Friday 26 April 1996

Mask sharing - a worthwhile skill?

Editorial by D C Hess
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Two of the cornerstones of TWATI training have always been weight belt sharing and mask sharing. As a TWATI Open Water Instructor (number 874295 if you want to check) I couldn't imagine taking my students through their pool skills without teaching the correct action to take on losing their mask or weight belt.

It will come as little surprise, therefore, to learn that I was pretty angry when I heard that moves are afoot within TWATI to discontinue these valuable skills. Although I have never had to make use of mask or weight belt sharing I can imagine that poorly trained divers that have qualified through other diving organisations might well panic on losing a mask or weight belt.

To them, I say: Come dive the TWATI way! If you lose your mask simply give the internationally-recognised ‘I've lost my mask’ signal. Your buddy will then hand you his or her mask so that you can read your instruments. Pass it back to your buddy so that they can do the same. Repeat this pattern as you safely ascend to the surface.

Similary, should you find that your weight belt accidentally slips off in 150 fsw, calmly give the ‘I've lost my weight belt signal’ (the action with your hand is rather akin to a Polaris missle being fired from a nuclear submarine). Your buddy will swim up to you, hand you their weight belt. Wear it for a few seconds and then swim up to your buddy and hand it back. In this manner you will leap frog your way upwards and in no time will find yourself on the surface.

I know that using this technique it is not always possible to ascend slower than your strangest-shaped bubbles, as TWATI teaches, but this method has never let a TWATI diver down yet.

It would be foolhardy and against all the finest traditions of TWATI to forgo such time-honoured skills. I say: keep mask-sharing and weight belt-sharing within the TWATI Beginners Open water Groundwork course (BOG), or someone may not even live to regret it.

Learn to Dive the TWATI Way™