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Ten Drift Diving Basics

Drift diving is a wonderful way to cover a lot of ground without wearing yourself out. Because of the Gulf Stream’s proximity to the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast, all Jupiter Dive Center charters are drift dives. Do you remember the basics? Let’s break it down:

  1. Drift diving requires divers to enter the water as a group so the boat can keep tabs on their location. That means divers should heed the 10-minute warning and gear up, do their buddy checks, and be ready to go when they hear Dive-Dive-Dive!
  2. The whole idea behind drift diving is to go with the flow. Fighting the current will only mean you blow through your air faster and shorten your dive.
  3. Relax and enjoy the view. The greatest perk of letting the current carry you is that you cover more ground, potentially seeing as much reef on a single dive as you would on multiple moored sites. While drift diving is great for sightseeing, it can be a little tricky for photographers unless you…
  4. Learn to use the environment to your advantage. Drifting past a wreck? Use the structure to shelter you from the current. Same with the reef. If there is a high point you can shelter behind while you take a closer look at something, great! Just don’t hold onto fragile corals.
  5. Keep tabs on your buddy–it’s easy to get separated in a current. If you want to look at something, be sure to communicate with your buddy before you stop so they can stop too. Remember, currents do not flow at a universal speed. The closer you are to the bottom, the slower the current is due to friction and drag. Sometimes the difference is so slight you might not notice it, but other times you can use the different flow rates to either catch up to or wait for your buddy.
  6. Control your ascent to your safety stop. Yes, you should do this on any dive, but on drift dives using the reef as a visual reference can be deceiving. If you shoot a surface marker buoy, use the line as a reference or monitor your computer to make certain you aren’t ascending too fast. At the safety stop, look up and listen for boat traffic.
  7. Drift diving means the boat comes to you at the end of the dive. Seems basic, right? Jupiter Dive Center’s in-water dive guide will always pull a surface float to help the boat captain keep tabs on the group, but often times divers come up at different times due to air consumption or other factors. The important thing to remember is that if the boat can’t see you, it’s hard to pick you up. But don’t worry because…
  8. Every drift diver should have his or her own surface marker buoy (SMB). One is good, but to be truly prepared, carry an alternate signaling device such as a whistle or mirror in case something happens to your SMB (lines occasionally snap).
  9. Getting back on the boat safely. The most important thing to remember here is to listen to the captain or crew during the pre-dive safety briefing. Once in the water, do NOT approach the boat until signaled. The captain will maneuver the boat as close as safety allows and then disengage the engine. Only then will the crew signal the divers to exit the water.
  10. Once on board, enjoy your surface interval and repeat!

Drift diving is a great way to see the reefs and wrecks off Jupiter, and Jupiter Dive Center has charters every day. Check out our schedule and reserve the day that works for you. And if you want to learn more about drift diving, consider earning your Drift Diver certification.

 

See you on the boats!

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Explore your dark side on a Jupiter Dive Center Night Dive!

Explore your dark side on a Jupiter Dive Center Night Dive!

Want to see the ocean in a different light? Come on out with Jupiter Dive Center on a 2-tank night dive! We dive by the light of the full moon. Check our dive calendar for dates!

Why Dive at Night?

First, it’s a little mysterious. We leave the dock at 6:00 pm, so the sun is low on the horizon. Your first dive is a bit of a teaser, letting you get used to the darker conditions. Then the real fun begins. Watch the sunset on your surface interval. Now? It’s show time!

Critters

Animal behaviors change at night. Some fishes disappear, others come out to play. Parrotfishes spin a mucous cocoon in which to slumber (please don’t touch it, they can only spin one every 24 hours). Lobsters and octopuses prowl for prey. Larger marine animals cruise the waters. See first hand how the reefs you’ve seen by day, support different species at night.

How to prepare for a night dive

Night dives are, well, dark. That means divers need to take their light source with them. Batteries fail, and dive lights occasionally flood. That means you need to have a backup plan—a secondary light.

One of the perks of having your own light source is how bright everything looks. Remember, if you are relying on natural light during a day dive, light absorption reduces the visible color spectrum the deeper you go. At night, the light waves only have to travel the distance between your light source and the item it’s illuminating. That makes everything appear more vivid.

While lights are a necessity, shining them in your buddy’s eyes is not the way to score points. Ditto spotlighting marine life for long periods of time.  Some marine animals don’t have eyelids and prolonged light exposure will distress them—that includes when you use camera strobes.

Buddy Briefing

There are several things you need to discuss with your buddy in order to ensure you both know what to do on a night dive. How you are going to communicate? What if one of you becomes disoriented?  Because of the darkness, it is even more important to stay close to your buddy, and absolutely critical to know what to do if you lose each other. Discuss this with your buddy. It’s a much easier conversation to have topside than underwater. Want to know more? Take a night diving class!

 

What are you waiting for?

Adventure. New challenges. Different marine life. Whatever your reason for wanting to explore the ocean after the sun goes down, diving at night offers a spectacular new perspective.  Contact Jupiter Dive Center to see for yourself!

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Improve Your Scuba Skills

You’ve done it! You’ve earned your basic scuba certification, gone on a few more dives, and decided scuba diving is a sport you enjoy. So now what? Well, it’s time to up your game.

By now, you’ve probably been able to identify if a particular skill is giving you problems, or if a certain situation makes you anxious. Or perhaps you see other divers doing things you want to do—go deeper, breath nitrox, take photos, explore wrecks. What about wanting to be able to take care of you or your partner in an emergency? Let’s explore the options.

First Up ~ Buoyancy

Newer divers often struggle with their buoyancy, and until it’s mastered, ever other aspect of diving will be harder than it needs to be. Divers who know how to control their buoyancy have better air consumption, don’t damage delicate reefs by crashing into them, and are less inclined to injure themselves with runaway ascents. Buoyancy is also a necessary skill if you are interested in pursuing other specialties—especially photography or wreck diving. Want to learn more? Click here.

 

 

Drift

Maybe you learned to dive in an area where boats hooked to mooring balls, but along the Palm Beaches, the dive sites are deeper—and all of the charters are drift dives. So what does that mean? The current does most of the work as it propels you across the reef. It also means you need to learn how to properly deploy a surface marker buoy, maintain contact with your buddy, and how to safely get on and off the boat—an important skill when divers are giant striding into the ocean one right after another.

As mentioned above, the reefs located off the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coasts are deep, which leads us to our next suggestion for improving your underwater experience…

Nitrox

The nitrox – enriched air certification is the most popular specialty certification available. Want to safely extend your no-decompression time and remain underwater longer? How about reducing your surface interval? Nitrox can help you accomplish both! The course is online, no dives are required, and you’ll work with an instructor as you demonstrate your ability to analyze tanks and confirm that you understand depth limitations. That’s it! You can be diving with enriched air your very next dive.

Advanced Scuba Diving

Let’s face it. Earning an advanced scuba certification allows you to explore more ocean while equipping you with the knowledge and skills to do it safely. Bonus, the class is tailored to your interests! Each class includes instruction on deep diving and underwater navigational skills, but then you can discuss the other options available with your instructor. Some of the areas you may want to consider include boat diving, underwater photography, fish identification, night diving, wreck diving and more!

Once you’ve earned your advanced certification, you’re done with skill building, right? Not so fast. Let’s take a quick peek at one of the most important classes you can take.

Rescue

Nothing improves your confidence more than knowing what to do in an emergency—except perhaps knowing how to stop one before it begins. That’s where a rescue class comes in. Divers who have completed a rescue course often claim it’s the most challenging scuba class they’ve ever taken—and the most fun. This class requires an advanced certification and at least 40 dives under your belt. Rescue divers also must have first aid and O2 certifications. Your buddies will thank you.

 

The above courses are just a few of the many ways to improve your dive skills and enhance your enjoyment of the underwater realm. Diving skills are perishable if they aren’t practiced. Specific skills are best developed with an instructor, but to become an all-around better diver, you need to log dives. And Jupiter Dive Center is here to help.

Click here to review the upcoming schedule or call for your private class.