Notes about things regarding scuba diving that I have come to know.


This text was drafted at the very end of 2005, 6 months after my wife and I got certified. Many divers hang up their fins or never even get going after certification due to a lack of dive buddies. Maybe we were lucky, maybe we made our own luck I can't really say. What I will do is share our experience and what has worked out well for us.

I ended 2005 with 76 dives since June 18, 2005. My wife has made 1/2 as many dives due to a few minor injuries, work demands and a lesser passion.

When we (wife and I) were getting certified I set a personal goal of 50 dives for my first season. This was just a number that I felt would mean I gave the sport a good shot and tried to cement my new skills. I honestly believe that a diver who doesn't dive often (at least initially) will be hard pressed to be a good, safe long-term diver. That's just my opinion and it comes in part from the philosophy of some private recreational pilots. If you can't find the time to develop and maintain the skill let someone else fly the plane. I say this as background to my motivation.

When mid September came and I was closing in on 50 dives a friend wondered aloud if I had thought of 75 dives for the season? Well I had considered 75 but I preferred to hold that number as a fantasy and to see where things went. At this point I didn't think I had drysuit money in the kitty and just planned to dive as long as I felt comfortable and safe doing so. I also could see the pool of buddies shrinking fast! The early sunsets meant night dives during the week or weekend diving.

So how did I get to keep so wet?

  • Having my spouse join me in the sport certainly has advantages. That relives the guilt and she has the heart of an explorer so when able and available she's an easy sell.
  • We got our own gear. While I usually suggest renting as much as possible before investing we did the opposite. I looked into local rental options and there wasn't anything that represented what I would really want to buy. I spent a good 6 months in the ScubaBoard gear forums learning gear inside and out. We tried gear in a few LDS pools pre-certification. My wife is a fussy fit when it comes to her BC and was not going into the ocean for her checkout dives without a BCD she was secure in. She was 100% geared the first time in the ocean. No regrets on any items. I was at 100% for the second and final weekend of certification dives, also no regret. This included 1 E7-80 cylinder each. So from the get go we had what we needed to dive on the spur of the moment.
  • Within a week of our certification we went diving together, no DM, no others, just the two of us. We learned a lot on the first dives, including that we could do this, we could deal with problems and that we really really liked diving.
  • Shop Dives, Our local dive shop (sadly since closed) did Saturday morning dives that we joined in. This gave us a chance to dive with others and gave me a buddy source when she wasn't able to dive.
  • "Can I tag along" At our first shop dive there were some divers planning a Sunday morning dive. They were meeting at the shop and going from there. I was too bashful as a new diver to ask at the time so I just showed up with the innocent line, Can I tag along? We were almost all novice divers I gained some mentors and long term buddies that morning.
  • More tanks. Between my independent diving and long summer days it soon became apparent that to enjoy a 2 dive outing we needed 2 pairs of tanks, 2 more E7-80s were purchased.
  • Buddy Cards. At that "tag along dive" I really connected with a fellow diver. As were changing down at the end we mentioned that we should dive again. We scribbled out contact info paper scraps on our windshields, phone/cell/email and followed up. Then a light went on. I had business card stock and software, why not make up some buddy cards. Pete & Lorna, have tanks will travel, let's blow bubbles and contact info. I passed them out to everyone I dove with or met at a dive site. The emails started coming in. I was building a network. Pete needs a buddy... send out an email, who wants to dive....
  • Variety. I'll dive with any safe diver. I have been blessed with pretty good air consumption but I still gladly dive with rookies, even if it means their tank is spent and mine is 1/2 full after 40 minutes.
  • A Good Dive. Any dive where nobody is hurt, you learn something and you come out with all of your gear is a good dive. That metric works regardless of experience and everyone usually goes home feeling good about the outing.
  • Fitting dives in. Some dives have been after work, out at 5:00 dive site at 5:45, in the water by 6:15, out at dinner by 8, home by 9, gear rinsed by 9:30, checking email at 9:30, in bed at 10. In other words I had some evenings that were very dive centric.
  • Blessed with logistics. I'd be remiss not to describe my locale. I have a nice enough pond 12 minutes from home, depths to 45 feet. My nearest ocean site is less than 30 minutes from my door. There are easily a dozen nice ocean sites within an hour. Plenty more to choose from as the radius grows.
  • Set-up. I have set-up gear locker space, summertime in the garage, winter in the basement. Our gear is accessible and ready. I have good facilities to rinse dry and pack my gear. This takes a lot of pain out if it all and keeps it fun.
  • I love it! In addition to the scuba dives I logged 43 skin dives (74 minute average) starting in 40F ocean water while there was still ice on the pond! I'm enthusiastic and friends know I want to get wet. One buddy has described me as a "dive bum wannabe". I think sometimes divers make the effort to keep a dive date just to not let me down. But I tell them, if you can't make it and I'm there I'll just go for a skin-dive.
  • I keep on top of things. I'm constantly reviewing weather, marine forecasts and buoy data. Tide charts live on my desk and in peak season I can estimate tide a day or 2 out within 15 minutes. MTBD, My log is an Excel spreadsheet and it calculates my Mean Time Between Dives. I ended what I'll call the active dive season with a MTBD of 2 days. Buddies get a kick out of that obsession.
  • Vacation. I have 4 weeks and I'm sure at least 3/4 of it was planned to dive or to facilitate diving latter.
  • Going Dry. I did go dry in November of 2005. Just in time for the holidays and a spat of crappy weather to slow things down. 1 good buddy has done the same but is pretty busy on the ski-patrol. Another steady buddy is getting fitted for hers but she's still up for a diving wet. My wife is not ready to go dry and is happy to sit this winter out.
  • My "goal" was a dive a month this winter. If I like my drysuit skills perhaps an ice diving class in late February. The big thing is that by going dry I'm ready for early spring diving. We're into June before it's truly comfortable in a wetsuit up here.

A little bit of consideration on the part of the new diver can go a long ways. As a new diver your air consumption and general ability will limit the adventure for your mentor. A seasoned diver will anticipate this and accepting this is part of the generous act of mentoring. To nurture these relationships a few considerations are in order.

  • Dive within your limits. When planning to go on a dive understand the site, depth and other conditions. This person is not an instructor or babysitter. If ANYTHING about the dive is new or of concern share this with your buddy well in advance. If it's out of your comfort zone then decline to dive that day. A prime example is joining in on a boat dive that is beyond your limits. You call the dive early and you are both out a hefty boat fee.
  • Be punctual. Diving is often a group sport and travel is often involved. Be on time so everyone can get on with the outing. This is everyone's spare time and they are anxious to enjoy it.
  • Take care of your gear. Make sure it's clean, in good shape and all packed. You can't be a buddy without your gear.
  • Make sure you have a good fill of air. Don't squander your air messing around in the shallows before the dive, you have a snorkel for that. Everyone wants bottom time.
  • Be polite, listen and learn. Ask questions if you don't understand something.
  • Bottom line, be respectful of everyone's precious free time and love of diving.

    Does that give you a clue? I'd say its enthusiasm, logistics, and luck. In the meantime I try to learn and give a little back on ScubaBoard. Along with my family, job, home and other hobbies it has been a busy year.

    This page created 3/26/06