Tips for Surviving your next Boat Dive

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Everyone who scuba dives has gone diving off a dive boat. Boats come in all sizes and shapes and travel through both good and bad weather.  Planning for your trip ahead of time will make your experience much more enjoyable, and equally important, much safer.

Here are a few tips to follow:

  1. Think about what you want to wear. Take a decent hat to keep the sun off your head and provide some shade. Take some environmentally friendly sunscreen. Take a towel to dry off with and maybe a windbreaker too. A simple windbreaker will keep you pretty warm after a dive as the boat gets underway. Take sunglasses to cut down on the glare coming off the water.
  2. Think about keeping it all dry. Take a good dry back along with you that can hold all your things and make sure it closes right so that your things stay dry.
  3. Stay hydrated and fed. Don’t count on the boat to have water or snacks. Take both with you, at least on the first day until you figure out how well provisioned your dive boat will be. You’ll be sorry if you don’t have water and some snacks and it could ruin your day.
  4. Listen to the briefing about boat safety.   Every decent dive boat operator will take a few minutes to acquaint you with the safety and operating procedures on the boat. Pay attention. The Coast Guard may require these briefings and it may be a bit like listening to the briefings on an airplane but keep in mind that no two dive boats are the same. On a plane, you can be sure the oxygen mask is going to descend from the overhead compartment. But on a boat, be assured that the oxygen is definitely not going to descend from the overhead compartment.
  5. You are sharing the boat with many people. Don’t be a space pig. Keep your equipment near you and keep it organized. Watch how others set up their equipment learn their tricks to stay organized. Make sure your air tanks are properly secured to the boat so that they don’t fall over.   While you are at it, make sure the person next to you has also secured their tanks. Your neighbor’s unsecured tank is almost certain to smash into your foot and not their foot.
  6. Properly care for your camera and your mask. The crew will usually point out the tank to be used for your camera and the bucket to be used for your mask. On larger boats, there is often a dry area for photographers to handle their camera equipment.
  7. Listen to the dive briefing and pay attention to how they want you to enter and exit the water.
  8. Dive with your dive buddy and practice key hand signs ahead of time, so that you can understand each other while under the water. Have some sort of dive plan worked out between the two of you so that you each know the dive profile and direction you’ll be heading.
  9. And last but not least, consider carrying a DIVER DOWN TAG ®. Just before entering the water, hand it to the boat staff person who’s keeping track of which divers are in and out of the water. Retrieve it when you exit the water. It will act as a reminder to the boat staff to not drive off while you are still in the water. Get yours at

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