Why? Because It’s The Rules

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.5/5 (51 votes cast)

Do you ever get the feeling that the guys making up some of the rules for diving are the same geniuses that got fired from the M&M factory because they threw away all the “W”s? If that makes sense to you, then we have a cabinet post for you in the Ministry of Silly Diver Practices.

Here’s a classic. In the early 1970s, I was staffing an instructor training program and was evaluating several candidates who were demonstrating mask clearing technique. One guy launched into this discourse,”Roll over and blow air from your nose to allow the water to drain out the side of the mask.”

“But,” I queried, “wouldn’t it be easier to look up and drain the mask from the bottom where the water will be more naturally channeled?”

“No,” he quickly shot back. “I was trained to do it that way.”

“Well, why? Does it make any sense?” I countered in my best Socratic teaching style.

A funny look came over his face and he admitted he had never really thought about it, because his own instructor was an ex-UDT diver who knew everything. It turns out that his well-meaning mentor had taught him that way because he learned to dive on a double-hose regulator, and in order to clear the mouthpiece if it flooded, you had to roll on your side and get the exhaust hose to the lowest point. He was taught to clear his mask in that position because his instructor figured if your regulator had fallen out, then your mask might have gotten dislodged as well. The technique made sense in its era. But with the adoption of the single-hose regulator, equipment had evolved beyond what worked in the 1960s.

Inquiring minds might have some fun with a look at some of the more popular “Ten Commandments” in use today:

“Always be back on board the dive boat with a minimum of 750 psi” Why? Can you cash in that for credit at the air-fill Bank & Trust? Because we all now should know the significant benefit of safety stops, wouldn’t it make more sense to suggest arriving at the decom bar or or the anchor line at about 15 feet with 750 psi remaining? Then use the air for a nice 5- to7-minute safety stop? As long as you don’t completely drain the cylinder, there is no chance of getting water in it, and that’s more than enough reserve for a good hang and then to comfortably surface. Why waste 25 percent of your air? Use it underwater.

“Always put your weight belt on last” This is a holdover from when most horsecollar-style BCs had crotch straps, or tank harnesses were so complex that you had to be the “Lord of the D-Rings” to get adjusted. Most modern BCs have no crotch straps to potentially foul the weight belt, and the waist/chest strap is secured with a buckle riding well above the hips. I put my weights on first, and it makes donning the other gear far easier.

“Never put your mask on your forehead” Why do divers feel compelled to apologize for this benign and common-sense act? Sure, there are some circumstances when it’s not appropriate, like in surf entries, but in most situations it is a logical place to put the mask while resting on the surface or swimming on your back. An easy one-handed motion restores it on the face quickly and you’re back in business. Try that when your mask is pulled down over your neck. If you’re a no-neck ex-football player like me, that’s an exercise in self-strangulation. Who cares where you place your mask as long as you remain in control of it? Lighten up, please.

“You are properly weighted if you float with a full breath and sink slowly when you exhale at the beginning of a dive” Hey, anybody here ever heard of safety and/or decom stops? You want to be able to hover or maintain neutral buoyancy at the end of a dive to perform stops in the 15-foot depth zone. Your aluminum tank may gain as much as six pounds of buoyancy as the air is depleted. If you do your weight test with a full tank, you’ll end up hopelessly positive by the end of the dive. Make adjustments for neutral buoyancy with a nearly empty tank.

“Blow some air from your tank on your regulator’s first-stage dust cap” It’s a mystery to me how this practice ever got started. Why not just dunk the whole thing in the ocean since it has the same effect? When you crack the tank valve following a dive, there is a fairly good amount of salt water being trapped in the o-ring groove, which you immediately atomize into a wonderful salty grit forcibly coating the dust cap, then sealing that corrosive cocktail on your first stage. If you’re really concerned about cleaning, dip it in fresh water or lick it off before replacing. That also saves a lot of needless noise from sudden tank blasts that the harried boat crew thinks was a burst disc or blown o-ring.

“Always wear a snorkel on scuba dives” If you want to carry one in a pocket or on your leg, okay, but why would you want one attached to your head where it can distract you? Some snorkels these days are the size of nuclear exhaust chimneys and have sufficient drag to make you swim in a nice tight circle to the left. For a lot of divers, attached snorkels don’t allow the mask to seal comfortably, they tangle the hair, and several accidents have manifested when the snorkel instead of the regulator was placed in the mouth during an emergency. And remember, most modern BC’s are designed for surface swimming on your back, rendering a snorkel useless.

“You can’t dive if you have a beer with lunch” This is a real beauty of twisted logic. This is not aimed at abusive drinkers, whom we all agree should not be allowed to dive impaired. No, the scuba police want to save you from the hazards of dehydration that might make you more likely to get bent. All well and good, but consider for a moment that alcohol has the same effect on anti-diuretic hormone  suppression as the caffeine in soft drinks, coffee and iced tea. And the effect of moderate consumption of these beverages is of little consequence anyway. So until the stormtroopers want to curtail the diving of everyone having a cup of Colombia’s finest over breakfast or the guy who knocks back a six pack of Coke routinely, I suggest that this may win the Medal for Pious Absurdity with Barley Hops Clusters.

“The best entry is a giant stride with an inflated BC” I guess it might make sense if you planned on bobbing around on the surface, but if your intent was to go diving under the water, why not just do a simple feet-first entry and continue right on with your descent? Most accidents manifest at the surface. It can be rough up there, and any surface wind or current tends to swiftly carry you away from the entry point. Say your good-byes before stepping off and get on with diving.

“Decompression diving is more dangerous than no-decompression diving” Sorry to burst the bubble (no pun intended), but this doesn’t measure up for several reasons. First of all, all dives are decompression dives because the ascent rate is factored in as part of the decompression, even on no-stop profiles. Secondly, divers can employ a wide variety of table or computer physiological models than will have different no-stop limits as a matter of proprietary design. The Navy tables use 60 feet for 60 minutes as a no-stop model, while some Buhlmann-based computer models use only a 44-minute exposure for the same depth. If the computer dictates a stop based on a square profile, can anyone seriously argue that a diver is more at risk given his conservative exposure by comparison?

Finally, if you run any decompression model up to its limit but stay just outside the required decom zone and ascend directly to the surface, you will find in most cases that diver will have more sub-clinical decompression stress (detectable by Doppler) than the diver who went ahead and planned a dive that required stops but allowed a more complete and thorough outgassing.

“You can’t get bent on one tank” With single cylinders available boasting volumes in excess of 200 cubic feet, you can now have the luxury of bending yourself several times on one tank if you like. Even with single 50-cubic-foot cylinders, I know dive guides who can get a couple of  wall dives out of one and still have enough left over to blow up the flat tires in their rusted out jeeps.

We can see that a few sacred cows continue to moo long after their milk ran dry. A healthy dose of common sense goes a long way. If the Emperor wears no clothes or your dive guide seems to have neglected to don his intellectual wetsuit, then say so. We all benefit from a lively discussion.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.5/5 (51 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +13 (from 13 votes)
Why? Because It's The Rules, 4.5 out of 5 based on 51 ratings
Bookmark and Share

48 comments for “Why? Because It’s The Rules

  1. July 15, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Great Post, I continually point out many of those things on our sail/dive boat…you obviously cannot be a “true” PADI Instructor!
    I have watched in dismay here in the BVI so many times when the Dive Instructor insists on everyone jumping in off the back of the boat, putting their snorkel in and waiting for everyone to be in the water before they decide, well maybe some ought to do a weight check, and he has to put on his tank in the water, and we all give OK signs, before we finally can go down. Meanwhile the new divers are gulping water from their snorkels and the surgy water and getting more scared by the moment, and if we are on a “live” dive, the boat is slowly drifting away… I have to go away and NOT watch. Common sense goes totally out the window when you dumb everything down to a basic level.
    I could add more…
    1) For me, if you are with a resort diver does it really matter if you are going to 40 or 45 feet? Do the dive police come and stop you at 40 feet because you have crossed the line? But I see our Dive Instructors maniaclly following that rule.
    2) As a fairly new Boat owner and Instructor here, many years ago, I followed the rules and took all my resort divers and their gear into the beach so we could do the skills for the first time. They all heated up sitting on the beach, we rolled around in the bit of surge, and there was sand everywhere. I looked longingly at this wide boat anchored 60 feet away in 20 feet of water and NEVER not once, took divers to the beach again.

    We have many divers come on the boat who are so trained that they have to be on the boat at 500 PSI they will flash their air at me every ten seconds to let me knowing they are getting low. Yes, I acknowledge that, as I am looking above my head at the boat. Sometimes that is why I am leading the dive, in fact that is what you pay me for, to know the local conditions and KNOW that we are better off going into the “magic zone” at whatever depth we are at as I know the boat is 6 kicks away, instead of coming up mid water column and drifting away on occasion.
    You either fit into the mold as a Dive Instructor or you don’t. You obviously don’t. Neither do I.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.5/5 (26 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  2. Don
    July 15, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Only a couple of comments. Mostly, I enjoy common sense approach to the diving, that organizationally (liability issues) we cannot address.
    1. Mask on forehead – as a rescue diver/divemaster/instructor, I was told this is one of the signs of uncomfortableness/panic – but needs to be taken in context. Also, it is easier to lose the mask off the head than from around the neck. I will stick with this one.
    2. Proper neutral buoyancy – the floating at the surface with a full breath is an example. Students are taught to make themselves neutral at the desired depth (keep a dive log with weight used on each dive), and to take this into account. Maybe it is forgotten after the classes?
    Don

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.6/5 (19 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  3. "Digger" Rowe
    July 20, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Agree with all except jump in a go straight down for two reasons.
    One: It’s a better idea to pause at the surface and take a breath or two to make sure your air is on, than to find it out at 15 to 20 feet, and had occasion on a liveaboard when all were required to jump in and go down immediately because of “currents”. Diver behind me landed with his tank on the top of my head, requiring 20 sutures.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.6/5 (19 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  4. July 21, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Having known Bret since long before he had 10,000+ dives under his belt, I’ve learned that he will always be provacative and insightful.
    Some corollaries to his assertions:

    When you jump in, give the crew (dive master or what ever) a big OK -
    Why? If the crew can’t tell that you are OK or NOT OK by looking, the crew is grossly incompetent and should be fired

    When you surface and look to the boat and give a BIG OK (with instructions on 1 arm and not waving your arms) etc…
    Why? Same as above with the addition that a diver who comes to the surface in trouble will be very obvious. A diver who is unconscious on the surface – particularly in our water in California – will likely not be seen immediately, but is in no condition to give an OK anyway.

    And a comment – I wish I could use my momentum from my jump/backroll from the boat to continue underwater – it only makes sense – unfortunately, I always need to have the crew hand me my big camera….

    Keep your bubbles tiny, especially for we “over 60″ divers!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.6/5 (17 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  5. Karen
    July 21, 2009 at 2:53 am

    Thank you … thank you, thank you! Finally, someone makes sense.

    I’ve never been particularly fond of rules, however, I am willing to admit that diving has some important ones. Diving rules should be about safety … safety of the diver and the environment in which we are diving. Thanks for clearing that up for a few people!
    K

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.8/5 (17 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  6. Lloyd
    July 21, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Thank heavens someone finally said what you said! I’ve Mike Nelson’d my mask (put it on my forehead) for years and never had a problem. The strangulation/”impeding one’s ability to look down” effects when it’s on your neck always struck me as much more likely to cause a problem/panic than the very small chance of losing it when it’s on your forehead. Of course, in surf or high seas matters may be different. But in 98% of my dives, that ain’t the case.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.6/5 (18 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  7. July 21, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    I’ve been diving since the 60′s, and followed all the rules, almost to the point of being anal. After my kids grew up, i was without someone to dive with, so i went to Monterey for a solo dive. I met two divers that were solo diving, and was really surprised that people seem to do it as a matter of course. One diver said to me he considers it safer to dive by himself, because he only has himself to worry about, and he considers himself a very good diver. So i went out by myself and discovered it was one of my most enjoyable dives in years. I didn’t have to worry about my buddy, i didn’t waste time, i dove where i wanted to dive, i came in when i decided to come in. For years now i have considered solo diving to be a sort of private club. Over the years i have met dive shop owners that never admitted to being in the solo dive club until I admitted to diving solo myself. I would consider solo diving to be rule -1. But another rule that is outdated since the days of horse callers and converted fire extinguishers.
    The other rules listed are ones that finally someone has called out. I followed most of them, because that is how i was taught, and how i taught my kids to dive. But a lot of them never made a lot of sense to me, such as coming in with 750 PSI. When doing extreme diving where dive shops are 500 miles apart, you use all your air on a dive. it comes down to common sense, and if you don’t have any, then you shouldn’t be diving. Thanks again for shining a light on the rules.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.6/5 (19 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  8. Dawn
    July 22, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Thank you for speaking out on what many of us have believed.

    One of my first instructors was so strict on the “don’t put your mask on your forehead” rule that he came scared the crap out of a student. The entire class was resting on the surface of the training pool, listening to our teacher, who was in the middle of the pool, answer a question. One student, who was near the edge of the pool, had his mask in the forbidden position as he listened attentively. Another instructor, who had told us the rule the day before but was not teaching us that day, snuck up behind the offending student and physically hulled him out of the pool by his BC. His excuse for disrupting our class and painfully yanking this poor guy out of the pool was “your mask was on your head so I thought you were in distress”. No one bought this for a second. He was obviously more concerned with our adherence to an arbitrary rule, and more importantly to his authority, than he was with helping us become good divers.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.8/5 (18 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  9. John Bantin
    August 2, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Bret is a thinking diver. Why are there so few?
    “That was what I was taught” seems too often to be the retort of the unthinking diver. Are you still dumping air from your BC on ascent by elevating the corrugated hose and opening the oral-inflation device?
    This was the simple solution in the early days of the first horse-collar BC but since then dump-valves were invented. I still see people being taught that way by instructors who were taught that way! Yet I have never witnessed a corrugated hose on a drysuit.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.8/5 (17 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  10. Kathy Smith
    August 6, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    The comment about the mask on the forehead made me laugh. My husband has been diving much longer than me, and I have 200+ dives, and he ALWAYS puts his mask on his forehead when we’re geared up. For the first few years after I began diving I would say, honey you’re not supposed to do that, because it means you’re a diver in distress and it makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve given up…he’s a great dive buddy and as Bret said for some people it is just more convenient… he is so right, as I have mine on my wrist because I hate putting it around my neck, but WILL NOT put it on my forehead, because I was taught….

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.8/5 (17 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  11. Cam
    August 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I think the biggest take-away in this article is to apply the “rules” as they are appropriate in context to the specific diving situation. Some rules become cliche when taken out of context.

    For example, if you are shore diving, maybe it does make sense to don your weight belt before the rest of your gear because it’s a lot easier than if you’re already wearing BCD, etc. BUT…what happens if you weight-up first standing at the stern of your dive charter in 90+ ft of water in the Caribbean with no other bouyancy gear (BCD or wetsuit) on? Next thing you know one of your clumsy resort buddies knocks you off kilter and you’re on your way down to Davy Jone’s Locker.

    Also, once you have enough dive experience it’s easy to loose track of WHY you learn the simple blanket rules early on. It’s a few quick rules that can save your behind early on that’s important. Sure, once you’ve matured it’s easy to spot the guy with his mask on his forehead and think to yourself “he obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing but I have 137 dives logged so I can leave my mask backwards on my noggin because I know what I’m doing.”

    Personally, I don’t think I would want to buddy up with someone who has lost sight of the basics.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 1.3/5 (13 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: -7 (from 7 votes)
  12. Bret Gilliam
    August 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Cam,

    Of course, all input is welcomed and I thank you for taking the time to comment. Really!

    The point of my piece was that some “scared cows” become meaningless when examined with a bit of practical experience and common sense. If want to remain in “scuba first grade” your whole life, then fine… enjoy it. But others progress and can better enjoy the sport without a lot of nonsense that no longer applies to them. You note “basics”: that is exactly what we’re talking about. The basics of diving are there for beginners to build skills on and to help ease them into more advanced and experienced styles of diving as they gain practical expertise.

    For instance, if you really believe that you are going to get knocked off the platform of a dive vessel and sink to the bottom because you put your weight belt on first, I guess my first observation would be: “Why are you putting your gear on while standing on the dive platform instead of inside on the deck are like most divers?” Secondly, weight belts have quick release buckles and I’d suggest that you might consider dropping your weight belt at some point on your way to the bottom instead of simply accepting your fate. Thirdly, I doubt if your weight belt will sink you anyway if you’re wearing even a modest wet suit at the surface. You should easily be able to fin against the slight negative effects or you’re over-weighted to begin with. Finally, if you’re with such a bunch of numb-nuts that the likelihood is that you will be knocked off the boat’s stern platform, then you might like to seek some other dive partners and a better operated vessel.

    It all boils down to your own comfort level. Do what feels right for yourself and matches your style and experience. But don’t try to force everyone else to conform to your level. It’s like saying, ” I’m cold so everyone has to put on a sweater!”.

    Bret Gilliam

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.6/5 (24 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +11 (from 11 votes)
  13. Andrzej
    August 28, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    > But don’t try to force everyone else to conform to your level.

    The problem here is not just with diving but western society in general.

    Big Brother knows best and will look after you. The government/agency/captain/instructor/busybody says so, so it just must be true, right? And so it’s a short giant stride to forcing everyone to conform. Put the mask around your neck, don’t solo dive, take your shoes off at the airport security counter, avoid speaking the truth if it might make someone, somewhere, uncomfortable, etc…

    Personal responsibility is a concept that has lost traction in our society. Common sense isn’t any more.

    Bret, your post was a breath of fresh air (hopefully a breath from the last 500psi), though I am not holding my breath that it will do much good with the majority that prefer to emulate lemmings. ;-)

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.6/5 (19 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  14. Jeff
    August 29, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Here’s my nickels worth (it’s all I care to spend)

    As mentioned above, we as a a society embrace emphatically our own personal accountability…until something goes wrong. The moment that happens we get on the horn with Screw em, Sue em and Railroad em Attorneys at Law. And despite signing 50+ waivers the insurance agency pays for our idiocy and then raises the business owners rates until they are out of business.

    I am a vacation diver, but very competent, I generally understate my skills so as not to disappoint my brand new dive buddies (I like to travel alone much of the time). In general I find most divers do the opposite and overstate their skills. Regaling everyone with their stories of their dive on the “Dorea” using only a horse collar and two balloons filled with air. Oddly enough when they hit the water the flail about, bounce off the bottom, don’t watch their air and are generally fairly frightening. I watched a father son team blow out their computers on their first dive of the day, most sane people would take the day off and site see…possibly rethinking their need to focus on the situation at hand. NOPE…dad busts out with a fresh set of computers and freaks when the dive op won’t let them back in the water. Running into them later in the day they told me how they still managed to sneak in two more dives with a competitor that day.

    In addition C cards…advanced certs, etc are generally worth less than the plastic they are printed. Dive ops are not in the business of failing people and in some cases could care less if the student learns a thing. I took my advanced open water mainly to dive the Spiegel Grove (bad weather has put this off for another trip). In taking the course I was hoping to improve my dive skills, especially buoyancy….mine is good, but you can always be better. The buoyancy portion of the class consisted of a couple of fin pivots and the instructor watching me swim a few yards, then telling me I passed that portion. The remainder of the class was no different.

    The crux of these issues is the way we are certified. It is crazy for the agency that trains you to also be the one that approves your skills as viable. AAA Driving School does not license you, they train you to take the test. The administrator of that test could care less if you pass, they only care if you have the skills to pass and in most cases if you don’t, you fail. Not so in diving, they have a vested interest in your passing.

    Until our certifications truly do denote a certain level of skills that a dive op can trust, they have to work with the concept that every diver is an idiot. Because although you may be smart enough to release your weight belt if knocked overboard before you hit the bottom…the moron next to you will lose his mind and bounce off the bottom.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.7/5 (20 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  15. kay
    March 5, 2010 at 9:24 am

    I agree with Jeff- 9 dives does not an advanced diver make! yes, you can go from 4 open water dives directly to 5 for your advanced but what does that really mean? Nothing – you made 9 dives. you’re still not an advanced diver!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.8/5 (17 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  16. April 9, 2010 at 2:14 am

    When training agencies certify leadership personnel, who have little more then advanced level experience, there is a problem. Pay your money, and your an instructor. Then you can teach people exactly what you don’t know. Without well rounded experience, they can only parrot the party line of what their agency tells them. They have no real experience to allow them to interpret what they see. Mask on forehead, diver must be in distress. This is what they teach, because this is all they know. You can usually tell a competent diver before they even get into the water. Stuff happens, but a one size fits all, is not the answer.
    Use independent thought and judge it as you see it. Keep your eyes and ears open, and you may learn new ways to do old things.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.8/5 (16 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  17. Howard
    April 9, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I took my first scuba class at 14 with the YMCA. After a tour in the Marines I took a NAUI semester class at Foothill College in California. Later drifting into CENCAL free diving and eventually some S&R with a local Sheriff’s Dept. I have never logged a dive in those 50 years. My NAUI dive class was top rated for me to learn my skills and evolve as I dove my estimated 1500 or more dives. Yet I still place my mask on my forehead and have never lost one. For several years I was free diving in California 80-90 days in a year.
    I expect that sometime it will be more required to present a dive logbook then an actual C-Card, or both together like what is needed in flying private aircraft. I still feel more comfortable with a dive knife strapped to my leg; not for defense against sharks, but in case I ever have to cut fishing line again. Once was enough to always remember; free diving and snagged…..

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.8/5 (16 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  18. David
    July 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Interesting that nearly everyone jumped on the Mask on the Forehead rule, and no one commented on the Bottle of Bud for Brunch Bunch(I don’t eat breakfast when I dive).

    So if dehydration is the issue, and one consumes 12 oz. of H2O with one’s Amstel appetizer, one may spend the afternoon whizzing in one’s wet suit, to the consternation of certain operators who shall remain nameless, unless someone out there is headed for the Big Island and really wants to know.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.8/5 (16 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  19. Gerhard Morell
    October 19, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Well, I think it’s easy to scoff at all kinds of rules or guidelines. I wonder how long it’s been since Bret’s been in the water trying to teach someone who is nervous, and doesn’t have the experience to put two and two together on their own. I don’t know that telling someone like that to use their common sense is going to help. It’ll probably get them hurt or killed. I think nearly everyone with a good degree of real diving experience has made decisions to veer away from what they were taught, with good reason and with positive outcomes. Based on their experience it works for them. But do we really then need to turn around and laugh at the rules that kept us safe while we were gaining all of that experience? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with much of what Bret said (with the possible exception of having a beer during a surface interval…. DAN has lots of studies on that. Of course, lunch is a much longer surface interval, so it may be a moot point there.)
    I suppose my point here is that wisdom is knowledge gained through experience. When no wisdom is present, you have to resort to procedures. Lord knows it’s worke for the Army for about 200 years. You can help keep people safe and alive by drililng process into their heads, and then at some point they start thinking for themselves and sort things out. I agree for example, that the rule of coming up with 750 psi might not be necessary for people who can manage their air, but then how many dives have you been on where there was at least one person who just couldn’t seem to figure it out? My guess is plenty. Most seasoned divers I know (and by seasoned I don’t mean 10 dives or better…)have thought out things and made some changes to protocols based on their own wisdom. I also know people who have made changes based on their own egos, and that, I’m afraid, is where the ghost of the sacred cow can come back and have its revenge…..
    Good thoughts, Bret! I just think as instructors we need to start somewhere. And since most people dive once a year or less, they may never get to the point of determining the “why” behind the “what”. Last thought on the subject… different trainig agencies have different thoughts on which regulator to hand over if you’re the donor doing air sharing. My advice to students in that situation is to sort it out beforehand. Dogma can also kill.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 1.5/5 (11 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: -4 (from 4 votes)
  20. Gerhard Morell
    October 19, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Well, I think it’s easy to scoff at all kinds of rules or guidelines. I wonder how long it’s been since Bret’s been in the water trying to teach someone who is nervous, and doesn’t have the experience to put two and two together on their own. I don’t know that telling someone like that to use their common sense is going to help. It’ll probably get them hurt or killed. I think nearly everyone with a good degree of real diving experience has made decisions to veer away from what they were taught, with good reason and with positive outcomes. Based on their experience it works for them. But do we really then need to turn around and laugh at the rules that kept us safe while we were gaining all of that experience? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with much of what Bret said (with the possible exception of having a beer during a surface interval…. DAN has lots of studies on that. Of course, lunch is a much longer surface interval, so it may be a moot point there.)
    I suppose my point here is that wisdom is knowledge gained through experience. When no wisdom is present, you have to resort to procedures. Lord knows it’s worked for the Army for about 200 years. You can help keep people safe and alive by driling process into their heads, and then at some point they start thinking for themselves and sort things out. I agree for example, that the rule of coming up with 750 psi might not be necessary for people who can manage their air, but then how many dives have you been on where there was at least one person who just couldn’t seem to figure it out? My guess is plenty. Most seasoned divers I know (and by seasoned I don’t mean 10 dives or better…)have thought out things and made some changes to protocols based on their own wisdom. I also know people who have made changes based on their own egos, and that, I’m afraid, is where the ghost of the sacred cow can come back and have its revenge…..
    Good thoughts, Bret! I just think as instructors we need to start somewhere. And since most people dive once a year or less, they may never get to the point of determining the “why” behind the “what”. Last thought on the subject… different trainig agencies have different thoughts on which regulator to hand over if you’re the donor doing air sharing. My advice to students in that situation is to sort it out beforehand. Dogma can also kill.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 1.8/5 (12 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: -3 (from 3 votes)
  21. Bret Gilliam
    October 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Gerhard,

    I’ve been continuously teaching diving at all levels since 1971 with thousands of certifications issued. As Chairman of NAUI in the early 1990s I was responsible for completely redoing their entire curricula and all training materials. Later I founded both TDI and SDI and created all their training standards and materials. I always trained my students, at all levels, to use common sense and to embrace good ideas & practice… and to discard the nonsense. I deal with divers of all levels and their angst, wonderment, frustration, and triumphs. So please don’t think that I am disconnected from the process of training students.

    It seems that you mostly agree with me. But I have to note one point where I depart from you: a seasoned diver is not one with 10+ dives. That’s exactly the problem. Most of these stupid rules I was referring to were made for that level of neophyte. Most of us who have had long professional careers in diving are pretty much in consensus that it takes about 100 dives in varying conditions before a diver will begin to have confident independent skills. Up to then, you are still very much in the learning process and should not stray too far from the dogma.

    I’ve logged over 18,000 dives since I began and I’m still learning every time I go in the water. But I’m smart enough to know what is stupid and petty… so I concentrate on the reality of what makes diving fun, enjoyable, and most likely to let me survive.

    It’s a bitch sometimes…

    And I don’t need some dive instructor with 50 dives total and a blind allegiance to some “Rules” that make no sense applied to me to try to police my diving practice. They need to get some more experience and learn something before they try to start handing out “speeding tickets” as the scuba police.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.6/5 (20 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  22. October 19, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Dear Bret — I think that coming ON BOARD with 750psi is actually a GOOD idea. Because sometimes getting back on board can itself be an air-consuming experience. Other divers are hogging the ladder. Or the seas are so rough, that you might start up the ladder and be battered off, etc. I’m glad to have a little extra air on hand, in case.

    Best wishes & thanks, Diana (certified since 1986, though I’m not saying it makes me an expert at all, just someone with an opinion)

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 2.8/5 (10 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
  23. Bret Gilliam
    October 20, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Diana A.,

    You show good judgment by adapting to your own needs and limitations. If you need more air to help you negotiate getting out of the water, then allow for it. That’s shows you’re thinking and planning based on your own experience.

    I just don’t myself or other divers confined to broad based “rules” that may not apply to us. For me, I can make a couple hundred psi last forever on a deco stop and surface with plenty to spare. But I have an extraordinary low air consumption rate when diving.

    But when I get back to the surface and anywhere near the appetizer table at sunset, my “consumption” goes way up… you never want to follow me a buffet!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.8/5 (17 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  24. Gerhard Morell
    October 20, 2010 at 3:34 am

    Bret…read my post again…. You may have misread my post…. I differentiated between seasoned divers and the ones who think they are with 10 + dives.
    Sounds like you are passionately oriented in your views… and if you had a “paper instructor” try to correct you then they do need to wake up. If someone hires me to teach them, I teach them. But no one died and left me in charge of the dive community at large. So, yeah, I think we mostly agree.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.4/5 (10 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
  25. Gerhard Morell
    October 20, 2010 at 3:35 am

    ….and you’re right… it makes for a lively conversation.
    GM

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (13 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  26. Bret Gilliam
    October 20, 2010 at 3:58 am

    Gerhard,

    You are correct: I misread your post. My bad… It looks like we do agree on just about everything. Gee, that’s no fun.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (14 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  27. Rick
    November 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    I have never heard the 750psi rule. I have heard the 500psi rule quite often.

    I think this comes from resorts that hose off their tanks with fresh water before refilling. A small amount of water enters the stem and then they force that water into the tank by filling it. They then blame the water damage they find during their visuals on people sucking the tanks too low. Their practice of hosing tanks before filling is the cause of the problem. If they crack the valve to expel the water before filling there will be no water in the tank.

    There is no way water is going to enter a tank with pressures as low as 20 psi. Physically impossible.

    If the reason is to make sure a low experience diver will not run out of air I can see the point.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (14 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  28. Avi
    February 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I probably fall under the novice diver category (50 dives from 37 degree F North Atlantic, to bath water Carribean) but with regards to the mask discussion. I would much prefer to put the mask on my forehead. It’s convenient, quick and comfy but I don’t do it because it is a rule taught and respected by most divers and dive ops. If I go to some place and they don’t know me (most likely) or they don’t recognize me (from the other divers in similar gear) and then seeing a mask on my forehead cause a false alarm. When dealing with emergency situations I would rather someone jump to action NOW, then wait and try to figure out what is in my head. The mask on the forehead has a well accepted meaning of “distress” and the dive op who has never met you and doesn’t know what you are thinking. Also, if I put my mask on my forehead (in an emergency) I would hope someone with Bret’s mindset would come to my rescue (or at least realize I am in distress)…then again if I was in distress I doubt I would be smart enough to realize I should put my mask on my head….personally I want it on my face to prevent water from hitting my eyes.

    Given that, there are plenty of rules I have started to break because I have advanced beyond them. There are other rules I adhere to – even silly ones. The mask rule I adhere to because it does affect other people. If I was diving alone (e.g. my own boat, with a dive buddy who knew me well) then I would probably not care about the mask rule.

    Oh I also hate the 750 PSI rule, and never had a DM check my tank to make sure I had 750 PSI; I hate diving with a snorkel; I weigh 218 lbs and use 30 lbs of weights in a 7MM wet suit; I wait at the surface for my dive buddy to get in the water; I blow air into my dust cap to get the water out of it. Yes water may have gotten into my first stage, but I want to minimize this.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (14 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  29. May 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    … stupid self-questions… and even more stupid self-answers! :) ))

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 1.4/5 (9 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: -5 (from 5 votes)
  30. Bret Gilliam
    May 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Costa,

    You are clearly one of the best examples of the modern version of diving moron. Be happy that there are ample other equal dimwits for you to hang out with. Now, please, go in the traffic blind-folded.
    As you see, I don’t suffer fools gladly…

    Bret

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.6/5 (13 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  31. Jose Miguel Duran
    May 31, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Bret,
    Thank you very much for your excellent common sense comments. I agree with all your points. Unfortunately there are too many “Dive Police officers” around and divers that follow “rules” without thinking about them. After 2500+ dives (still with basic OWD certification)I don’t need a Dive “Master” but enjoy diving with good Dive Guides.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (11 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  32. linda
    June 14, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I laughed when I read about the analogy to skiing. Yes many people drink at lunch when skiing. And it is even more dangerous to drink when skiing than diving. Skiing is a high speed activity that requires quick reflexes. One false move, and you might hit a tree or another skier.

    Diving is a much slower activity and one normally has lots of time to think.

    I love to drink wine. But I don’t drink when skiing or diving. I like being at the top of my game and in top form when involved in sports. If I am sitting by the fireplace, having dinner, or watching a late night movie, I don’t feel an extra drink is a danger.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (10 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  33. Alan
    July 19, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    As a solo diver who has been routinely returning to shore with 300-500psi in the tank, I thank you for the article.

    1. I always use the last couple hundred psi for a 5-10 minute safety stop at 15-10 feet.

    2. I dive by myself, because I know my skills are up to it, and I find it more convenient and safer than diving with an inexperienced/panic prone diver.

    3. I dive by myself, even though I could have a heart attack or stroke and there would be no one to call authorities. Hey, if its my time, its my time. At least I will have enjoyed a ton of great solo dives that I never would have if I had waited for a buddy’s schedule to coincide with mine.

    Alan

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (11 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  34. August 13, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Common Sense is sometimes better than rules.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (10 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  35. JFS
    October 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    With a tech rig, I’ve put the weights on, wandered around before putting the rest of the gear on, and then nearly gone overboard. Sure, I could probably have dropped my weights before going down too far to come up on no breath and the aid of a light (and rapidly compressing) wetsuit…I think. But I’m no longer going to bet on that. Weights on last, and off first. Because that way, you have your buoyancy on, guaranteed, even if you or the boat takes a sudden shock and you get tossed.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 1.9/5 (7 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: -3 (from 3 votes)
  36. JFS
    October 18, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Oh, I see, the writer assumes that we gear up based only on what’s likely to happen, and only on the sort of boat and conditions he’s familiar with. Quaint. Never dove off a six pack, a banka boat, in 8-12 foot seas, or any other circumstance that would bring home to you the stupidity of having your weight belt on without any spare flotation? Do you really think that the only way into the water is off the dive platform?

    The point of “how to do it” rules is that they automate some key safety moves that may not matter in many circumstances, but are lifesaving in others. They should be the default. Not something that can never be broken–but the default.

    Similarly, the reason to stay at the surface is so that someone can notice if you’re having a problem. Yes, a group of advanced divers in adverse conditions may agree to bomb down to the bottom, or meet on the deco line, knowing their buoyancy and intended descent speed. But do it wrong and you can get a squeeze, blow your ears, get the spins, and be unclear on up and down without anybody up top even knowing there’s a problem, and no buddy near. There’s a reason that it’s an advanced move, and that an “OK” on the surface is the obvious default.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 1.4/5 (11 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: -6 (from 6 votes)
  37. bret gilliam
    October 18, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    To JFS,

    You are exactly the type of diver that needs fixed rules to govern your diving practice. I’ve been doing this for over 40 years now professionally… all over the world… on vessels of all sizes… and watching other divers closely. I’ve also written a lot of the operations guidelines for informed resorts and liveaboards that recognize that experienced divers are more than capable of making their own decisions and, specifically, having “situational awareness” when it comes to contingencies. When I go into the water, I expect everything go wrong… all at once. That way I’m never surprised at what comes up. And I deal with those situations myself.

    If your own skill sets mean you need to be supervised, bob around on the surface when you exit the vessel, and generally have a crew member of divemaster look after you… then you need to strictly follow the rules for the lowest common denominator. You’ll have plenty of company…

    In my case, I prefer to deal with my own protocols for diving, either with experienced buddies or when I’m solo.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.7/5 (14 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  38. Harry Ivey
    January 18, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Hello Bret:

    Great article! Nice to hear you are still around. Maybe we will meet one of these days after all, since I continue diving, even at 75.

    The divers almanac stopped publishing after they agreed to list the 3 generations of divers on the same dive boat as a first. Both the son and granddaughter are still diving although they don’t go often due to other priorities like work and school.

    I had 4 great trips to the tropics last year and don’t do much California diving anymore. Common sense says being cold is not fun and diving should remain fun. It has been mostly fun since being trained by the Navy in 1957. But I have seen some dumb stunts along the way, mostly due to failure to use common sense. That axiom about “old divers”, vs not many “old bold divers”, still applies.

    Stay the course!

    Harry

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (10 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  39. PAUL ROSS
    January 26, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Early training where and when we get some of those habits drummed into us and some have very good reasons such as mask NOT on head as could slip off and then we have no back up–ok for experienced ones maybe but not for us newbies. Fully inflated BCDs after entering is so that one can do a surface check–for us newbies. Sometimes dry straps allow the tank to slip! Is anything leaking-did we forget our fins (Or dive computer)Now is time to equalize before descent and check we are still ok to dive–rule one says that any of us have right to bail-out at any time. Some do. Then there is the chance to swim over to the buoy -if boat has drifted while unloading groups- and locate the shot line to follow down to bottom, and then to selected site via given compass bearing. So guys BE PATIENT with us newbies.I have 101 dives in and still feel need yet to do all the things I was taught as complained of above. It gives us security whilst we get our dive legs.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.7/5 (9 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  40. PAUL ROSS
    January 26, 2013 at 11:11 am

    One area that was NOT discussed; which surely would be more pertinent to every level of diver experience and training-is that of GAS FILLS. I have only dived in Australia but want to submit a reasonable thoughts for all to comment on–especially Dive shops.
    QUESTION :- Why is it that we have to pay for a full tank of air/Nitrox, whatever amount we get? In a car we fill up with gas by the liter/litre. Aussies paying something like 60-80 cents whilst we hear china buys from us at about 3 cents per liter. The point is how easy is it for Dive shops to see instantly how much gas we have left and charge for what they give us–As you all know this is often half a tank when we have to do 2-4 dives in a day and need a top up before heading off tot he dive site.
    Eagerly await some high powered controversy. maybe “People power” could change things-If so you can all contribute $1 towards an annual Gold card for me. (Unlimited dives, accommodation and air)

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.9/5 (9 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  41. bret gilliam
    January 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    To Paul,

    You seem to get the point that the “rules” that drive so many divers crazy are best enforced on beginners and leave the experienced divers to a more logical and, in context, safer diving protocol. Always tell the staff your real experience level and don’t hesitate to ask for help or supervision. That’s how you get experience. Have fun out there.

    And as to your comment on only paying for the amount of nitrox you really want refilled into your tank… it’s a valid argument. Facilities do have the capability to charge by volume but don’t hold your breath for that to start. Fills have historically been “one size fits all” and it’s a profit center for stores. I doubt if they’ll ever change.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (9 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  42. Douglas Peterson
    January 26, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Get on the boat with 750 psi? My wife and I get back on the boat with 1200+ virtually every dive. But that’s because we’ve been underwater for an hour and the other divers have already used up their air and are waiting for us on the boat, so we want to be polite. And I’m positive that Bret’s air consumption is way better, so he never even gets near the 750 limit when diving with a group. The 750 limit is for people who don’t understand how to monitor and control their breathing, and it’s important for them, because it gives them a target they can monitor. People that are constantly checking their air gauge need to be constantly checking their air gauge, and they need a pre-set limit point because they don’t understand how long their air will last. If they get down to 500 underwater, they’ve got good odds of run-out before they’re on the surface. I don’t even look at my air gauge anymore. An alum 80 on a 1 hour dive, plenty of air. I’ve only had one dive policeman check my air post dive and give me grief, after a long solo dive on an anchored live-aboard on the Great Barrier Reef. He demanded- “Your tank had 450 psi after your dive!” I replied- “That’s cuz I was at 300 feet for over an hour” and walked away.

    Mask on the forehead? Are divers trained to put their mask on their forehead when they panic? And then when they panic, they remember- “I need to put my mask on my forehead so people know I’m panicking!” Who decided that this is an indication of panic? Flailing arms are an indication of panic! So there should be a rule that good divers are not allowed to flail their arms on the surface cuz it’ll confuse the dive police into thinking they’re panicking!

    I suspect that the “not even one beer” rule at lunch is necessary because of lawyers. The problem drinkers won’t stop at one beer, but they’ll still sue the dive shop owner when they have an accident caused by their drunken stupor. Since the dive shop owner can’t realistically count how many beers people drink at lunch, but he can see if a beer is on a table, he protects himself from lawsuits by making the “no beer” rule. Blame the lawyers.

    Thanks, Bret, for pointing out that blowing air into my dust cap atomizes salt into my reg. I thought it was a good way to blow off the water, but your point makes great sense, so I’ll stop doing it.

    My bottom line regarding the no-experience “instructors” and “divemasters” who mouth off dive-police rules? I politely ignore them and enjoy my dive. And no tips for the police.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (9 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  43. Ann
    June 16, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    LOL, so well stated. As an Instructor, I can tell you that severe adherence to PADI “rules,” by resorts is a cover your butt in case something happens. PADI will only represent a PADI Pro, in a legal issue, if everything was by PADI standards. Interesting they just recently adjusted their flying after diving “rules,” as DAN and other medical organizations concluded that their thousands of test showed no increased risk. In the end, all the rules are actually recommended procedures, common sense and good dive planning rule the day. OH, except in the Caymans where the law states 60 ft is a max deep…

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (8 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  44. Michele
    October 17, 2013 at 5:41 am

    Bret, I was surprised that you mentioned the 750 psi rule at all. I’ve found that when diving from a boat, I don’t even get to half a tank in the hour they allot before I have to be back on the boat. I understand that other divers do not consume air at my rate, and are tired of waiting for me to surface. At the same time, it’s incredibly frustrating to me to have to return to the boat when I’ve plenty of air left and my computer says I’m cool. I’m about ready to dive nothing but Bonaire and Curacao shore dives from now on, where I can stay under for an hour and a half and only come back when my buddy’s air starts to get low or my computer says it’s time for a break. How do you deal with this situation?

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (5 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  45. bret gilliam
    October 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Michele,

    You are experiencing exactly what so many divers go through with “rules” that make no sense applied to them. I suggest carefully inquiring in advance about a dive operator’s protocols on such things… and then not doing business with those who have a bad attitude about experienced divers being treated properly. You’d be surprised how voting with your wallet produces profound results today. Avoid day boats with half-day schedules since they always tend to want rapid turnaround on dives to get back to the dock and pick up the afternoon group of lemmings. Try to find boats with an “all day” schedule where you can do 3-4 dives, eat lunch aboard, and not be hurried. It’s well worth the research. But frankly, I gave up on day boats and land-based resorts about two decades ago. You will find the best diving on liveaboards and you’ll get the best service and freedom. But you still need to do your research so you don’t get surprised with the “Nazi divemaster” mentality. Most of today’s “professionals” probably have far less experience than you do and will move on shortly to their next job at Burger King or Home Depot. The best staff will be found on the best liveaboards since they tend to make a livable compensation and stick around awhile. Avoid anything associated with places like Grand Cayman… the incubus of idiotic rules that long ago drove experienced divers elsewhere. And they aren’t coming back.

    Good luck out there among the infidels…

    Bret

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (5 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  46. Ozarkdiver
    November 20, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Agree with most of Bret’s comments. Safety rules are appropriately taught to novice divers, but can/should change with experience/dive environment. Bret, could the 750psi rule have to do with the fact that older tanks had only 2250 psi, and returning with 750 was applying the “rule of thirds” (similar to cave diving)?…..just wondering.

    To Douglas Peterson’s comment that he dove to 300 ft on an 80 for over an hour: Really?…that’s amazing (impossible, but a good story for the newbies). For kicks, let’s say you have a VERY conservative gas consumption rate of 20psi at two atmospheres (increasing by 20psi every additional atmosphere). At 300 feet (roughly 10 atmospheres), your consumption rate would be 90psi/min (not factoring in any other conditions (cold water/strong current, etc), resulting in 5,400psi in an hour. Interesting how you managed to do that with only 2550psi (3000 minus you 450 returning air). Maybe you held your breath half the dive? That safety rule we probably shouldn’t ignore.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  47. Ozarkdiver
    November 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Correction….off by one atmosphere….300 ft would be using 100psi/min with a gas consumption rate of 20psi at two atmospheres. So the 300 ft dive for an hour would actually use 6000psi, assuming the entire dive was at 300 ft. Even with the time spent on descent/ascent, you’d run out of air way before you hit the surface.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  48. bret gilliam
    November 20, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Ozark Diver,

    In case you missed it, Douglas Peterson’s comment about the 300 ft. dive for an hour was not intended to be taken seriously. He was expressing his frustration with the divemaster who was trying enforce silly rules on him. And your own calculations on air consumption at depth needs to be re-calcuated. You are way off the mark.

    As to the origin of the 750 psi rule as remainder to surface with, this originated not with the older steel tanks but with the Nazi mentality of Cayman Islands operations in the early 1990s. I suspect that part of their silly rules were primarily based on getting people up early so they could get back to the dock and load up another load of cattle. The rule makes no sense… even for novice divers. Use the air for safety stop hangs, shallow explorations, etc. But coming back aboard with 25% of your tank volume is just wasting the resource. You don’t get credit for it… use it underwater and enjoy the experience. Allow sufficient reserve for getting aboard and a reasonable contingency. But if you arrive under the boat with 500 or 750 psi, that’s tons of breathing time… far more than necessary unless the diver has an extraordinary consumption rate. Getting aboard with 200-300 remaining pressure is more than adequate.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (4 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *