DIR dangers of backplates and dry suits

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Posted by Karl S on September 06, 2001 at 17:11:59:

In Reply to: excuse me, but will you please remove the hook... posted by Daryl on September 06, 2001 at 15:49:47:

Lets say i am swimming along underwater at ... say ... Monastery Beach ... on the north end.

I am solo, and I am enjoying the rocky reef and kelp forest there and all the beautiful colours and the warm greenish sunbeams streaming through the waters above.

Suddenly I notice two divers in a bit of commotion below me. They are on their knees on the reef, which is unusual, since that destroys the beautiful anemonies and encrusting corals there on the reef. You are supposed to stay off the reef and not destroy things. Look but dont touch.

I can tell they are DIR by their butt naked low pressure twin steel tanks without any tank boots on them, which look like they would weigh a ton out of the water on the beach. Only DIR divers would take perfectly good tank boots off a tank, just to look "kewl" for their own DIR diving crowd. Thats how fashion affects the brain.

It appears from my vantage point that they are in distress somehow. So I swim closer and stop behind the assisting diver, so as not to distract or disturb him. It looks like he is trying to get his buddy off the reef, but cant somehow.

Looks like a flooded drysuit to me.

What else? Oh yah, looks like they are air sharing too, because the assisting buddy has his necklaced mouthpiece in his own mouth and his distressed buddy is breating off the long hose. Wonder why they are air sharing?! Its not like a DIR diver would ever run OOA.

Who knows? Maybe his SPG failed on the low end of a deco dive. If that is true, and since they are wearing the same sized tanks, then they are both going to run out of air pretty quick together, by all odds. I swim closer.

I signal to the assisting buddy "OK?" but he ignors me. I look at the buddy in distress, and he looks catatonic. I watch to try to figure out what is going on. Pretty soon, the assisting buddy lurches forward slightly, gets wide eyed, then looks over at me and signals to me "OUT OF AIR." Just what I thought.

Now he looks desperate and he has that pleading look in his eyes that everyone seems to get when The Ocean has betrayed them somehow, and their Best Laid Plans Of Mice And Men have Aft Gehn Aglei.

I dart over and donate my primary regulator to him. I grab my octo off my right hip and put it into the distressed buddy's mouth. I reach down for my own necklaced pony reg and start to breathe off that after I have reached back and turned the air supply in my pony on. Jeeze, its a good thing I brought along 3 2nd Stages today, with my single tank rig, because there are only two of them on my doubles tech rig.

I am accustomed to freediving so I dont get panicky about holding my breath for awhile as I do all this. Lt. Jacques Cousteau, French Navy, would not be pleased about me violating his Rule #1 Never Hold Your Breath On It, but rules were made to be broken, as the expression goes.

OK, I am breathing off a 13 cu ft pony, we are at 60 fsw, that means I have got 4 mins and 20 seconds before I have to start buddy breathing with one of these bozos. Time to go home. Definitely.

I look down to see if I can ditch their weight belts, but they have backplates on and crotch straps so we are screwed there. They are both OOA now so there is no way I can power inflate their wings, and I dont want to waste time orally inflating them off my own pony bottle.

So I do what we were taught to do in the Navy 27 years ago. I lock my right arm through the distressed buddy's left shoulder strap. Then I grab hold of the formerly assisting buddy's right shoulder strap with my right hand and lock that through as much as I can. These guys are heavy and so this is going to really suck.

Then I hold onto them for dear life and use my left hand to activate my B/C power inflator. 27 years ago these were CO2 cartridges on horsecollar B/Cs to be used in emergencies only, but the concept is still valid today with a power inflator. You always do all your rescue work with your right hand, and leave your left hand free to work your own gear.

Thanks to my Zeagle 85 lb. lift double bladder wing on my B/C, we begin to egress upwards slowly like a lumbering dustoff. I start to kick with my fins, but that doesnt work too good since we are all in such close proximity, so my B/C is going to have to do all the work, and I can only kick slowly rather than hard. My plan B in case my wings rip off my B/C due to the stress of this dust-off is to bounce off the bottom of the Ocean with these guys and then cut their heavy gear off them, then ascend using my 85 lb backup lift bags.

I ditch my integrated weights to make it easier on my wings, since we are going really slow due to the flooded dry suit.

Damm these guys are heavy. The assisting buddy is now kicking a little too, but the distressed diver is not. Distressed divers never do. Funny how that always is.

The water gets clearer and brighter. Theres the daylight. Pop! We are on the surface.

Time to orally inflate Diver #1's B/C. Good, now he's positive, and I let go of him.

Now to orally inflate Diver #2's B/C. Good, he's slightly positive, but still heavy due to the water in his flooded suit, so I slip my arm out of his shoulder strap but I dont let go with my grip.

Since these guys are wearing drysuits and theres no air supply in their tanks we cant ditch their gear too safely. So we are going to have to do this the hard way, and we pull the distressed diver all the way back to shore with all his gear still on him.

Too bad they werent wearing aluminum tanks, because thats what usually floats tourists to the surface when they run low on air. Aluminum tanks almost work like a safety device for novices who underweight, although novices who overweight still sink like a rock.

I am hoping the first buddy doesnt go south on me too. As soon as he realizes that he was nearly killt today, he just might. The shock from the adrenaline rush he is going to get when he figures that out might even make him faint. Looks like he is still concentrating on helping out with his distressed buddy. Thats good.

We make it back through the surf line and up onto the beach, and this nightmare is almost over. I drop my tanks and gear and walk over to the phone to call 911 on the county phone line to get an ambulance here, since they both are probably going to need it. It never hurts to get professional medics to help treat for shock after a near fatal accident.

Lets see, they have drysuits, backplates, jeeze, what were these guys thinking? This isnt a cave in Florida. This is California. Oh yah, almost forgot, they are DIR. Youre not supposed to think.

STROKE is what happens when your DIR gear fails you in the open Ocean.

Keep smiling!

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