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The Big Thumb

 

“Thumbs – up” in any situation other than diving is the universal signal for having an awesome time, and it is a pretty hard habit to break when you are having fun. As a recreational scuba instructor in Cyprus it is part of my job to teach hand signals to use while underwater, and nothing irks me more than this signs continuous misuse. I know diving is fun. I know diving is the most liberating feeling in the world. I know that photo opportunities to share on Facebook are hard to turn down. Seriously guys? Listen to your compass and your course instructor more than your feelings!

 

The big thumb means one thing and one thing only…..GO UP! It is time to end the dive, slowly safely and according to plan. If a diver “thumbs” the dive, all other divers in the group repeat the thumbs up sign and the entire team surfaces. There is no room for discussion and no one questions the signal. The dive is over.

Alright! Ok! I get it! Stop going on about it! I will, very soon – I promise.

Why am I going on and on about the big thumb? Well, many times on a dive with experienced divers I have watched a diver give the thumbs up only to have his buddy question the signal. This generally leads to a lot of confusing, rapid gestures from the whole team – a whole conversation of hands and fingers as to whether or not to really end the dive. This only makes matters worse. If the diver starting to run low on air this confusion only wastes time. Problems should always be communicated, but the decision to end the dive should never be questioned. All instructors stress the importance of the thumb on an open water course, but sadly – when we release students into the wild they often let their bad habits kick in again. This post is a reminder, diving is serious fun – so treat hand signals with the respect they deserve.

 

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