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Choosing a Dive Buddy
"Choosing a diving buddy is perhaps one of the most crucial decisions that a scuba diver will ever make!"
When I learned to dive, a choice of my buddy was a luxury that did not exist. I was told to step up to the side of the pool, nervous as can be. My buddy was chosen because he was was in the same class as I was and he was brave enough to join me on this new adventure.
At this time, in my early "Scuba life", a buddy in the pool was pretty much ignored (sorry Bwana, but that's the way it was). I concentrated so hard to perfect what my instructor, David Holt, wanted me to. He was very patient and worked with the group with the ease of the professional that he is. Safety was the first and foremost thing on his mind. Not drowning was the first and foremost thing on my mine. My buddy? He was the last thing on my mind.
It was only until time passed, when I became more comfortable with my new underwater world, that the importance of my dive buddy was perhaps first realized. I began observing other divers on the various dive trips looking for someone who shares my experiences, fears and joys, and most importantly is there should an emergency arise. I realized that choosing a dive buddy is the most important preliminary step to the complete dive plan.
My original choice was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. The past few years, our relationship has improved to the point of being unbelievable. Our dive trips are planed thoroughly, well in advance. We take responsibility for each other. Once on the site and before the dive, observations, often silent, are made of each other's equipment, covering all the important aspects. We sit next to each other on the way to the reef and discussions are often far removed from scuba diving.
Dropping into the water and submerging, I never have to look for my buddy - over the past few years he has assumed his faithful position, slightly above, behind and to my right. He always swims right there - a glance over my right shoulder confirms.
We have developed underwater sign language well beyond what any textbook has to offer - and our communication that exists is quite complicated, but well understood by each of us.
We both lead very busy, very stressful lives, and the time to dive becomes a rare, special treat that we both value beyond most other things in life.
So, when choosing your buddy, think carefully; at worst your life may
depend on him or her; at best, the relationship may develop far beyond
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