Tricky situation
Murphys Law suggests that if a genuine diving predicament actually matches any basic training exercise you have done, youre lucky. You have ten seconds to decide how to solve your problem, says John Liddiard. Ten, nine, eight...

Your regulator second stage falls apart under water
Starting with something a bit extreme, the standard answer dictated by training would be to use your buddys octopus and ascend at once. But this was not the course that was chosen by Richard and Sheila, two novice divers.
This incident happened long before octopus regulators became standard equipment. The two had each completed eight or so dives towards their BSAC Third Class Diver qualification and were considered proficient enough to make their first unsupervised dive together, a shallow circuit of Porthkerris Reef.
At the back of the reef, the second stage of Sheilas regulator, one of a batch of new club acquisitions, fell apart. The locking ring was loose and the cover and diaphragm just popped out as she exhaled.
Unperturbed, the pair began buddy-breathing while locating the missing parts. They then reassembled the regulator and tightened the locking ring using a knife. The dive was completed as planned.
At the other end of the experience scale, some cave-divers deliberately leave the locking pins out of screw-on second-stage covers, so they can take them apart under water if necessary to clean out grit or silt.
Your BC inflate valve jams
One of the easier problems to solve. Sometimes just disconnecting and reconnecting the feed hose will do it. If not, leave the hose disconnected and use oral inflation. After all, everyone was doing that 20 years ago!

Some divers like to leave the locking pin out of their regulator second stages, so that they can be disassembled and cleaned under water. Not recommended unless you know what youre doing
Oral inflation of a drysuit through the cuff seal src=
Getting to a cylinder tap, means pulling the whole assembly upwards until you can reach it over your shoulder
Your drysuit inflate valve jams
A bit more complicated, this: disconnecting and reconnecting might clear it, but if not, there is no convenient oral inflate.
You could leave the suit disconnected and use your BC for buoyancy control, but suit squeeze can be painful. A partial solution is to orally inflate your drysuit through the wrist seal. You need to loosen any instrument straps and peel back the cuff of your glove to get access, but it is possible to get a lungful of air into the suit.
You will also get a little water in, but this might be preferable to aborting a dive, or the only alternative if decompression stops have already been accumulated.
Fortunately, once on the bottom and with buoyancy adjusted, you can rely on expansion of air in the suit and should not need to use a drysuit feed much during the ascent.

The connector on your feed hose pops off your suit or BC inflate valve
Normally it is simple enough to snap it back into place, but occasionally the valve in the end of the feed hose jams open, bubbling your precious air away at an alarming rate. This can also happen after repeatedly disconnecting and reconnecting the hose from the inflate valve, as when coping with a jammed BC or drysuit valve.
The only fix is to turn the cylinder off. Connecting back to the suit or BC will then probably tweak the valve in the hose back into the correct position and allow the cylinder to be turned on again.
Off course, this might do nothing to solve the original jammed inflate valve.
Some divers have arms long enough to allow them to reach behind their backs to turn a cylinder valve, but most of us dont.
A buddy comes in useful here, especially if you are not carrying an independent air supply.
However, if you need to get to your own cylinder tap, loosen the waist and shoulder straps of the BC and slide it upwards until you can reach it. Or you could always wear your cylinders upside down, something I keep promising myself to try but never get round to.

A wrist seal tears before a dive
I was doing a PADI instructor crossover. The course director, Phil, remarked that he could tell I was a seasoned BSAC diver by my use of various colours of PVC tape to modify my kit.
A year or so later, we were both on the Sea Urchin out of Looe to dive the Eastfield, a wreck in 55m. The group was mixed, some on trimix, some on air. Phil had been busy instructing and was looking forward to diving for himself.
Carrying on our running joke, he remarked that my kit had grown some additional tape since we had last met. Then, pulling on his drysuit, the latex wrist seal on the left cuff split from end to end. The long-anticipated dive would have to be missed - or would it
The skipper produced a scummy-looking fish-gutting PVC glove, with a cuff that came halfway up Phils arm.
My contribution came from an industrial-sized roll of PVC tape. We wrapped the tape around the seal to hold it together, then taped the end of the seal to Phils arm. The glove was pulled over the top and bound to the arm of the suit.
Such an ad-hoc repair could be risky, particularly on a deep dive with extended decompression, and Phil tested it thoroughly in the water before descending.
But it worked, and his left arm ended up drier than his right!
He promised never to make fun of PVC tape again, or at least for a while.
I would recommend such emergency measures only for a diver experienced enough to cope comfortably if it failed.
Still, there are simpler repairs that can save a dive. A bicycle inner-tube repair kit has patches and fast-setting glue, and can be used to patch a latex seal with a minor split in 20 minutes.
If less time is available, the gummy cloth variety of Elastoplast, applied both inside and outside so that it sticks together through the hole, can strengthen a seal and keep flooding to a minimum, though you will get a wet arm.
For a neoprene wrist seal, leave the tear alone until it can be fixed properly and just tighten a strap round the seal above the damaged area.

A wrist seal fails under water
Tighten a strap round the seal or arm of the suit above the split. This is like applying a tourniquet, so while I would consider this solution with a dodgy wrist seal, I would draw the line at using it for an iffy neck seal!
The strap will not prevent water getting in, but it will slow it down.
If you have lots of spare air for inflation, keep the arm upwards and allow air bubbling out of the suit to keep water from getting in. Otherwise, keep the arm downwards to prevent water collecting in the arm and spilling over into the body of the suit.
In either case, keeping the air pressure inside the suit as high as possible will help keep water out, so if you also use a BC for buoyancy adjustment you might want to dump air from that and add it to the drysuit.
A word of caution: many experienced divers dont remove their weightbelt before getting back into a boat. Usually this presents no problems, but with a torn seal, as you lift the arm upwards to climb in you could suffer a sudden loss of buoyancy.

You rip your drysuit leg
I dont think anyone would start a dive in such a condition, but catching your suit on a sharp piece of wreckage is not uncommon. The way to minimise flooding is again to use a strap as a tourniquet above the tear.
If you normally wear a diving knife on your leg, this could be a simple matter of stowing the knife somewhere else and tightening the straps.
If not, adapt a strap from elsewhere on your equipment or, if all else fails, try a few turns of line from your delayed SMB reel.
All this takes time, so the value of such solutions depends on how long you need to stay under water. It might be easier to ascend immediately.

hspace=5 Oops, there goes your zip!
While putting his BC on, my friend Alex unwittingly caught the loop of the dry-suit zip-puller over the tap on his pony cylinder. Under water, he moved his arm forwards and felt an inrush of water on his right shoulder as his pony cylinder unzipped him! He used buoyancy in his BC to return to the surface.
When a drysuit zip starts to go, the effects are usually catastrophic, but sometimes it is just one or two teeth at the end that break.
After my first dive on a four-day trip in the Farne Islands, my zip refused to open more than a few centimetres. One tooth was broken and jamming it.
The tooth was coaxed into place with some pliers and I was extracted from the suit, but what could I do about the following dives
The risk was that those last few teeth would pop open and allow the rest of the zip to peel undone.
In the Farne Islands, boats are usually close enough to shore to return to harbour between dives. I bought a tube of Evostik in the high street, and for the rest of the trip glued together that end of the zip. I kept my diving within limits where I could ascend should a failure occur.
If a drysuit zip breaks completely under water, all you can do is get cold and wet.
A BC should have enough buoyancy to get you to the surface, or you could always turn upside-down and use the legs of your suit as a lifting bag.
Dropping your weightbelt would be only a last-ditch solution, although I have heard of divers successfully completing deco stops after losing their belts, by climbing along a wreck, then back up the shotline.

Your cylinder is slipping now!
Apart from a few tekkies with twin-sets bolted to a steel backpack, most divers attach their cylinder to their BC with a camband, a strip of 50mm webbing with a plastic cam mechanism for stretching and tightening it round a cylinder.
This robust and convenient device is very reliable - providing it is done up properly in the first place (see this months lead letter).
The trouble is that some divers seem to have a mental block about threading and tightening a camband. No matter how often they are shown, and despite the fact that the instructions are printed on the back of many bands, they end up with one that is loose on the cylinder.
Often they get away with it during the dive, and it is only when climbing back onto the boat that the cylinder slips out and is left hanging by the low-pressure hoses. But what can you do if it comes loose under water
You could take your BC off your back and fix it yourself, but this is where the buddy system comes into its own.
If your buddys cylinder is in danger of falling out, straddle his hips from behind and hold on tight with your knees.
You now have both hands free to either tighten the camband or even to re-thread it correctly before tightening it.
Just be careful to let your buddy know what youre doing in advance. If you just spot a loose band and pounce, he could get the wrong idea!

Stop, Think, Act: So how much difference did those 10 seconds contemplation make to the way in which you reviewed these problems Remember that, next time Murphy strikes under water. And if you can contribute your own entertaining solutions to these or other diving problems - both above and below the water - please let us all in on your secrets.

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