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First time diving from our own boat - suggestions?

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First time diving from our own boat - suggestions?

Old 03-12-2019, 05:32 AM
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Default First time diving from our own boat - suggestions?

My wife and I finally have a boat that should be good for diving and I'm thinking of doing our first trip this weekend. Basically, we're heading to a reef that's in about 20' of water that should have decent visibility just to get the hang of diving without a captain and dive master waiting for us.

The boat is a 27' walkaround with a nice size swim platform and a 3-step ladder that's perfect for boarding without gear. I was able to use it last week to board with my gear with no problems BUT my wife had neck surgery and is limited in what she is allowed to lift / carry which is going to require some creativity to overcome. For now, the plan is to setup her gear on the swim platform where she can sit and strap into her BC and roll off sideways then for returning to the boat I'll have a line with a biner that she can clip to her BC then remove it and leave it floating.

As far as the setup, I'm planning to bring a 60' floating line with a bouy on the end to tail off the back of the boat to make it easier to return in a current. From the port side lifting eye (near the ladder) I'll hang the line for my wife's gear and a weighted line that will dangle 15' below the surface as a marker for safety stops. I know we won't need it for a 20' dive but eventually we will be going deeper.

Other than this and the diver down flag, is there anything else scuba related that I haven't considered? I have a good first aid kit and all of the required equipment for safe and legal boating so I'm just looking for scuba related recommendations.

Thanks.
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Old 03-12-2019, 09:03 AM
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The obvious is to start your dive into the current so that you dont have to fight it to get back. Less obvious if you've never done your own boat is to go check your anchor first on every dive from anchor, and especially if you're leaving the boat alone. When diving wrecks, some people will have a chain and shackle to loop around the structure to the anchor line for extra security when leaving a boat unattended or in heavy currents (just remember to unhook it before you come up).

Your setup for getting her in and out sounds less than ideal but as good as it can be for the situation. If yall have decent shallow stuff around then may I recommend just snorkeling until she heals up? I would hate to aggravate that to the point that it hinders diving in the future.
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Old 03-12-2019, 09:19 AM
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She has 4 fusions in her neck so it's not something that's going to heal but neither of us want to give up diving. If we go this weekend I'll try to plan it around a slack tide but I've never been to this site so I don't know how much current there may be.

Thanks.
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Old 03-12-2019, 11:16 AM
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Rule number one: Always have an experienced person on the boat at all times. I can't count the number of disasters I've seen and heard of over the years from disregarding this.

With that out of the way, has your wife considered going side mount? You put your bc on and then hook your tanks up at or in the water. Several people I know with back and neck problems have gone this route.
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Old 03-12-2019, 11:46 AM
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I’m too chicken to dive without someone on the boat.
But it sounds like you have it planned out pretty good. Some good advice above about checking anchor.
Have fun! Be safe!
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Old 03-12-2019, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Leslie Sapp View Post
With that out of the way, has your wife considered going side mount? You put your bc on and then hook your tanks up at or in the water. Several people I know with back and neck problems have gone this route.
This is going to be her first dive since her most recent surgery about a year ago and she hasn't even looked into it.. But we will now.

Thanks.
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Old 03-12-2019, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Leslie Sapp View Post
Rule number one: Always have an experienced person on the boat at all times. I can't count the number of disasters I've seen and heard of over the years from disregarding this.

With that out of the way, has your wife considered going side mount? You put your bc on and then hook your tanks up at or in the water. Several people I know with back and neck problems have gone this route.
You tried.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Marlin009 View Post
You tried.
What's that supposed to mean?
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:32 AM
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The first thing to do when you start your dive is swim down and make sure your anchor is set properly. I have a friend that is a comercial clam diver and that is one thing he taught me.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan_F View Post
The first thing to do when you start your dive is swim down and make sure your anchor is set properly. I have a friend that is a comercial clam diver and that is one thing he taught me.
beat me to it but worth repeating. CHECK THE ANCHOR!
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan_F View Post
The first thing to do when you start your dive is swim down and make sure your anchor is set properly. I have a friend that is a comercial clam diver and that is one thing he taught me.
Added that to my checklist. Thanks
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Old 03-13-2019, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by KC2OTE View Post
What's that supposed to mean?
When you responded to his post, you left out the part about always having someone on the boat.

Perhaps that was just because it was a given. From your OP, it sounded like you may not.
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Old 03-13-2019, 08:43 AM
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Always have someone on the boat, winds change, currents change, that secure anchor may not be, when pulled from a different direction
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Marlin009 View Post
Perhaps that was just because it was a given. From your OP, it sounded like you may not.
Or perhaps the part about sidemount diving was more interesting.
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Old 03-13-2019, 10:08 AM
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I just don't have comfort leaving a boat unattended, even in 20'. Too much can go wrong. I know people do it, but it never set well with me. If you do it, and anything feels wrong, including strong current, don't hesitate to abort the dive.
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Old 03-13-2019, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by head_hunter View Post
I just don't have comfort leaving a boat unattended, even in 20'. Too much can go wrong. I know people do it, but it never set well with me. If you do it, and anything feels wrong, including strong current, don't hesitate to abort the dive.
I'm not necessarily opposed to leaving the boat unattended but I certainly understand the concerns around it. I left the boat unattended for 45 minutes on Sunday while we swam to an island and walked around. I can't see how diving would be much different as in either case, the boat will be unattended. Yes, the water will be deeper but that's why I have 300' of anchor rode in the locker and another 200' in a storage box. As far as aborting the dive due to changing conditions, that's why we're starting in shallow water and during a slack tide, so we can get back quickly if anything goes wrong.
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Old 03-13-2019, 01:21 PM
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Besides always having someone on the boat, I make sure to mark where we are (set the man overboard) since the topside person may not be paying attention and the anchor line could come loose. I also set a timer when we go in so no one has to remember when 45 minutes or whatever the designated time is up. I like to also take a mesh bag down with me and tie to the anchor, it has a line reel in case conditions warrant it, a slate to write on and I keep a section of old garden hose slit so it can be slipped over the anchor line if it is rubbing on anything. If we are spearfishing I like everyone that touches a speargun to look at it and say out loud that it is not loaded, have seen too many times people handing up spearguns loaded and safety off. Everyone should also have a 6' safety sausage and whistle.
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Old 03-13-2019, 01:58 PM
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Leaving the boat unattended is not necessarily recommended but I have done it and will do it again I am sure. Pre and during dive checks/planning:
- descend on the anchor line
- verify anchor is set or reset
- determine current and direction
- determine compass azimuth into current
- dive the azimuth and recheck direction consistently
- terminate dive with 50% air remaining
- compute back azimuth and return to boat/anchor line
- on shallow profile dives of 50 feet or less I have on occasion done a quick surface to verify the boat location and check the azimuth and then descended again to return
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Old 03-13-2019, 04:14 PM
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An experienced boat operator at the helm allows you to “”live boat “ dive. Jug the dive site, make you water entry next the the marker jug then descend the jug line. Uupon your ascent the operator cruises over beside you and kills the motor for a safe entry.
Without the “crutch” of an anchor line to use, you actually have to use your ascent,decent and neutral buoyancy skills but navigation skills become less important as long as you are not swimming long distances away from the marker jug.

If you are going to drop the hook, put out more scope than you think you need. When on the bottom, picture the lay out of the dive site starting from the well set anchor. Anchor diving in strong current can be a lot of work. Be extra careful around the full moon.The trailing ball line is a good idea. A plastic bucket works well for coiling of trailing line into they put the ball down on top of the bucket. A 100’ x. 3/8” floating yellow poly rope going to a big float ball makes your boat 130’ long and much easier to get a hold of when you surface abeam of the boat and have to kick back to get aboard, but Most divers with some boating experience don’t want to work this hard and just live boat dive.
When live boat diving,the operator is has to be smart enough to stay down current of the divers, and not run over the jug line, and if mechanical problems arise and the motor quits, let the boat drift down current a distance before putting out the anchor. It’s a learning experience as long as you don’t kill yourself the first time.
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Old 03-13-2019, 07:27 PM
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Looks like most everything has been covered. You said your wife had surgery a year ago. I assume this is not her first dive since then.
If so, maybe it shouldn't be a "new boat" dive. Your call.
May want to rethink having somebody on the boat at least the first dive or so. I have been diving off my own boat for several years. Sometimes with somebody on board, sometimes not.
Conditions played a huge part of the decision . Always had out two anchors and a stern rope if nobody on the boat.
Also, may be just as easy to put gear on in the water as on the swim platform. Tanks can really bang up your boat.
I added a 4th step to my 3 step ladder that was removable. Just needed one more step with tanks and weights. Easy to make with stuff from Home Depot or Lowes. Chain, aluminum stock and a D ring
Understand you are only 20 feet for now but you may want to consider a "wreck reel." I nice one with 150-200 feet of line. Nothing gets you back to your "up line" on a low vis day like a this can.
You can also use it to "shoot a SMB" from the bottom if a problem arises.
Nobody has ask about your experience level. It is assumed you are competent to go.
I started diving off my boat about two weeks after getting my C card.
Been doing it ever since
Keep a "save a dive" kit on your boat.
Don't push questionable conditions.
Maybe start thinking about redundant air systems.
Have fun, think ahead, plan for the unexpected.
Check out " scubaboard.com for more info if you haven't already
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