Looking After My Buddy

Ok, so getting into that water with a stranger for a buddy can always be daunting, but you have to trust that they know what they are doing don’t you?

I found myself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in Bora Bora with a stranger for a buddy.

I had been out on a few dives with a one particular company, which also owned a beautiful resort, catering just for divers on this Pacific island. On every dive there were people from other resorts or companies joining the regular morning and afternoon dives to see the famous Manta reef. On this particular occasion, all the divers had already seen the reef and the Dive-Master informed us that we would be venturing outside the reef to see the sharks and barracuda. It was going to be a much deeper dive "Into ze blue" as my German-Swiss instructor had told me.

That morning I awoke to a feeling of extreme excitement, knowing it was going to be an interesting and challenging dive.

After collecting and checking my kit, I strolled down to the waters edge to mentally prepare myself for an exhilarating dive. I love the feeling of excitement that comes from stepping into the unknown.

5 Minutes later I was joined by a guy who was clothed in his "I Dive Belize" T-shirt. He sat down beside me and started briefing me on what the dive was going to entail. I thought that he was a new Dive-Master that I hadn’t met yet, or maybe a local diver who had experienced this dive before, so I listened intently, always open to a bit of advice from a more experienced diver.

He also turned out to be my buddy.

We got into the boat and made our way to the site, and after a fresh, whip lashing ride, our Dive-Master informed us that we were not going to meet at the surface, but meet 5 metres down instead. I kitted up and noticed that my buddy was having trouble remembering where and how to put things, this didn’t worry me at first, as I know we can all be unsure if we haven’t been diving for a while, but as I understood, he was a pro, a near master and I should have felt privileged to have been his buddy. But hey, I wasn’t complaining, I understand that at times you need a hand, that’s what a buddy is for, surely.

When we were fully kitted, I reminded him of the buddy check and he started to look nervous. I looked into his eyes and assured him that he would be fine. He had done it before, and if he was unsure of anything else, he should say now. To my relief, he said he was ok and we entered the water one by one, meeting with the Dive-Master at the arranged point.

It was going to be a beautiful dive. It was the most breathtaking shade of blue I had ever been diving in, it was deep and it was empty, as far as your eye could see.

I was in love with it already.

We descended slowly and moved into the blue, one of those moments when you can easily lose yourself in the space. My buddy seemed to be doing fine and as we descended past the 20 m point, the reef sharks came into view, circling and slyly skimming the bed.

Everything was silent, calm and blue.

At 28m, I turned to my buddy and saw he was not comfortable. He stopped, grabbed me, pulling me towards him and signing to me that he had run out of air. He was trying to pull me up to the surface with him, in a panic. I stopped him, pulling him down by his BCD. I could see he was still breathing shallow, so he still had air. I began to sign to him to breathe in and out slowly, making him look me in the eyes, hoping desperately that they would inject some calm into him, hoping that he would get used to the pressure.

He breathed. He had air. He was ok.

I kept hold of him for a while after that and we had a peaceful, but short dive.

He explained to me on the surface later on that it was just a shock to be so deep; he hadn’t been honest to me or our Dive-Master about the amount of dives he had done and had only passed his Open Water 1 a few weeks before.

He had never done a deep dive.

And there was me hoping he could teach me a few things! It was the first time I had experienced really looking after my buddy.