We have done a lot of different types of dives in our travels. We are very stringent about doing pre dive safety check, as we are typically diving so far from help. Over the years there are a couple of sensible precautions we have put in place as part of good practice for our ‘dive rules’.
DISCLAIMER! The enclosed is meant as a guide. Please take the suggestions and apply them if you feel they are relevant. Thank You.
The first rule is that each diver sets up and checks all their gear, this includes:
- Confirming height of tank attached to the BCD is correct and there is no chance to bang head on top valves (lots of blood in water if this is not the case!)
- All hoses connected, then hold air gauge away from you and slowly turn on. Check for leaks
- Confirm BCD inflate valve works. We have had badly connected hoses and leaky hoses around this so also check seals on BCD when air is in jacket.
- Gently purge one of the regulators while sniffing the output. We use a petrol compressor and this is a double check for us, as any contamination will not be picked up once you are underwater.
- Take a few breaths from both your main reg and your octi /spare reg.
- Turn air off and check for gauge movement.
- Purge air (or use air to top up the BCD) and stow the gear ready for the dive.
- We have weight pockets , so this is the point we would check that they are in place with weights.
- We confirm Dive computer batteries and settings are correct.
Before Entering The Water
We do a surface and condition check. We confirm currents, visibility and weather conditions to make sure we are happy with everything.
We display a dive flag in a prominent place.
We use a floating safety line off the back of the transom, or off the dinghy back transom. This is so anyone in the water can hold on / lash gear to, etc. Typically about 4/5 metres long and you can put an inline fender at the end. Adding loops and using carabiners, you can also clip BCD’s here after the dive and then lift from the boat…
- Recheck and turn air on (turn tap all the way on and one half turn back) for all sets of gear.
- Gear up. Do a buddy check. Check for weight belts , BCD straps done up correctly . Is spare air easily accessible? Mask? snorkel? Fins? Dive computer? Air in BCD?
- As part of the buddy ‘chat’ each diver mentions the amount of air they have (200 bar) and while they verbalise this, take a couple of sucks and confirm no needle movement.
- Before entering water, confirmation of ‘air on’ and ‘air quantity’.
- Before entering the water at least half full bladders on BCD.
- If you can, have a dedicated ’spotter’ on the main vessel or in the dinghy who can also assist / lookout. This spotter will also know of the dive plan and will look out for divers at the designated time at the end of the dive.
- Any diver entering the water does so wearing weights, fins, mask and has regulator in mouth. Hand is fully covering/ holding reg and mask. Other hand is protecting air gauge and BCD Fill Valve (or acting as a support if boat is moving a lot).
- If going from the main vessel, we do a giant stride entry. A big step forward (no jump) and be aware that you need to clear the transom and not hit it with the bottom of the bottle.
- If going from the dinghy we gear up facing each other, do final buddy checks and roll backwards together (on’3′)
- Anyone entering the water grabs floating line and gives a clear indication to the main boat after entering the water that all is good (one arm tapping top of head) We always do this and it should become second nature. We do this on every entry from any vessel.
- We typically have one person who stays on the transom and checks the other. Once one of us is in the water, the person in the water stays close to the transom and visually checks the second persons gear before they enter the water (We already know air is on as we checked earlier!)
- Once we have entered the water and are happy that there is no issue, we can remove the regulator if we really need to…Typically we leave regulator in mouth or near mouth for the entire time on the surface. If not rough then we open mouth and breath ‘around’ regulator to save air. However, the few breath we take on the surface should have hardly any impact on air consumption…
Start of Dive
- When all divers are in the water, do final confirmations, and start dive close together. If you have spent time swimming on the surface, you may be slightly puffed. Make sure you get your breath and are calm before starting to descend
- ‘Start dive slowly and close to buddy. Check air gauge for first few breaths in case there is an issue with air supply.
- Both divers check buddy for bubbles near ‘o’ ring. We have had these let go in the first 5/10 metres of the dive.
- If currents are strong, then get to depth together and do a ‘checkin’ once on the reef and out of current…
- Some people dive with a snorkel attached to your mask. This just causes our masks to leak, so we have one in our pocket (which we never use as we have our regulators…)
End Of Dive
- DO NOT SURFACE ALONE. Aim to be at 5 metres with at least 50 bar of air.
- SAFETY STOP AT 5 metres for 3 minutes ( or as your computer dictates if you are diving with one)
- When diving at least one of us (preferably every diver) has a Surface Marker Buoy (SMB). Ours have a 10 metre cord, so we can use that on the safety stop. But you can get ones with no string that you inflate on the surface, If you are surfacing with no SMB, and think there are hazards on the surface, take your Octopus and purge it at 3 metres for about 5 seconds to make lots of bubbles, just before surfacing.
- END OF SAFETY STOP – Surfacing from 5 metres. THIS IS THE RISKIEST PART OF THE DIVE Take your time… We go very slowly from 3 metres – 10 seconds a meter. It is the biggest risk area as there is the biggest change of pressure…
- If your mask fogs, clean it with toothpaste. When the mask is dry get a pea sized bit of toothpaste and rub it into each lens. Rub continuously for 5 or 10 minutes each lens. This acts as a mild abrasive and cleans the factory film as well as any other dirt off the lens.