It is always best to dive with a completely redundant set of equipment. It’s a spare set in the unlikely event anything should fail. Where is it? Your buddy is wearing it. Divers learn early on in their training, how to use the alternate air-source of another diver. This comes in useful if you inadvertently mismanage your air-supply. Let’s face it, when you start diving you’ve got enough things to think about and looking at your pressure gauge can get forgotten. (Don‘t worry too much. Your instructor will be watching it like a hawk!) However, virtually every leisure diving training agency recommends that divers should dive in pairs and the other diver is commonly known as your buddy.
It has often been said that it would not be safe to dive without a buddy because a buddy is there to save you should things go wrong. So you have started to learn to dive and you feel very confident that nothing will go wrong because you have an instructor in close attendance. So who will come to his aid if things go wrong for him? He will have to look after himself.
In most cases, during the initial stages of teaching new divers, a Dive Master or an assistant instructor of some kind will assist instructor. Later you might well find yourself diving with an instructor or a dive guide and no one else. That instructor is effectively diving alone.
So diving with a buddy is no excuse to be sloppy about your preparation or the way you conduct yourself underwater. Divers are trained to be totally competent and that includes self-rescue. You should not think that you have a buddy because you are going to need one at some time - but your buddy might need you.
Now we’ve got that misconception out of the way, let’s look at why we really prefer to dive with a partner. Firstly, it’s good to have someone to discuss the dive with before you find yourself in deep water. Dives should be planned and possible defects in the plan need to be identified. Two heads are better than one.
It’s helpful to have someone who can cast an eye over your equipment and spot any potential problem in the way you have rigged it. It’s nice to have someone to help you on with your kit. Don’t forget to return the favour. Similarly, a buddy-check enables your buddy to see if everything is in order and also become familiar himself with your equipment. It might be slightly different to theirs. The converse also applies.
Once you are underwater, the real reason that you dive with a buddy becomes apparent. In the magical world that you will encounter, you will see and experience many fantastic things. There is something intimate about sharing this unique and exclusive world with another person and many strong friendships have been forged in this way. It’s simply nice to have company and when you return from a dive, you will have someone with whom to share the memory of it too.
Happy Diving - John Bantin