Be a great dive buddy!

Gabe Watson the American diver dubbed the “honeymoon” killer will go down in history as the world’s worst dive buddy. He served time in a Brisbane prison for unlawfully killing his wife.

It should be every diver’s aim to not only be a good dive buddy, but a great dive buddy. Here are some tips to help you achieve this.

  • When appropriate, assist your buddy to put their dive gear on and take their dive gear off. Caution! Some divers like to don their gear themselves so be tactful!
  • Perform a buddy safety check before each dive in the way you were trained.
  • Remain close to your buddy at all times, both at the surface and while underwater. N.B. The distance will depend on the environmental conditions at the time but 1- 5 metres is a good rule of thumb. Be ready to lend assistance to your dive buddy if needed
  • Some buddies are slow to descend because of ear equalization problems. Show patience and remain with them.
  • If descent/ascent lines are provided use them
  • Swim underwater at a slow, relaxed pace which is comfortable for both of you
  • While diving remind each other how much air you each have left
  • Once your air gauge reaches 50 BAR immediately begin your ascent together. If diving deep begin your ascent sooner.
  • Though it is rare, avoid decompression sickness by staying well within your no-decompression limits displayed on each other’s dive computer
  • If swimming one behind the other (i.e. inside wrecks etc) the buddy leading from the front is responsible for the diver coming behind.
  • If separated from your dive buddy commence the buddy separation drill i.e. remain where you are for one minute. Continually look up, down and around. Look for bubbles. If after one minute you cannot locate your buddy ascend immediately to the surface. Ascend at a rate no greater than 9 metres per minute. While you ascend continue to look up, down and around for your dive buddy. Do not do a safety stop.
  • At the surface when you locate your buddy decide whether to continue or abort the dive.
  • If you cannot locate your dive buddy immediately at the surface, signal the lookout on the dive boat and let the lookout know your dive buddy is missing. If the lookout does not respond to your signal, immediately blow your whistle and while blowing your whistle inflate your Surface Marker Buoy (SMB commonly known as a safety sausage).

N.B. NEVER EVER DESCEND UNDERWATER TO LOOK FOR YOUR DIVE BUDDY. REMAIN AT THE SURFACE AND WITH THE HELP OF THE LOOKOUT AND OTHER DIVERS CONTINUE TO SEARCH FOR YOUR BUDDY

Safe diving

Ian McKinnon
SSI Pro 5000 Instructor
Diving since 1974
Copyright Ian McKinnon 2012 ian@scubaworld.com.au