In this four-part article, we’ll cover a range of tips for making the most of your dive holiday.
Mind your manners
Just because the crew treats you like a king, doesn’t mean that you should act like one. It may seem obvious, but sometimes it isn’t.
One live-aboard I was on had a very large, very loud group of friends on board. They seemed challenged by the dive boat’s schedule, showing up late for briefings, if at all. They didn’t let the dive guides know who was and wasn’t diving, and they were always the first in line with the dinner gong sounded, sometimes snatching food from the crew’s hands before they even set it down. A group of three came back from a night dive 45 minutes late — on a 45 minute dive — causing the dive guides some concern. By day 3, the effect was clear. For the rest of the week, the group was kept on a tight leash by the dive guides, while the rest of us were allowed in the water first, given more freedom to explore on our own during dives, and were even given the odd extra dessert at meal times by the galley crew.
Keep your quarters tidy
The most basic live-aboards sometime feature bunks in dorm-style rooms, but most boats feature cabins for all guests. Rooms are often quite small (sometimes even cramped), so stow things efficiently, with easy access to the stuff you’ll need most often. And pack efficiently — don’t bring more than you really need, which is probably less than you think.
Once you’re on the move, the boat will roll a bit, even in calm weather. Think about this when stowing your gear, and when using the cabin in general. Make sure everything is stowed away, that breakables aren’t left on table-tops, and that fragile, valuable items such as cameras and computers can’t shift too much, even if they’re tucked in a drawer or cabinet.
And remember to always check the portholes before the ship sails, especially if your cabin is near the water line, as water may splash through a porthole and soak your stuff. On a trip to the southern Red Sea, I remembered to close — but forgot to bolt down —the bathroom porthole when we set off. Luckily, only toilet bag got soaked in salt water.
Take precautions for seasickness
Ginger tablets can lessen the severity of seasickness, especially for people who aren’t affected too badly. But even if you don’t normally suffer from seasickness, taking ginger supplements for the duration of the trip won’t hurt, and just might save you from some serious queasiness — unless you’re a seasoned sea dog, of course. If you suffer from full-on seasickness you’ll need to bring actual medication, but talk to your GP about what type to take, as not all are compatible with diving.
Make the most of your dive days
Dive boats have a daily rhythm all their own. A typical day will feature two to five dives, and will often start at the crack of dawn. A typical agenda goes like this: dive, eat, rest and repeat. A nap during the day will help keep your energy levels up, especially if you also do a night dive.
Drink plenty of water during the day, as diving dehydrates you, and dehydration makes you more susceptible to decompression illness and general sluggishness. And finally, make sure to eat plenty (which won’t be difficult on a live-aboard). An average male diving four dives of 1 hour each every day will burn around 1,800 additional calories. So make sure to fuel up, or you may find yourself run down after a few days of diving.