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Night Diving Question

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by sdorn, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. pacificgal

    pacificgal Rest in Peace...

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Jose, CA
    I learned stuff in that portion of my AOW class. You can't signal your buddy in the normal manner, making sure to signal your air, etc., in front of your light, don't shine your light in anyone's eyes, have a tank light, primary and back up, in case your primary fails. Orientation is hard to judge if you can't see the surface or the bottom. Check your pressure guage frequently, most SPG's are luminescent in you shine your light on it for a bit it will glow in the dark. Be careful for jellies, they tend to be drawn to flashlights (at least in Jamaica and Monterey they are). On my Jamaica night dive we had to jump off the boat without our flashlight on and descend to get under the layer of jellies before we could turn our light on. If you're uncomfortable making a descent in pitch black (or if you can't judge how fast you're descending without looking at your depth gauge), maybe you should hire that DM. I don't think it's a waste of money, if you find you're actually frightened of what you can't see past your dive light it may be comforting to know that you have an experienced there looking out for you.
    Personally, I get a little freaked out by what could be just past the light of my beam.
  2. InTheDrink

    InTheDrink DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: UK, South Coast
    I found my first few night dives not relaxing at all and my buoyancy control very off. I felt very underweighted (despite having no problems with same weight during day dives) - this was because anxiety was making me breath fast.

    Now I LOVE night dives and find them incredibly relaxing.

    But don't be surprised if on your first you don't find it that way. That's totally ok. I would agree with getting the DM for the first not being a bad idea except for one thing - you're already comfortable with your buddy bride and you will be at ease together and in tune with one another and that alone should be a very big plus point for being relaxed. Following a DM or trying to understand them in the dark can be stressful all of itself.

    I think you'll be fine either way. But just remember to relax and enjoy. That's the part I forgot the first couple of times :)

  3. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace

    Night dives are lovely. You get to see a whole different spectrum of animals than you do in the daytime. But there are things about night dives that are different.

    For one thing, during the day, you have a much wider field of view (at least in good viz conditions). At night, your vision is limited to the area your lights can illuminate. So you don't have as much visual information to orient yourself. It's quite easy to feel confused or lost at night. This is one of the reasons for doing your first night dives in a site you know, or with a guide who knows the site well, unless you have enough experience to be solid with compass navigation, or to remember a course in the dark.

    In addition, you don't have the information about depth at night that you have in the daytime. In daylight, the surface is light and the depths are darker. At night, it all looks the same, so doing ascents at night really requires close attention to your gauges.

    Communication is more challenging at night. You can use your lights for signals, but if you have to do anything with your hands, it's important to remember that you have to shine your light on your hand for your buddy to be able to see it.

    Lights are safety in the dark. You should always have a backup light readily available and have tested it before the dive. You should have a protocol for buddy separation, in case someone's light fails and you lose one another before the backup is deployed (which shouldn't happen, because the backup should be readily available). An OW dive can be scrubbed when one light fails, but you really shouldn't be in the water without a light at all.

    Recognizing people in the dark can be challenging. If you are diving where there are a lot of divers, it's important to have a couple of things about your buddy that you have memorized. It's all too easy to end up swimming off with a stranger (and of course, I'VE never done that . . . :D)

    All that said, I love night diving, and some places prefer it -- the best Cozumel dives I did were at night, by far. But it will stretch your new diver envelope, which can be a good thing, if you are calm and somewhat brave. If not, hire someone to go with you, and do it anyway.
  4. mpgunner

    mpgunner Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Seattle, WA
    From my night diving experience the key is to do it in a familar place. It is fun to go over an area at night that you have been to several times during the daylight.

    The critters at night are great. We keep looking for a six gill shark....
  5. Noboundaries

    Noboundaries Manta Ray

    Prior to our first night dive all we had done was read the night diving section in the PADI advanced manual. People said we didn't need to bother with the certification, and now having dived at night, I agree. Still, as I was riding the boat to my first night dive in Cozumel I started to feel a little anxiety when I remembered the slogan of the jungle military survival trainers in the Philippines: "There are no tigers here." The slogan was meant to communicate that all fear and anxiety lives between your ears and that by using your knowledge the jungle would actually be your friend. I knew I was jumping into the same friendly water I had dived during the day and that the only difference was the darkness. I smiled and relaxed a little, but was still excited by doing something new.

    There was still a little anxiety between my ears when I stepped into the dark water, then I shined my light downward, easily illuminating the bottom 50 feet below. I didn't see any tigers. I smiled and descended with my dive buddy wife, looking forward to witnessing the nocturnal residents I had heard so much about.

    The limited field of vision of your light allows you to focus more intently on the creatures and features of the night world. We saw numerous octopi, eels, and sleeping fish. We heard the loud croaking of the Spendid Toadfish, the sound helping us find more of the cuties in one night than we'd seen all week diving three times a day. We saw giant crabs out walking the reef looking for who knows what, morsels or mates. Night diving truely opened our eyes to a new underwater world.

    I found a new level of relaxation diving that night and it showed in my significantly reduced gas consumption. At the end of an hour, I had consumed only half my gas instead of 2/3rds to 3/4ths I usually reach during the day.

    My dive buddy wife had a little more trouble with anxiety until I grabbed the back of her arm and held on for the entire dive. Only then did she relax and enjoy the dive. With me on her arm her tigers disappeared.

    TSandM does a great job of pointing out the additional factors you need to be aware of when diving at night, but remember, there are no tigers there (unless you're diving in the Bahamas, but that's a different lesson).
  6. austriandiveress

    austriandiveress Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Vienna, Austria
    One more thing occured to me, reading the other posts: if you might be diving in a spot with a lot of others, its helpful to have an unusual marking on the bottom of your fins (like a strip of glow-in-the-dark tape), so that your buddy will know that that person in front of her is you. (I never understood this until I did a night dive at the Lighthouse in Dahab; I couldnt believe how many similar-looking folks there were all around me) Obviously you dont plan to lose sight of one another but if one of you gets involved looking at a fish you can lose contact very quickly. It can help prevent a scary situaution from developing.

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