Exploring Underwater Hong Kong Since 1979
(DO - Diving Officer)
"Complacency kills." The title is one of my favourite sayings which I use as a reminder every time I go diving. It is appropriate to be reminded of this phrase as we jump start the dive season because you might be a bit rusty and your gear hasn’t seen day-light for months. If you do not spend time preparing for your dives, visualization of the dives and preparing your equipment, there’s more chance something can go wrong.
The Club Committee has asked me, the Diving Officer, to pen some reminders which I hope you will find useful. So here is a list of things I have seen, experienced or heard about so far in 2020:
Service Your Gear
Common leaks seen at this time of the year 1) connection at the SPGs; 2) inflator buttons and valve 3) 2nd stage
Broken straps – so far this year I’ve been asked to find someone a mask strap that was broken, and for me personally, my spring strap screws came undone on a dive
Check the condition of your knives (note the plural!). The Eezycutters are brilliant, but there’s a reason why they provide spare blades in the pack because they rust.
Inflate the wing / BCD / dSMB – does it hold pressure?
Clean the dump valves – my drysuit leaked in January because of a few grains of sand trapped, likewise wing / BCD dump valves can leak for the same reason.
Replace computer batteries now – don’t wait!
Inspect for cracks and scrub your mask clean (found cleaning fluid to clean the grime / scaling inside washing machines works a treat)
Check buckles and clips- yep, somebody nearly lost a camera at the weekend because a clip failed. Lucky the viz was good and able to dive down to recover it.
Check the weight pockets and belt are in good condition.
Label everything with your name on it to reduces the chance of losing it.
This could get you out of some bother. Common pleas for help on a dive day:
Saft batteries for Shearwaters.
Regulator mouth piece – chewed through another one the other day!
Mask – if you like the one you use today, get another one and start a habit of carrying it on the dive. If you use prescription lenses, even more important to have a spare. Or do what I do, buy 3 just to be on the safe side in case they stop making them.
Spare fin strap has saved many a dive.
Spare knife / cutter – if you fix one on the wing, think about zip tying an eezycutter on the torch as a back-up.
Double-enders and trigger clips – personally I recommend 2 spare double enders to be carried on every dive, they come in handy.
Zip ties, bungee and masking tape can rescue a dive.
Back-up torch, computer and compass. Relying on navigating using a Shearwater is my preferred way but it’s not good if the battery dies; hence a back-up Shearwater or standard compass comes in handy. On oversea multi-day diving trips with deco, carrying a spare computer on the dives is essential to track deco, and always follow the deco on the most conservative one.
Record the Weights You Need
How many times does the DM get called to pass extra weights at the back of the boat due to an under-weighted diver? Start a habit of recording down the weights needed for the gear being used, on your phone and then you will dive with more confidence right from the get go, and less experimenting.
Do the Buddy Check
This club makes it mandatory to do a buddy check before every dive and makes diving off our boats much safer. For every dive, remember the only person that could possibly help you underwater is your buddy, so it’s in your own best interest to ensure the buddy’s dive kit is complete and in good condition and he/she is fit to dive before jumping in. So do your BAR / ABC buddy check. It shouldn’t end there, please make sure all the way through the dive you pay attention to your buddy for any signs of trouble. Constant checking should become a natural ingrained behaviour, with a higher alertness to your buddy’s presence on descent and ascent when there’s additional task loading.
Carry a Good Torch
A pet hate of mine! Not only does it help maximise the enjoyment of finding things on a dive, and seeing colour, a good torch in Hong Kong is a good safety tool to signal a buddy and should make it harder not to lose one another.
Lost Buddy Drill
Loose your buddy, 1-minute circle search then return to the surface. If there’s risk of boat traffic, send up a dSMB before reaching the surface. Its already happened twice for me this year. First time, perfectly executed, I arrived at the surface under my dSMB, my buddy dSMB 15m away and she came up 10 seconds later. Second time round, my buddy arrived at the surface 60m away, with my dive computer saying I had completed a 10 minute surface interval!
Dive Manager Alertness to Sniff Out Trouble
Being a Dive Manager is a thankless task, but an extremely important one to ensure the safety of diving on the day. The DM duties are shared over the dive season, resulting in the DM only needing to be responsible to manage the dive, on average just 2 times in a year. With a time gap in training to become a Dive Manager, and actually taking on the real the responsibility, it’s quite easy for DM’s to slip into complacency. Hence the DM are now armed with standard DM checklists and procedures which are recommended to be used on all SCDC dives.
Which leads on to the final point and conclusion, SCDC is a club were everyone helps each other to enjoy diving following safe dive practices. Don’t hesitate to help others, participate whenever you can, continue to have an open mind to learn to be better divers, but remember complacency kills.