Out of Air Situations - Here's my experience, what's yours?

Scuba Diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by Anonymous on May 11, 2005 at 11:32:39:

I was recently involved in an out of air situation (as a donor) with a diver who shall remain nameless. It was only in 20ft. of water, but it was on my FIRST night dive which made things more intersting. Long story short, beyond some new gray hairs, everything turned out fine. I posted this message anonymously so that my "buddy" can remain nameless.

The situation was definitely not my idea of fun, but I learned a lot that I think might be valuable to share and have some questions below following the learnings.

I learned:

1. Know thy buddy. This was my first dive with this buddy, who has hundreds of dives under the belt. I have less than 100 dives. I figured, if they are so experienced, they'll know to watch their air and all should be well. Wasnt' the case.

2. Set rules. No matter the situation in terms of level of experience of each diver, set rules on how much air you'll both have once you're back on the boat/beach. If the buddy doesn't want to agree to proper reserves, don't dive.

3. I have have an Air II and switching over to that in a surprise scenario is not much fun. I think I'll switch to a regular octo. Further, controlling buoyancy on the way up with an Air II adds a level of complexity I don't need in an emergency type situation.

4. Put a strap on those lights. I figured I'd reduce clutter and go with a simple clip on my light. When I was using it, it was unclipped and not attached to my rig. So, when you get an out of air scenario with an Air II, you get to use one hand to hold the light, one hand to pass off the main regulator, and one hand to find the Air II.. Wait a sec, that's too many hands! My choice was fumbling while holding the light or dropping the light. I held the light, fumbled, and my buddy helped with the pass off of the regulators. Luckily we were only in 20ft. of water because on ascent I needed one hand to hold the light, one hand to hold my buddie's BC strap, and one hand to release air from my BC... Wait a minute again, there I go with three hands again. We went to the surface at a rate faster than I would have liked because there were no hands left to let air out of the BC. Of course, if I had been perfect, I would have re-clipped the light to my rig before we started the ascent, but since it was the end of the dive and I was almost at 500PSI, I wanted to get to the surface ASAP since my tank was breathin' for two.

OK, so those were the learnings. Here are my questions:

1. What are folks' thoughts on Air IIs?

2. How often have you had to donate air? What are your personal ratios, 1 out of 50 dives, one out of 100, one out of 200? What's the deal here.

3. Do people think running out of air/having to share air is a serious situation? This buddy was fairly nonchalant about the whole deal, even claiming that it was a "great dive". I said it was the "worst f#$%in dive ever" for me because of what happened. The most aggravating part for me is that it was totally avoidable and not due to equipment failure.

Anyway, let me know what you think.

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