Motivation For Winter Diving

by   Profile Dan   When 24th August 2020
Having a motivated dive buddy to drag you out of your warm cozy house is also a good idea!
Winter time usually equates to some great visbility
Another benefit of winter -beautiful light!
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Winter Dolphins
Jewel Anenome
Quality gear makes all the difference in winter diving
Dry suit diving
dry suit
Winter is no time to sit inside!

Winter. Is. Here.

Any diver dreads these 3 words, especially if you live in a colder climate. New Zealand, although lovely and warm in the summer, is generally pretty miserable and cold in the winter. With endless days of rain and wind it can be pretty unmotivating to get out and go for a dive. Most days it's much more comfortable to sit inside and re-watch videos of your favorite tropical destinations and wish you were there. I do it all the time, I dread winter so much that for the past couple of years i've been escaping to the tropics to swim with whales, leaving the miserable, cold, windy, rainy days behind! But not this year, no, as most of you know, 2020 has been a very different year for the majority of us: no travelling, no whales, no warm water. For me that means a full four months of winter. Just the thought of that makes me shiver, or is that just the 10 degree temperature today? Nope, cold water diving doesn't sound very appealing at all...or does it?

Believe it or not, winter can be a great time of year to dive, but I totally understand it can be difficult to motivate yourself. So, i'm going to tell you why you should rug up warm, grab your wet suit, crank up the car heater and head off on a winter diving adventure. I'll even throw in a few of my "Hot Tips" to ensure you have the best winter dive ever!

Here in New Zealand, summer time is when plankton blooms. Although the water is warm, the visibility can be absolutely terrible, but in winter it's completely different. When it's not pouring down with rain and blowing a gale, the lack of plankton means the water can be crystal clear for weeks on end, you just have to be motivated enough to get out and find that cold clear water!!

It's less crowded

My favourite photo shooting spot is pretty popular in the summer months, Goat island (read about it here) can get incredibly busy during the summer, and with so many people in the water, fish life becomes scarce. In winter, however, more often than not, I get the whole bay full of fish all to myself. Winter can make for some pretty peaceful and tranquil dives, and as a bonus the light can be fantastic for photography.

Seals: Need I say more? Who doesn’t wanna dive with seals?! From my experience, winter is the best time to see them in Auckland. In fact, just last week I had an encounter with 6 of them! They're like huge puppies. Depending on where you dive, you may have sea life that is more abundant in winter - the perfect reason to head out in the cold to explore.

Dolphins: Again, who doesn't wanna dive with dolphins? I have had my best dolphin encounters in the middle of winter, just me, a friendly bunch of bottle nose and torrential rain. I couldn't think of anything better.

Anemones: Winter in NZ is a pretty special time if you're an anemone fan. For just a few nights of the year there is a special location in northern New Zealand where you can watch the anemones spawn, just like on those old BBC documentaries narrated by everyone's favorite TV star David Attenborough. It's a winter night spectacle, well worth braving the cold water for.

Winter forces you to explore

At times, the ocean can become undiveable for weeks on end. Freshwater anyone? Lakes, rivers, streams and estuaries can all be brilliant alternative dive sites in the winter. When you just need to get out for a dive and blow the cobwebs out, go out and explore your local waterways.

Learn a new skill

Winter is a great time to upskill, don't just sit around twiddling your thumbs.

If the cold water is really putting you off, then why not learn to dive in a dry suit? Dive warm and dry no matter what the weather! I took the SSI Dry Suit Specialty Course and learnt to dive in the Mares XR1 dry suit this winter. It's the best thing I ever did.

If it's really cold, how about taking an Ice Diving course?

If the weather is so bad that you just can't get out diving, then there are plenty of other ways to keep up the motivation. Take the Science of Diving course for instance, or learn how to mix gases with the Gas Blender course. You could even educate yourself on marine life with Scuba Schools International's (SSI) range of Ecology programs, all from the comfort of your warm bed, or an SSI Dive Centre.

My tips on motivating yourself for winter diving

If you don't go, you wont know. This is the motto I try to live by. As much as sitting in bed with a coconut hot chocolate appeals to me, more often than not i'll drag myself out of bed and off to the beach, rain, hail or shine. It could just possibly be the best dive you ever have! Once I get in the water, I always feel better off for it, and for the effort you might be rewarded! On my most recent dive I saw a turtle. Yes, a turtle, in New Zealand, in winter, unbelievable!

Get yourself some decent gear

A good wetsuit or drysuit is a great way to motivate yourself in to getting in cold water. I wear the Seal Skin which is perfect for most of the winter diving I do. A pair of Flexa DS boots and Flexa Classis gloves are also crucial in keeping your pinkys and piggys warm, Don't forget that heat also escapes from your head, so a hood is an absolute must.

Poncho towels

I recently discovered these and they make putting on your wetsuit and taking it off on a cold winters day much more bearable. Chucking on a hoody towel protects you from the wind and rain while you slide in and out of your suit, from cold and wet, to warm and dry in seconds.

My final " hot tip"

Hot drinks; Before you leave home, chuck the jug on and fill up your reusable mug with your favourite hot drink. Mine is Tropical Tea (highly recommended). If your mug is any good, then by the time you finish your dive your drink should be at the perfect temperature to warm you back to life. All you need to do is get your gear off, sit in your poncho towel and slurp it down, letting the feeling come back to your nose, toes and fingers. Give it a go, you can thank me later.

Finally, have fun! Diving is all about having fun. Doesn't matter if its winter, summer, autumn or spring, whether you're diving in the tropics in 30 degrees, under the ice or just at your local beach on a cold windy day, I reckon diving is the best activity you could ever do. In my opinion, there's no such thing as a bad day's diving, so what are you waiting for, get out and make the most of winter !

I would love to hear your own tips for motivating yourself to dive in winter, feel free to leave a comment below...

Photos and text by Dan Westerkamp

Written by
Profile Dan
When 24th August 2020
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