Drinking, Diving & Boat Etiquette – Do they mix???
By Deb Disney
I recently booked a boat trip for a few students, another instructor and myself. Since we had to be onboard by 6am the morning of the trip, we decided to spend the night on the boat as opposed to getting up at o’dark thirty. We arrived the night before about 7:00 and unloaded our gear and chose a bunk. Since we had already had dinner, we decided to sit in the galley do our paperwork, brief the students who were staying onboard with us and just visit.
Sitting down at the table, I was a bit surprised to find almost a full bottle of vodka on the table. I thought, who does this belong to? It was only a few minutes later when a group from another dive shop came in and poured themselves a shot. The group sat down and started some pretty heavy drinking, then left for dinner. We finished our paperwork and went to bed.
About 10:30 or so the group showed up back at the boat. They were, as they say, “well into their cups”. They stayed in the galley drinking & partying until about 2:00 am, LOUD, keeping most of us awake. At one point I did ask them to please try to be a little bit more quiet as I was trying to sleep. They toned it down for a few minutes but then went right back to the loud laughing and storytelling. This was bad enough, but when a few were hanging over the side of the boat, “chumming for fish”, I thought that not only is this rude but it is downright dangerous! The group who were drinking consisted of an instructor and a group of students. To say that I was surprised at this is an understatement. Why would an instructor, or for that matter anyone drink that much the night before diving?
The next morning I got up about 6:00 am to meet our other students that had not spent the night on the boat. I needed to brief them on paperwork, where to put their gear and all the other things that you need to be told your first boat trip. The group that were up half the night yelled at us to be quiet which caused more than a few people to raise an eyebrow. One of the other passengers swore under this breath and then turned the lights on in the bunkroom stating that they kept him up half the night it was his turn to pay back.
Fast forward to what went on at the first dive site. To say that the drinking group were a little slow is an understatement, but then what would you expect? On the trip, over to the island a few of the group were fairly sea sick (or should we say hung over?) and a few others did not look so well. The instructor seemed to be somewhat better off than the students were and commented that drinking was not a problem as long as you drink water.
My thoughts on all of this is that there is a time and place for everything and drinking that much before diving, or even setting this type of example with students is not a good idea. Drinking dehydrates you which can lead to an increased risk of DCS. Drinking impairs your judgement, not a great when diving. It slows down your reflexes, not good for an instructor who is responsible for students, or for students that need to have a clear head and good reflexes to perform the skills required to get certified. Drinking dehydrates you which is a leading cause of cramps. The list can go on and on. Forget about how rude it was of them to keep most of us awake half the night.
The good news is, nobody was hurt on the trip. A few people sat out the last dive since they were tired and at least two people I talked to said it was because they did not get the sleep needed the night before due to the other group keeping them up. We all pay good money for boat trips and want to take advantage of all dives on a trip. It was not fair to the other passengers.
Keep in mind, I have no problem with drinking & having a good time. But again, there is a time and place for everything. Drinking on a dive boat the night before and partying to the extent that you keep fellow divers awake and are hung over the next day is not the time or place…in MY opinion.