No computer, no sense!

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John Bantin

There’s a feeling of instant camaraderie among the passengers on a liveaboard dive boat because it’s in the interest of everyone on board that nobody has an accident. However, you don’t usually know everyone beforehand, neither do you know their levels of diving skill.

The water at Ras Mohammed, a wall  at the southern tip of Egypt’s Sinai, can be incredibly clear . The water here is said to be around two thousand feet deep so you don’t want to drop anything. It’s so clear in fact that you can be misled into going deeper than you intended

We might have all done that but imagine swimming alongside that steep wall of Shark Reef at 100 feet deep, breathing nitrox 32, and seeing one of your fellow divers in distant perspective way down below you?

What to do?

Already the dive had not been going as planned. Our dive guide opted to take the rest of the passengers in another direction and I found that as a former dive guide, I’d somehow been co-opted into leading this small group.

We had intended to drop in at Shark Reef and swim round to Jolande Reef but the current was intense against us that we were all working hard at making any headway at all. Then suddenly I noticed this member of our group down at great depth.

The water was so clear I could see that he was wearing a tank marked as containing nitrox just like mine so I took the risk of passing my maximum operating depth and hurtled down as fast as my ears would allow to signal to him to check his computer and follow me back up. He had been at almost twice the operating depth for the gas he was breathing.

Imagine my horror when only a few minutes later he was back down at more than 165 feet deep, swimming along happily oblivious to the danger he was putting himself in.

I swam down hurriedly again, thinking that it would be my bad luck if it was me that got an oxygen hit in the process of rescuing this diver who was totally unaware he needed rescuing. Again I signaled in an extremely animated way that he should look at his computer, pointing at his mask and then at my own computer that by now was singing a merry tune thanks to exceeding the maximum PO2 I had previously set on it. It was this moment at which he responded by offering me a naked wrist that indicated he was not wearing a dive computer.

What an idiot. I was furious and took his arm firmly, dragging him back up to the apparent safety of 60 feet. I didn’t let go of him for the rest of his dive. Where was his buddy? It was his teenage son who’d obviously given up on his father and was swimming above us with two other divers, in the shallows, trying to conserve his air against the hard finning he was doing.

I was angry to say the least. I kept thinking that this person whom was known to me only because we were on the same liveaboard boat, had forced me to take risks with my own health and seemed oblivious to that fact. On the other hand, had he gone missing it would have ruined the trip for everyone on board.

Eventually, after a precautionary extra wait at 20 feet (since I had no idea of his dive actual profile and mandatory decompression stop requirements) we broke the surface at which point I emphasized in no uncertain way, “Nigel, if you forget to put on your computer, you must go back to the boat and get it.”

His reply was unprecedented. He said in a quite matter-of-fact tone, “I decided not to bring my computer because it had stopped working. It went into SOS mode on the previous dive.”

Please read the instruction manual of your diving computer. Although you may always use it in No-stop diving mode, be aware what the display looks like should it go into Deco-stop mode. It will show a stop depth and either a total ascent time or a stop-time or both at this time. Don’t ignore it.

We flew back to the UK on the following day and I wondered how I would feel if the plane got diverted because he started to suffer the symptoms of decompression sickness. As it was, he didn’t.

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No computer, no sense!, 4.5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings
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11 comments for “No computer, no sense!

  1. Reza Gorji
    April 6, 2016 at 11:56 am

    You saved this man’s life and are a hero as your risk yours. It’s an incredible story.

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  2. John Bantin
    April 6, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Please remember that oxygen toxicity exposure is a function of both time and pressure.I was only at depth for a short time (unlike the other diver who had no idea of either O2 exposure or his nitrogen absorption) so it was not quite as life-threatening as Reza would imply!

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  3. Ann
    April 6, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Too bad you couldn’t suspend his C-card, like they do with DUIs.

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  4. Michael Morrow
    April 14, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    This was one fortunate SOB that you were there, and saved his ass.

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  5. Matt
    April 18, 2016 at 11:17 pm

    165′ on 32% without a computer? Good lord. That guy should not be diving.
    Who knows what other dumb things he did prior to you saving him on that dive.

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  6. Donald Jacobson, MD
    June 17, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    You did the right thing, but at your own expense. I am disabled and can no longer live, but my last dive was my most miserable because my dive partner, whom I had never met before the dive, decided that her camera was worth more than her weight belt. it took several of us to get her weight belt back up since it was literally dangling around her legs. Had she lost it, she would have catapulted to the top. Of course, she never said thank you to anyone, and then stiffed me with the payment for the cab ride back from the dive boat. People with personality disorders should not be allowed to dive. I wish PADI paid more attention to personality and psychiatric issues when issuing its certifications – http://www.scubagearpro.com/blog/post/Inert-Gas-Narcosis.

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  7. Ted Recupero
    July 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    I have had the experience of diving with people that needed “monitors”.
    At an object specific dive site, he was daydreaming through the breifing. “We will all get in the water and wait at the bow, then we will all go down the anchor line as a group, the wrecks are due east at the bottom of the trough”.
    I got to the bow, and was missing a diver. I look down and he is on the bottom @ 80 feet. I can’t tell if he’s in trouble or not. I swim down as fast as I can and he’s just looking at stuff…. .
    Later he doesn’t understand why the rest of the group is angry with him, really angry. His little jaunt cost them all ten minutes off their dive, since he, nor me had the bottom time or air left to do the dive as planned. He then got mad at me….
    Now I have a statement for all divers. If you decide to ignore the briefing and the plan, I will return you to the boat and disable your gear. You aren’t getting a second chance to mess up the group, or get in big trouble on my watch.
    I really don’t mind diving with the inexperienced, or newbies, but as a professional, fools, hot shots and know-it-alls can cost you a lot more than a lost customer.
    I also make no bones about telling another operator that I take no responsibility for any of their divers, I am here for my pleasure, unless they wish to pay me, up front, and sign my paperwork. I am a paying customer, not an unpaid guide.

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  8. July 22, 2016 at 7:34 am

    I think you should get a medal. I can´t understand why people do that kind of stuff. I haven´t been in a situation like that but I am pretty sure I would get furious when we are back at the surface. Also, I would never go on any kind of dive without a dive computer anymore.

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  9. Lenny Zwik
    August 18, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    You’re a brave and fortunate man. I hope the boat’s captain terminated that idiot’s diving privileges for the remainder of the trip.

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  10. Gail
    September 18, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I recently dived with (her words) ‘a Divemaster with over 150 dives’. She refused my offer of my back-up device, as she had no computer, saying she would simply ‘dive the same profile’ as me. Two days later I learnt that she was in the hyperbaric chamber, and I was the one being questioned about the dive, my dive computer examined (and found that my dive profile was fine). Dive computers arenb’t that expensive anymore, and really? A Divemaster without a computer? You’re kidding me, right?

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  11. October 5, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I would have had serious words with the dive master and his boss if this had happened to me. I would also post a couple of blogs like you have, but would have mentioned the operator. Ras Mohammed is one of the best dives in the world but conditions can be pretty harsh, especially where you were. I got caught in a ripping down current in that very spot and was extremely thankful that the BC I had one has over 65lbs of buoyancy!

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