Here’s a newsflash. Not all divers dive from a boat, here in Las Galeras we have many beautiful dive sites that are a short swim from the shore. Another newsflash, not all divers roll backwards off the boat, some do the oh so elegant sideways dismount, some prefer to throw their kit overboard (after inflating their BCD of course) and then kit up in water and some opt for a giant stride entry – provided there is a safe stable platform of course as stride entries from a RiB or Zodiac nearly always end in disaster and laughter.
Why do divers opt to dive from a boat when it is more expensive than a shore entry dive? In many cases it’s because the dives further away from the shore are often in better condition as they aren’t visited so often by snorkelers or worse, by fishermen and it’s a great opportunity to see the local coastline flying by.
Before you even climb aboard there are few do’s and don’ts to remember.
The day before you have booked your boat dive is not the time to sample the local Dominican Republic rum or late night street vendors’ food. These are great things to try but save them for another day. There are few things worse than being on a boat with a slight hangover or worse, what we here call ‘rum tum’.
On the day of the dive, make sure you have all your kit before the boat leaves. If you forget your camera, you will have no photographs but you will get to dive. If you forget your mask, fins, BCD or regulators, you simply won’t dive. Boats don’t turn back to pick up forgotten kit, unless it’s the dive leaders’ but, as a professional diver, that never happens….
If you know you get seasick, and many divers do, or if this is your first trip on a boat, consider taking an anti seasickness tablet like Dramamine. Make sure you read the instructions; many tablets require you take them at least an hour before you set sail. If despite your best efforts you start to feel sick or nauseous, do not close your eyes and groan in despair. Keep your eyes open and find a point on the horizon you can fix on then carry on groaning. No one will hear you over the sound of the engine anyway. If vomit you must then vomit you may AFTER ensuring that your travelling companions aren’t going to get covered. If it’s a small boat and you are unable to walk or move to the stern (the blunt bit of the boat at the back) ask the captain to slow down, put your head over the side of the boat and do what you need. You may be surprised at how many fish suddenly appear.
Listen carefully to your dive leaders briefing. Ask what the recall to the boat signal is, ensure you know what to do if you lose sight of your buddy, all the things you normally do on a shore dive in fact.
Remember, you became a scuba diver to enjoy a hobby that takes you to strange and exotic locations, make sure you get everything possible from your diving.