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Divers soon get tired of having to swim out from the shore. It's almost normal to use a boat to get to the dive site. Sometimes the boat is quite small because either the distance is not very great or a small boat in being used in conjunction with a larger vessel that would not be safe to bring up close to the reef. When divers are picked up after a dive, it makes much more sense to use a small manoeuvrable boat. Some of them are extremely fast and seaworthy.
Divers usually travel the short distance in a small boat completely kitted with tank and fins in place. However, do not try to get into a small boat from a jetty or from a larger vessel with your fins on. Pass them down before stepping down when the boatman tells you to. You should time things so that you step across as the vessel rises on the swell. Sit down where told to and put your fins on.
Fully kitted divers may wear their masks around their necks during the journey because they will want to defog them immediately before entering the water. The journey may tend to be a little uncomfortable if the weather is anything more than flat calm but it is nothing you cannot put up with. Some boats have the facility to allow divers to don their equipment once they arrive at the dive site.
The usual method of entry is to roll backwards into the water and this is either done with a number of divers going together on a count of three, or as individual divers waiting until they coxswain of the boat tells them it is safe to go. It is important to both go into the water at the right place while at the same time avoiding an injury to or from another diver.
When you surface pay attention to any instruction given to you by the man in the boat that comes to pick you up. He may require you to swim away from the reef, where his boat would be in danger of being damaged, and out into deeper water. He will position the boat so that the prevailing wind pushes it towards you rather than away from you.
When getting into small boat, after a dive, it is usually necessary to first hand up your weights and any other loose items. After that, with your BCD fully inflated so that your rig will float, climb out of it and pass it up. If you are familiar with your equipment, you should have no trouble doing this while holding on to the rail or grab-line with one hand. You will keep your fins and mask in place until you are safely in the boat. Some larger inflatable boats and other small dive boats have ladders, which may require you to take off your fins before climbing up.
There is a definite technique to getting up out of the water and over the tubes of an inflatable boat. Keep your mask and fins in place and hold tightly to the beckets or grab-line that runs round the side of the boat. Make yourself vertical in the water and then push down hard so that you are momentarily submerged. As the inherent buoyancy of the suit sends you back up, fin strongly and at the same time push up from the grab rail, straightening your arms as you go. You should be able, in this quick moment, to lock your arms straight. Lean into the boat so that your chest tilts you over. At the same time, cock a leg over the tube. You will then be able to take off that fin before lifting the other leg in and removing the second fin. You're in the boat!
Happy Diving - John Bantin