Buddy diving is not only a good idea, it’s one of the basic rules of scuba, and it is so for good reason. Actually, the reasons are virtually countless. Out of air situations might be the most common problems a buddy’s assistance would be greatly needed, as well as becoming entangled in fishing line or losing your mask. However, in most cases, many experienced divers believe that since there are so many bad dive partners out there, the buddy system is dead.
Are you a bad dive buddy? You might be one without even knowing it. Let me ask you this…what does being a dive buddy mean to you? Does it mean you and your partner entered the water at the same time? Does it mean someone is somewhere near you, vaguely? Are you diving solo without realizing it? Are you a bad dive buddy? Don’t fret. You aren’t a bad person. You’re just unaware, and there’s a treatment for that.
Just remember, it takes two divers to make a bad buddy pair. If you prefer to stay on the edge of visibility, you aren’t a buddy. You are a same day, same ocean buddy. So be a good buddy and follow these guidelines:
- Agree on what you both expect of your buddy. Go over a dive plan. Talk about how your gear is configured and familiarize yourself with your buddy’s gear. Cover possible contingencies in case your original plans don’t pan out and you have to improvise.
- Who is leading, who is following? The leader needs to be predictable and show where he intends to go. The leader shouldn’t just swim away if he spotted something fascinating. The follower should constantly stay next to and a little behind the leader so the leader can know where the follower is at all times. If the follower sees something he wants to investigate, he should signal the leader first.
- Stay close. The buddy skills you learn in Open Water Certification like out of air procedures, basic signals, cramps and buddy tows won’t mean anything if you’re not close enough.
- Work on your buddy communication skills. Make sure you both know what the common hand signals are and how to recognize them.
- If you are diving with a new buddy (instabuddy), you need to let them know that just because they see you doesn’t mean you can see them. So, referring to rule number three, stay close enough so you can see each other readily.
- Dive with lights and noise makers.
- Diving with the same buddy often helps tremendously.
- An independent redundant air source should be considered seriously if you feel that buddy diving isn’t working for you.
Work on these rules with your dive buddy. Being a good dive buddy is a chore, certainly. But it is not something to overlook just because it’s inconvenient. To do it right it almost has to be an obsession. Though a diver should always be prepared to solve their own problems to whatever extent possible, diving with another person is the preferred and recommended way to go. So make a conscious effort to become a better dive buddy, because your life or the life of someone else may depend on it.