Lots of divers have gone diving from a boat, but do you really know the ins and outs of diving and safety on a boat? Today I was teaching the advanced open water diver course, which consists of 5 dives, one of which is deep, one navigation and three elective dives. My diver opted to choose his electives for todays dives as peak performance buoyancy and boat diver, which struck me as different because I’ve never had someone ask to do the boat diver. Most divers see it useless because you’re already diving off the boat so what’s left to learn?

Learning to dive off a boat is actually highly important, being able to safely navigate around the vessel and know where everything is, knowing the proper names and how to Moore up or anchor a boat.

Boats are not referred to as having a right and a left side, rather as having a port and starboard. The port side is the left side and it was named this way because a long while back, the rudder of the vessel was located on the starboard side, meaning in order to dock the boat without breaking the rudder, it had to be docked on the left side, this side becoming closest to the port, hence the name port for the left of the boat. Not only do the sides of the boat have names, as do the front as back, known widely as bow and stern.

From a diving perspective this is important to know because if the captain tells you that the life jackets are located on the port side near the bow, rather then running around like a headless chicken during an emergency, you can safely locate the jackets and help those around you too. On the topic of safety equipment, knowing the locations of any life savers, rafts, oxygen and first aid kits is also good to note, just in case!

Diving from a boat also means knowing how to get in and out of the water in a safe and controlled matter, there are two main ways to get off of a boat. The first way is a giant stride entry, essentially stepping off the side of the boat with an inflated BCD into the water. This is used most commonly with boats that have room to walk around and a deck to step off. If diving off a zodiac or pontoon boat, a backroll entry is widely used. This is where you hold on to your gear, sit on the side of the boat with your tank over the side and roll backwards into the water. Both ways are perfectly safe, you’re unusually told which to use in the dive briefing!

The final thing I’m going to mention about boat diving today is the many ways of getting back on a boat with a full set of gear. Ideally the boat will have a ladder that you can climb up, some with fins and some without, then hop into the boat and put your gear down, though this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you have to take gear off and hand it up into the boat before getting up yourself. My all time favorite way of getting back on a boat was in the UK where they have dive lifts. The lift lowers into the water, you swim up and stand on it with fins and full gear, the skipper presses a button and you’re brought to the deck of the vessel! So easy!

There’s heaps I could go on about boat diving but these are just a couple of the things which are taught in the boat diver adventure dive and I find interesting to share!

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