How Logging Your Dives Can Make You a Better Diver

by Lauren Kieren:

The traditional logbook that focuses solely on dive site name, depth, and dive duration can often seem repetitive and lose its value after a diver has reached a certain level of experience.  While these aspects are important to include in your logbook, revamping the way you log your dives can be a valuable tool to improve as a diver over time.

How can you do this? 

It is simple – change the way you log your dives.   Here are a few items you can include in your logbook to help you stay organized and honest, track progress, and work on self-improvement as a diver.

Checklist – You can combine your logbook with an equipment checklist to help you stay organized, verify you have everything you need before you head out to dive, and to ensure your equipment is set up and functioning properly.

For example, as a rebreather diver I use a checklist during the process of setting up my unit.  On the same piece of paper, there is a section for dive log information as well.  By doing this, I have the ability to look back over the last x-amount of hours on the unit to track equipment changes and results, cell life and expiration date, amount of oxygen and diluent used on dives, and more.

Equipment Reminders – You can make room in your logbook for equipment reminders and considerations such as how much weight you need with varying thermal protection, cylinder type, and sizes.  While these items are common to include in dive logbooks and will help you prepare for the next dive, you can also add an equipment to do list as well.

For example, let’s say that during the dive an SPG leak formed.   If I do not have the tools to fix this directly after the dive, I can make note of this in my logbook to correct before the next dive. Logging equipment reminders and creating an equipment to do list will make sure you are starting the next dive out right by correcting known problems or making equipment adjustments beforehand.

Lessons Learned – We are all human and we all make mistakes.     If we are open and honest with ourselves, we can learn from these mistakes to prevent making them in the future.  Conducting debriefs after every dive, making note of a mistake made, and doing an honest self and team evaluation to understand why and what caused the sequence of events to occur can become reminders you can reflect on over time.

Hindsight alone is not always the best tool for this as your perspective about an experience can change over time. Writing out lessons learned while it is fresh in your mind will keep your memories of the event clear when you look back on it in the future. In addition, these “lessons learned” can become experiences other divers learn from, and personal goals to work on in dives to come.

For example, I recently started diving with a new underwater camera system.  Sure, I have dived with camera systems in the past but this one is a little bigger, a little pricier, and belongs to the company I work for.  I was a little more “camera shy,” or nervous about anything happening to it on my first ocean dive with it.   During my team’s bubble check, I spent more time bubble checking the camera system than my team members!  After an honest self-evaluation, I realized this was unfair to the team and to me, as I need a proper bubble check too.  I made note of this in my logbook and set goals to ensure I bubble check my team efficiently on the next dive, regardless of the new equipment I am using.

Taking a few minutes after a dive to update your logbook with these items can help you perform better as a diver as you have the information needed to apply towards future success and growth.  For many people, improvement in diving seems like a challenging task without the assistance of an instructor but logging your dives with a little more detail can help you stay organized and honest, track your changes and progress to see self-improvement over time.

Do you have a logbook?  If not, start with the basics and check out the SDI logbook here!

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8 replies
  1. Mike B
    Mike B says:

    One thing I find helpful in my logs is noting starting and ending gas pressures and using my X1 logging software to calculate true gas consumption for every dive. I note this in my log book and also comment one what I was doing or whether it was a good, cold, stressful, etc dive. I feel I have a better guide for best and worst case gas usage which is helpful in planning future dives. Thanks!

      • Shayne
        Shayne says:

        I have recently transcribed my logbooks to a form of journal which also has copies of any first aid and copies of of certification cards as well as a dive description. I find this to be enjoyable and easy to verify any particular dives or dive numbers. A good log can not only help your diving it can also assist in legal aspects.

  2. Tim
    Tim says:

    Too late, too late, was the cry! 30 years ago I logged the three dives comprising a CMAS 1 star open water course. Since, what log book?

  3. Lynda D
    Lynda D says:

    I’ve logged EVERY dive since I was certified in Nov. 2007. I use the PADI log book, noting everything from my dive computer (in/out times and in/our air, conditions, wetsuit thickness, etc. Most importantly, I note the location and dive site and the most unusual creatures I see. If I have time, I’ll add any other fish/creatures I saw. I dive many of the same locations year after year, and enjoy looking back at previous dives before my next trip. I’m a real fish ID geek. The guides I dive with year after year ask me where I’d like to go, and I just say “whatever’s best today.” I don’t take photos, just memories. Completed my 1044th dive today.

  4. Kate
    Kate says:

    I prefer keeping track of my dives online, so I use the website https:\\dive.site as a logbook.

    It’s really cool that I can keep not just my dive logs there, but I can also store my diving pictures and use the interactive dive map to explore new dive sites or chart my own.

    I’ve been looking for a service like this for a long time, but the ones I’ve found before this one are slow and their interface is not as nice.

  5. Mike
    Mike says:

    I have always logged my dives. Nowadays it’s more of weight vs wetsuit and drysuit aid memoir. But I have been scoring dives out of ten for years and that is good to look back on them in retrospect especially if you redive the same sight. A bit like a journal. 20years on it’s interesting to read the old dive logs.


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