I like to share my dive experiences, but I also enjoy passing along stories I hear from other divers. Ken Welch, someone who was a diver back in the day and who has of late gotten back into the sport, (with remarkable zeal, I might add) shared this experience via e-mail:
Dive Training Magazine states on its cover that “A Diver is Always Learning.” I had a new experience on my last dive. I had ascended from diving the bow portion of the Milwaukee Car Ferry. I was performing a safety stop at 15 feet. There was not much current but a NE wind had increased since we had descended. There was a little pitching on the mooring line. Unfortunately I was a little positively buoyant so I needed to use the mooring line to assist me in maintaining my depth. My buddy was also hanging on the line 3’ below me. All of a sudden upon taking a breath, I had a mouthful of water. I had a mouthpiece in my mouth and could not immediately figure out what was going on. I reached up with my right hand and found that there was no second stage attached to my mouthpiece. I took the mouth piece out and switched to my other regulator. Later that evening I inspected the mouthpiece. Apparently the cable tie that holds the mouthpiece to the second stage had broken and fallen off. The mouthpiece still had the impression of the cable tie on its surface. What is interesting is that this regulator was purchased new in January 2014. Cable ties used for this application have a breaking strength of at least 50 pounds. Rather than break I think the cable tie failed at the “tooth” that engages the serrations. The “tooth” failure may have been assisted by my Miflex second-stage hose rubbing against the “tag” sticking out of the “eye” of the cable tie in the choppy water. I replaced the cable tie with one obtained from Lowes. I was unable to reproduce the failure. I also ordered some Thomas and Betts cable ties that conform to a Mil-Spec. I suspect that this one of those one in a million types of events, but I have added inspection of the cable tie to my pre-dive inspection.
This experience teaches two lessons. First, when things go pear shaped during a dive, calm heads will prevail. When faced with a malfunctioning regulator, Ken did what all divers are taught in open water class; Stop, Think and Act. The first order of business was getting some air. He switched to his alternate air source. With the immediate issue handled, the dive could continue safely.
Second, Ken investigated the issue and made adjustments to his pre-dive plan and improvements to his equipment to prevent this problem from occurring in future dives.
Yes, a good diver is always learning, from magazine articles, dive instructors, personal experiences and the experiences of others.