Drift diving is like flying underwater. It is an incredible feeling especially if you have good buoyancy. You simply relax and let the currents take your to where they will and you only need to navigate to avoid hitting other divers or outcrops of reef. This is a type of diving that you will have the opportunity to experience if you dive where there are currents.
In most cases when you drift dive you will exit the boat and the boat will follow along and pick you up at the end of the dive. Some dive centers will have the guide tow a surface marker of some sort and others will have the captains follow the bubbles of the divers and then pick them up after their safety stop.
No matter what method is used there are several things you need to be proficient at before going on a drift dive.
You will need to have good buoyancy and the ability to adjust your depth and control your direction fairly easily and quickly. This is because as you are flying along underwater the bottom contour will invariably change along with depths and you will need to adjust accordingly. A good course to help you get perfect buoyancy control is PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy. This course will help you to learn how to carry the least amount of weight possible and to adjust your buoyancy using breath control instead of your low pressure inflater. You can learn more about this course by clicking here. Another reason to have good buoyancy is that you will often need to do a floating safety stop and it can be difficult to maintain the same depth without good buoyancy control.
Proficiency in the use of a Surface Marker Buoy
A Surface Marker Buoy or SMB is a long tube that is usually brightly colored and can be inflated either with your breath or with your alternate air source. It is usually attached to a lanyard or a reel and can be deployed from depth to mark where the diver is during their safety stop. This is used to mark the divers location in the water while they are at a shallow depth to prevent boat traffic from going over them. This also enables dive crew to visually see where the divers are in the water so they can position the boat for the best pick up location once you complete your safety stop. These markers can also be used to signal boats in the unlikely event of an emergency or if for some reason you have drifted to where your boat could not immediately see you. It does take some skill to learn how to inflate the marker underwater and send it up without getting tangled in the reel or the lanyard so this is best practiced in a pool or in calm waters first until you are comfortable with it.
Good Buddy Contact and Communication
Before going on a drift dive be sure to discuss what signals you will use to communicate underwater with your buddy and the dive guide if there is one. During the dive you will need to always maintain visual contact and be close enough to help each other if need arises. It is easy to get separated in a current so be sure to monitor you and your buddy’s location closely throughout the dive.
Al in all drift diving is an easy and fun way to see the reef and creatures underwater while expending minimal energy. As long as you take a few precautions and monitor your air supply like on any other dive you will have a fantastic time!
We hope that you have found this blog helpful and come join us soon for some fantastic drift dives aboard one of our dive boats!