As the temperatures here drop, my mind turns to tropical locales and the joy of diving into the aqua waters of the ocean in nothing but my 3mm! It is this thought that brings me to my mission this month. It is really in the spirit of public service that I must discuss how not to be a dive jerk!Don’t be late for the boat.
It is, of course, forgivable if you oversleep once, or fall victim to island-paced service at the local breakfast spot, but don’t make a habit of being late for the boat. Find out when you are expected on the dock, suited, packed, whatever and do what you need to in order to make that deadline. When possible prep and organize your equipment the night before, so there are no last minute surprises. Get a good night sleep so you are on top of your game for the next day’s dives.
A corollary to this rule: If you decide to beg off a dive, let someone know so the group is not waiting for you while you are touring the island I your rented jeep. Stow your gear.
Diving is a gear intensive activity, and by definition, everyone has gear. Therefore, we need to be courteous of others and keep our gear all together in one place designated for us. If you are allowed a dive bag on board, stow it under the bench where your BC is set up. Attach your mask to your BC or tuck it into the boot of your fin. Find out from boat crew members where they want you to put items you are hoping to keep dry. Try to limit these items to what will fit in a small tote. This practice has the added plus that it help us stay organized and ready to go.
Listen to the boat and dive briefing.
Boat briefings contain important information regarding the procedures of the boat, where to stow your gear, where emergency oxygen and other first aid supplies are stowed. Don’t be the one who flushes the marine head while other divers are doing their safety stop, or sprays another divers’ camera with water from the hose because you aren’t following the method described in the briefing. Dive briefings contain not only information about the dive site, but procedures for entering and exiting the boat, how the dive will be conducted, and points of interest. Even if you have already listened to briefings earlier, here may be divers who haven’t, so out of courtesy to the other divers, and respect for the crew member giving the briefing, stand there silently, looking as if you are really interested. Who knows? You may pick up on something you missed the first time.Don’t rinse your mask, wetsuit, or other gear in the camera tank.
This is one of those things that would likely be covered in the boat briefing. If you do not own an underwater camera, you may not realize that cameras must be soaked in fresh water after use in the ocean to remove salt that may form crystals that can cause o-rings to leak. Adding sunscreen, defog, anything sandy to the water can ruin housings that are often more expensive than the camera itself. Some dive boats actually have a camera tank on board where photographers put their cameras before and between dives. This is not where you should rinse the defog off your mask. If the resort has gear rinse tanks, they usually have one designated for cameras. Take note of which tanks are for rinsing gear and wetsuits and which are for camera equipment.
Return to the boat in the allotted time.
Sure, you’re proud that your air lasts the longest, but the rest of the divers would like to get to the next site, and the crew needs to get the divers back to the resort in enough time to eat lunch and make it to the afternoon dive. You may be on vacation, but the resort is on a schedule. If you want to dive as long as your air (and no deco time) lasts, pick a destination where you can shore dive on your own schedule, or charter a private boat.Respect the environment.
We are all attracted to diving as a sport for different reasons, but whether you are in it for travel, photography, companionship, or just a good time, it would not be as great a pastime if the ocean was not as beautiful as it is. It behooves all of us to lessen our impact on the world’s seas. Decrease the number of plastic bottles you use by bringing a large refillable bottle with you, do not litter, and above all, do not touch anything underwater. Work to improve your buoyancy on every dive. Remember that your fins as well as your hands can cause harm to corals, so be aware of life that is behind, and below you. This benefits you in many ways. It will lessen the chance of running into anything (e.g., fire coral, sharp objects) you would rather avoid, help you relax more while diving, and decrease your air consumption.Don’t be a complainer.
If you have specific complaints about a dive staff member or resort personnel, go to the person who can actually address the problem. Don’t complain in front of the group. You will not be showing yourself in a positive light and your negativity will cast a pall on the other divers’ good time. We all have to deal with complainers in our jobs, but we don’t want to spend our vacation with them!
This is my short list of dive etiquette tips. I’m sure you seasoned divers can add a few. I’d like to hear them. Feel free to air your pat diving peeves: email@example.com. Use the subject line, “pet peeves”. I’ll share the best ones next month. The bottom line, though, is, be the diver you would like to dive with!
In Other News........ Manta Divers recently spent a weekend diving at Haigh Quarry. We had a great time and had a chance to really explore the many sites available to divers there. Included in our weekend was a night dive. I was never so motivated to get under water than I was that night as swarms of blood thirsty mosquitoes assaulted us. I swear, some were big enough to bite through neoprene! On Sunday, couple of our divers even saw Haigh’s famed paddle fish! Next summer we plan to have even more outings, so keep an eye on the calendar. We are also asking our readers to tell us what local spots interest them and we will try to add them to our itinerary. E-mail ideas firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line, “summer destinations”.
Thanks to Terese Rutkowski for these great pics!
Rumor has it Aqualung is coming out with a new wetsuit after DEMA. This means that we are having a clearance sale on all of our in stock wetsuits (excluding SolFlex). We have 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm suits in both women’s and men’s sizes.
Since gas prices have stabilized for the time being, you may still be able to join us in Little Cayman in January, if you act fast. Call the dive shop for availability.
It is time to get your reservations in for the April 11-17 2009 trip to Cozumel. This is a very reasonably priced trip at $1840 for air, accommodations, all food, 2 boat dives/day and unlimited shore diving. There is plenty of attractions topside, as well, so even a non diver will have a great time.