By Darrell Staight
Everyone is probably familiar with the mantra of ‘Never Dive Alone’ that they have probably heard since they started diving. It’s generally one of the core philosophies taught by most recreational teaching organisations (and a few technical ones that have a ‘team diving’ focus). In many instances, particularly when one is using the basic recreational equipment set up, it continues to be a good practice. However the statement is often asserted as a blanket rule to all divers, regardless of equipment, training and experience.
I’m not the first to openly challenge this assertion and I’d like to have a thought provoking discussion with divers and to encourage the readers to engage in a critical examination of the subject, considering the following questions:
- Is the argument against ‘solo diving’ in all instances quite as water tight as many would have you believe?
- Is all ‘solo diving’ unacceptable or does it have a place?
- Can ‘solo diving’ be done safely?
- In the event that it is done, is there particular equipment, training and risk management practices that should be a consideration for ‘solo diving’?
- In all honesty, how many people have engaged in solo diving practices and is there a hypocritical double standard that often comes into play?
- Does buddy diving always provide the extra safety margin that many suggest, or are there times that it provides a false security blanket?
These questions and more were the focus of a recent article of mine which I titled ‘He Supports Solo Diving – Burn The Witch!’. Released a couple of weeks ago, it’s met with a lot of attention and I’m delighted to say a huge amount of support. The name alone may suggest that I wasn’t necessarily expecting the proportion of positive responses that I got, but then again maybe from informal conversations I kind of realised there was quite a bit of division on the subject with many others feeling equally strongly about it too.
In researching this article I did a significant amount of research (and have continued to since). As a result I can say with conviction that there are many places in the world (and within Australia) where solo diving is not treated with quite the same level of stigma. In my humble opinion it makes sense to encourage proportionate objective discussion about it here too. This article was not written to make existing divisions wider but rather promote the sincere belief that there is no diving subject that should be taboo and that it may in fact be the censoring of such subjects that is one of the causes of issues (which leads to a certain covert approach) and not the subject itself. I should also point out that this article was not written to endorse any kind of short cuts in regards to risk management but rather the opposite, to point out and further illuminate the necessary considerations before any serious thought is given to partaking in such activities.
I’m interested in what others think, which is why in addition to providing the link to the article, I’m going to provide a link to an anonymous survey too, which I would very much encourage people to complete (it will only take about a minute): https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JWH33CF.
Also attached is a video presentation done by the well known British technical diving instructor Mark Powell: ‘Solo Diving – Coming Out of the Closet’, on the subject which corroborates some of the same points and makes a few others too. So with that in mind let’s have an open conversation about the subject of ‘Solo Diving’…
Darrell Staight’s “He Support’s Solo Diving – Burn the Witch!” Blog Post: http://www.enduranceswimmer.net/2015/12/he-supports-solo-diving-burn-the-witch-2/