Tips For A Happy Dive

By Adam Straub

It’s happened to all of us. Instead of coming up from a dive smiling and chattering away with excitement, you occasionally surface muttering about the conditions or your buddy, wondering why you even bothered to go in the first place. You didn’t enjoy the dive; in fact you may have hated it. Here are some common issues that can detract from your dives, along with a few ways to overcome them.

Equipment Failure

Did you test your gear after you got it serviced? Technicians are human, and albeit rare, mistakes are sometimes made. Make sure you’ve put the equipment on and tested it before packing it up to help eliminate any nasty surprises.

There are other considerations as well. Did you follow your technician’s recommendations about cleaning and maintaining your gear? When he told you something needed replacement, did you continue to dive it or work on it yourself instead?

Another way to nip a potential problem in the bud goes all the way back to your OW training — do a proper buddy check before a dive. Stick close enough to your buddy that you can monitor their gear during the dive and look for potential weak points or excess clutter. Be on the lookout for anything that could cause a problem during the dive.

Unrealistic Expectations

The most important thing a diver can do to prevent false expectations is to attend the dive briefings. Stop fiddling with your camera; shut your mouth; pay attention and ask questions when the divemaster or instructor is done.

No one is going to be better prepared than the crew when it comes to putting the dive together. You may visit a site five times on a trip; your crew can’t even begin to count how many times they’ve been there in the last year.

Listen for words and phrases such as maybe, perhaps and most likely. These words mean you should have no expectations other than if you follow your guides they will give you the best dive possible. Briefings offer an idea of what to expect, but nothing in the water is absolute; this is a wild environment, and as such, there are no guarantees. Try not to set your heart on one particular marine encounter and instead focus on what each dive does offer.

Dive Ended Early

The No. 1 reason a dive ends early is because an individual runs low on air. The best way to  avoid becoming this person is to stay fit — walk, run, swim, hike, ride a bike, even a stationary bike. Your body will operate more efficiently if you’re in good shape. Don’t just sit at home for months before a trip and then get frustrated with everyone else because you have to come up early. Be part of your own solution. Also know that good air consumption comes with time and practice.

Good dive plans are essential when it comes to obtaining maximum time on a site. Current and surge or an uneven profile will deplete your air and force an early ascension. Also, keep an eye on your buddy so you don’t have to abort a dive because he or she went missing.

Dive-Buddy Issues

Diving with a buddy can be a great experience and enhance any trip, but the situation can also cause several problems that keep us from enjoying the experience. The biggest obstacle between buddies is communication.

Make sure you and your buddy are on the same page when you discuss your dive plan, as well as a contingency plan. Have a firm understanding of what you’ll do if one of you can’t equalize, if a piece of equipment or camera misbehaves, or if you can’t find each other.

Frustrated divers often complain because their dive buddy was going one way and they wanted to go the other. The easy solution is to share — let one person lead one dive, and the other lead the next. Take turns planning the dive and making decisions underwater.

If you and your regular dive buddy don’t have that kind of compatibility, it may be time to break up. Sometimes best friends or partners on land are simply incompatible underwater. 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 situation, take a break and spend a dive with someone else.


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