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Survival Techniques for the Underwater Hunter


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Title: Survival Techniques for the Underwater Hunter

Survival Techniques for the Underwater Hunter
  • By Doug Van Mullem
  • August 3, 2009

  • To help divers learn how to survive while doing
    the sport of underwater hunting.
  • It contains the collective wisdom of many highly
    experienced freedivers as well as the lessons
    learned from mistakes I and many others have
  • The sea is unforgiving to those who come

Basic Safety
  • Notify someone responsible of your dive plan just
    in case you dont return so they know when to
    call for a search and recovery and where to tell
    them to search. Remember to let them know you
    have safely return.
  • Remember the weight belt has a quick release and
    be prepared to activate it.
  • When talking to your partner on the surface,
    dont put your gun under your arm or between your
    legs because you are now pointing a loaded gun at
    him not a good thing.

Basic Safety Continued
  • Dont bring a loaded gun on the boat, even if you
    are just quickly hoping spots. It just isnt
    worth the risk.
  • Make positive identification on the fish before
    you pull the trigger. It may save your thumb,
    your gun, or your life.
  • Soupfin sharks are in breading at the same times
    and places as WSB and they can look surprisingly
    similar in the murk.

Basic Safety Continued
  • Consider taking a basic SCUBA course
  • They are good at teaching the basics on safety
    plus you may need it to recover a deep fish,
    anchor or buddy.
  • Be sure your dive knife can quickly cut your
    shooting line because you can be tied up by big
    fish to a stock of kelp as you are trying to cut
    the fish free of the kelp.
  • This is especially important when changing from
    mono to cable.

Basic Safety Continued
  • Consider the amount of gear for the dive
    conditions you are entering and adjust as
  • Rock entry with lots of kelp Keep it simple.
  • Dont try to take too much gear with you.
  • Streamline your gear so you can slide through
    kelp or travel a long distance easily.
  • Lobster bag, 2-3 lights, gage, gun, stringer,
    float, float line, knife, weight belt, signal
    buoy, camera, etc is too much under most dive

Basic Safety Kelp Diving Continued
  • Before surfacing in thick kelp, put your right
    arm up over your head, bending it so the hand is
    above your snorkel on the left and when you start
    to push into the kelp canopy pull the kelp to one
    side clearing the way for your head and snorkel
    to get to air.
  • What are the three best ways to get to the other
    side of a really thick kelp bed?
  • Go around it. This is the safest.
  • Go under it if you have the skills to surface
    safely and repeat multiple dives. This can be
    the fastest.
  • Go over it by turning your gun upside down and
    grabbing it 2/3 back and then pushing down the
    kelp so you can swim over it. Keep your gun at an
    angle being careful to not let your point go
    below the surface. The guns handle should be
    below your lower chest. This can be a very
    stealthy method and a good way to sneak up on
    openings and look for fish in them. It is also
    surprisingly easy to cross over the kelp in this
    way, if you are streamlined.

Basic Safety Continued
  • Get yourself trained in CPR and First Aide.
  • Consider taking a freedive/apnea class
  • Understand leg cramps, sooner or later you will
    get them so know what to do and do it quickly.
  • Divers will dehydrate, loose electrolytes and get
    leg cramps.
  • Some divers get them in their upper legs and
    others in the calf. Either can stop you from
  • Stretch out the cramped area immediately, return
    to boat or beach to take fluids, carbs and rest a

Basic Safety continued
  • Know the Wet Suit Weight Formula, use it for an
    estimated weight for your belt.
  • For 3 Mil one piece suits with no vested hood,
    take 5 of your body weight and add 4 pounds. If
    you weigh 150 this formula comes to 11.5 pounds.
  • For 6.5 mil (or ¼ inch) suits, take 10 of your
    body weight and add 4 pounds. If you weigh 150
    this formula comes to 19 pounds. 23 pounds if
    you are doing shallow water diving for halibut.
  • For new suits add about 3 extra pounds
  • For shallow water diving (under 15) add 2 pounds
    for 3 mil suits 3 pounds for 5 mil suits and 4
    pounds for 6.5 mil suits.

Basic Safety Continued
  • After using the Wet Suit Weight Belt Formula to
    estimate the needed weight, verify you have the
    right weight. You should be 1 to 2 pounds
    positive on the surface when no air is in your
    lungs. Test this before you take off on your
    dive. This positive buoyancy is especially
    important in Shallow Water Blackout (SWB)
    situations since you reach the surface while in
    the exhalation phase.

Survival When Diving in Current
  • When diving for game fish you will often want to
    choose a location that has current so it is
    important to learn how to dive in current safely.
  • First, always be prepared for the current to go
    from mild to strong in a matter of minutes on in
    a few yards especially near points and pinnacles.
  • Consider live boating dive spots with current.
    If you put all the divers in at once and none of
    you can beat the current then … have a plan.
  • Know that the current is weaker when ever there
    is some protection like a rocky bottom, kelp bed
    or points and coves. When the current comes up
    you may only be able to make headway by diving to
    the bottom and working yourself up current in the
    lower turbulence or swimming inside the kelp bed.
  • Know the topography of the location you are
    diving and understand the more water that is
    being restricted from passing, the stronger the
    current. That is why there is more current near
    pinnacles, underwater walls, islands and points.
  • Know the tide tables for the day and expect the
    current to be stronger when the slop of the tide
    is highest. Also watch for the current to change
    directions when the tide changes but sometimes it
    will just get stronger with a tide change.

Survival When Diving in Current (Cont.)
  • Last Saturday my four dive buddies and I were
    diving near the West End of Catalina and the
    current was rushing us to the end of the island.
    There we put all five experienced divers in the
    water but I made sure one went up current into a
    small kelp bed and cove for WSB while the rest of
    us went down current looking for YT. He was our
    backup in case we couldn't get back. I had told
    the three other divers when it was time to head
    back to the boat we would have to swim close to
    the island so we could beat the current. I was
    surprised how easy it was to swim up current
    right next to the island. It gave us a lot more
    protection than I had expected.
  • The last thing about diving in current - if you
    just can't get back to the boat go to the island
    before you get exhausted and get on top of a big
    rock so you can be easily seen. If you have a
    whistle, flasher of flare with you, be ready to
    use it to call passing boats. Another safety
    item that I always have with me is my orange
    inflatable long signal tube. This long tube fits
    in my leg pocket.

Survival When Diving in Current (Cont.)
  • Current related rescue On a recent trip, where
    we were diving a underwater wall at the end of
    San Clemente Island, my partner got swept over
    the wall and was heading out to sea. He spent
    all his energy trying to beat the current and go
    straight back to the boat anchored just in front
    of the wall but found himself unable to get back
    over the current generated by the hump of the
    wall. Finally he called for help and was heard
    by the safety diver in the boat and myself. He
    had spent all the energy trying to get over the
    wall. I swam to him and when I saw him lying on
    his back and exhausted I planned for the worse
    and called for the boat. There was a better way
    to handle this situation that would have allowed
    him to get himself back to the boat but after he
    had gotten so exhausted that was the only option
    left. After seeing that the current was too
    strong to beat he needed to head to the island
    versus keep trying to battle the current until
    exhaustion. Along the shallow waters of the
    island there is a break from the current and then
    he could have swam up current past the boat and
    then headed back across the current in front of
    the wall. Once you get near the wall it can suck
    you over to the other side and then take you out
    to sea.

Train Like an Athlete
  • Work out for diving. It is a sport and you need
    to be an athlete. Train like your life depends
    on it … because it does.
  • Ideas for training, and there are hundreds of
    them. Here are just three
  • Body surf to get your legs in shape plus this
    will teach you about going through the surf.
  • Well balanced gym workouts remember to include
    sit-ups and pulls so you can cock your gun and
    paddle your kayak.
  • Dive regularly. There is no better exercise for
    diving, than diving.
  • If you are a beginner, dont plan a full 5-6 hour
    competitive dive tournament. Plan to do half the
    dive. Work up to longer dive days.

Know What Your Dive Capability is for Your Next
  • Your ability to hold your breath changes from
    year to year, month to month, day to day and even
    dive to dive. Just because your computer tells
    you that yesterday morning you could go down for
    2 minutes doesnt mean you can repeat that dive
    today. Here are some factors
  • Energy has a correlation to dive time, if you are
    full of energy your dive time is maximized if
    you are tired it is reduced. Apnea divers learn
    to do their deep diving in the morning after a
    high carbohydrate meal the night before then they
    dont eat in the morning so there is no
    oxygen/energy going to digest the breakfast and
    all the oxygen and energy is available for the
  • On long dive days we need to eat but remember
    after eating our bodies are working hard to
    digest the food and that absorbs some of our
    oxygen. Choose your dive food carefully,
    something easy to digest. Eat/drink small
    amounts during a dive day.
  • When you are cold your body is using higher
    levels of energy and oxygen to keep you warm.
    Wearing the right suit for the conditions you are
    in will greatly help your dive time.
  • When you are out of energy and still want to dive
    there are ways to do that but be prepared for a
    loss in capabilities. Energy drinks help me go
    that extra hour of diving but they do speed up my
    heart and that does cut down on dive time just a
    little. They also help me beat the cold and
    that actually helps me dive longer.
  • The more fatigue you are the shorter your dive
    time will be so plan to that.

How to Pick A Dive Partner
  • Based on your experience level
  • Strong enough to rescue you at the end of a
    tough dive under worse conditions than you
    expected to encounter.
  • Experienced enough to select a good spot for
    your level of ability.
  • Wise enough to know when to go and when to stay
    on the beach/boat.
  • Mature enough to stay with you during the dive
    and not run off with Buck Fever.

Now That You Have Your Partner, Plan Your Dive
  • Before entering the water, discuss with your
    partner the dive plan. Dont just say you go
    that way and Ill go this way.
  • Discuss
  • Buddy diving one up and one down and how tough
    that will be in these conditions.
  • How tight you plan to stay together and what to
    do if separated
  • Pattern of your planned dive.
  • Approximate duration before tagging up or
    returning to shore or boat.

Make Your Own Personal Diver Safety Kit
  • Make your own first aide kit.
  • Meds you need, bandages, antibiotics, Hydrogen
    Peroxide, Sudafed, Musinex D, seasick pills, etc.
  • Flares, flashlight, water proof matches
  • Buy your own hand held ship to shore radio for
  • Rent/buy a satellite cell phone and a EPERBs for
    dangerous long distance trips to the Tuna
  • Take your own GPS to report location to rescue
  • Be sure to take this kit with you on your trips.

Choosing a Dive Location
  • Pick your day, your location and timing of your
    dive, based on dive conditions.
  • Know your limits, strength and skill level and
    match those up to the dive location and
  • Understand surf conditions and shore conditions
    (rocks versus beach) when considering an entry
  • Plan your exit point before getting in and know
    how the tide will change during your dive and
    what that will do to your exit point.

Kayak Safety
  • In the surf, even small surf, a kayak is a deadly
  • It can break knees, heads and drown people.
  • Watch out for kids in the surf line.
  • Untie your paddle rope and tuck it away before
    going through surf.
  • The line can easily wrap around you and it will
    cut you fast, even in small surf.

Kayak Safety Continued
  • Dont wear your weight belt when going through
    the surf.
  • Learn to kayak in calm conditions and then try
    harder conditions.
  • Never get between the kayak and surf line, they
    can easily break your knees.
  • Wear your hood going through surf, that little
    bit of protection may prevent getting yourself
    knocked out or seriously cut.

Know When The Boat Is Too Small For The
Picking a Boat Captain
  • Know the experience of the skipper.
  • Know the capabilities condition of his boat.
  • Stay away from poorly maintained boats.
  • Have him show you all the emergency gear.
  • Ask him teach you how to operate the boat.
  • Learn how to use his radio and what station to
    call for emergencies.
  • Know how to quickly disconnect his anchor in case
    of emergency. Pulling an anchor can loose
    precious time in a rescue situation.
  • Remember There is only one rule on the boat and
    that is The Captain Rules. Listen to him.

Sea Sick Pill Recommendations
  • I recommend Trip Tone ... it doesn't make you as
    sleepy as the others and no after headaches. I
    wouldn't even wait until you see what the seas
    are like...take one before bed and another dose
    in the morning with something solid to eat. There
    is nothing worse than being sick on a boat!!! By
    Larry Carter
  • Another Good type of pill is Meclizine HCL

Real Shallow Water Blackout Stories Once was Not
  • In 1969 Roy Rogel, a member of the San Diego
    Delta Free Diver Club and my teammate was diving
    off Solana Beach in a club tournament. During
    the meet, a fellow diver came across Roy lying
    motionless on the bottom at 40 feet in 15 foot
    visibility. What a coincident, but wait, there
    is more. The diver pulled his belt off and
    surfaced Roy. It happened that a commercial
    abalone diver boat was near by. He shouted to
    the boat hand and she pulled her husband up by
    the air hose. His day job happened to be Chief
    Lieutenant of San Diegos City Life Guards and
    yes he was trained in the new science of CPR
    (rare in those days to find someone trained in
    CPR). What a coincident, but wait, there is
    more. He had just installed a radio on his boat.
    He called for an ambulance and in those days
    they were called meat wagons since the drivers
    had no medical training and only rushed the
    ill/dieing/dead to the hospital but there was one
    crew in all of SD County that had just been
    certified in CPR, you guesses it, Roy got that
    crew. Solana Beach, the location for the
    tournament, had just put a road ramp from the
    high cliffs to the shore and finished it just
    weeks before the tournament so the ambulance
    could go straight to wet sand and get Roy off the
    ab divers boat. What a coincident, but wait,
    there is more. At the hospital the emergency
    doctor on duty just happened to have interned in
    Hawaii and he had actually seen several cases of
    Shallow Water Blackout (SWB). Keep in mind, Roy
    showed no sign of life from the moment he was
    found until he got into the emergency room. The
    doctor revived Roy and he lived to dive another
    11 years. Roy died in 1980 from his second SWB
    occurrence which also happened during a dive
    tournament. This time he was found on the
    surface but too late to recover. Roy was a
    highly decorated soldier and POW in WWII and
    escaped 5 times from the Germans and was
    recaptured 4 times. In his escapes well over 100
    other men who were escaping with him died. Only
    7 of his fellow escapees from all those escapes
    lived past the end of the war. Roy was already
    on his 8th life when I met him. A great diver, a
    great athlete, a great American and a dear friend
    lost to SWB.
  • Written In Memory of Roy Rogel, by Doug Van

Real Shallow Water Blackout Stories Too Good for
My Own Good
  • I almost lost it last November in Belize.
    Unfortunately I was feeling too comfortable free
    diving to 45 feet and hanging for 2-2.5 minutes
    taking pictures of fish. No wetsuit and warm
    water made me feel like superman. As a result, I
    spent too much time waiting for a fish to turn
    the right way and as I headed for the surface my
    vision was super starry (which I've had mild
    cases before) then as I got to about 10 feet my
    brain could not control the muscle movements in
    my legs. I was saying to myself Kick, Kick and
    nothing was happening. Lucky for me I had enough
    momentum and positive buoyancy to get me up. As
    my face came out I almost couldn't figure out how
    to breath. I was telling myself inhale, inhale!
    but my brain forgot how to do that. As I gasped
    for air and sputter kicked to keep my head out I
    recovered. That was the worst "close to blackout"
    as I've ever come. Like an idiot I was by myself,
    in my own little world mentally and 500 yards
    from the boat at the edge of a 250' drop off.
    That one event has changed my entire vision on
    how I dive in the future. That was a warning shot
    from the guy above and it was heard load and
  • In a way I can see how my good friend Steve Seo
    bought it. He went to Mexico with the mental
    place that he would return with a world record
    catch and permanent club record. I told Steve
    this story the day before he left. I wonder if
    he just blew it off thinking that could never
    happen to him....

Real Shallow Water Blackout Stories When I was
a Young Jock
  • Many years before I learned of SWB, I use to
    believe that if I came up before seeing little
    white stars floating in my eyes that meant I
    wasn't pushing myself hard enough. Some days I
    would see stars on 20 to 30 dives. I also use to
    swim underwater in pools with no fins and go for
    100 meters. In those swims, I always came up
    seeing stars and the last time I did it I could
    see nothing but BLACK lasting for three breaths
    after surfacing and my friends, who I couldnt
    see, were saying "Look at how purple his lips
    are." That was my last time swimming 100 meters
  • Signed, Slow to Learn and Lucky to Still be
    Alive, DVM

Lessons to Prevent SWB
  • If you are surfacing and seeing little bright
    stars floating in your eyes (they look really
    cool) then you are pushing yourself too hard and
    are only a few seconds from death by SWB. Dont
    do that again!
  • If your legs are giving out as you push for the
    surface that is because the muscles are out of
    oxygenated blood. If your legs give out, you
    die. Dont do that again!
  • If you surface and feel like puking but you dont
    have the muscle strength to do it because there
    is no oxygen in them then you dove too hard.
    Dont do that again!
  • SWB victims can be recovered - take the time to
    be a responsible partner and learn CPR.
  • An interesting thing about SWB is that you can
    shut off your throat and not take water into your
    lungs. You can also bite your snorkel so hard
    that it is hard for the rescuer to take it out of
    your mouth. If a rescuer turns you over with
    your snorkel in the mouth and you recover your
    first breath will be seawater. Rescuers need to
    be aware of this and try to get that snorkel out
    fast with a jerk when turning over the victim.
    This will hopefully open the airway, if not open
    it and do CPR.

Lessons to Prevent SWB Continued
  • Here is one tip that few realize and it can save
    your life. You know you can dive 60 with no
    problem. But if you are doing extra hard long
    repeated dives, like when you are recovering a
    fish which is held up in the rocks or kelp, then
    your dive needs to either be shorter since your
    exertion is greater or your recovery time needs
    to be longer. It will take you a longer time to
    recover with each successive hard dive. You may
    feel like you are ready after 30 seconds because
    your lungs are full of fresh air but you have
    deeply depleted the reserves of oxygen in your
    blood. Take an extra minute to recover all of
    your blood in your body. Your legs will tell you
    when you are truly ready to dive because the
    numbness from a lack of oxygen will have left
    them. It takes a long time to recycle all your
    blood through your lungs to replenish the oxygen
    fully. Repeated deep hard dives will get you.
    Take the time to save your life! The fish isnt
    going anywhere but you may be if you dont take
    those extra breaths.

Lessons to Prevent SWB Continued
  • When you know you are on a tough dive, be
    prepared to drop your weight belt, it is not
    invaluable. Keep your hand on the weight belt
    release while ascending, releasing it if you feel
    you are in trouble or at the first sign of
  • The USAs only world champion spear fisherman,
    Terry Lentz, who won the world tournament in
    1959 says Dropping my belt saved me once, and
    divers who pay attention to this thought may have
    their lives spared some time in the future.
    Terry is still competing in this sport 48 years
  • Your attitude (or mind set) is what will keep you
    alive. Dive with safety as your first thought.
    It will be too late to have it as an after
    thought if you dont.

Why a Whistle is a Good Idea
  • We were diving on Santa Barbara Island and heard
    a man yelling. The yell was coming from the
    direction of the setting sun and wind and seemed
    to be 300 plus yards away so we could not make
    out who was making the noise. At first, we
    assumed it was a kayak party coming around the
    island. After the yelling continued for some
    time we got alarmed and decided it was time to
    get our divers out of the water and go rescue
    this guy. It turned out to be a diver from the
    other small boat in the area. His boat was about
    100 yards away from him but up wind so he wasnt
    heard for a very long time by his boats driver.
    The diver had shot a large white sea bass and
    it had tied up to kelp about 60 feet down in 100
    foot of water. This was deeper than he could
    reach. He couldnt leave his spot since he had
    no way to mark it so he stayed there and yelled
    and yelled for 30 minutes until he finally got
    our attention. If he had carried a whistle, both
    boats would have easily heard him and known he
    needed help. Also, if he had an inflatable float
    to tie to the float line or kelp to mark the spot
    then he could have swam to his boat to retrieve
    the tank he needed to recover his fish.

Why a Whistle is a Good Idea Continued
  • This diver was not prepared for the type of
    hunting he was doing. You can buy a pocket size
    (when not inflated) salami shaped 3 - 6 long
    marking float for 30 to 40. Also, Skip Hellen
    has very big inflatable floats for sell that can
    lift 100 pounds and can give you the horse power
    to lift that fish out of kelp. Another important
    thing to remember when hunting large fish that
    are in an area that may go out of your
    capabilities is to be more careful of your shot
    and shoot for the head. It is much easier to
    control a fighting fish if you have control of
    their head and dont let it get turned for deep
    water or structure. Fish will almost always go
    down and out to deeper water and look for
    structure when scared or hurt. If you want to
    hunt game fish, then be prepared for the
    conditions you plan to be diving in. Your boat
    should have a tank on board plus you should have
    a float line or reel line 25 longer than the
    depth of water an inflatable float to mark your
    spot and hold up a fish a sharp knife capable of
    cutting steel shooting cable if you are using it
    and at a minimum shooting line and kelp and a
    whistle is always a good idea.

Dangers of Using a Float Line
  • I know of only one diver who died because he had
    his shooting line wrapped around his wrist
    several times to tug harder on the fish and then
    the grouper whet deeper under the rock and wedged
    his hand in a crack. One death is enough.
  • I was off Santa Barbara Island and decided to go
    out past the kelp bed to look for YT in the
    deeper water. There were no boats around so I
    figured it was safe to take my 125 float line
    out there. Since I had planned to stay in the
    kelp I had no signal float attached. On my way
    back in from deep water an 80 yacht cruising at
    low speed and completely silent to my ears drove
    past and caught my shooting line just 30 feet
    behind me ripping my gun out of my hands. I
    turned and started yelling and luckily the crew
    with a fisherman trolling on the back was alert
    and stopped the boat quickly. To my amazement I
    got the float line untied and with no damage to
    it. The crew was real nice to me considering
    what a jerk I was. My boat was a mile away and
    around the corner. They had no way to know I was
    there. I was amazed that a huge yacht could get
    so close to me without me hearing it.

Dangers of Using a Float Line Continued
  • It is easy to be tied up in your own shooting or
    float line during the commotion of fighting a
    large fish. Be careful to not let your float
    line pile around you when recovering a fish. Try
    to keep swimming up current while pulling a fish
    up. This will keep the line behind you. If you
    stay still when pulling a line up it will pile up
    all around you and then when the fish takes off
    on another tug-of-war you may end up getting tied
    up and drowned. This happened to me once even
    though I was swimming up current because there
    was a strong wind blowing the opposite direction
    and I didnt know that the surface conditions
    were keeping the line around my leg area. When
    the slip tip that was stuck in the backbone of a
    56 pound amberjack pulled out a bit it released
    the nerves of the fish so it could fight and the
    fish took off for the abyss and took me with it.
    My leg was wrapped and in seconds I found myself
    40 feet down being pulled by the fish below and
    the buoy above. I figured I had about 15 seconds
    to untie the wrap around my leg or I would have
    to pull my knife out and cut the line and loose
    the fish and gear. I won that battle with just
    seconds to spare.

Dangers of Using a Float Line Continued
  • I was diving for white sea bass off Palos Verdes
    and was in 20 feet of water with plenty of kelp
    all around when I shot a 35 pound white sea bass.
    The fish bolted and quickly wrapped on a kelp
    stock at the bottom. I knew from experience to
    not get excited and rush down to recover the
    fish. I caught my breath and waited until the
    fish looked tired out and then dove to recover
    the fish. I was down looking at the kelp stock
    trying to figure out where to cut the kelp
    without cutting my shooting line and float line
    when all of a sudden the fish took off for
    another fight and I found myself instantly
    wrapped several times around to the kelp stock.
    If I hadnt taken the time to catch my breath and
    if I hadnt been in great diving shape this could
    have been my last dive. I kept calm and used the
    knife already in my hand to cut my way free and
    surfaced with the fish in hand and the knife
    secure in its head. No more tricks for that

Dangers of Using a Float Line Continued
  • I was diving with two other divers last year in
    Florida and in the excitement of our first day of
    diving and first dive there of the trip, we
    forgot to put up a dive flag on our boat (we had
    one in the boat). We jumped in the water with
    float lines and Riffe flagless floats. Minutes
    later while we were in maybe 25 feet of water, a
    boat came by at 25 miles per hour and its
    outboard drive hit my float line pulling my
    loaded 130 cm gun out of my hands. My boat was
    at fault as we had not posted our boat dive flag
    nor did we have dive flags on our buoys.
    Fortunately, no one was hurt and somehow my float
    line did not get cut, but I learned a hard lesson
    - not to get too over-anxious at a unfamiliar
    dive location and forget about safety and safety
    rules. We should have had all our flags up as
    this was a relatively high traffic dive spot
    compared to the kelp beds of Northern California.
    I also learned that due to the higher number of
    fast boats in Florida, that I had to dive more
    defensively, particularly on weekends and stay
    closer to my boat. By Dave Edlund

Float Line Versus Reel, When Why to Use Them
  • Float Lines
  • Very effective when you need a float to wear down
    a game fish especially if remember to pull up and
    then clip the line off to your float.
  • Great in kelp, allowing you to get to the surface
    and still hold on to your fish. Is highly
    visible when diving down through the kelp to
    recover your fish.
  • The long trail behind you creates a hazard when
    boats are in the area.
  • The longer the line the higher the risk of
    getting tied up in your line.
  • Reels
  • A lot safer when diving in areas where there is
    boat traffic and the extra line gives you the
    ability to reach the surface when fighting a
    tug-of-war with a game fish.
  • Watch for a reel to make your gun heavier that
    water and then it will sink away to the abyss if
    you let it go.
  • It is hard to attach signal or recovery float to
    your system without a float line.
  • Consider this combination, a 60 foot bungee float
    line with buoy attached and a reel with another
    100 feet of line. This gives you advantages of

Reasons to Use a Float
  • First, and the major one in importance to me is
    the concept of "pulling and clipping" when
    bringing up a game fish. All the videos etc.,
    show some "super hero" "dancing and drowning" in
    free water pulling up the fish swimming out of
    the coils (or not) and its just plain nonsense.
    A 30lb fish can instantly turn into a 530 lb fish
    with the help of a seal or shark and if you have
    line around you, you can be in great danger. The
    simplest and safest way to land a fish is to
    "pull and clip. By Larry Carter
  • Floats wears out the fish and keeps your gear in
    reach of recovery.
  • Floats, when properly placed on your float line,
    can keep a fish from reaching the bottom and
    tying up in rocks too deep to recover.
  • Floats mark your location (kind of) but dont
    expect the average boat driver to see your float
    and abide by the laws. Boaters and Jet skiers
    love to come see what that float is doing there
    and run right over you.
  • Diver down flags greatly increase the range a
    float can be seen from.
  • Remember your 30 lb fish can quickly become a
    530 lb shark or seal so, utilize the Pull and
    Clip" ability that your float and tuna clip
    affords you."

Seal Danger
  • Seal Danger _at_ SBI ... This is a warning about a
    dangerous and aggressive seal based on the
    experiences of 3 divers, on different trips, that
    have recently had troubles with perhaps the same
    seal off SBI NE end. Here is the account of one
    of the divers and the other two incidents were
    very similar in respect to the size, persistence
    and aggression of the seal. Please remember that
    seals have a bite 4 times stronger than a full
    size German Sheppard guard dog so these wild
    animals should be considered extremely dangerous.
  • I'm writing this to share with you a dangerous
    experience I had at Santa Barbara Island while
    spear fishing. I had just speared a white sea
    bass when a very large male sea lion grabbed my
    fish and tried to swim off with it. I fought a
    tug of war with it but it was dragging me through
    the water and sometimes down 5 to 10 feet as I
    kept pulling the fish towards me. I would pick
    up the pace pulling hand over hand when he would
    let go of the fish ... as he sometimes did.

Seal Danger Continued
  • Although I tried not to get tangled in my
    shooting line, it still happened twice in all the
    commotion, once around my upper arm and once
    around my ankle. Luckily it was during breaks in
    his strong tugging. I was able to untangle
    myself before he started to pull again. When I
    finally got the fish in my hands, I thought he
    would circle around yet keep his distance, but he
    didn't. He had no hesitation in coming right up
    to me, getting in my face and grabbing the fish
    still in my hands. I tried to fend him off by
    kicking him with my fin and poking him with the
    back end of my shaft (the font end still had the
    fish on it) but he just kept on coming. He
    finally pulled the fish out of my hands and swam
    off with it. My 125' float line was moving
    through the water so fast that I thought he might
    take it all so I grabbed it and hung on as I
    inflated my utility float. I worked the float to
    the shooting line and he still pulled the float
    down 10 feet. I was tired and well aware of the
    danger I was in of drowning so I decided to give
    him the fish....but not the shaft and tip. By
    this time the fish had no head and the body was
    getting mangled as he bit it and thrashed it
    about in order to eat it. I pulled the fish in
    again between his tugging at it and finally got
    it in my hands again.

Seal Danger Continued
  • In my hurry to get the tip through the fish it
    toggled inside of it. He yanked it away and swam
    off with it again. Little by little I pulled it
    back in again and then pulled out my knife to cut
    the tip out. Meanwhile the sea lion was in my
    face again ready to get his meal back. I stabbed
    him in the side of the head with my knife
    thinking that this will get him to back off but
    he only flinched back momentarily.......and then
    kept on coming. I don't think my poke penetrated
    his thick hide. I concentrated on cutting the
    fish open so I could pull out my spear tip out
    and was able to get it just as he grabbed the
    fish again and swam off with it to finish his
    feast. The ordeal was over and I was OK.
    Luckily "Murphy" was occupied elsewhere and I get
    to tell the story. I share this with you hoping
    that someone else doesn't drown from one of these
    encounters. Although it would not have prevented
    this incident, from now on I'm going to swim my
    fish back to the boat ASAP when I'm at SBI.
    Swimming around with a fish around your waist is
    tempting fate. As for my story...Yes, I know
    that harming a marine mammal is a federal crime
    but in this instance I was the endangered
    species......It was self defense!

You Can Smile Only When You Come Back Safely
Remember, There Are Many Good Reasons to Dive Safe
Web Sites to Help You Plan a Safe, Productive
and Fun Dive/Boat Trip Last Updated 8 March 2007
  • Below is a great list of diving/boating/sea
    conditions weather forecast websites that is a
    combined product of Skip Hellen and my research
    over the years.  If saving time, ensuring safety
    and having good boating/diving conditions is
    important to you, along with the ability to plan
    a dive trip somewhat reliable up to 3 days in
    advance then you will love this list.  I have
    tried to make the listing as user friendly as
    possible.  The most important categories to check
    are prioritized and listed first to last plus my
    favorite site in each category is listed first.
    The other sites are backup and additional depth
    if further analysis is needed.
  • Three-Day Swell Forecast http//
    vrecentsubforecast Current Swell Conditions
    in SC
  • http//
  • http//

Web Sites to Help You Plan a Safe, Productive
and Fun Dive/Boat Trip Continued
  • Key SC Weather Buoys Providing Current and Past
    Swell Conditions, Wind Speed/Direction,
    Air/Water Temperatures
  • http//
    n46063 Point Conception
  • http//
    46025 Santa Monica Bay
  • http//
    n46047 Tanner Banks
  • http//
    n46086 San Clemente Island, S.E. End
  • Other Off Shore Weather Buoys and Master List of
    Buoys http//
    ml http//
  • Marine Weather Forecast - Local synopsis
  • http//
  • http//
    eles http//

Web Sites to Help You Plan a Safe, Productive
and Fun Dive/Boat Trip Continued
  • Best overall Water condition site is
  • http//
  • Winds for SC Ocean Coastal Speed and
    Direction Provided http//
    air/analysis.html This is a great site to see
    what the current winds are doing.
  • Tides http//
  • http//
    brilloBeach2CCalifornia http//facs.scripps.ed
  • Moon Calendar - shows phases of the moon
  • http//

Web Sites to Help You Plan a Safe, Productive
and Fun Dive/Boat Trip Continued
  • The Big picture Via Satellite (Great
    Stuff) http//
    tPacificHIRESLoopprodnavnone Pacific
    Satellite weather
  • http//
    prodnavnone world satellite weather view
  • http//
    apsnameindex_large_animatedday1 SoCal
    Weather/rain radar loop
  • http//
    .ksox.shtml SoCal Radar showing
    rain http//
    n.1km.vis.html http//
    aLinks/ http//
    her/npac_anim.shtml http//

Web Sites to Help You Plan a Safe, Productive
and Fun Dive/Boat Trip Continued
  • Water Visibility Indicator. Note, this is a pay
    site http//
  • Surface Water Temp http//
  • http//
  • http//

Web Sites to Help You Plan a Safe, Productive
and Fun Dive/Boat Trip Continued
  • Islands San Clemente http//
    / San Nicholas http//
    ta/nsis/lasthour.html Charts http//www.4seatow.
    com/charts.htm Artificial Reefs off
    California http//

Web Sites to Help You Plan a Safe, Productive
and Fun Dive/Boat Trip Continued
  • Department of Fish Game (DFG) Regulation
  • http//
  • Jet Stream Analyses
  • http//
  • Fishing Info / Hot bites
  • http//
  • This is a map of recent fish catch reports
  • http//
  • http//

Web Sites to Help You Plan a Safe, Productive
and Fun Dive/Boat Trip Continued
  • I saved the best till last. Here is the best
    site of all for scouting an areas bottom to find
    reefs and for getting GPS wave-points for
    locations you want to go to, to see the
    temperature and chlorophyll count to approximate
    visibility. I dont know how they do this for
    free but I love it.
  •  http//
  • Learn how to use this site and you will be able
    to develop an incredible amount of knowledge
    about an area before you ever get there.

Introducing the Author, By Skip Hellen
  • It is my pleasure to introduce Doug Van Mullem
    to the audience of this survival safety
    presentation. I have known and dove with Doug
    since 1993 and know him to be a safe and wise
    diver. With this presentation, Doug brings a lot
    of safety and practical experience to the diving
  • Doug started freediving and spearfishing in the
    Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Turkey in 1961
    at the age of 7. At the age of 11, he chose to
    train for diving by joining a swim team and
    continued to swim competitively until age 30. He
    was an All American swimmer at the Nations
    junior college level, and used this skill to
    become a California beach lifeguard for 5 years
    until joining the United States Air Force for 23
    years. His first diving mentor was Chris
    Blakesley, son of one of our legendary
    grandfathers of our sport, Chuck Blakesley, the
    founder of Skin Diver Magazine. Chris was a
    lifeguard legend and a great diver too. He
    taught Doug the art of hunting halibut and today
    Doug has published the best paper on halibut
    hunting I have ever seen .

Introducing the Author, By Skip Hellen Continued
  • Doug has been in 3 dive clubs. The first was a
    freediving spearfishing club called the Delta
    Divers of San Diego where he won Diver of the
    Year in 1976. In 1980, while in the Air Force,
    he came to Los Angeles and met a great diver and
    grandfather of our sport - Charlie Sturgill.
    Charlie had great knowledge and he was always
    willing to share it. Then in 1984 he was
    transferred to Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB)
    in Northern Santa Barbara County and joined the
    base dive club. He was president for a year and
    safety officer for several years. The ocean
    dive conditions there were dangerous and
    therefore club officers were required to take
    every new member applicant out for a safety
    check-out dive before they could become members.
    He returned to Los Angeles in 1993 and joined the
    Fathomiers and 2 years later was the president of
    the club. As a Fathomier, he competed in two US
  • Today, he likes to give back to our great sport
    by writing safety and hunting technique articles.
  • Contact information
  • Phone (714) 378-1562 Email dvanmullem_at_socal.rr.c