- Torbay BSAC follows the Safe Diving Guidelines recommended by BSAC, a copy of which can be downloaded from the BSAC website here. Some key recommendations are repeated here for emphasis, together with some that are specifically relevant to this Branch.
- An authorised Branch dive is one that is conducted with the prior knowledge and approval of the Diving Officer (DO). However, anyone appointed as a Dive Marshall/Manager (DM) by the DO is authorised to organise and run branch dives. DMs are responsible to the DO for the conduct of safe and responsible diving on the day. The DM must keep a log of important dive details, which should be submitted promptly to the DO.
- Safety takes priority - the DM or the Cox can cancel a dive or stop divers from entering the water for any reason. Their decision is final and should not be questioned.
Torbay Diver (TD1) must be under the command of an authorised Cox on every trip. If the Cox leaves the boat to dive, an authorised Boat Handler (BH) must take over the helm. Authorisations are approved by the Committee on the recommendation of a current TD1 Cox. Coxs and Boat Handlers need to be suitably qualified: for Coxs, this would usually be a BSAC Diver-Cox assessment or equivalent qualification; for Boat Handlers, this would usually be a BSAC Boat Handling course or equivalent.
- The Coastguard should be called on leaving the harbour and upon return from diving operations. The ‘A’ Flag should be displayed on the boat during diving operations (and removed when diving has finished).
- Oxygen kit is carried on all boat dives. Oxygen should be administered by those qualified to do so. The O2 kit should be checked regularly to ensure it is ready to use.
- Dive pairs should be agreed with the DM. Divers should plan their dive and agree a maximum dive time with the DM. Use of SMB, DSMB, buddy lines, etc should be agreed by buddy pairs before entering the water and agreed with the DM and Cox.
- Divers entering the water should obtain the Cox’s go-ahead before leaving or entering the boat.
- Surface Marker Buoys (SMBs) to be used for all drift dives or if there are likely to be boats about. The Cox can insist that an SMB is used from the start of any dive. Delayed SMBs can be used if the dive starts on a fixed location such as a wreck or known reef, but must be deployed promptly if the divers move off location. The use of DSMBs instead of fixed SMBs must be approved by the Cox and DM. Each diver-pair should carry an AIS transponder in case of boat separation.
- Lifting bags should be used with extreme caution and only when necessary. If an SMB is already in use, bags should be inflated well away from the SMB line to avoid entanglement and the risk of a fast ascent.
- A dive readiness check by the DM or Assistant (using a Check List available on TD1) is encouraged to supplement the buddy check before divers enter the water.
- Buddy lines are recommended in poor visibility or in a fast drift, but are not an alternative to good buddy monitoring.
- Training dives must have an Open Water Instructor on site. Novices must dive with a Dive Leader or above who is also at least an Assistant Open Water Instructor (AOWI).
- Any training drills to be undertaken should be agreed between the buddy pair and the Dive Marshal (DM) before commencing any dive.
- Observe BSAC recommended maximum depth limits:
20m for Ocean Divers.
35m for Sports Divers.
50m for Dive Leaders and above.
(PADI OW and Advanced OW divers are regarded by BSAC as equivalent to BSAC Ocean Diver. A PADI Rescue Diver is deemed equivalent to a BSAC Sports Diver, and a Divemaster is equivalent to a Dive Leader).
- If divers are separated underwater, surface after looking around for no more than 1 minute. A diver without an SMB should deploy a DSMB before surfacing (all divers should be carrying a DSMB). All divers should be familiar with the diver recall signal (carabiner on SMB line or banging on ladder).
- All dives involve decompression, which is why ascent rates are controlled. Recommended ascent rates should be followed, especially from 6m to the surface, which should take 1 minute.
- Safety stops should be made for at least 1 minute at 6m or shallower on all dives (3 minutes is preferred and is standard on many modern dive computers). Minimum air at total dive time should be 50 bar or higher.
- A decompression stop dive is when you are unable to proceed freely to the surface without a compulsory stop. Decompression stop dives should be planned in advance and dive plans must be approved by the DM. If decompression is planned to take more than a few minutes, provision should be made for additional air supplies at the last stop depth.
- If decompression stops are missed, or a fast ascent occurs, re-entry decompression should not be undertaken. The casualty should be placed under observation and the Coastguard advised. Oxygen should be administered. An incident management slate is kept on the boat.
- On night dives, buddy pairs to have at least 3 torches between them. A shot should be placed in daylight with the buoy illuminated with lightsticks and/or strobe.
- Any incidents should be written up by all those involved and submitted to the DO, who will report to BSAC for their annual data compilation.
Dive Marshal’s Responsibilities
The Dive Marshal (or Manager) is in overall charge of diving on the day. He represents the DO and is responsible to the DO for the operation of safe diving.
Dive planning, including checking tide tables, weather, site conditions, etc.
Managing diving operations, including risk assessment, reinforcement of safe diving practices, organisation and delegation, buddy pairing, briefing and debriefing, log keeping, collection of dive fees, etc.
Am I up to this dive?
Is my equipment working as it should?
Could I cope in an emergency - would I know what to do?
Am I happy with the person I’m diving with?
Am I being over-confident or complacent?
Do I have the courage to say ‘NO’ if I’m unhappy to proceed?