Check you out! - The Buddy Check

There are many preparations required before you go diving; get gas, pick a dive site, get a buddy, pack your gear, and buy post dive beer – all that important stuff. Today’s post I am focusing on one particular aspect; the buddy check.

Lately I have had the great pleasure of diving with quite a few different divers.

I know what most of you are thinking; “Poor I Are Diver … Wifebuddy has finally seen the light and left him. Although he’s so narcissistic, he practically brought it on himself…” 

In fact, this is not the case. I do still possess a Wifebuddy and we continue to dive together on a regular basis, i have simply managed to slip an extra dive in here and there with new buddies I have met over the interweb.

I are having a dive-affair.

My new buddy's configuration

To be honest, I think teh arrangement has suited Kerri just fine on those freezing cold, damp, dark evenings when I suggest I may go diving and get the look; “Really. Have a nice time. I presume you have a buddy?

Anyway, the point being, I have encountered different divers, a lot of different kit, and varying gear configurations.

Wifebuddy and I dive a Hogarthian set up, in a GUE/DIR style configuration.

Our kit, despite being different brands, is pretty much identical. This makes the buddy check a little easier as we are very familiar where everything is and how it works, coupled with the fact I dive with Kerri every week.


The Hog thing works well for us; but i am far from averse to diving with others in different configurations. In a way it is beneficial for me to do just that, as it makes me pay more attention during the buddy check, keeping me on top of the system as a whole.

The buddy check was probably the first thing I learned when I started diving. My very first dive was a try dive in our local swimming pool, and even then I was 'spoon fed' the check system by the instructor.

Buddy check at my try dive

Every diver has their own personal buddy check, and as far as I am concerned; if you do one at all that makes you a very cool diver. I thought I would post the check that Wifebuddy and I use, and one that I prefer to go through when diving with new buddies.

I conducted my initial training with PADI, being taught the BWRAF (BCD, Weights, Releases, Air, Final Check) system and I have used it since I started diving.

As my diving progressed the checks evolved slightly, becoming a little more focused, a little faster and increasingly fluent.

When Wifebuddy and I undertook our TDI course, the instructor modified our buddy check in a few ways, to suit the slight changes in configuration, and added a few extra points.

To date I have found this to be the most effective, easiest to conduct, and most importantly REMEMBER!

It’s basically the BWRAF, but I thought I would run through our exact check, and explain what I do at each point.

I Are Diver Buddy Check


  • Air inpress inflator button on corrugated hose

  • Air Outpress deflator on corrugated hose

  • Dump Valve left hiplocate and pull dump valve

  • Dry suit connectedlocate and depress inflator valve

  • Dump valve fully openlocate shoulder dump and ensure it is fully open


  • Weight belt right hand release under my harnessphysically tough weight belt ensuring it can be released with my right hand.


  • Right hand release locate waistband buckle and demonstrate where to pull to release harness.

  • Knife on left side can be used to cut me outtouch knife.

  • In an emergency cut me out, don’t forget to cut bungee round my neck and disconnect drysuit hoseI point to an area of my harness, which when cut, will result in it falling off. I also show where bungee is and point to drysuit hose.


  • I have [state amount] bar of [state mix] and my computer is set to [confirm mix] physically look at gauge and check my computer is set to the mix I have previously analysed.

  • Main regbreathe off primary regulator watching gauge for irregularities.

  • Back upbreathe of back up watching gauge for irregularities.

  • Smells ok and tastes okdetermined after I breathe off it.

  • In an OOG emergency I will donate the reg from my mouth and deploy my long hoseI physically take the primary regulator and uncoil my hog looped long hose demonstrating it isn’t tangled.


  • My mask, fins are herephysically locate mask and fins

  • I have [additional equipment] herephysically touch reels, smbs, spools, back up mask clipped off or grip pockets to make sure they are full.

  • Do I look good? ask buddy to take a look around me to make sure I’ve nothing weird sticking out, hoses aren’t caught anywhere and that everything looks fabulous.

  • LET'S GO DIVING! - jump in!

When doing the check I like to let each diver take it in turn to go through each point.

i.e. I check my buoyancy equipment, then my buddy checks his, I then check my weight belt, my buddy checks his; and so on.

I admit, when reading through it seems a bit excessive, but in practice I can rattle through it rightly. I would like it to be a little faster, but i can't find a way of reducing the check without compromising the effectiveness.

Try it yourself, it just take a bit of getting used to.

The Buddy Check Killer

Personally, I really try and conduct this buddy check EVERY dive. In an ideal world that would be great, but we have all been on the cattle boat, in rough conditions, or we get lazy, or simply forget.

Being rushed is the buddy check killer.

I often feel under pressure when diving from a boat, probably as I don’t do it very often; shore diving is SO much easier to me!

As I sit on a rocking boat with a skipper shouting, “You need to get in right now, we’re going to miss slack water!” – All I care about is getting off the boat and into the water where the goodness is.

This is when I am most likely to rush my checks, or skip a proper check entirely.

It really pisses me off when I do it, I have no excuse. I honestly make a real effort to do the best buddy check I can, as often as I can.

What’s your buddy check? Do you ever skip it? Have I missed anything?


  1. I think this has covered everything, completely. But then my buddy check tends to be a relaxed glance over my buddy's kit - as we both kit up and before entry. Whilst I leave them responsible for checking their air is on, and me for mine I will sometimes prompt for a quick check if I feel things have been rushed or detect stress. Once in water I do a visual to check their kit is ok whilst adjusting mine if need be.

    When I learned to dive, when the PADI adv was intimidating ("what? right after the open water? don't I need some experience first?" how little I appreciated the form filling exercise that course really is!). My buddy on my Adv was a USAF engineer working with Apache's - he had a whopping 150 dives under his belt. I had my OW the day before. He was god. He also, bizarrely told me that he prefers his cylinder fully opened and then closed 1 1/2 turns otherwise it breathed too freely. As green as I was it still sounded like bollocks. One dive, as the instructor decided to stay on the boat due to ear infection (I'd seen him down the bar the night before) my buddy leaped in without a buddy check. Me, being paranoid spent the first 10mins of the dive watching him, convinced he was going to implode or something - at about the 11 minute I saw him reach around to his cylinder and close it. Then he breathed out. Then he started sinking. Before he could hit the sand about 2msw below I had my octo in his mouth and was turning his cylinder back on. Ok and his reg back in and carry on the dive. Back on the boat I got an embarrassed, whispered, "Thanks for the squirt of air". I can only guess that he'd cracked open the cylinder 1/2 turn instead of fully open and then back 1 1/2 turns - then, ten minutes into the dive, felt some resistance and then mistakenly turned it off. Twit.

    But, whilst I'm a bit slack on rigorous checks it's taught me to always keep an regular eye on whomever I'm diving with; if I'm diving with someone.

  2. Sounds like a scary enough situation that could have went very badly. You reacted extremely well, especially for a newly qualified diver.

    A few quick checks can certainly prevent silly mistakes, but ultimately we are responsible for ourselves.

    When I first started I always got about 3 different divers to check my air was on properly; I could never get my head around which way valves turned!

    I open my valves fully then back slightly to stop them from sticking open, I case I need to do a shutdown etc.

    Cheers for commenting.


Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!

Safe diving buddy.