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 experience diving 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 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. A scuba buddy is also very important for safety reasons. If you are injured, get lost, become anxious or panicked, your divebuddy will be the first person on the frontline to help you.
We know that scuba dive buddy relationships can have the capability of either making or breaking the quality of the experience. With this in mind, here are the most important things you need to know.
Buddy System: Everything You Need to Know
1. Finding a Scuba Diving Buddy
The best way to improve your skills as a diver is to have the same scuba buddy to go out regularly with. By having one that is regular and not just one that you are assigned, you will better understand each other’s weaknesses and strong points.
So how do you find your dive buddy? Being a friendly community, there are various clubs and associations that you can join up with and meet divers who could be potential scuba 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 scuba dive buddy, it’s a good idea to learn what it is that makes a good divebuddy. 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 Them
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 Them
It’s important to not pressure your divebuddy to do more than they are comfortable or capable of, particularly if they have less experience than you.
#4 Regularly Check That They are 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 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.
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, there are important things you need to do during the planning and preparation for your adventure.
#1 Make a Plan
Communication is always key for scuba diving buddies 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 their diving equipment, and they need to check yours too before a buddies dive.
5. Helping Them if they Panic
One of the biggest risks when diving is panicking. Anxiety, fear, and panicking cause 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 them 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 Dive Buddy
During your pre-dive planning, it’s important to discuss your actions if during a dive you and your buddy become separated, you should: follow the plan but, for example, 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 their 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 them and make an effort to go out together as much as possible. Because more diving is never a bad thing… is it?