By Rachel Mason
Allow us to take you on a journey through the need to knows about this low-effort, pseudo-flying alternative to “normal” recreational diving:
It’s about as close as we’re ever likely to get. Picture Nemo riding the “EAC” with the turtles in Finding Nemo!
Standard practice when drift diving is to have a boat that follows the divers, either using an SMB or the divers’ bubbles to guide them.
When you are planning your drift dive, it is important to consider the strength and direction of currents to avoid being swept into dangerous areas or situations.
Make sure everything is secure – a strong current can exacerbate issues with errant equipment. It should be an exhilarating experience, not a demolition derby!
Learn from the Animals 1
Move like a seal – lead with your head and shoulders, and turn your body to take you where you want to go. Think 80’s body popping! Fluid movements are your friend.
Learn from the Animals 2
Watch the fish – they usually face into the current and swim to maintain their position. Let them tell you what the current is doing and adapt accordingly.
If you want to stay put, you need to use steady, sure finning. Kicking furiously will just wind you and deplete your air supply.
If you want to duck out of the current, use the seascape (rocks, boulders, coral heads) to take shelter. Sheltered areas are also great for critter spotting!
Because in drift diving there is often less exertion, you tend to use less air than you would normally. But you still need to be checking your gauge regularly!
Buoyancy is Key
Good buoyancy control is essential, particularly where there are up and down currents, and near the surface during safety stops. Another important skill to have is avoiding coming into contact with any marine life as you coast over the reef.
Reboarding the boat or determining your exit point if diving from land is the most safety critical part of drift diving. Listen carefully to your briefing, and the instructions from your guide, instructor or boat crew.
Notice obstructions up ahead (coral heads, rocks, etc.) and plan your moves ahead of time.
Watch Your Depth
Currents can carry you up and down, so you need to watch your depth gauge like a hawk and set your computer to drift diving mode if you can.