Tips for Boat Diving

by Paul Seldes

9 Tips for Dive Boat Fun

You’re on vacation! You have the day off! You’re a diver and want to lose yourself under the sea!! Hooray – let’s go diving!!

To make sure you have the very best dive day ever, follow these 9 stress-free tips:

  1. Make a reservation with a reputable dive boat / dive shop. Don’t know one where you’re going? Do some research. You’d be surprised how much better your day will be when you have a trained, experienced crew and a highly organized boat.
  2. Take care to pack your certification card and check any gear you’re taking with you. (Gear should all be in working order.) If renting gear, ensure the correct gear is reserved before your arrival.
  3. On the day of the dive get up early and get to the boat early. You will be so much more relaxed and ready to enjoy the day if you and your gear are loaded and squared away before the mad rush. An early arrival may also give you a chance to chat with the crew and get to know them.
  4. As soon as a crew member points out your space, unpack your gear and start getting ready. That early arrival may help you do that without being crowded. Try to keep your gear compact and stow what you don’t need. Your dive gear should fit under your bench seat and your BC setup should not be all over the place. On smaller boats, set up your gear and stow whatever you don’t need to dive. Of course, if the crew tells you that there’s room, feel free to spread out and get comfortable.
  5. Talk to the crew and ask questions! If there is something you’re unsure of or would like to know, just ask. The crew is there specifically to help you, to keep you safe, and to make your day awesome. Never leave something unsaid that may cause you to worry. The more you know, the calmer you’ll be, and you’ll enjoy the day more. The more the crew knows about you, the more fun you’ll have. If you’re a new or inexperienced diver, make sure to let the crew know! If you may have trouble on descent, or if your safety stop ascent is a little shaky, let the crew know. The more you tell them about your dive level, what you expect from the dive, etc., the more fun you’ll have and the safer you’ll be. Know your dive comfort zone. If you’re an OW certified diver and the dive is planned for a wreck at 95 feet, let the crew know you’re not certified to that level. The crew should always be able to make accommodations for you. You should never dive past your training and certification!
  6. Be sure to listen to everything going on. Listen to the Captain’s welcome message and listen to the crew’s briefing. Don’t talk to your buddies or fuss with your gear. Important safety messages and dive procedures are included in these briefings. Your fun and safety may depend on knowing what was said. There should be plenty of time before and after these briefings to take care of everything. And some of your questions may get answered before you even ask! And for your own sake and those on the boat with you, always follow crew instructions. The crew’s only goal is to make sure you’re safe while having an awesome, fun time.
  7.   The trip is over. You’ll probably be briefed about the unloading procedure. You’ve had a great time and you’re back at the dock. Wait for the crew to secure the boat and the Captain to say, “Thank you” before you try to get off. Once your gear is off the boat, gather it up and get yourself squared away. Please keep in mind that the crew may need to get you off quickly to load for the next trip. If there’s time, the crew is usually happy to hang out and talk with you. Better yet, buy them a few drinks after they’re finished unloading and cleaning up the boat.
  8. And then there’s tipping. Tips are often something the crew isn’t comfortable discussing with you. But your dive boat crew works really hard. Make them aware of anything they might do to make your day more awesome, and I bet they’ll do it if they can. They may look and act like a bunch of fun loving pirates; they really are highly trained and experienced professionals that watch out for both your safety and your entertainment. Tipping protocol differs around the US and around the world. When you book your dive trip ask what’s customary. Find out if you need to tip the Captain, and if the crew shares tips. On Florida’s Treasure Coast the customary “good tip” is generally $10 per tank. So if service is good, a tip for a typical 2-tank dive should be $20 per diver. On Florida’s Treasure Coast, where I work, dive boat crews generally do not get paid and tips are their only source of income. Tips in your location may vary.
  9. Remember to have fun! And let others know what a great time you had. A kind word and thank you to the crew, the owners, and a nice thank you or review on Facebook, TripAdvisor, etc. is also always welcome.

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