How important is the Boat you dive on?

How much importance do you place on a Dive Boat? For someone who loves boats and diving and being a boat captain, this is something that I place close attention to and can be a deciding factor on whether or not I choose that company to dive with.

When choosing a dive centre at a new destination, I always look at their dive boats. Firstly, I look online at the Dive Centre’s pictures and then once at my destination I will visit the Dive Centre and see the boats themselves, time permitting. Personally, there are a few key factors that I look for, safety being the most important.

Different types of diving have different requirements and therefore the type of boats used may be different. For example, Tec diving requirements differ to those of pleasure diving and photographers. Different sea conditions suit different types of boats and will require the dive boat to have certain features suitable to that function.
Below are some of the things I look for:

Is it the right style of boat for the type of diving and the environment?
What facilities are available on the boat?
What certification level are the other divers on the boat, and how many staff are there?

Dive Boat Safety

Are life jackets easily available in case of an emergency?
Does the boat have all the required diving and boating safety equipment on board?
Is it regularly checked and maintained? How do they record this?
Is there a dedicated captain on board?
Does the Dive Centre meet local boating regulations and standards (or even exceed them?)
During the briefing, are you told where the emergency equipment is, and who is trained to operate it?
Do they inform you of the emergency procedures and are they clearly posted?
Does the boat carry spares, and who do you go to, to carry out repair issues?

Type of Diving and the Environment

Is the dive boat suitable for the conditions you are diving in?
Are you physically able to enter and exit the water easily and safely in the conditions?
What are the general dive procedures?
In an emergency would the boat be able to respond to you quickly?

What facilities are on the boat?

Are there showers or a toilet on board (for long boat trips)?
Is there ample space for all the divers to kit up/sit down?
Is there adequate shade for everyone?
A quick look at a boats condition will tell you if it is well maintained and has clearly designated areas?
Is there a separate camera area and dedicated rinse tank?
Is there fresh water for rinsing masks?
Finally, are refreshments or snacks provided?

Staff on board and other divers certification levels

How many trained staff members accompany each boat trip?
How many divers will be on the boat?
What are the Divemaster to guest ratios (how many in each group)?
What are the experience levels of the other divers and are the divers split into experience and age based groups?
Is there a separate group for photographers?

These are the things that I feel are important and what I personally look for when choosing which company I dive with. You may have additional requirements which we would love to have your comments on……

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