Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Diving Knife

I read that recently a young spearo in Durban suffered entanglement underwater while diving and was retrieved unconscious. Being a father of three I am gradually becomming more and more safety conscious - especially with a son who is keen on diving. It is especially disturbing news to me since a year an half ago I experienced a potentially hazardous foul-up in my own line. I dived and speared a fish in a wreck 10 m down and did another dive to retrieve the fish from a hole in the structure. When getting down I saw the fish come out the wreck but I went on to get my spear out the hole in wreck, planning to swim both up. The small bronze bream, apparenly spent, wrapped around my snorkel and mask while I was feeling about for the spear - I ended up pulling off my mask and leaving it and all my gear plus the fish on the bottom. Mark was 30 m off so I was essentially solo. I had to ask Mark to get my mask for me.

Try swim up 10 m in cold water with no mask - vision is blurry and it's a shock. It could have been worse for me had the fish wrapped around me with the spear still jammed in the wreck.

Here are a few pointers you can apply to reduce such risk:
1. dive with a knife that is sharp and readily accessible
2. kill the fish as step number one if going back to free up fouled spears etc.
3. have a buddy diver (competent diver) observe you - he should also have a knife.
4. simulate such situations - go down to the working depth pull off your mask and swim up with it - doing this a good few times will help you get accustomed to the shock of fuzzy vivion and cold water in the face - thus reducing panic. NB Have a buddy watch you and surface with you in such test dives. Also get the feel for the position of your knife - if you set a drill of reaching for your knife then the motion could be subconscious/automatic in event of an incident.

I have also gotten lax from time to time and on occasion I leave the knife behind - it is a risk one should rather not take. Even a big gamefish can tangle you up on the surface and pull you under, or, a shark could try get your fish and pull you under with the line through the fish. Having a knife, and a well-practised "reach for the knife" protocol should be part of your equipment and skills!

I dive with a small knife on my belt. Other knives are available that can be strapped to ones forearm or calf. Low profile knives are best in my experience and they should be easy to retrieve.

Go buy yourself a knife if you don't have one!

Lastly let's hope and pray the young diver pulls through.

No comments: