COVI19 – Chronological Approach to Running Boat Diving (CARB Diving)

These are the protocols for diving within the branch. They are to be followed as a minimum for any branch diving. The aim is to minimise the risk of Covid transmission to as low as reasonably practicable. This will hopefully ensure diving is accessible to more members. If you feel that you cannot follow these guidelines or that they do not minimise your perceived allowable risk then please update the committee as to why. The aim is to enable diving, not to hinder it.

This is to be used by all members – Divers, Cox’ns and Dive Managers. This is to be used as an aide to assist with Diving. At all times Government Guidelines https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus and BSAC guidelines https://www.bsac.com/advice-and-support/covid-19-advice-and-support/ must be checked and followed. This is to be used in conjunction but is secondary to official documentation. The Plymouth Sound Branch Handbook is to be utilised; however, it is acknowledged that current guidelines might be at odds to it. If in doubt contact the Diving Officer or Chairman.

Planning a Dive: Dive Manager to plan the dive in accordance with BSAC procedures. Read Government and BSAC advice that day – it is evolving and can change significantly. Send out details of dive plan to Diving Officer and Assistant Diving Officer. Dives are to be conservative:

  • Build up depth progressively
  • Do not plan for mandatory decompression stops
  • Do not dive in strong currents where risk of separation is increased
  • A maximum depth of 30m is suggested
  • No night dives or overhead environments
  • Divers are encouraged to carry an independent gas source (pony cylinder/bail out)
  • Special care should be focused on ascents. Ideally use of a point of reference such as shot line, SMB/DSMB line, or natural topography
  • Special care should be taken to ensure the boat cover is able to monitor their divers at all times to minimise the risk of separation and the consequent need to call for assistance

If anyone on the dive has not dived in the last month then dives are to be restricted to a maximum depth of 20m. We are to encourage those who are returning to diving and not dissuading them by organising dives only suitable for dived up divers. As often as possible the site is to be chosen once divers have signed up. E.g. Dive on Wednesday meet at 10:00. Not Elk dive (30m) meet at 10:00.

Advertising to Branch: Advertise to branch through both Email and Social Media with dive details requesting that all participants read the guidelines above by including the links in your description. Request that if there is any doubt as to their own health or someone in their household then they are not to attend. All divers must bring a face-covering, their own personal alcoholic gel rub and their own pen for gas logs. Divers must pre book onto the dive and not just turn up on the day. Divers must provide to the dive manager the following information prior to departure via email (Please CC, Diving Officer and Assistant Diving Officer).

In Case of Emergency (ICE) Details: (Name, Address and Contact Number)

Confirmation that they are medically fit to dive; kit is serviceable and they will dive in accordance with BSAC’s safe diving procedures.

Day of Dive: Re read both the Government’s and BSAC’s guidelines to identify any changes. Check on divers’ health. Plan where each diver is positioned in the boat with regards to their buddy. Email dive plan along with estimated time that diving operations will be completed to Diving Officer and Assistant Diving Officer.

Actions Mount Batten Watersports Centre… We acknowledge that there is no obvious way of maintaining a 2m distance, therefore, all members must wear face-coverings around the boat shed and yard. If it is not specifically stated that a face-covering is to be worn it is still implied.

If hand washing is to be done in soapy water (soap plus water) then it is to be done for 2mins. Otherwise personal alcoholic cleaning gel can be used. For the purposes of this document I refer to soap and water.

Pre-Dive and Dive Brief: In the open space of the yard or carpark brief the divers on the pre-launch and launch actions. Reminders regarding face- coverings to be worn and the washing of hands at opportunities. Inform divers where their kit is to go. Inform members of the dive site and any other relevant information as laid down by BSAC’s guides to dive briefs.

Logging and Payments: One person is to be designated to log divers and take payment. Currently we have an electronic card reader. This is the preferred method of payment and the cost will be £20 for a dive. If using cash, a £20 note can be used and placed directly in the dive log envelope. NO CHANGE WILL BE GIVEN.

Gas Room: One member inside at the panel. If cylinders are to be filled then they are to be left within the taped area just inside the door and above the step. When signing and analysing cylinders there is to be only one person in at a time. Ensure hands are washed before and after use of gas analyser. A bucket of soapy water will be left for members to utilise before and after actions at the entrance of the gas room.

Removing the boat from the shed: Hands to be washed by all members using the bucket of soapy water. All members to wear face-coverings. One on the bow and two on the stern of the vessel. Use the chocks provided in the shed to stop the boat. Wash hands in the bucket of soapy water.

Hitching the trailer to the vehicle: Hands to be washed in soapy water. At this point there is a real possibility of proximity by two people hitching so ensure that you attempt to breathe away from each other. Wear face-coverings.  Wash hands in soapy water.

Fuelling the boat: Wash hands before and after opening the fuel store. Hands washed, face-coverings worn and attempts not to breathe at each other when passing up cans. Any spillages rinsed off with fresh water.

Prepping of divers personal Equipment: As much as possible, all divers kit to be pre prepared at home. If a cylinder is to be fitted, then it is taken into the carpark and added at the car and then the full system taken down to the yard. Divers should attempt to provide their own independent emergency gas supply – pony/sidemount/bailout.

Loading the boat from the yard: This is not the preferred option – the preferred option is loading form the pontoon as it reduces the numbers congregating around the boat and in the yard. We acknowledge that few members can pass their equipment into the boat by themselves. We would encourage this if possible so after washing hands and ensuring face-covering worn, walk up the ladder and place equipment in its designated spot. If not, then with the kit on your back walk to the rib and turn away so that the rear of the equipment is leaning on the tube. The member on the boat, wearing a face-covering is to hold the equipment (doing their best to ensure not touching any valves or mouthpieces) whilst the diver, who is also waring a face-covering removes themselves and then assists from the base to pass the kit up. As much personal kit is to go in the divers designated space. Due to reduced numbers this can include Scuba, stages, and goody bags. Please bring minimal kit for the dive. Bucket and soap provided onboard.

Prior to departure: Boat rinsed down as much as possible.

Drysuit Donning: Drysuits to be donned outside boat shed, preferably at the back of your vehicle in the carpark. Do not share suit lube. For those with rear zips ensure that you are wearing face-coverings and are facing away from each other as much as possible when assisting each other to zip up/unzip. The changing facility at the back of the shed is not to be used. Clothes to be kept in vehicles.

Launching: Driver reverses trailer down to waterside and one designated individual removes winch and painter. One person, wearing a face-covering is to be positioned at the bow and others along the sides, also wearing face-coverings to assist the removal of the boat from the trailer. Cox’n plus one enter the RIB and wash hands in the bucket. RIB taken to pontoon. Other members make way to the pontoon and on stepping onto the boat one at a time wash hands. Try and position yourselves on the boat appropriately, as far apart as possible and wearing face-coverings. Trailer is returned to the yard and shed where it is rinsed and put away. Hands to be washed by those putting it away.

Loading the boat from the pontoon: This is the preferred option as it reduces the numbers of divers congregating around the boat and in the yard. Some members might prefer to load form the pontoon. If this is the case they can wash their hands and then walk down, face-covering in place, with all their kit to the boat, walk straight on, de-kit and place in its assigned spot. If doing so please be aware of the option of utilising someone to assist you stepping into the boat, it is a wobbly surface. Drysuits must be done up whilst cross decking. Once in the boat hands must be washed and surfaces wiped down. If a trolley is used ensure that it is wiped down before and after use.

As per BSAC guidelines and Government rules, it is difficult, even in a large RIB to maintain a 2m socially distanced space. Therefore, it is always required to wear a face-covering when practicable.

Transiting to and from site: Cox’n to position divers in an appropriate manner ensuring social distancing taking place and that face-coverings are worn.

Moving around the boat: Divers will need to move around the boat. To avoid climbing over each other it is suggested that you utilise a one-way system – clockwise so that people can get to their equipment. If you must pass a diver, then pass back to back and ensure you have a firm hold of the vessel so as not to fall overboard. If necessary, split the boat into two areas. A diver kitting up area and a cox’n and crew mate area.

Shotting the site: One person to set up the shot and deploy it on command of the Cox’n. Hands to be washed prior to and after deployment. Shot to be deployed by designated diver. Most probably the cox’n’s buddy positioned towards the bow.

Kitting up: Most divers will not be able to kit up entirely by themselves. They will need assistance which will be within 2m. Ensure face-coverings are in place and hands are washed. Ensure that you do not touch valves or mouth pieces. One person to assist one diver is preferable. Once assisted move out of the way. Face-covering of the diver to be removed when donning of hood. Mask is not to be spat into nor a bucket used to rinse it. Use commercial antifog/toothpaste/potatos/other technique. It is expected that the dive mask would then be placed on their face and a mouthpiece into their mouth. If this is not the case for any reason, then face-covering to be reapplied.

Deploying Divers: Divers to be deployed as standard within BSAC guidelines.

Second set of Divers: If diving the Ribcraft there is a likelihood that there will be a second set of divers to deploy. These divers should be deployed approximately 2/3rds of the way through the planned dive time of the first pair. This will hopefully ensure that there is no congestion.

Recovering Divers: With no lift divers will have to de-kit in the water. There will be lines from the amidships cleat to the stern cleat for divers to utilise along with large clips. Divers are to keep dive masks on and mouthpieces in their mouth for as long as possible. Kit can be passed to a member in the boat, however, please ensure hands are washed and face-coverings are worn. Best attempts made at not holding valves or mouthpieces. Current onboard members are to make as much space as possible for divers who are entering as they do not have face-coverings on. Divers are to make their own way into the boat. If this is not possible then members can assist in the best and safest manner. As soon as practicable, the recently exited diver is to place a face-covering on. The preferable way to recover a diver is for the diver to de-kit in the water and tie their kit off onto the provided lines and clips. They recover themselves and then recover their kit once a face-covering has been applied and hands washed. We appreciate that this is not always possible due to fitness or conditions.

Handover: Divers exiting the water to be given an opportunity to stow all their equipment neatly and safely. The cox’n is to provide oral hand over to new cox’n. The conn of the rib is to be washed down as best as practicable ensuring that the wheel and throttle is given a suitable clean using soap and water. The dive manager is to provide an oral handover and pass over a washed (with soap and water) slate to the new dive manager. Divers to kit up and move around the boat following the procedures above.

Food, Drink and Facilities: Divers are not to share food and drink nor to place it in the communal areas. It is to be kept in their own kit bag or dry bag. The Mountbatten Centres facilities are currently closed so it is envisaged that members will be relieving themselves overboard. Standard hygiene rules to be applied along with a wipe down of any surfaces used as hand holds during actions.

Recovering other pair of Divers: As above.

Emergency: If there is an emergency the decision of what to do is on you as a rescuer. You must decide what risks you are willing to take. The equipment on the boats has been enhanced to reduce the risk of transmission. The main priority is to not have an issue and if you do, have rapid recovery of the casualty into the boat. The risk to the casualty, if nothing is done, is very high. The risk to the rescuer, by taking action, is low. However, it is entirely your decision if willing to take the risk. The rescuer is the most important person in any rescue situation.

Recovering shot line: One diver, preferably of the first pair is to wash hands with soap and water and recover the shot. The line can be stowed by a second person who has also washed their hands, but care must be taken to prevent unnecessary contamination of each other. Due to the physical nature of this face-coverings must be worn.

Transit: As above.

Recovering the RIB: RIB is to come along side the pontoon and two divers to disembark. Both wash ands prior to departing the RIB. One recovers the vehicle whilst the other opens the shed and removes padlocks ensuring hands are washed before and after keys are used. Wash hands again and removes trailer from shed. Hitches the trailer to the vehicle and washes hands. Vehicle with trailer to slipway where the RIB will meet it. Bucket is to be removed from RIB. Cox’n and crew mate hold RIB in position whilst trailer man winches. If there is any hand over then hands are washed by both. Once RIB is attached securely hands to be washed again by all parties. RIB is recovered into the yard. Padlocks are replaced and hands washed.

Unloading from the RIB: Members may wish to unload form the RIB at the pontoon. Ensure the boat is tied securely. The member is to remove all their kit onto the pontoon bar their scuba set which can be placed on the back and walked out. If assistance is required then face-coverings must be worn. If a trolley is used ensure that it is wiped down before and after use.

Unhitching of trailer: One person to wash hands and unhitch trailer. Divers to position themselves appropriately around the boat to push it to a suitable point.

Wash down: Engines and Trailer to be washed down as usual. Ensuring that hands are washed before and after attachment. Attempts to be made to wash down individuals kit whilst still in suit.

Kit removal: It would be preferred that divers remove their own kit by putting it on and climbing down the ladder placing it directly into their vehicle. When this cannot be done it is understood that close proximity will be occurring. Ensure that face-coverings are still in place. Pass kit from one to another. If possible kit to be placed directly onto back and into vehicles. Attempt to not hold valves or mouthpieces. Personal kit cleaning to occur otherwise at home.

Drysuit exiting: Drysuit zips to be released by buddy and to be done facing away from each other as best as possible. Drysuits to be removed in the carpark, directly into vehicle. The changing facility at the back of the shed is not to be used.

Boat return: All to wash hands, one on the front of the trailer. Others positioned appropriately around boat and recover into shed. Chocks to be put in place. Hands washed.

Final Log: Preferably the same person as earlier takes dive details and places details along with cash into Log box. Washes hands before and after.

Gas filling: One at a time, persons are to enter the gas rom and deposit cylinders in the filling area. If Nitrox/Mixed gas required then hands washed and gas log filled out correctly and hands washed again. Divers to bring their own pens.

Dive Debrief: In a suitable area a dive debrief is to be held. Special points of note are to check whether anyone has any ideas that procedures could be improved. Divers head off to own vehicles where they can then remove face-coverings.

Post Dive Actions of Dive Manager: Contact the Diving Officer briefly stating all divers well (or not) via text or email. Email Diving Officer, Assistant Diving Officer and Chairman details of the dive along with any points to note especially from a Covid procedures point of view. Post to members on social media and email about what a cracking day you had.