What is Solo Diving?
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:
- The right mindset, “thinking like a diver” is not enough now you have to “think like a Solo Diver”.
- The right Dive Plan, along with a Plan B for when things go wrong.
- 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.
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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