by Chris Keon:
During our diving careers, we often find ourselves looking for any suitable location to hit the water. The call of the subsurface environment draws us in and leaves us looking for new and exciting places to see. For this reason, we may take rides on boats, we may walk into the water from beaches, and we may even find artificial (man-made) entry locations all in an effort to experience the next dive. In many instances, shore diving is both convenient and simple. Throughout your diving career you will probably do a lot of shore dives. These dives are great because you are in charge; there is no boat to wait on, and no long boat ride to the dive site. The dive may require only you and your dive buddy. Here are some tips and tricks to make your shore diving adventure more enjoyable!
- Research the site – Research everything that you can about the site. Aerial photos (Google Earth), tide and weather reports, and news/magazine/internet articles are great ways to get to know the site. Knowing a site can help you better prepare for a possible dive. You may need extra equipment, or items to assist your movement from a parking location to the actual dive site. In many cases, first-hand site knowledge may even help you determine your best entry point into the water.
- Conduct an on-site survey – Once you have arrived at the site, take the time to plan/discuss with your dive buddy the following things:
- Identify any potential hazards at the site, i.e. visible hazards in the water and on the shore such as steep or uneven walkways that you may need to cross to transport your gear. Similarly, look for any visible obstacles blocking your entry point that may hinder your ability to safely begin your dive.
- Find and plan your entry and exit points. Make sure you and your buddy discuss the best options for entering and exiting the water.
- Find a suitable place to stage your gear. Make sure your gear can be positioned, assembled, or stationed as needed in a safe manner. You do not want to accidentally damage your equipment or need to cancel a dive because something was dropped, damaged, or misplaced.
- Locate and identify a reference point on the shore that can be easily seen from the water. This action will help you locate you entry/exit point from the water. It also establishes a visual reference point for yourself and your buddy if you need to surface at any point during the dive.
- Observe water conditions like the height of the waves or how choppy the water is out past where the waves are breaking. Many shore dives may require a surface swim to get to deeper waters or to an actual planned dive site. If surface conditions are bad, you may be forced to swim through them. Make sure to monitor any factors that may make water entries and exits unsafe.
- Plan your dive – Use all of the information that you have obtained to this point in your dive planning process. Always remember to plan for and discuss what you will do in the event of an emergency.
- Entering the water – At a quarry, pond, or lake it may be easier to walk your gear down to the water and get geared up in the water. In some locations, you have to assemble and tote your equipment from your vehicle to the water ready to dive. Plan for what works best as the safest action for you and your buddy.
So now that you are finally in the water, enjoy the dive for which you have done so much planning! If you are an “Air Hog” like some of us then maybe it will be a two-tank dive to see everything you wanted to see. Once your dive is coming to an end, let us talk about your exit.
- Preparing to exit – Once you are on the surface, locate your shore reference point. Use your compass to get an accurate heading. Depending on the surface conditions and the amount of gas you have you may want to descend and follow that heading back into shore. If conditions are good, you may also choose to perform a surface swim back to your exit point.
- Exit – Remove your fins in the water so you can easily exit the water without tripping all over yourself. Assist your dive buddy and exit together.
If this was your final dive for the day, remember to log your dives and save all of your researched information for future dives at that site. You can also share it with friends, your dive club, or your local dive shop so other divers can experience that same wonderful dive. Use these same tips & tricks for all of your future shore dives and I am sure you will have a blast!
– Chris Keon – Founder/Owner – Synergistic Solutions International Maritime, LLC
Divemaster – Air Hogs Scuba – Garner, NC