The other day was very stormy, catching the edge of a typhoon, and to made the day worst the cable went out. So to brighten my day, I pulled out a DVD of a dive trip and relived a few dives. This was a video taken by the boats videographer on a nice dive boat out of Nassau. This video always made me feel like a movie star because after the opening shot showing the boat and the company logo on the bridge, the camera centers on me as I set up my gear. Bragging a little it could have been a training video, my on-board dive bag was packed properly so as I set up the gear the next item I needed was on top, no fumbling to find anything. In no time at all the gear was set up, bcd and hoses properly duct in, tank secured and the almost empty dive bag stowed underneath. Shortly after “that diver” came on board. First thing that irritated me was how he came on board, smoking a cigarette and just dropping his large dive bag on the deck. While not shown in the video I remember what happen next, the dive master moving the gear out of the way and reminding him to set up his gear. We had been instructed when we checked in at the office, that when we boarded we should select a position and set up our gear directly, then move to the forward section of the boat. Before the end of the trip “that diver” had irritated most of the dive staff and the other divers.
Do Not Be “That Diver”
If you have never dived on a dive boat before or it has been a while here are my top ten pointers or reminders so you do not become “that diver”:
1. Pack smartly- leave the hard suitcase dive bags at home or the hotel. Have a mesh type bag that can be rolled up when empty and also a small dry bag. The dry bag should be waterproof including the seals. Into the dry bag will go your street clothes and those items like cell phones and wallets. Remember to bring a towel and it is good to bring a second small Chamois towels to wipe your face and hands
2. Arrive Early- first it is being considerate, people came to enjoy a dive not sit on a boat waiting for one more diver. Second they may not wait and the boat sailed without you. When you check in ask about the general procedures: when and where is the dive brief, when to board.
3. Permission to Come Aboard Captain- yep, it is just not in the movies. Ask permission before you board is common courtesy plus the crew may not be ready for you to board yet. Let them finish what needs to be done with no one in the way.
4. On-board space- when you board introduce yourself to the dive master and ask if it is okay to set up, if instructions have not already been given to do so. On most dive boats it is, it much easier to set up your gear while tied to the dock than any other time. Select your equipment station, one that is out of the way and use only the allocated space. If it is a two tank dive, then your gear should be within the space of the two tanks. Heavy objects should be on the deck. Keep everything organized and stored out of the way if not using it. “That diver” took up the space of three divers until the DM helped him organize.
5. Listen carefully to the briefings- there will most likely be two briefings. A boat briefing giving safety information as well as layout of the boat. Often certain sections of the boat may be off limits to the divers. Normally a dry area will be destination, an area that you should not enter even slightly wet. Pay attention about anything said about the head, the on-board toilet. Heads can easily be damaged or stopped up so pay attention. The second briefing is your dive brief.
Even if you frequently dive the site and boat things my have changed, so listen closely. Do not interrupt with your own viewpoint. Part of the brief will give instructions on how to enter the water and the procedures to return to the boat.
6. Respect the Camera bucket and Camera table- the camera bucket is a bucket of fresh water for cameras. When divers return from a diver, they will briefly rinse the camera and then place it in the camera bucket. It allows the salt to be worked off the camera and also provides a safe place for the camera between dives. Some divers will place their camera in the bucket upon boarding so that it is out of the way. It should never be used for any other purpose. “that diver” upset the videographer and two other photographers when on the way back to shore after the last dive, he decided to rinse out his wetsuit in the camera bucket.
7. Lets dive- when you arrive at the dive site and the dive master gives the gear up advice, prepare yourself to dive. Generally you will put all of your gear on, except the fins, secure all hoses and gauges and perform your buddy checks. When your ready and the exit point is clear, you and your buddy should go to the exit point, put on fins, partially inflate your bcd and start your dive when cleared to enter the water. The giant step is the most common entry on a large dive boat. When in the water give the “ok” sign and move away from the dive platform. This point on follow the dive plan. When you return from the dive follow the procedures given in the dive brief. Often you will hand up your weights and fins then climb aboard, but procedures do vary. One other comment about in the water, be respectful of others. The video I have of the dive, shows a diver flipping the bird to the videographer. Believe it or not, it was “that diver”
8. After the dive- secure your gear, change tanks if there is another dive and stay out of the way. If snacks and drinks are being offered take just your share. Some divers like to be quiet after a dive respect their privacy.
9. Keep the dry area dry- it simply stated but often violated. Do not enter the dry area wet. If you need something and you are wet ask someone from the crew to get it. While not as common now as in the past due to digital cameras, some boats will have a camera table. This is an area where photographers can open their cameras to change film (yes they still do make it) or to change batteries. It is important that the table stay dry even from spray, so do not drip over it.
10. Tip- the crew and dive staff worked hard so give a tip.
I do my best to always follow these recommendations and pray no one ever thinks of me as “That Diver”. Hope you do too.
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