Boat Diving Survival Guide



The Art of Equipment Configuration

Diver 1

1. Accessibility:

The single most important concept in scuba equipment configuration is accessibility. A diver should be able to deploy, use, and stow dive gear easily and efficiently. Any configuration that makes accessing a piece of dive gear difficult or complicated should be re-thought, even if it fulfils all the other tenets of optimized equipment placement. Whenever possible, configure all dive gear so that it may be deployed and operated with one hand. This ensures that a diver can use his other hand for emergency management, such as maintaining physical contact with an out-of-air buddy.

2. Durability:

The manner in which a diver configures his gear should ensure that it will stay in place for an entire dive. A common equipment configuration failure is the alternate air source regulator coming free of its quick release.  The first time a piece of gear comes loose, the diver should reconfigure his gear to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

If it happened once, it will happen again!

3. Streamlining:

All dive gear, including accessories and hoses should be streamlined. In no circumstance should a piece of dive gear dangle more than a few inches below a diver’s horizontal body line . Hoses should be adjusted so that they do not loop above or beside the diver. Keep in mind that regulator hoses are available in a variety of lengths. Proper streamlining reduces the chance of entanglement, damage to the environment, and drag.

A common failure of streamlining in standard recreational scuba diving is the octopus-style alternate air source, which necessarily must be attached to a longer hose to facilitate donation to an out-of-air diver. The hoses on octopus-style regulators typically loop out to the side of the diver, presenting an entanglement hazard and creating drag. As far as streamlining goes, integrated alternate air sources and long hose/necklace regulator configurations are both preferable.

All types of diving require some level of redundancy in the gear. Recreational open water diving requires that a diver carry at least one redundant second stage for his buddy to use in an emergency. More advanced or technical types of diving may require additional redundant gear for safety. A diver should carry the minimum amount of accessories and gear that allows him to dive safely. At a certain point, additional gear no longer increases dive safety. The trick is to balance redundancy and simplicity when configuring dive gear.

5. Trim and Comfort:

Once a diver has optimized his equipment configuration, he should test it in a forgiving environment such as a pool or shallow water dive site. When evaluating changes to his gear configuration, a diver should notice whether the changes upset or improve his trim and whether or not position of the gear is comfortable. No matter how fantastic it seems on the surface, the final test of an equipment configuration is whether or not it is comfortable and functional underwater.

Evaluating and adjusting your scuba diving equipment configuration can make diving easier, safer, and more comfortable.


Vomiting Politely on the Dive Boat:
Seasickness most frequently occurs on the dive boat. If you happen to be on the boat when seasickness strikes . . .

1. Acknowledge That You Are, Indeed, Seasick:
When you get seasick you usually go through a stage of embarrassment during which you pretend that you are just fine.

Bad idea. The moment you start to feel nauseated, take action! Move to an appropriate position on the boat and prepare for the worst. Don’t try to act tough — the only thing worse than vomiting during a dive trip is vomiting on the deck or in the cabin.

2. Stop, Think, and Barf:
If the boat is moving, take a moment to position your head so that you are vomiting  not into the wind.

3. Location, Location, Location:
If you acknowledge seasickness early and note the direction of the wind, you will have time to position yourself so as to avoid spewing all over the deck and other divers. Move as far back on the dive boat as possible, and onto the lower deck if there are multiple outdoor levels on the boat. Beware the dreaded cross breeze and try to position yourself so that your spewage moves away from the boat.

Seasickness On The Surface

Here’s what to do if you feel seasick in the water before or after a dive.

1. Inflate Your Buoyancy Compensator (BC):
The first and most important action a diver should take whenever he experiences a problem on the surface of the water is to make himself float. Inflate your buoyancy compensator (BC) so that your face is well above the water. This reduces the chance of  inhaling or swallowing water during the retching process, which only makes a bad situation much, much worse.

2. Do NOT Switch to Your Snorkel:
Most divers have been trained to switch from their regulators to their snorkels whenever they are on the surface. If you are feeling nauseated and the use of a snorkel or a regulator is necessary to prevent water from splashing into your mouth, be sure to use the regulator, not the snorkel. It’s difficult to vomit with sufficient force to get the vomit completely clear of the snorkel tube.  Regulators, on the other hand, are equipped with exhaust valves which make shooting puke out a regulator a piece of cake. Continuing to breathe from the regulator on the surface when seasick has an additional benefit. A diver breathing from his regulator inhales clean, dry air from his tank, avoiding any boat exhaust or other odors which may worsen his condition.

3. Warn Other Divers:
Alert your dive buddy, guide, and other divers from your group so that they may move out of your splash zone. Although it seem embarrassing, it’s a lot less humiliating than  sharing your lunch with your fellow divers.

4. Vomit Down Current:
In most cases, there will be a gentle current or drift on the surface. Be sure to vomit down current to avoid having bits of nasty washed back at you and your dive buddies.

5. Communicate:
If you are okay and feel that the nausea will pass let your dive buddies know. If you need to exit the water, be sure to say something. It’s hard to judge whether a sick diver is simply going through a horrible few moments, or is having a bout of seasickness that is more lasting.

You can vomit underwater safely if you get seasick during a dive.

Is It Common to Have to Vomit Underwater While Scuba Diving?

No. In fact, if a diver is feeling seasick on a dive boat, the best thing he can do is to get in the water. Once a diver is off the boat, his seasickness usually disappears because he is moving with the water instead of bouncing around on top if it.

Underwater, a diver is most likely to experience seasickness near or on the surface, where the rocking motion of the waves or surge can be felt on rough days. Other causes of nausea can be vertigo , or an upset stomach caused by exotic food
What Should I Do If I Must Vomit Underwater?:

1. Do Not Remove Your Regulator.
After vomiting, a person will reflexively gasp for air. If a diver removes his regulator to vomit, he may not be able to replace it in time and may inadvertently inhale water. Hold your regulator in your mouth and vomit into the regulator mouthpiece. This will not contaminate the air supply – the vomit will exit through the one-way exhalation valve. The first breath after vomiting should be taken as carefully as possible, ensuring that any leftovers do not get inhaled.

2. Purge the Regulator If Needed.
After vomiting, a diver can use the regulator’s purge button to flood the regulator second stage with air and force any leftover debris out the exhaust valves. A diver purging the regulator after vomiting should take care to place his tongue over the regulator mouthpiece while pressing the purge button, so that any remaining vomit does not get blown back into his mouth.

3. Be Prepared to Switch to the Alternate Air Source.
If a diver is unlucky enough , pieces of puke could become lodged in the regulator mouthpiece and cause it to free-flow or malfunction. This is why you have alternate air source regulators!  If a diver does switch to his alternate air source, he should end the dive because diving without an alternate air source regulator available for his buddy is unsafe.

4. End the Dive If Nausea Continues.
Sometimes vomiting makes you feel better.  If vomiting once seems to alleviate the nausea, a diver may feel confident in continuing his dive. However, if the nausea keeps on, it is time to surface and end the dive.

5. Wash/ Service the Regulator Second Stage.
A regulator that has been vomited into should be thoroughly washed and may require servicing if any debris remain. A diver who has vomited in his regulator must swallow his pride and alert the appropriate person  to make sure that the regulator is cleaned and working properly.

Vomiting underwater is never fun, but it can be done safely when unavoidable.