This is going to sound like blasphemy but there is more to diving than just diving. Of course our primary goal is to spend as much time underwater as possible, but we can get so much more out of our favorite leisure activity. While solo diving has become more widely accepted in the diving world, the social aspect of diving is strong. Almost all of us, after all, dive with a buddy. Some of my closest friendships ever have been sealed in shared diving experiences.
But the delightful social aspect of diving does and can go far beyond just that of a buddy. And growing the social aspect will without a doubt make your diving experience more enjoyable. Below are some ideas you may have not considered but are definitely worth pursuing.
In California alone there are over 60 active dive clubs. Some of them specialize in one sort of underwater activity or another. There are Underwater Photographic Societies and free-diving spearfishing groups. Others share ethnic and gender demographics. But one thing they all have in common is to have fun sharing the adventure that our underwater environment has to offer.
Gear tips are shared with information exchanged. Diving, photo and hunting techniques are also often discussed at regular meetings. But probably the most important is there is no easier place to find a buddy with the same likes and dislikes and underwater goals that you share. And clubs can connect you with other divers of the same, or in some cases different, experienced levels. I, for one, often enjoy diving with a beginner so that I can pass on some of my knowledge, expertise and experience to the next generation of divers. I remember how much I enjoyed diving with an advanced diver when I was still a newbie.
Dive club meetings are generally a monthly affair often with an expert speaker sharing various aspects of their extensive experiences. There is abundant social time, and, often because the meetings are held at a restaurant, food. And finally, a raffle is frequently staged at the end of the meeting for great prizes.
And clubs do trips together. It can be as simple as regular group beach dives to elaborate exotic dive trips and local dive trips wedged in between. Because you are diving with the club you are already familiar and friendly with your travel companions and traveling with a group often carries with it the advantage of a group discount.
Finding a club is easy. Check out the Dive Club section of this publication or ask at your local dive store, many of which sponsor local dive clubs.
AFTER AND BETWEEN DIVE SOCIALIZING
One of my favorite times on a dive boat is after and between dives. That is when I learn the most about a particular dive site. I, or we (my buddy and I), only really get a chance to see a narrow aspect of a dive site. It is through the eyes of the others on the dive that I get and fuller understanding of what the location is all about. I concentrated on the reef. But what did the sand flats hold? Or it could be as simple as I did not take the time to look up and somebody else did just in time to see a passing mola. Talk it up on the boat and find out what you missed or share your unique experience.
Then, like a dive club, I find out more about a particular piece of gear the diver is using and why. I observe other divers as to what they are doing right, and sometimes wrong, to improve or inhibit the pleasure of their diving experiences. And, if they are willing, I can discuss it with them. Both parties will learn in the exchange.
A big winner for making friends in diving is on dive trips, especially live-aboard dive boats. On a recent trip I met a buddy pair of rocket scientists (seriously). They were a riot! Like Laurel and Hardy, they played off each other in a humor that was contagious and fun. But also they were very well traveled with extensive diving experiences. I learned a lot from these guys. And I benefited from a new and wonderful friendship. All of us bonded on that dive trip.
We all could use more education and never stop learning. Another place where I have solidified life-long friendship were in dive classes. You will share challenges, bookwork and underwater experiences. Perhaps you’ll even share a little homework?! And an after-class beer or two is always a lot of fun.
AT THE DIVE SHOP
Hang out at the dive shop and sooner or later you will make some friends. Like co-workers around the water cooler or sharing a cup of coffee or lunch, a bunch of divers hanging out around the air fill station inevitably begin to share sea stories. Some will be true; others a stretch, but the talk is rarely dull. With your B.S. filter on you just might learn about some new and mysterious “secret” dive spot.
Give it a whirl. Make some friends. Gain some more dive buddies. With a regulator in our mouth, it is hard to talk diving. Be social on the surface, be open and gain knowledge.