I had an equipment failure on my last dive. There was actually no real danger. I didn’t panic, but for the first time since I’ve been diving, I was scared.
I have been going over it in my mind, thinking hard about whether I did the right things. Overall, I came to the conclusion that I did everything right. If you prepare properly for every dive, have all the right things in place, you are way ahead to be prepared for how you might handle it emotionally.
Always remember that while diving you are on life support. Treat all your equipment with care and proper maintenance. Redundancy is an important factor. When cleaning and maintaining gear, pay as much attention to your octopus as your primary. Do not hesitate to dump your lead. The weight belt replacement policy many clubs, store rentals and equipment manufacturers have is great way to alleviate the hesitancy to dump the lead. But you must always remember to not hesitate. Beside, most diving is in fairly shallow water, you can always retrieve it later. On my dive, Dale retrieved the ditched equipment in 25 feet of water after the incident.
Speaking of Dale—my BUDDY, he was never more than 15 feet from me. Though he had his back to me when this all first ocurred, he was at my side within seconds of seeing what happened. Though we were in calm shallow water, I learned that I will always try to test new gear in a pool first. It does not always guarantee that an equipment failure won’t happen later in the ocean, but at least the initial contact will be extremely controlled.
Re-examining our dive, I did not panic. I was scared but I was able to control my equipment while being conscious of my depth and movement in the water. I knew exactly where my buddy was and was able to communicate easily, both underwater and at the surface exactly what was happening.
All in all, the incident was very quick, not exceptionally dangerous, but, boy, did it make me think. Evaluation is a good thing, and I am patting myself on the back for doing most of the right things. In the end I learned more and will go on to be an even better diver.