Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dive planning

With recreational diving, assuming you have a dive computer to keep you out of decompression trouble, you can basically just grab a tank, jump in and surface when you feel like it or when your tank is almost empty.

When deep diving however, you can't be that careless. A dive plan is crucial for a safe & successful mission. Once you get into decompression diving, every stop is a virtual ceiling. There's no such thing any longer like an immediate ascent. Unless of course you want to experience your body bubbling like champagne. The effect however is more likely to have you convulse & scream than relax & laugh. So you'd better make sure you'll have plenty of breathing gas for your planned bottom time at maximum depth, more than enough for all the mandatory deco stops on your very slow way back up to the surface and some extra just in case you got delayed.

Any plan should have a back-up. Dive plans are no exception confirming the rule. Issues like exceeded maximum bottom time or depth, loss of gas, inability to return to the ascent line, etc must be addressed beforehand. Leave nothing to chance. Be prepared.

Luckily for me, each dive crew member has his own laptop and I can use anyone of them to plan my dives. Which is pretty cool, as it allows me to play with different dive planning software programs, e.g.: Pro Dive Planner and ANDI Dive Planner. Of these two, I personally prefer the first one.

The programs are pretty straight forward actually. Basically you enter your breathing rate, maximum depth, planned bottom time, bottom & deco mixes and you get a nice table with run times, deco stops & gas needs.

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