Why in the world would any diver go into the water knowing that there would be no one around to help them in the event of an emergency? That person must be crazy, reckless or have a death wish right? I would say most agencies try to force us into this belief by creating a mentality that solo diving equals death. This is simply not the case. I believe the answer to this one simple question will explain why the Self-Reliant diver is a great specialty to hold. Here is the question:
If you are trained in proper gear configuration for self-reliant (solo) diving and possess the necessary skills to safely recover from an unexpected emergency underwater wouldn’t that make you are more desirable buddy and more competent diver?
If you answered “NO” then please stop reading and continue to be brainwashed into thinking that you should always rely on another person for you safety; I truly hope that you never become separated from your buddy and your buddy can (and is willing) to assist you with your problem.
If you answered “YES” then please read on, watch Mark Powell’s excellent video and contact us to take this unique specialty.
Mark Powell goes into some great statistics on the buddy system and why “buddy system is not the panacea that some people think it is” (Powell, 2012). That doesn’t mean that diving alone doesn’t have increased risks, it simply means that we are learning what the risks are and we are attempting to reduce and manage those risks as much as possible. This is a great video and WELL worth the watch.
How many times have you been on a dive where you are simply teamed up with random people that you have never dove with before (probably EVERY dive if you are an instructor)? Now on that dive were you within arm’s reach of your “buddy” at all times? What if your buddy is a photographer….did you wait for him/her to move onto the next subject or did you just bounce between the group figuring that everyone is my buddy? What if you were traveling between the group and had a low pressure hose rupture at 30m (100′)? What if it happened and you were the last person in the group in a drift dive? Could you possibly make it to a buddy? Is this safer than diving with a self-reliant mentality? I don’t think so.
I have been spoiled early on as I have adapted technical diving even in my recreational dives. By keeping the “tec” mentality (planning, conservatism and redundancy) I am better equipped and prepared to self-recover. A great example of this is in sidemount diving. Redundant gas supplies, 1st stages, 2nd stages and SPGs. Now add on some other required equipment like reel, DSMB, backup computer and you are on your way to understanding what it takes for self-reliant diving.
Who wouldn’t want the skills to dive more safely with a buddy? I would. I would also love having buddies who were trained to be more self-reliant. This is even a good choice for instructors because now you are even more prepared for underwater emergencies that could occur.
Want some more information? Check out the X-Ray Magazine, Solo Divers and Risk Management.
The course is designed for experienced divers who want to take their training to the next level and become better, more self-reliant divers. This is a great course for Photographers too… we all know that the underwater photographer patiently waits for the perfect shot. Not having a second diver hovering and swimming right next to you should increase the odds of seeing more underwater life. Looking at Sidemount Diving? This is a great configuration platform for the Self-Reliant Diver course.
Divernet.com did a rite-up of the Self-Reliant Diver Specialty course.
- Be certified as a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or have a qualifying certification from another training organization.
- Have a minimum 100 logged dives.
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Successfully complete a dive skills assessment by a PADI Self-
- Reliant Diver Specialty Instructor.
- Standard dive equipment as outlined in the General Standards and Procedures Guide of the PADI Instructor Manual:
- Fins, mask and snorkel
- Compressed gas cylinder and valve*
- Buoyancy control device (BCD) with tank mount or separate backpack, and low pressure inflator*
- Primary regulator and alternate air source*
- Breathing gas monitoring device (e.g. submersible pressure gauge)
- Depth monitoring device
- Quick release weight system and weights (if necessary for neutral buoyancy, or if required for skills practice)
- Adequate exposure protection appropriate for local dive conditions.
- At least one audible emergency surface signaling device (whistle, air horn, etc.).
- Dive computer or RDP (eRDPML or Table)
- Surface marker buoy, such as a delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) or lift bag with at least 30 metres/100 feet of line.
- Redundant gas source – pony cylinder, twin cylinders with isolation valve or sidemount configuration. Redundant gas supply must be configured so that the diver can access it with one hand.
- Redundant depth gauge and bottom timer, or dive computer.
- Redundant surface signaling devices (both visual and audible)
- Knife/cutting tool (except where locally prohibited)
- Slate and pencil
- Back-up mask (recommended)
**compass highly recommended