By the time most of you read this column, it will be early summer and most of you will be heading to far off destinations on your first diving trip of the year
People often think that it is the newcomers to the sport, carrying out their first dive in often hostile British waters, who are victims of this fever of incidents. Surprisingly. this just isn't true. Nearly all the victims of the early season incidents are experienced divers who have just become lazy, blase and forgotten their basic training and skills during the winter.
Just looking through the Incident Reports of the last 10 years and counting the number of regulator, boat and engine failures occurring at this time of year is enough to convince anybody that their equipment needs to be tested in safe conditions before putting it through a more challenging test. Sitting on the bottom at 50m is not the ideal place to find out that a spider has built a nest in your demand valve.
It doesn't take long to forget basic motor skills (such as mask clearing and buoyancy control), but it doesn't take long to recover these skills either. Before you go away for your dive trips, I would recommend that you follow this 6 point plan as a bare minimum before you start the 2002 season:
- Make sure all your kit is in service and in test.
- Test that both your drysuit and your BCD inflate properly and hold air (in standing water depth).
- Check your weights to ensure that the winter over-indulgence hasn't affected your neutral buoyancy.
- Carry out at least two trial dives in safe, confined waters to regain lost motor skills.
- Review and practise both basic and rescue skills.
- Check that your buddy has done the same!
The effort is worth it, and it might make your dive trip even more enjoyable.