Hints & Tips


Have you ever wondered why is it that some people just seem to have better, more comfortable dives and kit?


Or how it is that they know just where everything is that they need?


How to dive is covered in your training, and this isn’t repeated here, however below is a collated list of Hints and Tips from some experienced divers covering ways in which to make yourself more comfortable, dives more enjoyable and your kit easier to deal with.


Here goes...


  • Personal preparation – Remember the dive starts the night before, so get a good night’s sleep and be careful if drinking alcohol. Keep an eye on your general health – are you taking any medication that might affect your dive? If you are congested with a cold this might affect your ability to equalise under water.
  • Sort out your kit – Doing this in a last-minute rush just before you set off makes forgetting stuff more likely. Are your cylinders full? – double check them before loading up your vehicle.
  • Bring lists – It’s worth keeping a list – written, or saved to your desktop – of everything you need for a dive, based on what you’ve found you needed on previous dives. This can include everything - sandwiches, regs, log books, small change for the car park etc. You might keep different lists for different dives (Red Sea holiday, day trip to Stoney Cove etc).
  • Contingencies – Who’s bringing your kit? What if they break down? Will there be opportunities to rent any missing kit at the dive site? Many divers like to be self-reliant, and have all their kit with them before setting off.
  • Tool box – Many divers keep a rigid, watertight box of tools (spanners, silicon grease, allen keys etc) and spare parts with their kit. This is especially useful if you’re spending a day out on the boat, away from any dive shops.
  • Food – Very important. Will there be places to eat near the dive site, or should you pack a lunch?
  • Weight – Remember how much you need, as other divers are unlikely to remember for you.
  • Storage – Keep storing items of kit in the same place, e.g. torch in the same pocket, computer in the same compartment in your kit bag, everything stored together at home. This will make everything easier to find when you need it.
  • Getting there – Plan your route in advance, ask the AA and other divers what the best route is, and ask your fellow passengers to navigate (if they complain because they’d rather sleep through the journey, kick them out).
  • Back-up plan – Figure out what you’ll do in case the dive gets blown out. Find out what else there is to do in the area. Bring your hiking boots.

Assembling your own kit

  • As soon as you can – Yes, we’re all skint, and buying a full set of equipment all at once will set you back a fair bit. But there are benefits in owning your own kit – most importantly, you’ll be more comfortable diving with equipment which you’re 100% familiar with and know how to use and your regular buddy (if you have one) will be better informed as to what to do when you need assistance. Bermondsey BSAC has some kit for use during training, but in the meantime – particularly if you’re on a limited budget – keep an eye on deals at dive shows, and Amphibian Sports in West Norwood, where there’s often good deals on kit. Most divers assemble their kit bit by bit, as and when they can afford to.
  • Second hand?  - Many divers use items of second hand kit bought from internet auction sites and from dive shops (like Amphibian) which sometimes sell second hand equipment. Always get any second hand kit professionally checked and serviced before using it.
  • What to get? – Buy equipment that suits the kind of diving you want to do (summer, UK, deep etc), get advice from fellow divers, and make a note of any borrowed or rented kit that you’ve felt comfortable using.

Kit configuration

  • Test – Try out your new equipment in a controlled environment (e.g., the pool on Wednesday nights) before going into the sea with it. This way, you’ll reduce problems (arising from unfamiliarity with your kit) on the dive.
  • Dangly bits – These can get tangled and can damage wildlife, so they must be secured and rationalised. Gauges and octopi are often the main culprits – tuck them in somewhere, or clip them to your BCD.
  • Streamlining – Keeping everything close to you reduces your drag in the water, and therefore reduces your exertion and air consumption. Are your dangly bits secure? Is your BCD a size too big? Are you in the correct position (horizontal) as you swim forwards?
  • Colour co-ordination – Although it is essential that divers look fabulous at all times, remember that colours are affected at depth (red and yellow disappear before blue), so don’t worry about your appearance too much. More seriously, diving with all-black kit can make it harder for your buddy to see you in poor visibility – dayglow yellow fins can help.
  • Label your kit with your name – This is a good idea on a busy boat where everyone has a Buddy Commando.
  • Label your DSMB with your name – This helps the skipper and dive marshall know who’s in the water, and who to pick up. When writing your name on your DSMB, inflate it first so the permanent marker pen doesn’t seep through to other side.
  • Bit and bobs – Cut-up inner tubes and bits of surgical piping are useful for securing items of kit. An old CD, kept in your BCD pocket, makes a good mirror for reflecting/signaling to the skipper. Divers are full of useful DIY tips like these – go ahead and copy their ideas.

Staying comfortable and interested

  • Your kind of diving – Do the kind of dives you want to do. Not interested in wrecks? – that’s fine! – do a drift dive, go and look for wildlife, or do some other kind of dive.
  • Your buddy – Buddy up with someone with similar or better skills, and similar interests.
  • Something wrong? – Say so. You’ll be trained to notice when your buddy is unhappy, but equally – don’t ignore your own problems and don’t be worried about letting down your buddy if a dive really needs to be terminated. It’s better to be safe than sorry. We can always dive later or another day.
  • Stress/rushing – Sometimes you may need to move quickly (particularly when diving from a boat), but it’s normally best to take your time, enter the water when you’re ready and don’t rush.

On the boat

  • Listen – To the skipper. He/she knows the place. Also listen to any instructions and tips from other divers.
  • Don’t embarrass yourself – Do not tie yourself to the boat. People will laugh at you (in a friendly way, of course). Also remember its “fins” and “air cylinder”, not “flippers” and “oxygen tank”.

Air consumption

  • Practice – The more diving you do the better you will get.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly – Don't breathe out straight away and don't shallow breathe.
  • Exertion – Don't move too much. When you're going down the shot line you should be able to just sink – don't swim hard to get to the bottom, otherwise you'll just reduce your dive time. When you're on the bottom use your fins, not your hands, as your fins are more efficient and you will therefore use less energy and less air.


  • Rinse your kit – As soon as possible after the dive, otherwise chlorine and salt will erode and damage your kit, reducing its life.
  • Come to the pub! – A good place for swapping stories and de-gassing.
  • Write up trip reports – Even brief reports are useful, so other divers can benefit from your experiences.
Continue learning – It’s worth refreshing your knowledge by re-reading your BSAC manual(s). You can also proceed to the next qualification, if you want to.