Where’s my [insert important piece of kit here]?
In our previous blog on how not to make the silliest diving mistakes we started to look at the best ways to dive like a pro. The aim being to help you avoid being the butt of liveaboard jokes during your trip. We started with the most important thing…making sure you have air. This time around we will look at the rest of your dive gear.
If you think it’s unusual to leap into deep water without something that will likely be essential at some point in the dive, think again. We asked four ex-instructor staff members in our Phuket office a quick question as we were writing this piece. ‘What have you seen customers jump in the water without that they need on a dive?’
In the first two minutes, while barely thinking, they yelled out the following:
- Reg where they can find it
Other ex-dive staff and the original four have since mentioned other things…
- Dry suit still unzipped
- Inflator hose not connected
- Camera o ring
- Surface marker buoys
- A customer (yes, it happens to the best of us)
All of these things are forgotten for the same reason…lack of preparation. This lack of preparation comes in various guises, but will generally be for three main reasons. Here’s how you can avoid falling down each of those trap doors for the unprepared…
Out of practice
At some point everyone will have a break between dives. That break might be a few weeks for a working guide or it might be a year for a part time holiday diver. We all forget things and the longer gap between dives, the more time you have to forget. This is when you should go back to your training and do everything by the book.
- It’s been a while so set your equipment up slowly and methodically.
When you have set up your BCD and reg on your tank, test them. Don’t just attach everything and presume it’s good to go. Does the reg leak air at the first stage? Is your inflator hose connected? Do your gauges work? Are your hoses attached to clips? Does your BCD still fit properly?
- Make sure everything else is good to go.
Working guides will see people, time and again, set up their BCD and reg and then stuff their bag in a box or under the bench and consider the job done. It’s been a while so hang up your wetsuit and put your fins (and boots) where they are obvious and accessible. Also, look for the smaller stuff and pop it in pockets or attach to D rings where you will need them. Set up your weight belt belt, try it on, lay it somewhere safe and obvious.
- If you think you’re done then get ready to dive
This might sound silly, but even if your first dive is not for a few hours, or even the next morning, go through kitting up. Once you’re happy with that, have a very fast dive in your
Low on time
This is another one that we guides see a lot. On a liveaboard in particular, there’s generally no real excuse for this. The dive times will be clearly posted along with briefing times. Your cruise directors will often also do a pre dive call to give you a chance to get ready and check you are good to go. This is where you need to help yourself and take that time to double check everything. Did you forget to roll up your marker buoy after the last dive? Now’s your chance to pop it back in your BCD pocket. Is your tank full? Have you taken your computer out of the rinse tank? Do you know where your mask is? Take 5 minutes to check, it’s time well spent.
A special shout out here goes to photographers. You wait until the briefing is done to put your housing back together, or maybe to put the batteries back in your flash. Then you need to clean your o rings. Obviously, you then need to test your o rings. Eventually you will be getting ready to dive while the rest of your group is sat sweating in full gear waiting for you. This inevitably leads you to rushing.
In general, once the briefing is done, you should be gearing up to dive and nothing else. You should be a part of the well oiled dive liveaboard machine. This is not the time to set up a camera, or grab a coffee, or go back to your cabin to get changed, or to head to the bathroom, or to read a quick chapter of that new book that’s so engrossing. Any time you spend doing things that could have been done between dives is time you lose to prepare. This leads to rushing, and this leads to mistakes.
Finally the one that even we, as guides, are guilty of. Remember that list from the poll at the beginning? We’ve done most of those things ourselves. This happens when we do three or four dives a day for a whole season and our auto-pilot pretty much takes care of the set up. Which is fine, until it’s not. Believe us when we tell you there is nothing more embarrassing as a guide than to have to turn the rib around halfway to the dive site to go and get your mask. For shame!
As a holiday diver, even one who does maybe four or five trips a year, this is a position we really don’t want you to be in. When you’re on holiday it’s easy to be relaxed and complacent at dive time. Try to talk yourself out of it. Force yourself into those checks both on yourself and your buddy. Trust us, you will be a safer and more relaxed diver.
The names have been withheld to protect the doofuses, but we have all been involved in making the silliest diving mistakes…
All Thai’d Up
“I jumped into the water first as always, waiting for guests to follow. The second guy in popped up and then slowly made his way over to me while the others jumped…
Guest [smiling while holding up camera housing full of water]: “I forgot my o ring”
Me: “Erm…do you want to go back and get it?”
Guest: [laughs nervously] “I guess you see this a lot?”
And from the same ex-Cruise Director…
“So the 7 of us climbed into the rib with our gear on, slipped on fins, and then took a 10 minute rib ride in the tropical afternoon sun around the island to the drop spot”
Me: [confidently as super experienced Cruise Director] “OK everyone, masks on and get ready to roll”
Also me: “Oh, crap…”
It’s more fun in the Philippines
“One time a few years back, half-way through the dive, one of my guests lost her fin. For some reason, she didn’t notice until I went up to her”…
Me: Points at finless foot
Her: Shrugs shoulders in surprise
Me: Gives up a fin to the customer
Also me: Continued the dive with only 1 fin
How we laughed.
Doofus on Daedalus
Me Briefing: “It is a 15 minute ride in the RIB to the drop point so it’s super important that you make sure you have everything before you get into the RIB.
Everyone: [climbs into rib]
Me: “Focus everyone, final check, does everyone have their masks and fins?”
Me: “Does everyone have their air on?”
Me: “Does everyone have their computers?”
Me: “Finally, does everyone have their weights?”
Me: OK let’s go see these hammerheads.”
Everyone: [endures 10 minute rib ride in the midday sun being bashed in the waves in full gear]
Me: “OK everyone ready? 3, 2, 1 goooo!!”
Also me: [while flapping on the surface like a zebra fighting a crocodile] “I wonder where my weight belt is…”