What should you do if you’re separated from your diving buddies or boat?
Everyone experiences it. The question that weighs on us all is what to do when we ponder the outcome of being lost in the ocean, or simply separated from our dive buddy, is something we have all thought about. Everyone knows what the book instructs us to do. Look around for a minute and then meet at the surface right? Well what if that were not an option? In a more terrifying scenario, what if you and your buddy surface to find that there is no longer a boat to take you back the 30 or 40 miles to shore? These are situations that only a handful of people in the world have lived through. Openly enough, I am not one of them. I would further exclaim that I wish to never join that particular club.
Have a plan
Having a plan in the back of your mind is an important step to making it through some of the more difficult times in life. SCUBA Diving is no different in this regard. Your dive partner should be able to openly discuss with you what the plan of action will be if you get separated from each other in the water. Beyond that, there should also be a plan in case of injury. If you are diving in a more remote area, should one of you go for help and leave the other behind, or should you leave together? These are basic things to take into consideration. I will say openly here that if anyone happens to be at 150ft and notices that I am not moving and the regulator has fallen out of my mouth, you have my permission to assume that I no longer have a chance if I remain on the bottom. From there, just inflate my wing and send me on my way. While that is a bit macabre outlook on things to some, others will find that it makes perfect sense. The point is to have a plan in mind and executing that plan in case it is needed.
A diver lost or separated underwater must remember that everyone is taught to surface safely if a buddy cannot be found. Remaining underwater may eliminate gas reserves, or slow further assistance provided by others. If you arrive on the surface and cannot find your buddy, the next step is to signal the boat or others nearby to gain any possible assistance. The faster aid can be provided to a diver in trouble, the better.
Lost at sea
If you ever find yourself lost at sea, there is a good chance that you will either remain that way or you may have a movie deal in your future. If you are diving with a resort and the boat leaves you in the water, there is a pretty good chance that someone will notice that you are missing relatively quickly. From there the lawyers will likely have a field day with one another. The fact of the matter is that there is a chance, be it a small one, that you may not find the boat when you are done diving. This scenario is just something that should not happen, but it does from time to time. Being prepared with an emergency radio, such as the Nautilus Life Line, or some sort of signaling device may be your best bet for making it back safe. An emergency radio will cost you roughly $300 USD but like so many other things, you will not care about that when you need it and actually have it.
Typically, boat captains will tell divers what to do if they return to the surface and the boat is gone. These types of things can happen if an injury or illness causes the boat to need to leave quickly for emergency support. In cases such as this, divers are often told to wait at a mooring buoy or together on the surface because another vessel will be sent to pick up anyone left behind. The reality of the situation is that fear can grip any diver when the ride home is missing. When this happens, divers need to remember to remain together, achieve positive buoyancy, and remain calm. If other vessels or aircraft become visible, signaling devices can be used to alert them and hopefully gain assistance. This is why divers are trained to carry signaling devices such as surface marker buoys, whistles, and even mirrors.
If you discover that you have lost a buddy, you always need to find aid. The more eyes searching for your lost buddy, the better a chance may exist to find him or her before bigger problems develop. If you are at the local quarry, call for help. If you are diving from a boat, inform the crew. To conclude, there are steps written down for how an individual should react to a lost buddy. There may even be guidance for how to survive being left behind by a boat operator. The more you plan and prepare on the front end could impact how well you manage yourself in case of emergency. Talk to your buddy each time you dive about what you will both do in the event that you become separated and do not let embarrassment concern you. It is better to call for help than to worry about any shame related associated with becoming separated.