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General Information - Diving With VSAG

Diving With VSAG

As newcomers to the Victorian Sub-Aqua Group (VSAG), some guests or new members may be unsure of the correct procedures to use when diving with the club from the private boats of other VSAG members. Remember, this club is run by volunteer members, so please be prepared to help out and not expect everyone else to do things for you. Please do everything you can to assist the VSAG boat owners upon whom we all rely so much. Make sure you plan your trip, check your equipment, and do not leave things until the last minute. Please co-operate with the arrangements made by the Dive Captain.

At the boat ramp early and ready to start loading the boats.

Dive tub ready to be loaded aboard.

Weight belt storge area.

Weight belt storage hold.

Loading scuba cylinders onto a dive boat.

Some boats have vertical cylinder racks.

Most boats have cylinder racks on the deck.

The dive tubs get stowed in the forward compartment of the boat.

After a dive the dive gear is broken down and stowed safely.

Where is the Dive Calendar

Let's start at the beginning, with the dive calendar. The VSAG Meeting and Dive Calender is published bi-monthly in the club's "Fathoms" magazine. We also post the calendar to the VSAG web site at (Community : Events Calendar). Upcoming dive days are also usually advertised through the news items on the Home Page, in the Diving Forums of the web site, and/or by e-mail bulletins to VSAG members.

Safety in Diving

We always abide by the club motto of "Safety in Diving" and follow the club's Safety Diving Guidelines.

If you're not prepared to agree to following the VSAG codes of practice, then please don't bother trying to come out diving with us.

How To Book on a Dive

You will see next to the dive in the dive calendar a volunteer Dive Captain's name, phone number and possibly an email address. You need to contact the Dive Captain and advise them if you want to go on the dive day, so he/she can book you in for it. It is best to do this at least three days BEFORE a dive day so that the Dive Captain has plenty of time to organise boat owners and/or additional divers. For example, most dive days are on a Sunday. By booking in by the end of Thursday, the Dive Captain has two days to match diver demand to dive boat availability.

When booking in, please provide the Dive captain with your full name, mobile phone number, work and/or home phone numbers, and your e-mail address. Please don't assume that the dive captain has access to these details. It's in your best interest to make it easy for the Dive Captain to be able to contact you.

Naturally, VSAG members take precedence over non-members when it comes to the Dive Captain allocating divers to the dive boats. The exception is our regularly scheduled "New Diver Days", which give priority to potential new members coming along to dive with VSAG.

If you need to cancel your booking, you must advise the Dive Captain as soon as possible. Then the Dive Captain can contact anyone who may be on a waiting list, send out an email, or post on the web site, to notify others that may be interested in knowing a place on the dive day has become available. (To properly cover private boat owner costs, we prefer to have each boat with a full compliment of divers.) Sometimes there may be a waiting list for positions on the dive day, and you don't want to be the cause of someone else missing out on a days diving.

How Do You Know If You're Experienced Enough For The Dives

When you book in for the dive day, the Dive Captain will advise you of what diving is planned. If the dive site is unknown to you, or you have concerns about being experienced enough to dive the site, then please raise this with the Dive Captain. It's essential to ensure in advance if the proposed dive sites are suitable for your skills and experience. If we change the dive sites on the day, then your experience, comfort and preferences will be taken into consideration as a part of selecting alternate dive sites.

If you are on a dive day where it is planned to dive for crays, abalone, scallops etc., then you will need to bring along your Victorian Recreational Fishing Licence.

If you have a Victorian Boat Operators Licence, then please bring it. If any unusual circumstances were to arise where you may be required to drive a dive boat, you need to be legal.

Confirming Your Dive Day Booking

You are required to call the Dive Captain between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. the evening prior to the dive day to confirm that you will still be coming on the dive. (As most dive days are on a Sunday, this will typically be Saturday evening.) This confirmation call is also an opportunity for the Dive Captain to inform you if the dive day has been cancelled, or if any changes have been made to the schedule.

The Paperwork

In order to dive as a guest with VSAG, you're going to have to complete a Request to Dive Form. You can download it from this web site, fill it in and bring it along on the day. Or you'll have to obtain the form from the Dive Captain or Boat Captain on the day.

Along with a completed Request to Dive Form, you will also need to provide:

  • a photocopy of your scuba diving certification card, plus
  • a photocopy of your most recent dive medical certificate.

Dive Gear

As a private dive club we do not offer offer hire gear. If you don't have gear, you will need to hire dive gear from a dive shop. We would recommend you pick one close to the boat ramp being used for the dive day, so that if something goes wrong there is a chance it can be swapped over. For boats leaving from Rye or Sorrento, the dive shops nearby are The Scuba Doctor ( and Aquatic Adventures ( in Rye, or Dive Victoria ( in Portsea.

What You Need to Take on The Boat

You need to make sure you have filled dive cylinders. We typically do two dives each dive day. So you should plan to do two dives and remember to bring along two air filled dive cylinders. Otherwise, you're going to need to hire them.

You need your dive gear (BC, regulator and octopus, mask, fins, safety sausage/SMB, dive computer etc.) Your dive gear, apart from your cylinders, should be put into a suitably sized plastic tub or dive gear bag. The nice black 120 litre plastic tubs from Bunnings or Supercheap Autos that measure about 85cm x 52cm x 35cm are quite suitable, though you won't need the lid on the boat.

It is advisable to bring something to drink (water, soft drink, fruit juice), plus lunch and/or snacks. VSAG is gaining a reputation for the culinary delights that members manage to produce and consume for lunch out on the water.

It is also advisable to bring suitable protective clothing for the conditions on the day, plus things like sun block, a hat, Polaroid sunglasses etc.

Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs)

Current Victorian legislation requires that a personal floatation device type one (PDF Type 1) life jacket be worn on recreational vessels during times of heightened risk. This includes going through the Port Phillip Bay heads. Even though most of us are already wearing our wet suits at the time, we are still required to put on a PDF Type 1 life jacket. Regulation life jackets are provided by the boat owners, though some divers prefer to bring their own inflatable ones.

What Time Do I Need to be at the Boat Ramp and Where is it?

You must make your own way to the boat ramp. Through the Dive Captain and/or the VSAG web site, you may be able to arrange car pooling with one of the other divers, but don't rely on this being possible.

The published time for scheduled dives is the departure time. It is advisable to plan to be at the boat ramp at least half an hour prior to the departure time scheduled, to put on your gear, get it ready to be put on the boat, load it onto the boat and help with boat launching.

Details of the locations of the various boat ramps we regularly use can be found on the VSAG web site (Community : Boat Ramps). If in doubt, ask the Dive Captain.

What to Do When You Get on the Boat

Weight Belts
Most boat owners have a hold area / bin for the weight belts. Please make sure your weight belt is stowed securely.

Most boat owners have cylinder racks where you must place and secure your cylinders. This is essential to ensure everyone's safety once we are underway.

BCD's/Regs/Mask/Fins etc.
These should all be in your plastic tub or dive bag, which will be stowed in the forward compartment of the boat.

Dry Stuff
Put your dry stuff in the front compartment of the boat, A jacket/sweater, towel and some snacks is the norm. Some people have a dry bag for these items that is kept with their plastic tub or dive bag.

If you're bringing a mobile phone or car keys onto the boat, please have your own waterproof container for them. Don't assume the boat owner will provide one.

Dive Buddies

A great benefit of VSAG is that you do not have to bring a dive buddy. You will be paired up with someone on the boat for each dive.

Preparing for a Dive

The private boats of VSAG boat owners aren't as large of the dive boats of charter operators. Diving from smaller boats is often a new experience to VSAG newcomers and guests. Like everything else that is new, there are some things to learn and techniques to master. Just make sure you are fully confident that you know what to do.

If you missed something during the dive briefing, or aren't sure of what's expected, then please ask questions. We're out on the water to have fun, so make sure you're totally comfortable with what you're being expected to do.

Those on the boat will cooperate with you to retrieve your gear from your plastic tub and help you to setup for your dive. (It is expected you will return the favour later.)

Entering the Water

Typically we roll backwards into the water. On surfacing, turn and face the dive boat and give the "Okay" signal.

For many diives in the Melbourne area, the effects of current, tides and wind come into play. Be ready to descend as soon as everyone is in the water and the signal to descend is given.

Buoy Line

For many VSAG dives, and especially on drift dives, we use a buoy line. It's a float on the surface, often with a dive flag, with a line going to a handle/pick taken by one of the divers. Some buoy lines have grab handles for other divers.

The buoy line enables the Boat Captain to recall the divers should the need arise.

When ascending from depth with a buoy line, do not try and reel the line in. Simply surface as you would normally.

Exiting from a Dive

The Boat Captain will position the boat so that you'll be able to swim to and grab on to, the boat easily. While you are waiting for your turn to exit the water, it is a good idea to clip your instrument console and secondary regulators to your BCD. (If they're not dangling down they're less likely to get damaged when your BCD and cylinder are passed up and put on the deck of the boat.)

When it is your time to exit the water, take off your weight belt and pass it up to someone on the boat. (It helps if you release any integrated BCD weights and pass these up as well.)

Take off your BCD in the water and pass it up to someone on the boat. (If possible, first clip your instrument console and regulator to your BCD so that's they're not going to dangle down.)

Take off your fins and pass them up to someone on the boat.

Use the boat ladder to get out of the water and climb aboard the boat.

Many divers aren't used to taking off their gear in the water like this. Just think it through and proceed calmly. If you're having problems, just ask for assistance. You'll soon get the hang of it.

Keeping the Boat Safe

On exiting from your dive, make sure your dive gear is out of the way of any other divers who still need to come aboard. Then be prepared to assist other divers exiting the water.

Once everyone is aboard, immediately break apart and stow your dive gear so as to ensure that the deck area is clear and safe. Cylinder back in the rack. BCD, regulator, mask, fins etc. back in your plastic tub or dive bag in the forward compartment of the boat.

This is extremely important. It ensures that the boat deck is back into a safe condition as soon as possible. Thus the Boat Captain has the freedom to manouvure the boat (e.g. to pick up other divers, avoid other vessels etc.) without having to worry about your dive gear being a safety hazard.

Helping Out On The Boat

We are all volunteers, so please lend a hand. Just ask if something needs to be done and it will be appreciated. The Boat Captain needs a hand in launching and retrieving the boat, loading and stowing the gear, dropping the anchor, tying the boat at moorings, putting up the dive flag, preparing shot lines and buoy lines, putting down and pulling up the step ladder at the rear of the boat, plus unloading and cleaning up at the end of the dive day. Don't be shy about coming forward and helping out. There is a first time for everyone, plus everyone is more than willing to help you to learn the ropes.

Dive Boat Contribution

At the end of the dive day, please give your dive boat contribution promptly to your Boat Captain. If we are doing a dive on a site where a booking fee needs to be paid, e.g. ex HMAS Canberra, then you'll also be expected to pay your share of the booking fee.

Please ensure you have the correct funds, or you may find the extra being accepted as an additional donation!

It is important that divers bring the correct dive boat contribution money on the day. Boat owners have to prepare the boat for the trip home. The last thing they need is to be chasing up contributions and then having to change notes and coins. Boat owners are not bankers, thus divers without the correct contribution may be asked to find change elsewhere.

Well Done!

So it isn't too hard is it? If you have any questions please look up, contact a VSAG club member, or come along to a VSAG club meeting and ask away. We are always happy to answer any questions.

You might event want to check out one diver's Fathoms magazine account of his first dive with VSAG for some more pointers.

Safety in Diving

Published on: 2007-02-23 19:00:16 (19349 reads)

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