What do you do when you’re faced with the challenge of getting underwater in a strong surface current? This happened to me some years ago and I had no idea of how to enter the water like this type of current.
The only thing I wanted to do was to get down under and see this ‘much talked about’ underwater pinnacle in Koh Bon out in the beautiful Similan Islands of Thailand. The story of a diver’s life right?
If you try to make a normal dive entrance into the water, you will only be swept away at the surface and have no time to make corrections like getting some extra lead. It will be impossible to even catch up to your dive buddy and dive group because they will already be below the water’s surface and diving straight down.
In this article, I have 9 great tips to help make your ‘negative;’ entry in strong surface currents easier and fun doing it from liveaboards, day boats, or small dive boats. These steps will help avoid missing your underwater target, in this particular case, the spectacular underwater Koh Bon pinnacle.
I also have a great video for you to watch and some incredible dive destinations I think you might be interested in.
How Are Divers Getting Down In Strong Surface Current?
It turns out these divers do a negative entry into the water, which means having no air at all in their BC to descend straight down head first finning as hard as they can to get to their underwater target or feet first. Koh Bon Pinnacle actually has 2 submerged pinnacles next to each other and so this one dive I don’t want to miss.
The top of the first pinnacle is about 18 meters and the second pinnacle’s top can be reached at around 24 meters, not quite 80 feet. You might think 24 meters deep might not seem bad, but this particular dive has current at the surface and continues during your descent. In fact, the Koh Bon Pinnacle dive is considered to be for experienced divers only.
Equalizing Your Ears – Something To Be Concerned About
I was a little unsure about doing this dive because my first dive always takes me about a minute to equalize my ears underwater at a slow descent and it so happens, this particular dive is our first and it’s a fast descent.
To do this type of negative entry in a surface current, you have a choice, either abort this dive or start equalizing your ears (opening the Eustachian tubes) while on your boat before the dive begins. I chose the latter because I really wanted to see this underwater pinnacle and I prayed I would feel no pain in my ears.
I started swallowing while on the dive boat as often I could to pop my ears, yawned lots, moved my jaw around… lol, I’m sure I looked kinda strange. A diver took notice and offered me some chewing gum which I gratefully accepted. I removed the gum just prior to taking my giant stride jump into the water.
A. Always remember to bring chewing gum to chew on because it helps to pop open your ears. This will really help equalize your ears faster as descend underwater on any type of diving.
B. Do not do a dive that requires a negative entry into the water if you already know you cannot equalize your ears quickly.
It won’t be fun if you find yourself drifting away from your buddy and dive group while trying to equalize your ears.
C. You should be an experienced diver to dive into a strong surface current.
9 Tips On How To Do a Negative Entry in Strong Surface Current
In addition to being an experienced diver, you must be confident and comfortable in doing this negative entry in a strong surface current.
If you have any anxieties, take some deep breaths and try to relax. You are most likely not the only diver who feels the same. If the anxiety persists, talk it over with your dive buddy and or dive tour guide. If you decide not to do the dive, do not consider this a failure on your part. Remember, you and your dive buddy must think safety first and there will be plenty of other dives you can both do.
1) Dive Site Orientation. Listen carefully to your dive tour guide’s dive site orientation so you can get the following clues to enjoy this type of diving.
- How deep will you be diving?
- Duration of the dive.
- What amazing sea creatures to watch for.
- How to do this negative entry into the water. Will it be a giant stride or a back roll as these are both perfect to do and is dependant on the boat type:
Liveaboards – Giant stride
Day Boats – Giant stride
Small Boats – Backroll
- Will there be a descent line?
- How to get back into the boat.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
2) Right Amount of Lead. Ensure you have the right amount of weights. You should know this before you board the boat. When in doubt, bring a couple of extra pounds with you that can fit in your BC pocket, a pound in each pouch for example. Once you are in the water, there is no opportunity of adding extra weights because you won’t have time to ask the boat captain or your dive tour guide for more weights. Remember, you are in strong current at the surface and remaining at the surface will only whisk you away from the boat.
3) Dive Buddy Planning. It’s always wise to dive with a dive buddy and this is what we’re taught when we first learn how to dive. Review a dive plan with your dive buddy. Discuss the following and agree on them:
- What to do if separated.
- Review hand signals.
- Agree to stay close.
- Do your buddy check. Ensure you are both completely streamlined, in other words, no equipment dragging to prevent harm to coral.
- Make sure to bring your dive whistle and signal surface device so the boat captain can find you at the surface in the event you are separated from your buddy and dive group.
4) Prepare to Jump Into The Water. Hold the mask firmly on your face and the regulator, which should by now be in your mouth. You do this so they are not forcibly removed at the time of your entrance into the water. Instead of your normal routine of putting some air in your BC, let all the air out from your BC to dive straight down.
Be prepared to do the giant stride or the backroll.
5) Hit The Water. As soon as you hit the water. Exhale all the air from your lungs as soon as you enter the water so you don’t add any buoyancy. This sets you up for your negative dive down.
6) Going Down. Keep your body streamlined and straight with your arms tucked down by your side. This will help you with your negative entry. (I keep my arms folded in front of me so I can monitor my gauge .)
Equalize your ears immediately and continue doing this on a regular basis or as needed to release the pressure in your ears.
Immediately descend either feet down or head first, whichever method works best for you. If there is a descent line, use it because you can slow your descent down if you need to work on your ears.
Check your depth as you descend.
7) Get Neutrally Buoyant. When you are down to your target and desired depth, get neutrally buoyant and give the ok signal to your dive buddy and your dive tour guide. Make sure the rest of your dive group is with you.
8) Monitor Your Gauge. Don’t forget to always check your gauge for air, depth and time.
9) Keep an Eye Out On Your Dive Buddy. It’s easy to get distracted with bountiful pelagic sea creatures around you and even the little sea critters always require your special concentration, so be focused and stay close to your dive buddy. It’s an easy reach if you need to get your buddy’s attention.
Don’t Deny Yourself the Joy of Scuba Diving! Are you into Doing Some Cool Diving Adventures From Liveaboards?
Well, I hope I gave you some helpful information regarding how to do your dive entry into a strong surface current.
Are you interested in an exciting and adventuresome dive and snorkel vacation in the Similan Islands of Thailand? I just thought I should ask because I have mentioned Koh Bon Pinnacle a couple of times here. You can do your negative entry which is done by liveaboards.
If you’re interested in learning to dive or want to plan your next dive and snorkel trip, I highly recommend PADI Travel, the #1 ultimate dive travel agency in the world.
Do you have any stories you would like to share on an experience of doing a negative dive entry in a strong surface current? Do you have any questions or comments? If you do, I would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading,