for Newbie Divers
When you first start diving everything is just wonderful. There is so many new things to learn and places to explore, the world is your oyster (pardon the pun). But like with any new venture, it’s unknown and since you’re still a student in this unchartered environment, you’re probably going to make a few mistakes – or if you’re anything like me, many of them!
Here is a compilation of common mistakes all newbie divers make.
1. Acting cool, calm and collected
This one would be completely fine if you were in fact as in control as you’re trying to look (that’s what we want to be as divers!). You’re afraid of looking stupid and will avoid asking questions or sharing uncertainties at all cost. This is not only stunting your growth as a diver but it also puts other divers around you in trouble, because a panicked diver is very dangerous. Stress and panic build up because you’re not speaking up and handling the situation, this can lead to diving accidents.
Ask for help and never be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure of anything.
2. Poor buoyancy control
This in and of itself is not such a big problem, since everyone struggles with their buoyancy to some extent in the beginning. This can, however, become a problem if you start crashing down on delicate reefs or popping up to the surface. This one you should seriously pay attention to. Now, I’m not just saying this because your buddy will have a hard time, but you might also remember a little something from your open water course called decompression sickness and that’s not something you want to play around with.
Practice your buoyancy and make sure you understand how it works. Check that you have the correct amount of weights, ask a dive professional for help.
3. Not familiar with your gear
It’s one thing to refer to your second stage as a “thingy” and a whole different thing to not know where said second stage is located when your buddy has run out of air. Or fidgeting underwater because you can’t locate your dump valves or the pressure gauge, this can also up your stress levels. Luckily this is something easy to rectify.
It might be a good idea to start meticulously checking your gear pre-dive (which you ought to always do in any case) and even put on your BCD at home and make sure you know where everything’s at before going on a dive.
4. Not buddy conscious
You tend to forget about your dive buddies entirely by going off on your own and not communicating when underwater. Or you stick so closely to your buddies that there’s not enough space to move around and before you know it, you have a fin kicking your mask straight off your face. Do I need to mention how potentially dangerous all of this is? Apart from the danger aspect, not communicating with your buddy can dampen your diving experience. Did you see that super cool eel? No? Oh, I probably should have told you… Please, don’t be that guy.
Be conscientious underwater, make eye contact with your buddy and be responsive.
5. Depending too much on others
This might seem a little ironic after the previous point but it’s also a really bad thing if you rely entirely on someone else - be it your buddy or a dive guide – when it comes to things like navigation, or bottom time if you don’t have your own dive computer. What happens if you are paired up with another buddy, maybe someone who is less experienced than you?
Learn from those more experienced around you and become a more independent/ experienced diver.
6. Ignoring what you learned during your course
Soon after finishing your course, you can start to become overly confident and lax even, believing that some things you have learned were unnecessary. This is untrue especially when it comes to things like safety procedures, they might seem unnecessary until you land in trouble.
Rehearse safety procedures in your head before dives and listen closely to all dive briefings.
7. Not moving with the boat
Okay, I’m ending this list on a lighter note. This one causes more discomfort than anything else. Newbies are usually quite stressed when going out for a dive, especially when they go out on a rubber duck (inflatable boat). On these occasions, you tense up while sitting on the pontoon of the boat causing you to hop around like a little ping pong ball. If anything, this will just lead to a comical trip for everyone else and pretty sore muscles for you on the next day.
A little tip, just relax your muscles and move along with the motion of the boat and don’t fight it. This will make your ride much smoother.
If you are still a newbie diver, I hope this list pointed out a few things that you can look out for to avoid making the same mistakes as the rest of us. And if you’re an old pro by now, I hope this list provided a little comical relief as to where you once were and maybe even help you to be more understanding towards those who are just starting out.
Oh, and by the way, all is not lost if you are struggling with some dive skills. Diving takes practice, so be in the water as often as possible. It is always a good idea to further your dive education with the Specialty Courses and to move on to your Advanced Open Water Diver Certification. You get dives with each course so this means lots of practice plus acquiring new skills.
"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. Don't let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love."
by Katia E Theron