Boat diving can provide some of the
most fun and memorable diving you will ever have, as long as you do a few
things to prepare yourself before you
go. There are all manner of dive boats
out there, from inflatable Zodiac boats that hold a few people, small Panga
style or “six pack” boats, large day boats, and even larger “live aboard” dive
boats. As in other parts of the world,
many of the dive sites around Puget Sound are sites that you just can’t access from
shore, they are only accessible by boat. That means sites you access by dive boat will
usually have less dive traffic and often a greater variety of marine life. Boat diving is also some of the easiest diving
that you will ever do. Basically, once
you gear up, you only have to move to the exit point on the boat in order to
get in. You do your dive, and then when
you surface, the boat is there to pick you up. In order to make sure all your boat trips are
good ones, here are a few simple things to think about, and a few rules of boat
diving etiquette to follow.
Boats typically do not have a lot of
extra space. There isn't room to spread your gear out all over the place. Be courteous about your use of the available
space. If you’re a typical PNW diver,
you probably have one of those large plastic bins with wheels on it from Home
Depot that you keep in the back of your car or truck. Although great for shore diving, it is not a
gear bag, and does not belong on a boat.
Invest in a good gear bag. The
size and kind you select might differ, depending on where you dive. For warm water, I pack one of those Halcyon
mesh duffel bags that can easily hold my gear. It also has large carrying handles so it can
be carried back pack style if needed, and folds easily for storage or packing
into your luggage when you are traveling.
For diving around here, I use the same type of bag to stow my dry suit,
fins, mask and gloves. I then assemble
my basic kit at the car and then carry the gear and the bag to the boat. If you pack only what you really need, all of
your gear should fit in one bag.
Put together a save a dive kit that fits
into your gear bag. This doesn't have to
be overly complicated and shouldn't replicate the giant Sears style mechanic toolbox
save a dive kits that many of you carry in your cars. Just pack the basic things you need to replace
an o-ring, a fin or mask strap, extra LP inflator hose, etc. If you’re packing with a dive buddy that is
going with you, consider what each of you is planning on bringing and
consolidate when you can. Think “compact”.
Consider contacting the boat ahead of
time, many boats carry extensive save a dive kits complete with tools and spare
parts. You might not even need to bring
your own kit. If you really think you
need all the tools and parts for a full regulator overhaul… Perhaps you should
have your regulator serviced prior to getting on the boat.
ahead. Make a list so you don’t forget
anything. Lay out, assemble, check, and
inspect all your gear before you pack it. Don’t plan on doing this on the dock or on the
boat. Do you get seasick and need
medication for it? Need sunscreen? How about a jacket? Once the boat leaves the dock, the Captain
isn’t going to turn around because you forgot something. Make sure you have everything you need to go
When you do finally get to the dock,
ask the boat Captain or crew if you can come aboard. (You don’t want to be mistaken for a pirate, they
tend to get shot.) Asking to board is a
simple maritime courtesy. Sometimes the
boat just isn’t ready yet. Once aboard,
you will probably be told where you can stow your gear and where your seat will
be. If not, just ask. Also, there will
probably be a few forms to fill out.
attention to any briefings the crew gives. They will tell you their names, the name of
the boat and any safety procedures you may need to follow. Listen
to where the head (aka the toilet) is located and how to use it. Nothing will piss off the crew more than you
plugging up the toilet! Most boats have
similar rules and procedures, but your day will be a lot more fun if you follow
the rules for the boat you are currently on.
to the dive site briefings, even if you've been on the site before and no
matter what your experience level is. The
dive site briefing provided by the crew is for your safety and helps ensure you
have a good dive. I've been on dives on
the same site many times and always discover something new or learn something different.
Pay attention to the entry and exit
procedures. Will you back roll into the
water from your seating area, or giant stride off a swim platform? It depends on the boat. Pay attention. Will the boat be anchored, or not? Pay attention. The briefing might include a
compass heading out from the boat and back.
I’m sure you want to surface at the boat and not a half a mile away
because you got lost and couldn't find your way back underwater… Don’t be that
guy. Pay attention.
be afraid to ask questions of the crew or to ask for help. Diving should be fun
and safe, and the people running the boat want you to have a good time and be
safe doing it.
Here it is. The "official" Tacoma SCUBA blog. Now... don't expect a lot of random posts regarding local fairs, farmer's markets, fashion, and paparazzi stuff. It also isn't going to be a repeat of all the cool diving stuff you already see on Facebook. We are planning to use this space to post things that are too big for the newsletter, and articles you may want to refer back to in the future.