Joe’s Gone Diving Divemaster Blog: how to conduct great Divemaster briefings
When you take your PADI Divemaster course at Joe’s Gone Diving on Bali, one of the things you will learn is how to give great dive briefings. Giving a good dive briefing is one of the requirements to pass the PADI Divemaster course. At Joe’s, you won’t just be giving a briefing once, we will ask you to give dive briefings as often as possible so you will feel confident by the time you passed your PADI Divemaster training.
This month, Steve, one of the amazing PADI Divemasters at Joe’s on Bali, will give you some insight into the secrets of giving great dive briefings.
As certified PADI Divemasters, we are able to supervise certified divers on recreational dives and on Discover Local Diving programs. Before starting the dive, it is important to give a proper dive briefing. We have to be able to explain every detail about the dive site and to be able to do that we must know the dive sites very well. The briefing sets clear expectations for the dive, and ensures people have fun, while diving safely and responsibly at the same time.
We all like our dives to be fun, so why not start with some fun in your dive briefing? Try to come up with a personal fun story or maybe even a Scuba joke. And don’t forget to stick to the points that are usually included on dive briefings to make sure you are not missing anything. There are 10 points we usually include in dive briefings. You can find them in your Divemaster Manual and on your Dive Briefings Slate.
But before you start with those, don’t forget to greet the divers and introduce yourself as that is kind of nice to do J. After that, simply follow the 10 points one by one.
1. Dive Site Name: Most of the dive sites will have a name. It is easy to identify the dive site by name and it will make it much easier for divers to log their dives afterwards. If the name has a special meaning or story, makes sure to mention it, as that makes the dive site more interesting.
2. Site Description: In this point we will talk about what to expect of the dive. For example the topography (wall, slope, flat, canyon or cave), points of interest (i.e. is it a wreck dive or a night dive, what fishes we might see on the dive), depth (depends on the certification level of the divers. JOWD 12m max, OWD 18m max, JAOWD 21m max, and AOWD 30m max), currents (show the expected directions, explain what might happen, what to do, what not to do) water movements (explain what to do when you dive for example in the surge like we have sometimes here on Manta Point), water temperature (some places we cannot really predict the temperature of the water like in Nusa Penida when it is Mola Mola Season. In that case just explain the usual temperature we have during that time of year) and unusual hazards to avoid (if any) depending on the topography. Some dive sites might have something you do not want to touch or get too close to, for example Hydroids, Fire Coral, Blue Spotted Stingray, Trigger Fish, Jelly Fish, Sea Urchin. Explain what can happen if you touch or get too close/into the territory area. In general it is always better if you have a map of the dive sites.
3. Your Role as a Divemaster in the area: We are the one leading the dive and are responsible for the divers we lead. Make sure you let the guests know where you will be, what you will be wearing that will make it easy for the divers to recognise you underwater. For example, the color of your fins, an unusual wetsuit or hood. And things we use for communication, e.g. a tank banger or noise maker.
4. Entry and Exit Techniques: This is quite a useful point, especially for beginner divers. Divers usually appreciate recommendations. So demonstrate the best way to enter and exit the water, and explain why it is recommended.
5. Dive Procedures: This point is a general explanation about the dive. What to do before entering the water, directions divers have to follow, buddy teams, ways to avoid common problems such as frequently checking air consumption, signalling the Divemaster when you are low on air, and don’t forget to mention the safety stop at 5 meters for 3 minutes.
6. Emergency Procedures: Explain what to do if there is an emergency, for example in case of buddy separation or an out of air situation. The use of a surface signaling device (surface marker buoy) if you or the guests will be using one.
7. Signal Review: Remind divers to review the hand signals again. For example, going up, going down, problem, ok, buddy contact, how much air do you have, current, hazards and specific fish signs for the particular dive.
8. Roster/Buddy Check: This point is important when we have a group of divers. Make sure everyone is listed before we start the dive. We can either choose a buddy for them or they can choose a buddy among themselves. Double check the list to make sure everyone has a dive buddy.
9. Environmental Orientation: Explain the guests about the condition and situation of the dive. Remind guests to maintain buoyancy, do not touch, do not kick the coral reefs or fishes, stay close if visibility is low and be aware of water movements.
10.Predive Safety Check: Remind divers to perform a pre-dive safety check (BWRAF) with their buddies. On some dive locations, the dive gear will already be set up by, for example, the boat crew or a helper. The guests will still need to make sure they have checked their gear before they dive. This is also a good time to remind guests how to do a weight check if they are not so sure how much weight they will need.
Finally, ask divers if they have any questions about the dive briefing. If there are no questions, get everyone ready to enjoy the dive.
Would you like to know more about how to properly map a dive site? Then stay tuned for our next Divemaster Blog from Joe’s Gone Diving in Bali.