A dive buddy could literally save your life, so making sure you pair up with a good one is absolutely crucial. Of course, you're unlikely to experience any problems if you follow all the steps laid out during your dive training, but a good dive buddy can still make a huge difference to how much you enjoy your next underwater adventure. Here are a few ways to ensure effective buddying up.
1. Don't Pair Inexperience with Inexperience
It's natural for divers to want to buddy up with their best friends, but that isn't always ideal, particularly if you are both beginners. If you haven't dived very regularly before, try buddying up with someone a little more experienced to ensure that your team will be fully prepared.
Novices might forget to regularly check their oxygen levels or perform safety stops, and are usually less adept at underwater navigation. Pairing up with someone who has a few dives under their belt will help prevent those issues.
2. Agree on Your Dive Goal
Most divers won't have one set goal when they head beneath the surface; they're just there to check out the underwater scenery and enjoy the experience. However, it isn't uncommon to find divers with a certain goal for each dive. They might want to take plenty of photographs or find a certain fish. Find out what any potential buddy wants to do. If they want to find a particularly rare underwater specimen and you just want to see as much as possible, it might not be a good match.
3. Agree on Depths
As a diver, or even as a learner, you should know that diving certifications only permit you to go down to certain depths. Most entry-level diving programs will allow you to go to 18 metres, with advanced certifications available for anyone who wants to go deeper.
For this reason, it's best to check your buddy's level of certification. They might be trained to go down further with you; if you follow them without noticing the increasing depth, you'll find yourself unprepared for the increased pressures and possibly put yourself in harm's way. Of course, many divers will be fine staying at your maximum depth, but it's best to check.
4. Feel Comfortable
Above all, you need to feel comfortable with your dive buddy. If they seem reckless or don't take the proper safety steps seriously (for example, not checking your gear) then they might prove untrustworthy underwater.
A buddy who leaves you alone or refuses to slow down to accommodate your speed is not the sort of person you want to dive with. If you have any reason to be concerned, make sure you find someone else.
Even the most elite divers need to take a buddy with them when they dive, so this isn't something that you can skip. If in doubt, remember that you can always ask your diving course instructor to help match you up with a suitable person.