Follow the Plan to Avoid a Ban
By: Joe Stellini
Technical Scuba Diving – what a thrill. Just the thought of being down 150+ feet on a wreck only a few have had an opportunity to explore is exciting enough. When we get into technical diving most of us have great intentions of following the rules and making sure that our dives are properly planned, mitigating the threat of issues that could potentially become harmful or fatal.
Bend the rules.
However, over time, just as many sport divers do once they become more experienced, technical divers may feel that it is ok to “relax” a little. Bend the rules. Change the plan on the fly. Stay a little longer. Go a little deeper. The reality is in both technical and sport diving that it is not ok to do this. It may or may not catch up to you in the end. Here is another reality that drives boat captains mad. Not only them but the mates and the other experienced tech divers on the boat who actually respect the risks they are taking.
Not only are you risking a safety issue, but intentionally bending the rules or changing your plan during the dive could lead to getting yourself banned from diving with reputable charter operations.
So when you sign in with the boat make sure you know what number you write down. Meaning if you jot down 60 minutes for a total run time, then be back within 60 minutes. There is no changing the plan on the fly at this point. Not only are you risking DCS, gas shortage, and sea condition degradation by staying longer, you are making yourself look bad. Like you don’t care about the rules of the dive. Or you are disrespecting the boat and the people running it.
Why does a boat captain care about your run time?
Ask any captain who has had to deal with a lost diver or a fatality on their boat. Knowing your dive plan will help them problem solve later if you were to have an issue. They care about it on behalf of your safety and a quicker response time if your safety becomes an issue.
But what happens when you have an actual problem during your dive, which would cause a longer than expected run time? For instance a lost deco gas, which forces you to use a leaner O2 mix for decompression. Not an issue since you are trained for contingency. Launch your Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB). This lets the crew know you ran into an issue and will be longer than expected. At this point the captain can make a call as to whether or not a diver should be sent down to check on the issue. More gas may be needed. An entanglement may have happened. A mistake may have been made causing a time adjustment. Whatever the case, this common practice will help solve the problem and keep everyone calm.
The short and sweet of it all… Plan the dive and dive the plan. Especially when it involves others who are looking out for you and your safety.