Diving from a boat is great fun. Most divers find it easier than diving from shore and of course you can access more sites too. Dive boats vary from small inflatables to liveaboard vessels taking 30 divers on a week’s trip; no matter which you’re boarding check out our tips to keep yourself out of harm’s way.
Overboard! © Marion Doss
- Listen to briefings. Instructions will cover standard safe practices as well as the underwater recall method, the location of emergency gear, first aid, and lifejackets; information it is hoped you will never need but knowing it can save lives.
- Entry and exit. The best way to get on and off a boat for diving will be the safest way, so listen to what you are told as it will differ based on the type of boat and the dive. Surface with an SMB so that your ascent to the surface is marked and follow any other surfacing practices as directed.
- Stow your gear correctly. There’s often not much space so keep things tidy and avoid causing trip hazards. Make sure your dive bag is packed so that the things you need first are on top. Stow weight belts on the floor and out of walkways. Make sure tanks and assembled gear are secure, so they can’t roll or fall in choppy seas. After diving, pack your gear away before the trip back, this keeps everything tidy avoiding hazards.
- Correct timing. Gear up at the right time. You don’t want to kit up too early and overheat, and you don’t want to be the diver everyone is waiting for while they are getting too hot. Ask if you are unsure.
- Stay away. There will be areas that you are not allowed. As a general rule, this will include the engine room and the captain’s cabin, but there might be other areas, like the bow while mooring up or weighing anchor, again listen to what you are told.
- Be prepared. Make sure you have what is required for your time at sea. In tropical locations consider water, hat, sun cream and in cooler climates you might need warm, dry clothes and a warm hat.
- Exhaust fumes. Steer clear of exhaust fumes; they can make you feel unwell, contribute to sea sickness and are not good to be around. Move to a different location for fresh sea air.
- Sea sickness. Seasickness is not nice, and while some people seem more prone, your susceptibility does appear to reduce the more often you’re on boats. That said, it can strike anyone at any time. Stay hydrated, make sure you are well rested and have eaten; rumbling tummies do not help! If you know you suffer, take some prevention; there are natural and pharmaceutical remedies so find out what works best for you and avoid those that cause drowsiness.
- Signalling. Remember that waving your arms means you need help, don’t use this unless you need to. Say that you are ‘Ok’ from the surface to the boat by raising your arms and touching your hands over your head ballerina style.
- Roll Call. There will be a way of checking all divers are on board. Make sure you know what it is and never answer or check-in for someone else. Never get back in the water after you are registered as onboard.