The Scuba community is known for being one of the friendliest and of course the most fun. That’s why many think that the best way to dive is with the Buddy system, a system where two divers stick together and look out for each other on their dive.
It’s a fact that regular dive buddies often enough become the best of friends and are able to share the most incredible moments and memories together under the water. Or in some cases, maybe it’s your best friend that has shared your scuba journey with you, all the same, these types of friendships are great. Whether it be a friend, partner, brother, father, mother or sister – Dive buddies are certainly for life!
However, the buddy system isn’t all about making friends and sharing memories. Dive buddies are also very important for safety reasons. If you are injured, get lost, become anxious or panicked during your dive, your dive buddy will be the first person on the frontline to help you.
We know that dive buddy relationships can have the capability of either making or breaking the quality of the dive. With this in mind, here are the most important things you need to know about the Buddy System.
Buddy System: Everything You Need to Know
1. Finding a Dive Buddy
The best way to improve your skills as a diver is to have the same dive buddy that you go out regularly with. By having one that is regular and not just one you are assigned at a dive, you will better understand each other’s weakness and strong points.
So how do you find your dive buddy? Being a friendly community, there are various dive clubs and associations that you can join up with and meet divers who could be potential buddies. Or there are many other dive communities online you could try, such as Scuba Earth, Facebook, and Meetup.com.
2. Being a Good Dive Buddy
If you want to become someone’s dive buddy, it’s a good idea to learn what it is that makes a good dive buddy. Here are 4 easy pointers that you should bear in mind.
#1 Learn to Look After Yourself
This is crucial because if you can’t take care of your own safety while diving, how can you look out for someone else?
#2 Never Abandon your Buddy
Ensure that you can see your diving buddy at all times and will be able to get their attention, if necessary.
#3 Don’t Pressure your Diving Buddy
It’s important to not pressure your dive buddy to do more than they are comfortable or capable of, particularly if they have less experience than you.
#4 Regularly Check your Diving Buddy is Okay
Although there are no hard and fast rules, around every ten kicks, take a look at them and even ask them if they are okay by giving them the OK sign or by waving your diving light around in a circle if you are diving at night.
3. Leading and Following or Side by Side Buddy Diving
When you are diving using the buddy system you have to two different kinds of systems to choose from – diving as a leader and a follower or side by side.
#1 Leaders and Follower
The leader and follower system involve one diver swimming ahead of the other. This is best suited to narrow conditions, divers of differing skill levels and if you already have an established and trusting relationship with your buddy.
It may sound strange, but it is best for the less experienced to take the lead. That means the more skilled diver can hang back and watch carefully for any problems that might occur. It also prevents the more skilled diver from going too fast.
#2 Side by Side
If you have a solid plan about where you are going and what you are going to do, have sufficient space and are comfortable with each other, side by side diving might be the best option.
4. Planning Dives
Before you head out on a dive with your buddy, there are important things you need to do during the planning and preparation of your dive.
#1 Make a Plan
Communication is always key when planning a dive. Make a plan therefore, about how long you want to stay under, what depth you are looking to dive to and the route you are going to take. Also, choose a diving system, as outlined above and discuss what you are going to do if you are separated.
#2 Pre-Dive Checks
Importantly, you should check your own and your buddy’s diving equipment, and have them check yours too.
5. Helping Your Budding if they Panic
One of the biggest risks when diving is panicking. Anxiety, fear, and panicking causes our breathing to increase and warps our decision-making process. 20% of all diving deaths are thought to be caused by panic. It doesn’t have to be that way though. There are very easy steps you can take to stop your buddy from panicking.
#1 Maintain Eye Contact
Maintain eye contact, use your fingers to make the peace sign, bringing them to your mask and signaling for them to look at you.
#2 Encourage Them to Take Deeper Breaths
Encourage your dive buddy to take deeper and more regular breaths. This can be done by taking your hand and putting it to your mouth, then bringing your hand closer and further away from them in time with your owned slow-paced breathing.
#3 Ask Them What They Want to Do
When they calm down, signal if they want to continue the dive or if they want to stop.
6. If You are Separated from your Diving Buddy
During your pre-dive planning, it’s important to discuss your actions should you become separated from your dive buddy. An example of what to do would be if you become separated from your buddy on a dive, you should spend at least one minute looking for them before ascending.
Take your time when searching and avoid finning or spinning too quickly as you could miss your diving buddy’s bubbles. If you can’t find them, report them missing and ensure that there is a rescue process in place.
Just like all relationships, if you find a good one, make sure you don’t let them go! Stay in touch with your dive buddy and make an effort to go out together as much as possible. Because more diving is never a bad thing… is it?