No one likes to abort a dive, but divers need to be able to say “no” sometimes. If you feel uncomfortable or are confronted with the unexpected, you can and should think about aborting. There are many reasons for this.
Here are the five most important reasons to cancel a dive.
1. Peer pressure
Peer pressure is a big, under-appreciated issue in diving. If you can’t or don’t want to show consideration for others while diving, you don’t belong in the water with other divers. However, every diver has a responsibility to be honest about his or her well-being or unwellness before, during, and after dives. If you feel pressured or don’t trust your dive buddy, you have the right to cancel or abort a dive.
2. Current and lack of a condition
While some divers love drift dives, for others drift makes them feel queasy. It becomes critical when a diver’s condition does not match the current. If you’re struggling, you’re out of breath. Those who get out of breath are not relaxed, consume more air, become nervous, and are more prone to panic and rash reactions.
So if you have little experience with drift diving, are generally uncomfortable with currents, or simply don’t have strong endurance, it’s better to avoid dive sites with strong currents or approach the subject slowly. Even if you are unexpectedly confronted with the current underwater, you can still say “no” instead of diving right into it.
3. Storms, waves, and weather changes
A diver always decides for himself if he goes diving in heavy wind and waves or not.
Even if it is annoying to have to turn back in full gear: If you are tossed back and forth by waves at the entry and can barely put on your fins, you have to expect that the water may be even more choppy when you exit. I myself have seen divers get into life-threatening trouble at the end of a dive because of bad weather.
Anyone who is a plaything of the waves, slamming uncontrollably into rocks, swallowing water, and threatening to drown will surely wish they hadn’t gone into the water that day.
4. Problems with the equipment
If a piece of equipment is not working or has limited functionality, this can be a valid reason to call off the dive. This applies to a jammed jacket or drysuit valves, find meters that blow off, burst O-rings, automatics that draw water, leaking or mismatched dive masks, and many more problems. Little things here can lead to fatal accidents.
The following measures minimize the risk of a diving accident due to equipment problems:
- Carry tools and spare parts that match the dive equipment to make minor repairs.
- Test new equipment in the pool or dive tank. Indoor diving centers are good for this, for example, the California Diving Center in America.
- Maintain equipment – cleaning and disinfection of your mask and other diving gear, as well as a regular revision by a specialist and proper storage.
- Perform a buddy check before each dive.
5. Increased discomfort
Someone who is uncomfortable is more nervous than someone who is comfortable. Nervousness can be protective, but it also carries some risk when diving.
The reasons for discomfort underwater are not always immediately clear.
Diving is a matter of the mind and sometimes circumstances lead to discomfort, which in themselves do not actually represent a danger and the diver is not even aware of the causes. For example bad visibility, darkness, difficult orientation or an unknown diving area, seasickness, lack of confidence in the diving partner, new or borrowed equipment, physical exertion, unfamiliar responsibility, little experience, residual alcohol, bad daily form, and much more.
Therefore, it is important to abort, slowly end or reschedule a dive even if you do not know the reasons for it yourself at first or cannot immediately understand them as a guide.
It may also help to “mitigate” by reducing the depth and/or dive speed, starting the way back and reassuring measures such as eye contact and “holding hands”.