30 Mar DIVE BUDDY: FRIEND OR FOE?
According to Wikipedia, buddy system is a procedure in which two people, operate together as a single unit so that they are able to monitor and help each other. In adventurous or dangerous activities, where the buddies are often equals, the main benefit of the system is improved safety.
In short, a dive buddy is a diver’s dive partner. What kind of diver ?, should be a well trained, competent and self sufficient diver and it works both ways.
Unfortunately many have come to depend on their buddy to compensate for their own lack of skills. Buddy system is an effort to share responsibilities equally, becoming a buddy is about accepting responsibility. Responsible to equipment, training (skill level), experience, dive planning, personal fitness and health. Besides responsibility, it takes commitment to stay together (within arms length) so in case of an emergency, a buddy can react quickly. What type of emergency? mainly related to air supply.
Problem can also occur when one buddy is more experienced. When the less experienced buddy relies on the other buddy, the more experienced buddy may feel that he/she carries the burden of the less experienced buddy, thus, has the tendency to leave his/her buddy. Furthermore, in some cases, they usually dominate the less experienced buddy while diving and of course, diving would not be a good experience if that happens.
Finding a good buddy is not an easy thing to do. How many times you joined a trip and end up paired up with a diver that you don’t have a clue about his/ her diving history (training and experience). And for the rest of the trip the buddies practice the cat and mouse buddy system or same day same ocean buddy system. When no emergency situation occur then you will probably repeat the same experience on your next dive trip, or if something goes wrong and your buddy did not react like you expected then maybe you will blame your buddy or quit diving.
So the actual problem is not your buddy, because the answer lies within ourselves. You have to start to think that you are your best buddy. I’m not telling you to start Solo Diving, N O ! . What you have to do is to conduct a self evaluation, ask yourself these questions : Are you comfortable while diving ? Have you mastered buoyancy control ? Able to clear your mask effortlessly? Can you equalize easily ? Are you fit enough ? Is your diving equipment well maintained and seaworthy? If your answer is Yes to all the questions above, then I’m sure you are good enough to become anyone’s buddy, but if you answer no to one or more questions, then I suggest you to go back to your Instructor and tell them your problems. I’m sure your Instructor should be able to figure out the best solution(s) for you.
Remember the best buddies are those that can take care of themselves!