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April 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 24, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A Reminder About Safe Boat Diving from PADI

from the April, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In our January 2009 issue, we reported on a diver who surfaced far from his boat on a dive near Fijian island Vanua Levu and spent 12 hours drifting in Somosomo Strait before getting ashore. After reading our story, an executive from dive agency PADI sent us this letter:

Dear Undercurrent,

I read your article with interest. This situation, exactly, is dealt with straightforwardly and repeatedly in the PADI Open Water Diver course. Here are a few points from the PADI Open Water Diver Manual.

Boat Diving Procedures: “When you break the surface, establish buoyancy and signal to the divemaster or crew that you’re okay. . . .If you’re at the surface away from the boat, watch out for boat traffic. You can use an inflatable signal tube, whistle or other signaling device to attract the attention of the dive boat, or of other boats that might not see you.”

To avoid this situation: “Plan your dive and navigate so you finish near the boat with enough air so you’ll be back on board with 300 to 600 p.s.i. left in your tank. If there’s a current, you’ll find it easiest to ascent the anchor line, which keeps you from being carried past the boat.”

Surface Problem Management: “If you have a problem at the surface, immediately establish buoyancy. Stop, think, then act. Need help? Ask! Whistle, wave and yell. It’s the smart, safe thing to do. Get help when you need it, before a small problem becomes a big one.”

Surface Signaling Devices: “You should consider surface signaling devices, like inflatable signal tubes, standard in your equipment setup. Visual signaling devices include brightly colored inflatable tubes or balls that you can blow up to be seen more easily, signal mirrors, and for diving at night, signal lights and flashers. Most divers keep an inflatable signal tube and/or signal mirror in their BCD pockets at all times. Audible devices are primarily whistles you blow and those powered by your low pressure inflator.”

The PADI Open Water Diver course emphasizes problem prevention. What to do if a problem does occur is also covered completely, surface signaling included, even hand/arm signals at the surface to the boat crew. We know divers often don’t want to admit when a problem has occurred until it’s well into the situation, so we address that as well, and tell them why it is better to ask for help early. [We] deal head-on with these issues in the entry-level course, and build on them in continuing-education courses.

We hope that others learn from this situation, and I assume that is why you published the article. PADI acts responsibly in terms of training people to not only assess and minimize risk while diving, but in techniques to overcome adversity should it arise.

Julie Taylor Saunders
International Training Executive
PADI Worldwide

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