Scuba diving on a dive boat is a luxury. It will get you to an out of the way dive site that you might not be able to reach otherwise. The captain and crew work very hard to insure your comfort and safety. A few common sense rules to follow will help make your trip all the better.
1 Always Arrive At The Boat On Time:
Dive boats are often in use multiple times each day. It is important that they depart and return on time or the subsequent dives will not be on time. Divers should arrive at the designated loading area a little prior to the announced boarding time. You need to allow ample time to double check your gear and to allow for any additional paperwork that might be needed that day. If you are late in arriving you may literally miss the boat!
2 Do Not Board The Boat Until Asked Aboard By The Crew:
Dive boats need to be properly prepared prior to their departure. Fresh dive cylinders, snacks, first aid supplies and even emergency oxygen need to be loaded on board or checked prior to casing off. The crew needs adequate time and space to get ready for the days activities. If you board too early you simply get in the way or even prevent the crew from completing their assigned tasks. As soon as the boat is ready you will be invited aboard. Once on board you should quickly and neatly stow your equipment and double check everything prior to departure.
3 Listen To The Boat Safety Briefing:
At the beginning of any dive boat trip a member of the crew will give a boat safety briefing. Listen carefully. The safety briefing will include not only important safety instructions in the case of an emergency but some common sense tips on what will work best on the particular boat from which you are diving. Pay attention and do not distract the attention of others by talking during the briefing.
4 Stay In Your Allotted Area or Space:
Dive boats with a load of scuba divers and dive gear can be very crowded. For your comfort and the comfort and safety of everyone on board you need to set up in a confined area and keep you equipment there as well. Pack you gear in a folding mesh dive bag prior to boarding the boat. Set your equipment up in your area and stow your bag and any extra gear in the area beneath your bench. It is not only good manners to maintain you gear in your own space, but it will prevent possible equipment damage or even divers from tripping over your items.
5 Be Safe – Heavy objects on the deck and Cameras on the Camera Table:
Even while at the dock, Dive boats can roll when waves brush up against them. Heavy objects like weight belts can fall off of benches. Weight Belts and other heavy objects should be safely stowed where they cannot fall and damage other equipment or even worse a diver’s foot.
6 Set Up Your Gear – Check To Make Sure You Have Everything:
Once your dive gear is on board immediately set up your scuba unit. Check your air then turn your air off and purge the line. Secure your unit with the ropes or bungees that the boat has in place. Make sure you have everything. Once the boat departs it is too late to replace a forgotten item.
7 Use the Proper Buckets:
Most Dive Boats will have a bucket to rinse masks and a separate bucket to rinse cameras. Some boats will even have a third bucket for other gear. Never put your mask in the camera bucket. The defog that you use on your mask can damage the chemical coating on the camera lenses. If you need to rinse your mask and their is no mask bucket dip your hand in the camera bucket and scoop some water out to pour into your mask. Once you rinse your mask do not pour the water back into the camera bucket. Regulators and wetsuits should never be put in a mask or camera bucket either.
8 Keep The Dry Area Dry:
Many divers will bring a towel, camera and even a log book on board. These items are usually stowed in a “dry area” of the boat. Please make sure that you keep this area dry. Do not place wet gear or towels in this area. If the boat has an enclosed cabin area it is important not to enter that area while wearing a wetsuit. Water in that area not only creates a safety hazard for slipping but can cause mildew and odor in what is the living area of the boat.
9 Enter & Exit The Water Properly:
When divers are lined up to enter the water be ready. Have your equipment appropriately in place and be ready to go when it is your turn. Use the entry technique recommended in the Dive Briefing. When returning to the boat wait your turn to use the ladder. Hold the trail line until it is your turn. Never get onto the ladder when someone is still climbing out. If they were to fall they could land on top of you. When it is your turn quickly move to the ladder and follow the technique recommended in the dive briefing. Once on board move yourself and your equipment out of the way to make room for the next diver.
10 Remember The Crew: Thank and Tip the Captain and Crew:
The boat crew goes out of their way to make sure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip. Be sure to thank them. It is also customary to tip the crew. If the crew went above and beyond the call of duty in helping you either spot critters, take care of your gear or even help you in or out of the boat it is nice to thank them with an extra gratuity. Like a waiter or waitress, tips are a major part of their income.
Scuba Diving from a boat offers several advantages in addition to just being fun. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors, PADI, offers a scuba diving specialty course entitled Boat Diver. This is a great course to take and will make you not only a better scuba diver but a more courteous one as well. At Aquatic Adventures Scuba Academy, a PADI 5 Star Dive Center in Alexandria, Virginia the Boat Diver Specialty Course is offered on many of our Scuba Diving Vacation Trips.