Wow, really cool feedback Folks! Now for my two cents.
You all can be the "Judge" if I fulfill the criteria of what a so-called "Self-Reliant" Diver is. Here is a typical before, during and after-operations expedition rundown of what I and my compatriots do when we go diving every weekend. Remember before you get too anal folks, that we travel anywhere from 100 miles to 200 miles oneway through the real desert off road to remote coastal areas here in Saudi Arabia, redundancy is the watchword. Though we go into the water together, when hunting, we divide up and become solo divers. The average hunting dive is approximately 75 minutes long. Generally, we meet up at the entry point towards the end of the dive, but not always. This is why a good briefing of where you intend to hunt along the reef is important and that everyone knows the plan and contingency plans if things go south. We take great care in our outings to avoid stupid stuff.
One always has the nugget of knowledge that the nearest decompression chamber is anywhere from 150 to 300 miles away (OVER MOUNTAINS that will ensure you have an aneurysm ie; you're going to POP enroute) and that all DAN is good for here is sending a bouquet of flowers to your funeral. Though there are villages within 20 miles generally, they are not high-speed avenues of approach for EMS types, to say the least. Evacs are very rare amongst the expatriate community here just due to the fact that it will take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours to get you to medical facilities that really aren't capable of dealing with diving-related injuries, so the Expat community is hyper safe and aware. It is a lot of preparation and maintenance but the diving here is really worth the extra effort involved. We don't do dive trips here, we do expeditions!
1. Fill tanks to standard
a. Ensure that all tanks and valves are fully functional and have been rinsed from the previous user (Salt).
b. Ensure that all tanks have current VIS and Hydro is within the 5-year window.
c. Complete PMCS (Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services, Ron and others know about this acronym) on Bauer Kompressor before, during and
after operations and perform 500-hour maintenance when due.
d. Ensure that all personnel are fully trained in fill operations.
e. Fill tanks to their rated capacity.( We fill our own due to really crappy air fill operations done here locally as well as dodgy tanks and valves if you rent
f. Ensure that you have the correct amount of tanks for a given trip!
2. Pre and On Site Dive Equipment Checks
a. All vehicles and ancillary equipment checked for serviceability (coolant and oil, tires & tire pressure checked. vehicles are topped off with fuel and tires
and recovery devices (winches, tow straps, tire repair kits, road signal kits, tire pumps, Flashlights, basic automotive tools and ditching shovel etc.) are
correct and on board prior to departure.
b. EOP/DAN kit is up to date complete and fully functional.
c. Dive Medic Bag (Advanced First Aid or in our case a trauma medic bag) is inventory complete and signed by the individual using it. Vinegar and Hot
water heating kit in the bag!
d. In-country passes and company headquarters has been notified as to the route of travel and time duration of the expedition, has point to point
communications for the route of travel to, on and from the dive site and an estimated time of departure and return. Local National security is notified 1
week in advance of trip and travel documentation is secured.
e. Depending on duration, water must be secured on the vehicle. (Day trip; approximately 15 gallons Two Day overnight: 20 gallons etc.)
f. Personal cellular communications devices are fully charged and re-charge capability is on hand.
g. Foodstuff, sleeping and comfort items (Ice coolers, Shaving/Dental kit, Tentage/ Sunshade, Clothing change, camp chairs, cooking utensils and devices,
SunScreen, fire making devices etc.) are on board (trip dependent).
2a. Diving Equipment
a. Function check on all diving regulators components (Ist and 2nd stages, octos, hoses, gauges, PI hoses whether Vintage or modern before
b. All BCDs (If used) are fully functional with no leaks.
c. Extra/Back-up regulator set is present, checked and fully functional. This is a MUST HAVE!
d. All computers are fully functional and batteries are within tolerance. Extra Batteries and o-rings a must! If diving gauges only ensure that
you have a reliable timepiece (dive watch) and a copy of the recreational dive tables from a notable agency!
e. Tank Pressure gauge present and functional.
f. Regulator repair parts and spares as well as toolbox (HP seats, LP seats, extra hoses, o-rings all types, BC and Wet Suit repair kits, IP gauge, brass
picks, reg. wrenches, etc.) present.
g. Tank packs are serviceable (Vintage)
h. Mask and Back up masks are serviceable with straps in good condition as well as an extra strap in mask case! TWO masks Folks not just
i. Snorkel present and serviceable.
j. Fins whether vintage or modern fully serviceable with extra fin straps on hand. (I usually have two sets of fins dive dependent.)
k. Weights and weight belt present ( I usually bring an extra weight belt and a butt load of weights for newbies)
l. Tanks (to include Pony bottle) and Tank Transfer Whip ON BOARD. (Wet Towel over tanks due to high heat most of the year).
m. Exposure suit commensurate with climate, water conditions, and temperatures. (repair kit a plus)
n. Gloves (one light and one heavy set)
o. Emergency Flotation markers!!!
p. Day/Night UW channel markers!!! (dependent on the type of dive /terrain for the number needed, I usually bring 4. I use D-cell Engineering markers
that have a 40-hour strobe for night dives and are good to 60 feet.)
q. Dive Lights fully checked and functional with extra batteries and bulbs (if applicable).
r. Compasses, both Diving and Land Navigation on board and functional.
s. Dive knives and game cutting devices serviceable and on board.
t. If applicable, Speargun/Hawaiian sling and any and all back up components and extras functional and safety compliant. (This includes stringers,
game bags, extra rubbers, spear points, shocklines, etc.)
u. U/W Cameras (if applicable), have necessary ancillary components and batteries and are fully functional and watertight!
v. Conduct Dive Brief just before entry and ensure that everyone has a good general compass bearing and is familiarized with the local area.
DO BUDDY CHECKS! ENSURE THAT ALL PERSONEL HAVE THEIR DIVING CERTIFICATION CARDS FOR THE COASTAL DEFENSE POLICE TO SEE!
w. NO ONE WILL DIVE BEYOND HIS CERTIFICATION LEVEL, PERIOD!!!!! No Idiots Allowed!
x. In Water Visual Checks at shallow depth to ensure everything is functional!
y.. Have Fun Diving!
Post Dive and Recovery Operations
a. Headcount of all personnel after every dive!
b. Ensure that all equipment is accounted for and do a thorough sweep (pack out you trash) of the site before departure.
c. Ensure that all vehicles are fully functional and everyone is ready to leave the site. LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND ON THEIR OWN! This is not because
they are diving, it is a security thing.
d. Return to departure areas and turn in Tanks to the Pumphouse after they've been rinsed!
e. Start personal post-recovery care and cleaning of all dive equipment to include rinsing and cleaning BCDs, Regulators, and all other
equipment used for the expedition.Due to the high evaporation rate and high salinity in the Red Sea, normal stateside rinsing is just not enough.
Soak that baby even after a thorough rinsing for at least an hour then set out to dry outside away from direct killer UV sunlight!
f. Check for equipment issues/ damage or address equipment that might not be functioning after return from the site.
g. Flush regulators with fresh tank air after rinse and soak to ensure water( especially in DH regs is expressed out and will not allow even the tiniest
amount of salt to remain the air delivery hose!
h. Pack it all back into your hootch and standby to do it again next weekend!
"Where'd ya get that ol' thang, don't cha' know them thare things ill kill ya!"
Live From the Red Sea,