5 Dive Entry methods for boat diving and when to use them

SCUBA Diving

Ranelle Ivens


Ranelle's addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology.

Being a SCUBA diver means that you need to know how to adapt and go with the flow. You never know what nature or your dive shop has in store for you. Sometimes it’s a calm peaceful sea and nice big boat that can facilitate your preferred entry style. Other times you’re wading into big waves, battling current, or dealing with small boats. So how do you still pull it all  off like a seasoned diver? Knowing and using the right dive entry method.

First things First

Before you go jumping into the water make sure you’re ready. Just because you’ve put your kit on and you want to get in the water doesn’t mean that you’re set to go. To avoid looking like newbie diver, and be perceived as that diver that ‘has definitely done this a lot’ then don’t forget to go through this checklist.

The List

  • Check, check ,check: Remember that horrendous acronym from you open water course for the buddy check (BWRAF)? Use it! Whether you use it by yourself or with a buddy make sure you go through the steps. Here’s a quick reminder in case you forgot; BCD, Weights, Releases, Air, Final okay.
  • Check your hoses: Ensure all of your hoses and gauges are tucked away and secured. Your extra regulator needs to be secured with the hose under your right arm with a clip or D-ring, but still easily accessible in an emergency. Your pressure gauge or computer on the other hand needs to be tucked into your waist buckle or secured with a clip under your left arm. Dragging hoses reduce streamlining and get get caught on fragile reefs or damaged banging against rocks.
  • Accessories: If you have an goodies like cameras, lights, safety buoys, or anything else make sure they are attached to you using clips, re-tractors, magnets, shoelaces or I don’t care what, but make sure that they aren’t going anywhere. In my career as guide and instructor I’ve seen people lose knives, cameras, compasses, dive computers! You name it. Dive gear is expensive and if you lose it, it becomes ocean pollution so make sure its secure.
  • Don’t Forget your Fins: This may be more of a personal reminder, but even as a dive professional you forget things sometimes. I’m particularly bad for leaving my fins on the boat. As much as I wish my legs would transform into a tail it never works. In other words, don’t feel bad if you forget something its usually not that big a deal, no one’s perfect all the time.

Time to Jump

The most important part of choosing a proper dive entry as assessing the conditions. Each entry has different benefits and draw backs so you need to make sure that the dive entry makes sense. Not only that, but some boats can’t facilitate all kinds of entries which is why it’s good to know more than one or two.

Always remember before you jump to make sure of two very important thing. First, that there is air in you BCD (unless your guide tells you to do a negative entry). Second, don’t land on your dive buddy! always make sure the landing strip is clear.

The Giant Stride

This dive entry style is one of the more popular styles and one you may have seen before. The giant stride can be used in any kind of conditions as long as the water is deep (10ft/3m +) and can be done from any kind of ledge that you can stand on (edge of a boat, dock, pool etc.). When done correctly your head will stay mostly out of the water and you will end in a vertical position.

To preform the giant stride put your toes right on the edge of the platform. Next, place one hand over your weight belt buckle, this will ensure that it does come undone when you hit the water. Take your other hand and use it to secure your regulator and mask. You can do this by using your fingers to hold the mask and the palm or your hand to push the reg in your mouth.

Once everything is held in place look straight ahead and take a leisurely stroll of the side of the boat. Of course make the sure that first step is a giant stride (ha ha). You should hit the water mid stride as your legs are nice and far apart, at this point bring your feet together. the force of the kick, along with the air in your BCD, will keep your head at the surface. Though be aware your head may dip under for just a second or two.

The Back Roll

Much like the giant stride, the back roll can be used an any conditions suitable to recreational diving. What makes it different is that this technique is suitable for deep and shallow water. You will find that in some places you will enter the water over shallow coral reefs. Where a giant stride would likely cause damage to the reefs and yourself, the back roll is a better alternative. To do this dive entry you will need a ledge that you can sit on, such as the side of a boat. In many small boats the back roll entry is the only geared entry available.

Have you ever heard that dive joke why do divers roll backwards out of the boat? Well the back roll entry is where that joke came from. With this entry method you sit on the side of the boat fully geared, with one hand securing that weight belt buckle and the other keeping your regulator  and mask in place. You then simple fall backwards into the water and into your tank. When you hit the water, sit up. This way you avoid doing an underwater back flip. Have you figured out the answer to the joke yet? Well, if you rolled forwards you’d still be in the boat.

The In Water Dive Entry

You can’t enter the water if you’re already it. Which is why the name in water isn’t talk about how you get in the water, rather, it’s referring to donning your gear. With this dive entry method how you get in the water is up to you. Whether you want to do the toe dip and slide in, the cannon ball, or a triple standing back flip that’s up to you. Just don’t hurt yourself. Grab hold and put on your gear after getting in. Don’t forget to double check that your hoses and accessories are still secured. You can either have someone hand you the equipment or put it in the water yourself before you jump. Especially if you use and integrated weight system, Make sure that the gear is fully inflated before putting it in the water.

There are a lot of variations in this dive entry method. People who have difficulty putting gear on in the boat for health reasons are the primary users of this method. These variations have to do with when you put on your fins, mask, and belt. I always recommend entering the water with fins and mask, this way you can see and swim more effectively. As for the weight belt, You can have someone hand it to you in the water when you are ready for it, or put it on before you get in. If you decide on the later, make sure that you maintain contact with your BCD so as not to sink.

This entry method should not be used in rough waters or strong currents as this could make it dangerous.

The Trust Fall

This is by far is my favorite entry method of all. The first time you use this entry method it may be a little bit scary but I swear you will love it. You can use this method in deep or shallow water, in any kind of conditions. All it requires is a ledge that you can stand on. As with the giant stride,  secure your belt/gauge, mask and regulator but this time stand on the edge with your back to the water. When the way is clear and you are ready, fall backwards onto your tank. The ocean will catch you I promise! Oh and by the way, you will look like a total badass when you do this one.

The Controlled Seated Entry

Controlled seated entry is a dive entry used primarily by people who cannot stand up in SCUBA gear for health related reasons, and where back roll is not an option. This entry method is suitable for most conditions but can be hazardous in high swell or waves. I do not recommend this entry to people who do not need to use it, or have poor upper body strength or limitations. The reason for this being that you may hurt yourself and/or potentially damage the boat. I also highly suggest practicing this entry off a dock or pool side before attempting it off a boat.

To begin, sit on the edge of the boat with your legs hanging over the edge and get into your gear. Next, turn and place both hands on the platform next to you. You will then push up off the platform and twist and the same time. You should land in the water in a vertical position facing the boat.

Relax Just Do It

When you want to go to it, and you aren’t sure which method entry to use just ask! If you have questions about anything always ask. A good guide will always do their best to get you in the water nice and easy. Trust me, even if you feel like a nuisance for needing someone to hand you this or that, don’t! It really isn’t a problem.

Do you have a favorite entry method that isn’t listed? Thoughts or comments? Tell me about them in the comments!

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