Every Dive is a Solo Dive!
The term “solo diving” has brought up many questions and concerns for years within the dive industry. Some divers see solo diving as reckless and dangerous. Others see it as their only way to dive because of scheduling and inability to find a dive buddy. However, with proper training and experience I believe solo diving can be done safely.
While solo diving, there are several risk you must accept. Obviously, the first is a dive buddy. Divers tend to worry that without a dive buddy they wouldn't have a back up air device for an out of air emergency. However, solo divers are trained to dive with a redundant air source. This is not a problem with proper training and practice. During a solo diver course, students learn advanced gas planning procedures to know exactly how much air they would need for the dive and they plan reserves. The biggest thing you lose with solo diving is a redundant brain. Your dive buddy can help if you become unconscious, panic, or have other problems that hard to deal with by yourself. This is why solo dives shouldn't be pinnacle dives. When divers go alone they do so in a familiar environment. You also lose some of the joy of sharing the experience of the dive with your buddy. However, none of this makes solo diving bad. For some people is the only way they get to go diving.
What I want to talk about is the mindset that every diver should have before entering the water. The mindset should be that every dive is a solo dive. This means that you should be a self-sufficient diver. One thing that I stress the importance of in all of my classes is the importance of self-sufficiency. While many of the dives that you do take place within buddy, it is important for you to be able to handle bad situation on your own if necessary. While diving you may find yourself alone. It can easy to lose a dive buddy in bad viz, in large groups, and if your not paying attention. You need to be able to handle whatever may happen if you find yourself alone. Below I want to give you a few tips help you become a more self-sufficient diver.
How to be a self-sufficient diver.
1. Plan your dive and dive your plan.Before every dive, you should take the time to plan. Whether you're diving solo or with the buddy it is important to plan out the following at minimum: maximum depth, maximum time, minimum air pressure, and dive leader. I was talking to a guy who investigates dive accidents. He said that a majority of the accidents investigated, the divers did not have a dive plan. You can greatly reduce risk by simply planning your dive.
Another way to be self-sufficient just take a preventative mindset. This means to stop the problem before it happens. For instance, don't dive with gear that isn't working correctly. Believe it or not, people have died diving with gear that they knew was faulty before entering the water. Another way to prevent problems is to dive with the proper equipment. An entanglement issue is much easier deal with if you have a line cutter or a dive knife. Having a back up flashlight can make all the difference if your primary light fails. Don't dive at night or in dark water without two flashlights.
3. Know your gear.
Take time to play with your gear above water. Develop muscle memory so deploying you're accessory items is not a chore. Many times the first time divers use their emergency equipment is in an emergency. This is not the best time to become familiar with new gear. Go to your local dive site and do a dive just practicing with your gear.
4. Dive Often
Diving skills are perishable skills. If you don't use them you will lose them. You can't expect to be a good diver and only dive a few times a year. This goes for everything in life. You get better as you practice. Local dive sites may not have the best diving conditions in the world, but it is place to practice and become a safer diver.
5. Continue Education
Continue learning and continue taking courses. It will help challenge you and push you to the next level. The SDI solo diver course is a great learning experience. It will push you and make you think. You will learn new skills and how to become more self-sufficient in your diving and planning. Plus courses are great way to make new dive buddies!