The boat jetties can seem chaotic in the mornings as you wait to board, there is random screaming in Arabic and then you get ushered on to the boat where kit is everywhere and then told to leap off the dive deck into the blue. OK so this is an exaggeration but for the un-initiated this is how boat diving can first appear. The reality is quite different; in fact short of staying in a Tahitian beach villa where you simply need to roll off your balcony, diving does not get much easier than this. Here are some handy hints and tips for stress free boat diving.
1.) The start of the day
Check your equipment at the start and the end of the day, the guide can do a lot more about your missing mask whilst at the jetty than they can sitting in the middle of Tiran. If you are changing boats a quick check before leaving can also make sure your wetsuit is hanging up nice and dry…but in another area of the Red Sea.
2.) Your equipment
Stow your equipment in your crates and under the tank rack, it is extremely frustrating to find that the only mask which fits your face jumped in 5 minutes ago on the face of another diver. After the dive a return to the place you left means that your equipment can be directly placed in the box below you rather than reaching in and around the wet legs of other divers.
3.) Getting in and out
The entry and exit of the dive can be the most daunting part of boat diving, a proper buddy check can ensure that you enter the water with confidence that everything is working as it should. When taking the giant stride a large step, with a partially inflated BCD whilst looking directly ahead will ensure you float comfortably on the surface without face planting or hitting the back of your cylinder. For exits time each step up with the swell of the boat and use the water motion to assist you.
4.) The briefings
Listen to your guide, I know they talk a lot, but what they say can sometimes be useful. The boat briefing will inform you about general boat etiquette as well as the location of drinks, bathrooms and any potential hazards, the dive briefing will give details of entries and exits as well as helping to explain what the dive will entail. The briefing will also cover how to recognize your boat, the embarrassment of getting on the wrong boat is superseded by very little and is easy to avoid.
Be fully prepared, taking sunscreen and a hat can help prevent heat related stressors but being chilly can also ruin a days diving, a small fleece is very light but can ensure warmth in the cooler days. Many dive centre’s these days are not permitted to give any medication to guests, a small bag with seasickness tablets, headache pills and some stomach medicine can prevent a day turning sour.
Remember your guides and the boat crew are there to help, if you need help, are unsure of something or simply need clarification or reassurance … ask. Your day on the boat should be a relaxed experience so take these steps to help make sure it is.
For extra tips on boat diving and advice on the differing techniques take the PADI Boat Diver Specialty which offers a unique insight into diving from boats.
If you like to keep your personal belongings dry, you can look in to purchasing a dry bag. Take a look on a www.SimplyScuba.com, they have a vast range for everybody.