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River Diving and Drift diving

Submitted by admin on 2008-12-22 | Last Modified on 2010-04-07

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Drift diving can be likened to catching an air current and flying with it. The force of the current carries the diver along, covering much more ground and expending little or no energy on sightseeing crossing a vast distance.

Don't forget that the thrill of this area of speciality diving thrives on the selfsame force of nature that decides the fate of a gigantic Cargo carrier, let alone that of one measly diver. Needless to say, this isn't to be toyed with and requires paying extra attention the might of currents. Once you harness your responsibility to remain humble, it can be highly rewarding to sail along and sightsee for extended periods of time without so much as needing to kick a fin.

Essentially, the diver and his/her diving equipment are at the full mercy of the power of water - the kind that bends bubble streams backward. Swift water river diving is a far cry from the perfect visibility gentle currents of the tropics. The physical demands it places on fitness, upper body strength, cardiovascular conditioning and stamina should not be underestimated.

Due to the extreme variations in global river diving environments there is no generalized universal system that applies to this area of the sport as such. Techniques and equipment vary in accordance.

Hey buddy!

In swift water diving the buddy system takes on a whole new meaning. This unit upholds more responsibility than in normal open water recreational situations as it's easier to set up a rig with an even number of divers. The third diver can be high risk, tipping the balance and in many cases leading to accidents. Reasons for a balanced buddy team in drift situations include pivotal elements such as maintaining unbroken channels of communication.

Where possible, buddies need to form 'separation strategies' to put into effect when the currents intensify and ascent is not immediately recommended.

An example of such a strategy involves nominating one diver as the 'designated move' and the other the 'designated non-mover'. If there is a separation, the divers make their way to the shore wall. The non-mover stays put for three minutes and then surfaces, holding the position with a locator while the more seasoned 'mover' moves upstream for two minutes and downstream for one. Ten minutes pass before rescue is summoned.

Drift Flags

River divers make use of floats for drift purposes as markers. Serious 'object recovery' expeditions require truck-sized inner tubes in order to meet the space requirements of hooks, carabineers, diver gear and large retrievals. The float is marked with a flag, no shorter than 1.7 m above the water for proper designation to the areas other users (boaters and the like).

Where there is no current, only an anchored flag is required using narrow tube floats instead of the inner tube. Divers typically make use of polypropylene lines attached to the rig with loops for handholds to pull the rig along. Y - Yokes are favoured to prevent entanglement. Attaching buddy lines to the float prevents the risk of low lying ropes snagging objects. It's essential to make use of eyes spliced loops instead of knots, so that one can be freed at will from the buddy line in case of an emergency.


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