MARTIN SAMPSON provides recommendations on all the things from gearing up, entries and exits to speaking to finest impact with the skipper. Photography by MARK EVANS
On the precise day of boat diving, purpose to reach a bit of sooner than required, as a result of tides anticipate nobody. You may then arrange your equipment at a leisurely tempo. Flip up late, and the stress brought on by time stress would possibly mar your expertise of the entire day.
The skipper or crew will let you know the place to stow your gear. At this level, you shortly realise that the big boat you noticed on arrival doesn’t look that enormous any extra. You may assist by stowing your scuba diving equipment as tidily as you may.
An affordable and helpful accent is a web goody bag in which you’ll be able to stow your masks, snorkel, fins, DSMB and so forth. A tidy deck helps to stop unintentional breakages of kit underneath unsteady toes.
Earlier than the vessel departs, the skipper ought to give everybody a boat-safety briefing. This can embrace such particulars as the place to search out the oxygen and first-aid kits. On liveaboards this will probably be extra complete, and will probably be present in a folder to which passengers can refer in the course of the constitution.
Getting kitted up on a shifting deck or in a cramped RIB isn’t all the time straightforward – don’t be afraid to ask for assist. As soon as into your gear, stay seated and attempt to lean again in order that the burden is transferred out of your shoulders to the inflatable sponson or bench seat.
From RIBs and smaller hardboats, the standard entry methodology is a backward roll together with your dive tools. Simply earlier than you exit, make it possible for free gadgets akin to cameras, gauges and torches are safe in your lap in order that they don’t get snagged on gadgets akin to rope-handles on the aspect of the boat.
From bigger boats, there’ll normally be a step entry from the deck or a platform. As you progress to the exit level, remember that fashionable plastic fins would possibly skid on a moist deck. I normally match my fins proper beside the exit level.
Just be sure you don’t truly exit the boat till the skipper has positively stated “Go!” I as soon as noticed a diver exit a liveaboard boat when it was nonetheless doing six knots, and was greater than 200m from the drop-off level. To make issues worse, our untimely diver had forgotten to place his fins on. By the point he had been retrieved, time had marched on and we had missed our slackwater interval.
Simply earlier than you allow the boat, don’t overlook to place some air into your BC and put one hand throughout your masks.
Dive and re-entry
The remainder of the dive will, we hope, go as deliberate, however in the course of the ascent don’t overlook that there’s a boat someplace above you. After you have accomplished your security cease, look as much as just be sure you are usually not proper beneath the boat, particularly if its engine remains to be operating.
Hardboats will usually have an easy-climb boat ladder, and the higher ones are designed to be able to climb them in full equipment, together with fins. Just be sure you preserve your masks on, regulator or snorkel in, and have loads of buoyancy simply in case you fall again in. Higher nonetheless, many hardboats have powered lifts that make getting aboard virtually easy.
When retrieving divers, be ready to assist others de-kit and transfer throughout the deck. Most of us are unsteady on our toes after being weightless underneath water, and that is the second when divers can fall, damage themselves and injury gear.
With RIB diving, you’ll usually de-kit within the water – all the time move your weights up first earlier than taking off your BC. It’s additionally very useful to have somebody lean over the aspect of the boat to carry onto you to be able to use each fingers to take away gear with out drifting out of attain.
Plan for an awesome diving expedition
Analysis as a lot as you may concerning the vessel, skipper and crew earlier than reserving. Attempt to get suggestions from previous prospects concerning the boat, in order that you understand how it operates and whether or not it fits your wants. Additionally, examine whether or not the skipper is a diver – a skipper with good expertise with scuba diving equipment could have a superb concept of what’s doable in your journey.
Communicate to the skipper, and ask him to offer you a fundamental itinerary of what’s normally coated throughout a constitution, although keep in mind that plans are usually “climate allowing”, and never set in stone.
You probably have an inventory of explicit websites you need go to, chat with the skipper, as a result of generally what you assume is do-able won’t be doable due to tides, distance or another cause.
If planning an expedition to someplace uncovered, offshore or distant, be ready to need to go elsewhere if the long-term climate forecast is unfavourable. Ask the skipper’s recommendation about plan Bs, and don’t get mission-fixated.
Generally plan B websites may be simply nearly as good, and typically doing a little diving is healthier than doing none in any respect. A superb skipper would like to have you ever diving quite than tied up within the harbour, so preserve your choices open.
High Tip - Avoiding seasickness: - Keep hydrated - particularly in scorching climates. Upset abdomen might not truly be from ‘dodgy' meals or suspect water, however merely dehydration. Keep away from caffeine and alcohol, and eat good meals - you won't really feel like consuming, however the power may help defeat seasickness. When you take anti-seasickness capsules, attempt them out on shallow dives first in case they exacerbate nitrogen narcosis. Take them about one to 2 hours earlier than going afloat. When you begin to really feel in poor health, sit someplace in the direction of the strict of the boat however not close to the engine exhaust. On a liveaboard you is perhaps higher off sleeping in your bunk. Ask the skipper to take you to sheltered websites.
Ask about what scuba diving equipment it’s essential to deliver and what’s supplied (weights, fuel and many others). Very importantly, flip up with full cylinders able to dive, as a result of generally the primary dive may be earlier than breakfast.
Have a very good spares equipment and liaise with the remainder of the group in order that there isn’t an excessive amount of duplication, as a result of area is generally at a premium onboard (no have to deliver the kitchen sink).
Ask for a pattern menu, as a result of good meals onboard is simply as essential nearly as good diving with the very best dive tools. In some circumstances, it may be essential in maintaining morale, as when the climate prevents diving.
Most significantly, construct up a very good working relationship with the skipper and crew. Communication is vital each methods when the climate intervenes and you need to fall again on plan B.