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There are some places that want to see your dive log before they let you dive with them. One of the other instructors I work with was somewhere a few years back that actually made him (as and instructor even) demonstrate his skills before they let him out on the boat because he didn't have his dive log with him to prove he had been diving withing the past year.
Also, if you plan on continuing your training, as far as I know and certainly for PADI, dive master and above requires a certain number of logged dives. There are requirements on number of logged dives if you plan on taking up technical diving as well.
I definitely agree with reefhound. Also, word of advice; don't log in pencil. When I first started out I did that for quite a few dives. Can't even see the writing any more, and they were mostly dives I did with my uncle who is no longer around. It would be nice to see them all to have a clearer memory.
Personally I log my dives mainly for my own benefit and I log more info than many log books have in their sheets;
Air in and Air out being the most "important" - For planning purposes:
I want to know how much air I use on average so that I can find my average air consumption on the surface so Im able to calculate my average air consumption at a certain depth.
What suit I dive, how much weight I use and wether its fresh or saltwater:
If you dive different areas, salt and fresh water (saltwater is also not only saltwater although I dont plan to dive the dead sea) with different types of suits youll need different ammounts of weight. Knowing what youve used before with a certain setup makes it easier to get your weighing in place.
What tank(s) (and possible other gear) I use:
This also affect weighing.
And of course general info about what I see when I dive:
When you get a few dives being able to review previous dive sites might save you a dive thats not worth doing or finding one thats good.
I also "kinda" log who my buddy where for the dive...
I do however not stress getting my log signed.
Logging dives are important so that you will have reference for future dives. It will give you the ability to see how you are improving in your skills. It will allow you to "journal" your experiences, which will allow you to evaluate your dive. Dive ops like to see your experiences and the quantity of dives.
When I started diving (1977) we didn't log dives and looking back I wish we did. After several hundred dives you might forget your favorite sites and your not so favorite sites.
From a safety standpoint it is a sure fire way to keep track of your depth, air and dive duration because YOUR COMPUTER WILL FAIL AT SOMETIME during a series of dives. Without noting the particulars of your dives there is a good chance that you will be unable to accurately establish a safe dive profile for subsequent dives. I have been on dive boats that if your computer failed and you didn't log your dives your trip was over.
Keeping track of the critters, your dive buddies and the good, bad and ugly of your experiences will help you when you write your book on diving in 12 years.
Log your dives.
Ok, heres a sample of my dive log actually, just make sure you dont go all ROFL over my crappy handwriting and high air consumption :p
The log in in norwegian but youll be be able to get the info fairly easilly.. The numbers unless otherwise specified is in meters and BAR.
The blacked out info is dive number (top left) previous + current bottomn time and total bottomn time. I dont divulge those specifics in my profile, so I wont in the pic either
People still find it funny that I log my dives. They say that after your first log book, you tend to get lazy. Well, I still log my dives, as much as possible at the end of the dive day while the details are still fresh in my mind. It feels nice to see my weathered old log book, dog-eared and smudged from the abuse its been through with me. Makes me reminisce about all the fun times I had when I logged those dives. I log the usual, like depth, tank pressure, and time, as well as equipment used. I log the new stuff I use or make and how they perform, as well as what improvements need to be made.