Steps to a Successful Dive

Divers at Alki Seacrest Cove 2

As a PADI scuba diving professional and a dive leader with Seattle Dive Tours, I’ve pretty much seen and heard it all from divers getting ready to enter the water. Both shore and boat diving in the Pacific Northwest are hard work, requiring lots of gear and effort just to get in the water to start a dive. Divers will tell me stories of their own unsuccessful dives that end shortly after entering the water or even before descending. I frequently see divers on our local dive sites forgetting gear on shore or failing to make sure they are ready to get into the water. I’ll outline a few helpful steps in order to make sure you are prepared and ready to have a successful dive.

1- The first question to ask yourself is “…Is my gear in good working order and ready for a dive?” Days or even weeks before a scheduled dive, make sure everything has been serviced, then assemble your gear and check for anything that needs to be repaired. Try on your wet suit or dry suit to make sure it fits and is in good working order. Small things can make or break a dive, I’ve seen divers come to the dive site only to discover a torn neck seal on their dry suit, or a seriously leaking regulator hose. Needless to say, these divers couldn’t dive that day and had to return home.

2- Make a packing list and double check before leaving the house for the dive site or boat. There is nothing worse than getting to the dive site and realizing that you have forgotten a critical item. For me, it’s usually fins. If you have forgotten something, the options are to drive back home, drive the nearest dive shop and rent, or try and borrow from another diver. At best, you’ll delay your dive and at worst, your buddies will just start the dive without you. Plus, do you really want to lose your coveted parking spot at the dive site because you forgot your hood or gloves?

3- Discuss the dive plan with your dive buddy. While you don’t have to deliver a Divemaster quality dive briefing to your dive buddy, at least make sure you have talked about the details. What is the general dive plan? What is the agreed upon course of action if someone gets separated? Can everyone agree on a maximum time and depth? If you are planning on bringing the giant camera set that you got for Christmas, is your buddy ok with this being a photography dive?
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Pre-Dive Safety Check

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4- The pre-dive safety check. Remember this from open water? BCD, Weights, Releases, Air, Final ok. Bruce Willis Ruins All Films. However you learned it, and whatever silly phrase you invented to remember it, the pre-dive safety check is still around and a critical component of your pre-dive ritual. The best place for the pre-dive safety check is in the parking lot, next to your car. Just make sure you keep the car unlocked and open until you head down to the water, incase you need to grab something. Otherwise you’ll be fishing car keys out of your dry suit or searching for the spare key you hid under the wheel well.

5- There is more to do in the water. Just because you’ve made it from the parking lot to the entry point, this doesn’t mean you are home free just yet. The simple act of putting on your mask & fins can still scuttle a dive before it even starts. Back when I worked as a Divemaster, lost masks and fins were a big reason for aborted dives. Hold on to your gear and assist your buddy to make sure those final pieces of gear don’t get lost in the water.

By following a few basic steps, you should now be ready to kick to the descent point and start your dive. At Seattle Dive Tours, we always triple check gear plus pack at least one extra full set of gear to make sure we don’t have any problems. If you have any tips, or ideas that you use to make sure your are ready to get in the water, feel free to put them in the comments below.