Part Two – Liveaboard Diving
Every diver wants to share the experience and magic of a liveaboard diving holiday. This is diving at its best as a rule; everyone on the boat is there for one reason, the same as yours. The chance to dive, dive and dive some more.
However some trips can turn sour, because some people forget that a liveaboard is the sum total of all aboard, so to make a trip more pleasurable it is important to work at some basic life etiquette to ensure a great dive holiday.
Somebody once said to me that the golden rule of life on the high seas is to look at the boat at the dock when you arrive, and remember that due to human dynamics the boat will feel like it is shrinking by about a meter a day whilst you area at sea with a group of people you do not know.
So here are ten tips to help you enjoy living and diving on the high seas.
#1 Getting to know you
If you are a solo travelling diver and can afford the single supplement, then the recommendation is take it and avoid running the risk of sharing your long awaited holiday with the diver from black hole. The cost of paying the supplement often outweighs the alternative.
Failing that check with the person who is responsible for assigning the rooms and let them know your preferences and dislikes, this can assist them in matching you up with the best option
#2 Learn to Share the space
Liveaboards are spilt into two zones for guests, the common areas such as the dive areas and the common living areas – dining, lounge and sundecks. The second zone is your private cabin and herein the space is limited to the size of an average prison cell.
So if you are preparing to share with a diver you have never met before, it is important that both of you try to start this holiday off by agreeing to be friends. Avoid the one-upmanship of claiming space that is communal in the cabin, put your stuff away and never leave anything on the roommates bed or drawer tops.
#3 Noise and the Party Animal
Now Liveaboards are not Monasteries where you sign a pledge of silence, but at the same time remember that they are not party boats for 24 hour a day non stop noise. Liveaboards are designed for divers who want to dive dive and dive some more. By the end of a day most divers will have logged four or more dives and are tired want to sleep and get up the next morning and do it all over again.
If you want a holiday whereby you dive and party, then a land based dive resort is the best holiday option for you. Disgruntled tired divers are known to be a very dangerous and touchy creature best not disturbed by the nocturnal species "Diverus Partyius"
#4 Last Night Blues
If you want to Party then plan a mutual time, divers on holidays are not boring creatures who only dive, sleep, dive, eat and dive. They have been known to party, the key is to plan a big last night, when the diving is over and people are ready for relaxation without the worries of alcohol consumption, dehydration and lack of sleep being contributing factors to DCS.
#5 The stereo and video are not yours alone.
Imagine a group of men together in a small space and only one remote control, it has potential to turn very nasty. That is the reason most remotes on liveaboards are conveniently misplaced. The key point to communal relationships in the cabin is to ask and check before you change the TV or music on the stereo.
Your tastes will vary with other divers on board, and unfortunately some staff on boats forget this. I had the misfortune to having to listen to the same Gypsy Kings CD for seven days. On day one it was enjoyable by day seven you can imagine my reaction. Bear with other people’s choice the first time it is played but from that moment on, consensus rules.
That is why packing the portable Walkman (be it tape, CD or MD) should be considered a mandatory item on a dive holiday.
#6 Personal Hygiene
Remember that diving is not a substitute for not having a shower.
#7 Bathroom Hogs
We all know what the body demands first thing in the morning whether we are diving or not. If the liveaboard you are on has limited heads, then as a common courtesy try to avoid long showers in the morning during the peak period. It is a small consideration but when you are the diver outside the door with your legs crossed the last sound you want to hear in the morning is the shower running.
#8 No I do not mind if you lose my place.
If you forget to bring a book or two to read whilst on board the boat, you are in trouble. The fact of life on the high seas is that often there are long spells of inactivity whilst off gassing between dives, and being able to lie in an air conditioned cabin with a good book is one of the pleasures of liveaboards.
So if you forget a book, do not contemplate picking up that book another diver has left lying around. Nothing annoys another person more than this, it is a small picky thing, but I have seen this as a catalyst for all out warfare.
Rule of thumb; bring at least two books to read.
Divers by their nature usually enjoy a drink or two at the end of the days diving, and most liveaboards will have beer or cheap bad plonk available for sale. But after a day or two, most divers enjoy a mixed drink be it a gin and tonic watching the sun set or a cold rum and coke. This is not the signal for a party but a chance to unwind with a small indulgence.
No matter how much good will or pure intentions you have at the dock before the boat leaves. Remember there are no liquor stores or off licenses at sea. Pick up a bottle duty free, two days out to sea you will be grateful you bothered. Do not forget the mixers.
#10 A tip on tipping
People always say give what you feel; however crew and staff expects 10 – 15% of the cost of the trip. Remember to budget it in, before you leave, set it aside in a secure area and you will not have to worry about it later. No matter what others say – the crew and staff rely on tips to earn a living.
Liveaboards are a great way to travel, dive and make new friends; they do not have to become games of Survivor or Big Brother. Learn to respect others and they will hopefully do the same. Relax and enjoy your holiday.