Boat Diving Skills for Scuba Divers

As a diver there is going to come a time when you dive from a boat. It could be a small RIB off Brighton, or a huge liveaboard in The Red Sea, either way the skills you’ll need are essentially the same.

Red Sea Rib

Preparing your kit

  • In a small boat you’ll be suited up, with your cylinder and regs attached to your jacket – make sure your air is turned off for the trip out
  • Be careful handling weights and weight belts, and make sure everything is secure before setting off
  • If you suffer from sea sickness, get everything ready before you leave the harbor, even down to having fin straps undone. There’s nothing more likely to make you sick than fiddling with something small when the boat is wallowing over the dive site!


  • Air on, mask and fins on, buddy check
  • In a small boat you’ll usually simply roll backwards off the boat – remember to hold your mask and regs!
  • On a hardboat with a dive platform you’ll usually do a giant stride
  • Never enter the water until the skipper tells you
  • Usually you’ll enter with your jacket filled with air, gather on the surface and dive together, but sometimes:
  • You’ll do a “negative” entry, particularly if there’s a current. In this case follow the shot line down or drop straight down under the boat and wait for the rest of the team


  • This is where most accidents happen!
  • If you think you may have drifted, or you have any doubt about where the boat is, send up a surface marker buoy
  • After your safety stop, ascend the last three meters very slowly and carefully, turning around and looking for boat traffic all the time
  • Avoid surfacing anywhere near the propellers, in case the boat needs to move – best place is the bow or one side of the boat
  • In a current most skippers will stream a rope in case you miss the boat – simply grab it and pull yourself back
  • Follow the skippers directions, but most dive boats have a ladder and the protocol is to remove fins and climb aboard
  • If there is no ladder, you will usually be asked to remove your weight belt and jacket and “fin” up the side of the boat
  • Turn air off and secure kit for the return trip

Do have any stories relating to unusual entries and exits from boats? If so please comment below.

If you liked this, you may also like:

1/ The secret of buoyancy

2/ When I was a new diver

3/ Scuba Mike’s Red Sea trip – part one