Diving with current is one of the biggest fears of many divers, but a delight for others. When they consult us about diving destinations or ask us for a budget for some trip the topic of the current usually comes up: “Is it a place where there is a lot of current” or “We don’t have too much experience and we are a little afraid of strong currents” are topics that arise when clients consider diving in famous places. In fact, most places where we can dive with large predators such as sharks or where we find mantas receive currents assiduously.
The currents can be habitual in zones like the previous ones, in a single point of immersion or they can be fortuitous in a zone where it is supposed that there are no currents. Also we can be different types from currents like ascending or descending, in surface or the bottom… it is not of more knowing what to make when we dived with currents to always dive with security.
Here we will explain you the different types from currents and how to face them to avoid them with tranquillity and even to enjoy them. The most important thing when you are caught in a current is to keep your mind cool, stop, think and act accordingly.
Vertical currents are currents strong enough to push you to the surface or to the bottom. Yes, as you can imagine they can be dangerous and disconcerting.
What are upward and downward or vertical currents? An upward current is a body of water that comes from deeper waters and pushes everything in its path to the surface, including you. Conversely, a downward current is one that begins in shallow water and rushes over the edge of a wall flowing downward. These currents can occur when two currents in opposite directions collide and head towards the bottom or towards the surface.
What do we do if we encounter one of these two currents? If it is downward we must follow these steps:
- Change direction and swim parallel to the wall.
- Give your jacket some air.
- Accompany it.
And what do we do if the current is upward?
- Reverse your direction and flutter parallel to the wall.
- Empty your vest.
- Launch your surface buoy.
Tidal currents are masses of coastal water that travel from the ocean to the coast and vice versa thanks to the attraction of the moon, generating enormous underwater rivers that can be both ascending and descending. These tides in the open ocean do not have a great impact, but in areas close to the coast or in channels they are of great intensity. What can we do to avoid encountering one of these currents?
- Check the local tide tables and schedules.
- Consider diving during a slack tide.
- Bring the right equipment.
- Share your dive plan.
When we are making a immersion within a program of diving life on board that is not planned that it is to the drift (the entrance and the exit are not made in the same point) and we are going to enter the water with current we must follow these steps to complete it with security:
- Pay attention to the briefing. If there is a current on the surface before entering, the boat crew will have specific instructions on how to enter the water, including how to get down from the guide line all together.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. At depth we can find out and predict how the current is moving by observing marine life. Soft corals and vegetation move in the direction of the current and fish face the current.
- Descend. If the current increases, changes direction or appears unexpectedly during the dive, try to descend a little, where the current loses strength.
- Stay together. If part of the group is left behind by the current, wait for them on a ledge on the reef. Air consumption in current situations increases and it is important that the more buddies you have together the better in case you have to share air with a diver in trouble.
- Abort the dive if necessary. If the current is too strong and you are not comfortable, it is best to abort the dive. If you are in a group do not be surprised when the guide stops the dive if the current is too strong.
- Follow the briefing until you get out of the water. Follow the instructions of the divemasters and guides at all times until the dive is over.
There are dive sites in many parts of the world known as Washing Machines or Vortexes, dives where the current is powerful and has an irregular behavior, it can catch you in a whirlpool that makes you spin.