Regardless if you’re a newbie or a pro, you should always observe the right diving etiquette. Don’t be that guy that your fellow divers hate or loathe diving with. Aside from knowing how to behave while diving, you should also know some dos and don’ts to keep you safe while scuba diving. So in this guide, we will provide some scuba diving refresher tips so you and your diving buddies will have fun before, during, and after the plunge.
Before you take the plunge, make sure that you know how to behave and interact with your fellow divers. Here are some of the etiquettes you should keep in mind. Don’t be ‘that guy’!
-Respect the divemaster (DM)
While you might be the most knowledgeable guy on the boat, you should let the divemaster do his or her job. The DM knows the diving spot more than you do. In fact, you might learn something new if you just listen. Besides, you’re paying for the services of the divemaster so you might as well get the most out of it.
If you want to suggest something or bring up an issue, do so in the most polite way. For sure, most DMs are nice enough to welcome ideas from other divers.
-Make sure that your gear is ready
Be it a guided or leisure dive, make sure that your gears are in good condition. Don’t be that person that will become the problem of the group. Make sure that you check your gears before you leave the dive shop so you can grab anything that you need.
If you forgot something, the group would have to go back to shore, which will not sit well with your fellow divers. Aside from having the gear, make sure that it works properly. You’ll never want to risk it with a faulty regulator, gauge, or compass.
-Don’t be the cause of delay
Showing up late and making other divers wait for too long is very unethical. Other divers will surely give you a sour look, which will make the whole dive an awful experience.
Also, you should remember that divers need to take advantage of specific time windows for the best visibility and safety. So if you arrive late, you’re not just missing out on the fun; you’re also dragging other divers on your bad habit. Once the dive has been scheduled, arrive at least 30 minutes earlier so you can check your gear and shop what you need without rushing.
-Don’t be the ‘boat slob’
Boat slobs are the divers who think that they reserved a large spot on the boat. Their gears are all over and they don’t have a sense of organization. This behavior will surely ruffle some feathers since diving boats are usually limited in space.
So before and after diving, respect other diver’s space. Keep your tank on the right place and keep your gears organized. As much as possible clip your flashlights, mask, and handheld camera on your BCD. And for goodness’ sake, don’t dunk that saliva-filled mask on the boat. Give it a good rinse on the water before you put it back.
-Wait for your turn
A diving spot isn’t a free area where you can plunge whenever you want. Wait until the divemaster gives the go signal for your safety as well as the welfare of your fellow divers. Also, move slowly and don’t shove other divers as if you’re a kid in the pool.
Also, if you’re assigned to take photos, let other divers check and have a good look at the equipment. Once they’re happy with it, you can now take the snaps. However, don’t be the Instagram freak who will take a photo on every angle available.
-Don’t exist in your own world
Regardless if you’re a professional diver or a hobbyist, you should always pay attention above and below the water. Don’t exist in your own world! Doing so won’t just annoy your fellow divers; you’re also exposing yourself to danger, especially if you miss essential information during the briefing.
Take note that each dive spot will have local procedures and rules. And although there’s a divemaster, it’s not their job to sort everything out for you. Play your role in the group and be an attentive diver. Because aside from yourself, you’re also responsible for monitoring fellow divers.
-Wash your wetsuit
After the dive, make sure that you give your wetsuit a good rinse. Sometimes, it’s inevitable that you’re going to pee in it, especially during long dives. So before you hop back on the boat, let everyone know that you need to do a quick rinse on your suit. They will surely understand, plus no one wants to smell the stink as you cruise back to the shore.
Also, if you just rented the wetsuit on the dive shop, give it back in good condition. If you happen to damage it, be decent enough to cover the cost.
-Tip the dive crew
You may claim that you’re not the ‘tip guy’, but out of decency, make sure that you tip the dive crew. The common practice among divers is $5 per tank. Nevertheless, giving more wouldn’t hurt, especially if the service is outstanding.
If the dive crew went above and beyond to assist you, be kind enough to return the favor. Anyway, it’s not a requirement to tip and some will argue their way out of it. But if you have the extra cash, you can make someone’s day with a small tip.
-Don’t be a wrecker
Once you’re underwater, remember the golden rule: look, don’t touch. Respect the marine life and don’t chase after them. Be graceful on your movement and don’t scare off any creature. No matter how attractive marine life is, they are not there for your physical amusement. Just look around, profile the creatures you’ll see, take photos, and that’s it.
Also, pointer sticks are meant for pointing alone, not poking. Most importantly, never destroy anything. Corals take hundreds of years to form, so don’t let your brash behavior ruin it. Take note that you could be sued if you’re caught destroying marine life.
-Don’t be so oblivious
We know that it’s easy to be spellbound by the colorful and diverse beauty of the underworld. However, you shouldn’t be the oblivious diver who will enjoy the scenery on their own. Always mind your fellow divers all the time. You’ll never know when someone will send an SOS or require an emergency ascent.
Also, keep your fellow divers in the know. If you’re running out of the air, signal it to them as early as possible. It always pays to be honest with your divemaster and fellow divers.
-Assist your diving buddies if need be
Again, you’re not diving to mind your own business. Divers plunge as a group to have extra support if anything didn’t go as planned. So if someone needs help, take the initiative and assist him or her. Being alert can save a life.
Moreover, someone may lose their dive light or find it difficult to locate gear. With extra hands, they can set up quickly and prevent any untoward incident underwater.
-Don’t stray too far
During the dive, you should always stay within your group. Swimming too far is inconvenient for other divers, plus you’re also exposing yourself to danger. If something happens to you and you’re far from the group, they may not see your SOS signals right away.
Always stay within sight of your fellow divers. Besides, the diver master will always lay out a dive plan to map the area where the group will stay. And if you decide to go on your own underwater, the other divers would have to search for you. Worse, they will have to resurface.
-Don’t compete with other divers
Remember that group diving isn’t a competition. You’re joining the group for support and safety, so never compete with fellow divers. You’re probably an experienced diver, but you don’t have to shove it to their faces. So be modest enough and don’t ruin the enjoyment of other divers.
Don’t brag about your last dive being better than the current spot. Also, don’t keep resurfacing on your own just to say that you’re not impressed with the topography. No one asks and no one appreciates the unnecessary ascent, especially if the group is taking advantage of a specific time window.
-Don’t kick the sand with your fins
Once the group is at the bottom of the sea, avoid flipping your fins on the sand. This will impact the visibility and make it difficult for other divers to set up their equipment, much so for those who are into photography or videography. Your fins will send sand and debris into the water.
If you haven’t calculated your buoyancy well, stay off the bottom and let other divers know. No matter how much you want to get up close, your flipping will just give other divers a big disservice.
-Don’t be pushy
Never force other divers to go out of their way just because you want to explore a spot right away. Stick to the dive plan and wait until the group advance to the area you’re interested at. Also, wait until the DM instructs the group.
Once you’re on the area, be graceful so as not to scare the marine life. Also, give other divers the chance to see the spot and profile the creatures. Diving is a give and take relationship. Let others have their fill and they will give the time for yours.
How to be safe while scuba diving
So you’re all geared up and ready to dive. But before you plunge into the deep sea, make sure that you have the following safety tips in mind:
-Don’t bring a camera if you’re not sure about your buoyancy
If you’re a newbie and you don’t know how your buoyancy will fare with a camera underwater, just don’t bring it. Even if it’s a GoPro, just skip it for now and master your buoyancy first. Many beginner divers are so obsessed about underwater cameras that they tend to forget everything they’ve learned about buoyancy and safety.
Perform a few dives before you bring a camera with you. Still, even if you have mastered diving with a lens, don’t be a trigger freak who doesn’t pay attention to the group.
-Practice the rule of thirds in air management
When it comes to your air supply, always apply the rule of thirds. This means you’re going to allot a third of your air for the outward journey, a third for the ascent, and a third for emergency purposes. The rule of third in air management must be mastered by all divers, especially for those who are going on drift dives where the dive and ascent spots are different.
Aside from reserving enough air for decompression stops, you should also be prepared to donate some if any of your buddies run out of supply. This can happen, even to professional divers.
-Always dive with a buddy
Even the most experienced divers use the buddy system. When diving, you should have at least one buddy to have someone watch over you. Nevertheless, you should also watch over your partner.
Take note that most emergency dive skill can only be done in the presence of a diving partner. So if you’re alone and you run out of air or experienced other SOS situations, you’ll be doomed.
According to experts, about 86% of all diving fatalities happen when the diver went on a plunge alone. That number should be enough for you to take caution.
-Never drink and dive
Like drink and driving, diving and alcohol don’t mix. You need intense focus and presence of mind when diving, especially on deep journeys. But if you’re drunk and groggy, you’re putting yourself in harm’s way. Worse, you’re also endangering the lives of your diving buddies.
So before the dive day, have a clear head and cut the alcohol away. Take note that your breathing patterns get worse when you’re drunk and your reflexes are slow and uncoordinated. So give other divers a big favor and remain sober until you’ve finished the dive.
-Know your limits
Here’s another golden rule in diving: dive within your limits. If you don’t feel well, let the divemaster know so they can send you back to shore. Although it’s a big hassle, the other divers in the group will understand if you’re sick.
Also, don’t attempt a dive you’re not trained to do. Don’t succumb to peer pressure or the feeling of missing out. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable of the dive, give it a pass and just go back to shore.
Moreover, you should know that each type of dive has a level of qualification. So before you join one, make sure that you get certified for it first.
Ascending safely is as important as any dive skill. This way, you can prevent decompression sickness that, as you know, can be lethal within minutes. The purpose of decompression is to allow the absorbed nitrogen in the blood to dissolve. So if you ascend too fast, the nitrogen won’t dissolve and it will bubble in the bloodstream, causing decompression sickness.
The rule of thumb is to ascend at speed no faster than 30 meters per minute. Also, make sure that you perform the 3-minute safety stop at 15 feet. Beginner divers should also master the STELA acronym that stands for Signal, Time, Elevate, Look, Ascend.
-Don’t hold your breath while ascending/descending
As you ascend, make sure that you’re breathing properly. Holding your breath can cause deadly repercussions.
You should know that the lungs contract when you dive and it expands as you ascend. So if you hold your breath, you’re preventing excess air from escaping. This can rupture the alveoli due to the shock the lungs will experience.
Also, this will lead to excess gas to escape to the chest cavity instead. When this happens, the air bubbles will flow into the bloodstream and cause an arterial gas embolism. This can cause death among divers.
-Always make sure that your gears are working
Aside from mastering emergency skills and proper breathing patterns, you should also ensure that all your diving gears are working. Your life depends on your underwater gear during the dive and any glitch on it can cause fatal problems.
Also, most of the equipment-related accidents during diving happen not because the gears aren’t working. Many divers are put in danger because they don’t know well how a specific gear works. So aside from ensuring that it works, you should also know the ins and outs of each diving equipment.
-Don’t dive if you don’t feel well
Divers need to stay physically fit, so if you’re not feeling well, skip the dive and focus on your recovery. Health problems will increase your susceptibility to decompression sickness, panic attacks underwater, and even death.
As a diver, your body should be prepared to endure strong currents, poor visibility, extreme weather, and long swims. Even a common cold should be enough reason to postpone your dive. Although it seems like a small problem above water, any respiratory issue can turn fatal once you’re under the water. Besides, diving spots will still be there after your recovery. Again, don’t yield to peer pressure.
-Master vital diving skills
Now is the perfect time to dust off the vital skills you’ve learned on your beginner classes. Aside from learning it, you should master emergency skills before diving. These skills could save a life and your fellow diver if things got rough.
Divers should know how to perform CESA, how to donate air to another diver, how to disconnect an inflator hose, and so on. In addition, you should know how to balance or regain your buoyancy or how to help a diver who’s having problems on his or her stability.
Don’t wait for something to go wrong before you practice these skills. Learn it before you even need it – hopefully, you won’t need it, though.
These scuba diving refresher tips are just some of the things you have to keep in mind before every dive. Safety should be paramount, not only for you but also for all the divers in the group. And if something goes wrong, you should always be ready to help. Moreover, you should also know how to behave above and below water. Don’t be that annoying guy that the group hates. Nevertheless, a few etiquette tips and you should do well on your plunge. Remember that modesty, politeness, and decency always go a long way. In the end, diving isn’t just about skills. It’s also about how you deal with other divers.