New National Diving Officer Dai Atkins shares the benefit of his experience, so you remember everything you need to this dive season.
Have you been out there in the middle of the sea, bobbing about on a RIB ahead of that long-awaited weekend fun dive only to have that lurking thought…“Did I pack my torch?”
We’ve all done it – I’ve forgot my mask, my sunhat, even the keys to the boat (luckily our club has someone who’s nifty with the old ignition bypass trick) – but how could we try and avoid it, and what sort of things might constitute “essential items” when you’re preparing for the weekend?
Personal scuba kit
Checklists are a great way to help you remember all your personal gear - mask, fins, gloves, suit, cylinder, spare cylinder, WEIGHTBELT! Oh the shame of forgetting one’s weight belt and having to try and share one on a RIB (this is where your slick dive management comes into play!). If you have a prescription mask like me, it’s all the more important you try and remember these things. If you don’t use a checklist, build up the muscle memory of what items you normally use; mentally picture kitting up on the boat and clipping all your dangly bits on – reel, compass, DSMB, torch, spare torch (did you charge it?).
If you’re part of the crew getting the boat ready maybe you need a more comprehensive list – did we get fuel? Is there enough oil? Do we have all the ropes, shots, buoys, flags and ships’ biscuits? Lesser thought of items might be spare fuses for when one pops as you’re haring it back from the headland off Salcombe leaving you cast adrift. Don’t ask how I know! If something breaks, will you have the right sized spanner to fix it?
Dive Manager - the boss of the day
This person has a very responsible job. If anything goes wrong, they’re responsible. So you need to be uber-prepared when Damocles hands you that sword of his! Did you check the weather? The tides – are you going to hit slack? Can you launch AND recover the boat? Do you know where you’re going? Did you provide the Coxswain with a route plan? Have you delegated the job of the VHF to someone. You have command of a crack team of divers! So don’t do it all yourself. You’ll burn yourself out and you deserve a fun weekend too.
The Bank Holiday weekend was a gorgeous time for most branches around the coast, and a fair few lobsters were seen getting off RIBs in Plymouth. So don’t forget to protect yourself – bottles of water, sunhats, shades, sun-cream, and those all important sea-sickness pills if you need them (and take them the required hour before too or they’re pretty worthless).
Going diving requires a LOT of preparation. It's only a quick five minutes to return home and get my shuttlecock when I pop to the leisure centre for a quick spot of badminton. However, when you're miles offshore and you've forgotten your cylinder it’s an expensive and long day out for nothing. And it’s often no one else’s fault I’m afraid.
So the moral is Dib Dib Dib – be prepared!
OK, so you didn’t heed my advice and you still forget something. Don’t fret, this is where the club comes in handy - someone somewhere will have a spare - yay! And that person becomes a life-long dive buddy.