solo diver specialty.
  21. Rich D
    Word! I tell students (and myself) you must take an active role in gathering tools for the real world. Dose each student based on their personal comfort and lightly have them explore their comfort zone. Push too much you end up bringing a plastic knife to a gun fight. Deep is not a measure of depth but a measure of comfort zone. The Ocean has taught me how powerful you can be by just opening up your mind and letting go of the 'norm' and how little your life is when compared to the universe. It has also blessed me with the ability to change other peoples view of mother nature and themselves by filling them with positive energy. With any great power comes great loss but that's why we continue to improve ourselves. Too many sheepeople and zombies walking around putting their personal responibility on others and cry when the system fails. How about the rule John Smith said in the settlement of jamestown "no work no food" if divers expect to go 200 feet without working up to it... Don't tread on me for not packing enough gas. But I don't know how I would react sharing gas at stupid depths. With an out of air diver at depth would put ME at harm. I'm afraid I would put myself in danger also because I'm either a hero or stupid. This is one of the reasons I dive solo, do gas planning and hand extra gas on the stern. I don't like chambers or worse yet dead. With that I know my limits and sometimes its just a reef and a snorkel. Keep spreading the word JC! I have drank your kool aid and it is good.
  22. Mark Myers
    Having done instruction for many years, I always planned each dive as though it was a solo dive, especially the deep ones. In teaching situations, I was almost always one of the more experienced divers leading less experienced divers that I was not comfortable counting on . When pleasure diving, I was most likely playing with a camera, which can drive any but the most patient buddy nuts. My buddy was most often my brother and we subscribed to the "same ocean, same day" theory, keeping in the same general area, and meeting up at the anchor line at a specific time to pacify non-diving boat captains. In the type of diving John is doing - your gas is planned for YOUR dive, not YOUR dive plus 1. The uncomfortable truth is that sharing a regulator would likely result in two deaths rather than one.
  23. John
    Where was this blog about a year when I got pummled by comments I made referencing the same point about being self sufficient and the dangers of relying on your buddy to get out of a pickle! Great blog and keep em coming!
  24. Jesse Hanson
    John, Great posting. As a relatively new diver I'm excited to learn all I can and I appreciate your insights. Keep it coming!
  25. Tim McKenna
    John, couldn't agree more. Did most of my commercial work alone. Only if I needed more muscle or hands did I take a buddy. This discussion also came up when I was training to become a dive instructor. Do we race for the surface or fight (at our peril) to save the panicked diver and injure ourselves? Thought provoking piece. Will look forward to more posts.
  26. Dave Lattomus
    Outstanding John. Thanks so much for sharing.
  27. Great piece, John. Thank you.
  28. Robert Hughes
    John, I couldn't agree with you more! If a diver takes on a dive at extended depth and has to use anyone or anybody elses gas to complete it- there has been a fundamental planning mistake! As a self reliant diver- I was trained that the only dive plan is one that encompasses All possible scenarios and ways to get through them. If your emergency plan is to "mug" someone else for gas- you do not have a plan at all!!!! Also- just my personal feeling on this topic. Looking forward to diving with you soon Amigo!
  29. Rick Norris
    Well said John, FINALLY some validation to my thoughts on this subject!
  30. Mike A
    Just finished FULL CAVE in Akumal and learned Air Sharing backward, forward up-side-down, silt out front silt-out back, donor and recipient Air Sharing through a restriction, Air share blind holding gold line, air share someone taking reg out of my mouth. The instructor at first to my dismay taught us how to put our donated reg back a specific way after sharing. We are also are taught one third in one third out and one “third is our buddies air”. Note: In Mexico we rarely dive deeper than forty feet in a cave. I agree with John that self sufficiency is the best way. The drills have made me better diver especially with deco gas changes. How I put reg back helps me keep my back gas and stages in order. My question is when I PLAN a deep dive with a buddy do I tell him up front if he runs out of gas I will not share with him or will I be in a knife fight like Mike Nelson??
    • Jajajajaja Good one Mike. I have to believe honesty is the best policy. I would certainly hope he had a similar plan??? Knife fights dull the blade.
  31. John, I'll be controversial here. I agree that being self-sufficient to get yourself out of the dwang is a good thing, but isn't it better to have a good team member to stop you getting there in the first place? Stop you making a mistake that you may have missed? Working together? That obviously only works when you know the buddy/team member you are diving with. Diving with an unknown to 200ft is a silly idea! The deeper you go, the more limited the pool of divers you are willing to take those risks with becomes. Regards Gareth
    • Can't say I completely agree with this but I will admit that it does have merit.
    • Cas
      >holding the flame close to the fuse here< I agree with Gareth.... Having like minded buddies with solid training absolutely will be beneficial. And to be honest John, I think that just because someone is in need of a breath, the dedication to get to the gas you are breathing may just be big enough for you to loose the fight... With a possible double casualty to show for it (I hope that never happens..).. Diving solo is not for me, I will not stop others doing it. Not sharing gas with someone in trouble ? I cannot agree with...
      • Cas, I am all about diving with like minded buddies and comprehensive training, so I agree with you. The difference between us, is that I want responsible, self-reliant buddies, and you want irresponsible, dependent ones. You are free to dive as you like. We just disagree. Have you ever been a donor in an emergency? I have, more than once. Those experiences have certainly helped shape my philosophy. In one instance long ago, I was recovering the body of a diver from the wreck of Texas Tower, off the coast of NJ. The diver who was diving with me to recover the body of the dead diver from 200', ran out of air before we even left the wreck. Unfortunately, I was diving dual K Valves at the time, and had a broken pressure gauge, which means I ended up with only 1 full cylinder of air. We had to buddy breath that tank dry, and then get the emergency bottle hanging from the boat at 20', and then buddy breath that tank practically dry. All total, it was 45 minutes of buddy breathing on the anchor line while decompressing 60 miles off the Jersey coast in the Atlantic Ocean, in weather too rough to dive for fun. On another occasion, I was working for TV, where the DP (Director of Photography) ran out of gas in 140' of water. We were filming inside a submarine (not a U-boat or American sub), when he failed to return as planned. I went after him, and found him shortly after he had run out of gas. He was already starving for air, when I found him. Unfortunately, due to a malfunction I had only one operational second stage on my regulator (my fault). I offered him my reg, but he did not want to give it back. I had to encourage him, physically. Eventually, we shared air, as I dragged him through two bulkheads, three compartments, and a hatch, and in the process he became so entangled in cables, I had to take him out of his gear and leave the gear behind. He exited the wreck with his wetsuit, mask, and nothing else. I later went back to for the $200,000 camera, and the gear. The way you pose your question makes me think you have never been in a situation like this, because no one in an out of gas emergency wants "a breath". The best case scenario is that they want you to supply them with gas all the way to the surface, worst case, they just want to breathe, and breathe, and breathe, and care about nothing else. Both OOA diver, and donor will use much more gas than planned, trust me. So, what happens if the donor diver runs out of gas? All of this is incredibly, dangerous in my experience and opinion, and easy to prevent. Be responsible for yourself. Don't be a burden, don't be dependent, don't let the team down. In both of these instances, the out of gas divers were totally irresponsible. They were diving beyond their capabilities, or they would not have created the emergency in the first place. Personally, I would prefer to have divers dive within their limitations, be responsible for themselves, and not unnecessarily put other divers at risk, as opposed to practice ways to have me cover their shortcomings at additional risk to both of us. You are right, maybe the next time someone comes to me panicked and out of gas, I may lose the fight, and it could result in a double casualty? I will keep a positive attitude, but I prefer to practice avoidance, to prayer. Cheers JC
        • Greg
          Sounds like your bad experiences sharing gas were because of your inability to maintain and have working equipment capable of sharing gas. Sorry, but two or better three divers with well maintained equipment, competent skills, experience and educated brains is better than one person with poorly maintained equipment.
          • John Chatterton
            It seems to me that my bad experiences with sharing gas, were due to other divers running out of gas.
      • Cas
        "The difference between us, is that I want responsible, self-reliant buddies, and you want irresponsible, dependent ones." I can't really get were that came from. When I say like minded divers, I am not looking for people who shouldn't be there. More like the opposite.
        • Okay, that is my interpretation of what I think you want? It seems to me that you think someone whose emergency plan for a dive is to go to another diver in the event of an OOA emergency, should be there, and I don't. I think the diver who should be there, is one who has a plan to manage the problem by themselves,without involving the buddy. At least on a dive that is not purely recreational.
  32. Jeff
    Enjoy your blog John. I can relate. I am self sufficient.
  33. Dave Damewood
    Very well stared looking forward to more blogging. Thank you
  34. It's refreshing to read articles like this. I get rather frustrated when divers look at me like I'm some looney toons guy because I talk about diving solo. Some of my scuba friends and I have been diving alone together for years. Your first responsibility is always yourself.
  35. Hey John, I'm so happy to see you have decided to do this. Great first post - Already looking forward to reading more - thanks
  36. agree with the self reliance part but remeber reading "Titanic's Last Secrets" and the dive on the Fireman's tunnel? the silt out and the obstruction on the way would you have called the dive if you were alone? or would you have continued trying (task focused) and got yourself in trouble??? we will never find out... I think that as much as it is important to be self reliant it is equally important to have a good buddy with you on the dive
    • Actually, that was not the first time I was in the Fireman's Tunnel. I was there in 1998, alone on a rebreather, and I turned that dive when things went to crap. I think some places are better for one diver than two. Boiler Room #6 was not unlike the Doria dive on the video, except Richie was in the general vicinity. Loose debris, silt, unexpected situations, equipment failures, are all easier for a church mouse to deal with, as opposed to a flock of chickens, IMHO. You need to be determined to turn the dive when anything goes wrong. Richie did not tell me anything I did not already know. :) Like many things, it may not be easy, but we do what needs to be done.
  37. Enjoyed the blog John, I hope there will be more to come. Best wishes - Rob.
  38. Chris Smith
    John - fascinating read for me - I started rec diving late in life and often watch in horror, the silly risks taken by fellow divers who will say things like "it'll be fine..." I agree with your self reliance mantra: I always play 'what if' scenarios in my mind to test myself. I know I am in an alien and potentially hostile environment and need to protect myself at all times ( lessons learned during military counter-insurgency stuff ). I have learned one thing and that is to stay calm, collected and capable but never over confident. Keep blogging, please!
  39. Great reading as always John! Good luck with the blog!
  40. It's good to see a known, reputable, trusted diver blogging about an issue that training agencies ingrain into the diver that some of us consider less than optimal at best or out-right reckless at worst. I agree with you, the optimal idea is to be self sufficient while underwater to whatever level you can. As one who dives a rebreather, my mindset is to ALWAYS have enough bailout to cover my sac rate (at an elevated level should I take a hit) should something happen down below to get me through my deco and safely to the surface plus 10%. At the depths that I'm qualified to, that's not too hard. Haven't been below 150 yet so it may be troublesome to do later when I'm certified to go deeper. That's where I'm comfortable. Yes, that means I'll likely go off the boat with bigger bottles than others but hey, that's my call. I'll definitely be tracking this blog!
  41. John, thanks for the perspective. I look forward to learning more from a master's point of view!
  42. Bill Loux
    Wait what I thought Obama was going to rescue me. I agree, I'll take care of myself just leave me alone.
    • Jajajajaja Do not rely on Obama, Jesus, or Bhudda to save you. They are all busy. Do it yourself.
  43. Brian Weinstein
    John, I have always felt safer diving alone on the deep wrecks, especially when setting the hook..I only have to "worry' about myself, no one else... I do enjoy diving with a select few knowing that they are not reliant on me..Your article says exactly what many of us feel..Well done...I sure miss the Seeker days...
  44. Leo
    Great topic JC! #1: Two "nearly scary" (but no bad result actually occured) dive situations both occured because I was looking for my buddy instead of just getting myself to the first deco stop. I also find that you can miss a whole lot visually when you're going from computer to "where's my buddy" and back. #2: Took PADI's "Self-Reliant-Diver" Certification last year and was totally amused that our final skills were all done in buddy-pairs. Kind of misses the point, does it not? - Cheers from a Churchmouse
  45. Darrin Milne
    John, I was and will always remain inspired by your method, your discipline and your knowledge. I was just a newborn "Jersey wreck diver" when you shot that video. It didn't take long for me to also learn the warm fuzzies that those (working) strobes give you. Thanks,
  46. Gordon Johnson
    Just recently read the book "Solo Diving" by Rob Von Maier. Pretty much reiterates everything you've said in your blog. Great Stuff! I think a Self Reliant/ Solo Diver course should be mandatory for even recreational advanced dive courses.
  47. Totally agree: diving is about having the right mindset and if you need a mental crutch (i.e. rely on a buddy) then you shouldn't be diving. Keep the blogs coming please!
  48. I couldn't agree more....I run charters to the U853, USS Bass, Cape Fear, Dixon, and the Suffolk here in RI where Viz is anywhere from 30' to 2". and even when the viz is stellar all it takes is for 1 dragger to plow by and reduce it to brown-out conditions. Every dive is exicuted as a solo dive even if you did have a buddy next to you.when as little as 1 kick cycle will put you out of sight and reach. ( i prefer the solitude and don't want to try to keep track of someone else.)
  49. Great note, and i like your point of view. especially diving deep exploration dives. Diving on CCR makes it eave more true. On the other hand i can't say i do not see reason for planning bottom time and gas as based on rule of thirds or so to include buddy gas loss. Sharing air in bottom phase of the dive especial in narrow spaces of the wreck or cave is hard and might lead to even more difficulties, but it can be done - proved several times by cave divers and wreck divers. Probably gas planning requires more consideration and requires divers to stick to rock bottom time but i believe it is still manageable.
  50. Don Sack
    These have all been interesting reads, for sure! I saw a few Seeker refrences and just thought I would throw out this: The ol' girl has been out of the water for some time in a yard near New Port; I know the broker who owns her and he has done some work on the engines, etc. I was on her a year or so ago and have some cool photos. So, I'm poor...but I know that the broker will let her go for a song; Dan has no interest as he has long moved on (talked to him about it); any Lawyer/Non-Profit types out there who have some good ideas? I just hate to think that an historic Dive Boat may end up as firewood; I'm willing to bust my tail with a bunch of like minded diver types.
  51. Good reading, liked this one a lot
  52. John, I didn't mean to kick this off, sorry. But having seen incidents where another diver would have stopped the incident from developing to the level it did, I stand by the point that someone else can stop you getting to the bad place. Whether they can do something to help you once one of you is out of gas at those depths is another question entirely... Maybe that means they shouldn't be doing the diving they are doing, but then the best divers have been known to make silly mistakes and unfortunately end up dead. No-one gets in the water planning to kill themselves or others, but sometimes things do not work in your favour, not matter how fastidious you have been in preparing your kit or your plan. Your training, experience and mindset will certainly shape how you deal with the emergency facing you, however, not all emergencies start with an OOA, but many end in one, especially when at depth. Regards Gareth
    • Gareth, You have nothing to be sorry for. I expressed an opinion, you defended an alternate opinion. It is all part of the discourse that forces us to better look at what we do. When it comes to deeper dives, I understand what you are saying and do not disagree as far as you go, we are all human. A buddy may help. However, the only place where you can get away with a major screw up, is shallow water. Deep divers can still make mistakes, like you say, however they have to be little, tiny, small ones, or you are in trouble. If you are alone, you are in trouble alone. If you are with a buddy, then both of you are in trouble. If the buddy team has a team approach to solving problems, it also means that problems are twice as likely to occur, and of course all that is relative to the determination of all parties to minimize any issues in the first place. OOG is a major, unacceptable screw up. I have been involved with other divers in two OOG incidents, one hard ceiling, one soft. Their mistakes were fundamental. It was not unavoidable, or god's will, or an accident. They were not capable of properly planning the dives they were making. They were diving beyond their limitations. So their inadequacies, put me at serious risk. That is my experience, and that is how i look at things. I would rather spend my limited time honing my avoidance skills, than practicing my buddy skills. Regardless, each dive team needs to have their own plan that works for them, but the avoidance of problems starts long before you hit the water. Cheers JC
    • Derek
      I agree with what you have posted. However, for those who like to push the limits there will always be consequences. Accidents will happen. Death will occur. This is the price you pay when you use man's ingenuity to go places we were not biologically built to be in. Some missions are best accomplished by one person, some require a full platoon. When you get the the edge everything becomes mission specific. Applying general rules to such situations is not always the best idea. Yes, this means divers will die on the edge. But that is what the edge is all about. Not everyone makes it home and those who do have achieved something special. All risky ventures have severe penalties to pay should something not go right (preventable or not). Diving is yet another example. All we can do is minimize the potential for harm for ourselves (buddies have little to do with this in some circumstances). Death is waiting eagerly for as long as man is inclined to push the limits. Plan accordingly!
  53. Denis Finnegan
    Thanks all for the honest dialog. I am a very novice tech diver and appreciate all the viewpoints. I tend to be an "and" versus "or" guy So being trained for self reliance and have the team concept to help become better. More of a synergy 1 + 1 = 3 I know this is in contradiction to what most have said and it may be driving by my novice status. Thanks for sharing. Denis
  54. Derek
    Hi John, I'm sorry so many took what you wrote the wrong way. I get it. I've been diving for 22 years now. I've been doing solo dives since 2001. The thing is once you get to a certain point of experience and training it becomes apparent that the buddy system is flawed. Even in a recreational setting, betting on your "buddy" to save your a$$ is pure foolishness. It is always best to be self sufficient under water. Even at 3 inches under the surface you might as well be on the moon for if your equipment fails and you can't get back to the surface, you're dead. The deeper you go, or the further into an overhead environment you go, the more true this becomes. So I say plan accordingly. Know your gear. Know it by touch. Know your basic drills by instinct. Train in a relatively safe environment until this is all true (swimming pool). Make smart gear choices and keep that gear well maintained (annual service, etc...). Test your gear before you commit to your dive and don't be afraid to abort a dive if you are at all uncomfortable. Add in a layer of true redundancy for any "solo" dives in combination with knowing your limits and the site you plan to dive and I think you are at least equally as safe as you would be with a "buddy".
  55. Derek
    "Deep diving is different than recreational diving. Deep divers have increased responsibility, but that does not mean that recreational divers are without responsibility? The degree of responsibility is directly proportional to the depth, and/or seriousness of the dive." Why should we draw a line at "deep" versus "rec"? Today's rec is tomorrow's deep. All should be trained in absolute personal responsibility and self reliance from day one. I don't personally do "tech" or "deep" dives but I sure as hell won't dive with someone who is looking at me to save their ass as part of their dive plan. To add to the above, I think the industry should take note. I would love to see PADI, SSI, and the like up their standards. Training should take longer. Students should be made to drill to perfection and be able to react to problems in a correct fashion, automatically. People who can't meet the standards should fail. Not to be rude but, this sport isn't for everyone. The standards are there for a reason. If you can't meet them you'll likely die out there. Far too many under-qualified divers are being cranked out every year. It's far past time the agencies crack down and make it harder to become certified. I also don't think "lifetime" certifications are good. So you got your OW cert 20 years ago in the Bahamas and now you want to rent gear and dive Monastery Beach in Monterey Bay... GTFO! We don't need new agencies or "tech" agencies... we need to consolidate and make some basic universal standards with would-be diver health in mind before profit. I think the industry should retest certified divers periodically (say every 5 years) to ensure compliance with standards. As an ASE certified Master Auto Mechanic I had to recert every 4 years or so. As a Soldier in the Army I had to qualifiy with my weapon at least once a year and do a PT test twice a year at minimum (realistically both were done quarterly.). All those things I had to do to keep the job I had. Both of those professions have serious consequences should minimum standards not be maintained. How is diving different?
  56. [...] This blog has been moved, and is now being hosted on my own website… Read the rest of this blog post at JohnChatterton.com [...]
  57. Keith D Brooks
    I am in total agreement about being self reliant! It should not be my job to babysit another diver unless I am in a class. If you are not capable of doing the dive by yourself, why endanger another due to your lack of experience. TRAIN! TRAIN TRAIN!
  58. john dougherty
    As divers progress through the stages of certification and experince they soon realize that self reliance is the only truly viable way to go. Buddy diving causes you to lose your concentration on the essentials at hand while simultaneously developing a false sense of security. There are two myths in diving, those who have never solo dived and those who have never peed in their suits. Everyone solo dives eventually, perhaps inadvertantly. At depth with low vis in the North Atlantic buddy diving can get you dead quick with the best of intentions. Right on John- thanks for telling it like it is!
  59. Bill
    Interesting perspective John, however I'd like to take the opportunity to take it a step further. From day one, dive schools teach the buddy system ... all fine and well. The problem is IMHO that the majority of divers, once having passed their OW course, seem to forget all about the buddy aspect, and what being a good buddy means. I have just under 50 dives at this point and 60% of those, I may as well have been diving by myself. i experienced this right from the get go, and started asking a lot of questions to some tech divers I know. Since about my 10th certified dive, I started practicing many things that basically made me self sufficient. I am now AOW cert .... my next course coming up is Solo diver, not because I really want to dive alone, but more to the point because I can't rely on others a great deal of the time. The only downside is all the extra weight I end up packing in extra gear. Why is it that dive schools can't teach some self sufficiency from day one? At least enough to enable divers to take care of themselves? There's my 2 cents for what it's worth!!! I know ..... it probably sounds like a rant. Cheers Bill
  60. [...] and that is what I have come to also realize in this experience. A while back I read this John Chatterton article and for a while I thought that he was "full of it" and selfish to promote solo diving. I [...]

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