Boat Diving Tricks of the Trade
Perhaps the easiest diving you’ll ever do, short of rolling off your balcony from an over water bungalow in Tahiti, will be from a dive boat. Dive boats come in all shapes and sizes, from small inflatable skiffs to large liveaboard vessels and everything in between. Many dive sites are only accessible by boat and dive boats can offer more amenities than your average tarp spread out on the beach for shore diving. But no matter the size of the boat or the location of the dive site, a few general tips can be applied to most boat diving adventures.
- Invest in a boat bag. Most traveling scuba divers have a dive bag they pack and check onto the airplane and a smaller boat bag (often made of mesh) they use for hauling gear on and off the dive boat. Whatever you put your stuff in is likely to get wet so plan accordingly.
- Don’t take things aboard you don’t need. Space is limited on dive boats and typically you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with other scuba divers during your time on board. There is usually very little room for things that have to stay dry so limit what you take.
- Pick your spot and stick to it. Each diver is usually positioned at a scuba tank with some room for storage. Keep to your space and don’t spread stuff out all over the boat; respect the space of your fellow scuba divers. You’ll set up your scuba equipment on your scuba tank and return to the same spot after the dive. The crew will let you know the procedure for getting a full tank for the next dive if you’re doing another dive.
- Pay attention to the briefing. Most boat dives include a dive site orientation before the dive begins. If you’re setting up your scuba gear or talking to your buddy during the briefing, you’re likely to miss important details that will make your dive more enjoyable.
- Ask for help if you need it. The boat crew members walk a fine line between respecting experienced divers and helping out new ones. Sometimes it’s hard for them to tell the difference so if you have a question or need a hand, speak up; don’t expect the crew to anticipate your every need.
- Carefully follow entry and exit instructions. They may be drastically different between destinations, even from dive to dive. Be sure to note any change in conditions when you surface. If the dive platform on the back of the boat is rising and falling in the waves, time your entry and exit for when the water is closest to the platform.
- Know your boat. Remember its name and notice what it looks like underwater. There aren’t many things more embarrassing than ending a successful scuba dive by boarding the wrong boat. You gotta get back in the water and your real boat has to come fetch you. In front of everybody. They usually laugh. It’s not fun.