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Rope Signals for Divers

Rope Signals for Divers

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Published by Iain McCulloch
In low- or limited-visibility diving conditions, recreational divers often use combinations of long and short pulls on a rope to communicate with each other, or with the surface. This article describes such a system. Part of the "Technical Topics" series of articles for recreational SCUBA divers.
In low- or limited-visibility diving conditions, recreational divers often use combinations of long and short pulls on a rope to communicate with each other, or with the surface. This article describes such a system. Part of the "Technical Topics" series of articles for recreational SCUBA divers.

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Published by: Iain McCulloch on Sep 17, 2010
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10/01/2010

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ROPE SIGNALS
 Most of us are (or at least should be) familiar with the basic BSAC rope signals for divers.These are available for conditions in which the normal range of diving signals cannot be used(for example: dives in extreme low visibility conditions), for communication between diversusing a buddy line or between a surface tender and a diver (either in roped diver operation, orsimply by using the SMB to communicate with a pair of divers from the boat). For signalsbetween the diver and the surface, these are:-SIGNAL SURFACE DIVER1 pull "Are you OK?" "I am OK"2 pulls "Stay Put" "I am stationary"3 pulls "Go down" "Going down"4 pulls "Come up" "Coming up"Continuous "Emergency - "Emergency -pulls bringing you to bring me tothe surface" the surface"When used for communication between a buddy pair by means of the buddy line, there is aslight variation in the meaning of 3-pulls or 4-pulls:3 pulls Move away from me (to line limit)4 pulls Come to meIt is normal practice for all signals from the tender to the diver, or from the diver to the tender,to be preceded by one pull to attract attention. The signal is then made after the answering singlepull.As with any signals, all signals received must be acknowledged, normally by repeating thesignal, but only if the signal is clearly understood. A signal which is not acknowledged (or onewhich is acknowledged incorrectly) the person making the signal should repeat it until a correctacknowledgement is received. The exception to this rule is the emergency signal which is notacknowledged, but must be acted on immediately.If the diver is at work to accomplish some task, it should be noted that they may not be able toacknowledge immediately, and so the person making the signal should wait a few momentsbefore repeating the signal. As with much else in diving, common sense should prevail.Although limited in scope, a great deal can actually be accomplished using only these signals.However, even the least experienced Novice can surely see how restricting the lack of 
 
communication provided by these signals can be.Fortunately for us, an extended set of signals is available to us comprising a system of longsteady and distant "pulls" and short,sharp "bells" which are made with the same timing asstriking a ship's bell.
It is important to note that pulls and bells must never be madeviolently because of the obvious possibility of injury.
 The signals which I find particularly useful are those used by the Royal Engineers DivingEstablishment (REDE). These are divided into groups, and so the meaning of a signal willdepend on when it is used. Although the full set of signals can be used, it would be more usualfor sport divers to agree the subset which apply to the particular dive and which are to be used.Another alternative would be for the group of divers to use these signals as the basis fordeveloping their own set of rope signals.As on any dive - agree your signals before entering the water (remember SEEDS!).The full set of signals is reproduced below for information and guidance:-SINGLE LIFELINE SIGNALS
Attendant to Diver
 General signals:1 pull To call attention; "Are you well?"2 pulls Am sending down a rope (or as pre-arranged)3 pulls You have come up too farGo down slowly until we stop you4 pulls Come up4 pulls, 2 bells Come up; hurry up; surface decompression4 pulls, 5 bells Come up your safety floatDirection signals:1 pull Search where you are2 bells Go to the end of distance line/ Jackstay3 bells Face shot then go right4 bells Face shot then go left5 bells Come to shot/ turn back if on a jackstay

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