Here is my reply to "When to use Floats" (above) - long

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Posted by Bill Johnson on July 17, 2001 at 18:20:46:

In Reply to: please see my "when to use floats / descent lines" supra posted by CalAbDiver on July 17, 2001 at 16:49:46:

I liked your post "when to use floats / descent lines" supra" above enough to let it stand alone. It seems to focus more on safety suggestions for the certified diver though, many of which will not be implamented. Since the focus of my original post was to promote buoyancy control and denounce the practice dragging unprepared students down a float line, I have posted my reply here.

First, let me add to the way my position is being perceived. While I never take a float and anchor with me, I try to prepare each student for ascents / descents. If there is a questionable student that I brought anyway (rare), I will use the anchor line (or an existing permanent buoy) for their first dive, but I try very hard to prepare the student for buoyancy control before I take him to open water. If there is no such line available (in the case of a questionable student), I will personally escort them to the bottom. I use the anchor line when it makes sense, but not as a crutch for a students lack of buoyancy control.

I have added my comments to your numbered points:

"1. definitely when abalone freediving",


"2. whenever there will be a significant surface swim from a beach entry, ..."

This would be nice, but I do not see this being done on the west coast. It is not real, and therefore should not be an essential part of training. I don't take my student where there is boat traffic.

"3. whenever there is a significantly deep descent, like over 35 fsw."

Again this is not real. Divers are not carrying, in addition to all their other gear, a descent line for a 40' descent. If it makes sense to use the anchor line, of course I use it. I just don't use it as a crutch for not teaching buoyancy control though. For dives deeper than OW1 (60'), the anchor line comes in handy, but then we are not talking about those kinds of dives, are we.

"4. whenever a safety stop is highly appropriate,"

A safety stop is always appropriate. However, if one is doing these kinds of dives where the chances of DCS are greatly increased by not doing an almost required safety stop, the diver should have enough training / experience to make it back to the anchor line with 100% accuracy or have a lift bag to shoot. Again, we are not talking about OW1.

"5. in some states, it is the law."

This is a California forum, so lets talk California, not other states. A diver can always add a float to make things easier or conform with the law. However, it is the instructor's job to prepare the student for a broader spectrum of OW situations, not just float situations.

"it has nothing to do with whether you learned to dive with YMCA, NAUI, PADI, SSI, TDI, IANTD, etc. it has nothing to do with how long your OW1 class lasted. it has little or nothing to do with how much you have learned or how good you are."

Buoyancy control is learned through experience. Therefore, there is a DIRECT relationship between how long your class is and how much buoyancy control you develop in class. If you take a poll of most instructors, most all will first judge how good you are based on buoyancy control. Buoyancy control is paramount to safety. It has everything to do with how long your class was and how good you are.

Your list is a good list of suggested safety practices. I just don't see divers running out to buy floats now though.


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