Divedays can be scarce. Between work, weather and commitments, getting out for a session spearfishing can be a rare occurrence. So you want to make the most of it, am I right?
To help you do that, here are 7 Tips to help you capitalize on your next boat dive opportunity.
- Plan and Prepare!
In the days leading up to the dive, ignore second hand tents on Facebook Marketplace and prepare your gear. Get on BOM and do your weather checks (especially for the seasick prone). If you are the Skipper, create a rough plan about where to go and what you want to target. This will help you plan for what time to be in certain places.
If you've kept spearfishing logs from past years then cross check the info from previous years with current conditions. Chat to others who have been out recently and pay attention to details such as sea temps, species seasonal movements, rising or falling barometer, tidal movements and moon phase, you will be able to put together a diveday plan in a much more premeditated fashion. Even if you're a passenger, you can offer ideas/suggestions to the Skipper about where to go and what to target.
- Be early, stretch and breathe, minimize your stuff.
Showing up 15 minutes early is a great rule of thumb because stuff happens (like showing up at the wrong boat ramp;). I also like to do some stretching. I find that it primes my body for a full day and I dive better.
The most helpful stretch that gets my body engaged for a day of spearfishing are some full 3 stage breathing exercises.
This involves doing a series of full breaths. Full breathing involves a 3 stage inhale process that begins with stomach expansion, followed by chest expansion and then finally the upper chest and back expansion - video explanation here. As you breathe out, try and purse your lips to create some slight reverse pressure. You should hear your exhale if you are doing this correctly.
This exercise seems to be awesome for getting me relaxed physically and prepared mentally for what I’m going to do repeatedly throughout the day.
One way to think about equipment is to consider the space available on the boat. If you have a 5-6m boat and 4-5 spearos sharing the space, how much equipment is reasonable?
The one bag/crate rule with a maximum of 2 spearguns per person unless otherwise prearranged is my suggestion.
- Be cool to others
Introduce yourself to any people on the boat that you don't know. Being positive, friendly, conscientious and a team player will yield you many dive buddies. Ask questions and try to find out peoples experience levels because this will allow you to help them out and plan accordingly. If you're the skipper, this is especially important as you'll know who needs the most attention and help. A boat full of spearos is a team whether they know it or not.
Some experienced guys like to be a bit cold towards new people until they have “proven themselves” and to an extent, I can understand why. It’s the same as work BUT being an outwardly tough/cold bastard isn't going to make the new people suddenly more competent or confident so just be cool to everyone.
- Familiarise yourself with the boat and the people.
Observe and learn where everything goes in the boat. Pay attention to the gear stowage system, emergency gear, and the basic controls. Ask one of the experienced people on board (or the Skipper if they aren't too busy’) the basic operational rules/way of doing things because every boat/crew is different.
This can be a tough one though.
Often you get to the boat ramp and it’s time to go. You don’t want to be that PITA demanding a 15 minute OHS induction to the skippers vessel however you need to find out some crucial info.
- Where is the first aid kit?
- Where is the radio and how does it work?
- What are the basic controls and how do you operate the vessel?
- Where is the EPIRB and flares?
Most of these questions you can work out the answers to by just having a look around and observing the Skipper. If you don’t know the answers to these questions within 15 minutes of being on the boat, then find a good time to ask the skipper. It’s kind of expected that you learn how to use all this stuff too and most people won’t stop on a diveday to teach you so make some time to learn how it all works.
- Buddy up.
Suss out the guys/gals about how they buddy up. Ask them what system they use in order to stay together. If their system is solid, go with it. If they don't have a clear idea, suggest to them the way you learned (from the Noob Spearo Podcast). Ted Harty explained in one of his interviews that basically the person whose turn it is to dive is the leader and the other (who has just dived) is the follower. We call this the bulletproof buddy protocol - it's simple and it works.
Try and agree on a buddy system on the boat before getting in the water. If your buddy repeatedly fails to follow protocol, it's your call on what to do. I’ll typically role model good behaviour to them for 30 minutes and then just bail on them after that. If I think they are open to it, I’ll discuss the situation later with them. Sometimes I just ignore it.
Hopefully (should possibly be mandatory) at least one of each dive pair has a float and flag too!
- Be conscientious
Help out where you can. If it's hooking the boat up back at the ramp, filleting everyone's fish, cleaning the boat, unpacking the boat. Find a job and hook in. Even if you don't know what to do, go and observe someone and learn for next time. Everyone on a boat is part of the team. Treat the boat as if it was your Dad’s.
- Pay your way.
Some skippers are unreasonable in not taking any money for fuel but beware; they pay for outboard maintenance, gelcoat replacement, hydraulic steering systems, wiring, registration, trailer bearings and the list goes on. The least you can do is chip in a few bucks for fuel. This is possibly in your own best interests too as if they have enough cash, they keep bringing the boat and you can keep diving. BTW: $50 is a pretty standard minimum amount.
Hope some of these points help you to have a MAD time on your next session out spearfishing. If you have anymore ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments!