Shore Diving
by Jim Morrison

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Shore Diving

When you were young you learned to swim, from the shore or from the side of a pool no doubt.  Next you may have tried some goggles and could see underwater.  Before long you probably thought you were a fish!  I am sure that is the way skin diving got started. Once watertight goggles were invented Iíll bet someone got tired of waiting for the fish to bite on his hook and dove in with goggles and a spear in hand. The rest is history.

If all that is so, then we all started diving from shore or ďshore-diving.Ē   The alternative is boat diving. I have had boats most of my life and have done hundreds of boat dives.  It isnít difficult to see the attraction or advantages of boat diving. I do like getting to that special place and dropping down the anchor line into that other world all divers come to love. Yet, I think it is easy to make a very strong case for shore diving and Iíd like to explore the advantages of shore diving that are too often overlooked.

When I think about shore diving the first thing that comes to mind is efficiency.  Some years ago I used to come home from work in the summer and grab my gear and do a local dive at Mukilteo State Park. It was a great place to dive, especially if you like a very deep dive without having to swim far. In season, divers are very successful at harvesting shrimp there.  I had a place in the back of my small pickup truck where I could tie down my tank, and all my gear was within reach while I got dressed sitting on the back of the tailgate.  There was a place where I could wash down my gear at the park and all I had to do was hang up my wet suit when I got home.  Those are just some of the efficiencies I see in shore diving.  You can always work in a shore dive without a lot of planning and when you donít have a whole day to devote to it. You can work out of your car or truck easily, you donít have to transfer gear down the dock to the boat and back again, and you only have to load and unload gear once. Often on a boat, dive gear doesnít get cleaned for some time after the trip back. 

Someone might say that shore diving is not as adventurous because it is often done in a popular place.  But there are usually advantages to diving in a popular place.  First of all, it is popular for a reason. The marine life, the bottom contours, ease of access, or some other features make it popular.  Because it is popular, you are probably familiar with the area.  This adds to the dive because you are more likely to meet the objectives of your dive.  More than a few times I have been on a boat dive when we were not able to find the wreck, wall, or other bottom feature we were looking for. If you know the area you know the best route and the best objectives for the dive. Familiarity isnít always a bad thing!

While boat diving might seem more adventurous, it is also fraught with problems.  What if the seas are too rough to go out, or worse yet, get back? Seasickness can be a problem in big swells. Boats being boats often have engine or other problems.  Boats can drag anchor while you are diving.  Most of all, as any boater can attest to, they are costly.  And as I say that, fuel costs just went up to an all time high.  So if you have money to throw away, be my guest.  But you can get just as much exercise, as much or more underwater time, and be more assured of a successful dive if you dive a shore dive. If you are on vacation it is always nice to be pampered to on a guided boat dive, but talk to the local dive shop about local shore dives try some.  You might just find it very pleasant to get away from the crowded boat and enjoy some diving at your own pace.  At Kona, Hawaii I hooked up with a local and I found a week of shore diving actually more fulfilling than the boat dive I did there.

I believe it is easier to navigate to you objective when shore diving because you can follow the bottom contour and make a gradual descent (making things like clearing ears easier) following  ďlandmarksĒ as you go.  And on return toward shore, you can gradually work you way back up the slope (often improving your off-gassing profile) to a point where you can watch the fish and relax during your safety stop.  Thatís easier, I think, than trying to maintain depth in open water for a safety stop if you miss the anchor line.  That brings to mind another issue.  If you donít come up at the boat and there is wind or current running, it could be a long swim back.  If the boat comes to pick you up that eliminates that problem, but creates another: a boat moving under power with divers in the water.

 If you want to increase your exercise, proficiency and just plain time in the water shore diving fits the bill.  It is easier to plan a shore dive, find dive buddies, and know that you are going to have a successful dive. Getting to the site and getting down is just less complicated than on a boat dive.  There is another aspect I like about shore diving too, but it is a little difficult to explain.  You might call it a feeling of self-reliance.  I feel very good about my skills and equipment and ability to complete the dive and get back to shore.  On a boat dive this confidence has to extend to the skipper and his equipment, which may or may not be as reliable as you think.   Even if you have your own boat and love boat diving, donít overlook shore diving as a way to get more bottom time, improve your efficiency under water and enjoy diving when it isnít convenient to go to the trouble to launch the boat. Shore diving does not take a back seat to boat diving. For those of you who donít have the time, inclination or money to do much boat diving remember that once you are in the water it doesnít matter much how you got there.  

by Jim Morrison


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