The Importance of Diving Skills

By Martin Betts

I was reading an interesting article on the other day relating to the reasons why BCD and Weight removal at the surface is taught as a skill in the PADI Open Water Course. The article gave a real life example when these skills are used and can be found here

Two other skills taught on the Open Water Course are how to deal with a free flowing regulator (a regulator that has failed and by design they fail open so that you can still breathe from them) and alternate air source use (using your buddies alternate second stage (or Octopus). Both of these skills are taught in case of need, however on a recent dive my buddy experienced a problem, which required use of both skills.

It was a lovely sunny day and we were at Gildenburgh Water, about to do the third dive of the day. Paul, an experienced instructor, was teaching the PADI Deep Diver Specialty and about to do dive number two. I was accompanying him as a certified assistant as safety is paramount at Divemania Scuba and we always have one when diving with students in open water.

The water temperature was 15 degrees Celsius at the surface dropping to 7 degrees at 20 metres. We got to the platform and Paul was demonstrating the effects of pressure on a plastic bottle at depth and I was holding the egg! (If you want to know more about the egg sign up to the Deep Diver Specialty with us)

Paul then proceeded to use his alternate air source (Octo) to put some air into the bottle in order to demonstrate how air expands during ascent, at which stage the Octo went into free flow. At this point not too much of an issue as his primary regulator was still in use and obviously if he could not stop it we would abort the dive.

In order to stop the Octo free flowing, he tried putting it in his mouth so he could put his tongue against the mouthpiece to stop the flow, in order to do this he took his primary regulator out of his mouth at which point that also started to free flow. Using the training taught on the Open Water course, he instinctively tilted his head and started sipping the air out of the free flowing regulator.

I was very close to him and seeing the two regulators free flowing at 20 metres, the safest course of action was to ascend with Paul using my alternate air source. As I still had the egg at this point and had become quite attached to it, I handed it to the student, a very experienced diver also called Paul who has also just started the Divemaster course with us. I handed Paul my Octo and we linked arms, raised our inflator hoses and started to ascend in a controlled manner.

We were 8 minutes into the dive so Paul had plenty of air left in his 12 litre cylinder but when we surfaced, there was just enough air left to fill his BCD which we did and then exited the lake.

I have been diving since 2001 and Paul since 1996 and neither of us have ever had an experience like this so these are skills unlikely to be called upon but we are both glad we learned them on the PADI Open Water course. This also presents a very important lesson as to why the Buddy system is used when diving and that we should never dive alone.

If you are interested about learning to dive or continuing your diving education, please contact us. Based in Blackshots Pool, Grays, Essex we cover Hornchurch, Upminster, Romford, West Thurrock, Dagenham, Orsett, Basildon, Rainham and the surrounding areas.

All of our experienced staff at Divemania Scuba are passionate about diving, we all have many years diving experience and a love for providing diving education. DiveMania Scuba, was founded by a group of friends and PADI Pro's with a love for providing quality, professional and fun diving education, we do this because we love it, not because we have to.

If you have read this far and was wondering about the egg, Paul was going to present it to me as a souvenir as we were leaving the dive site but accidently dropped it as he was loading his gear. I’ll miss that egg!

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Divemania Scuba, Impulse Leisure, Blackshots Lane, Grays, Essex, RM16 2JU 07434 124455, 01708 206400

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