Scuba divers typically dive backward on smaller boats due to the fact that it is hard to maneuver around a small boat such as a dinghy with the equipment they have.
There is potential to injure someone with their oxygen tank inadvertently or trip over their fins and fall into someone else.
On the other hand, large ships do not require scuba divers to dive backward – head over to Outdoor Swim to read more about this!
So, Why do Divers Dive Backwards?
The way a diver dives is dependent on the ability to keep their face mask and regulator in place and their weight belt. They must be able to enter while wearing their swim fins and have as little chance as possible of their tank hitting the boat.
It is quite challenging to step up on a boat’s gunnel and bounce in the water while wearing fins, a mask, a regulator, potentially a dive light and about 100 pounds of gear while also being wet and slippery and jump off the boat without needing any assistance or without slipping and falling.
Diving backward is the simplest and most straightforward option.
Backward Roll Entry
This technique is known as backward roll entry. It allows the diver to get off a small boat without tipping the boat over. There really isn’t any way to stand on the edge of a small dinghy or RHIB without the potential for tipping the whole thing. This is why divers choose to sit on the edge, hold onto their mask and mouthpiece, and work in tandem with gravity to enter the water.
Diving backward prevents the mask from being slammed into the diver’s face, which can cause an immense amount of pain, especially if the mask shatters and from the fins being pulled off.
Giant Stride Entry
The technique utilized for larger boats is known as the giant stride entry. Typically, this is used on larger boats that have a diving platform. The diver would walk to the edge, hold onto their mask, and take one giant step into the water.
Why Divers Dive Backward
Divers choose to dive backward to avoid their tank shifting on their backs and hitting their heads. Also, to prevent the BC from moving if it isn’t correctly fastened. Divers have to ensure that everything is tight to prevent this from happening, but the diving method also plays a role.
While it is better for divers to know if something is not properly fastened as soon as possible instead of when they are forty meters deep underwater, injuries can result in the diver losing consciousness.
To avoid injuries with tanks, divers tend to configure the tank on their back so that it is properly set up. It is typically situations where the tank is placed too high on the back or similar cases where the tank can hit the diver in the head.
Potential Dangers Lurk
Even when a diver dives backward, it is still possible for the tank to shift and hit them in the head. This is why typically when individuals are learning how to dive, they might be taught to hold their mask and mouthpiece with one hand and utilize the other to grip their harness.
This makes it, so there isn’t much shifting occurring. Pairing this with tucking of the chin a little bit into ones’ chest ensures that if the tank does move, it is less likely that you will be starting off your dive with a head injury.
Removing the bungee from the tank before hooking everything up to avoid being yanked down when trying to stand is another practice that divers have. Proper fit for gear is another concern.
Improper fitting gear can lead to issues regardless of how well everything is fastened and the number of checks done before the diver enters the water.
For example, a poorly fitting wetsuit can lead to the diver being uncomfortable. A properly fitting wetsuit would be almost like a second skin to still regulate your body since there isn’t excess water preventing your body from warming.
A wetsuit that does not fit right is virtually useless.
How Divers Protect Themselves
To protect themselves, divers keep their left hand behind their head. Typically, the right hand is on the mask and regulator, and the left hand is behind their head.
Most people are right-handed, meaning that the right hand will be more substantial and have more fine motor control. This hand is the best one to use for the mask and regulator. Gauges and submersible pressure gauges typically come from the left side, which is why the left hand will hold them when doing a giant stride entry.
To help new divers get ingrained and remember where to keep their hands, they will not switch the hand placements for a backroll. This same thought process is applied to weight belts that some divers choose to use in a right-hand release method. If the right hand is placed on the buckle and the arm gets pulled, the diver can open the clip and lose weight.
This is less likely to occur when using the left hand. Divers do not usually have to worry about tipping the boat when they come up out of the water and are ready to get back into the boat because there is generally someone topside to balance the boat out.
If the boat is too crowded and it isn’t possible to roll off the side backward, some divers will inflate their vest and toss it into the water before entering and then putting it on in the water. Then, the diver will have someone hand them their weight belt.
This is generally the preferred method for small boats such as a 4m dinghy. Getting into the water is also essential, especially if there is a current and many divers that need to enter the water. The backroll aids greatly with getting divers into the water in a short amount of time. Going backward, affords the diver convenience and control as he enters the water.
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