Talking the talk
So you think you understand diving terminology According to Mike Ward, nothing is ever quite what it seems at first glance

TALKING DIVING IS USUALLY AS MUCH FUN AS DOING IT, and a lot warmer, but newcomers to the silent world often find themselves excluded. Not, as you might imagine, because they havent got anything worth saying, not yet having had the near-death experiences of their peers, but because they havent worked out the communication codes used by real divers.
     Take, for example, the commonly heard: I was taking a novice in, and wed had a bit of a swim round when I realised he was out of air so we came up.
     This really means: I turned up late for the dive, so the buddy pairs had already been sorted out and the only one left was a novice. And I hate diving with novices. On the dive I got totally lost, and just had to keep swimming in the hope that I might find the anchor line. In fact, I was concentrating so hard on not being able to find the line that I forgot to keep an eye on my air, and didnt check his at all. When I finally did ask, he was already empty, so we had to go for the surface if we wanted to live.
hspace=5      Some divers claim that they enjoy diving with novices. What they mean is that nobody in the club will dive with them twice.
     Incidentally, all divers who learn to dive in a club start out as novices, regardless of what the current training scheme calls them, and they remain novices until they make their first stupid mistake. As soon as they try to dive without a weightbelt or jump into the water without zipping up their drysuit, they move to the status of one of the lads. If their mistake is potentially life-threatening, they may even be elevated directly to hairy-arsed diver, an accolade which otherwise takes years of dedication.
     Divers who learn abroad, however, do not need to go through this formative stage and can go immediately to the dizzy heights of Platinum Visa Card Specialist if they show the necessary dedication.
     Something every diver learns is to plan the dive. A good dive plan provides you with something from which to deviate, and allows you to discuss endlessly what you ought to have done in any given situation. This is absolutely fine and healthy, provided the discussion doesnt involve the coroner and a legal team.
     Weve planned a deep square profile on the wreck, put in a shotline near her bow, and hung a tank at six just in case sounds like excellent dive planning. What it means is: Ill be able to carry so many tools that the only way Im going when I hit the water is straight down, and the only way Ill be able to move on the bottom is to crawl along the wreck.
     At the end of the dive, however, Ill be able to fasten my tool-belt and any brass Ive liberated to the shot so I can ascend. Also, I wont need to worry about my air consumption and Ill be able to go deeper into deco because the spare tank will be there.
     You often hear a dive like this described as challenging. This can mean any number of things, ranging from I just dont fancy diving after supping so many pints last night, to Im only going that deep if the Coastguard has been alerted and a rescue helicopter is standing by, or even the last time I dived that site I ended up six miles off the coast and heading for France.
     Many divers like to brag about depth, and liberally scatter their conversation with the words deep dive. This usually means: I think Ive dived deeper than you have, but can also mean: I went deeper than I meant to. Sometimes it means: I went deeper than I should have done and Im only talking about it to prove what an experienced and wonderful diver I am.
     Bounce dives tend to happen rather than being planned, usually because you dropped an expensive piece of kit over the side, but another fine example is the profile of someone using a drysuit for the first time. It could also mean that you went far deeper on the wall than you intended, or that you missed the wreck and came up because diving on flat sand is really boring.
     A debrief should be held after every dive. The most common is an informal discussion of shared experiences. It usually starts the moment your heads break the surface and goes along these lines:
     Did you see that incredible nudibranch I pointed out It was on the base of the kelp frond attached to the rock by the anchorline.
     Did you see how the anchorline got tangled around my neck and it took me half an hour to fight my way free
     The second type of debrief is similar, but occurs when one of you has seen something truly extraordinary but the other hasnt. It is probably the shortest debrief imaginable.
     Did you see that shark
     The final type of debrief is led by your vastly more experienced buddy after youve made a cock-up the two of you were lucky to survive, and is usually referred to informally as a bollocking.
     Air consumption always gets a mention in any bar-room conversation, usually when somebody says I am/she is good with my/her air. This may simply mean: I dive with the biggest twin-set youve ever seen, so the only way Im ever going to run out of gas is if the hole in the ozone layer opens so wide that the atmosphere takes the opportunity to go away for a holiday.
     It can also mean that youre built like a whippet with anorexia problems, weigh six stone in full kit and work as an aerobics instructor. Or it could mean that were talking about Big Al, who is the only diver in the world who can surface with more air than he took down.
     Diving preferences are often expressed quite euphemistically.
     I prefer wreck-diving means: I do most of my diving in UK waters where there is so little to look at that even flattened plates of rusting metal on the seabed seem really interesting.
     I like long, shallow dives translates as: I do most of my diving overseas, where there are fish to look at and the water is warm enough not to cause physical discomfort.
     Im very interested in photography (or archaeology, or naval history) means: Ive done enough diving to have stopped finding it an end in itself and I need to do something else to provide some sort of point to it.
     And I really enjoy UK quarry diving either means: Ive only ever done two dives before and the first hot flush of eagerness hasnt yet worn off, or that your medication is not controlling your symptoms.
     Some of the terms used to describe diving techniques can be confusing. Stride entry is clear enough, but exactly when does a stride entry become a giant stride entry In practice, this is when your back foot slips and you end up on the deck of the boat, in a position which normally requires years of training for Olympic gymnasts.
     A hang tank is an additional cylinder and regulator hung at the correct depth for decompression and is used to provide additional safety, but can also mean what you get when you roll backwards off the RIB without looking for the anchorline.
     I tend to navigate by pilotage means: I never learned to use a compass, so I could come up anywhere, and I always rely on my compass just stands for: I could come up anywhere.
     Ill be using a safety line means: Im not sure I can find my way back to the shot any other way.
     Ill deploy my delayed SMB when Im getting ready to surface means: Im going to stay down as long as I want and swim wherever I want and I expect the boat to come and pick me up.
     Weve planned a no-stop dive means that you and your buddy feel you ought to dive having come all this way and spent all this money, but youd rather be in the bar.
     It might also mean that the local water isnt agreeing with you and youll need to use the facilities again in about 30 minutes, or that you were too tight to pay for a proper fill and are diving with the same tank you took in this morning.
     A safety stop is a short pause in your ascent immediately prior to surfacing, and doing one probably means youre diving with some nancy overseas operation that wouldnt be able to cope with proper dives if they had to do them. Or it could mean you never actually started a dive towards the end of slack at a site where the run picks up to, say, 6 knots.
     A buddy is the single essential for any dive. Unfortunately, its probably the most inappropriate term imaginable. Buddy suggests somebody who enjoys your company, shares your dreams and aspirations and will help you achieve whatever goals youve set yourself.
     In reality, buddies are people who turn up to dive on the same day as you and are capable of paying for the dive in advance. They probably wont speak the same language as you, they are not interested in whatever you are, and they wouldnt recognise a safe diving practice if one bit them on the bum.
     Their definition of a buddy check is a quick look-see to estimate the value of your kit, and therefore judge the amount of effort they should put into recovering it if you have a problem.
     You wont exchange more than two words with them before the dive, and if you see them under water at all it will be at a distance and finning the other way. The only words youll exchange after the dive will be written down on the business cards of rival law firms.
     Which brings us to what should be the most confusing term of all, safe-diving practices. Books have been written on this one. Whole schools of diving education have been founded to preach their own version of the truth.
     All you need to remember is that all anybody ever means when they say they dive safely or follow strict safe-diving policies is that they like the way they do things, and theyre not about to change them for anybody.

Start a Forum discussion on this topic