Diving Fundamentals: The Dive BriefingSimon Vetterli
As an experienced diver, it’s easy to become blasé about the dive briefing, but paying attention during this 5- to 10-minute presentation is crucial.
Experienced recreational divers all too often become blasé about the dive briefing. However, during those five to 10 minutes, the instructor will share all the crucial aspects of the dive with you to make the experience both safer and more enjoyable. It’s essential, therefore, to be on time for the briefing and to pay attention. Here are some tips to get the most out of each dive briefing.
Be on time
Make a note of when the dive briefing begins and be there on time. This may seem like common courtesy, but there’s more to it than that. Most dive boats plan multiple dives each day, all depending on particular arrival/departure and travel times between sites. The captain and crew have calculated tides, water conditions and the movements of other dive boats to give you, and all the other divers on the boat, the best dive trip possible. If you’re 10 or 15 minutes late for a briefing, it doesn’t just hold up that dive; it may have a domino effect on the rest of the day for everybody onboard. Need to prepare your camera? Adjust your weight belt? Analyze your nitrox? Do it before the briefing.
It’s often worthwhile to take a slate and pencil to a dive briefing in order to scribble down any key pieces of information that will be useful during the dive. Draw an outline of the shape of the site and note the direction you’ll be heading, or jot down any key instructions, i.e. to keep the reef on your right shoulder. Having notes about the site along with you will reduce any stress and make for a more relaxing dive. Don’t forget to write the dive site’s name for your log book later.
Pay attention to the entry requirements
When and how you enter the water can vary dramatically from site to site, and this will be covered in the dive briefing. At some sites, you may simply giant stride from the main vessel into the water. A stronger current at other sites may mean you must descend as quickly as possible. At some sites you may be required to do a negative entry and immediately leave the surface. Using the correct entry, as advised in the briefing, could make the difference between having a great dive or drifting right past the site and, embarrassingly, being picked up by the Zodiac.
Make note of the dive plan
Much like entering the water, the basic layout and style of the dive may vary. Is it a boat dive where you’ll need to turn at an agreed upon point — either gas or time limit — and head back to the main boat? Or is it a drift dive, wherein you’ll launch an SMB and a dinghy will pick you up at the end of the dive? Are you with a guide who will send you up for your safety stop in buddy pairs as you run low on gas, or are you returning as a whole group? Is there a 60-minute time limit? A depth limit? Make note of all these things, as they’ll be explained during the dive briefing.
Be aware of hazards
Some dive sites feature specific hazards; perhaps there are strong currents or you should watch for a particular type of flora or fauna. Perhaps there are swim-throughs or small caverns where you’ll be required to pass through one at a time. This pertinent information will be shared at the briefing.