You don’t want to become known as “that”diver, the diver that annoys other divers with their actions or just by being inconsiderate. Often it’s a combination of not caring and not knowing. Most divers will give some leeway to a newbie, but more experienced divers should know better.
Here are some tips to make sure you’re not “that diver” on the dive boat.
- Organize your gear – Dive boats range in size but one common trait for all of them is that space is limited. The trim and stability of boats is significantly influenced by where and how the dive gear is stowed. When transiting a surf line, or in other rough sea conditions, the movement of the boat can cause poorly secured equipment to move, which can directly injure the occupants so make sure that your gear is properly secured.
- Don’t be late – When you arrange your dive, you will be given a departure time. This is not the time to arrive at the launch. Arrive early and relax as you get ready. A diver that arrives late can cause a delay or may even miss their launch.
- Wait – Do not assume that you can board the dive boat as soon as you arrive. The crew may have tasks to do both on the boat and loading tanks. It goes much faster when no one is in the way. So wait until the skipper asks you to board.
- Camera – Underwater cameras can be very expensive. If you’re taking a camera on the boat it’s your responsibility to look after it. Make sure it has decent protection. A soft padded cooler bag is a popular choice.
- Briefings are important –The dive boat briefing will include information about safety gear on board, location of oxygen and life jackets and emergency procedures. You will also have a dive briefing before each dive. Even if you dived the location before, pay attention – procedures may have changed. If you have any questions, wait until the dive leader has finished the briefing or asks if there are any questions. Most boats will have a checkout/ check-in procedure to ensure no diver is left behind. Make sure you understand and follow it.
- Be helpful – RIB diving is less stable and very hands-on, so be ready to help others when kitting-up (and accept help yourself!).
- Let’s dive – If you’re diving from a RIB (as most Cape Town dive charters are), the skipper will count down to your back roll. Make sure you go on “GO!” If you miss the “GO!” don’t go late, you could injury another diver if you fall onto them. The skipper will count you down again when it’s safe. No matter how much experience you have, always follow your divemaster’s plan. The DM is responsible for the whole group, and if you decide to break profile or wander off, it can affect the dive for everyone else.
- After the dive – Entering the water is a simple roll backward, but exiting is more interesting; you’ll need to pass your weights and BCD and cylinder to the crew before finning yourself back onto the boat. It’s technique over strength, and gets easier with practice. Secure your gear as soon as you can and try to stay out of the way of the skipper and crew. Account for all your gear and make sure you have only your gear. Grab some water and hydrate. If there are snacks, take only your share.
At the end of the day, the best way to act around other people is to act how you would want others to act towards you, so if you follow these tips for dive boat etiquette, you, and the other divers, will have more diving fun!