View Full Version : Help!!

05-15-2008, 17:27
Hey gang,

Long time no post... We have been really busy lately and we took a little break from diving to buy our own gear so we can dive for less $$ per dive! We hadn't been out in about a month or so and my wife and I went out to do a simple shore dive. We swam out to the reef and everything was fine. We decided to descend and everything was normal. We got near the bottom, found some sand and I wanted us to both establish good buoyancy and really dial it in before we went off exploring. My wife felt anxious and so was a little rushed about her buoyancy establishing and after a few minutes she started to runaway ascend, so I grabbed onto her and yanked her back down and tried to assess the situation. We were only in 13 feet or so and only down for less than five minutes. She got tangled up a little in the flag line and then she all of a sudden panicked. She later told me she felt trapped in the line, she thought the line was out too far (I let out about 20 feet so as to allow for the depth), she felt like I didn't grab onto her fast enough, and a few other concerns. Anyway what happened at that moment is she completely panicked slapped my mask off, ripped my reg out and started almost trying to punch me. I know most of the gear removal was due to flailing, and it did make me feel more confident that I didn't panic and I was able to recover and keep my wits about me with so few dives logged. In the process I deflated her bc some and I recovered my mask and reg and we ascended somewhat controlled. Once on the surface after the hysterics were over, we started talking about what happened. I think the time between dives, the lack of experience (more my inexperience than her own), and additional gear discomfort really spoiled the whole thing. She is embarrassed ( I asked first if it was ok to post the story and ask for help) but she does want to keep diving (whew! :smiley20:) The fact of the matter is, however, that until I can find a more experienced dive buddy or we can find a good dive "couple" that has a ton of experience that can make her feel more comfortable, we are inexperienced divers. We didn't attempt a difficult dive or anything extreme, but the confidence has to be there in open water no matter where you are and panic can strike any time (clearly!). So, to you, my diving friends, I pose this question: What can we do about it? What type of exercises, environments, etc. do you recommend to overcome this fear so we can dive together. I did find a friend who I hope to dive with regularly to gain more experience, and I am certain that that will help her confidence in me to grow also. I want to help my wife really enjoy something she already really enjoys and we both need more experience at to REALLY enjoy. We have logged almost 10 dives (including OW checkout). What do you suggest??

See ya down there!


05-15-2008, 17:40
Wow! I'm glad that neither of you were injured! How scary. Maybe you should try some pool time every week or two. It might not feel quite as uncontrolled. Also, you may consider hiring a DM to go out with you until you feel more comfortable. Due to my own inexperience, those are the only things I can think of at the moment. Good luck!

05-15-2008, 17:59
I seccond the pool notion it will help. 2 of the college dive clubs I was involved with (1 was tecnicaly my best frineds school) did this every week. It was a great way for new divers to continue to feel comftrable in the watter. Even better if you can find some friends to do it with. Get some pool toys work on controll and jus genrally enjoy. Also talk to your local dive shop and try to find a dive club near where you are.

05-15-2008, 18:33
do you think she might be more comfortable with a divemaster along?

05-15-2008, 19:01
you did the right thing by tuning up with a shore dive.

If I have been off for a few months or have a new piece equipment, I do a shore dive inside the Palm Beach inlet.

05-15-2008, 20:23
I'd recommend getting into a shallower depth.. say 5 to 6' of water (pool/ocean/quarry) and allow her to get wrapped up in the line. Obviously, you two need to talk about it first and understand that you might start with putting the line around her forearm a couple times. Allow her to untangle herself. Slowly work up to putting it around her waist once. Again, let her untangle it.

That's about the best way I could think of to get her to not panic. Use the usual, "Stop, Breath, Think"....

I was on my first jetties dive (current going out) and I was following the guy pulling the flag. Some how the line was on my neck (pushing on my neck) and the line ended up wrapped around my valve on my tank. I almost bolted to the surface (15fsw+-). I stopped swimming and thought to myself.. "Am I gonna die?".. no, probably not. I can see the surface and I know I could get there if I needed to. "Am I still breathing fine through my regulator?" Yes, besides the fact my adrenaline is pumping and I'm suck 300psi of air each time. (:P). "Where is my buddy?" He's right there. So I motion to him with a point to the line and a "cowboy swinging a rope motion" and pointing at my valves.

He calmly comes over and unties the line from my valves.. YAY! He's my hero.

So the moral is to stop breath and think.


Shark girl
05-17-2008, 00:36
Do you have a local dive club? Some, like my local club, have mentoring-type schemes where a more experienced diver will try to come out with you regularly, for fun and to help work on skills, like buoyancy, line deployment, OOA... Might be a bit less formal (and less expensive!) than hiring a DM, and has the added bonus of widening your circle of dive buddies and great local sites!

05-17-2008, 07:19
I too say try to get into a local dive club... Most are made up of divers with a wide range of experience. In my particular dive club we have a couple of people that have not even finished their open water to Tech Instructors with 1000's or dives. When ever people are wanting to go and try something a little new or just something that they have not done in a while there is always someone in the club willing and experienced enough to help out.

If there is not a club around you then get in the pool a few times and just practice, practice, practice. By practice I mean doing the drills that were mentioned above. The more you can practice getting your mask knocked off or loosing your reg the better off you will be. My wife can get a little panicky sometimes in the water if the vis goes to crap, and she really hates not having her mask on. So when we go to the pool I have her take her mask off several times and drop it and then go get it and put it back on. Then after a few times of that (once she is comfortable) I have her swim around with her eyes closed and I will pull her mask off. It does make her feel more confident that if she looses her mask that it is not the end of the world. Same goes for the reg. If it gets knocked out you need to know that it is not that hard to find again, and if you cannot find it quickly you can always go to the octo. Confidence in the water is key to being comfortable in the water.

My little saying that I like is "Smooth is fast". Which just means to think about what you need to do and do it. Do not just flail around because nothing is going to get accomplished that way. Like others have said Stop, Breath, Think. If you do that you will be surprised how "quickly" you will get things back under control....


06-10-2008, 20:45
I suggest that you look into a Scuba Rescue Diver class. This class will teach you how to handle this situation in a manner that won't endanger you, the rescuer.

I mention this because I, too, had to rescue another diver who was about to panic. I could see it in his eyes. We were down about 20 feet and we calmed him down and slowly ascended.

I mentioned this to my former OW instructor (I did OW about 5 months earlier), and he read me the riot act because I had not yet gone through Rescue and could have endangered us both, especially me.

Ultimately, rescue will improve your confidence and diving skills.

06-10-2008, 23:30
Try a Pool or a nice gentle sloping beach and just allow her time to get reaquainted with the feeling of being underwater, no pressure, no crowds,no ropes etc. When and only when she is comfortable go slightly deeper and get comfortable again. Works really well if there is a lot around, fish etc. to take ones mind of the worries, so a nice home reef in the tropics is highly recommended..

06-11-2008, 06:36
The pool is always a good place to check out new gear, and make sure you are familiar with everything. However, there is no substitute for experience. Since y'all only have 10 dives total, I would really suggest hiring a DM, who could get you a proper briefing on what to expect, how to handle it, etc.... Also, he/she would be there if something did occur, and could help with it.
My only other comment, because it made all of the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, is that you NEVER NEVER NEVER "jerk someone back down". You could blow out their ears, or worsen their problem. You are not qualified to control a freaked-out diver, especially not under water. Let them surface, get yourself to the surface safely, and deal with it there.

No Misses
06-11-2008, 10:06
In my opinion, bouyancy control in shallow water is tougher than at depth. You also have another issue to deal with on shore dives - surge. Combine these two issues with the fact that you have minimal experience and have been out of the water for a while and it is understandable that you may have had some anxiety.

Have you considered signing up for AOW? This would give you more dives under the direct supervision of an instructor.

Before the flames start...It has been hotly debated on this forum, as to how much experience you should have before getting your AOW. In this instance, I feel that more dives under direct supervision could help.

Lastly...check out the following local dive clubs

South Florida Divers, Inc. SCUBA Club in Hollywood welcomes you! (http://www.sfdi.com/)
Active Divers Association (http://www.activedivers.org/)
Après Plongée (http://www.apresplongee.org/)
E-Divers (http://www.e-divers.org/)
Exotic Seas SCUBA Club (http://www.exoticseas.com/)
Kayuba Dive Club of Florida (http://www.kayuba.org/)
South Florida Spearfishing Club (http://www.spearfishing.org/)
South Florida Underwater Photography Society (http://www.sfups.org/)
South Florida Women Divers (http://www.sfwd.net/)
Sunshine Athletic Association (SAA) SCUBA Club (http://www.saascuba.org/)
Under Sea Adventurers (http://www.usadiveclub.com/)

06-11-2008, 12:57
I used to get a little freaked when I got to the shallow part of a dive (ever since I got jerked up out of the water when my tank was low one time). When I was diving in Curacao in Jan. I guess the DM could see in my eyes how I felt. He got below me facing up and gave me the zenmaster breathing control exercise. Ever since then, when I am diving shallow, I just think about that and it really helps me control my breathing. All it takes is one person who is willing to take the time to help.....

06-24-2008, 10:29
I know I'm a bit late with this response, but get her back in the water, preferable a pool followed by an easy OW dive, as soon as possible. People tend to blow things up over time if they don't get back onto the horse quickly.

I'm glad she wants to keep diving. That's the key to the whole thing. Like others have said, having a DM along or taking in AOW might be the best way to expose her to more OW diving with some controls built in.

07-12-2008, 01:54
That's about the best way I could think of to get her to not panic. Use the usual, "Stop, Breath, Think"....

.. "Am I gonna die?".. no, probably not. I can see the surface and I know I could get there if I needed to. "Am I still breathing fine through my regulator?" Yes, besides the fact my adrenaline is pumping and I'm suck 300psi of air each time. (:P). "Where is my buddy?" He's right there. So I motion to him ...So the moral is to stop breath and think.


Yup best advice there! Once we got ourselves into a panic mode.. everything, even the simple stuff is made about 100x worse.

Think then react... don't later think about how you reacted...