Over the last nine years I personally have seen many divers come through the doors of Emperor Divers and Tekstreme. The experience range of the divers that I have seen stretches to both extremes; from the newly qualified open water diver with 4 dives to the experienced technical instructor with 4000 dives. What became apparent to me very early on in my guiding days, was that a certification card means nothing until you actually see the diver in the water. You can picture the scene, I am guiding on day one with a group of eight recreational guests ranging from open water divers to rescue divers (the divers could have come from any training agency I must stress!). Four buddy teams, what could be so difficult? Nothing is generally difficult on the boat (the odd upside down BCD attached to tank maybe, perhaps some tank bands not threaded correctly etc!), its only when the guests are in the water that the fun and games begin. Lack of buoyancy control, awareness of buddy, awareness of guide, coral, other divers, air, depth, decompression, the list goes on. These are certified divers! It makes you wonder if any of them actually self-sufficient and could handle themselves in an emergency in the correct manner. If I was in distress could any of them assist me? The answer to that, unfortunately, on many an occasion is no!
You would think that even when divers have gained enough experience and training to continue into technical diving that surely they must be self sufficient, have good buoyancy, and be in control! Unfortunately the answer again here is no for some! (not all, I must add)
Rogue instructors, recreational and technical dive centers are primarily to blame for these divers with questionable certifications. I do not personally blame the divers in question at all; it is the responsibility of the instructor to ensure mastery of skills, knowledge, independence and self reliance prior to certification.
As a direct result of any experiences that I have had, I do wonder how many divers out there have been on a diving trip and buddied up with somebody who clearly has no idea, no attention and no care for you as the buddy? Do you feel safe knowing that anything that happens in the water you must deal with on your own?
If the answer to that question is a honest no, you may want to try SDI’s Solo Diver Specialty.
“Who is SDI”? Well, SDI (Scuba Diving International) is the open water arm of TDI (Technical Diving International). TDI is the largest technical training organization in the world. SDI is now in a dead heat for the number two position among certifying agencies for the number of divers trained annually in the US. Their background in the technical field gives them a unique perspective to diving
The Solo Diver course is one of the most popular SDI specialties. It is one of the many innovative ideas that have been pioneered over the years. SDI is the only agency to teach the skills and equipment configuration necessary to safely pursue solo diving.
SDI has successfully promoted solo diving as an option for experienced sport divers engaged in certain activities. It is a program that is not suitable for every diver because divers must be willing to make the necessary commitment to train and equip themselves to manage the added risks independent diving involves.
What exactly is “solo diving”? To me a solo diver isn’t just someone who shows up at the dive site and jumps in. It is more complicated than that. If I am diving with a buddy who is unaware or unconcerned about my whereabouts, I am actually doing a form of solo diving.
Further, if you are more than a breath away from your buddy you may as well be alone as the results will be the same. The last two examples will put you at the same risk as the bloke who jumps in by himself and disappears.
The diver who just jumps in and solo dives without training is playing the fool’s game. He may have an over-inflated opinion as to his abilities to handle any problems he/she may encounter. Alternatively, a dependent buddy partnered with an unconcerned buddy is diving solo in total ignorance. He doesn’t realize that in the case of an emergency he may have to save himself. The problem is that he isn’t trained to do so. In the examples above, either buddy could have a problem, and being unprepared and untrained each diver is alone. When you read the dive accident and fatality statistics all the above described types of divers share the limelight.
The open water skill levels required for certification as an independent, unsupervised diver are severely lacking in adequate performance standards. Believe me, a near panicked diver is a handful for even the most expereinced professional.
Personally, I prefer to dive with a dive partner. I prefer someone to experience the dive with me. In my case, I know full well that a dive partner will be able to do very little for me in the case of an emergency due to time and depth constraints in some of the types of diving in which I am involved. Worse still is the fact that if I am not self-reliant and my buddy has to intercede, I am putting his/her life in jeopardy as well. This is totally unacceptable to me.
In the Solo Diver course, the experienced advanced diver candidate is made aware of the special needs in equipment, techniques and mental attitude needed to do this type of diving with minimum risk. Contrary to popular belief, even technical divers don’t dive alone. Solo diving can be similar to cave diving in that no amount of previous experience can prepare the uninitiated solo diver to what can, and does, transpire in an emergency situation. That is why the prerequisites for entry into the solo diver program are high.
Solo diving is even more unsafe if you are not trained to execute solo dives. Everything we do carries risks. We attempt to mitigate these risks through knowledge. Knowledge really is power. In this case, that knowledge may be the power to live rather than perish. With that knowledge you will be able to avoid a turn of events that could cascade into a real life-threatening problem. Most dive injuries are not due to a major catastrophic failure of a piece of gear. They start with a simple problem which when ignored and not dealt with leads to a more serious threat. Completing this course empowers you with specific knowledge, enabling you to make a sound risk analysis when engaging in this type of diving
This course is ideally suited to those divers who looking to either develop their own sense of independence, or divers who are interested in getting into Technical diving, underwater photography or underwater videography.
The objective of this course is to train divers in the benefits, hazards and proper procedures for diving solo. Upon successful completion of this course, graduates may engage in solo diving activities. (Defendant on local laws, regulations, dive center policies. I must stress at this point that Emperor Divers and Tekstreme do not allow any form of solo diving)
The enrolling students must meet the following criteria:
– Minimum age: 21 years.
– Minimum certification of Advanced Diver or equivalent.
– Minimum of 100 logged dives.
– Review and complete Medical History form and Liability Release form.
– Review and complete Solo Diver Release form.
An emphasis of the course is the supply of an alternate air supply. By this we do not mean your own alternate air source, but an additional supply of gas. This can either be achieved in the use of carrying a pony bottle, diving in twin tanks, or diving with a dual outlet valve allowing for two regulators.
For those divers looking to potentially continue into technical diving, the introduction to twin set diving as a redundant air supply would be a great tool. For those looking to stay in recreational diving but to develop their independence then the use of a pony tank is more suitable. The course will run for two days and covers a variety of theoretical topics, practical applications and actual dives.
The course can be both challenging and enjoyable and a must for those divers looking to train themselves to the next level.
Courses available soon out of Hurghada.
For more information contact us at Tekstreme@emperordivers.com