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How Rough Is Too Rough? (uhm...)

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by JohnVranesevich, Nov 17, 2003.

  1. JohnVranesevich

    JohnVranesevich Angel Fish

    Greetings All:

    Well, I'm officially Enriched Air Nitrox certified, woohoo!

    However, the process wasn't without a great deal of agony.....

    We went to the dive boat yesterday. It's a new group that the dive shop I go to for my training is using. Its boat is a LOT smaller than the previous dive op, but the divemaster on board and captain both were friendly as could be, and both seemed very knowledgeable.

    Well, the captain told us that he expected the seas to be about 2', with 100' vis at the bottom, with btm temps at 80degrees. NICE!

    Well, we get out there, and dear lord I thought I was going to die. That little boat was being tossed to and fro like I've never seen, and the seas were 6' easy, not the relatively calm 2' I was expecting.

    Me and another guy had our heads over the side of the boat most of the time, and everyone else was nauseous eating crackers like no tomorrow to keep their stomach's somewhat settled.

    I felt bad, as 3 of the divers on board were there for their open water check out dives. This was the first time for them in the ocean....

    I made my first dive down (got to see a 9' hammer head, ok, so that might have made it all worth while) with no problems. Got back on the boat, which was NOT an easy task, threw up some, and made my 2nd dive. Got back on the boat again, which again was NOT an easy task, threw up some more, got back to shore, threw up some more there, and then got home, where I threw up then went to bed.

    One of the new open water divers got her leg slammed pretty good while trying to get back on board (definitely will leave a pretty bruise I'm sure), one of them had to board with his fins still on because he couldn't hold onto the ladder long enough to take them off. None of the new open waters managed to complete their safety stop, and I had a heck of a time maintaining 15', as it was definitely "choppy" at that depth, and there was no line dropped to hang onto for support......

    NOT fun!

    Had I been told the seas were 6'+, I wouldn't have gotten on that boat, even though I did drive 3 hours to get there.

    Anyway, my question is this, how rough is too rough to do a dive like this? I understand that the answer will very from person to person, but I'm wondering what your personal cut-offs are?
  2. Walter

    Walter Instructor, Scuba

    You are correct in that it varies from person to person.

    What you may not be aware is most people tend to over estimate wave height. If an inexperienced person sees 6 ft seas, they are likely closer to 4 ft.

    I'll take OW students out in 4 ft seas. If we have rollers and not closely spaced waves, I don't mind 6 ft seas. If they are closely spaced, 6 ft seas are no fun and I'll pass on the dive.
  3. adder70

    adder70 Manta Ray

    THat's obviously an exaggeration, but I did go out on rough seas a few years back. Not sure if I would do it again.

    Seas were officially 4-6 ft, and we all took Triptone before we left. Some were :chuck: right from the start, but I only :chuck: just before each dive. (JUST before! You have no idea what it's like to be told, "hurry up and get in the water, you're done throwing up" when you are still having dry heaves!)

    Don't forget: bigger boats react less to swells. We were in a 26ft boat, I believe. The disadvantage of bigger boats is that they move less and the waves move you a lot. Thus, many bruises such as the one mentioned in the post earlier. We were able to back off about a foot and let the waves neatly toss us onto the platform with a bit of help from the crew. Course, mistime it and you had to try again while trying not to scream with the pain of the bruise you just got.
  4. JohnVranesevich

    JohnVranesevich Angel Fish


    The 6' estimate came from my instructor, not from me. Not sure how good he is at estimating such things...

    I probably would say the damn things looked close to 50', haha.

    BTW: I shouldn't really say the boat was "small", it was a 34'. The group I'm used to using down there has the two 46' boats.

    What a difference 12 feet makes, hehe.
  5. IndigoBlue

    IndigoBlue Manta Ray

    I get seasick easily, so anything more than 3 ft forecasted, and I do not go. Instead, I will seek a protected cove somewhere, and dive from shore.

    What that means is that I end up waiting until the last minute to sign onto a boat dive. And I check the wave forecasts up until the last minute as well. The last minute is usually Thursday afternoon or Friday morning, for a Saturday boat trip.

    Our dive club specifically meets on Thursdays, so that we can take upcoming weekend forecasts into account for planning a weekend dive trip.
  6. Wendy

    Wendy Divemaster

    Did you check the marine forecast before heading out to the boat? I always check the NOAA site to get an idea of what to expect. I'll dive in 4' or less waves. Also unless it is dead flat I will take a bonine pill the night before and one as I board the boat. But be careful, as you will not be sleepy during your dives, but you will be on the drive home.

    Maybe all that chum was attracting the hammerhead. :D
  7. JohnVranesevich

    JohnVranesevich Angel Fish


    Yeah, I hadn't taken anything for motion sickness this time. I had taken triptone and bonine in the past, and both tend to make me VERY sleepy on the 3 hour ride home from Boynton Beach (and it's usually dark by the time I get 1/2 way home).

    Has anyone tried those watches that give off some sort of electrical pulse? My first impression is that they're some cheesy gimmick like those magnetic bracelets, etc. etc. But I've never actually talked to anyone that's used one...
  8. MantaRey

    MantaRey Divemaster

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida
    4-6 on a 16ft aluminum boat. got tossed around like a salad :puke: not really safe, will never do it again. getting back on is always the hardest thing, especially when it's one of those half-ass fiber ladder thingies that look like they belong on a pool. I typically don't get seasick, except on really small boats.

    the hammerhead must've been an experience though :cool:
  9. segal3

    segal3 Nassau Grouper

    In Jamaica while volunteering as a research assistant for an Earthwatch project studying coral reef growth rates as a result of tropical storm damage, the first week was perfect. Calm, blue water with perfect vis.

    We were not so lucky the second week. One day (second to last day we were there) we were motoring out in a 16 or so foot aluminum boat, and we came around the protected edge and encountered 10ft swell. Yes, as estimated and then confirmed by market buoys. Needless to say, it was near impossible, but being as it was only the captain, the head researcher, and I (and only the researcher and I diving), we had a much easier time than a boat with multiple divers trying to keep track of them all.

    Even so, we did end up a good 70ft from the boat upon surfacing. Not the most fun surface swim.

    Thankfully, I've never once gotten seasick, airsick, bus sick, ride sick, etc...and yea, I read books in cars too.

    ~Matt Segal
  10. Genesis

    Genesis Great White

    First, the electrical wrist band things WORK. They are, in fact, the only thing that I have NEVER had fail someone on my boat. Never.

    However, you must take it off to go diving - and as soon as you do, you're succeptable again, so do so quick and then get in the damn water! :)

    Second issue - wave height. Nearly everyone overestimates wave height. The height is from the trough to the crest. If you were to take a fixed pole anchored to the bottom, and put a float on it, the distance the float would cover from bottom to top is the height of the waves (this is, basically, how the buoys measure it.)

    So a 6' sea is really 3' high (and 3' low!) from the mean water level.

    What most people think is a 6' sea is really more like 3'.

    More important BY FAR than the height is the wave period. I'll boat and dive in a 6-8' sea provided the seas are on a 10 second period. The "period" is the time BETWEEN crests (or troughs) if you are standing still. A 10 second period is a nice, easy swell.

    MOST of the time as the wave height increases the period does too. But if it doesn't, its ugly. 6' seas on a 5 second period suck badly in any boat under about 100' long; I've been out in them enough to know how badly they suck :)

    In all seriousness I consider more than a 2-3' <honest> sea too rough for me to enjoy diving if the period is less than 7 seconds or so. I don't do it for money, so if the seas are over 2-3 on a 7 second period, I don't go. 2' or less is even better. Under 2-3' the period doesn't really matter much.

    In the Gulf, short-period steep seas are the norm. This is not true on the Atlantic side, where long-period rollers are more the normal condition, and sea sizes that would be considered suicidal here are actually quite comfortable on that side.

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