At least NWDiver isn't saying that after the separated divers relocate each other at the surface (assuming they actually do) that they should subsequently re-descend and resume the dive, a procedure still taught by some training agencies - including, if I'm not mistaken, McPADI ("Over Five Million Sold)". Bob Halstead is just one of the knowledgeable, experienced divers who has condemned this practice as unsafe (in an Undercurrents article some years ago). Except in situations wherethe depths involved are trivial, I find it hard to believe that anyone here would adhere to the practice of surfacing to relocate a lost buddy and then re-descending. Not a good idea.
Halstead may also be the foremost exponent of the argument that diving with a buddy actually increases the potential risks of diving. His diatribe (in a now famous "Aquacorps" article) "On your own: the buddy system refuted" is well worth reading, and has been extensively discussed on other online and other forums over the years.
Thank you for that, I've been searching for years for that article which made me think about this subject a lot more, resulting in my own article on the subject. I should have realised it was likely to be on Jim "Cobber" Cobb's Trimix page, mine is as well.
It's interesting that it's not on Bob's website. But then, he's a McPADI Instructor nowadays.
If you are a "dependent" diver (McPADI's other motto: "Are you co-dependant? We will certify you!") and you don't have a friend willing to take care of you underwater for free (thus ensuring that service you receive will be worth at least what you are paying for it), then you should bite the bullet and hire a real, qualified instructor. No shame in that - I will always hire an instructor (or rely on a much more experienced colleague/friend) to help me on any dive that I have reason to believe may be beyond my experience or capability.
To be quite fair to the McPADIs of this world the search, surface, relocate and then redescend now has a caveat.
What's really insane - and may be the McPADI's ("The way the world learns to dive") most important contribution to unnecessary and avoidable dive fatalities - is the practice of pairing off divers according to experience and skills and forcing them to dive together as buddies, thus ensuring that the two least experienced divers in the water - the two persons who are simultaneously the most likely to require assistance during the dive and also the two who are least qualified to give it, will dive together. Great system.
This is still something that makes me positively spit whenever I see it. No way should, as an example, novice divers be buddied with each other. That is just ludicrous, absurd. If I saw that happen (and there was no other course of action) I would volunteer to dive with them and forego the camera (as would you, I'm sure).
Robert, nice to see that Bali is alive and well, hope that hound of yours is also still happily romping around.
Allow me to make a couple of general observations not at all related to your post:
* The Spare Air (sometimes, commonly?, called the Spare Death in certain circles) does not a self sufficient diver make - even a "solo" diver make. What's more, I don't even care if you restrict yourself, severely, to 10 metres or less.
* Depth has nothing to do with self sufficiency. You can get into the deepest of sh!t at any depth. Think barotrauma as just one example. Task loadings when it hits the fan make people do very stupid things, the common one of which in our situation is the holding of one's breath. Not at all good idea at 10 metres.
* CESAs, as the McPADIs put it, are all well and good. Guess what? The real situation will always be different. I defy most divers to do a proper CESA when it actually counts.
* Someone asked why ascending and then redescending was not a good idea. I suggest that they carefully read their decompression procedures/dive tables. Oops, forgot about that one - the McPADIs don't do decompression - silly me.