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Dive-Planning Factors

This is an excerpt from Scuba Diving-5th Edition by Dennis Graver.

Many factors affect your plans for a dive or a diving trip. Keep the following considerations in mind when you are looking ahead to a dive outing:

  • Health and fitness are important. Illnesses, required medications, and recent operations probably disqualify you for diving. If your health is not normal, consult a diving physician. If there is any doubt about your physical condition, refrain from diving until you are in good health. If you are prone to motion sickness, take steps to try to prevent it.
  • Climate is a big factor affecting dive planning. If you dive close to where you live, dive planning is easier than if you intend to dive thousands of miles away. A difference in climate usually means a big difference in diving conditions, which means a difference in your equipment requirements.
  • The distance you travel to a diving destination affects your planning. If you travel far to reach the destination, allow a day to rest and recover from travel before you dive. After even one day of repetitive diving, wait one full day before flying home.
  • Weather affects diving conditions significantly. Storms and sudden changes in the weather can make diving dangerous. Know the weather forecast, and reschedule your dive if poor weather is predicted. Know the expected wind speed, air temperature, and water conditions.
  • Seasonal changes affect water movement, water visibility, air and water temperatures, entry and exit areas, and the presence of certain types of animals. You should know what to expect at a dive site at different times of the year. It helps to know the visibility, water temperatures, tides, surf, surge, currents, bottom composition, silt conditions, plants, and animals.

You need to be physically and mentally fit for diving. Fitness for diving implies that you are well rested, are well nourished, have the physical strength and stamina to meet the requirements of the environment and the activity, are qualified for the activity, are not apprehensive about your plans, are not goaded into doing something you are not prepared to do, and do not allow pride to affect good judgment.

Your objective for the dive affects your planning. Different diving activities require different plans and different equipment. The planning of an underwater photography dive is not the same as the planning of a dive where you intend to hunt for game.

You must know and observe laws, regulations, and customs. Some areas have laws that require the use of a dive flag. Obey fish and game regulations. Some diving professionals discourage the taking of any living thing in an area. You need to know the behavior expected of you. Knowing the expectations in advance can help you avoid being embarrassed at the dive site.

Etiquette is important. Will early-morning diving activities be offensive to residents near the dive site? Will the parking of vehicles at a site irritate people? Be considerate of others who may be in the area where you intend to dive, including those who are fishing nearby. Consider the impact of noise, changing clothes, and dive site access. Then make your plans using good etiquette.


Learn more about Scuba Diving, Fifth Edition.