Here is what I was thinking he said...

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Posted by Wayne on February 13, 2001 at 18:04:25:

In Reply to: Re: A view from the sidelines posted by MHK on February 13, 2001 at 17:10:42:

And of course I might have misread him! Here is what I think I read and what I think personally. For the record, I did not go back and re-read his posts. I am going from the impression that I got reading them this morning. I think this is valid as it represents how his writings affected me in totality.

I think I read that he chooses not to do the Nitrox thing for business reasons. Rightly or wrongly I agree with his right to choose. He sounds as distrustful of lawyers as I am (in my case I get frustrated that there are no YES or NO answers about liability, with the risks only to the client as the Lawyer always gets paid).

I think we should try to get him on the Nitrox Bandwagon along with ALL shops. Oh yea and I further believe that they should all get membrane systems so we do not need O2 clean tanks for an EAN36 fill. If Nitrox was readily available the price would fall and we would typically be less saturated in most recreational dives. At least I would. I usually run low on air before I run high on nitrogen cause I do not play very deep most of the time.

I agree that he at least recognizes that solo diving is here to stay. And some of his arguments against buddy diving are valid. But I did not come away with a feeling that he is an advocate or is encouraging others to begin this activity.

My opinion is that Solo diving is more dangerous than buddy diving. Oh yea, I can cite special circumstances where a buddy is bad news or where the relative choice of which the risks to take makes us choose solo as opposed to not diving, but in my opinion, buddy diving is better and I usually have a buddy with me. But I accept that others might want to dive without a buddy and that is fine with me. Their risk, their choice.

While I am on the soap box about buddies, I will copy something I wrote a couple of days ago which sums up my opinion of the buddy/solo debate. It is long -- sorry.

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You know, I think I am finally figuring out the reason we have such heated arguments here. Jim (Hoffman) is right we need to be responsible. It's the words after that we are arguing about.

Jim says "as responsible as possible" and the soloing divers say "as responsible as practical".

Each side is convinced that their approach is sound and relatively safe (in an admittedly less than perfectly safe sport). The soloists are arguing for practicality in applying safety rules based on situational considerations. The antisoloists are arguing for the generic adoption of the safety rules. I suspect that in private most of them accept that solo diving is not horrible, but would never publicly encourage it for good reason. I think that most of us who dive solo some or all of the time also do not publicly encourage others to do it for the same good reasons. We just get into a pickle having to defend our own diving style -- based on the practical limitations of our dive goals -- and that sounds to some like encouragement. Look at how the words get couched so as not to encourage newbies and infrequent divers from thinking it is a wise practice.

We all do things that are less than perfectly safe. I drive too fast (knowing that a tire failure at 75 mph can spin or flip most vehicles independent of driver skill). I ski in the trees. I occasionally operate power tools in violation of the instructions and with removed guards. All these things kill people and we all do some of them. We generally do not encourage others to do likewise, but when asked about it, we defend our actions and rationalize that we have knowingly assumed the increased risk.

I think this is the same with solo diving. We hope that idiots and fools do not die diving. We also hope the idiots and fools do not add to their risks by such things as diving solo. In our zeal to protect those around us we make universal protective rules that apply to everyone. The problem arises when the universal rules do not exactly match the needs of everyone. Then we have the conflicts.

DIR has chosen to make the universal rules universally fit by eliminating the situational variabilities. It works extremely well in certain activities and I think we all need to learn from it. But in hunting and photography, for examples, it does not work as well. The solution is either to quit stalking sealife or adapt the safety rules. DIR proponents say adapt the way you stalk, the soloists say adapt the safety procedures.

I think we all share the desire for safety, but the problem is in how we approach the solution. As for me, I think more freedom is better. I also think diving with buddies is better. But I recognize that there are nearly as many reasons to dive as there are divers. It is important to support each type of diver with practical assistance. Making checklists for use by divers thinking of being alone in the ocean is practical -- they will do it anyway so let's make them as safe as we can. Being willing to buddy up with newbies is another great thing we can do occasionally to add to long term diver safety.

But closed minded approaches to diving and magic rules to keep us safe will not, on their own, ever make it a safe sport. We need smart, well trained participants who can make decisions and judgments on the fly based on the situation they are in; be it accidental or intentional.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


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