View Full Version : Tell me about Drift Diving???

10-08-2007, 15:16
OK guys, i've looked for a thread giving some detail, but most of what I am finding is that Drift Diving is FUNNER (more fun?) than Shore diving, AND, apparently one of the best ways to dive places like Cozumel... not much technique stuff though.....

my first instinct says currents could introduce a new element of 'risk' to diving, so i need to hear it from you guys....

:smiley13:What, exactly, is drift diving? How safe is it? what are some of the risks? how should a new diver approach drift diving?.....:smiley29:

thanks in advance for your comments!:smiley20:

10-08-2007, 15:24
NO, not more dangerous - just different.

The basic concept is, the boat drops the teams off. You spend your energy moving left and right in the water column and let the current carry you with it. The boat (usually) follows the bubbles or proceeds to an extraction point.

Bottom line - you tend to see more as you are expending less energy.

As with any new experience, find a diver operator that will work with you after letting them know it is your first drift dive. Risks aren't much different than any dive. However, you should watch for strong currents (most of the diving in Cozumel are pretty easy to work with). Another thing to keep is a safety sausage - overshoot the boat in an increasing current and you may have difficulty working your way back. A whistle and sausage make you easier to notice if the boat has to come get you.

ScubaToys Larry
10-08-2007, 15:27
When you are drift diving, everyone hops in the water and heads down... hopefully all at about the same time. The boat just hangs around above the bubbles, so when you come up, the boat is right there.

It lets you just kinda' fly along the reef without even having to kick. The only thing that gets a bit tricky, is occasionally, you can have a different speed current at say 40 feet than you do at 60, so then if you are having problems equalizing, and you are working your way down - you have to keep an eye on the group and make sure you are not falling behind, or passing them up.

Likewise, if you see a cool moray sitting in a coral head, and you tuck down behind the coral our of the current to take a look and shoot some pictures, by the time you come back up you look and the group is off in the distance. You need to normally come up a bit, where the current is a bit stronger normally, then fin to catch up to the rest of the pack.

So if you just pay attention to where the group is, and let the current push you around with them, it's really an easy way to cover a lot of reef with no effort, and the boat will just pick you up when you have finished your drift.

10-08-2007, 15:39
thanks for the quick responses guys!... sounds like it may actually be a relaxing form of diving!...

question, how difficult, typically, is it to 'hold' against the current in the event you need to wait on someone, want to stop and 'examine' something, or if you've gotten ahead of the group?

i can also see this as a good selling point for the air-powered signal devices.. makes sense!

ScubaToys Larry
10-08-2007, 16:03
The secret is get low... tuck in behind a coral head - it's just like getting out of the wind... if you are behind something - it's not hard to hang there. And proper positioning so you are really slicing into the current - very streamline makes it to where you can hold pretty good without a lot of effort even in the open water. But over all, the general rule of thumb is because of the breaking up of the current over the bottom, the lower you are - the slower you'll go.

Capt Hook
10-08-2007, 16:50
Easiest type of diving, just get down and go with the flow.

No Misses
10-08-2007, 18:21
I'll throw my 2c in. Here in South Florida it is customary for one member of the group to tow a dive buoy/flag. it is the resposibility of everybody else to keep track of the guy with the flag. If by some chance you get seperated from the group (the flag) on a shallow dive, you can surface and find the flag, swim over and rejoin the group. I usually just finish my dive solo and surface at the end. If you are surfacing away from the flag be extra vigilant about listening for boats before comming up the last 10 feet. You should also be prepared to inflate your SMB so that you are more visible to the dive boat and any other boats that my be in the area. If you really want to be on the cutting edge, you can use an SMB and reel to deploy your own marker if you get seperated from the group. I hope this helps.

P.S. 99.999% of my dives are drift dives. It is sooo much easier when the boat comes to pick you up :-)

10-09-2007, 20:57
great thread topic, I was wondering the same as I will be diving in Coz this Dec..1st dive out of OW. Thanks Larry for the wind analogy, makes perfect sense now, thats one I will remember! :)

10-09-2007, 23:25
It's the same for me. I live in Florida and the majority of my dives are drift dives. I love it, it's so relaxing. It was funny because for ages the only non-drift dives I had done were wrecks or springs and then I did a dive on a reef off of Key Largo that wasn't a drift dives and it seemed really weird. We actually had to work to remember where the boat was!

10-09-2007, 23:34
Majority of my dives are drift out of West Palm. Usually a couple of fingers in the sand is all I need to stay in one spot. I have been on some that even if I kicked hard into the current I would still be pulled. Drift diving to me is like standing on a moving sidewalk and siteseeing.

10-10-2007, 12:19
The most usefull (and after being told, most obvious in retrospect) tip I ever got about drift diving:
Stay at the back of the pack and let the divers infront of you "find" the sights. ie: eels, nudi's, sea horses...and other very cool things that are easy to miss. then you just come from behind and are in a position to hover and SEE. This way, there are more sets of eyes likely to find good things. If you fly at the front of the pack, and the people behind you find the reallllllly cool stuff, its harder to fin back against the current to see what they are all now hovering over!

10-10-2007, 12:23
Drift diving to me is like standing on a moving sidewalk and siteseeing.

Cant say it any better than that. Dont fight the current.. Stay low.. Enjoy yourself! its the best kind of diving there is, IMO. sometimes you get the heavy current but, even then if youre low u can go just about anywhere

10-11-2007, 10:19
Drift diving is fun but personally, I don't think it's any better than "noraml" diving. The only exception is when you are diving in a strong current. Then it's nice to just drift with the current and know that you don't have a lot of swimming to do to get to your exit point. One thing I have found about drift diving is that I tend to get cold on those dives. Since you're not moving much, you're body isn't generating heat. If you've never been on a drift dive before, you might want to consider wearing something a little warmer than you would for a regular dive (thicker wetsuit, or a hood or gloves etc.)