Newbie Diver with Doubles
By Capt. JT
The diver had gotten my name and email from another per techdiver list. He was asking about doing support on some of the deep dives that I put together. After several emails it was apparent to me that the diver, due to lack of training and experience was not able to at this time to safely be a support diver on any of these trips. He had no rescue diver training and had only been recently trained in nitrox. He had only 30 logged dives and these were only in lakes and quarries, and the ocean is unforgiving.
Not to discourage the diver, I, as I normally do, ask to see him dive. This was in hopes that in time he would become a skilled enough diver to become a active member of a support group that is capable of helping on these very deep dives, as this was his wish to do.
The trip that I offered was a weekend to Morehead City in NC to dive. The dives were of recreational type and though some on the trip were doing deco it was a trip that was made up mostly for recreational diving. It was after setting up this trip that it also became apparent that he had already purchased the "Do It Right" video and had visited the web sites, also with private email had received all the training that he deemed needed to dive w/doubles Hogarthian rigged and drysuit. After telling him the warm water was there and thinking that he had already gotten in over his head in gear, he agreed to dive in his wet suit, it was my thinking that he was going to have problems and the drysuit would add to it.
He arrived in NC before I did and had already gotten into his room for the night. That morning as everyone loaded their gear and prepared to go diving I had my first face to face talk with the young man. The dive was to be a 105 fsw wreck dive and he was showing all the classic signs of a diver who had stress about doing a dive.I have little patience with divers and I will call it as I see it to your face. I have tried to curve my opinion many times, but sometimes I slip. For this reason I do not teach, few would pass my classes. My girlfriend does instruction, but only recreational diving. This made him my problem as he was rigged w/doubles and she is not trained to handle this gear. She had a class and her first obligation was to them.
Without him knowing I had a discussion with Capt., mates, and her, He would have to dive with me. Upon telling him that I was to be his dive buddy and the plan, this may have added to his stress and somewhat intimidated him.
After tying into the wreck, a little current was noticed. I told the diver to jump in and go down to the assist line and that is where I would be. We jumped off each side of the bow and I went down to the anchor where the assist line meets it, looking around I did not see him, looking up he was holding onto the boat looking down at me. I signaled for him to come down to where I was with the mate as he was returning from the tie in.The diver then started to swim down using his hands and arms in assist manner, but not with his fins as he should.The current with the gear and fear were showing.He landed on the assist line at the back of the boat and pulled his way up to me.I gave the Ok signal and he gave it back, but I knew that he was stressed.
I turned and started down and turned to look back at him.He was going up the anchor rope, I saw him go out of the water and try to climb the bow as a stressed diver will do.I went directly to him and shouted "what's wrong ", one of the mates had already positioned himself to help on the bow as we saw this coming. The diver then said he could not find his power inflator and I answered that I did not agree, that I did not think he was ready for this dive.
The diver said I was right and that he was getting on the boat, the mate watched him return to the back of the boat and assisted him on the boat. I did my dive and returned to talk with the diver. The divers ego was badly hurt, My advice was to snorkel that day and get used to the current and boat. Also return to a single tank as the doubles at this time were too much for him to handle, we would try again the next day.
That night I talked to the mates and ask them to assist him as he very much wanted to dive and as they deal with these problems day in day out they were best suited for the task, they agreed to each do a dive with him the next day. I was already into my dive when I saw him on the wreck, he did seem to be doing much better.
After talking with mates at the end of the day, they said it took a great deal to get him down and he was not ready for doubles, as they will increase the stress for a new diver. In time the diver may become a very good diver and have a use for the doubles, then he should get training to fully understand doubles and operate them. These are skills best learned from an experienced diver and practiced to achieve these skills.You can not get experience on the net.You dive and dive a lot before trying to move to another level of diving.