Defining Buddy/Solo

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Posted by Ken Kurtis on September 20, 2000 at 20:54:16:

Since we're getting into some of the buddy vs. solo dives again, and since there seems to be some diagreement of what exactly constitutes what, perhaps our respective views on a definition of terms would be in order.

In my mind, it breaks down this way:

1. BUDDY DIVE - Two (or more) divers enter the water together with the intent of doing the dive within a reasonable (2-20'???) distance of each other, and intend to finish the dive and surface together.

2. SOLO DIVE - A diver enters the water with the intent of starting and finsihing the dive by him/herself.

3. BUDDY BREAKDOWN - Divers start together and have the intent of staying together throughout the dive but for some reason, either by choice or mistake, become seperated. Although one (or more) of these will be alone, I don't feel this qualfies as a solo dive since the INTENT is not to be alone.

To me, definition #3 is where a lot of the dissent/confusion comes. I don't agree with Michael that if you lose your buddy, you are now a solo diver. I think you're a buddyless diver and the difference is that the solo diver INTENDS to be alone while the buddyless diver many times does it ACCIDENTALLY. But I agree with Michael that they both face the same problem if there's an emenrgency in that no one else is there to help them out. But I think intent has to play a major factor in here.

And I think with some of the dives (like the fatality earlier this year on the oil rig) where a member of the buddy team signals he's going up alone, and the rest of the team waves goodbye, in my mind that bad buddying, not diving solo.

The concept of the buddy system is pretty simple. YOU STAY WITH YOUR BUDDY. Period. It's pretty clear.

If your buddy turns left, you turn left.
If your buddy stops to look at something, you stop to look (and vice versa).
If your buddy goes up, you go up.
If your buddy goes back to the boat, you go back to the boat.

In my opinion, deviation from this is bad buddying and bad buddy team decisions, not solo diving.

The exception I would make (and it's admittedly a gray area) to that is if you can "hand off" your buddy to someone else, whether underwater or on the surface, and then you (w/a buddy) continue your dive. The problem is making it clear to the "new" buddy team. I've seen divers come back where they said, "Oh, I though Joe was with you because you two singaled you'd stay together," and the other guy says he never gave such a signal.

Anyhow, that's what I think. I'm sure we can get some divergent views on this. Who wants to chime in? (And remember, this thread isn't about would-you/should-you, it's merely looking to see how we define things. We'll get to merits - again - once we define the terms.)

Ken Kurtis
NAUI Instr. #5936
Co-owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co.
Beverly Hills, Ca.

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