Don’t leave the dock without it
When you pack your gear bag, your checklist probably includes the usual gear and emergency equipment, mask, fins, regulator and one of those kits with a few extra o-rings, neoprene patches and regulator mouthpieces. Here are a few extra things that you can throw into your gear bag that will make your dive more comfortable, confident, and safe.
When I surface, the first thing I want to do is get the taste of ocean out of my mouth. As much as I appreciate the smell of the sea and the salty air, I’m not so enthusiastic about having it on my tongue. Water is refreshing, but I find that I can drink a few liters of bottled water and still taste the remnants of the sea in my mouth.
After experimenting with dozens of beverage candidates, I find that Five Alive is hands-down the best cure for oceanmouth. Other citrus juices are good, but none are quite as effective as Five Alive. The better ones were those that contain acidic juices like pineapple and grapefruit.
The juice serves another purpose: rehydration. It seems counterintuitive that spending an hour submerged in water can cause dehydration, but it’s true. The air in your tanks is very dry – necessarily so, since moisture in a tank will rust it from the inside. Just breathing in that dry air for an hour will silently dehydrate you. Drink something when you get back to the boat and you can avoid the symptoms of dehydration such as headache, nausea and dizziness.
Long-sleeved rashgard or cotton shirt
Did you know that the chemicals in sunscreen are poisonous to reef-dwelling marine life? You need to protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation, but you don’t want to slather on the SPF lotion before your dive. Cover up the old fashioned way with a cotton shirt or a long-sleeved rashguard.
Laminated Dive Table Chart
Are you dependent on your computer? Go back and review your certification training and learn how to calculate your residual nitrogen using tables. Computers are great tools, but it behooves every diver to remember how to manage their nitrogen levels without gadgetry.
A “dry bag”
A dry bag needn’t be anything fancy – inexpensive bags with resealable flaps are available at most camping or marine supply stores. They don’t need to be watertight to 100 ft – since you leave them on the boat in your gear bag. My favorite is a bright yellow, rubber bag with a top that folds over three times and tucks into itself for an easy watertight seal. Many divers on a budget will use a variety of disposable resealable freezer bags.
In my dry bag, I keep:
• Tissues – a necessity. After purging my mask a few times, my sinuses get rebellious.
• Cotton Swabs – some gentle attention to get the water out of my ears.
• A photocopy of my identification & passport – just in case
• Band-aids – because I stub my toes on boats
• Everything that was in my pockets – Before donning my wetsuit, my dry bag (by virtue of its sealability) is a good place to keep a cell phone, camera, wallet, jewelry, car keys, etc.
Tell someone where you are going and who you’re with.
Make this a habit, so you don’t need to be concerned when an emergency arises.
First, make sure the dive operator knows who you are, where you are staying, and who to contact in case of an emergency. If you are injured during a dive, the dive operators might whisk you directly to the nearest hospital, medical clinic or decompression chamber. If the medical staff can’t determine your identity, it can complicate your medical attention.
Second, tell someone who isn’t diving with you where you are going. That could be others in your party, the hotel concierge, or a phone call to a relative back home. Tell them the name of the dive shop, your destination, the departure time and estimated return time for your dive excursion. If you know it, include the names of the boat, its captain, and divemaster. If you are traveling alone or diving in a group, write the information down and leave it with the hotel office. If your hotel is near a popular diving spot, they will be used to that sort of thing.