top of page

Row, Row, Row Your Shit Back Inside Your Space

Nelly threatened to divorce me.

This was years ago. I had told her I was going to issue her a Boat Diver certification. I was still a reluctant PADI instructor at the time and thought it would be funny to PADI flex.

No, it didn't happen. Because - you should know this about Nelly - she is a person of strong conviction and I wasn't so committed to the joke to fuck around and find out. I have, in fact, never processed any Boat Diver certifications at all.

That said:

There is something of theoretical value to being a Boat Diver.

Boats are little. Relatively. Even the biggest of liveaboards. You've only got so much space allotted. If every time you're setting up your gear you sprawl all over the damned place you're being a bit of a dick.

The few times I've formally trained people on the logistics of how to dive from a boat I've brought a big roll of electrical tape with me. I tape off a little square around their seat.

"Keep everything inside this square. So much as a fin-tip breaks it and you're interfering or imposing on other people."

That's about the sum of it.

"Why, Roger, are you babbling about boats?" I hear you gesticulating from the other side of the internet, "You're one of them cave people. There's no boats in the caves."

Good point.


There are still other people that need to set up their gear.

As of this week, apparently, there are 8 billion people on the planet. Resources and space are limited.

Don't sprawl.

I have my way of setting up my gear each day. I try, as politely as possible, let people know how I'd like to get my kit together on the tailgate of the truck before we get in the water.

Then there's the common-use areas: benches, tables, palapas, stairs, what-have-you. It's all well and good to use these facilities, but do you really need to put every piece of equipment you own down like a series of conquistador's flags, taking up square meter after square meter.

Gearing up areas are not a place to play Risk.

No, cave sites aren't as restricted as boats. But there is still precious real-estate. It's defined by shade and proximity to the car and convenience to changing areas or bathrooms or access to the water.

When you over-sprawl you are making a menace of yourself.

No one should reasonably expect you to have your roll perfectly streamlined. Folks always apologize to me, "I'm sorry I'm taking so long" as they gear up; and I laugh that I do this nearly every day of my life, of course I'm going to be quicker, it's not a shortcoming that it takes you a minute or two longer.

But what one can do is take a look around at the divers surrounding them, whether they're divers on their team or not... be considerate. Compact your shit. Be efficient in your use of space.

Imagine you're on a boat and don't sprawl. Keep everything in a little self-defined area of your gear.

Our guests tend to be pretty awesome about it. Sometimes they need a bump in the right direction, but I don't know that any of our guests have needed more than a single bump. Because they're clever and empathetic as hell. We've been really lucky to get awesome guests.

Going forward, if you're not diving with us... now you know, too.

And now I'm going to go check if TDI/SDI offers a Boat Diver certification. Christmas is coming and I haven't thought of anything better to get Nelly.

(endnote: I might need to crash on your couch come New Years.)

Recent Posts

See All


I'm starting a new class. Sort of. Not a prerequisite class... not exactly... though sometimes it will be useful as a prep curriculum. Not a remediation class... not exactly... though some people may

Don't Wear Fancy Pants

Yesterday, while single-tank sidemount diving in a 3mm shorty at the tips of the finger reef at 40 feet, the biggest Eagle Ray I've ever seen came cruising by the sandy wasteland of the desert boundar


Dirty Confession: When I'm moving painfully slowly through an area of cave which is heavily restricted and heavily decorated - such as if I am following a diver who is picking their way through carefu


bottom of page