Beyond Hogarthian - Doing it right, Part 2
by Dan Volker
Making Recreational divers "Better" and safer.
So what's wrong with recreational diving in its present form
Three main issues need to be addressed:
as a novice, intermediate, or advanced recreational diver, which will be ideal for you as you progress in ability, actually speeding your learning curve over typical first choices, and which will NOT become obsolete as you jump to much higher levels of skill and dive site choice. Gear purchases can actually be modular. If you start with the "Doing it Right" mind set, and begin with the single tank and Halcyon type harness and wings, any advancement in your skill and diving location choice will be a natural progression, using the same type of gear configuration. The diver who starts with the "Halcyon" or "Dive Rite" type system, in your basic single tank with a long hose primary, will find moving to the wreck penetration arena, to deeper diving, or the cave diving arena, very comfortable from the equipment familiarity perspective For those who will NEVER want doubles, but have attained very advanced recreational and nitrox levels, they may find they want a 40 cubic foot aluminum pony for that really cool 130 ft deep , non penetrating wreck dive. Using this Halcyon type Hogarthian setup, addition of the pony to the front of the harness will be very close to second nature. Note that in this "mind set", the use of the pony is NOT as a redundant air source ..it would be for deco gas, typically pure Oxygen or a rich nitrox mix. You would use the pony as a tech diver uses a stage bottle. In the event of an Out of Air Emergency, you have your redundant back up swimming nearby--your buddy. A good buddy will be there. If he's not a good buddy---one of your most important "gear choices" was VERY BAD!!! Ok, what about the photographers and lobster hunters----they are "mission focused", and often CAN NOT be considered anyone's buddy. Frequently, they end up solo, whether this was the plan or not. Since they have no rea l buddy system, they can not really comply with the Hogarthian or WKPP, "Doing it Right" version philosophy. We will have to create a special set of procedures just for their style of non-attentiveness to their air supply or any other diver/buddy in their vicinity. We realize we will not be able to change this behavior in most photographers, so what can we offer them to make them safer. This will be an entirely different article. They may choose to use the pony as a buddy---if they do, this is outside of accepted procedure .all we could say is stay as close to all the other safety and configuration guidelines for the "Doing it Right" mind set, and know that you really are NOT diving safely----and that your compromise is based on the importance of the "Mission" you are on, and by how your "Mission" tends to eliminate the important piece of "gear" known as a "buddy". The addition of doubles will not cause the relearning of an entirely new BC system---you will feel a bit more inertial mass, but everything else is the same. This is ideal, because familiarity with your equipment should be totally in a comfort zone, so it will not detract from the sensory processing of all the NEW components to the dive ( the lines followed in the cave or wreck, the attention to not silt the cave or wreck with your fins, added concerns of an overhead environment, etc). The new components issue will also be a factor if your change is only to "deeper" dive sites, where you want the doubles for added safety in air or gas margin. At some point, many advanced divers will want to visit the 160 ft deep wreck, or the 180 ft deep ledge, etc. While they will need training from the right instructor to do this safely, choice of gear is also critical. And total familiarity with this gear is one of the keys to increased safety. At some point in this scenario, a nitrox tank ( or two) may be added to the front of your harness, for use in a decompression dive. Since you are really not changing much from what you are already used to, this is not a big jump to become comfortable with. Yet if you had been using a typical full jacket BC with your single tank, and suddenly wanted to use doubles with a stage bottle or two in the front, you would have a traumatic change to the gear your are comfortable with. This will NOT help your safety on subsequent dives. 4. How to be a better "Buddy".
Lets say that you and your three friends all get set up with a WKPP style, "Doing it right" type Hogarthian configuration, using the Halcyon or Dive Rite type gear. Each of you breathes off of your long hose as the primary, each has your alternate hanging right under your chin, and each of you is moving effortlessly along on the bottom. If anyone of you has a problem, the other three have exactly the same equipment configuration, so each knows exactly what the problem is, and each knows how to fix this. If it was as simple as an OOA emergency, you'd have three guys trying to stick a regulator in your mouth----you'd feel little threat of not receiving air quickly, and easily. How many times have you seen someone on a dive swimming along, and suddenly their tank slips off----this actually happens frequently on charter boats. You've NEVER seen this BC before, and the tank band system is so convoluted you really don't know how to help this guy quickly----so from this, you have just experi enced one of many reasons why your diving buddies should all have the same gear---they will all know how to fix the typical problem, and anything they can't fix right away, they can still get you safely to the surface. And of course, an even bigger rule than all others mentioned in this article----Rule number one is don't dive with unsafe divers. Try to dive only with people you know are safe, and who dive the same procedures and configurations you do. If you are "stuck" with someone you see gearing up badly, with a poor configuration, try a good natured explanation of "why" the "Doing it right" system would have him/her configured differently. Perhaps you can get them safer on this dive. You can always look around on a boat for someone who seems closer to your gear and diving mind set, and try to buddy up with them. Remember, if you don't bring a good dive buddy with you, you have no sure way of knowing you have redundancy. You may decid e that the more extreme 120 foot dive you were planning to make, is not ideal, without a good buddy---and so you may opt for a different site for your first dive. You may even consider the idea of "checking out your buddy", and letting them check you out, before you dive with them on that more extreme dive site you are still looking forward to. At least in Florida, most boats will have multiple dive sites you can choose from, so you "should" be able to pick two dives with your new buddy where you can limit the risk by choice of dive site. And once you find a good buddy you can trust, treat them well--someday your life may depend on them.