Dodging vs Ditching

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Posted by on April 07, 2005 at 06:27:59:

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At 09:55 AM 4/6/2005, wrote:

It is better to prepare for an entanglement problem beforehand than to wait till the last second.

I have the usual plastic weight belt buckle, which I have had open unexpectedly many times over the years (easy to open) but I have tried to ditch the belt twice at the end of a long dive,and both times my impaired state of functioning prevented me from completing this simple task. Both times I put my hand on the buckle as I was nearing the surface, and both times I struggled to open it as my vision was fading, but neither time did I manage to get it open. One time I blacked out and was luckily being observed by my buddy, Jerry Beltran, who pulled me up the last 6 or so feet, ditched it for me, and swam me to shore, where I awakened with lungs and stomach full of water. I had been weighted negatively at the surface and Jerry said I just let go of my guns trail line marking the holed up grouper) and started sinking. After about an hour of vomiting and coughing (way down on Baja's east cape, 1984, no-one for miles) I remember Jerry asking if I would be able to walk, or if he should go for help. Two days later I could walk without being short of breath. Thank you again, Jerry.

The other time I was coming up from a marked dive of over 80 ft and saw the visual changes at about 15 feet. I grabbed at the buckle and tried to open it, but my hand was too weak. I remember thinking "this is it" and "damn you are a stupid a...ole." those would have been my last thoughts. Luckily I was buoyant at that depth and managed to (barely) hang on to the top and get a breath.

The bottom line is:

  1. Think ahead. Prepare to have the simplest method of clearing a tangle/ditching weight posible. Just because you can cut cable with a knife while you are sitting on the boat doesn't mean that you can cut it while you are hypoxic in the water. I personally can guarantee that you will not be able to do so. Even if you are free of panic your hands and mind won't be working well at all.
  2. Ditch or cut early. All of the stuff we have is easily replacable. We are not.

Mark Borden
Davis, CA

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