Part 3 What You Need to Know Before Diving the World’s Most Dangerous Dive Site
I have had the pleasure of diving blue holes, specifically the Blue Hole in Dahab, on several occasions. It is an amazing dive, but it really isn’t for everyone. The one in Dahab has the dubious reputation of being the most dangerous dive site in the world because of the many divers, both novice and experienced, who have sadly lost their lives there. There are several factors of which it is very important to be aware when performing deep dives in places like this:
Overconfidence The major cause of accidents and fatalities is diver overconfidence. A deep dive is not the place to flex your muscles as a substitution for skills. Technical dives require technical skills and experience.
Nitrogen Narcosis Divers can start to feel the debilitating effects of nitrogen narcosis at a depth of between 30 to 50 meters. Nitrogen narcosis can compromise decision making and leads to a euphoric or paranoid mental state where the diver becomes irrational. It is important to note that The Arch (a beautiful swim that takes you from the Blue Hole to the open water of the Red Sea) in Dahab sits at a depth of 56 meters, already past the limits of open-water certification.
Oxygen Toxicity Oxygen behaves differently under pressure, and deep dives put divers at risk of oxygen toxicity. At a depth of about 55 meters, this toxicity can begin to take effect and cause mental impairment as well as breathing problems.
What You Can Do to Prepare for Diving Blue Holes
Diving blue holes also presents unique challenges that need to be prepared for correctly and in a way that is commensurate with your experience and skills. Here are four things that are important to do before attempting a dive into a blue hole:
Training Don’t be that guy who thinks that because he has a number of successful open water dives, he can push himself a little further or go a little deeper without training. Good technical divers train for difficult dives, elevating their skills to dive safely under adverse conditions. They are first qualified to dive with various air mixes to reduce the possibility of nitrogen narcosis and oxygen toxicity as well as to extend their dive profiles. This coupled with their ability to manage difficulties at depth helps prepare them for deep dives.
Experience Take the time to get more experience and refine your skills by extending your dive profiles and maximum depth over the course of several dives. This will allow you to understand how your body responds to the pressure of a deep-water dive. Knowing how to anticipate your physical response to the pressures of diving will make you a better diver and safer dive buddy.
Equipment It should not even need to be said. All divers must keep their equipment in good condition, completing the appropriate annual checks to ensure that it functions as expected. Your life depends on your equipment so don’t take shortcuts when it comes to quality and care.
Dive Your Plan Using a Buddy Do not attempt a technical dive alone. Prepare for it with a dive buddy that you trust. Once you have agreed on a dive plan, dive your plan. A technical deep-water dive is not the right dive to spontaneously decide to explore an interesting tunnel or to exceed the dive profile to check out a shiny fish.
In short, diving is like life. When something is important to you, it warrants the effort put into planning for it, doing the work, and then enjoying the fruits of your labor.