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Diving Safety, Accidents and Incidents Post here to discuss accidents, incidents, ideas, gear, or anything else to improve spearfishing safety. Memorials and condolences threads should be placed in that separate forum.

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Old 08-29-2017, 10:35 PM   #1
Coos-spearo
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DUMB ASS NEWBIE PONY MISTAKE, Don't be that guy!

Today I suited up to go test some new gear and ideas in salt water. I had my new pony bottle setup that I purchased based on the 180' regulator failure post. Even tested the Pony in freshwater and diligently went through drills as scuba is not only new to me, but it is still completely awkward and unnatural. Everything checked out at the start of the dive so I kicked out of Sunset Bay and began a shallow water dive. I remember knocking the pony regulator out of its cup holder on the kick out and before I dove I grabbed it, inserted it in its holder, grabbed my regulator and went to the bottom. My goal was to test if neck weights were something I would want to use with scuba. It seemed like about 5 minutes into the dive, I ran out of air. I could breath out but not suck in. I hesitated to grab my octopus because my mind immediately ruled it out as the first, save your ass move. Instead, I grabbed my pony regulator, kicked to the surface and went back to shore to see what the hell happened. It turns out that when I knocked the pony regulator out its holder, I grabbed my main regulator, put it into the pony holder and began the dive with the pony regulator!

By my own design, and to save dives in the future, both regulators are identical. After recently spending thousands on dive gear, i was both too cheap and too stupid to recognize the need to make the pony regulator a different color. The most expensive way to do this is to buy a new yellow cover which costs $17 plus freight on ebay. I can't decide if I am am too stupid for scuba or if I was smart in that fact I reached for the redundant air supply, before the octopus, as I felt if the main regulator was dead, the safest bet was to go straight to the redundant air supply. A new lesson learned.

Don't be a dumb ass like me. Don't be that guy
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Old 08-30-2017, 07:45 AM   #2
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Re: DUMB ASS NEWBIE PONY MISTAKE, Don't be that guy!

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Originally Posted by Coos-spearo View Post
Today I suited up to go test some new gear and ideas in salt water. I had my new pony bottle setup that I purchased based on the 180' regulator failure post. Even tested the Pony in freshwater and diligently went through drills as scuba is not only new to me, but it is still completely awkward and unnatural. Everything checked out at the start of the dive so I kicked out of Sunset Bay and began a shallow water dive. I remember knocking the pony regulator out of its cup holder on the kick out and before I dove I grabbed it, inserted it in its holder, grabbed my regulator and went to the bottom. My goal was to test if neck weights were something I would want to use with scuba. It seemed like about 5 minutes into the dive, I ran out of air. I could breath out but not suck in. I hesitated to grab my octopus because my mind immediately ruled it out as the first, save your ass move. Instead, I grabbed my pony regulator, kicked to the surface and went back to shore to see what the hell happened. It turns out that when I knocked the pony regulator out its holder, I grabbed my main regulator, put it into the pony holder and began the dive with the pony regulator!

By my own design, and to save dives in the future, both regulators are identical. After recently spending thousands on dive gear, i was both too cheap and too stupid to recognize the need to make the pony regulator a different color. The most expensive way to do this is to buy a new yellow cover which costs $17 plus freight on ebay. I can't decide if I am am too stupid for scuba or if I was smart in that fact I reached for the redundant air supply, before the octopus, as I felt if the main regulator was dead, the safest bet was to go straight to the redundant air supply. A new lesson learned.

Don't be a dumb ass like me. Don't be that guy
Wow that is scary and it has killed people. You go down with the pony in your mouth, it runs out, you spit it out, try to switch regulators, but actually go back to the empty pony bottle. It sounds incredibly stupid, but it is not that hard to do.

It is safer to carry a pony bottle slung like a stage bottle, but few spearos think this is not inconvenient.

I think you should use a very different mouth piece for the pony, color is not that easy to "feel". Also, I think you should wear the pony reg on a necklace - a tight lanyyard around your neck. It should help in ID, plus it is very beneficial there because any freeflow will be detectable if it occurs on your neck.

Wearing it clipped off on your side or front, it can be hard to detect a free flow - especailly on entry or when going down an anchor line in current.

Lastly, i think you should consider removing the octopus (safe second) from your primary regulator - when using a pony. Otherwise you are managing 3 second stages and this adds to complexity, potential for confusion and chance for failure and or freeflow.

I personally use an Air 2 most of the time, so I really do have two second stages on my primary and a pony bottle second stage, but the air 2 can be disconnected in a freeflow and should be (nearly) impossible to confuse with other regulators.

You need to think this stuff through and practice.

also, if you like neck weights, you may find them more comfortable to be wrapped around the neck of the tank than on your actual neck.
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Old 08-30-2017, 09:36 AM   #3
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Re: DUMB ASS NEWBIE PONY MISTAKE, Don't be that guy!

Thanks for all that. I will have to reread several times as there is a lot of advice there.

What was surprising to me as that when you do run out of air, it is after you exhale and you learn about it on the in hail. Then to troubleshoot the regulator you have a couple more false inhales and exhales. So basically, in the save your ass moment, you have exhaled 3 times off 1/2 of a normal lung! In my estimate you are lucky if you have 30 seconds before bad things start happening. In my case, this was made worse by murky water and kelp. So everything must be setup to happen by brail. I like changing the shape of the pony regulator and having it up around the neck.

Last edited by Coos-spearo; 08-30-2017 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:33 AM   #4
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Re: DUMB ASS NEWBIE PONY MISTAKE, Don't be that guy!

Lol .. all the arm chair quarterbacks talk about how long they can hold their breath and work out a problem. However, if you exhale and you got nothing to dilute the co2 levels in your empty lungs, panic is only seconds away. Don't believe me?

Try this and don't blame me if you fall down. Exhale completely at the bottom of the steps and climb one flight of stairs with completely empty lungs. If you are anywhere near as fat and old and out of shape as me, you will arrive feeling pretty stoned and pretty bad.

I think divers way over estimate their abilities to function with nothing to breathe.

We really should caution people about the exact problem that the op described. Also when a pony runs dry, there is no milking it to the surface like a big tank..
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:57 AM   #5
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Re: DUMB ASS NEWBIE PONY MISTAKE, Don't be that guy!

When I first changed to pony (after a first stage wide open free-flow failure at 90 to 100 feet) I bought a 1st stage for the pony and used my existing octopus 2nd stage for the pony rig. That put me in the same position you are currently in. To differentiate the two identical 2nd stages, I put a wrap of white electrical tape around the hose of the pony near the 2nd stage so I could visually tell the difference.

Later I changed to one of the flatter "pancake" yellow 2nd stages and put it on a lanyard around my neck. That worked pretty good until I crushed it chest loading my speargun

Now I clip it on a D-ring on my right shoulder. That keeps it quickly available, but clear of the gun loading area.
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Old 08-31-2017, 08:46 AM   #6
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Re: DUMB ASS NEWBIE PONY MISTAKE, Don't be that guy!

My suggestion is to also use a colored Green or Yellow regulator hose for the pony. They're available all over for 20-25$.
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Old 08-31-2017, 10:54 AM   #7
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Re: DUMB ASS NEWBIE PONY MISTAKE, Don't be that guy!

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My suggestion is to also use a colored Green or Yellow regulator hose for the pony. They're available all over for 20-25$.
I have a colored wrap on my pony bottle hose as well. Wearing it on your neck, different mouthpiece and colored hose should all tip things in your favor to avoid confusion. A different type of second stage shouldn't hurt either.
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Old 10-19-2017, 07:59 PM   #8
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Re: DUMB ASS NEWBIE PONY MISTAKE, Don't be that guy!

We lost a very good and experienced diver up here in Jax a few years ago due to this exact same thing. he was deep water diving and did not know he was on his deco pure O2 regulator. This is a great thread....
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:21 AM   #9
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Re: DUMB ASS NEWBIE PONY MISTAKE, Don't be that guy!

More than one diver has lot their life diving unfamiliar configurations.

Back mount ponys are a sketchy solution at best. Colored hoses and colored reg covers are a must.Easy to rig and convenient but always the chance of a fubar in a panic situation or after a big fish wraps you.

I somehow manage to cock and reload when wearing doubles and slung AL 40 or 80 stages and I am old,fat,out of shape and inflexible due to arguments with the laws of physics.I can see what mix I'm getting and can put them on of off in the water if needed.
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Old 10-25-2017, 01:02 PM   #10
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Re: DUMB ASS NEWBIE PONY MISTAKE, Don't be that guy!

Most people would argue that a pony implies a bail out bottle which should be usable at any depth. Otherwise you are carrying a stage bottle. In any regard, putting nomenclature aside, I think it is awfully dangerous to back mount a stage bottle carrying a mix you can't use when a problem happens at depth. I bend some rules but wear a deco or stage bottle clipped off in front where I can see it and also feather the valve if needed.
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