Tip of the Week

The Essential Rules of Night Diving


START YOUR DIVE AT TWILIGHT.
You’ll have the best of both worlds: Dim light to gear up in and full dark will come while you dive. You’ll also have the chance to see the reef make the transition from the day shift to the night shift, one of the most exciting periods of activity.

KEEP NAVIGATION SIMPLE.
It is hard to spot land marks at night so keep you navigation as simple as possible. Use a wall, use reciprocal strait line out and back patterns you learned in your open water course.

STAY SHALLOW.
Always a good idea when it’s your fourth or fifth dive of the day, but there’s a better reason: more bottom time. You came to see the show, so why not make it last as long as you can?

TREAT YOUR LIGHT LIKE A LOADED GUN.

Don’t shine your light in anyone’s face (including your own) or you’ll ruin their night vision.

KNOW THE SIGNALS.
Hand signals will be difficult or impossible to see, so put your light to good use. Making a circle with the beam means “OK,” waving it side to side calls for attention, and waving it up and down calls for help. If you’re at close range, turn the beam on your hand to illuminate traditional signals. Just remember your torch is a loaded gun. (see above)

KNOW THE DRILL.

Should you become separated from your buddy, get vertical and shine your light outward while turning a full circle. Your buddy should do the same and one of you will see the glow of the other’s light. If you surface far from the dive boat, point it at the boat only until you get attention, then shine it down on your head. Shining it at the boat just blinds the crew and makes you invisible.

GET A STRAP.
Secure your light to your wrist with a lanyard–it’s cheap insurance against dropping and losing your primary source of illumination. Most dive lights are negatively buoyant. When you let go, they will drop and dangle from your wrist. If you need to free up a hand, turn the beam off before you drop the light. That way, you won’t blind other divers or send confusing signals to your buddy.

DON’T USE YOUR DIVE LIGHT TOPSIDE.
Some dive lights burn so hot that they will melt their reflectors and lenses without the cooling effect of water. Save the bulb and the battery life of your dive light by using a regular flashlight for topside tasks.

SNAP YOUR CONSOLE TO A D-RING.
That way, you can read it no-hands. Or try a retractor that pulls your gauge console back to the same position when you let go. This eliminates the need to fumble for gauges in the dark.

CHECK INSTRUMENTS MORE OFTEN.

Without a clear visual reference, it’s easy to drift upward or downward without realizing it. In the excitement, you might also find yourself using air faster than normal.

Do a Night Dive Course
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