What do I need for my first night dive?

By John Bentley

Night diving may seem daunting to the new diver and, in many ways, it should! While night dives are a great way to shed new light on a frequented dive site, they’re accompanied by their own challenges.  Being prepared for these challenges by following the tips below will set you up for having a great time.

  1. A great light – actually, two great lights!

    When purchasing your first dive light for night diving, look for solid construction, common battery types, sufficient brightness, and appropriate “hot-spot” for signaling. AAA, 18650 Li-polymer and 26650 Li-polymer are common battery types for dive lights. “Hot-spots” are the middle area of a beam where the light is most focused and brightest. These are critical in night diving for signaling your buddy, so you’ll want to avoid lights that have no hot spot. Your backup light should have all these attributes and should be well taken care of as it is an important piece of backup equipment if your primary should fail.

  2. Be sure to review a dive site map and bring your compass since your navigational skills will need to be fine-tuned to dive in darkness.

    If you’re uncomfortable with navigation use an extra glow stick on the anchor line for a backup reference (just don’t accidently litter!) and, with your compass, navigate a simple reciprocal heading. Since it will be dark when you exit you’ll also want to plan your path back to your car, or seat on the boat.

  3. A careful aim.

    While there are plenty of nocturnal fish out at night you’ll also see some of your daytime friends. Be careful though, since they’re sleeping you won’t want to shine your light on them too long and wake them up.

  4. Land lights.

    If you’re shore diving, grab a headlamp from your local dive shop or outdoor store so you can light up the parking lot and disassemble your gear. If you’re diving off a boat, keep your dive light off until the crew says it’s acceptable to use on-board.

Most importantly, you’ll need a great memory for your first night dive. Keeping track of the amazing and new nocturnal critters you’ll see will be the hardest part! Sign up for a Night and Limited Visibility course at your local SDI dive center soon to take a dive on the dark side.

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