Dive site briefings on Gozo are important to all divers taking part in the activity. They are not always certified divers that we give a briefing to, beginners require briefings too. Adapting our dive site briefing to the type of dive we intend to do is a must. Beginner divers doing a Discover Scuba Dive in Xwejni Bay, Gozo for the first time must understand the briefing. It is very important to them and provides them with clarity of what is coming next. A good, clear discover scuba dive brief offers beginner dives a clear pathway.
A well-delivered dive site briefing gives certified divers an idea what the dive site is like. Among other things it informs you who dives with who and how deep we plan to go. Environment issues, hazards, currents and many other points are covered in a dive site briefings. There are quite a number of points we include in our dive site briefing, so let’s take a look at these;
Dive Site Name.
The name of the dive site enables your divers to be able to log their dive. It is valuable information to the divers if they want to research the area before the dive. Explain which side of the island we are on, Gozo is small and people like to know where they are.
Brief the divers about the topography of the site. A dive map or whiteboard is very useful to help divers see what you mean. A drawing or a layout with rocks or towels helps divers visualise what is down there. Does the area have a sandy bottom, rock or seagrass? How deep is the dive site and what direction you are going to take? Explain any hazards when diving wrecks, currents or overhead areas such as swim-throughs. What can we see at the dive site, which flora and fauna live there? Explain what is likely to be there, but do not over-exaggerate, this leads to disappointed divers.
Your role and how to recognise you underwater?
Explain to your divers what you are wearing underwater. The colour of your fins and wetsuit often helps. Let them know you are at the front, leading the dive or you are bringing up the rear. This is important for divers to know if they are seeking your help or guidance. Inform the group when other staff are present in the dive group and which role they are playing.
Entry and Exit Points.
This is an important factor for divers. Do we enter with fins on or off, via a ladder or do we have to make a deep water entry? Inform your divers what they need to do and what to be aware of. Exit points are just as important. When and where to remove the fins, is it an open ladder (fins friendly) or do we have to remove our kit? While briefing entry and exit points, state when wet, uneven and slippery. The entrance to Blue Hole is a cause for many painful ankle injuries, not to mention a diver falling fully kitted up!
The dive site briefing covers the dive procedure. Which way are we going and what is the maximum dive depth. Remember to limit your dive depth according to the level of your divers certification and ability. Speak about gas management and the turning point of the dive. Maximum dive time is clear and remind about the safety stop at the end of the dive. Buddy teams will be identified and those who are solo in the group will buddy up with another solo diver or another buddy team. Inform the divers during the dive site briefing what the procedure is for buddy teams low on air.
If using a vehicle to bring you to the dive site, make sure everyone knows where the keys are kept? If something happens to you, no-one can get into the dive vehicle if the keys cannot be found. An Oxygen cylinder and masks are available in case of emergency, as well as a first aid kit. Telephone numbers for vital departments such as the hyperbaric unit, hospital, helicopter rescue and doctors are available? The office of the dive centre must be noted and be accessible.
Signal Review Relative to the Dive.
Review the signals that are relative to the activity that you are going to do. The dive site briefing contains standard signals as well as those used in specific skill scenarios. Gas management signals are important so make sure all divers understand these clearly. Mention overhead boat traffic if applicable and what to be aware of on the surface. Remind the divers that boat drivers and jet-ski riders do not always understand a DSMB marker buoy or a surface marker buoy.
Buddy Team Check and Roster/Diver List.
Check that all divers have a buddy and that they know who they are diving with. Check that buddy teams are listed on the dive roster or diver list. Remind certified divers that buddy teams descend and ascend together. Check the roster to make sure all divers are back onshore before leaving the dive site.
In the dive site briefing inform the divers about the location and use of toilet facilities. Cigarette butts must not be thrown into the sea, dispose of them accordingly if you need to smoke. Use of single, disposable plastic water bottles should be discouraged. Remind divers not to touch or hang onto the reef or wall sides.
Good neutral buoyancy must be kept at all times and all equipment secured and fasten away. Dangling equipment causes harm to the reef and damages the environment, also it ruins the equipment too. Encourage the use of small mesh bags so that the divers can collect any debris that is in the ocean. Explain that all marine life is fragile and we must not touch or pick it up. Photographers must be mindful how close they get to some marine life such as seahorses. Close up photo sessions cause sea horses distress and it is forbidden to handle or move them.
Pre dive Safety Check.
Instruct divers to complete a thorough Pre-dive safety check. The pre-dive check prevents you from entering the water without a weight belt on or that your air supply is turned off. Don’t forget the mask and fins!
A good and sound dive site briefing minimises risk and confusion. Be clear about what is under the surface and state any potential risk. Unforeseen circumstances arise, but when everyone is briefed in a proper manner it helps to limit any further risks.
Your Dive Smart Team