It’s sometimes difficult to call a dive. Often you don’t want to let other people down. But the bottom line is there are times when you have to call a dive. The weather is generally something that calls a dive for you. Calling a dive because of an issue that applies only to you is perhaps a more difficult situation… but you should always call the dive if you need to and it should be no questions asked and no blame attributed. There is always another day.
I’m writing this today because for the first time ever I called a dive that meant the entire dive had to be cancelled. The buddy check was completed and all seemed well. On entering the water I did a weight check and my buddy’s BC wasn’t staying inflated. I checked again, looking for the common issues… but I couldn’t find them. We inflated again and it became immediately obvious that there was an issue. I wasn’t sure at that point if it was the hose or the BC but it was definitely leaking at quite a rate. I called the dive immediately. There was someone who questioned the decision but I remained firm that I wasn’t entering a dive with a known equipment issue and I stand by that decision. Because of the cold and the time taken to check equipment I ended up calling the first dive and going up to have hot drinks and warm up.
I have decided not to dive on other occasions. Not long after a difficult bereavement I was struggling with decision making on occasions. I pulled out of two separate days of diving over the next few months because my head just wasn’t in the right place. There were other days that I dived because I love it and it generally balances out life! But I was aware of my limitations and I ensured I wasn’t in a position of putting myself or anyone else at risk if I wasn’t feeling on top of things that day.
I’ve had people call a dive for other reasons. One was when my buddy just didn’t feel comfortable. He said afterwards he didn’t want to start the dive with a slight sense of panic. He made the right call. For me it is simple: you do not dive if you feel uncomfortable for any reason.
My concern today was the potential for issues to snowball. If there was an issue with the BC then there’d be an issue with buoyancy. If there’s an issue with buoyancy then there’s an issue with control. This can lead to panic and potentially a dangerous situation. We train to ensure we can respond to issues that occur unexpectedly but I wouldn’t make the decision to dive knowing that there was an issue from the start. It was an easy decision to make even if not fully understood by others. At the end of the day it’s about knowing there’s always another dive… and staying safe. The risk taking is simply not worth it.
A related incident report is available from DAN.