Now that you are out diving, you will find that most of your dives will be from a boat, especially here in Florida. So, diving is diving, you say? True, but I am going to share a few little tidbits about how to enjoy your diving the most. Remember, even if you did your Open Water dives from a boat, each boat may have slightly different procedures.
The first big question is “What time do I need to be there?” Well, PADI used to say you need to be at least an half hour before the departure time. However, a number of boats now publish a “show” time and a “departure” time. Basically, they want you to show up at a certain time in order to make the scheduled departure. If you show up early, just be patient, the crew will let you know when they are ready for you.
The first rule about boarding a boat is Make Sure You Have Permission! Always check first, to make sure it is safe and the crew is ready for passengers to board. Board the boat carefully, being sure to board where the crew instruct you to. If you need to, hand your gear bag over first, then step on. NEVER carry weight in your gear bag, most bags can’t handle the stress and it’s just plain rude. Make sure you follow directions to ensure you and your buddy are seated next to each other. Also, remember, if it is a full boat, you will only have 1 tank between you and the person on either side of you. Look down the row and make sure you are setting up on the correct first tank.
Boat diving is lots of fun, but remember space on a boat is at a premium. It is best to use a mesh bag to hold your dive gear for day trips. The big heavy roller bags are for air travel or for larger overnight/weekend charter boats. You should have at least 2 bags, the mesh bag for your dive gear and a backpack for your dry stuff. Your gear bag will go under your seat. A word of advice, anything you leave on the deck WILL get wet. That is why you have a separate backpack for your dry stuff. The dry bags typically are stored in another area that stays dry. At a minimum, you should keep a towel, light rain jacket, keys, phone, save-a-dive kit, and wallet in your dry bag.
Word of caution, each boat has slightly different procedures for entering and the water. So, listen to the Boat Briefing. Especially as a new diver, make sure you understand the simple stuff like head procedures, fresh water, snacks, and showers. Also, make sure you know which rinse bucket is for masks and which if for cameras.
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