Emergency Decompression Guidelines for Scuba Diving

 

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By Natalie Gibb

Scuba Diving Expert

If you plan your dive and dive your plan, there really is no reason that you should have to perform an emergency decompression stop on a recreational dive. However, everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes it’s easy to get distracted and stay down too long or stray too deep. Sometimes, exceeding your planned maximum depth or dive time happens due to forces beyond your control — staying below to help a buddy or because of an emergency situation.

As a recreational diver, you should never plan to exceed (or even dive right up to the no-decompression limits), but if you accidentally find yourself past your dive time or maximum depth and running to deco, it’s good to know what to do.

Emergency Decompression Guidelines

  • If a no-decompression limit is exceeded by 5 minutes or less: make an 8 minute stop at 15 feet and remain out of the water for 6 hours before diving again.
  • If a no-decompression limit is exceed by more than 5 minutes: make at least a 15 minute stop at 15 feet and remain out of the water for a minimum of 24 hours before diving again.

Will You Remember These Numbers on a Dive?

The emergency decompression rules are easy to memorize, but in an emergency situation, it is quite likely that a diver’s memory may not be functioning at full capacity. It is a good idea to write this information down on a slate or even on the back of your computer so that you have access to it in the unlikely event of an emergency decompression situation.

How Will You Monitor Your Emergency Decompression Stop?

Consider the series of events that leads a diver to find himself requiring emergency decompression. While a diver may simply forget to check his computer or watch, another likely situation is that he needs to perform emergency decompression because of a computer or watch failure.

Without a timing device, he may have no way to monitor the length of his emergency decompression stop. Unless his buddy is nearby, the only option left is to count out the minutes. If a diver finds himself alone and without a timing device, he may have to simply wait at the stop depth until he has used most of his breathing gas (hopefully exceeding the minimum required stop time) before surfacing slowly. Divers should be prepared for this possibility

Most regulators have an analog depth gauge, but in an absolutely worst-case scenario, a diver relying only on a computer could find himself with no idea of his depth as well as his dive time. In this situation, an observant diver may be able to visually estimate his depth, but most divers would be hard pressed to hold themselves at exactly 15 feet with no depth gauge. At this point, the diver should make his best guess and estimate. Emergency decompression imperfectly done is still better than no emergency decompression at all.

Availability of Breathing Gas

Emergency decompression can only be performed as long as the diver has air left in his tank and/or has a buddy whom he can share gas with. This is yet another reason to always dive conservatively, and to plan to surface from a dive with plenty of gas in reserve.

There Is Nothing Inherently Wrong with Decompression

This entire article is devoted to emergency decompression stops and how to avoid having to make them, but keep in mind that there is nothing inherently wrong or mysterious about decompression, it’s just that recreational dive training doesn’t teach divers to plan for and safely make decompression stops. If you are interested in learning about decompression diving, just take a course. There are many excellent courses available for reputable technical dive training organizations including stage decompression diving.

The Take Home Message About Emergency Decompression

Divers would do best to avoid an emergency decompression situation altogether. Plan for an equipment failure by carrying a back-up timing device and an analog depth gauge, and by making a dive plan based on the recreational dive tables in case of a computer failure. However, even the best divers can make mistakes, and sometimes events simply conspire against you. By understanding the rules of emergency decompression, a diver is prepared for this possibility and can remain safe and confident in even the worst of situations.

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Archimedes Principle

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Learning about the physics of the underwater world can help divers to have a more complete understanding of their sport. One essential concept is Archimedes’ Principle, which states:

Any object wholly or partially immersed in a fluid will be buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced.

Archimedes’ Principle in Plain English:

When an object is placed in water (or any other fluid), the water will exert an upward force on the object. The strength of the upward force is equal to the weight of the water displaced by the object.

To visualize this concept, imagine dropping a marble into a full glass of water. Some of the water will be displaced by the marble and will overflow the glass. If the displaced water is weighed, the weight of the water will be equal to the upward force.

Some objects, such as ping pong balls, will float partially above the water. In this case the upward force is equal to the weight of the water displaced by the submerged portion of the object.

How Does Archimedes’ Principle Help to Determine an Object’s Buoyancy?

Archimedes’ Principle describes the upward forces acting on an object immersed in water. However, an object’s weight (a downward force) also affects its buoyancy. To understand an object’s buoyancy, it is necessary to consider both the downward and upward forces present, and to determine if they are equal or whether one is greater than the other.

If the downward force on an object is stronger than the upward force, it will sink and is said to be negatively buoyant. If the upward force on an object is stronger than the downward force, the object will float and is said to be positively buoyant. Finally, if the two forces are equal, the object will remain suspended in the water and is said to be neutrally buoyant.

In the case of the marble dropped into the water glass, the marble will sink because the weight of the marble (the downward force) is greater than the weight of the water it displaces (the upward force). A ping-pong ball, on the other hand, will float when placed in water.

Archimedes’ Principle reveals why the ping pong ball and other air-filled objects tend to float. An air-filled object weighs little but displaces a relatively large amount of water. One example is a boat, which is basically an air-filled shell. Even a metal boat can float, provided that the water it displaces weighs more than it does.

What Does Archimedes’ Principle Have to Do With Scuba Diving?:

Archimedes’ Principle explains how various factors including a diver’s size, weight, and dive gear affect his buoyancy. Here are a few examples of Archimedes’ Principle in action:

Buoyancy Compensators (BCs):

In its simplest form, a BC is an inflatable air cell that a diver carries with him underwater. He inflates and deflates the air cell during the dive to adjust his buoyancy. When the diver inflates his BC, the air cell expands, displacing a greater volume of water, and increasing the upward force on the diver. When the diver deflates his BC, the air cell loses volume, displaces less water, and weakens the upward force on the diver. Underwater, a diver uses his BC to maintain neutral buoyancy. On the surface, a diver inflates his BC almost completely to allow him to float on the surface.

Weights:

The use of lead weights in scuba diving is also justified by Archimedes’ Principle. When fully geared up, most divers are positively buoyant on the surface. A scuba diver displaces quite a bit of water! To counteract the upward force, a diver wears lead weights, which are small and heavy; they increase the diver’s weight but barely increase his water displacement.

Wetsuits:

A wetsuit increases a diver’s water displacement without significantly increasing his weight, which makes the diver more buoyant. Even a thin wetsuit will increase a diver’s buoyancy. The thicker his wetsuit, the greater a diver’s water displacement, and the greater the upward force on his body will be. Dry suits are bulkier and much more positively buoyant than wetsuits

Tanks:

Aluminium tanks also have an interesting affect on a diver’s buoyancy. When full, a standard 80-cubic-foot aluminium tank (Al 80) is negatively buoyant. However, the shape and volume of an Al 80 is such that when the tank is empty, its water displacement is greater than its weight (aluminium is very lightweight). As compressed air is breathed from a full tank, the tank becomes lighter and lighter, until it eventually becomes positively buoyant. A diver must weight himself to counteract the buoyancy of the aluminium tank at the end of a dive, which means he will begin the dive slightly overweighed. He must inflate his BC to compensate for this negative buoyancy when he starts the dive, and then gradually release air from the BC throughout the dive to maintain neutral buoyancy.

Jellyfish Stings – Facts, Treatments, and Remedies

Article by: 
By Natalie Gibb
  Scuba Diving Expert

How dangerous can a gelatinous sac of straggly tentacles be? A jellyfish’s soft, transparent body appears vulnerable to all sort of prey, and a diver may be surprised that a jellyfish can survive to grow to maturity without being eaten. Yet, a jellyfish’s delicate body is anything but unprotected. The tentacles of a jellyfish contain uncountable numbers of stinging cells, called nematocysts, which effectively protect it from many potential predators and are used to stun small prey.

Depending upon the species of jellyfish, contact with the stinging cells can injure, or even kill a human being. But how much of a threat are jellyfish to scuba divers?

Are You Likely To Be Stung by a Jellyfish While Scuba Diving?:

No. Jellyfish are not a major threat to scuba divers. The majority of jellyfish species tend to stay near the surface of the water, and are more of a threat to swimmers and beach-goers than they are to divers. In addition, a jellyfish must contact a person’s bare skin in order to sting. Generally, divers wear wetsuits or dive skins and have little exposed skin to sting.

Dive guides and local dive centers will usually alert divers if dangerous species are present. If a diver spots a jellyfish underwater, he should take care to stay at least a few meters away. Some species of jellyfish have transparent tentacles over one meter in length which may be difficult or impossible to see underwater.

Are Jellyfish Stings Dangerous?:

The effects of jellyfish stings can range from mild pain and stinging, to skin irritations and blisters, to respiratory problems, cardiac arrest, and death.

The toxicity of a jellyfish sting depends upon the species of jellyfish and the reaction of a person’s body to the jellyfish venom.

The most toxic type of jellyfish is the Box Jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri and Caruka barnesi) found in Australia and some regions of the Indo-Pacific. The venom of the Box Jellyfish has been known to kill a person in five minutes.

People react differently to jellyfish stings. Consider a jellyfish sting as a “dose” of poison. The smaller the person, the greater the effect of a jellyfish sting will be. Just as some people are highly allergic to bees and may go into anaphylactic shock from a single sting, other people may be unusually sensitive to jellyfish venom and may have a similar severe reaction.

How Should a Diver Treat a Jellyfish Sting?:

box-jellyfish

Most diving safety organizations recommend vinegar as immediate first aide for a jellyfish sting. Vinegar, which neutralizes a jellyfish’s stinging cells, has two primary benefits – to minimize pain and discomfort, and to stop the delivery of jellyfish venom. When stung by a jellyfish with exceptionally toxic venom, such as that of the Box Jellyfish, the immediate application of vinegar to neutralize stinging cells and prevent more venom from entering a diver’s body may be the difference between life and death. Vinegar should be in every dive boat’s first aid kit. If vinegar is not available, a paste of baking soda may be used to neutralize sting cells. Salt water may be used as an additional rinsing agent if necessary.

In no circumstances should fresh water be applied to a jellyfish sting as fresh water may cause additional stinging cells to fire. Urinating on jellyfish stings is not recommended to neutralize jellyfish venom (sorry).

Jellyfish tentacles tend to stick to a diver’s skin and must be removed once the stinging cells are neutralized. Shaving affected area with a razor has proven very effective in removing tentacles. Other suggestions include using tweezers or thick gloves to pry the jellyfish tentacles away. Any abrasive material, such as sand, may be used to scour the sting area when other methods are not available.

Cold and hot packs (as long as they are completely dry) may be used to alleviate the pain of a jellyfish sting. Most doctors recommend hydrocortisone cream to be applied topically to the stung area.

The victim of a jellyfish sting should be monitored carefully for signs of shock, difficulty breathing, nausea, and other signs of severe allergic reactions. If any allergic reaction is suspected, be sure to contact a doctor immediately.

Conclusion

In most cases, an encounter with a jellyfish while scuba diving is anything but dangerous. Jellyfish are among some of the oceans most surprising and fascinating creatures, and it is enchanting to watch their pulsating movements as the drift through the water. Enjoy your jellyfish encounters, just make sure to give them plenty of space!

Tips for Effective Use of the Buddy System

Hand Signals

  1. Choose your buddies wisely.
    The ideal buddy should feel that the buddy system is important. If you are partnered with a random buddy on the boat only to find that he is a lone wolf and deserts you underwater, stick close to the divemaster and ask for a different buddy for the next dive.

    2. Discuss your dive plan with your buddy before the dive.
    Let your buddy know if you are likely to have any issues that commonly lead to buddy separation, such asear equalizationtrouble on descent (I frequently see one diver drop like a rock while the other is stuck at 15 feet attempting to equalize his ears). Discuss how you will deal with these situations should they arise.

    3. Talk about your dive objective.
    If one member of the team stops to take photographs and the other wants to race over the reef in order to cover as much ground as possible, a compromise as to the dive pace will need to be made.

    4. Pick a side.
    Choose what side of your buddy you will remain on, and then remain on that side. This might sound silly, but it is easy to become disoriented underwater and knowing where to look for your buddy is helpful.

    5. Pick a leader.
    Even if there is a dive master, decide who will make navigational decisions during the dive. One buddy swims to areas he finds interesting, and the other follows his lead. If the follower wants to check out a specific spot, he simply notifies the leader and they move together. This makes the dive more organized and more enjoyable.

    6. Discuss a way to attract each other’s attention.
    This could include underwater noisemakers, rapping on the tank with a metal ring or clip, or even shouting into the regulator. If you and your buddy know what to listen for, you are more likely to be able to get each other’s attention underwater.

    7. Familiarize yourself with your buddy’s gear and refresh emergency procedures together.
    This doesn’t have to take a long time, a simple “my weights are released here and my alternate air source is here” and a brief review of the gear you are using usually covers the equipment. A quick discussion of emergency air sharing procedures takes about 30 seconds.

    8. Communicate during the dive.
    Discuss hand signal communications and then use them. Ask your buddy if he is okay periodically, point out interesting aquatic life to your partner, and communicate your tank pressure. Divers who are in constant communication tend to stay closer together and more aware of their partners.

Scuba instructors teach the buddy system for a reason: a diver using the standard single-tank equipment configuration cannot solve all emergencies himself. Stay close to your buddy and stay safe!

Mastering the Command Chain

Baro

In any kind of diving, the ability to react to problems with the right skills is paramount. Of course, a diver’s main focus should be on anticipating and avoiding problems in a first place, but when problems do occur, the diver should focus on diving basics (such as buoyancy) first.

Doing so will lead to a safer and more controlled solution.

What are the steps leading to a correct and controlled response?

The following protocol will help you achieve a deliberate, controlled, and safe reaction in a difficult situation.

  1. Check Your Breathing Rate

Breathing on land feels natural, and most of the time, we don’t think about it. However, underwater, the surrounding pressure and breathing resistance from the equipment will cause a diver to think again about something that is usually automatic.

When a diver is stressed or task loaded, the first thing that usually happens is that he either increases his breathing rate or holds his breath – and he usually does not notice that he is doing it! Not only does this affect his buoyancy, but it creates stress as his body builds up carbon dioxide. In the event of any task or problem management, first check your breathing and focus on long, slow exhalations. This will allow your body to get rid off carbon dioxide, allowing better mental focus, lower gas consumption, and reduced anxiety.

  1. Confirm That You Are Neutrally Buoyant

Before a diver takes any action, he should confirm that he is neutrally buoyant.

Neutral buoyancy requires the use of your BCD or wing and your breathing. As stated above, a diver who is hyperventilating or holding his breath will find himself ascending even with the proper amount of air in his BCD.

To check your buoyancy, the first thing you should do is nothing at all . . . just wait! There is always a delay between exhalation and sinking, and between inhalation and rising. Playing with this delay will allow you to find the buoyancy sweet spot – the pattern of breathing at which you rise and fall approximately the same amount with each breath, and return to the same depth with each breathing cycle.

The goal is to have the correct amount of air in your BCD so that you can breathe in a relaxed and consistent pattern while maintaining your depth. If you are exaggerating your exhalations or inhalations, adjust your BCD so that you may breathe normally. The incorrect amount of air in your BCD may affect your breathing rate, leading to stress! The worst part is that experienced divers often make these type of compensations unconsciously, so it is worth the small amount of time it takes to check your buoyancy and breathing rate before taking any action.

  1. Assess Your Trim

Trim refers to a diver’s body position. Many times, proper trim is horizontal but not always; it depends upon the environment. A diver’s body should be parallel to the bottom or the floor. This is very important in cave diving and wreck diving, where a silty bottom may not be horizontal!

Proper trim will help to reduce drag and the work of propulsion, as well as limit silt outs and damage to the environment.

Proper trim also gives a diver better control by offering greater contact with the surrounding fluid.

A diver in good trim will feel controlled and stable in the water – a diver out of trim will feel sloppy.

Achieving proper trim requires a bit of practice and equipment adjustments at first, as well as an awareness of the environment. Before taking any action underwater, check your trim to be sure that you are not struggling with an inappropriate body position. Doing so will allow you to focus on the task at hand, instead of struggling to maintain position.

  1. If Necessary, Consciously Choose Your Propulsion Technique

If the task at hand requires swimming, such as reaching a wreck or exiting a cave, choosing the most appropriate propulsion technique will help you to get to where you are going in an efficient manner.

Some good options include:

The Frog Kick

The frog kick propels water behind the diver (as opposed to downwards or upwards) creating a almost purely forward movement that prevents silting and damage to the environment. This kick is easy to match with your breathing, and it is the best technique for long swims and diving with bulky rigs.

The Reverse Kick

Trying to position yourself without a good reverse kick is like trying to parallel park a car without a reverse gear – it’s not possible. The reverse kick is used to manoeuvre in small places, reposition yourself without losing sight of your surroundings, or just to stop on a dime.

Flat Turns

Also known as helicopter turns, a flat turn in useful in positioning, allowing the diver to rotate around his center of gravity while keeping proper trim. Mastering flat turns will help to prevent dropping your feet (and all the problems associated with it) and allows you to manoeuvre in very tight spots.

  1. Consider Your Position

The next step to consider before taking action to solve a problem or complete a task is to choose your position relative to your dive team and the environment.

Be sure that you are not your partner(s)’ blind spot: your entire team should be aware of your presence thanks to your positioning.

In cave, wreck, and deep diving, this can also be achieved with your light beam position.

Choosing the proper position may involve more than just your placement relative to your team.

Considerations may include your position relative to a guideline or the current. Positioning is an art anticipating others’ movements and vice versa. Diving in a properly positioned dive team feels like being part of a team of jet fighters, and can be pure bliss once you master it.

  1. Finally, Take Action!

Once everything else is under control, analyze the situation and take deliberate action.

Consider what needs to be done, and plan your movements step-by-step before executing a task.

You have time (you are already in control) and thinking through a task step-by-step will help to avoid mistakes and the need to fix them or to start over.

The Command Chain in Practice

Putting these six steps together will lead to more controlled, less stressful diving.

For example, if a moment of stress leads to hyperventilation or over-breathing, your buoyancy, trim, and all that follows will be negatively affected.

Stop, and go back to the basics starting at the beginning of the list.

Calm your breathing, check your buoyancy, check your trim, etc.

Whatever action you wish to accomplish, be it swimming, laying a line, or inflating a surface marker buoy, will become easier and smoother.

Putting the command chain into practice helps to avoid additional problems, and increases your overall control and enjoyment of a dive.

One Final Tip – This Works for All Divers, Regardless of Level!

The command chain works equally well for recreational and technical divers. Divers who use the command chain will become more confident, relaxed and controlled. They are able to manage complex tasks, and generally proceed much more quickly through training.

Train yourself from now on that THE mantra to repeat to yourself in any circumstance is:

Breathing, buoyancy, trim, propulsion, position, action!

You will be a better diver for it!

Vincent Rouquette-Cathala is a technical diving instructor at Phocea Dive Center, Mexico

A short list of some of the hazards of wreck diving

Wreck DivingWrecks Are Considered an Overhead Environment

Penetrating a wreck’s interior can be a hazardous move, especially if a diver has insufficient equipment and training. Even swimming under a piece of wreckage is potentially dangerous. Some wrecks are so fragile that a diver’s touch or fin kick will send a piece of the wreck crashing down!

Wrecks Can Be Highly Disorienting

When diving a wreck, it can be very easy for a diver to lose his sense of direction. A wreck can be a veritable maze, with rotting structures, nets and other paraphernalia creating a confusing labyrinth. This is particularly true when a ship is not sitting upright on the ocean floor. A wreck diver must learn and employ proper navigation techniques in order to maintain awareness of his position and avoid disorientation.

Metal Can Be Dangerous

When diving on wrecks made of metal, sharp edges can snag, cut, and damage diving equipment – and even the diver! A wreck diver’s gear should be as streamlined as possible and configured for the sport. In additional, metal wrecks may render underwater compasses useless. A wreck diver must know how to use the structure of the wreck, navigational tools, and natural phenomena to find his way around. One popular method of navigation is the use of a guideline temporarily placed along the diver’s path which follows and removes during his exit.

Entanglement Hazards on Wrecks

The presence of monofilament line, rigging and nets on shipwrecks makes entanglement a considerable risk. If a diver runs out of air before he frees himself, he could have a serious problem. Every wreck diver should carry appropriate cutting tools (usually more than one) in order to cut himself free quickly in the event of an entanglement.

Depth Can Be Deceiving

Losing track of depth on shipwrecks can be surprisingly easy. If the top of the wreck lies in shallow water, a diver may plan a shallow dive and then accidentally go deeper as he explores the wreck. Of course, diving deeper than planned (or beyond one’s certification level) can cause a diver to experience narcosis or to accidentally enter decompression, which should only be done with proper training and dive planning.

Loss of Focus

A diver may become so captivated by exploring a shipwreck that he neglects to check his gauges. This can result in the divers descending to dangerous depths, going into decompression or even running out of air. Never let the environment distract you from your base skills.

Wreck diving has plenty of hazards that open water diving does not and managing these risks is one of the reasons that wreck diving requires specific training. However, with proper training procedures and gear, wreck diving is an exciting and fulfilling sport that can be done with minimal risk.

Torben Lonne is the Editor in Chief at DIVE.in online magazine.

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The difference between a perfect dive trip and a frustrating one – By Natalie Gibb Scuba Diving Expert

Direction

Doing your research, testing your gear, and packing carefully can make the difference between a perfect dive trip and a frustrating one.

  1. Test dive all your scuba gear before your trip!

When is your dive gear most likely to break? That’s easy. It is most likely to break when you are on your dream dive trip off the remote island of wherever, where no spares parts are obtainable and gear servicing is impossible. This rule is universally true unless you are an unusual size, in which case items are likely to break just about anywhere, because no one will have a replacement in your size anyhow.

Weeks before a dive trip, test dive your gear – each and every piece you will bring – in the open water if possible, in a pool if not. Evaluate new gear in a controlled environment and address issues immediately.

  1. Reviewing basic scuba skills in a pool before a trip.

If you have been out of the water for six months or more, consider taking a refresher course , even if you feel that you already know everything. Of course, the benefit of a refresher course will be a dependent upon your dive experience, but in general, shaking the dust off of your dive skills and knowledge will help to increase your enjoyment of diving on vacation.

The main benefit of a refresher course, however, is simply to get you back in the water using your gear in a controlled environment so that you feel as comfortable and confident as possible on the first dive of your vacation. You can even bring your own gear along on a refresher course to ensure that it is all working properly.

If you don’t have DAN Insurance, get it. 

  1. Review Your Travel and Dive Documents

Review your travel and diving documents before booking flights or a trip, and be sure they are up-to-date. The most obvious of these are your passport and dive certification cards. Keep in mind that many remote dive locations do not have reliable internet, and looking up your certification online is not always an option.

Other documentation you may or may not need can include travel visas, medical releases, your dive logbook, and dive insurance. Many standard medical insurance carriers will not cover recompression treatments, double check yours.

Be sure to alert credit card companies that you will be travelling. It is a good idea to carry copies of international toll-free numbers to call in case cards are compromised. Keep in mind that many debit cards and credit cards have daily limits when used at overseas ATMs or credit card terminals. Be prepared!

 

  1. Double Check Airline Regulations for Scuba Gear

Carefully research airline policies as to what dive gear you can carry on and what you can check.

If you are carrying your own equipment, be sure to double check airline regulations regarding dive gear, and keep in mind that regulations may be country and airline specific. Items such as HID lights, spare air bottles, spools and reels, and even back plates may require specific packing considerations.  Consider carrying print-outs of descriptions for unusual items to be able to prove to airport personal that they are dive gear, not bombs.

Divers will have to pick and choose what to bring in a carry-on and what to put in checked luggage. If possible, carry on delicate items.

Finally, consider TSA-friendly locks, pack and weigh your bags ahead of time, and be sure to allow for sufficient drying of dive gear before you pack it back up to go home. 

  1. Pack Spares of Vital Gear, Parts, and Medicine

Consider what items in your dive gear are easily replaceable and what are not. This will depend upon what gear you use, and where you are going.

Most dive shops have a decent range of rental gear that can be borrowed in an emergency, but if there is an item you cannot live without, pack an extra!

Divers who have allergies or medical issues should pack an excess of the required medication. A major consideration is prescription ear drops for divers with sensitive ears or those who are prone to ear infections.

Be sure to alert your dive shop to any prescription medications you are taking, and check all medications for potential side effects if they are to be used while scuba diving.  

  1. Research Your Dive Destination before Booking a Trip

Research your planned dive destination carefully.

Your research should include everything from surface/water temperatures and conditions at the planned time of your trip, to dive shop reviews, to candid recent photos.

Keep in mind that dive travel can be seasonal.

If there is a specific type of wildlife you are interested in seeing, or a dive experience you would like, email dive shops and ask when the best time of year is. Most dive service providers are interested in providing the best experience possible for clients, take their advice!

In some cases, the off-season is your friend.

Flights, accommodations, and even diving may be less expensive during the low tourist season, and you might be able to avoid crowds! However, sometimes low season is low for a reason.   

  1. Pack Diving Safety Devices

Purchase and learn to use your own diving safety devices, and then carry them on your dive trips.

The first, and most important, is a huge, inflatable surface marker buoy and spool, with a mirror, chemical light stick, and whistle attached in a small pocket at the base. The second is a dive computer.

If you carry a surface marker buoy be sure to alert the dive guide and your captain to its presence and appearance, and discuss the circumstances under which you will deploy it before ever entering the water.

  1. Plan a Day or Two Off

Plan a dry day or two to enjoy local sites and give yourself a buffer in case of illness or ear problems. 

Giving yourself a few extra days can make the difference between a fun dive trip and a disappointing one, so plan carefully. Consider flying in a day or two before a planned live aboard trip to accommodate flight delays or cancellations.

Plan a dry day at the end of your trip to dry dive gear, or mid-way through to see local sites.

You can use your dry day to make up dives if you unexpectedly fall ill, have ear problems, or can’t dive due to weather conditions.

Having extra days can be particularly important when booking courses, in which case a missed day of training can mean the difference between completing the course and having to retake it if you don’t have a few buffer days.

Natalie Gibb

Scuba Diving Expert