It’s fitting that this post is being written on my new Acer A200 tablet, as it’s a representative of the emerging technological wave about to engulf the diving world. Logbooks have been a part of diving since it became a professional level activity in the military and commercial engineering fields. Logbooks made the transition from commercial and military realms to the area of recreational diving. Unfortunately, divers in both the recreational world and the commercial (not to mention scientific), often ignore or neglect some or all aspects of logging dives. For the record, I am pro logbook. The reasons are simple; it’s your proof of experience and you dive résumé.
There are a few common reasons you hear all the time for why people don’t log dives:
“I have X amount of dives… I stopped logging them after X.”
“I only log X types of dives.”
“I hate paper logs, this is the digital age, what the hell.”
“I’m just a super casual diver, I never go deep so why log dives?”
The answer to most of these questions is is pretty straight forward. You logbook provides a breakdown of your experience as a diver. It lets dive shops determine what sites you’re ready for, and in the event of an accident can be used to show competence and skill level on your part. By not logging all your dives, you’re cheating yourself out of potential dives in challenging locations, and you’re not presenting an accurate portrait of your skills. The latter is particularly important for technical certifications, maintaining active status and for professionals looking for work. If you only log certain types of dives, that’s better than nothing, but there is no excuse to not log anything.
Now, the digital age question is the thorny one. We live in an increasingly digitalised world, where the passage of and maintenance of information is frequently done electronically. Both Oceanic and Suunto have PC programs and dive computer interface set ups. A lot of divers keep a simple spreadsheet. Some sites, like Cousteau Divers, offer online logbooks. Now these are all fine and quite functional. Except the technology is lacking in one area: confirmatory signatures. After a dive, your buddy or supervisor or guide signs off on your dives. Sometimes they stamp it too. Another problem is battery life/durability. A paper logbook is usually made for the rigors of the diving activity. Namely, most can be dropped into the water and then retrieved for drying and future use. Tablets, laptops and mobile phones are not as waterproof, and if your moving around in remote areas, might be hard to charge. My opinion on on electronic logs right now is simple: use them as a backup should you lose your logbook. Within the next few years though, I can see these problems being ironed out.
Now, I know some people out there are going to continue to not log dives for no other reason than laziness. For them, I recommend this minimalist approach: date, dive number, length of dive, maximum depth, buddy’s name/signature. Short, sweet and at least it’s something. All of that said, log your dives. It makes life a bit easier, plus you can get some sweet, and provable, bragging rights!