At last, I'm back! I'm sure it's the same for many of you, the lockdown has been incredibly tough. Days, weeks and even months out of water for a Thalassophile (someone that likes seawater) is incredibly difficult. The pull of the ocean is something that only people that have that pull understand. As famous underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau once said, "The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever". Ain't that the truth!
Well, for the time being we are being let out of our bubbles and back into the sea, what a relief. For some of us it's been so long that we have forgotten pretty much everything there is to know about diving. So I thought I'd drop a few tips on how to make your first dive as smooth and enjoyable as possible…
Check your gear
Assuming you look after your equipment, it should be in pretty good condition. This being said, nothing likes sitting for long periods of time, so it's a good idea to go over and check all your equipment before heading out for your first, much anticipated dive. Some of the things to check are the seams in your wetsuit/drysuit, your mask strap and skirt, and that your BCD inflates and deflates correctly. Also check that your regulator breathes freely, if not, it might be due for a service.
Refresh your skills
Having correctly functioning dive gear is a great start to a dive, but don't stop there! Next, make sure that you remember all your diving skills. If not, have a read of your open water manual, watch a few videos, it's ok to be a bit nervous but after a refresher you should be good to go. If it's really been that long, then it's best to book in with a course provider and do an actual refresher. Once you refresh your memory and ensure your gear is up to the task, it's time to grab a buddy, it's always wise to dive with a buddy at the same level or more experienced than you, especially if it's been sometime since you have been for a dive.
Where to dive?
Ok, so you have checked your gear, got your skills and have your buddy. Time to hop in the water, but where? Having not been on a dive in a while it's a good idea to ease into it. A deep drift dive, for example, is probably not the best way to “ease” back into diving. Instead, choose a nice shallow open water dive, somewhere calm, clear, basically a stress free environment is what you're looking for. Of course, if you are feeling up to it, then a more advanced dive is fine, just remember you haven't been in the water for a while, so your skills might be a bit slower, your fitness might not be what it used to be, just remember to take it easy.
All right, I think it's time to get in the water, but here's just one more tip...use your slate or wetnotes for reminders, anything you might forget that's super important, write it down. It's better to have it and not need it than the other way round. On my slate I have on the back CHECK YOUR AIR. Having done hundreds of dives and as a fairly experienced diver, it's a good little reminder to have. You can also write little notes to yourself like 'relax' or 'slow down' to keep your mind in check.
And finally, just cruise. As we all know, diving is not about rushing around covering ground. Your first dive back should be nice and slow and relaxed from the departure, to the dive site, to gearing up and then entry into the water, the whole process should be slow, methodical and calm. Check check and double check things, weights, air on, BCD inflates, wetsuit done up, these are all things that are small but could make or break your return dive. Once in the water, slow kicks, relax and enjoy the calmness that the seafloor has to offer. It's been a while, and man it's good to be back!