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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