Can You Say That Again?
The dive plan gets lost in translation when one buddy has an equipment malfunction
Stephen and Rodolfo were wreck diving in pristine conditions in 60 feet of water and taking photos to show their dive club and share online. Unexpectedly, Stephen signaled “up.” Rodolfo signaled “OK?” as he moved in close. “OK,” Stephen replied; Rodolfo indicated that the pair should swim to the ascent line. Stephen nodded, followed by “up,” this time a little more urgently. “OK?” Rodolfo asked again. “OK,” signaled Stephen, followed by “up.” They reached the ascent line and made a controlled ascent, but Stephen skipped the safety stop. Rodolfo followed, just in case.
“Why the heck didn’t we go straight up?” griped Stephen. “I’m getting water with every breath!” (The problem later proved to be a torn mouthpiece.)
“What? I thought you just wanted to end the dive. I didn’t know you had a problem because you said you were OK.”
“I meant I was OK to handle it.”
What They Did Wrong
The pair didn’t communicate clearly, leading to confusion. Stephen should have clearly indicated he had a problem by signaling that something was wrong. And if Stephen was more knowledgeable about his gear, he could have identified that the problem was with his second stage and switched to his alternate to finish the dive without having to breathe past water.
What They Did Right
Although not clearly, they did communicate, and handled the problem without further incident. Even though Stephen signaled “OK,” Rodolfo stayed close.
INCIDENT REPORT DIVERS: Stephen (Divemaster, 500-plus dives), Rodolfo (Divemaster, 800-plus dives) SITE: Joe’s Tug, Florida Keys CONDITIONS: 85˚F water, 100-foot visibility, calm