Night diving is amazing! A reef you visited 1,954 times before will look completely different when relying on your flashlight. By becoming familiar with night diving, you become more flexible with when you can explore. If you’re interested in night diving, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get proper, professional training by taking a night diving specialty course with your dive shop.
Your first night dive may be a bit intimidating and is best done as part of an AOW class.
Here are some helpful tips which I have collected through my experience.
Go At Sunset:
By entering the water when there’s still some visible sunlight, you will feel more at ease. Although there is some light above, when you reach 15ft, you will notice it becoming much darker.
Explore A Familiar Spot:
Make sure your first night dive is a site which you are extremely familiar with. Even if you have explored a reef 10 times during the day, it will look completely different at night.
If you’re like me, you don’t have a mask with built in night vision. With that being said, you will need dive lights. Some people dive with only one light- I strongly discourage this. Dive with a primary light and a backup.
If your lights don’t have a wrist strap, attach one yourself. Most dive lights are negatively buoyant.
Attach a glow stick or dive beacon to your tank valve to help your buddies to see where you are.
Also attach a glow stick to the top of your dive flag.
Watch Where You Shine Your Light:
Be careful not to shine your light in somebody’s eyes, you can blind them for a short moment. It will take a little while for that diver to adjust their vision again.
Keep An Eye On Your Buddy:
If you lose sight of your buddy, block your light with your hand and look for your buddy’s light. It is best not to completely switch off your light underwater, since your light is more likely to fail while you are switching it on and off. However, if you stay near your buddy while diving, he shouldn’t be too far from you.
Night Diving Signals:
• Making a circular pattern (O) on the ocean floor means “ok?” and “I’m ok.” If your buddy makes the O, you should return the signal where he made his. I communicate this frequently on night dives.
• Using a tank banger or waving your light in a small area means, “Come check this out.”
• Waving your light rapidly side to side (nodding NO) is an emergency attention signal.
• You can also use hand signals by illuminating your hand with your light. If you need to make hand signals, use your light to illuminate your hand so your buddy can see the signal.
• At the surface, holding the light over your head so it points down on you means “everything’s ok.”
Find Your Way Home:
Before entering the water, either place a light on the beach so you know where to return, or remember a permanent landmark to return to (ex: a building).
Care For Your Lights:
After exiting the ocean from your night dive, turn off your lights and return to your belongings by moon light or other lights in the area**. When you get home, fill a container with fresh water and submerge your lights for 20-30 minutes. After submerging, thoroughly dry the lights off and remove the batteries. Once the lights are open, you may need to remove some water or salt deposits from the threading (this is normal). After drying and removing the batteries, pack your lights away for your next adventure!
**Many dive lights give off so much heat that they can melt/crack the lens or burn out the bulb. This is why they aren’t recommended to be used out of water.
This post was revised on 4/8/14.