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New diver. Can I dive anywhere?

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by JDW18, May 16, 2018.

  1. JDW18

    JDW18 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Polk County, Florida
    I am currently in the process of getting certified. I have 4 check out dives then I will be certified. My question I live in between Tampa and Orlando Florida.I go to Tampa pretty frequently was wondering am I legally a loud to dive in Tampa Bay like Hillsborough river in Downtown Tampa? Or am I aloud to go to Clearwater Beach an swim to the dropoff an scuba dive? Like what are the laws and rules of Florida when it comes to Scuba Diving? People say I can dive in any body of water but what are the specifics an exceptions to this? The last thing I want is a visit from FWC(Florida Game Commission).
  2. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    My understanding is that unless otherwise marked, you can dive in public waterways. Now, it's not always safe to do that.

    I've often thought of diving clearwater beach myself - it's about 15 minutes from my house. There is supposedly nothing to see there, but I was planning to bring a metal detector and go hunting for gold (a friend of mine lost his wedding band there, I bet it's common). Hillsborough river is kind of nasty. I'd bring a drysuit and FFM personally, but I'm sure some people do it with wetsuits or less.

    In some places it's prohibited to scuba dive in a marked swimming area (such as Blue Heron Bridge). I believe you can be given a ticket and small fine. I'm not sure if that rule applies to all marked swimming areas - if so, it would put Clearwater beach off limits. Also, you're required to have a dive flag, or you can get at ticket (or run over by a boat).

    If you're taking a dive class in Florida, they will probably touch on this some in class. If they don't, then ask the instructor before class is over.

    Welcome to diving, and to scubaboard!

    P.S. I like to use this site to find divesites: Scuba Earth by DiveBuddy.com | DiveBuddy.com I'm not affiliated with the site or anything like that, it's just been useful for me.
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
    KathyV likes this.
  3. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    there are things you can do, and things you should do.

    Any specific locations you are intending to dive will have specific rules.

    You can dive the Hillsborough, but not sure why you would want to. Nasty water. You'll need a Florida compliant dive flag at least to keep you out of FWC, but I would NOT recommend you start river diving this early in your career without a very good mentor. River diving is no joke and you are nowhere near qualified coming out of an OW program for that.
    chillyinCanada and AfterDark like this.
  4. giffenk

    giffenk Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: toronto
    your c-card is a certificate of training. like a high school diploma. it is not a scuba license. it is not like an automobile driver license.

    it simply indicates the level of formal training that you have paid for.
    Sam Miller III and kelemvor like this.
  5. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    Some rivers are well suited to new divers. Rainbow River comes to mind. Heck, I did some of my OW cert dives there. I think you're right that Hillsborough is a poor choice.

    I'm not sure of the status of KP Hole Park though. Their website has been suspended by their ISP, and that's usually a bad sign.
  6. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    I don't really consider Rainbow River "river diving" though. It's 100% spring fed, so it's more a spring run than an actual river. Hillsborough is very much a "real river" and that is very much not appropriate for new divers
  7. seeker242

    seeker242 DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Pompano Beach, FL
    In FL it's basically local laws and regulation of the specific city or county. For example, a beach with guards may not allow diving in the guarded areas. It depends on the beach and the specific city rules for that beach. The local lifeguards will be able to tell you the rules.
    Pixelator and kelemvor like this.
  8. Altamira

    Altamira Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Canyon Lake, TX
    I don't know the dive sites you were asking about, but when you do get certified, don't let your enthusiasm overcome your newly acquired diving skill set. Bays have lots of boat traffic which can be very dangerous if you have any issues with buoyancy control, and most rivers, by their nature, can be treacherous dive environments. There is a lot of crap in most rivers that can ruin your day in short order.
    JDW18, Snoweman and Pixelator like this.
  9. diversteve

    diversteve mod Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: home
    JDW18 likes this.
  10. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    New diver. Can I dive anywhere?

    Sure, but I'd check with local divers to find out the odds on making it back out of the water alive.

    If you were comfortable with your certification dives, then diving that venue under similar conditions is a good start. Then gradually expand your personal limits, it will take time.

    Even though I've been diving a while and can read conditions pretty well, when in a new area I will find a local diver to dive with me and learn as much as I can. I've met a lot of good people that way, and avoided a number of surprises.

    CoolCanuck and Snoweman like this.

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