How to Have Your Best Dive

Much can happen to mar a dive. Equipment issues, aborting early, unrealistic expectations, buddy issues — each can play a role in wrecking what should be a fun experience. The following are some of the most common situations that lead to disappointment dive, and the best ways to avoid them and have your best dive.

Equipment Failure

All too often, divers suffer hours at a desk job, just dreaming of that next amazing dive destination. They finally arrive, and, just as they get ready to enter the water, a hose pops, a computer hasn’t synced, a fin strap breaks, or another minor calamity befalls them. What could have been an amazing dive is sacrificed while sorting through a gear issue.

These inconveniences, which can lead to worse problems underwater, can be prevented almost entirely by simply taking the time go to thoroughly check your gear’s condition before you’re ready to splash in. Does that mask strap look a bit sun-cracked and dried out? Replace it before an issue arises. And how many times have you heard, “I just had this thing serviced?!” Important as that may be, it’s equally important that you get the gear in the water, before your drive trip, and check to make sure it was serviced properly. Your gear is your life-support equipment; give it the care and attention it deserves.

Managing Expectations

I’ve seen divers return from a dive unhappy because they thought they were going to see whale sharks and mantas herding unicorns — an exaggeration of course — because they saw spectacular photos when they typed a dive destination into Google. Some are upset because the conditions — too much current, not enough current, poor visibility — weren’t to their liking. As traveling divers, the biggest favor we can do ourselves is to do some research, or contact a dive center in the area to discuss the conditions or what marine life we might expect. It’s best, though, to keep these expectations in check — just because whale sharks are frequently spotted in an area, doesn’t mean they will be on your dive. The ocean is a wild place, as we know, and each dive is best remembered for what it is, not for what it lacks.

If there is a certain animal you’re dying to see, make sure you find out the best time of year to visit, and time your trip for that season to increase your chances. Attending and remaining attentive during dive briefings can also give a diver a much better picture of what they can expect on their dive.

A Dive Ended Early

The most common reason for a diver to come to the surface before everyone else is simply that they just plain ran out of air. The best way to avoid this problem is to get some exercise — walk, run, hike, ride a bike, use a stationary machine. Get your body used to strenuous activity and focus on drawing slow, deep breaths.

When you’re on your next dive trip and you picture yourself as a majestic sea creature, moving slowly and precisely, you absolutely will notice a change in how fast the needle on your gauge drops. Sure, you can add more tanks, or get a rebreather, but don’t you want to get the most out of expensive equipment, too? Invest in yourself and stay active. It doesn’t cost anything and will give you a better return on your dives than any additional or larger tanks.

Dive-Buddy Woes

Diving with a buddy can greatly enhance your trip, but it can also cause problems that keep you from enjoying a dive. The biggest obstacle between buddies is communication.

You and your buddy should discuss dive plans, as well as contingency plans, and make sure you’re both on the same page. Have a firm understanding of what you’ll do if one of you can’t equalize, or if a piece of equipment or camera misbehaves, or you can’t find each other.

Often you hear frustrated divers complaining because their dive buddy was going one way and they wanted something else. The easy solution here is to share. Let one person lead one dive, and the other lead the next. When your buddy is in charge, let them plan the dive and make the decisions underwater; vice versa when it’s your turn. What if you and your dive buddy don’t have that kind of compatibility? Break up.

It is inconceivable to many that someone they have a crush on or their best friend might not be compatible with them underwater. This is actually often the case. Although some have trouble separating the two, diving isn’t dating. It’s okay to dive with other people. If you and your dive buddy aren’t getting along, rather than force yourselves into a frustrating and possibly dangerous situation, take a break and spend a dive with someone else.

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