We’ve all been there, standing around in our gear, listening to the dive guide lay out the dive and wondering somewhat worriedly about which person you’re going to be paired up with. It’s a normal event on vacations, drop in dives or similar circumstances where you’re not with the people you usually dive with. It can occur during training as well, when established pairings are broken up to expand your comfort with others and other dive styles and equipment. Regardless of your partner’s experience, divemaster or the newest open water diver, there are a few things that can make your dive easier and here they are:
- Have a quick chat with your buddy, get to know their skill level, comfort with the dive and their dive history; this isn’t an inquisition, but you’ll have a better idea of how the dive will go.
- Review hand signals. Different areas and agencies can use different signals, or may have developed their own “short hand” versions. A quick review on the surface will save time underwater!
- Plan your own dive; are you an avid photographer? Does your buddy want to stick to the shallows? Use the dive guide’s plan as a template and work your dive plan into it. Let the dive guide know what you’re planning to, so they’re aware of what you’re up to.
- Kit check each other. Not every diver carries the same gear, so familiarize yourselves with each other’s equipment.
- Communication is key. Stay within visual distance of each other at minimum, and signal when you’re moving and the direction of travel. No one likes taking some pictures or checking out something really cool then looking up to find their buddy is gone!