There was an incident last weekend which reminded me of the importance of diving your plan.
A small group of us from the dive club met to do the two-tank afternoon dive at Stuart Cove’s. We had decided to meet for the afternoon dives instead of the morning ones because of the Dive for Debris that was taking place that afternoon. This would give us a total of 3 dives – not a bad day’s diving.
On the dive boat we met a guy called James. We laughed, joked, and talked about diving and the usual nonsense that people who have just met talk about. We discussed our plans for the afternoon and how we were looking to three dives in fairly quick succession we would only be trying to stay as shallow as possible on these first dives.
The first site was the David Tucker. I have only dived this site once before, and I had only dived the wreck not the reef and the wall. After I had done some exploring through the wreck we followed Randy on a little bimble about the reef. I spotted a turtle and we followed that for a bit before we turned and headed towards the wall. We had discussed that we were planning on staying shallow on the dive so none of us had any intention in dropping down the wall. The wall is a very steep drop off, it bottoms out at about 6500ft, so we just kept to the top at about 16m.
We are about to head back in towards the wreck, so I look around to check where everybody is. Randy is heading in from the wall, making his way back. Alex is beside me. James? James was no where to be seen. Until I looked down the wall. James was 20m below me. He was actually at the point where we could no longer see him. I looked at Alex and he looked back at me. We watched James as he started to disappear. I could see James looking at his console and just sinking further and further. I decided that there was only one course of action. I would have to go down and get him.
I signalled to Alex that I was going down. He descend a small way but held back so that he would be able to assist or get help. I dropped to 35.7m and James was still sinking. I gave him a thumbs up in his face and the lights seemed to switch on and he started to ascend. I kept my eye on him and I was glad when we made it back to Alex at around 18m, I then performed a deep stop for one minute.
We swam back to the David Tucker. However, as I was worried that my NDL for my future dives would be compromised I decided to end the dive. I performed an extended safety stop and then exited 10 minutes before everyone else.
I spoke to James after this and why he didn’t mention about going deep off of the wall when we were discussing the dive plan. He said he hadn’t thought about it until he was there. This is where the problem lies. On the spur of the moment he decided to descend to almost the maximum of recreational limits for no better reason that his own ego, and without telling someone what he was doing. Nothing bad happened this time. I am glad that he was OK and that at worst his pride was the only thing that was hurt. But when you are diving with new people that you don’t know, don’t do things that you haven’t discussed before. Especially things that could get you or someone else killed. If he had descended much deeper than he was I might not have been able to reach him with out seriously risking injury to myself, and we might have lost a diver today.
The second dive was on Mike’s Reef. We just jumped in and didn’t even look for James to ask him if he wanted to join us. The damage from his actions had already been done. He slipped away once the boat returned to the dock.
So plan your dive and dive your plan. Words to live or die by.
Dive for Debris
Luckily I managed to get a surface interval of 1 hour and 40 minutes after the first two dives, and coupled with an average depth of 11.4m on the third dive meant that I was in no risk of running out of NDL.