Accessing a dive site from shore can be as simple as making a stride entry from a ledge overhanging a calm lagoon (remember those practice sessions in the pool?) to preparing for a hazardous journey over a rocky shoreline where a single misstep could prove disastrous.
There are a few general rules to follow, though, that apply to any shore dive.
1Be completely equipped for the dive before getting wet. This means that your basic scuba equipment set, especially your fins and mask, should be donned before you step into the water. Some advocate carrying your fins while walking into the water until waist deep, then donning them. While this may be acceptable in some locations, it is wiser to develop a habit that will work in any situation. Having all of your equipment on and in place allows you to immediately dive or swim on the surface—two things the open-water environment may suddenly require.
2Depend only on yourself and your skills. While this may sound anti-buddy, it is good advice. Those who advocate leaning on each other or holding hands while entering the water are well intentioned but wrong. The “buddy-dependent” approach to shore entries only multiplies problems when they develop. If your buddy is holding on to you when he loses his balance, it is more likely he’ll pull you off balance causing both of you to fall rather than you preventing him from falling. The result is two people trying to cope with the unexpected rather than one. If your partner is caught in the surf zone you will be better able to assess the situation and, if necessary, jettison your equipment before you return to offer assistance.
3Put your regulator or snorkel in your mouth. It is really a matter of preference and comfort as to which breathing source you choose. The point is to have an air supply should you need to swim with your face submerged. If either one is in your mouth before you enter the water then no time is lost looking for or fumbling with them should they become entangled. I prefer to use my regulator because it allows me to submerge and stay submerged should the need arise.
4Control all your equipment—loose and swinging pressure gauge hoses wind
up in the darnedest places, usually where you don’t want them to be. If
you’re carrying additional equipment such as game bags like the Trident
Lobster Game Bag which is one of many found at Scuba.com, or camera equipment,
it is better to secure them to your equipment with clips and leave your hands
free than to hand-carry them and risk dropping them during a mishap. The exception
to this rule would be spearguns. Before you attempt an entry carrying any such
device, get specialized training to avoid injury to yourself or the environment.
Responsible spearfishing can only be conducted by well-trained divers with adequate
knowledge of game fish and conservation laws.
Although it has its unique concerns, diving from shore is just another option for the experienced diver to access some great dive locations. When you arrive in a coastal destination, make arrangements with a local dive center or instructor to show you the best locations. They can also help you develop the skills to make shore diving something you’ll want to experience again and again. Till next time, good diving.