How Can I Stay With My Buddy On A SCUBA Dive?
Have you ever been out hiking with a friend and suddenly noticed you were way far ahead and needed to slow down to stay together? Staying with your buddy on a SCUBA dive is similar to if you were to go on a hike with a friend. When on a hike, you look for your friend and talk to them often, right? This is just how you can stay with your buddy on a SCUBA dive!
Choose Who Leads
When SCUBA diving with a buddy, it is easiest to choose who will lead the dive and who will follow. You and your buddy can take turns leading on different dives.
The best way to stay with your buddy on a SCUBA dive is if you are side-by-side. This allows both divers to easily glance left or right to find their buddy. If one diver is in front and one is behind, the buddy in front has to keep looking back to make sure their buddy is still there. This causes the person in front to consume more air and have more tasks to do. If the buddy in back stops at all, this can cause separation.
One of the worst but funniest things is when one buddy is above their buddy. The buddy that is below cannot find their buddy. They look left, right, behind but nothing. The buddy is right above them! This is the most annoying thing to do as a buddy.
Another great way of how to stay with your buddy on a SCUBA dive is to stay close. At all times, even in great visibility, you should be within two seconds reach of your buddy. In great visibility, this can be challenging because both divers may think that they can get away with being further apart since they can see. This is not a good choice. I have seen buddies get separated because they were so far apart and got caught up in two different currents. In lower visibility, it can be challenging to stay with your buddy as well. Sometimes buddies will need to be touching arms to be able to not lose each other.
Do NOT ever use rope to connect the two buddies together like a leash. This can cause many dangers and risks to both divers should something go wrong like one buddy having a panicked, rapid ascent. Exceptions to this would be in ice diving where tethering to other divers and the surface is a safety thing.
Just like you would talk to your friends on a hike for pleasure and to ensure they are ok, you would do the same underwater. “Talking” is a bit different underwater, however. SCUBA divers use hand signals to communicate. I have known one diver who can actually talk through their regulator underwater! For most of us though, there is a common set of hand signals used.
During the dive, you should be checking in with your buddy often. Give the “o.k?” hand signal and they should give it back.
How Would You Lose Your Dive Buddy?
Some people may be thinking how do you even lose a dive buddy? Maybe you are one of the few who this hasn’t happened to. There are many reasons one might not be able to stay with their buddy on a SCUBA dive. While this is not an all-inclusive list, here are some common reasons why you might not be able to stay with your buddy on a SCUBA dive:
I have seen this one too many times where two divers are thrown together as a buddy team on a boat because they were there alone. There is nothing wrong with this, but if this happens to you, you need to make sure you and your buddy know all the hand signals and how you will be together during the dive. Even buddies that have been diving together for a long time need to make sure they check in with each other during the dive.
In poor visibility, it is so hard to see that you might not be able to see your hand in front of your face, let alone your dive buddy.
Not staying close together
If you are far away from your buddy, you can easily get separated by the current or just be distracted all together.
There are so many cool things to see underwater. Getting distracted by the turtle that just swam up can happen so fast. Sometimes your buddy is unaware of the turtle as they are peering into a hole in the reef staring at an octopus. One diver swims one way while one diver stays put or goes another way.
What To Do If You Lose Your Dive Buddy?
If you dive long enough, you will probably lose your buddy on a SCUBA dive. As part of your buddy check, you and your buddy should discuss the proper procedures for buddy separation. If you cannot find your buddy, search the immediate area for no more than one minute. Look for their bubbles. Maybe slightly ascend to get better visibility of the area. If after one minute you cannot find your buddy, make a safe, slow ascent to the surface. More often than not, you will find your buddy on the surface and re-join to continue the dive. If your buddy is not at the surface, you will call for help early.
In the end, staying with your buddy on a SCUBA dive should be easy. The side-by-side orientation is the best and easiest way to keep track of your buddy. Buddy checks are important before the dive to go over communication and so that you both know what to do to follow the correct procedures should you lose your buddy on a SCUBA dive. Buddies make diving safer and more enjoyable. Don’t lose them on a dive!