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The Fear

Repeat after me. All the way to the end (for it is the end bit that is so frequently omitted because, admittedly, it's a long phrase and somewhat unweildy):

Anyone can call any dive at any time for any reason... without fear of repercussion.

Continuing on something I was talking about the other day (failures in threes) we had a couple of minor failures today. Or, at least, one member of our team did. Little things. Dumb things. The sorts of things that after the first or second you roll your eyes.

And this was all before our heads got wet. Pre-predive.

The final straw: Sidemount diver with a stage, completely geared up... when one air integrated pressure transmitter blinked out of utility.

(NOTE: Before any luddites start up with, "That's why I don't use transmitters, because blahblahblahblah..." Yeah, cool. Know what? I've had pressure gauges fail, too. HP spools? Those motherfuckers are built for failure. If I had the cheddar for it I'd have a spare transmitter in my car, but as it stands I've got a few spare SPGs. A few, in point of fact, just in case one spare fails. As they do.)

Our dude did have a spare transmitter in his gear. However, all the kitting and dekitting and up the stairs and down the stairs and up the stairs and down the stairs and the heat and the humidity and the... everything...

He was done. Thumbed it at the surface.

"I'm just not feeling it."

This was, I hope you recognise, 100% the right call.

We do this silly thing of ours - cosa nostra tonta - because it is fun. If you aren't having fun... there is zero reason to put yourself securely in harms way. If you aren't having fun... go home. Come back when you are. If you aren't having fun... you are distracted and likely to make stupid mistakes that may wind up killing you and/or a friend.

Thumb the dive. Even if you're just within eyeshot of your target. Or if you're just about to start a predive. Or just getting to the site when you have the boo-boo-jeebies about nothing in particular.

I suspect the reason that the last part of the phrase above, "without fear of repercussion," is so frequently omitted is that divers are still - despite some great strides towards egalitarianism and, depending on your locale, quite a bit of magnanimity - a fairly dick-swinging bunch. Bunches of testosterone-fueled needs to prove shit.

Which results in "ball-busting." Which is just a jokey/friendly way of saying "counterproductive peer pressure."

I honestly am hard-pressed to think of anything more potentially detrimental to a single person or to us as a community than something so insidious as, "Oh, c'mon, just do the dive, don't be a baby."

What example does that set? Especially when that comes from a more "senior" diver towards a more "junior" one?

Just push through your discomfort and put yourself in a situation of seriously increased risk which may result in a fatality. Today. In just an hour or two, in fact. You or I might die. DO IT!

As far as I'm concerned, a diver who calls a dive at the surface for something even so vague as, "I dunno, just got a bad feeling," is a far more responsible and, probably, better diver than someone who, when asked about their uncharacteristic and obviously uncomfortable behaviour before a dive answers, "No, I'm fine, I'm sure it will probably be fine," and tries to push through a dive they're going to hate.

Weirdest reason I've ever called a dive personally:

I was absolutely sure something was going to go wrong. Nothing had. Nothing specific had spooked me. I just... knew. Spidey sense. Something was fucked up and I did not want to be underwater when I learned what it was.

And that's actually the end of the story. No gear failures, no problems on the next dive, nothing like that. Never learned what it was that was going to go wrong.

But I remain convinced to this day that something would have.

And I made the right call.

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