Is Spearfishing Alone Stupid?
Wherever possible you should spearfish with a buddy. However if this is not possible before diving alone you should do a risk assessment of the conditions, your fitness etc
Read the full blog by Noob Spearo below.
This is an email exchange with a listener from the Noob Spearo Podcast Community. Below I lay out my answer and then follow on with a podcast episode I recorded with Pat Swanson about diving alone. I hope you can discover the joy of diving in a team as it is very rewarding and increases safety exponentially. Enjoy!
Message: “Hey guys, I am a new Spearo living in Boston, Massachusetts (USA) spending most of my weekends in Cape Cod. I have just had my first spearing adventure which consisted of a lot of swallowing salt water and shooting a fish with a spear that I lost due to being so excited that I didn’t lift it out of the water in time for it to keep from wiggling away. I am wondering, you always speak of avoiding diving alone. But I have only one friend who is into this, and am looking for a community but it’s sparse in my state. Would you say that even just snorkeling with a speargun alone by the shore is a bad idea? I felt like it wasn’t anything involving deep diving (or diving at all for that matter) but I get paranoid now hearing about all these blackouts. This water was not even ten feet in some parts. Mainly spearing around rock Getty’s and old boardwalks. What do you think?”
Shrek “Hey mate,
Simple answer, yes I recommend going with a buddy whenever possible...
...BUT I know it's not always possible so here are a few things to think about when you do a risk assessment. This will hopefully help you understand the root cause of your anxiety and allow you to leave it on the beach/boat before you head out.
Do a risk assessment before you head to the beach AND once you arrive there.
- Conditions that you might dive in with a buddy quickly become an unwise proposition when you are by yourself. Large swell, current, boat traffic are your biggest concerns. A good entry point and multiple exit plans/points can counteract this but I am quite strict with what conditions I consider 'safe enough' when I head out alone (because I do occasionally).
- You need a good understanding of what your capabilities are in terms of finning fitness and the ability to cope with stress effectively enough to look after yourself should difficulties arise (because they do). If the spot you want to dive requires a 300 yard swim before (and after) you start spearfishing, then maybe that is a spot to save for diving only with a buddy.
- Sharks. You can minimize your chances for any contact simply by using a type of boat float like a banks board or similar. This means the fish are out of the water once you have killed them and so sharks won't generally hang around. You can make one with a body board, cooler and a few jockie straps quite economically.
- Freediving. If you are diving very conservatively (<20-30ft) and ensuring you have adequate surface intervals between dives, you can do this with reduced risk HOWEVER this is possibly the riskiest part of the whole proposition. When I dive shallow, I often forget (in my excitement) to slow down and spend more time on the surface. If you create some strict rules for yourself, don't hyperventilate and apply a degree of caution, I think you can do it with an acceptable level of risk.
- If your mask strap breaks, will you be able to make it back to shore? If the surf picks up, will you be able to go in the same way? If the tide changes and the current increases, can you make it out safely?
- First Aid Kit
- Contact person
- Safety equipment
- Extra Dive Knife
This is a broad template but hopefully it will give you a few ideas. Ere on the side of caution but life is for living and accepting a level of risk makes life fun.
Spearfishing always contains a level of risk and your best piece of safety equipment is your BUDDY but I so dive alone occasionally and while I don't recommend it, I'm not going to pretend I don't do it (here are some pics from a while ago shore diving solo in New Zealand. I accepted the risk when I decided to go out).” - Shrek
Dive Alone | The Spearfishing Dillema Episode