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How to Understand Diving Conditions?
As the weekend is just around the corner, I can imagine there are more than a few of you scanning the Abyss Calendar page planning your next dive. I’m sure there’s even more of you out there that have arrived here at the store only to see that the Voodoo dive has been cancelled yet again!
How does this happen? What process do the Divemaster and store go through when deciding when and where to dive on any given day. Whether you are a brand new Open Water diver, getting out for your first few shore dives or an experienced diver looking to better understand the tools that available to you; this blog is here to help.
Where to start?
As simple as this may sound, it’s time to crack a window, poke your head outside and take a look up at the sky. How’s the day looking? Begin to familiarise yourself with the local indicators for where you live. Are the treetops moving? Is the cloud cover high or low? What was the sky doing early in the morning? All of these natural signals are going to begin the snapshot of how your day is going to run.
Next… its time to get some information
Everyone knows the more information you have at your hands, the easier it is to make a decision. It’s no different when you’re planning your dives. The Abyss Scuba Diving is set up specially to make this as easy for you as possible. Open up a browser on your phone and head on through to the site abyss.com.au. From there it's a simple drop down from the top tab “Go Diving” then “Diving Sydney” then lastly “Dive Conditions”. This is what every Abyss Staff member does, usually once in the morning and once at night. This page tells us EVERYTHING we need to know about the upcoming weather conditions.
Let’s break down what the site is telling us
The very first piece of information you get is our latest conditions report. This is from one of our staff members that have just exited from a dive. It is the most up to date report you will find here in Sydney, that diver has just been for a dive! Watch the conditions report and it will update you immediately on three important things.. Water temp, visibility and marine life.
Directly below the conditions report, you can find helpful info “At a glance”. This gives you a quick snapshot of what the conditions are generally like for any given site. Spend some time familiarising yourself with these sites as we dive them a lot! : )
Scroll down a little further and you will be greeted with an embedded widget from WillyWeather. This is where you will get up to date information about the diving conditions for the week. This is the critical next step that will break down all of the helpful info you need to select your dive location.
What is WillyWeather telling me?
Understanding the importance of the tide range will help you to better understand entry and exits at the dive sites of your choosing, accessibility to sections of the dive site (too deep or too shallow), general visibility, current and direction… all of these marine conditions can be affected by the tide. This particular widget is my favourite as it reads like a clock face and has a great visual aid of high water for high and low water for low, so simple to read!
Swell is the greatest influencer of the shore diving conditions here in Sydney. Don’t watch the wind! That plays a role, but nowhere near as important as the swell period and direction. Swell direction is simple, that’s the direction the water is coming from. This will impact you, especially on your entry and exit. The next is the period. The longer the period between the sets, the more power there is behind the water, think of it like the build-up period, more time = more strength.
A big driver for surface conditions and boat diving. The direction of the wind is the direction it is coming from, hence colder southerlies coming from the cooler south or a lovely nor wester to flatten out the entire Bate Bay! : )
By combining these three elements you will have a great snapshot of how your day is going to run. This is the process each of our Instructors and Divemasters goes through each morning. Lastly, if all else fails, just give the shop a ring; we love discussing dive conditions!
Next time you’re in the store, feel free to have a chat with one of our staff members and we will show you how to read the conditions for your favourite site!