Diving Procedures By Mark Theobald
Valuable Beginner Tips from the author of "Kayak Diving, The Complete Guide..." and founder of "KayakDiving.com"
Intro: Some of the divers in our group will don their tank while still aboard the kayak. I prefer to put mine on in the water, with the possible exceptions of diving in really fast currents and perhaps on a really dark night. A fast current at night would be the ultimate time to be well rehearsed at donning the tank before hopping off into the water. It would be helpful to practice both methods in ideal conditions first!
Most importantly, keep your hatches, and everything else that doesn't float, secured whenever you are not holding on to them.
Get your fins on and in the water as soon as possible for added stability. You can put your tank on while sitting aboard your kayak, but you may find it easier to put it on in the water. Put some air in your BC, make sure the tether is attached, and slip it into the water. Hang pole-spears, flashlights, goody-bags, ab-irons, and fish-hooks over the side on a tether so you can grab them after your tank is on.
NOW ADD A LITTLE WATER
Now I'm going to take a chance and tell you something totally contradictory to what you're going to see or hear anywhere else, and that is to put your weight-belt on before you get in the water. And, when you get back to the kayak after your dive, leave the weight-belt on until you are back aboard. Today's BCs do not interfere with weight-belts in any way, and, considering how easy it is to get in and out of a kayak with the weight-belt on, there is just no reason to risk losing the belt by handling it in the water.
(Photo by Andrew Sigal courtesy of Trip Talk)
When you are putting your tank on in the water, always be sure to swim and push it into the current as you are preparing to don it. In other words, don't look up after you get your tank on and find that you've been swept away by the current. In really fast current, consider trying to don your tank while still aboard your kayak (it will pay to have practiced this in still water first).
THEN JUST DO IT!
Finish up by attaching your game bag, ab-iron, flashlight, etc., and by taking your camera, pole-spear or spear-gun off its tether. Give your buddy a quick check, finalize your dive plan, and take off. Descend on the anchor line and check the placement of the anchor, guarding against entanglement, slipping, or chafing of the line, and damage to living organisms. Also place it so it can be easily hauled up from above. Don't ever get too far down-current during your dive, and always complete the last third of your dive up-current from your kayak. In heavy current, you might be best off to do your entire dive up-current.
TIME'S UP! POST DIVE...
After the dive, just do everything in reverse. First get that camera well secured. Then, offload anything that you are holding or that is attached to your wrist. Put some air in your BC and slip out of it. Hook up the tether and let it float near the stern of your kayak. Remove anything hanging from your weight-belt and secure that to the kayak.
You are now ready to reenter the kayak. Grab the side of your kayak with both hands and kick out a few strokes until your body and legs are very near the surface of the water. Then, with one last kick, push up a little and pull the kayak underneath you until you are laying across the deck sideways. Roll over on your back and release your weight-belt, but hold on to it until you get it properly stowed. (See "Getting In Your Kayak With Your Gear On." )
If your kayak has a tank bay in the rear, you'll probably find that it's easiest to pull the tank aboard by the boot or bottom of the tank. Keep your finned feet in the water to provide stability while you are bringing the tank onboard. It may be a little different on the Scuppers and Prism where you might bring the tank into the cockpit area first. You'll probably have to remove the regulator and BC before you can get it in through the front or rear hatch.
You simply MUST remember to keep EVERYTHING well secured while you are moving things around on your kayak. Newcomers often seem to flip over on their kayaks for no obvious reason. Sometimes a wave or swell sets them off balance, or, they just forget where up is. It's no problem if everything is secured properly.
Related articles by Mark:
(No photos or text to be copied or reprinted without permission)
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