Of computers and soap boxes. What I think. And it is long.

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Posted by Wayne on February 21, 2001 at 21:32:55:

I am not sure why I feel compelled to set myself up for potential attacks, but I thought I would add my two cents worth about this computer stuff and some other controversial things.

For years divers lived without computers and DCS was not getting very many of us. So how did we do it? We guestimated. We tried to rationalize our dive to the tables and made lots of assumptions. We pretended that our experience of not getting bent proved that we were expert in extrapolating the tables to match multilevel dives.

Let me give a quick example. A dive in Avalon Park could easily have a peak depth of 95 fsw and a total bottom time of 50 minutes. So how did we get away with it pre-computer? We guessed about how long we were at each depth and estimated the average depths and assumed that the last part of the dive was kinda like a 20 fsw stop anyway. So we mostly did fine, but these dives always left us a little nervous; wishing we really knew how saturated we were. We regularly blew the tables like this, but we rarely did multiple dives. (My wife and I were talking about the good old days of the mid 70s and we both seem to remember going to Catalina on boats like the Westerly for 2 dives. Maybe our memories are clouded, but we do not remember doing four dives per day on dive boats back then.)

So now we have the cave diving community wanting to share their safety developments with the rest of us. Great. They have done an outstanding job of controlling many of the risks associated with cave exploration. One of the things they have done is adopt a rigid set of configuration controls that facilitate problem solving and rescue underwater. Because they use a “team approach” to mission plans, this makes sense. They do detailed pre-dive planning including contingency plans so that they would always be prepared for the foreseeable problems of cave diving. This planning negates the advantage of accessories that many recreational divers feel are useful. This list includes dive computers. In their zeal to convert the rest of us to their belief system, which includes rigid gear configuration rules, they have suggested that we do away with our computers.

It is interesting that they do this. I think they wear their lack-of-computer as a badge of honor. It says, I am so cool and experienced that I know my deco status at all times. When pinned down they admit that they do this primarily by planning and diving conservative dive profiles (deepest depths at the start and no sawtooth profiles). And that is just fine with me. In many cases it is possible to do this. I used an example of Avalon underwater park in this post. It is easy. Start near the Sujac and cruise up to the Cousteau memorial and scoot around the shallows until the SPG, stomach or bladder says its time to go. But this is not typical of many dive activities here.

Hunting is a good example. Seahunt gave an example of a dive profile in which the nitrogen saturation would be difficult to keep tabs on without a computer. Calling it a yo-yo dive does not help. It is a valid dive profile for its mission. And it is a dive where the computer is not just a novelty gadget, but a valuable tool which allows the diver to concentrate on the mission and dive more missions per day. Sure wreck diving and cave diving are activities where this is not as important, but I believe that the majority of recreational dives are ones where the mission calls for the use of the computer.

What I think we are seeing is frightening situation where the cave diving community see themselves as the elite of scuba divers. They have their uniform so we will recognize them and they will recognize each other. New and infrequent divers can be sucked into this macho crap. How often have we all seen newbies trying to act in a way they think will make them look like an old salt? If the old salts are recognized by such things as diving without computers, will these other divers be desirous of forgoing this expensive piece of hardware based on a macho image?

I think that the recent writings of MHK have done a disservice to diving in general. He has damaged the image of DIR. He has damaged his image in my mind. His childish name-calling and smoke-and-mirrors approach to answering questions about the procedure he promoted have diminished his credibility as a spokesman for any aspect of scuba diving. He accuses others of failing to continue to learn, and yet it is he who has demonstrated a closed mind and complete unwillingness to examine diving issues. Instead of thoughtful conversation, he only recites dogma. When the dogma is questioned or explored, he resorts to shameful personal attacks and name-calling directed to the unconverted divers in our community. It is clear that he has no respect any of us who have not joined his congregation. I find this sad and disappointing. He had so much to offer and gave it up in a senseless pursuit of his ego gratification. It is said that ‘pride goeth before the fall’ and I believe that he has fallen from a position of respect and influence as a result of arrogance.

That is how I see the recent events on this board. I am not looking for a debate, but I felt that others might feel the same way as I do about this. Unfortunately, many fear the ridicule that they will incur if they say their mind. That is too bad. We need free and open discussions where folks will share their opinions without fear of personal attacks. There are many experts to be found on this board. Their expertise in subjects from hunting, photography, videography, yak diving, marine biology, oceanography, etc. We need to learn from each other and create an environment where sharing our experiences is safe and fun.


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