By Melinda Crow
Scuba diving from shore may seem as simple as gearing up and walking in, but extra planning keeps the little things from tripping you up.
Freedom is the number one reason to try shore diving. There’s no dive guide ushering you along or hurrying you back to the boat. With shore diving it’s your dive, done your way. HereÂ are 8 things to keep in mind as you plan your next shore diving adventure.
Load your gear into the vehicle in the order you need it.
This seems like a no-brainer, but in the rush of piling stuff in the vehicle, it can be easily overlooked. Whether you put everyone’s gear in totes or just loose in the back seat, stack it in the order you don it.
Take a fresh-water rinse jug.
Re-use empty one-liter drink bottles or pack a collapsible water container. With either option, leave the filled container on the roof of your vehicle while you dive for a warm shower when you return.
Avoid parking in the sand unless there’s no choice.
If you can find a spot for gearing up without sand under your feet you will be a happier diver. An alternative is to take a small tarp or even a piece of cardboard to stand on. Almost anything that helps keep sand out of your booties and the legs of your wetsuit is an improvement, not to mention making cleanup of your gear easier after the dive.
Keep pace with your dive buddy as you gear up.
Unless you enjoy standing around sweating in your wetsuit as your back begins to ache from the weight of the tank, watch each other closely as you don gear and try to maintain the same pace.
Never forget that waves are the enemy.
Time your entry with the waves, get to waist-deep water quickly and carefully, and make sure all of your gear is firmly attached to you. Use S-hooks to clip fins to your BC and put you mask over your head, but not on your face until you are floating. That way nothing impedes your vision or your ability to use your hands as you enter the water.
Watch other divers entering and exiting the water.
If other divers are present, it is the easiest way to scope out the best entry spot and to judge the waves for your own entrance. Even if you are familiar with the dive site, watching how someone else enters or exits might teach you a thing or two.
Note an entry landmark.
Look back at shore before you drop to depth so you know what it should look like when you re-surface. Underwater landmarks are equally important. If there’s not a buoy, pier, or marker to guide you, both you and your buddy should make note of a distinctive formation as you descend that will help you know where to re-surface.
Practice at an inland location.
Inland diving is a great way to practice your shore diving skills. Lakes and quarries that are used for dive training are sometimes the perfect spot to practice gearing up and walking into the water. My favorite diving in my home state of Texas is in the crystal-clear waters of Balmorhea State Park, home of the largest spring-fed man-made swimming pool in the country.
Melinda Crow is the author of four Falcon Guides, including the newest editions of Camping New Mexico and Camping Colorado. She and photographer husband Gary Crow, have traveled to more than 30 states and 25 countries. Crow’s writing has appeared in regional and national magazines and online on Travel Pulse, Yahoo Travel, The New York Post, Fox News, and her own website, FirstRead.me. Follow their adventures on Twitter @melindacrow, Instagram @melindacrow, or Facebook MelindaCrowWrites.