Ok, as many of you know, I have been sitting here dry, recovering from my shoulder surgery. In an effort to pass the time, I have been looking at other scuba blogs and I seem to notice a reoccurring theme: Annoying Diver Behaviors. I’m sure we all have our “favorites,” and the following are mine.
The Space Hog: There is not a lot of room on a dive boat, so it is imperative that each diver set up his gear and occupy as little space as possible. Assemble your kit placing your gear bag beneath the bench, I place my fins on the top of the bag for quick access. To further decrease my “footprint” on the boat, I like to attach my mask to my BC shoulder strap and wear my boots and wetsuit (pulled up to my waist.)
The Brief Skipper: Both the boat briefing and the briefing for the dive site contain important information. You may never need to know some of it, like the location of the emergency oxygen or first aid kit, but if an emergency does occur, do you want to be the idiot standing there with your hands in your pockets, unable to help? The dive briefing includes not only information about the dive site, but also information on entry and exit procedures. You may be familiar with the site or the dive operation’s procedures, but others may need to hear the entire briefing, so kindly do not prevent them. While the divemaster is speaking, shut your mouth and at least appear interested in the information. This is not only the polite thing to do, but you may even pick up on something you hadn’t heard before.
The Dawdler: As mentioned above, it is best to keep your gear in tidy order for the sake of your boat mates, but this is also a strategy to aid you to quickly don your gear after the dive destination is reached. If all of your gear is in one spot you will not be that knucklehead rummaging through his bag for his flashlight while everyone else is waiting in the water. Wisely use the travel time to get ready to dive.
Mr. First-in-Line: There’s one on every boat. This diver needs to be the first to board, often without first asking permission from the captain or crew member. This diver wants to be the first through swim- throughs, but often is not aware of his fins and screws up the vis for everyone who comes after him. This diver wants the first to get a look at anything the divemaster points out and then chases it a way. This diver departs the boat and monopolizes the wash out tubs with his gear. Scuba diving is not a race. When confronted with Mr. First-In-Line, I just steer clear and you can bet that I will not be pointing out anything to him until everyone else has seen it.
The Noise Maker: One of the things I really like about diving is the silence, but occasionally, it is necessary to get the attention of your buddy. This is where the quackers, shakers and bangers come in, BUT FOR GOODNESS SAKE, if your buddy does not respond after you have signaled to him, do not continue to make noise! Swim over to them and tap them on the shoulder. It is possible that they are busy with something they found on their own, or they already saw the thing you are pointing out, or they just cannot hear you. (This last one is what Mike tells me all the time.) In any case, respect the silence of the activity and restrain yourself.
Mr. Bad Touch: I am sad to say that photographers, in their pursuit of the perfect shot, are most often guilty of this crime. The irony is that while this diver appreciates the beauty of the ocean, he is ruining it by touching the coral or finning on seafans each time he goes in to take a photo. Divers should not touch anything underwater, and should be especially aware of where their fins are. One way to really work on this is to dive in areas where the bottom is silty or otherwise easily disturbed. Navigate for 40 kicks in a straight line, maintaining a depth 1-2 ft. from the bottom. After 40 kicks, slowly turn around. If you are faced with a cloudy path back, you know that you have some practicing to do. Given that the waters around here are getting a bit cold, you may not be crazy about trying this out just now, but a good alternative is to participate in a buoyancy clinic. As luck would have it, Manta Divers has one scheduled for Jan 10 and 11, 2015. A course like Peak Performance Buoyancy is one that is worth taking more than once, as there are always little hints that can be picked up through guided practice and coaching from your dive instructor. We all need to continue to work on our buoyancy. One other note; if the dive professional on your boat should mention that you need to be a little more careful when diving, take it in stride. Remember that the health of the reefs directly impact the lives and livelihoods of island peoples.
The know it all. I always feel sorry for my newly certified divers because, once I set them free, they are immediately assaulted with advice from divers with experience who think they can improve on whatever the new diver’s instructor has taught him. I would never say that diver education is complete when the certification card in earned, but there is something to be said for letting it all sink in and taking some time to apply what you’ve learned without someone trying to set you on another path. Your advice may be good, sound and valuable, but is it wanted? On a recent trip, my son was the youngest diver on the dive boat, and since his parents have a dive shop, most of his gear was fairly new. One of the “senior” divers assumed that he was a new diver and “kindly” took him under his wing to impart his “vast” diving experience. I would guess that my son has logged many more dives than this guy, but being the respectful person I raised, he nicely listened and then let it all run off his back, but the guy really came across as a boor and a know-it-all. It is neighborly to help other divers and give opinions and advice, but only if it is wanted. Before giving advice, ask if the person is open to hearing it. If they are, they will be most appreciative. If they are not, then you have just saved yourself some time and bother.
We’ve all had our weak moments when we have been guilty of some of these missteps, but the main thing is to try to avoid being “that diver.” Diving is fun, you are on vacation. Don’t’ race, relax and enjoy.