Home Tournaments Calendar Weather Merchandise Sponsors

Go Back   Spearboard.com - The World's Largest Spearfishing Diving Boating Social Media Forum > United States Geographical Locations > Pacific Northwest

Pacific Northwest Tell us about hunting in the PNW here!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 05-12-2010, 02:11 AM   #1
North Star
Max
 
North Star's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Oregon
Age: 62
Posts: 5,727
Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

I have been diving for 40 years or so - 39 of it freediving - in the Pacific North West - Mendicino county, in Northern California, and the Oregon coast, and I have always been troubled about the subject of buddy diving in that area.

Before anybody screams, rest assured that I fully understand the value and purpose of buddy diving, and have read on this board many accounts of one buddy saving another's life, all the way from Cameron's incredible fin shot on his buddy, to the latest one where Andrew was saved on Jupiter flats in Florida.

My problem is this: the vis in the PNW is often 6 to 10 feet, and we dive in 25 to 40 feet of water for abs and to spearfish, often in fairly dense kelp forests. When a buddy dives, he instantly disappears from the sight of the one on the surface, and you cannot possibly tell where he is, what direction he will go when he hits the bottom, and where he will surface - often 100' away.

The best you can do is get vertical and spin around 360 degrees looking for a surfacing head (a very tireing maneuver) and hope to be looking in the right direction when he pops up, hope he is not behind a rock where you cannot see him, or that the swell doesn't hide him when you and he are in seperate troughs. He has always been fine, but I have been panicked many times because I cannot locate him - and where do you start looking for him?

He could be in any of 360 degrees. Furthermore, he is still too far away to get to in any timely fashion if he does black out after surfacing, assuming he did not do so on the way up.

I guess what I am saying is that out here one up and one down is a joke as far as being a safety help. Sounds great in Florida where the water is clear enough to see your buddy for the whole dive and to track his movement visually. I would always do it if it were possible, but it is not here.

My sons and I have discussed this at length, and have agreed that while we always dive in the same area, and do see each other from time to time, we just have to look out for ourselves, plan on self rescue, and keep a LARGE margin of safety on each dive - in other words, we do not push our breathhold limits AT ALL, and recognize that no fish, gun, or weight belt is worth a life.

We weight for neutral at 20', are careful in the kelp with streamlining, and use reels on our guns so we can shoot and go if needed. We have never had any close calls at all.

If anybody has any advice as to how to improve on the buddy system in limited visibility water, like we have here, I would be glad to be instructed.

Thanks for your help.
__________________
nec timor nec temeritas (neither fear nor foolhardiness.)
North Star is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-12-2010, 10:55 AM   #2
North Star
Max
 
North Star's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Oregon
Age: 62
Posts: 5,727
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

Bump
__________________
nec timor nec temeritas (neither fear nor foolhardiness.)
North Star is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-12-2010, 12:48 PM   #3
ApneaAddict
Registered User
 
ApneaAddict's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,647
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

Hiya North Star. You might post this in the CA section or have a mod move this existing thread over there (it gets a LOT more readership and as you stated, nor-cal and PNW folks have the same issues in this regard).

As for your question: I agree that buddy-diving in CA and the PNW's murky waters is not at all what it is in Florida and the tropics, but there are still a number of things that you can do to make yourself safer.

First, although it can be difficult to visually identify when a buddy surfaces, often times if you keep an ear out of the water around the time that you would expect them to be surfacing, you will hear them hit the surface and do their recovery breaths. My brother and I often use this technique. If you and your buddy are sticking fairly close together, it will work well even if they cover some ground along the bottom and don't come up where you expect. After you hear them surface, you will know where to look for them so that you don't spend 5 minutes spinning in circles panicking. Once you know where to look, you just swim over to them. Unless you or your dive buddies have incredible bottom times, they'll never be surfacing more than a couple hundred feet from where they went down- a distance gap that you can close in a couple of seconds, so that you're next to your buddy before they've even finished their recovery breathing and so that if they slip back under, its right as you're swimming up to grab them.

Second, while a lot of the time we're going up and down and all around, there are definitely instances where we are doing particularly long and/or particularly deep dives. This is usually when we have located a fish or are recovering a fish from depth. Calling your buddy over so that they're waiting directly over you at these times can provide additional safety at the time that you need it most.

Third, consider taking a freediving course. I know the subject has been beat to death and I know that there are some heated opinions about the cost, etc on this board, but if you're really concerned about safety, a freediving course will teach you lots of valuable information that may some day save your life or the life of your buddy. (If you always dive with your kids, you could probably just take the course yourself and pass along all of the information- if you're diligent about note taking, etc, it wouldn't be impossible to do and would save you some serious $).

My last suggestion, and probably most important, is to try to always remain aware of the extreme danger of the activity we're participating in. I have often felt myself becoming complacent to the dangers and have to remind myself that on any given dive, the only thing separating life and death is a few short seconds and the strength in my arms and legs to return me to the surface. It's way way way too easy to get excited about a fish and forget that urge to breath. All it takes is 10, maybe 15 seconds to go from being well within your limits to blacking out and never waking up. I'm sure I'm sounding over dramatic, but I find that reminding myself of these facts significantly changes the way I dive.
** Example: This past weekend, I was down about 60ft and looking into a cave for a vermillion rockfish I knew was there. At first I didn't see it and began to feel the urge to breath, then I spotted the fish- suddenly that urge to breath was gone. Not just that I wasn't aware of it, but it was full on gone. I've felt this to varying degrees in the past, but this was the most profoundly I have felt that urge go away. I shot the fish, wrangled it out of it's cave and then suddenly found that I needed to breath... bad. I made it to the surface just fine and didn't have stars in my vision or any of those other early warning signs of a black out. My brother also dove down and met me at about 20 feet during my ascent just in case I needed assistance (because he had been watching me struggle with the fish on the bottom and was worried about it). All's well that ends well, but afterward it made me realize just how dangerous that sort of situation is. I always dive well within my limits, but in that instance, I pushed it more than I would ever normally because the shot of adrenaline I received when I saw the fish completely changed the chemistry of my breath hold. **

Best of luck and dive safe.

Last edited by ApneaAddict; 05-12-2010 at 01:07 PM.
ApneaAddict is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-12-2010, 12:55 PM   #4
Bill McIntyre
Registered User
 
Bill McIntyre's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: San Clemente, CA
Age: 79
Posts: 39,143
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

We've had several discussions of this topic in the SoCal forum, and the consensus always seems to agree with what you said. The buddy system doesn't work very well here.

I watch a buddy disappear into the kelp. About the time I think he should have surfaced, I look around and find that he has. If he had not, there is no way I would have known where to look in time to be of much help to him.

As Apnea Addict said, many of us do try to use the buddy system for particularly challenging dives. When I have a white sea bass tied up deep in the kelp, I call for a buddy to come watch me while I dive. Or better yet, if he's better than I am, I watch him while he dives.
Bill McIntyre is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-12-2010, 01:21 PM   #5
North Star
Max
 
North Star's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Oregon
Age: 62
Posts: 5,727
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

I REALLY appreciate your thoughtful reply, apneaaddict, and thanks to you too, Bill. All good advice and we will talk it over. Often in diving in kelp forests it is quite matted on the surface, and even if you see your buddy surface, just getting to him through the mat is really challenging even if he is only 50' away.
__________________
nec timor nec temeritas (neither fear nor foolhardiness.)
North Star is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2010, 12:09 PM   #6
petej
Registered User
 
petej's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 310
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

I try to do one up one down, but I agree that in most cases if me or my buddy blacked out below the surface, there would be very little hope of being found. So I just try to keep that in mind whenever I'm diving and not push myself.

Also I have been training in the pool with my dive buddy lately and have pushed myself really far there sometimes, and it is kind of nice to know where your limit is, and know how your body feels when you have stayed down longer than you should have. And with the weight I weight myself so that floating vertically in the water, with all the air out of my lungs, I am still bouyant. This way if I blacked out right at the surface I should still float.
petej is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2010, 12:35 PM   #7
ApneaAddict
Registered User
 
ApneaAddict's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,647
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

Quote:
Originally Posted by petej View Post
Also I have been training in the pool with my dive buddy lately and have pushed myself really far there sometimes, and it is kind of nice to know where your limit is, and know how your body feels when you have stayed down longer than you should have.
Because of the physics of freediving/shallow water blackout, the sensation of being at your limit while doing dynamic apnea is not at all the same sensation as being about to blackout during a freedive.

"Pressure changes in the freediver's descent-ascent cycle conspire to rob him of oxygen as he nears the surface by the mechanism of partial pressures. Gas levels, namely oxygen and carbon dioxide, are continuously balancing themselves in the body. Gases balance between the lungs and body tissues. The body draws oxygen from the lungs as it requires. The oxygen concentration in the lungs of a descending diver increases because of the increasing water pressure.

As the brain and tissues use oxygen, more oxygen is available from the lungs while he is still descending. This all works well as long as there is oxygen in the lungs and the diver remains at his descended level. The problem is in ascent. The re-expanding lungs of the ascending diver increase in volume as the water pressure decreases, and this results in a rapid decrease of oxygen in the lungs to critical levels. The balance that forced oxygen into the body is now reversed. It is most pronounced in the last 10 to 15 feet below the surface, where the greatest relative lung expansion occurs. This is where unconsciousness frequently happens. The blackout is instantaneous and without warning. It is the result of a critically low level of oxygen, which in effect, switches off the brain." http://scuba-doc.com/latenthypoxia.html

Your limits may not be where you expect. Please be careful.
ApneaAddict is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2010, 12:53 PM   #8
North Star
Max
 
North Star's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Oregon
Age: 62
Posts: 5,727
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

ApneaAddict - Well said. The limits and dynamics of horizontal breath hold swimming in a pool are all together different than the limits and dynamics of up and down vertical swimming in open water. They are not to be compared as having similar breath hold times or sensations before blackout.
__________________
nec timor nec temeritas (neither fear nor foolhardiness.)
North Star is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2010, 08:45 PM   #9
Ron S
Registered User
 
Ron S's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Truckee, CA
Posts: 4,809
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

I know you said you like a reel, but I've found that when Nick and I are diving together, I can get a quick fix on where he is, (or at least was), by looking at his floatline. It's often difficult to see a diver's head in the swell or rocks, but with a bright orange or yellow floatline on his gun, at least I can always find that, and it's usually in his hand or he's pretty close to it. Certainly not perfect, but at least it's something.
Ron.
Ron S is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2010, 09:25 PM   #10
North Star
Max
 
North Star's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Oregon
Age: 62
Posts: 5,727
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

Ron - Good suggestion. We do use float lines and floats in open water when not diving in kelp. Kelp is too entangling for us with the float line as we twist and turn and go up and down through it. Float line is getting constantly tangled in the kelp. I have read recently where Bill Mc. and others use a "carrot" float that apparently slides through the kelp without getting tangled like a riffe float would, which is what we have been using. I need to find out where to get one of those "carrots" and try it out.

You still have to stay a considerable distance away from your buddy if you have float lines or you are constantly getting tangled up with each other's lines - but it sure does provide a visual reference quickly, as you said. The distance you have to stay apart to avoid float line entanglements kind of defeats the concept of having the buddy there to catch your SWB event, however.

Maybe we could use one gun with one float line, and you trade the gun/floatline combo back and forth between you, with the float line providing the one up guy with visual reference for the one down as he follows the carrot float. Are we on to something here? Both guys would have to like the same gun.
__________________
nec timor nec temeritas (neither fear nor foolhardiness.)
North Star is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2010, 10:37 PM   #11
Ron S
Registered User
 
Ron S's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Truckee, CA
Posts: 4,809
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

I dive from Monterey to Fort Bragg, and have dove some pretty thick kelp, always with a floatling and no float of any kind. The lines we use are the slick plastic tubing type, and while they've been kind of a pain, I've never had an issue with tangling in kelp. I tend to dive down, cruise around, and come up someplace else, but the line always seems to slip right through. Of course, neither of us can dive deep, so my lines are either 30' or 50' long. The biggest problem has been when we're diving close together and the lines get tangled around each other. Also, if Nick's using his orange line, I use my yellow, just to figure out who's who's when they do get wrapped together.
Ron.
Ron S is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2010, 11:03 PM   #12
North Star
Max
 
North Star's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Oregon
Age: 62
Posts: 5,727
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

So Ron - are you and Nick close enough together and watching each other closely enough to catch a SWB if it occured with your practices and setup?
__________________
nec timor nec temeritas (neither fear nor foolhardiness.)
North Star is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2010, 12:03 AM   #13
steepNdeep
Wet spears
 
steepNdeep's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Out there
Posts: 1,083
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

Quote:
Originally Posted by North Star View Post
I need to find out where to get one of those "carrots" and try it out.
Here: http://www.neptonicsystems.com/kelpcarrot.htm
steepNdeep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2010, 12:12 AM   #14
Bill McIntyre
Registered User
 
Bill McIntyre's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: San Clemente, CA
Age: 79
Posts: 39,143
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

I don't use the Neptonics carrot. I think its far too big to pull through the kelp. I use half of a little net float.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Orange line.JPG
Views:	103
Size:	60.9 KB
ID:	127482   Click image for larger version

Name:	whitelineorangefloat.jpg
Views:	115
Size:	79.0 KB
ID:	127483  
Bill McIntyre is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2010, 01:01 AM   #15
phil herranen
Registered User
 
phil herranen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: santa cruz
Age: 42
Posts: 5,473
Re: Buddy Diving Problem in the PNW

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill McIntyre View Post
I don't use the Neptonics carrot. I think its far too big to pull through the kelp. I use half of a little net float.
there is a huge range in sizes now bill .they go from aprox 3" x 11" to 1 1/4" x 11" for the carrots and from 2 1/2" x 5" to 1 1/4" x 5" for the minis or any custom size you want .i made one for a guy that wanted it for the horizon on a cedros trip that was 8" x 24" (they wont let you use carrots on those trips you need a large float) it just depends on where you are using it and what you want it to do
phil
__________________





frv owners discount http://spearboard.com/showthread.php?t=134606
phil herranen is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:57 PM.


The World's Largest Spearfishing Diving Social Media Forum Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2002 - 2014 Spearboard.com