The First Five Minutes

There is a point in a dive that many expert divers rate as the most challenging.  It is at the very beginning.  To be more precise, it is the first five minutes of the first dive of a dive trip.  The degree of difficulty increases the longer it has been since a divers last dive, but it also decreases rapidly as the dive progresses.

If you are not a "grizzled" veteran or you haven't been diving in awhile, making a smooth transition to the underwater world will require deliberate preparation. A diver will most likely experience equipment problems early in the dive, so it is only sensible to take your time in the initial phase.

Here are some hints to help you avoid feeling stressed at the start of a dive:

1. Arrive early.  If you are planning a boat trip , make sure you get to the dock with plenty of time to set up and check your equipment prior to departure.

2..Visualize.  Imagine every step of the dive, including a mental checklist of potential problems, and how you'll handle them.

3.  Take your time. Don't enter the water until you are fully suited- up and all your gear is comfortably in place. 

4.  Descend slowly.  If conditions allow, let yourself float at the surface while you acclimate before descending.  Use a descent line.

Remember, don't worry about getting to the bottom as quickly as you can.  If it takes a few minutes to due proper preparation of gear before entering the water, clearing your ears and adjusting to the increasing pressure and decreasing temperature, it can, and probably will make the difference between a good dive and a great dive.

Also, the slight confusion experienced at the beginning of the first dive is gone by time for the second dive and you are ahead mentally--you know what to expect and the first five minutes are as good as the last five.