The Six P’s

When I was twelve, I took SCUBA diving lessons so I could go on a field trip to dive in San Carlos, Mexico. My SCUBA instructor, Rick, sits us down in class one day and, for the first time, introduces me to the six P’s:

Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

He goes through the meaning of every “P”:

  1. Proper: you can certainly prepare in a way that doesn’t set you up for staying alive under water.
  2. Prior: you need to prepare everything for a safe dive before you enter the water. Or you could die.
  3. Preparation: Every aspect of the dive must be planned out ahead of time, all your equipment thoroughly inspected and in order. You must consult your dive tables and know how long your air will last at the depth you will go.
  4. Prevents: accidents can happen no matter how well you prepare. But the most common ones happen from equipment failure. You can prevent that.
  5. Poor: the opposite of perfect. An amazing dive can be ruined by drowning.
  6. Performance: the most dangerous thing in the ocean is not a shark. It’s yourself.  Staying under water is a foreign environment for your body, and you don’t need a single sea creature within a mile of you to drown.

Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

I did well in my SCUBA training, and was prepared to dive in the Sea of Cortez.  We traveled from Arizona to Mexico by van, and set up in a rented beach cottage in San Carlos.  When we all went out for our first dive, I quickly noticed that while many things I had prepared well for, there were two things I had not:

  1. We come out onto to the beach, and all the other divers first spread out a large tarp to lay out their gear and prep everything for the dive.  I did not remember seeing this item on the equipment list, I did not bring a tarp.  It was fine when we were prepping our gear on the poolside and in a boat, but the beach sand now threatened to coat everything.  All I have is my beach towel.  I laid out everything on my towel, a tiny square of clean in a wasteland of dirt.
  2. We rented my wetsuit, and when I got in the training pool I noticed that it did not fit perfectly and bulged out in the waist.  Every time I moved, the bulge allowed fresh cold water to circulate around my torso.  My weight belt helped a little in tightening up that area, so I thought I would be okay.  Now we were in the sea, not a heated swimming pool.  I got so chilly that it became very unpleasant and my teeth were chattering as I dragged myself up onto the beach.

Now I see the full implications of not bringing a tarp.  I am chilled to the bone, staring at my beach towel which is covered with wet diving gear, and the six P’s are thoroughly burning through my brain.  Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.


I learned my first hard lesson from the six P’s.  I had prepared, mostly.  The trip was great, and I made many wonderful memories.  And I didn’t drown.  But because my improper preparations had made the night dive a little scary and I got so cold that I was overwhelmed and I didn’t go on the last dive, the deep dive.

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.  I wish I could say that the rest of my life was guided by the six P’s and I became a master planner and event organizer.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Those six P’s will likely haunt me until the day I die.


About zyll9

Here are some topics that have recently interested me: ♥ The Enigma Machine ♦ Morse Code ♣ Fluorescent minerals ♠ The Long scale and the word milliard ♥ The 21 Spanish Missions of California and El Camino Real ♦ 3D Printing and browsing items on ♣ Le Mans and the 1955 winner, a Jaguar D-Type ♠ My huge King James Version Bible, which was printed at least before 1893 ♥ Hyperinflation paper money ♦ Silver certificates vs. United States Notes vs. Federal Reserve Notes ♣ Old Stereoscopic photographs and anaglyphs ♠ Pyramids, such as those at Giza in Egypt and at Teotihuacan in Mexico ♥ The special characters produced using ALT-Codes (ie., Alt 14 makes this: ♫) ♦ Old-style numerals written above and below the line by using Text Figures ♣ The long-s which looks like an "f" and went extinct around 1810. like "Congreß" ♠ How to play chess better, because I really suck at it ♥ Animated gifs of funny movie clips ♦ Archaeoastronomy ♣ Hiking the John Muir Trail ♠ Sighting comets ♥ My DIY Musicbox
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