Shore diving offers some great flexibility for divers. There’s no schedule to adhere to, and it doesn’t have the added cost of boat diving. Diving from the shore does come with its set of safety advice. Read our ten tips to help keep your dive accident free.
Almost ready … © Harold Kuiper
- Surface support. Bring a non-diver or rotate diving teams so that there is always someone on shore. They can assist you getting in and out of the water, but they are also on hand to notice you are not back or help in an emergency. Your surface cover should know your dive plan, where the first aid is, how to provide oxygen and what the plan is for managing emergencies.
- Be aware. Look at weather reports and take some time to look at the conditions before you enter. Waves often break in sets so try to time your entry and exits to take place in the lull. Remember waves break in water only a little deeper than their height, watching them will give you some idea of depth and the location of reefs.
- Gear up. Make sure you get ready carefully and methodically and at the same time as your buddy, so you are ready together; doing so avoids overheating or pre-dive stress. Make your buddy check before you enter the water.
- Be seen. When shore diving local regulations may require you take a buoy, float or flag. Make sure you know the rules. When towing it through a surf entry make sure it’s positioned so that waves are not pushing it into you so that you run less risk of getting hit by it or caught up with it.
- Be ready. When entering the water, be prepared to be underwater as you can easily slip. Make sure your mask is on, and you are breathing from your regulator particularly throughout the surf zone. Keep hold of your mask as a wave hits. If you need to swim further before you descend, switch to your snorkel once you are passed breaking waves.
- Enter carefully. Make sure your BCD is inflated and take it slowly. If the water is calm and the entry sandy it might be ok to walk in and put your fins on in the water. If there are waves breaking, wear your fins and shuffle backward holding onto each other for support. Get through the surf zone quickly but avoid overexertion. Swim as soon as you are able as this is far easier. If you fall, it’s often best not to struggle to get back up, protect your mask as each wave hits and move to deeper water as best as you are able.
- Surge. Surge is caused by wave action and is characterized by a to and fro motion underwater. The key thing is not to fight it, more or less it returns you to the same place, but caution should be exercised when diving close to reefs or rocks as you don’t want to be bashed into them. Be aware of changes in surge strength as this can signify changing surface conditions.
- Be alert. Conditions can change and change quickly so do be aware of shifts in wave action and the sky getting darker. Make sure you have an alternate exit point incase you can’t use the one you planned.
- Reserves. You’ll want to make sure you surface with enough air to comfortably make it back to shore and if you need to pass through a surf zone be conservative with this. Remember too that exiting the water can be quite tiring so make sure you have left enough energy reserve too.
- Exiting. Keep your mask and regulator in place until you are safely on shore. Make sure your BCD is inflated. If it’s calm, you can swim until you can comfortably touch the bottom. Remove your fins and walk out taking care with the sudden extra weight. If you are exiting through the surf, wait for a lull and swim through quickly with one hand stretched out in front of you. Remember to hold your mask as waves hit. When you can, you and your buddy can help each other stand and shuffle back to shore. If you stumble or if the backwash is strong, swim as far as you can, then crawl.