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diving in high seas
fmatus - 7/19/2010 4:52 PM
Category: Health & Safety
Replies: 4

Hello All,

I recently dove in 5 ft seas in Key Largo with wind against current and came a few feet from having my head dented by the swim platform. After a giant stride off the back of the boat I was drawn to the boat by the current and the platform was just coming down from a rather large swell. Had I been a foot or two closer the platform would have come right down on my head. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to avoid this in the future? What wave heights would normally preclude someone from diving off a boat?

On a side note the entire boat decided to skip the second dive as the conditions continued to worsen.

Thanks in advance.
RhodeIslandDiver - 7/19/2010 5:33 PM

It’s a good idea to throw a long stern line with a large bouy attached to get a good idea of how strong the currents are, and what direction they are moving and as a safety line should the current take you. In my experience the current is much more dangerous than the waves. Once you jump in BC always inflated, obviously, try to go more on your back side feet facing the boat, better to hit your foot than head, and like you noted take a good long jump as far from the boat as you can, if the current is strong grab the stern line so you can pull yourself back if need be. Like anything else you improve your skills and confidence with practice.

Good luck,

seawolfdiving - 7/19/2010 5:39 PM
With 5ft seas, opposing wind and current many people would have some difficulty at the surface and getting back onto the dive boat.

If I were diving with novice divers I would probably abort the dive and look for calmer seas.

If the seas are that rough, and if you choose to dive in those conditions, then it is best to spend as little time on the surface as possible. At the beginning of the dive you might want to descent immediately upon entering the water. As far as recovery at the end of the dive, well that’s where it can get tricky.

The boat should have a tag/float line trailing it. Divers need to wait on that line until it is their turn to get back on the boat. Very important to stay back from the boarding ladder until it is your turn to board. In rough weather it is not uncommon for divers on the ladder to fall off. You don’t want to get hit by a falling diver.

Also, remember that when you are on the boarding ladder, keep your mask and regulator or snorkel in place until you are onboard and secure as the likelihood of falling is even greater in rough seas.

In my opinion… it may have been proper for the dive boat captain to abort the dive, if he saw that the sea conditions were going to be beyond the skill level of any of the divers. But I was not there and I don’t know what the skill levels of the divers were. That’s just my opinion.

In any event… it is ultimately up to each diver to determine if the conditions are beyond his/her abilities. It is “part of the dive plan that each diver & buddy team observes and considers the conditions prior to making the dive”.

I use the 10 second rule when considering the conditions at the dive site. If conditions are such that it takes me more than 10 seconds to decide whether to make the dive….Then I Don’t Dive….
fmatus - 7/19/2010 6:57 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. The wind was actually keeping the boat at anchor 22 knots and the current was taking the stern line back to the boat as well as the divers. Most other boats that I have been on used a carolina rig so you can descend quickly using a rear entry from the side of the boat.

Good points and something to consider for next time.
Lonefrogman - 7/20/2010 4:34 AM
You could do a back roll off the side of the boat. Or from the dive platform do a negative entry no air in BC/wing and drop to a safe depth.