Solo Diving – Madness? Or just another way to dive safely?

What is Solo Diving?

Diver With shark
Does having a Shark as a Dive Buddy count as a Solo Dive?

Solo Diving is a style of Scuba Diving where you are completely self reliant, you do not have or wish to have a dive buddy.
Solo Divers are trained differently, they need to carry extra gear, they not only have a “Plan A” but also a “Plan B” for when things go wrong.

The three fundamentals of Solo Diving:

  1. The right mindset, “thinking like a diver” is not enough now you have to “think like a Solo Diver”.
  2. The right Dive Plan, along with a Plan B for when things go wrong.
  3. The right equipment, more safety equipment is needed and of course a completely independent backup air supply.

Training for Solo Diving:

Both Padi and SDI offer a Self Reliant or Solo Diver Course. Entry requirements are high:

  • Minimum age 21yrs (SDI), 18 yrs (Padi).
  • Minimum of AOW qualified.
  • Minimum of 100 Logged Dives.

100 logged dives is a lot of experience, bear in mind that you can qualify as a Padi Divemaster with 60 dives and a Padi Instructor with 100 dives.

Gear for Solo Diving:

This is all gear you personally own, you wear it in the same configuration for every dive, you are 100% conversant with this gear.

  • A second independent air supply – usually a Pony Bottle (No “Spare-Airs” allowed here).
    Obviously twins (doubles) or sidemount with 2 tanks is also ideal.
  • A spare mask.
  • An SMB or two.
  • A reel (and a spare).
  • Two cutting devices, placed so you can use either hand.
  • A backup computer or a separate backup timing device and depth gauge.
  • Surface safety equipment, whistle, mirror, signalling devices etc.

Depending on gear configuration you may need other pieces of equipment particular to you.
I personally always dive sidemount when diving Solo, I carry spare double enders and spare bungee cord, I learnt that one the hard way when one of my tank tails snapped!

What’s it like to Solo Dive?

I find true Solo Diving more relaxing than diving with a Buddy. I have no obligation to look after anyone else, I have nobody to contradict me when I say “the Lobster was THIS BIG.”
I find it ideal for when I am doing a serious photography dive (any dive buddy out there that wants to volunteer to stay with me in one spot for 15 minutes while I photograph a Yellow Frogfish, I am not joking).

BUT I do prepare for the worst, I understand that there is nobody there to cut me loose if I get tangled up. I understand that I could lose a tank or regulator due to a gear failure, I understand that my mask could break, I expect and prepare for when everything goes wrong, it is my responsibility and my risk.

The Self Reliant Diver Course.

I teach the Padi Self Reliant (Solo Diver) course.

The standards for this course are very high, I not only expect complete mastery of all basic dive skills, I expect you to own and use every piece of required gear (I will loan you a Pony Bottle and Regs-that’s it). Above all you need to demonstrate appreciation of the risks involved and that all important “mindset”.

Facts about Solo Diving:

  • Losing a buddy in recreational diving IS NOT Solo Diving. “Lost Buddy” on a dive is a failure by both you and your buddy, a complete breakdown of safe diving protocols.
  • Solo diving is not inherently more dangerous than Buddy Diving. The risks may be greater but those same risks are appreciated, planned for and controlled by a properly trained Solo Diver.
  • A good Solo Diver is inherently a very competent diver and makes an excellent dive buddy.

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