Pic by Saspotato
You can call us a real pain for constantly repeating that diving is a team sport. You need other people to dive, usually just one partner, but you need someone else nonetheless. Just like you cannot play tennis alone, or in any competitive sport where you also need an opponent, in scuba diving you must form a team. Anyone who has ever played a competitive sport knows that teammates and rivals need to fulfill some requirements so that you can make the most out of the sport, so you can really enjoy it and even so you can learn more about it. The same thing happens with diving, you’ll enjoy better the ocean if you have the proper dive buddy, a good dive budy.
Why it's important to have a good dive buddy?
The main reason to have a good dive buddy is that you may need him or her to save your life. Sounds like a good reason, right? It is true that if you want to be a good diver you have to be ready to save yourself, but dangerous situations can occur and you might need help.
You do not need a partner who does not check your gear before entering the water or does not even properly check his/hers. Nor one that gets away from you more than 5 meters or lose your sight. Your partner can save your life, choose someone that you trust and that you think can help you if the time comes.
Another aspect that helps diving being a relaxing activity is to have a partner who knows your rituals and obsessions. Someone to forgive you if you're late, or if you forget your boots, or if it takes you more time to dress up or if you spend a century to compensate. If your partner is a good dive buddy and knows you, you won’t have to explain every time what you do, what the next steps are and you both will be ready when you finally get in the water. Having a partner who knows you well creates a relaxing environment. You will be able to prepare calmly, without haste, and will help you getting into the water in perfect condition.
How to be a good dive buddy
It is not necessary that your dive buddy is always the same, but is highly recommended. For some it is the spouse, the best friend or a family member.
You need to make sure that your buddy takes security very seriously. As we have said before, you could need him or her to save your life. A good dive buddy is a diver who knows and with whom you share the same dive signs, gets in the water in perfect physical condition and knows all the procedures to follow if there is an incident.
Of course this is reciprocal, so you should be like that if you want to be a good dive buddy. This will give you both greater confidence and peace of mind every time you dive.
The buddy system, basic when scuba diving. Image by Official U.S. Navy Page
Another important feature to look for is that you can communicate properly underwater, but also before and after the dive. I have dived with a couple who literally speak under water and understand each other well. It's hard to get to that point and you will need many dives, but it is important that good buddies always understand each other.
Another aspect that will help you to have good dives is that you both plan the dives to allow the diver with the lowest certifications to fulfill the whole dive. Just because a diver with a higher certification can for example go deeper, he should not reach a depth that the divers with the lower certification should not try to reach. This will avoid any conflict when you go on a diving trip to the Red Sea, for example, and one of you cannot enter into certain wreck.
What if I have no regular dive buddy?
There will be occasions when our dive buddy will not be able to us. Normally we will go to a dive center where the divemaster will provide us a dive buddy with supposedly similar skills. First, do not rely on the ability of the divemaster to know exactly when did you both do the last dive, what is your physical condition or in what state the dive gear is. Do not fear to ask that stranger all you need to know. Think about this: maybe your life could be in his or her hands. Don't you think you should know some important things about them?
1. What is your diving experience?
You should find out how many dives has done, what is his or her certification, how deep do they want to and can go and when was you’re his/her last dive. If your new buddy has 200 dives but the last one took place three years ago they are likely to behave as if they have dived 20 times, mind you.
2. Have you ever dived in sea conditions like today's?
This could give you information to be alert for problems at the entrance and exit if there are big waves, or to be aware if there are currents and our buddy never dived in those conditions. Remember that if the visibility is low you should not separate more than 2 meters.
3. Have you checked your dive gear lately?
When you dive with someone you just met review with special care their dive gear. Ask when was the last time checked the regulator and make sure it works. Remember, maybe you just need to use your buddy’s octopus. Does he or she have a dive knife? Maybe you’ll need to get it out. Is he/she carrying any sound element?
4. How are we going to communicate?
Spend some time to put in common the diving signs verifying that you both share the same and that you are not going to have trouble communicating underwater.
Finally, and this is more delicate, find out what is your buddy physical condition. If you doubt that hasn’t sleep enough or have been drinking, directly ask for another dive buddy or just do not dive. Tell politely to your divemaster. Better not dive to put yourself in danger. You’ll dive some other day.
There is a saying that states that a close friend is a treasure, but having a good dive buddy is ever more valuable.
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