The Importance of the Buddy System
ghout training in scuba diving the importance of diving with a reliable buddy has been a paramount component. It is vital that when you are diving you have a QUALIFIED buddy to dive with who pushes you to achieve the next level. I have seen divers who have a certification card but couldn't clear their mask or question their overall competency. When I started diving, I would dive with different divers and while that was fine, it was difficult because each diver dives and communicates differently. Once I started in my advanced courses, I started to take classes with my buddy, Steve Sunstrom. It was great going through the different courses together because when we dive together it is more comfortable and not as stressful because we have dove together numerous times and know how each other will react in most situations. In addition, we have become masters of reading each other's nonverbal communications. When you are underwater, it is imperative that each person knows exactly what their buddy is doing and be able to communicate effectively with him/her. There are a lot of times when Steve and I have dove with other people and while that is good because it broadens our horizons and pushes us to their level, we have to make sure our buddy understands the dive plan and reviews the different hand signals before entering the water. One thing I would encourage everyone as you continue your diving education, would be to do it with your primary dive buddy, thereby learning the same information and maintaining the same qualifications. It could be challenging, depending on the dive, if one person doesn’t hold the same proficiency level; then they might not be able to complete that dive with you. Steve and I discuss the pros and cons about every class we consider taking ensuring it is one that allows us to progress in our diving knowledge and proficiency. It is important for us as dive buddies, and instructors, to continue our education into the realm of technical diving and be able to dive any dive we want, whether that be deep requiring trimix or overhead environment allowing us to penetrate deep into the heart of the wreck. Finally, this allows us to provide you the best instruction possible. Continuing education, especially with your primary buddy, will provide peace of mind to both you and your buddy knowing that you can focus on the dive rather than focusing on your buddy. This does NOT mean you should perform a solo dive with your buddy somewhere in the same body of water. It means you know they can "hold their own" and handle themselves in those situations.