Posts Tagged ‘Training’

How to Ascend from a Dive

Friday, March 18th, 2016

A recent accident in Koh Phi Phi’s Maya Bay, Thailand, wherein two surfacing Russian scuba divers were struck by a speedboat propeller, resulted in one of them losing a leg and the other receiving deep lacerations. When accidents like this occur, it’s worth revisiting the safest possible ascension procedures. The exact details of the accident are still unclear, so this article is in no way intended to assign blame or claim to know how it could have been prevented. Rather the incident serves as a reminder that, as scuba divers, we must always be vigilant as we ascend in mid-water to minimize the risk of run-ins with passing watercraft. Here are a few of our tips on how to ascend from a dive.

Carry a Dive-Flag Buoy

If you’re on a guided dive in an area with boat traffic, the divemaster should have a dive-flag buoy, which will accompany your party on the surface during the entire dive to let watercraft know exactly where you are underwater. When it’s time to surface, do so as near as you can to the buoy. If it’s just you and a buddy on a dive, one of you should deploy the dive-flag buoy for the same reasons. 

Start Early

Once it’s time to ascend, remember that a proper ascent takes some time, so make sure to begin by taking into account your remaining air, your no-decompression limit and personal factors, such as cold and fatigue. Ascend while you’re still fresh and on top of things. 

Go Slow

Most organizations recommend a maximum ascent speed of 30 feet (9 m) per minute. Orient yourself as you begin your ascent, getting an idea of where you are in terms of your planned surfacing point. Start looking up to get an idea of the conditions above. Is the sea calm or choppy? Do you see a lot of boat traffic, or do you have the water to yourself? As you ascend, also keep an eye on your depth gauge and timer to make sure you’re rising slowly enough. 


Even if it isn’t a requirement for non-decompression dives, pretty much all dive organizations and dive computers recommend a safety stop for any dive deeper than 33 feet (10 m), typically at 15 feet (5 m) for three minutes. Use the time during your safety stop to scan the surface for any boats (including your own dive boat), kayaks, or other vessels you may need to navigate around. Listen for propellers as well, as you’ll hear a boat much sooner than you’ll be able to see it. You won’t be able to determine where it’s coming from though, so watch the surface for it.


When you’ve finished your safety stop, become neutrally buoyant before beginning your ascent, and maintain neutral buoyancy throughout. Fin very gently if you must to ascend. Keep the ascent rate as slow as possible, but don’t spend the entire time looking at your dive computer. Instead, look around, scanning the surface. Rotate as you ascend to give yourself a 360-degree field of vision. Most organizations recommend that you ascend with one hand above your head, holding your low-pressure inflator at the highest possible point to allow you to quickly release air from your BCD if your ascent becomes too fast. This is also partly to ensure that if you do have an unfortunate encounter with a boat propeller, at least it will be your hand and arm that takes the hit instead of your head. If there’s boat traffic overhead, you may want to delay your final ascent until it’s clear, air-permitting, or swim to another location. 

Come up Close

Ascend as close to your dive boat or dive buoy as you can, as mentioned above, since other boats will typically keep their distance. If you have neither, and there is boat traffic in the area, send up a DSMB before surfacing to give boats and other vessels fair warning that people are coming up.

The post How to Ascend from a Dive appeared first on Scuba Diver Life.

Top Technical Diving Myths

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

By guest blogger Richard Devanney, senior TDI and SSI technical dive instructor

While some forms of technical diving do indeed demand extensive training and experience, much of the sport is also quite accessible. Technical diving myths and misconceptions keep many divers from giving it a try, although common opinion is slowly beginning to shift. Here we’ll offer an overview of the main misconceptions, as well as explain why they’re wrong. Perhaps after reading them you’ll consider trying technical diving yourself.

Myth #1: You must be addicted to danger to tec dive
Let’s put 1,000-foot (300 m) world-record depth attempts to one side for a moment. I intend to come back in one piece from every dive I do, be it a decompression dive, a wreck-penetration dive, or a shallow, easy dive. Yes, if you’re doing a decompression dive to 250 feet (75 m), there’s the potential for serious injury, so you seek training to learn how to do those kinds of dives as safely as possible. Tec divers are very good at risk management. We must always consider the best course of action to prevent problems from occurring in the first place, and have a plan of action in place should something go wrong during a dive. If we cannot reduce the risk of a certain dive to an acceptable level, then we don’t go diving. It’s that simple. Thorough dive planning, equipment maintenance, skills practice and contingency planning are inherent aspects of tec diving — you must be addicted to problem solving and planning, not danger, to love tec diving.

Myth #2: It’s all about cave diving
There are some fantastic spots around the world where you can train to cave dive, but if caves are not your thing — and for many tec divers they aren’t — there are all kinds of other tec dives you can do. Ice diving, mine diving, muck diving, wall diving, thousands of shipwrecks — there are tec dives in all these categories. Or you can just make longer dives, and add nitrox to stay longer at depth without worrying about getting low on gas before you hit your no-decompression limit. Sidemount is fast becoming the most popular way of doing all these, for a variety of practical reasons. I have trained many people that never intend to do any decompression diving, but who do most of their fun diving on sidemount because it’s straightforward and works well for them.

Myth #3 The gear is too heavy
Okay, steel twinsets are quite heavy; actually, aluminum twinsets are heavy too. You may have seen tec divers load up the boat with endless amounts of gear and try to seem as though they’re not struggling with a twinset that’s obviously giving them trouble. So where does that leave us with regards to this “myth”? Sidemount, that’s where. You can carry your dive gear around without crippling yourself. You can put your equipment on and take it off in the water (also reducing your chance of injury if you fall over on the dive boat, compared with having one or two tanks strapped behind you). The BC and harness are comfortable and lightweight, and you won’t feel over-encumbered when diving. Sidemount is changing the face of tec diving, and it works in caves, wrecks, mines, open-water pinnacles…you name it. Likewise, rebreathers are getting ever smaller and lighter, and are usable on any kind of dive.

Myth #4: Only geeks like tec diving
You may have been on a dive boat and seen a group of tec divers huddled around a laptop, pointing at a graph. Yes, this can be a part of tec diving. But people dive for many reasons. Some people are only interested in fish; some like the history of shipwrecks. Tec diving ticks all the boxes for me because I like understanding how the equipment works. I’m interested in physics and physiology, so the decompression theory appeals to that part of my brain. I love wrecks, caves, marine life, strong currents, and the potential to see something mind-blowing on every dive. I also like a challenge and get a lot of satisfaction from planning a dive and then, as we say, diving the plan. Tec diving attracts people of all ages, with different abilities and different interests. Being tec qualified simply gives you more options with your diving, and will make you a more well-rounded, safety-conscious diver overall, and that can only be a good thing.

So the next time you’re on a dive boat with some techies, strike up a conversation and hear those technical diving myths debunked once again.


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Kids Sea Camp Creates Unforgettable Family Dive Trips

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016
kids scuba diving sharks underwater photo

Brad Holland

Bring scuba diving fun to the whole family with Kids Sea Camp.

“Wow” is all I can think now. We are a family of 5 that submerged ourselves in the beautiful turquoise waters of Yap, a tiny island off the beaten path for sure. The island is located in the Federated States of Micronesia. We live in Hawaii, so when I contacted Margo Peyton at Kids Sea Camp the bar was set pretty high for expectations in taking a family dive vacation. She personally guided us through a magical family adventure to Yap and Palau, and just like her tag line says, “Give them a week we will remember forever.” All our expectations were surpassed.

Surrounded by pristine reefs, large schools of fish, and plenty of large pelagics on a daily basis in Yap. On our list were sailfish, reef sharks, manta and even a rare baby whale shark encounter. Not to make less of some of the most beautiful soft corals and amazing visibility any diver could ask for.

snorkeling family vacation kids

Brad Holland

Kids can enjoy snorkeling as well as diving with Kids Sea Camp.

As I descend with my family into the blue a euphoric feeling overcomes me. But, what is really on my mind, is the fact that all three of my daughters are getting this experience along with my husband and myself together! How amazing is it to have us all be experiencing this beautiful, untouched, unspoiled, majestic destination together?

Moments to remember forever: My youngest daughter, Emma floats above my head and dives down for a “high five” as she is only 7 (A sassy) right now and is still dreaming of the day she can officially dive with us. For now she is snorkeling with sharks, learning about the ocean and doing Sassy and that will have to suffice. The view she is getting is fantastic and just as great as ours is, if not better while scuba diving. She is being circled by schools of fish and small white tip reef sharks. She shoots me a huge smile and a great big Shaka from the surface and an “OK” signal. Yeah, she is totally stoked to be part of this!

Sierra (age 11) is out in the blue, following in her dad’s footsteps with her camera just waiting for that chance to capture the perfect shot for her memories. Take only memories and leave the rest behind for the future. She is in her zone. Perfectly focused and ready for the shot. Smiling and happy as can be. She signals me a huge “OK” and I know all is good. Another “wow!” Her wish granted as out of the blue comes a juvenile whale shark, he poses inches from her lens and she has the shot.

kids sea camp scuba diving whale shark underwater photo

Brad Holland

Amazing animal encounters with Kids Sea Camp.

Kids Sea Camp delivers the “wow” factor.

Jos (age 14) is busy being Brad Holland’s diving model, Brad is the professional photographer on the Manta Ray Bay Resort. It’s a perfect fit — a teen diver that has her buoyancy and diving down like a master diver. She is so into the dive that she doesn’t even notice all of the attention she is getting by the photographer. And for this short 60 minutes or so, she gets to spend with the loves of her life, manta rays and sharks. Jos is in heaven right now and there is no interrupting her. She’s just soaking in the experience. These moments at Kids Sea Camp are so magical.

Jeff, my husband is taking the opportunity to spruce up his photography skills and is loving it. He has been spoiled having Brad spend a week with him and share tips of the trade. He is pumped to be using his new found skills. And I even have a few photos of him taking photos, which is rare since he is always the one shooting the photos (thanks to Brad Holland for that).

scuba diving family vacation

Brad Holland

The whole family will have a fin-tastic time with Kids Sea Camp.

And me, I’m just thrilled to share this unforgettable journey to Yap and Palau with my family. This type of experience cannot be purchased in any store or found in some prepackaged deal online and it’s not going to be on a cruise ship or in a theme park.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity created and personally hosted by Kids Sea Camp, for us to all connect and embrace the majesty of the underwater world. We don’t have to say a single word. We just look at each other and smile when we surface. We all know what each other feels, its written and plastered all over our faces. “Wow” Oh my goodness, how could it possibly get any better?

Kids Sea Camp is the perfect family experience and is a trip of a lifetime.
Thanks so much to Margo

diver shark scuba diving underwater photo

Brad Holland

Scuba diving fun in Yap with Kids Sea Camp.

scuba diving yap underwater photo kids

Brad Holland

Exploring the reefs with Kids Sea Camp.

scuba diving kids manta ray encounter underwater photo

Brad Holland

‘Catch some rays’ with Kids Sea Camp.

kids sea camp scuba diving.

Brad Holland

We hope to ‘sea’ you soon at Kids Sea Camp!

kids sea camp scuba diving family

Brad Holland

Give them a week they will remember forever with Kids Sea Camp.

What It’s Like To Take An Unexplained Hit

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016
illustration of diver receiving emergency oxygen

Steven P. Hughes

Bottom Line: Don’t Deny
Delaying treatment during the first few minutes could be the difference between a good outcome and a poor one.

It can happen to anybody. You carry two computers. They both say you’re OK. You didn’t have a rapid ascent, you didn’t go into deco, you’re hydrated, you’re rested, you’ve been deeper for longer before. But you don’t feel right after the dive. What gives?

In my case, I was diving on a three-day liveaboard trip in Southern California when I came up from a dive and immediately had moderate to severe pain in my upper abdomen, just below my diaphragm. I figured it was gas, upset stomach, anything but decompression illness. But the pain was followed shortly by my legs going numb and becoming paralyzed. I can’t be bent, I thought. I must have sat on my legs and put them to sleep.

I decided to tell the captain, who started me on oxygen right away and called the Los Angeles County paramedics stationed at Cat Harbor. Oxygen made me feel much better — so much better that I didn’t think I was hit.

The paramedics insisted I go to the chamber to be assessed. I did, and the consensus was that I had a Type 2 spinal-cord hit. After five hours in the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber, I’m fine. No lingering symptoms.

From onset to administration of 0₂ was less than 10 minutes. From onset to the chamber ride was less than two hours. I’m convinced that quick response was the key to my resolving on the 0₂ initially and having no issues after the chamber ride.

Bottom line: Don’t deny. In my case, I told the captain I needed 0₂, but if your captain tells you — listen to him. That first few minutes could be the difference between a good outcome and a poor one. I’ve always been told the first sign of DCI is denial. I didn’t deny, and I turned out fine.

100 Deadly Skills: How To Survive Any Dangerous Situation

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016
Insert from the illustrated manual 100 Deadly Skills

Jon Whittle

Skill 84
Learning to discreetly clear your scuba mask (without leaving a bubble trail) is just one of the 100 deadly skills.

Clint Emerson Author of 100 Deadly Skills

Courtesy of Clint Emerson

Clint Emerson
After spending 20 years navigating deadly situations with the National Security Agency and SEAL Team Six, Clint has just released an illustrated guide to to surviving any dangerous situation.

Clint Emerson spent 20 years navigating deadly situations with the National Security Agency and the elite SEAL Team Six. Now retired, he’s just released the illustrated 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation, which includes scuba-friendly skills such as clearing a flooded mask without a bubble trail (No. 84), crossing enemy borders by sea (No. 11) and surviving a drowning while restrained (No. 88). We spoke with him about the secrets of his life and work (and he never even offered to kill us afterward).

Q: Were you a diver before your SEAL service?

A: Growing up in Saudi Arabia, boredom was abundant, so diving and Boy Scouts became my pastimes. I got certified as soon as I turned 12 and have never stopped diving. Learning to dive in the Persian Gulf was actually childhood “training,” prepping for an unknown future.

Q: What’s the most valuable thing about 100 Deadly Skills?

A: It’s not about becoming more deadly — it’s about becoming more safe and secure by leveraging the 100 skills. Divers travel the globe; these skills are useful for anyone traveling abroad or domestically. And people who enjoy new adventures and taking calculated risks will certainly enjoy the book.

Book cover for 100 Deadly Skills

Jon Whittle

100 Deadly Skills
The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation

Q: Have you ever had to rely on your scuba skills in a life-or-death situation?

A: Fortunately, I have never had to jump from an enemy ship to my dive rig staged 20 feet below the pier — or maybe I did, hmm, I can’t remember. [Laughs.] As a kid, an adult dive partner left me behind at a tire reef in the Persian Gulf — a not-so-good dive partner, to say the least. In times of crisis, remaining calm, cool and collected becomes the most valuable tool, not having the latest, greatest gear on your back. Most of the time, the difference between life and death is how you react.

Q: What are the crucial “deadly skills” for divers?

A: As a SEAL we have several diving mantras: Never dive alone. Plan your dive, dive your plan . Don’t be scared of the dark. And dive with a full bladder, because urine is warm.