How to be a good dive buddy
How to be a good dive buddy
Scuba diving is not a solitary activity, and from your first steps, or rather fin kicks, of divers, you have heard about the importance and made the pair with a buddy during your dives. Each diver simultaneously has a buddy, so it’s good to know what makes a good buddy better yourself.
This system makes it possible to avoid accidents during a dive and reach the surface safely by helping during, for example, an out of air situation.
Like many things in life, being a great partner comes with time and experience. So, it is essential to practice and dive, dive and dive again.
Let’s see the essential points to become the ideal pair:
Start on the right foot
Being a good buddy starts long before the dive and even before boarding the boat. If you do not dive with your usual buddy, you will need to know your new diving partner. You can ask to join a specific person if there is a good feeling, but when in a dive center, there is a good chance that the club will assign you a buddy.
You must then get to know your new buddy so that everything goes as well as possible during the dives to come and that the communication goes as well as possible. Be friendly, open, and respectful of one another, and once the introductions are made, talk about what you’re here for scuba diving. Tell each other about your experiences, strengths, and weaknesses underwater, tell each other about past anecdotes and what you expect from upcoming dives to agree on how to proceed.
Trusting your buddy is crucial during dives and takes away additional stress. Therefore, it is essential to communicate well before even thinking about getting geared on.
When you already know your partner, this is a definite advantage because you know their habits, way of doing things, and communication will be clear and compelling underwater.
Communication is an essential element between divers. There are two primary forms of communication during a dive: hand signs and body language.
There are many conventional signs, but some signs can be personal, and it is necessary to agree before the dive to avoid misunderstandings. It is also good to check that all the signs will be understood and clearly communicated between you.
Body language is more personal and can be challenging to explain, and takes longer to understand, but a few signs give a good indication of your partner’s condition. Observe the whole body, and if you find any tension, your partner can be under stress. The eyes are also a good indicator. Dilated eyes indicate anxiety or fear. These indicators make it possible to anticipate situations and resolve the problem before it worsens and becomes problematic.
Do not hesitate to communicate on subjects that may worry you.
It is better to scuba dive with a buddy with the same level as you and, therefore, share the same prerogatives. Having, for example, the same maximum depth does not put pressure on the less certified divers and does not limit the people who can dive deeper. We must consider certifications but not only; experience plays a crucial part in a diver’s level and guarantees that everyone can help their partner in a critical situation.
Last step before getting in the water, the pre-dive checks. Review the essential signs and emergency procedures with your new buddy, like the out of air situation or the buddy separation underwater, to ensure that each one is on point. The buddies who are used to diving together are well established, but that does not prevent them from checking from time to time to keep their skills up to date.
Then you have to equip, get geared up, and do the pre-dive safety check. This step is essential and must be done before each dive with your buddy. As a reminder, use the word BWARF; the steps of this check are :
B for BCD, check the BC and that all the buttons and purges are working,
W for weights, everyone has their weights and belt properly attached,
A for air, have the bottle open and full, R for releases, the straps are well attached and tight and
F for final OK, fins and masks are ready.
In addition, this step allows everyone to familiarize themselves with the buddy’s equipment if they use unusual or unknown equipment, avoiding surprises in the event of a problem.
Adopt the right behavior
Here are the behaviors to adopt to be the best possible buddy underwater.
Swim at the same speed. The buddy team must be side by side for the dive duration. A different speed will form a single line, and the front diver will not see the one behind him and the possible issues that may occur and will have to wait constantly as this will stress the diver behind who will get tired to return to the same level
Stay in teams. As seen above, the buddy team should stay close to each other and close enough to react quickly. It would be best if you didn’t last too close because it bothers everyone, and no one likes having someone in their fins or getting kicked throughout the entire dive. The usual distance is an arm’s length between the two divers, but this varies depending on conditions such as current or visibility.
Respect your environment. Every good diver should respect the marine life, whether on the boat, by not throwing anything overboard or underwater by not touching anything. Make sure your partner does the same and does not damage these magnificent reefs.
If we dive, it is also and foremost for the pleasure it provides. Therefore, it is essential to have fun and have a good time with your partner.
It is good to be able to share common interests with your partner. This helps to keep a good cohesion during the whole dive and show your discoveries to your buddy and talk about it when you get back on the boat. Imagine if one buddy is only looking for nudibranchs while the other is only interested in large pelagic, it will be challenging to stay together during the entire dive.
Photographers have different interests from other divers and prefer to stay together due to how they dive. If you are a photographer, make sure that your buddy is one or that they don’t mind going a lot slower and waiting for you.
Having the same air consumption as your partner is a definite advantage. This is one more minor detail to think about all the time because you know what your partner has left by just looking at your pressure gauge. It is also very unpleasant to finish a dive when you still have half of your tank, but your partner is already empty. It is also easier to plan a dive without limiting one of the members of the duo.
Demonstrate good judgment
Like a good buddy, you must know your abilities and not push them with the risk of putting everyone in danger. You must know how to say no and keep a safety margin rather than pulling on the rope too much. That’s why you have to constantly keep an eye on your non-decompression limit, depth, and pressure gauge and not flirt with the limitations. Also, call your partner to order if necessary.
Try to focus on people and not only on your dive. This involves monitoring many parameters such as the remaining pressure, navigation, depth, the currents, your body position, etc …
Do not push others
Above all, diving should be fun, and the goal is not to push the limits. It is a calm sport, and it is often said that good divers are lazy.
So please don’t push your partner to do things they don’t want or feel comfortable with. For example, make sure your partner feels comfortable in the current or going more profound than usual. Pushing to exceed limits will lead to stress and more inherent danger. If your regular buddy is not willing to go further, encourage him to train with professionals to give them confidence.
Upon returning from your dive, you can discuss what you liked and didn’t like about your buddy during the dive. Say it in a friendly way, and it will only be beneficial and make him a better diver. You can also ask for feedback on how you were.
On the other hand, unless you are a professional or an experienced diver, avoid criticizing your partner’s skills at the risk of passing on inaccurate information.
We hope this small article will help you to be a good dive buddy. For all your diving desires, whether you are in a group or alone, join us at Dragon Dive Komodo and experience the best of dives in Indonesia.