You finally did it. You signed up for your first North East boat dive charter. You’ve heard how amazing Jersey and New York diving can be, and now you want to see it for yourself. Now what? Nervous? That’s ok. Follow our pro tips and look like a seasoned veteran!
Get organized. We suggest downsizing your large gear bag for a milk crate. The crate will fit perfectly under your spot on the bench. A smaller gear bag or bookbag can still be used for additional items or dry clothes.
Don’t wait until the last minute. Start gathering all of your equipment a day or two prior to your charter. This will help you keep from stressing the night or morning of the charter. Pack ahead and make sure you have everything!
Take your seasick meds. If necessary, start taking them a day or two in advance to build them up in your system.
Check your batteries! Charge your computer and dive light batteries! Onboard the boat isn’t the time to remember you didn’t charge them up.
Set up some gear ahead of time. Put your BCD on the first tank you plan on using. This will both save time with setup on the boat and also make it much easier to carry your first tank onboard!
Don’t bother hitting the snooze button. North East diving is an early sport. Some days we’re up at 3 or 4am to be at the boat at 5am. Trying to get an extra 15-20 minutes of sleep isn’t worth running late! It’s already an early day, hitting the snooze button might make you miss the boat!
Leave the camera, fun, and pole spear on the boat. The less you do on your first few Jersey dives, the better. Your best off focusing on completing some nice, safe, relaxed dives before adding more tasks.
Hire a guide. It’s worth hiring a seasoned diver with local experience. They will know the wreck sites better and can show you the more interesting spots to see. If necessary, they will run the wreck reel so you don’t have to.
If you skip hiring a guide, make sure you run a wreck reel! Once you get down on the wreck, a lot of it can look the same. Don’t get lost, run a reel.
Don’t skip on safety. Make sure you have your own strobe, deployable surface marker buoy and lift bag. These are all necessary items for North East diving. Don’t just buy them and carry them. Make sure you know how to use them!
Pay attention to the safety briefing. Every dive charter vessel is a bit different. Pay attention and ask questions! It’s ok to be the new diver on the boat!
Most boats hang a “Carolina Line” system. Please follow the lines. From the time you hit water to the time you get down to the wreck, you should have a hand on a line. Do not attempt a free descent at any point. Conditions change top to bottom. There could be a current below and take you off the wreck. If you miss the wreck, odds are you will be in the sand in the middle of nowhere.
When your dive is complete, use the lines all the way up. Do not attempt a free ascent. Safely follow the lines all the way back up to the back of the boat.
If you lose the anchor line, don’t panic. Tie off a finger spool line or wreck reel and perform a safe ascent on that line. Odds are you’re not that far from the boat as long as you are still on the wreck.
Be careful with the ladder. Remember, you may have additional weight versus what you’re used to. Approach the ladder carefully, especially if there’s more wave action. Once you’re going for the ladder, grab the highest rungs you can reach and get your feet on (you may still have fins on as well). If you grab the ladder too low, your center of gravity will be much lower, making it more difficult to bring up your weighted rig.
By following these tips, you can relax a bit more, knowing you’re ready to dive. The more you can do to get organized and prepare ahead of time, the less stress you will have thinking about what you may have forgotten! Focus on having fun and enjoying the dives!
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