Our top tips for what to take on a diving day trip

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Our top tips for what to take on a diving day trip

Whether you are about to take your first breaths underwater, or are a seasoned Pro heading out with a new dive operation for the first time, some of your questions will likely be: how will the boat trip be? What should I bring? What should I leave on land? The good news is that as a new diver, your instructor will help guide you through this. But what else should you be thinking about?

You can start this preparation in your planning phase. Contact your dive centre to find out a little more about the style of boat, how long is the trip, and what facilities the boat has. This will give you a good idea of what you’ll need, and may even give you an idea of when and how you should dress in preparation for the dive. Most operators can also provide you with a specific “kit list” to help with packing.

Climate is also an important factor to take into consideration. Since we have already made the choice to dive in Thailand rather than temperate seas back “home”, this rundown will focus on the best way to prepare for warm weather and tropical diving.

 

Diving from different boats

The style of boat you dive from will definitely impact on your decisions. If you are diving from a small boat such as a longtail, it’s unlikely there will be much on the boat beyond drinking water and emergency kit. Having said that, small boat dive trips are usually about being efficient, so you may not need to bring much else aside from your gear and a few personal essentials in a dry bag. Don’t bring big bags, valuables, or unnecessary items since space is very likely limited and sea water tends to get everywhere on smaller vessels.

longtail-departure-procedures

 

When preparing for small boat or longtail dives, especially if you will set up your scuba unit before you get on the boat, we recommend being already dressed in your swimming things (bikini / board shorts) also with your wetsuit on as far as your waist. Don’t expect any privacy on the boat; it’s unlikely there will be a toilet on board, so changing clothes with any dignity once you are on the trip will be out of the question. Plus if you have ever tried to stand on one leg on a small moving boat, you’ll understand!

On larger boats, and for longer day trips, you should expect more facilities and space. Most should provide light refreshments such as water, tea & coffee, fruit or snacks. Some may serve a full meal during the trip, so even through the trip is longer, you should really still only need the same, personal items for the day.

Regarding dressing for a bigger boat, our own preference is still to be already in our swimming things under normal clothes for departure. Since larger boats are usually more stable, it’s much easier to put on a wetsuit compared with the smaller boat, so no need to wear that yet. If it’s a long journey back to shore, and there’s fresh water rinsing facilities, you may wish also to bring a change of dry clothes for after the dives. Sitting in salty, wet shorts and bikinis for long periods of time results in the stuff of divers’ nightmares… the dreaded “spotty botty”.

Larger boats may well provide a “dry area” for you to keep your personal items. Although this is fine, keep in mind that it’s never a guarantee your things will stay dry, so you should still carry your things in a dry bag and leaving your valuables on land. Our favourite dry bag for this purpose is a standard tube-style with a strap, either 10 or 15 litres capacity. That’s large enough to hold everything you need, but not so large that you’ll over pack. Remember even if you are diving from a larger boat with more space, it doesn’t mean you need more stuff.

So now you have a general idea of how it works on dive trips, here’s a rundown of Master Divers ultimate list of what to bring and what to leave.

 

What to bring

  • Sunglasses, t-shirt, a small towel & light rain jacketWeather is extremely localised, and can change very quickly in the tropics. These items pack up neatly, and it definitely pays to be prepared.
  • Reef-safe sunscreen – Some of the ingredients in regular sunscreen can be toxic to corals and marine life. Invest in some reef-safe sunscreen such as ‘Reef Repair’.

reef-safe-sunscreen-koh-tao

  • Save a dive kit if you are using your own gear – Operators will have spares for their rental equipment, but if your own gear is a different brand or model, they may not have the correct mouthpieces, mask straps, or o-rings for you. Nothing can ruin a day like a missed dive due to a simple gear issue such as a broken fin strap that could easily have been fixed.
  • Snacks – The easier it is to share your snacks around the boat with the other divers, the better! However, avoid individually wrapped treats if possible. Small pieces of trash and wrappers are more easily blown over the side of the moving boat and into the ocean.
  • Non-drowsy anti-seasickness medication if you are a sufferer – Make sure you take a dose 1 hour before you get on the boat. Although most boat first aid kits should have them, bringing your own rehydration salts is also a good idea.

 

Do not bring

  • Your passport – 12 years in the diving industry, I have never once come across a situation where divers need to bring their passports on the dive boat for a day trip. Same is true of other valuables.  Will it be a problem if the item gets wet? If yes, leave it on land!

drybags-with-tropical-patterns

  • Your flipflops, especially if they’re sandy – Firstly water will wash the dirt and grit from your shoes into the boat bilge and can block the pump. Secondly, many captains also often live on their boats. Bringing shoes into a home is considered rude in Thailand, and if the home in question happens to be a boat, the same will apply.

 

Boat etiquette

  • Be on time – You wouldn’t arrive late for a flight and still expect to travel, and the same applies to dive boats. If it’s an early departure time, it’s even more important.
  • Dress and behave appropriately for the location you are in – In many countries the law requires that boat captains are local. The Captain is the boss on his or her boat so you don’t want to risk causing offence.
  • Be tidy on the boat – Space on boats is always at a premium, even if you are fortunate enough to be diving with a luxury operator, so make sure you keep your belongings tidy. When setting up your gear, try to work as neatly as possible and secure all your hoses and accessories once you have done this so they are out of the way of other passengers. Loose gear is also much more likely to get damaged or lost overboard.
  • Listen to the boat briefing as this will contain a lot of important information about the trip, and dos and don’ts for the boat – Even if you have dived on the same boat many times before, listen carefully since procedures can change. Same applies during the roll calls, it’s polite to keep other noise to a minimum whilst the Divemasters carry out this important safety procedure.

boat-briefing-for-dive-boat

  • Be mindful of local customs and culture – For example if you are diving in Thailand, the bow of the boat may be off-limits to you. The bow is blessed by a monk for safe passage and it’s the location where the Spirit of the boat lives.
  • Toilets – This is one of the reasons why listening to the boat briefing is so vital. Do you know if the boat has a septic tank or marine toilet? With either, never put anything else in the toilet. If it’s a marine toilet remember never flush when the boat is moored at a dive site, and no “numbers 2s” unless the boat is underway. Otherwise when you step out of the loo, everyone else on the boat will know that you were “that person”.
  • Put your trash including cigarette butts in the designated areas or keep to dispose of properly once you are back on land.
  • Last but not least, if you’re ever unsure, ask – Even if you think your question is silly, it’s likely someone else has asked the same question before.
  • Finally… lucky you, you’re going diving! Have fun, be a good dive buddy and enjoy your day!

selfie-with-divers-on-a-boat

 

Do you have any other top tips for when you are out on a dive boat? What is on your essential packing list for a dive excursion?

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