'How To... Dive Enjoyably' Page

The information expressed herein should be treated as opinion. No guarantee is given or implied that any advice on the web-site is necessarily correct. Nor might it best suit other divers and clubs due to regional and personal differences. Diving is a risk sport - all advice herein should be validated with advice from your own diving club, governing body, or approved published material before being adopted.

How To...

… Reduce sea-sickness

Some things work for most people:

  • Don't look down, or at kit for too long - keep your eyes on the horizon whenever possible.
  • Kit up as much as possible while in calm water or whilst on land.
  • Allow plenty of time to kit up on the boat - do a bit at a time then look at the horizon for a few minutes.
  • Don't stand rigid and hang on to the boat - bend your knees and ride the waves.
  • Only go down into hardboats if absolutely vital.
  • Keep clear of diesel / 2-stroke fumes and other unpleasant smells.
  • If other divers are throwing up, don't watch, and stand upwind!
  • Go easy on greasy breakfast food.
  • Keep dry suit neck-seals off your neck until the last minute (use stretch rings for neoprene).
  • Be careful with drugs - avoid ones warning of drowsiness and use others with care until you know how they affect you personally. "Stugeron" has a good reputation with many seafarers.
Dive boat

Other things are personal. A few that may work:

Find your own things that work. It's not just comfort, but safety too. Feel rough and you will skip some kit and buddy checks, but feeling like this is exactly when you're most likely to not do things right, and exactly when you're least likely to react well to problems. Be extra careful if feeling queasy.

… Avoid post-dive headaches

Two common causes of post-dive headaches - a CO2 build-up and microbubbles. First is usually due to skip or shallow breathing, smoking before dive, or high workload. Breathe normally on the dive. Don't have a pre-dive smoke. Relax.

If the headache persists, flush your lungs (breathe fully out) a couple of times before the dive, then flush every minute or two throughout the dive. Microbubbles are due to bad diving so dive more defensively - surface well before your Bottom Time is used up; watch your ascent rate like a hawk - stay less than 10m/min; don't do yo-yo dive profiles; follow the multi-dive rules (deepest first, 3 max a day, 7th day off…)

… Pack diving kit effectively

Pack in your kit in reverse order of donning it. Put your fins at the bottom of your bag - you'll need them last and they protect other kit when the bag is thrown around. Make sure your mask, computer, & any other fragile items are in tough containers. For RIB dives, pack your boat bag (e.g. big net goody bag) for the RIB then put this inside a main dive bag - it saves time on site.

… Keep warm in a semi-dry

Modern semi-drys are good. During the dive it is only normally a problem in the coldest water (fresh water, northern waters, south coast in Feb/March etc.) or long-deco dives. Post-dive is the main problem - get a thick plastic coat - road worker jackets are ideal - for in the boat post-dive. This can also be used to keep warm while changing later. Wear a thick woollen hat and stay out of the wind where possible. Drink hot drinks, wear warm gloves and find things to do, don't just sit still.

… Avoid feeling tired after a dive

Usually this is caused by mild hypothermia during the day and/or microbubbles from the diving. If it occursin conjunction with headaches, it is more likely to be the latter. See " … Avoid post-dive headaches".

… Put a "dive-saver" kit together

It is easy to lose out on a dive through trivial kit failures. Common problems are: mask strap breaks; o-ring blows, torch bulb goes, fin strap breaks, something seized up, dry suit leaks, LP hose leaks, regulator adjustment needed… Get a small box (like a sandwich box or old mask box) and put in the following:

If the LP hose leaks you can sometimes blank it off safely enough (e.g. if for octopus and buddy has alternative air). The HP is only safe to blank if blanking pony contents gauge when contents known. For dry-suit leaks, you can now get press-on tyre patches from motor/cycling shops ("Leeches" is one brand name) - press it on & wait a couple of minutes to make sound temporary fix. This lot copes with most problems and saves the dive.

… Avoid feeling rushed just before a dive

Experienced divers do lots of little things well before the final dive preparation. In the harbour, rig & test the stab jacket, cylinder and regulator and lash them to the bulkhead rigged up. On the trip out to the dive site, stow the last-fitted kit like weight belt, fins mask & hood in one place near where you will kit up. Pre de-mist your mask. Prepare, check and fit small items to your rig, like folding flag, torch, goody bag, DSMB reel, lifting bag, etc. When you are almost ready to dive, all that's left to do is zip up the suit and throw the gear on. This should stop you feeling stressed (especially good in rough seas), and makes sure nothing is done incorrectly in a rush.

… Prevent mask loss

This can be especially costly for prescription masks. A backward roll off a boat can easily wash the strap off the back of your head. It sticks on with air pressure but it is not safe and can drop off and sink. First thing to check after entry is that the mask strap is still secure. After surfacing, don't put your mask on your forehead as it can easily drop off and sink. Pull your mask down over your chin; it gets in the way a bit, but it is safe. Better still, stitch/glue small strip of Velcro, anchored at one end, to back of hood. Stick the flap over the mask strap after fitting your mask. The mask will not come off on entry and you can put your mask on your forehead safely on exit. This can also be much safer underwater too as the mask can't get kicked off and lost.

… Avoid shot line crowding

Send twelve similar divers off a hardboat onto a wreck and most surface at similar times. Decompression and safety stops are difficult on a crowded shotline. Two simple fixes - Use a DSMB, and decompress whilst drifting; or use a Jon line - just fix the SMB line to the shotline at the desired depth, then reel off a few metres to deco.

… Dive conveniently with poor eyesight

For the short sighted, prescription masks are OK, but where do you put specs just before the dive? Make sure well ahead someone can take them off you and has a safe place to put them where you can get them back straight after the dive. Contact lenses are generally better. They can get lost, but this is rare. There are no problems finding your specs and no expensive prescription mask. Daily disposables are ideal. Always bring a pair of spare lenses. You should remember to change lenses if exposed to raw open water, as there is some risk of infection. Wear spray protection on the RIB (sun specs with side shades, or diving mask). Some lenses are prone to getting bent! They can form tiny bubbles behind or in lenses, causing foggy vision for a few minutes after the dive. If this happens it may be just the lenses, but make sure that your dive profiles are correct as it could be due to bad diving.

… Keep feet from slipping out of fins in dry boots

This depends on your suit, but if membrane dry boots are too big, try wearing thin wetsuit boots inside the drysuit. This packs out dry boots and gives solid, high friction heel grip for the strap through dry boot material. Boots

… Keep alive the memories of dives

Writing any log book is good, but it is hard to really remember the dive later if you just write "fast drift, saw wrasse and two crabs…" etc. You will get more enjoyment when looking back on dives by recording memory hooks. Things that work are: feelings and atmosphere and what caused them (apprehensive - green & gloomy; startled when sea-bed loomed on descent and rock swished past in current, that sort of thing). Note unusual things like bubbles streaming out of holes in rock, or cuckoo wrasse got close & bumped mask and so on. Jot down unusual events and how you reacted - buddy too close all dive, irritating… All helps cement memory. You will enjoy reading your log book at a later time as the whole dive flashes back into view.

… Estimate the viz on a dive

Watch to see when the fins of the diver ahead just start to disappear. Judge how many other divers would fit between you. Double it and that's about the viz in metres. Works OK down to a metre or so (half a diver). Good viz is especially hard to judge but fortunately this is rare in the UK though!


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