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September 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 27, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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More Etiquette from the Scuba Snobs

additional rules for you to dive by

from the September, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Last year, we published excerpts from Dennis and Debbie Jacobson's self-published book The Scuba Snobs' Guide to Diving Etiquette. After receiving so much fan mail asking for a sequel, they produced it, with plenty more flouted and unspoken rules of diving. Based on additional "reporting" from recent dive trips and direct input from their readers, the Jacobsons have all new Dos and Don'ts for sport divers to follow.

Here are a few to follow from their new book, The Scuba Guides' Guide to Diving Etiquette: Book 2, but for all the rules -- plus the fun, insightful stories the authors use to illustrate them -- order a copy of this book (and its predecessor) on our "Books" web page.

Don't Loiter in the Entry and Exit Areas

More Etiquette from the Scuba SnobsWe were on a day boat in Hawaii with about 20 divers aboard. It was a fairly calm day for the Pacific, with one- to two-feet-high swells at most. Following our first dive, people needed to re-board to change out their tanks for the second dive. As we floated in the water waiting our turn to board, Missy Jane boarded, stopped right above the boat ladder and started chit-chatting with a crew member, who apparently enjoyed the encounter. As his vision was locked on Missy Jane about 12 inches below eye level, neither he nor Missy Jane realized another diver had started to climb aboard. That diver was not looking up. He was focused on maintaining footing on a wet ladder. As a result, the boarding diver unknowingly butted Missy Jane's butt with his head, sending her stumbling forward and into the crew member, who then fell into another diver who had boarded before Missy Jane and her cleavage. All three went down, but avoided serious injury. It could have been much worse.

The lesson is clear: To avoid collisions when re-boarding a crowded boat, move away from the reboarding area as soon as you get aboard. It's also important to pay attention to what you are doing rather than staring at another person's body parts.

Leave People Alone Who Are in No Hurry to Get Back Aboard

If a diver is obviously "off gassing" (for those of you who haven't read the first book, that's a euphemism for peeing) or did recently and is honoring the "five- minute rule" (see book 1, pages 8-9), then please board and let the other diver rinse off for another minute or two. If you are ever diving with us, and see Debbie and Dennis still in the water, just assume that it's Debbie who is peeing or just peed, because that is what is happening, and Dennis is waiting for her (up current), like the gentleman he is.

If you offer to let a person board before you and he responds, "I'm OK, you go ahead," it means they are peeing or just peed. There should be no debates in the water about who is next when it is time to re-board. Keep the line moving, but remember the five-minute rule if you pee at the end of the dive. If you are not wearing a wetsuit but diving in only swimwear, you may reduce the wait time to board following peeing from five minutes to one minute.

If a Tourist Submarine Passes near You when Diving . . .

The only appropriate gesture is a friendly wave or its equivalent. A friendly wave is done with the entire hand, not just one finger. Don't flip off the sub or its passengers. Other gestures of contempt, usually associated with specific countries or ethnic groups, are also inappropriate. A shaka gesture is OK, but gang signs and signals are not. Remember, you are part of the exhibit, like the shark in the aquarium or the elephant in the zoo. Be friendly and polite. Smile. You can even remove your regulator to give a nice smile so one of the passengers on the sub can get a good picture. Sticking out your tongue is not appropriate, however.

Don't "Moon" the Passengers on a Tourist Submarine

We have received several reports from readers who have witnessed this inappropriate behavior. Not surprisingly, all of those offenses occurred in warm-water venues. That makes sense, because if you are in a full wetsuit with buoyancy vest and weight belt, you are not going to moon anyone. You could do it with all your gear on, but no one would notice or care. However, if you are in water warm enough to dive in only swimwear and maybe a rash guard, the possibility and the temptation does exist for you to "drop trou" and give the passengers a vertical smile. Even though all the complaints about this behavior dealt with guys doing it, we also received reports of girls doing it. In those stories, though, no one was complaining about the girls' actions. To be fair to everyone, boys and girls, please keep your trunks on when a tourist submarine passes by.

Don't Pressure Your Buddy to Start or Continue a Dive

Part of good manners is being sensitive to your dive buddy's feelings, including how he feels physically, and whether he is feeling stressed or anxious about doing a dive. Don't pressure your buddy to do a dive that she doesn't want to do.

We saw this rule violated once when we were diving in Cozumel. A boyfriend/girlfriend buddy pair was together, and Girlfriend had just completed her certification dives. Boyfriend was an experienced diver. Off we all went on a day boat to dive Columbia Wall. Girlfriend didn't really want to do the dive. Boyfriend made a big scene, yelling at her, belittling her, blaming her for ruining the trip, and otherwise saying things that we are pretty sure led to the rapid end of their relationship. His acting out sucked all of the positive energy from the dive boat, and we did not like him. Neither did anyone else on the boat. Of course, none of his efforts caused her to do the dive. Surprisingly, he found another buddy (not us) and dove without his girlfriend (his next mistake).

Non-Divers Should Take Steps to Pamper and Warm Divers after Night Dives

If you are aboard the boat, or standing by as the "shore guy" for a night dive, then you are responsible for the pampering of the divers as they emerge after their dive. Two primary tools for pampering night divers are warm towels and hot beverages. If you are on a remote beach, the warm towels may be a problem, but even then, you should at least have an abundance of dry towels and drape each diver in one as soon as they remove their gear.

Pampering of night divers includes assisting them out of their equipment, assisting in the stowing of equipment, and also patiently listening to them tell you how wonderful the dive was, and how it's too bad you weren't with them, even if you wish they would shut up.

No Guy Should Wear a Tank Top Dining Indoors

And some guys should never wear a tank top, ever. This rule is kind of like the "cover up" rule in the first book. Don't embarrass yourself or those around you by being inappropriately dressed in public. Remember, you want to be an ambassador of our sport, encouraging other people to dive, and to act responsibly in the marine environment and on land. So take a shower, put on a clean scuba logo shirt that covers your shoulders as well as your belly, and prepare to tell everyone about the fantastic stuff you saw diving that day. If you don't stink, others might just linger close enough for a time to hear what you have to say.

If You're Not a Group Person, Don't Go on Group Trips

The answers to the following questions will help you determine if you are a group travel person:

Do you have special dietary requirements when travelling? Have you ever been late to catch a bus, train, airplane or boat?
Were you an only child?
Have you been divorced more than four times?
Have you ever been kicked out of any club of which you were a member?
Have you ever been kicked off any form of public transportation for behavioral reasons?
Have you ever been convicted of a felony involving an act of violence?
When you were in school, were you ever tardy to class more than three times in any week?
Are you easily annoyed?
Do people often find you annoying?
Have you used the phrase "My way or the highway" in the past 12 months?
Are you a registered member of the Libertarian Party?
Are you presently taking more than three different forms of medication for behavior modification or mood control?
Do you get stressed out if someone is sitting in your favorite seat at school, church, the dive boat salon, or in your own home?
Have you ever been "shushed" by a stranger or an usher in a movie theater?
If you answered yes to six or more questions, never travel with a group of eight or more people, ever.

If You're Going to Skip a Group Outing, Tell the Group

Dennis recalls a certain liveaboard trip during which many of the guests opted for a shore outing to Bimini to get beer and other things unique to that Bahamian island. While all were ready to go, as time was wasting, one person did not appear for the shuttle to shore. Everybody waited... and waited... in the hot sun...with clothes on, for crying out load. After about 15 minutes, someone (guess who?) finally decided to knock on the absentee's cabin door and inquire as to his status. There was no answer. Loud knocking finally elicited a sleepy response, an open door, and the missing person reporting that he decided not to go ashore. That person could have let people know ahead of time.

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