What to ask your dive center.
If you are getting ready for your first dive with a new crew here are some questions you need to ask before you head to your first dive site.
1. What should I bring on the boat?
-Some boats are small and don’t have storage space. You bringing your entire dive bag along, asking the crew to make sure it doesn’t get wet, and then never even opening it is rude. Don’t do it. A good rule of thumb is to only take what you need to dive along with you. You aren’t going to fill your log out between dives, I promise.
2. How long will we be out on the boat?
-The answer to this question will tell you if you need to bring small items such as sun screen or snacks if the crew is planning a long surface interval or boat ride.
3. How many people will be in my dive group?
– This can vary largely between dive centers and if you know what to expect before you get in the water you can make a plan with your dive buddy on where you will be during the dive. Are there lots of divers in the water and you want to spread out? Or is the group small enough that you can stay close to the guide?
4. What is your average dive profile?
-Using this info you can choose whether you want to dive Nitrox (if the shop offers it). You can also get an idea of how long your dives will be and what to expect without asking the shop which exact dive site you are going to. In some areas the conditions are stable enough that the crew knows days in advance where they will be diving, in others you may drive all the way out to the site and see the conditions are poor and have to choose another one. Unless the crew offers the information up try not to ask which dive site you will be at.
5. Are their refreshments on the boat?
-If not bring your own water. But avoid bringing snacks with a lot of plastic waste unless you have a way to dispose of it with you. Bringing enough Jolly Ranchers on the boat for everyone is nice, but letting 10 candy wrappers fly into the ocean after each dive is not.
6.*For Photographers* Is there a place for my camera rig/where do I do my fresh water rinse?
-This question is not for divers with a GoPro. There may or may not be ample storage for large rigs on the dive boat. If you prepare the crew they can make a plan to take care of your set up. Keep in mind that your rig will be ok if you can’t rinse with fresh water until you get back to the boat. Even if you did get a wash out on the dive site salt water spray and dripping dive suits mean you will rinse it again anyway. Don’t panic.
The first day you go diving with a new shop or boat you need to remember that you do not know how or why the crew works. Try to avoid assuming that every dive center operates the same way.
Every day as a dive professional I experience divers trying to tell me that they think we should do things differently before they have even stepped foot on the boat. Even if you have been diving a thousand times you need to trust that there is a reason every dive center has their own procedures. The way they get in and out of the water, the dive plan, and even what you should take on the boat can all become safety issues.
To make sure you are getting the best and most safe experience on your dive trip listen to all boat briefings and follow the crews instructions.