The Scuba Snobs’ Dive Etiquette Tip of the Week Tip #7: Diving with “Instabuddy”

Talk to each other. Learn about each other’s experience level and last dive.

Dear Fellow Divers,

Have you ever been on a dive trip, or on a dive boat, or even at a dive course open water training event, and not had a diver with whom you are familiar along for the diving? In those cases, the divemaster and instructors will pair you up with someone you never met, someone we in the dive world call an “instabuddy.” Those arrangements can work out very well, or they can be awful. Maybe you are a diver that likes to look at things closely, but instabuddy swims like a maniac from place to place, burning though his air in minutes. Maybe you want to cover some ground on the dive but your instabuddy stops every ten feet and takes several minutes to set up one photo. On other occasions, instabuddy may have limited dive skills, bad dive habits, no buddy awareness, and for those and other reason be no real buddy at all. Some people seem to think that getting in the water about the same time as your buddy and staying in the same ocean as they are constitutes buddy diving. When you are faced with diving with an instabuddy, consider these things that can make your time together more pleasant, and minimize problems.


First off, get to know each other as divers. Talk to each other. Learn about each other’s experience level and last dive. Clarify the communications you will use under water and agree as to proximity and other buddy coordination. Discuss your objectives for the dive. Are you going to swim around like crazy people or focus on looking at the animals and their behaviors? If one or both are going to take pictures or video, discuss expectations you each have for staying close. A good dive buddy will get acquainted with his diving partner before the dive.

Next, when diving with a new buddy (or any buddy for that matter) a good dive buddy will be sure to sure to do a pre-dive safety check, familiarizing the team with each other’s equipment. You were taught this in your basic scuba certification class, and it is still a good idea. There is no need to have a nightmare dive with a stranger if you take a few minutes to plan together, learn bout each other and communicate about the dive to become acquainted before the dive.

Too often, divers who are paired up by the divemaster will introduce themselves to each other, and then be oblivious to each other throughout the dive. That is not a good idea. A dive buddy who appreciates the importance of that role will stay close, be aware of what is going on, never have a problem with buddy separation, and be there to share air, help his buddy get untangled from the kelp, notice symptoms of narcosis, and otherwise assist as needed. Discuss and plan for these things before you get in the water. You can be a good instabuddy, and so can that other person. You can do it. We know you can. Happy Diving Everyone!

The Scuba Snobs