A Successful Dive Begins With A Plan By Melissa Rodriguez

Dive planning should start several days before you actually hit the water. If you wait until the last minute (like the night before!) and something unexpected pops up, it may be too late to pull everything together for a successful dive.

Long Range Details

To begin, you need to decide on a date and time. Factors that can influence your decision are work schedules, weather, tides, and charter availability.

Once you and your buddy/buddies have decided on a date, you'll need to agree on the objective of the dive and the location. You may find it beneficial to have an alternate location, in case conditions are unfavorable at your primary site. If you are unfamiliar with the location, research it. The more you know in advance, the more prepared you'll be. You may find it advantageous to look at the dive site beforehand, if possible.

After you know all about the planned dive site, you can determine your equipment needs, such as type of wetsuit and amount of weights. Take the time to inspect your gear to make sure it is in good working order.

Next, you'll need to start making travel plans by making reservations for planes, charters, hotels, and other accommodations. Make sure you obtain emergency contact information as well. Prepare a "to do" list while planning your dive. Keep it handy so that you can add to it as you think of things. It also comes in handy for planning future dives. Don't wait until the last minute to buy items you need for the trip.

As the big day draws closer, check weather trends, water conditions, and tides in the area you plan to dive. You can avoid a wasted trip due to bad weather.

Short Range Details

The night before the scheduled dive, gather up your equipment and personal articles together in one place. Use an equipment checklist. Make a last minute weather and water conditions check. Let someone who is not going on the dive know about your dive plan and get a good night's sleep.

The Day Of The Dive

You and your buddy/buddies should agree on how the dive will be conducted. Evaluate the conditions to determine if they are acceptable. Go to your alternate site or abort the dive if necessary. If everyone is in agreement to do the dive, you should plan the actual dive.

*One person of the dive team should be the leader.
*Everyone should agree on the activity and objective of the dive. Discuss what you want to do, how you want to do it, and review hand signals.
*Outline the course to follow: entry & exit points, depth time, etc…
*Discuss a contingency plan, emergency procedures, and accident management.
*Don't abandon your plan halfway through the dive. If something happens and you want to alter the plan, stop and make a new one. Dive your plan.

Always have a strategy for your dive. You'll arrive at your scheduled site feeling positive and assured that you'll have a successful dive.