View Full Version : I've got a story and lesson

07-16-2007, 23:29
This one will take some time to tell, but I'll give the gist of it and then tomorrow I'll flesh it out.

The basic's of it are I learned from that. It's something that nearly ended my life on December 31 of last year.

Long story short, I almost drowned because I fell into a bad habit on shore diving. It took multiple failures to do it as well, the old chain that could have been broken had I taken the time to do it.

More to come later.

07-16-2007, 23:38
looking forward to the story

07-16-2007, 23:46
Ok, this guy must have a job at a radio or tv station....what a teaser! Looking forward to reading it!

07-17-2007, 00:09
Ah don't you love it when ppl do that! Until next time!

G'nite folks!

07-17-2007, 09:21
First I'd like to take the time to describe the dive site where I had my close call.

We call the spot the bluffs or steps due to the way the terrain is there. Literally it's like stair steps there and typically you do a dive there and end by swimming back up on top of the shelf and walk out. It's pretty easy getting in an out, plus a good site to dive.

So this dive was like any other I've done there except it was pretty cold with ice around and very windy. There were pretty good waves with the occasional big swell due to the winds. No boats to speak of because who in their right mind would be out in freezing weather and high winds? Just a few divers is all.

We finished the dive normally. My normal procedure after a dive is to let my buddies exit and then I'll exit after I know they're out and safe. This time when it was my turn to exit a fairly high wave come up and knocked me off the shelf I was on into deep water. Normally this isn't a problem except I was in the process of removing my gear. I'd already taken my fins off and tossed them on the bank, had the mask around my neck and was in the process of clipping off my primary regulator when I got knocked in.

So here I am, no mask, the primary regulator is floating around out there somewhere, and I'm out of breath because I had exhaled when I got knocked in. It's at first something I think jokingly, "It's a good thing I have my backup bungee'd to my neck because I can easily get the air since I know where it is no matter what," I then reach for it and can't get it for some reason, kind of confused at this point because I know it's there but I can't get it to my mouth. After a bit I chuckle because I realize that by placing the mask around my neck it's on top of my backup and that's what is keeping my away from my air supply I need.

At this point I can't get the primary with an arm sweep, and my inflator is trapped under the BP/W shoulder strap and I don't have the time to get it because I'm rapidly running out of what little air I did have when I went under. At this point in time I'm thinking I have about 30 seconds left before I need to breathe, the only problem is that when that happens I'm going to drown. I was pretty calm about it and I'm still working the problem trying again with the arm sweep.

Miracle of miracles happen and I capture it this time and purge it, then take my breath. This was good because I've already decided I now have less than 10 seconds until I inhale water. At this point I'm ready to exit the water and I decide to sink down the rest of the way to the bottom where I can then make my way to a shallow section and climb out. The entire time I was under was probably 2 minutes, I couldn't see anything other than the color green, and I never panicked. I can hold my breath 3 minutes or a bit more given the chance to inhale and get a good breath, just not under the circumstances I was in.

After I got out I kicked myself for a couple reason. First and most obvious, I'm in a drysuit and guess what? It has an inflator valve right there in the middle of my chest which should have been the next thing I went for after realizing my BC's inflator was inaccessible. Second thing was that the bad habit's nearly compounded to drown me.

First and the largest bad habit is the exiting of a shore dive with an empty BC. It's very common, I see it done on every single dive I do. I and most others tend to enter with mask on, regulator in and BC inflated. At the end of a dive we tend to come up, remove the mask, regulator, fins and then walk out with the BC deflated because we're within feet of shore. It's not what we do on a boat dive but it's common on a shore dive because you're done and the shore is right there, pretty safe you start thinking.

The problem is in places the shelf gives way to water that's pretty deep and if you slip and fall you can end up in water deep enough you'll drown, like my case.

For me the lessons learned were that my BC will get inflated at the end of a dive regardless of where I end it, the mask will not go around my neck with the mask facing forwards because it can block access to the backup, backwards works fine in my testing by the way. I've added some additional training so that I've reinforced the concept of the drysuit having buoyancy at the surface, and when I walk out the reg is in my mouth. I treat the exit just as I do the entry. It's drilled into you during OW to keep the regulator in the mouth on entry just in case you slip and fall into the water, it should be drilled into you the same thing applies on exit.

Divers tend to treat the end of a dive lightly, I've seen this repeatably everywhere I've gone. Dive's over, lets get out and get ready for the next one. Toss the fins to your buddy, time to go. We forget that we've got a lot of gear and weight on us at the time of exit, in my case even more so than normal because I dive a steel tank and normally exit with a lot of air which means it's still pretty negative.

I learned a lot more than I posted, I learned how I'll react when I'm the one in trouble which is good to know. Had I broken even one link of the chain I wouldn't have been in trouble, inflating the BC at the end of the dive for example being a biggie.

At any rate I learned from my close call, and I was humbled and realized personally now easy it is to drown. Mistakes compound.

07-17-2007, 09:50
At any rate I learned from my close call, and I was humbled and realized personally now easy it is to drown. Mistakes compound.
<DIV>Great story. Most people would try to forget/cover up their mistakes. Thank you for sharing.</DIV>
<DIV>All it takes is one accidental gulp of water to start a spasmodic coughing fit that sends someone to the bottom. That is where your safety devices come in, unless circumstances conspire against you (as they did). </DIV>
<DIV>The alternative is to psychologically regain control and self rescue (hence the big benefit of rescue training - mental awareness and situational control).</DIV>

07-17-2007, 10:05
I'm an honest person who believes that once in a while there's a lesson in life and I'll try to pass it on when appropriate, even if it's embarrassing to myself.
<DIV>As to the mask, you'll notice one of the things I learned is I exit how I enter which means mask on reg in. I will take it off if I'm not exiting and just floating away my SI, then it's on the back so I can still access the backup.</DIV>

07-17-2007, 10:11
You know, I was calm and rational the entire time, but that's my personality because I don't panic easily. I still get watery eyes remembering what would have been my last feelings when I thought in the next 10 seconds I'd be inhaling water.
<DIV>First I hoped my buddy could revive me, he's got the training and is a pro. Second I was sad I'd be leaving my daughter without a father, that's the part the makes me water up. If you have a kid you know how strongly I feel about her and her future. I can not put into words how much she means to me.</DIV>
<DIV>There is a limit to the risks I'll take, and that's why even though I want to do wreck dives I will limit my technical diving to just looking from the outside in. It's also what drives me to take more training to add more stuff to my bag of tricks.</DIV>
<DIV>You can't eliminate risk, but you can reduce it.</DIV>

07-17-2007, 11:09
Good story and a reminder of how easy it is for us to become complacent. I think that complacency and comfort go hand in hand no matter what we're doing. It just has greater consequences in some cases. Glad that you made it through okay and were able to share the story with us so that it might prevent it from happening to us.

07-17-2007, 11:33
Yes, that's true. I did say that and I did test it because I knew in the rescue course that taking your mask off is common. I'm not sure it's 100% necessary to keep it on all the time. I dokeep it on during my exitsnow because it makes it easier to see if you need to see should something go bad. If I could have seen under water when this happened I could have easily located the floating primary. That's why I think having the mask on is nice, it can help a lot.
<DIV>For the most part I exit like I enter, mask on, BC inflated, regulator in, fins in hand. I think it's safe to take the regulator out and mask off once you're in the water with positive buoyancy, but on entries and exits I don't think it's safe anymore.</DIV>
<DIV>I did the testing with the mask because in a rescue situation you will have to remove your mask to work with the victim in the water if rescue breathing is necessary and I wanted to know how to do it safely, I already knew it wasn't safe with the mask in front and I wanted to see how it could be done. There are exceptions to every rule I suppose, but I now believe without a doubt the BC being inflated and the regulator in your mouth are two of the most important things to do, the mask on is nice as well but there are times when I think you could take it off. I don't see the need for the most part, I'll take it off to blow my nose and put it back on. If I'm floating in the water during the SI I'll put it on backwards if I'm not wearing it.</DIV>
<DIV>During the class we put the things on our arms for the most part, but they want you to keep it handy in case you need to descend for some reason such as the victim panicking and pushing you under while they climb up. That assumes a person all of a sudden who was calm going to panic mode.</DIV>

07-17-2007, 11:47
great story - good to hear how you handled everything

07-18-2007, 00:02
Great story. As a new diver, I'm glad you shared some bad habits. It
will be easier not to form them, now knowing some that are out there.

fire diver
07-18-2007, 09:37
Great story. I'll definately be thinking more about how I exit on shore dives in the future.

07-18-2007, 21:48
Wow, great sharing. I'm sure everyone learned something from it.

07-19-2007, 01:34
Thanks for sharing... after hearing similar stories when we starting diving, I've gotten into the habit of keeping mask on and reg in until I'm on dry sand at the beach, or sitting in my spot on the boat. It looks goofy, especially in calm warm water boat diving, but it reinforces the idea to me. I got rolled in the surf on our last Cali trip and was thankful to have the mask on and reg in. I had just taken off my second fin in water just barely up to my waist when a wave- bigger than the ones before it- decided to crash on my head ( i thought i was out of the surf zone!)
<DIV>As far as BC inflation on shore entries/exits, I usually add a just enough air to float me, but not enough that a little swell will pick me off my feet. </DIV>

07-19-2007, 15:54
Thanks for the honesty. Reinforces how I was trained:

Be a diver in the water

07-19-2007, 15:58
great story was worth the wait ..glad you are ok

07-19-2007, 17:54
Me too! I'm not to proud to eat crow if it will help others.

07-20-2007, 17:08
Great event to share! It really reminds people that no matter how experienced you are and how many times you got away with something before, the world has a way to bite back any time it feels like it. Safety protocols should always be followed, regardless of experience.

Charlotte Smith
08-28-2007, 11:20
At least you were calm and I am glad you are oK... good story....good lesson....

08-28-2007, 11:28
wow what a story and thanks for the tips, the mask is backwards on the head for me and during rescue training if it comes off, goes in the mask bag on my belt.
thanks again for sharing

10-17-2007, 20:56
I wear my mask and reg all the way onto the boat.I keep a clip on my bc for my mask.for shore diving. and I'm going to add another clip on my bc by my hip for my fins. helps to keep my hands free. makes shoe entry and exit safer

10-18-2007, 07:20
wow thats a crazy story! thanks for sharing!

10-18-2007, 09:35
Great story! Another good reason to read the forum, learn from others experiences.

Steve Scuba
10-18-2007, 10:04
That really was a great story, because it is something that could happen to just about anyone. The mistakes that were made were things that I could easily imagine myself doing. Thank you very much for sharing.