Tips for Safely Diving the Vandenberg

 1) Predisposing factors for decompression sickness (DCS) include:

a. Dehydration

b. Age

c. Cold water

d. Fatigue

e. Body fat

f. Fitness level

g. Illness

h. Prior injury in joints

i. Consumption of alcohol before/after a dive

j. Heavy exercise during the dive, such as fighting a current

k. Flying after diving

2) Use common sense! If you have one or more of these predisposing factors, dive conservatively.

3) You MUST have either a dive watch or dive computer to dive the Vandenberg.

4) Re-familiarize yourself with the dive tables or use a dive computer

5) Decide in advance with your buddy the depth and bottom time of your dive (“plan your dive and dive your plan”)

6) Do not “push” the dive tables or computer. Be conservative and back off a few minutes from the no-decompression limits to give yourself an extra margin of safety.

7) Carefully watch your air consumption. You will be using air at least two to three times faster than you do on a shallow reef dive. Air consumption definitely will increase if you are swimming against current – a common occurrence at the wreck. You should begin your ascent with no less than 1000 psi in your tank and be back on board with no less than 500 psi.

8) Make sure you are well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water before and after the dive.

9) Slowly ascend at the end of your dive. Ascending at 30 feet/minute or slower is recommended.

10) Do a 3 minute safety stop at 5m/15 feet. Better yet, do two safety stops, the first at 15m/50 feet for 3-5 minutes and the second at 5m/15 feet for 3-5 minutes.

11) DO NOT dive the wreck if you are flying today within 12 hours of the dive! If you do repetitive dives and/or multi-day dives, a minimum of 18 hours of surface interval before you fly is recommended. The longer you wait after diving, the better!

12) As a local physician/diver recently recommended, consider getting supplemental insurance that covers dive accidents; there are no recompression chambers in Key west and the cost of evacuation and treatment will run into the “many tens of thousands of dollars.” Divers Alert Network offers affordable dive injury insurance.