Diving Fundamentals: How To Make A Successful Entry When Boat Diving

One of the most obvious, and important differences between shore diving and boat diving is how you get in the water. In many ways, doing so is easier from a boat — there’s no surf to contend with, and instead of having to wade to deeper water, you can descend immediately. Perhaps the most difficult part of making a successful boat entry is choosing the most appropriate method. Here we’ll take a look at the two most common boat-diving entry methods, the situations appropriate for each, and how to perform them both correctly.

Giant Stride

The entry method most commonly used on larger dive boats and liveaboards, the giant stride is the perfect choice when entering deep water from a stable platform.

  • The first step is to don all your gear, with the possible exception of your fins — some dive boats may ask that you only put them on after reaching the entry platform. If you do need to cross the deck while wearing fins, make sure to shuffle backwards in order to avoid tripping.
  • Once you’ve reached the entry point and all your gear is in place (including your mask), put your regulator in your mouth and take a few breaths to ensure that it’s working correctly.
  • Then, inflate your BCD halfway, so that you’ll be positively buoyant upon entering the water.
  • While you perform these final checks, make sure to stabilize yourself with one hand on the rail or on your buddy — you don’t want to fall in before you’re ready.
  • When you are ready, make sure that your entry point is clear. Check for other divers, or for any other potential hazards in the water below the boat.
  • Next, you need to make sure that all your equipment remains in place during your entry. Use the palm of your right hand to hold your regulator in place, and the fingers of the same hand to secure your mask. Place your left hand over the buckle of your weight belt, if you’re wearing one, so that the force of entry doesn’t cause it to open unexpectedly.
  • Finally, its time to take the leap. Look out straight towards the horizon, and when you’re ready, take your giant stride off the entry platform. To do this correctly, don’t jump; instead, simply step out from the boat far enough to ensure that your cylinder clears the platform’s edges.
  • You should float once you hit the water; if you don’t, add air to your BCD until you are positively buoyant. It’s important to signal to the crew or captain on the boat that you’re okay once your buoyancy is stablized.
  • Either wait for or meet up with your group or buddy on the surface, where you can make any necessary equipment adjustments before signaling to descend.


Backwards Roll

This entry method is the preferred way to get in the water when diving from a smaller boat or tender, particularly from RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) or any other small craft whose gunwale is both close to the water and not particularly stable.

  • The starting position for this entry method is to sit on the edge of the boat facing inwards. Crossing your ankles is a good idea, too, as it will keep your legs together when you make your backwards roll. You will need to have all your gear in place, including mask and fins.
  • Make sure that all of your gauges and hoses are securely fastened, particularly around your chest. Place your regulator in your mouth, and inflate your BCD halfway to ensure positive buoyancy (unless you are performing a negative entry, see footnote).
  • As with a giant-stride entry, use the palm of your right hand to secure your regulator, and the fingertips of the same hand to keep your mask in place. Place your left hand over your mask strap at the back of your head, to stop the strap from slipping off upon entry, and to stop your head from hitting your cylinder valve.
  • Make sure that the water behind you is clear, both of other divers and of any other hazards. If you are making a simultaneous entry with other divers, wait for the captain’s count and make sure that you enter the water together. If you hesitate, wait for the divers behind you to clear your entry point before making a second attempt.
  • When you are ready, or on the captain’s count, tuck your chin into your chest and simply fall backwards into the water. When you surface (which should be immediately if you are performing a positive entry), make sure to give your okay signal to the boat. Once your buddy or the other members of your group are ready, you can then descend together.

Footnote: Sometimes, particularly when the current is strong and there is a risk of missing the dive site unless you make a rapid descent, divers will need to make a negative entry. To do this, follow the same procedures as above, but do not put air in your BCD. Instead of surfacing upon hitting the water, you will kick downwards and descend immediately. Make sure to keep an eye on your buddy or group as you descend, so that you can regroup easily at the bottom.

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