by Jochen Van Lysebettens
If you can’t beat them, join them. This is what started off the thrilling drift dive which makes the currents work for you instead of against you. There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot off along a strong current and watch the reef pass you by as you sail along effortlessly. It’s almost the equivalent of sky diving underwater. Here are a few pointers that will help you enjoy drift diving even more and make it a little safer as well.
1. Follow the three ‘S’ of drift diving: Surface float, Surface Supervision and SMB
Whether you drift dive with a surface float line or not, it is essential that you have surface supervision on a drift dive. The surface supervision team also spots and picks up any divers that detach from the group. All divers on a drift dive should carry an SMB or a deployable high visibility signaling device that can help the dive boat spot you should you separate from the group and have to surface. A whistle attached to your BCD might help as well in such a situation.
2. Watch that Depth Gauge like a hawk.
Once you’re riding the fast currents, it is really difficult to monitor your depth. Divers can be carried upwards or downwards at great speed depending on the strength of the current. This can be dangerous if you are diving in deeper waters, and a nightmare if you have trouble equalizing. Keep a constant check on your depth gauge.
3.Stay close to the Bottom or the Wall
The current is almost always lesser at the bottom or a wall, so if you need to slow down or wait for the group to catch up with you, go lower to the bottom. While descending, a quicker decent to the bottom will give you a bit of time to regroup. Those that take longer to descend or have trouble equalizing will get carried away by the stronger currents at the top so watch your buddy closely and stay together at all times.
4. Go with the flow, not against it
I guess this is one of the most common tip for drift diving, but somehow several divers still choose not to accept it. Swimming against the current however can lead to exhaustion, and rapid air depletion. Once you learn to go with the flow, you quickly realize that there is no need to even use your fins, other than to correct course, and you can dive for longer and cover much greater distance on a single tank of air.
5. Drift dive in good visibility only
Moving at high speeds along a reef in poor visibility poses a risk of running smack into something. Poor visibility can also make it hard for the group to stay together, which is critical on a drift dive. Losing a buddy and having to meet up at the surface is extremely challenging in strong currents, so make you can maintain at least visual contact with everyone in your group.
Come and do some drift dives at Ras Mohamed! And if you want to gain more confidence yourself, then join us on the PADI Drift Diver specialty