Deco in the Boat

By Capt. JT

We were on a dive to 110 ft and everyone was thought to have a basic understanding of decompression. I and many others would soon see this was not the case.

The diver was to go with me, as he has many times before, we have always known that he required additional help and we have always taken care of him. I did not know just how much he did not understand decompression.

The dive started just like always, but at about 20 ft the diver signaled to me that he was unable to clear his ears. After several minutes I signaled to him I was going down and he was going up or meet me down there if his ears would clear.

I did my dive and was pleased with it as it was warm and clear. I did not see the diver at anytime and I did not accumulate a great deal of decompression so my hang was not long.

Upon boarding the boat and taking my gear off I began to look for the diver, he was not on board. A discussion was held as to if anyone should go look for him, as we had unspent divers on board. It was agreed that he should be okay as the wreck was not hard and it was not that deep. Some time passed and we counted the number of divers under the boat and he was there.

The diver trying to board the boat.

It was soon after this that the diver was boarding the boat and I had calculated that he could not have done all the deco he had accumulated. I stopped him from coming on and asked him. The diver said no and he had 23 min.s still to do.

At that point others got involved and told him to return down, but he was out of air. I grabbed a 30 cu. ft. stage bottle of 100% 02 that I had and put it on him. He was told to return to 20 ft and he went down.

Divers putting 02 on the diver.

An unspent diver put his gear on and went down to monitor him. The diver emptied this bottle and breathed off the other divers long hose for an additional amount of time. The diver had no signs of DCS but was badly shaken over this.

After the ordeal the diver was asked what had happened. He told us that a few minutes after I had gone down he was able to clear his ears. So he went down looking for me and was unable to find me. Then he was unable to find the anchor rope and found a diver to show him where it was. By this time he had depleted his air supply down to where he was unable to finish his deco.

The real lesson here is not what happened, but why he had not told any other diver under the boat that he needed to share their air and just came up instead.

I asked the diver what he was thinking as he was climbing the ladder to get on the boat. His answer was this " I thought I would just finish my deco in the boat", we all busted out laughing when hearing this as he believed this could be done. It was apparent that he had seen me on a dive continue to breath my deco gas on the boat as I was not feeling good and he had summarized that I was doing my deco on the boat.

It is my belief that divers will see things done and by not asking what is going on will in fact get the wrong idea as to what is being done. This will cause a diver to do these acts of disbelief because they think they will be OK.