Diving with a partner (or buddy) means that there is someone to help if you encounter problems underwater. For the system to work properly, however, you and your buddy need to conduct your own briefing before a dive and check that all equipment is functioning properly.
Making Buddy Checks
Just before the start of the dive, get together with your buddy and assemble your gear and put it on. There is no particular order in which to do this, but most divers find that to avoid overlooking anything, it is useful to develop a routine. When you are both suited up and before either of you enter the water, you should carry out a buddy check-sit or stand next to your buddy and carefully check each other’s gear, following the sequence shown below. Do not be tempted to rush these vital checks-you may regret it later. They ensure that you know how each other’s gear is assembled, how it works, and that it is functioning. They also serve as a double-check that neither of you has overlooked anything before you dive.
1. Check BCs so that you and your buddy know where each other’s inflation and deflation points are, and ensure that they are working. Do the same for drysuits, if worn.
2. Check that weights are present and securely fastened. You and your buddy must be especially aware of how each other’s weights are released, in case either diver is incapacitated.
3. Check harness is secure and note where, on your buddy’s kit, key fastening points and harness release clips are located, and how they are operated.
4. Check air contents gauges and breathe from your regulators to check they are working. Test each other’s octopus second stage.
5. Ready to dive? Give each other a last once-over to establish who is carrying any miscellaneous pieces of gear, such as reels and slates, and where they are fastened. When you are ready to dive, make a final OK signal.
Suiting up provides a good opportunity to talk over a dive plan with your buddy. Ensure first that you are both agreed, as a pair, on the aim and course of the dive, your entry and exit points, and your predicted maximum depth and time for the dive. Check that you both have the required amount of air for your plan (including a reserve for emergencies). Agree on who will lead the dive and on whether you will dive to the left or right of your buddy. Decide on all communication signals, including how and when you will signal for the end of the dive, and on what you will do if you become separated. Once you have agreed a plan, stick to it unless it becomes impossible to do so. If circumstances change during the dive, use hand signals to discuss how, as a pair, you are going to modify the dive.
Mask fogging is a very common inconvenience, and is caused by oils on the mask’s lens allowing moisture to bead. The traditional way to prevent fogging is to rub saliva onto the inside of the lens glass, then lightly rinse clear, before putting on the mask for a dive. Anti-fogging sprays are also available.