Tonight I had a long chat with someone who was on a dive which had the potential to be really good. However, through the many links in the chain of incidents coming together (poor choices, skills not at the level they should have been and other issues encountered) he had a very scary incident and considering all that happened, and what nearly happened, he was very lucky to be alive. Fortunately the incident was all captured on video which made the self-debrief so much easier.
However, what was equally scary was that something during the middle of the mayhem didn’t go right, and that was the valve of a rich mix deco cylinder valve being closed when the diver went put it in his mouth as he was convinced his deep bailout was going to run out. This ‘double failure’ may have saved his life otherwise he would be breathing 50% at 30m not aware of what he was doing and very stressed out from nitrogen narcosis combined with potential CO2 narcosis.
This diver was normally meticulous in preparing their kit, however, due to certain issues occurring in the previous couple of days and on the day itself, things were missed or not done as they should have been done. These things decided to all stack up on the day and bite the diver in the ass. This diver, like many who undertake deep CCR dives was diving solo and if the incident had ended up as the worst scenario case, it is unlikely anyone would have known what would have happened. The diver was very lucky and I am sure they will be making sure that certain aspects of this dive are not repeated by themselves or close friends. One thing that they brought up after reviewing the video was that certain skills were not as slick as they should have been. To those who dive with bailout, when was the last time you undertook a dive where you had to bailout on a bottom mix and then change to a deco mix and the conduct all the changes in handset/computer that this entails. If it hasn’t been for a while, think through what the actions are, practice them and make sure you can do them slickly. Make sure you can read the gauges on your bailout bottles, you might like to know how much is remaining after breathing at a high rate…
I am very grateful for this diver in sharing this account with me and I will certainly be back in touch to put a detail report together for my PhD.
Learn from your mistakes (this diver certainly will), better still, learn from someone else’s!