Dive Deck Etiquette: Learn how to behave on a dive boat
Going on a boat dive? Consider these rules for keeping everything running smooth between you, the other divers, and the crew.
Most divers will at some point in their dive careers find themselves on a boat trip. A number of dive locations cannot be reached without one. And many divers find boat diving much less awkward than having to walk across a beach and do a shore dive.
However, stick enough people together on limited space, and conflict is always an option. Add to this the stress of more or less nervous divers, and a boat crew that needs to do their jobs to make everything work. This is where you realize that some degree of etiquette is needed.
Below are a few basic rules, starting with the most basic of them all.
1. Follow the crew’s instructions
You may have been on a boat before. You may even have been on a dive boat before. You may even have been on this dive boat before. Don’t matter. Always do what the crew says, even if you’re used to doing things differently, or think that things should be done differently.
All boats are different, as are crews and itineraries, so the crew is the only ones who know how things are supposed to work.
The crew will likely give you instructions before departure, or just after departure. If there’s anything you’re unsure of, ask, don’t assume.
2. Don’t bring too much stuff
Sometimes dive boat passengers seem to pack for a day trip with the old adage in mind, “it’s better to have a need-not, than to need a have-not”. And this results in a lot of gear being brought onboard, much of it unnecessary.
Stick to the basics of dive gear, plus any specific gear you know you need for this particular day of diving. If in doubt, contact the operator before the day and ask them.
3. Don’t bring too much luggage
Space is at a premium onboard boat, even the big ones, as bigger boats also take on more divers.
Sometimes, for convenience, dive guests will bring big trolley suitcases with all their gear in, and expect to have it stored onboard the boat. And then space begins to run out real fast.
So pack in as small a bag as possible, or consider bringing your suitcase only to the docks, where you can then transfer the gear, not the suitcase, to the boat. Still keeping your small belongings such as a towel, phone, money, etc., in a small duffle bag or mesh bag.
The crew and your fellow guests will thank you.
4. Stow your stuff
Upon boarding the boat, you’ll most likely be assigned a tank and an area to store your gear and other stuff. Start out by setting up your BCD and regulator on your assigned tank (unless the crew tells you otherwise).
By doing this, the most bulky of your gear is squared away and doesn’t take up unnecessary space. Then square away the rest of your gear and your small stuff. Often, you’ll have a box under the seat where your tank is, for your remaining gear. A typical way of packing your dive gear is fins along the sides, one on each side, wetsuit and other light, soft things in the bottom, and mask and other items on top.
Make sure you leave nothing, such as dive computer, camera, or a water bottle, lying around, as they can shift, roll, drop (maybe on somebody’s foot), or fall overboard as the boat starts shifting about.
5. Don’t gear up too soon
Time your gearing up to match when you’ll be hitting the water. Typically, divers will jump in the water in groups. If so, and you're not in the first group, wait for the first group to be geared up and ready to go in before you don your own. And if there are divers who need to gear up after you, make sure you get your gear on and get out of the way so they can get started, too.
And don’t linger unnecessarily after you’ve put on your gear, but make your way to where you’ll be exiting the boat from.
6. Reverse the process after the dive
Once you get out of the water after the final dive, reverse the entire process: don’t get up until the divers before you are up. Don’t go to your seat until it’s your turn. Pack your gear into your box, or wherever you’ve been told to, and try not to get in the way of other divers and the crew.
By following these simple guidelines, you will avoid the worst of dive boat faux pas, and will be someone that dive boat operators will be happy to take out again.
To know more about boat diving read our Boat diving 101
Which is especially important if you’re a guest on a private trip, rather than a guest on a commercial one.