Buddy Up With Experience

Luxury liveaboards – Wow, what a feeling.

I’ve recently just got back from the Red Sea and a week on the MV Oyster and what an excellent experience that was.

I spent a week being pampered by an excellent crew who took us to the "Brothers" dive site in Southern Eygpt.

Now this dive site was fantastic (I hope you understand by now that I quite enjoyed myself), but something struck me whilst out there. The group I was with ranged from very experienced divers who had years of experience, to divers who had just qualified to Advanced Open Water.

These junior divers tended to stick together, particularly as they had either trained together or were part of the same club back home.

Whilst they were qualified to dive on the site, there were some very wicked currents in the area that could whip you off the site before you knew what was happening. In fact I saw several buddy pairs get whisked off the reef during the week, mainly due to not reading the environment well enough, forcing them to ascend and be picked up by the circling RIB’s.

These conditions combined with wrecks and wall diving meant that things can go wrong very quickly, and usually without warning. In these circumstances experience counts for a lot.

By pairing up two fairly inexperienced divers, I felt that if there had been a problem of any significant magnitude, they may not have been able to handle it particularly well.

Now, everything has to be takening into context, there were 3-4 experienced divers to every inexperienced diver in the group, so any diver in trouble probably could be rescued with the minimum of fuss – but this would seem to go against the doctrine of most training organisations.

Admittedly nothing happened to the divers out there, but speaking to one particular pair at the end of the week, they admitted that they were in an zone of "invincibility" that comes with getting those bits of paper called certificates. They agreed that in retrospect they should have probably paired off with more experienced divers, but at the time they thought nothing of it.

This combined with the fact that we were 8-9 hours boat ride away from the nearest decompression chamber made for very uncomfortable environment in the event of an emergency. (There was a military helicopter available but would not take off without 5000 USD in the pilot’s hand – this will be covered in a further feature later this year!)

This isn’t meant to be scare-mongering as I loved the trip and would thoroughly recommend people to try a live-aboard charter – but when going out there, give some consideration to the mix of divers on-board and don’t be afraid to stand up and remix the pairs up! Remember your training and the responsability you have to yourself and your buddy…