Drift diving – Move without moving
Have you always dreamed of flying? Do you love spending time underneath the surface? A perfect solution is there for you: drift diving.
Let yourself be carried by the current and relax. On these dives, the only thing you need to do is relax and enjoy the show, no need to worry about the direction or even having to swim.
Although drifting does not require much effort, currents can, in certain situations, be dangerous. We must therefore remain vigilant at all times.
So let’s see the specifications of this type of diving:
What is drift diving?
Drift diving is exactly what the name suggests, you drift with the current.
Unlike what you learn when you start diving, you have to go with the flow and let yourself be carried away. This type of diving is done from a boat that will pick you up at the exit point instead of having to fight against the current and go back to the boat by yourself, the current being often too strong to be able to swim against it anyway.
Listen to your guide
When drift diving, currents can be a risk and the guide is the one who knows the area best and can best advise you. They know the strength of the currents and the particularities of the dive site. It is therefore recommended to dive accompanied by a guide.
But if you dive by yourself without any structure, do not forget to check the direction and the strength of the current by getting into the water just with your mask and your fins before the dive. If the current is too strong, it is wiser to change the site to avoid the problems that may arise.
Currents are generated by tides and wind and are therefore likely to change quickly. You must always be vigilant and observe the signs around you. Currents won’t just carry you, some currents will push you up or pull you down. They are called up and down currents and are pitfalls to be avoided. As seen above, follow the recommendations of local guides who know the topography of the place.
Drift diving techniques
Have the right equipment
During a drift, as with any dive, remember to take your computer with you and to monitor your no decompression limit and depth. Current can pull you deeper than you want before you even realize it.
The essential equipment that every diver should carry is the SMB or DSMB in order to be visible to boats. They can be used in two different ways. Either by being constantly inflated and to be followed from the surface or by inflating the DSMB at the end of the dive to signal its position and be visible from far away. It is also possible to tow a buoy with a flag to signal yourself to all the other boats and people present around.
Another useful accessory to carry is the reef hook. To be able to hang on to the reef allows you to stay put without having to fight against the current
If you use a hook, make sure you know how to use it so you don’t damage the surrounding reef.
CAUTION: NEVER hang your hook on corals but ONLY on rocks. Check that the hook is firmly fixed and will not detach and destroy the surrounding corals when dragging on the bottom. Reef hooks are forbidden in many national parks to protect reefs.
Store your accessories properly
To make the most out of your drift, it is best to store your accessories in a streamlined position, which means without too much drag. To do this, store your accessories in the available pockets or attached to your BCD without letting them jiggle around. You have to be able to access it easily and without looking in case of trouble.
It may be advisable to leave large accessories, such as cameras with strobes on the boat. The large volumes are a fulcrum for the current and will therefore be hard to handle in a stable position. They also distract your attention and you may not be too careful with the currents. It is best to take a GoPro or a compact camera to take pictures during those dives.
Adopt the right behavior
To get the most out of your dive, you need a good position and good buoyancy, and therefore good weighting.
The optimal position is horizontal, about 1 meter above/away from the reef. The area on which the current can push is then minimized and you can enjoy your immersion more calmly. Being close to the reef also reduces the strength of the current, broken by irregularities, such as rocks or corals.
To make a successful drift dive, it is important to stay close to your buddy. Currents do not have the same strength at different depths. Even a meter apart, two divers can drift at different speeds. It is, therefore, necessary to apply the principle of the pair and the team by the book.
In the event of separation, there is a special procedure to follow. You must stay put, or in this case, let yourself be carried away and look around for a maximum of one minute before going back to the surface and meeting with your buddy who should have done the same
At all times during your dive, you must be attentive to your environment. Observe the fish, particles, and plants around you to see the changing currents. The turbidity of the water is also a good indicator. If you see cloudy water in front of you, it may mean a change in temperature or a current going in another direction.
The corners are also traps because they can create, depending on the topography, up currents or down current.
Go with the flow
The whole point of drift diving is to relax and not strain.
If you swim against the current, you will get tired very quickly and empty your tank quickly without having time to enjoy the dive.
To swim and move around, you have to swim at a right angle to the current to be as efficient as possible.
To learn more, you can do your Padi drift diving specialty. The prerequisites are:
– Be 12 years old minimum
– Be certified, Open water Diver
This specialty can be made in a day. It consists of 2 dives and a theoretical part.
To experience magnificent drift dives in a safe environment, visit Dragon Dive Komodo, an expert in the field.
Happy bubbles !!