Dive Right In Scuba - Scuba Diving Blog

Anyone gaining dive experience and have any plans on doing any diving outside the local quarry know that having a knowledge dive boat etiquette is a crucial topic. With that in mind here’s a simple list of “rules of the road” for diving off of boats. Of course this list may very well depend on where in the world you dive.

1. Listen to your Captain and Crew’s instructions. Most often diver’s are more interested in finding their mask defog or drinking their coffee while the crew are trying to give simple instructions on safety and operation of the boat. Most safety briefings take a couple of minutes and the information provided will make for a more pleasurable and safer trip.

2. Know your equipment and have your dive rig set up before boarding the boat. It’s quite a bit easier to set up your BC and test it on solid ground than it is on the deck of a pitching boat. In addition, pack your dive bag so that you can gear up in an organized fashion. I’d even recommend a “dry run” of gearing up in a small space the day or night before the trip.

3. Dive bags-Good, huge tupperware boxes-Bad. Most boats have limited space and the clearer the deck, the safer and easier it is to get you off and on the boat.

4. If you’re asked to move, the crew is not being rude. Yes, you are the customer and the crew will move mountains to ensure an amazing dive experience but it is a boat after all. We have lines to handle, ladders to rig, tag lines to deploy and gear to shift. It’s all part of the experience.

5. You’re not done with your dive until you are back on the boat. Climb the ladder with your mask on and reg in place. If you can fall off a ladder in your house while changing a light bulb you surely can in pitching seas with 50lbs of awkward equipment on your back. Once on the boat move from the boarding area so the next diver can get on board.

6. Seasick? Stay out of the cabin and don’t sweat it…the fish will eat it. Trust me people get seasick, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Some of the most experienced ocean divers tend to chum the waters from time to time. If you get seasick regularly or are concerned about it ruining your dive trip, give your physician a call for options.

7. Not sure? Ask questions! All members of the crew were once new divers on their first boat trip. They love questions and would love you to back for another trip as a seasoned veteran and every phase in between.

8. Tip your Divemaster and Crew!! They work hard to ensure the best dive experience possible and love diving, but still have bills to pay. 15-25% of the charter fee is acceptable and greatly appreciated.


Here at DRIS we are always ready to make your next dive your best! Dive Boat Etiquette will help you and your dive partners have a great experience.


5 Responses

  1. GREAT ARTICLE …. There are a couple points missing though. I would also add RESPECT THE OTHER DIVERS ON BOARD BOTH ON THE BOAT AS WELL AS IN THE WATER. As well as BE ON TIME. on a recent trip south I was on a cattle boat with a group of loud, ignorant divers on the boat that had very poor skills as well in the water. I am in no way gods gift to scuba, but I am quiet and respectful. I keep my gear in a neat pile and when in the water I try to stay at least 3ft off the coral and stay out of the way of people taking photos or video and wait my turn.

    1. Thanks for the comment Paul! You brought up two excellent points, I’ll be sure to include them if I ever do an update edition to this article.

  2. I consider myself a decent and respectful diver above and below the water. I am organized although relatively inexperienced with oceanic diving off of smaller boats. I keep all of my things to a very localized and designated spot. I try to be helpful whenever possible and out of the way when not. Recently, another diver scolded me for switching out my tanks before all of the divers were out of the water. In my mind I was making a very small footprint, I was at the diagonally opposite end from the ladder and there was time between the groups as they finished their dives and climbed onto the boat. Was this so wrong?

    1. I’ve been on lots of dive boats, Great Lakes to Tropical, and I’m not aware of such a hard and fast edict. Rather, one must be situationally aware of diver and crew movement on deck, especially during dive entry, re-boarding, docking and casting off; and generally “make way” to not impede movement. If the boat is crowded, post-dive I would get out of my harness, secure the tank, stow mask and fins, and stand aside until the hubbub subsides. Otherwise, I might switch tanks and so on.

      Did the scolder actually state a specific reason; e.g. you will be in the way? Was there some other issue; tank assignments or whatever? In a situation like this, I would ask the captain or divemaster if the scolder was stating a boat rule, or their own opinion of how things should be organized.

  3. My favorite dive-related accessory for a boat is a mesh bag, a smaller-sized one, maybe 12″x18″, with a clip, like a carabiner. Entire setup can be had for hey <$5. Put all of your smaller dive gear in it (mask, gloves, hood, etc), pull the drawstrings shut, clip to your BCD, and all your 'go-gear' is waiting for you in one place. Before you jump in, are you sure you have everything? If the bag is empty, you remembered all your stuff. When the dive is over and everyone is throwing gear all over the deck, yours comes off you, and goes straight into the bag, which you can hang off your BCD again and it doesn't get mixed with everyone else's, (or taken in the fray at the end of the day).

    And if you want to save your rigging spot while diving, just clip it to your spot.

    As an added bonus, you can also tick your regs and SPG/computer/whatever other expensive stuff you want control over and not to get banged around in there too as it sits on your BCD.

    But wait! There's more! If you get a chance for a quick rinse, you can actually just leave it in the mesh bag (although you'll probably want to set it all out to dry).