You’ve completed your Open Water Diver course, you’ve booked your boat dive and your new fins are shiny in your bag… You’ve met your buddy, you’ve made jokes and you’re ready to dive… The scene is perfect to spend the day diving.
What can you do to improve this scene? How do divers look so relaxed and at ease?
Well, training and experience are the keys. Have you ever wondered if there is a secret that can help you evolve to a new level?
When we first learn to dive we are diligent, we have been taught good habits at every stage of the process during our Open Water Diver course and we follow those habits religiously. However, as with everything in life, it’s easy for those habits to relax over time, little things that we sometimes forget.
With that in mind, here’s a list of five bad habits to avoid.
1. Leaving Bottles Standing Upright
One of the best things about diving is the warm weather and light footwear, flip flops, sandals or just bare feet are the order of the day.
One of the worst things about scuba tanks? Well, they are heavy and hard and don’t respect your toes. If you’re on a boat or in a crowded area, always make sure your tank is lying flat and can’t roll. If it lands on your partner’s toes, you will have to use React Right training sooner than expected and your equipment may also be damaged.
This applies regardless of the footwear worn but is especially relevant when your dive buddies are barefoot. Research shows that weights when dropped, result in a similar scenario to broken toes or angry buddies in this case. Be careful and watch your toes.
2. Bothering Fishes
If every time you leave the house someone comes up to you and starts poking and prodding you, you could end up getting pretty fed up, couldn’t you? In fact, after a short time, you would end up not leaving the house or even pushing someone.
Well, our friends at the bottom of the sea are no different; just because you want to get to know them up close and personal doesn’t mean that feeling is mutual.
Every underwater naturalist knows that the best way to observe a sea creature is to give it some space, let it go about its natural behavior without crowding or disturbing it. If you really want to chase something underwater, chase it with your Dive Guide.
3. The Buddy Tag
By definition, divers are usually pretty laid-back people, anyone who has tried to get out of a wet suit surrounded by strangers on a dive boat will know that we don’t have a lot of airs and graces.
That said, there are some written (and unwritten) codes of conduct to follow. Firstly, don’t be too nonchalant about checking your buddy, doing an equipment check is important, especially if you are with a new buddy you haven’t dived with before, this gives you a chance to make sure you both know each other’s equipment and also confirms that yours is in good condition.
Entering the water without a weight belt is embarrassing, trust me. Once you’re in the water, try to minimize the noise of rattles, maracas, and bottle thumpers. If you find something really impressive let them know, but no one wants to feel like they’re diving at the Rio de Janeiro carnival. Lastly, help your buddy at the end of the dive, lend a hand by holding his BCD if he needs it, hold his fins and mask, a little courtesy is always appreciated.
4. Planning the Dive? What Planning?
We should start with this by making something clear – most of your recreational dives probably don’t require too thorough a briefing. However, as qualified divers, we are responsible for our own dive planning.
This means, at a minimum, agreeing with our buddies on a maximum depth, the time or return pressure, the approximation of where we will be underwater and agreeing on what we are going to do during the dive. If one buddy wants to take pictures and the other wants to enter a wreck, we need to agree on what will take priority beforehand. A little pre-dive communication can go a long way.
5. Diving With Too Much Weight
Imagine a brick, the kind used to build houses. Imagine carrying it with you all the time, climbing stairs, walking down the street, and so on. Having extra weight in your equipment means that your body has to work harder; and therefore, your breathing will also be more difficult.
The weight of that brick is the amount of lead the diver carries on the belt. New divers often carry excess ballast and get used to carrying it all the time.
But there is a major drawback, too much weight can result in excessive air consumption. The extra weight means the body has to work harder to propel itself through the water, and at the surface, many divers swim continuously to stay afloat. All that extra weight empties our tank faster than necessary.
Take off that brick and extend your dive time! Refresh your skills or review your Open Water Diver course manual to know when to do a buoyancy check, or ask your instructor about the Perfect Buoyancy Specialty course.
These are some of the bad habits in diving, improving these habits means improving as a diver, and improving as a diver will bring you more comfort and enjoyment in the water while more effectively protecting the underwater environment.