A few days ago, my co-founder Logan Young and I decided to do something new to celebrate after weeks of hard work. After some thought, we decided on scuba diving. However, since we had never been diving, there was much to consider– more than I was even aware of.
We summoned the help of Fancy Hands to research and report everything we should be aware of before diving into this new experience (see what I did there?). Well, in short, we couldn’t have gotten a better man for the job, an experience man by the name of Brian G.
I am an experienced diver and actually got my advanced certification with SSI as well (in Thailand). I got my basic open water certification with NAUI and through both companies as well as the various tour operators, I have generally been given the same advice. First of all, the length of the flight is irrelevant, but other factors are not. Depending on how high the plane will fly and how the pressure regulation on board is, the effect on your off-gassing will vary. That being said, 24 hours is the standard that people go by, but it is over-cautious to be sure. Depending on how deep you are diving, you may be completely regulated within as little as 10 hours or less, but if you are doing deep dives or many dives, you could need the full 24, or close to it. Since you are a new diver, you certainly won’t be going too deep (you should be maxing at 18 meters or 60 feet), so that helps. Additionally, any decent tour operator will keep your deepest dives to the first one or two, and then you will be shallower after those. Therefore, on day 2, you should be closer to 10-15 meters or 30-50 feet, or perhaps even less. The Great Barrier Reef is an enormously well-dived site, so you will almost certainly be given wrist computers as well, which wll help you manage your nitrogen levels. Therefore, flying 18 hours after your last dive really shouldn’t be any issue at all. What I have done when flying the same day as diving is simply let my divemaster/guide know that I will be flying and when, and then ask that we keep that last dive a bit shallower. To help reduce the risk of any issues, it is a good idea to take it easy after your last day of diving, and limit things like smoking and drinking. I have been told, and through experience believe, that the pressure adjustments on large aircraft all but eliminate the altitude change issues, so as long as you’re not taking the flight on a prop-plane or similar small craft, you really should be fine.
In answer to your question about “how bad” it is, the risk is basically the same as surfacing too quickly, which I’m sure you learned about in your recent course. The cure for which is a few hours – a day in an oxygen tank. Therefore, if for some strange reason you are not feeling well after your flight, you could just need a bit of time on pure oxygen. Given the kind of dive-centric area you are traveling too, you will have ample access to advice and equipment (like oxygen tanks) to help you if any issues arise. In all my years of diving in many countries, I have never been denied a dive because of my travel plans, so if you come across a tour company that says they won’t take you, I would be skeptical of them anyway. It is common practice to list these things/warnings on their websites and in their documentation, but that is simply because it is the standard to not consider a diver completely off-gassed until 24 hours have passed since the last dive.
Let me know if you have any further questions about this or if you need anything else before your trip. And enjoy! Diving the Great Barrier Reef has been a dream of mine for years, and I hope it is a wonderful experience.
Hello Logan,An hour was perfect for this, which I used during business hours out there so that I could talk with them if necessary.
I looked into every liveaboard that has a website, and discovered that there are only 3 companies who do an overnight dive (2-day, 1-night) package. Of those 3, only one has availability for this Monday-Tuesday. That is Reef Encounter – http://fhands.com/3kCIfqG
I chatted with Chris to confirm that they have the space, which they do, but only one room left. It is $565 per person which includes everything except a wetsuit. If you need wetsuits, they are $5 per day. One possible downside is that it is a double room (one bed), but it is the only option. The trip is great for all levels of diving, so you should have a great time. That being said, their dives are normally independent, so you would be diving on your own. This can be a bit stressful when you first start out, however. They allow you to dive with a guide (also known as a divemaster) which I would recommend to make your dives more comfortable and honestly a lot more fun as they’ll be pointing out all of the amazing things down there that are easy to miss in the excitement. You can arrange this on the boat and it will add $30 per dive (unfortunately, it is a per person charge of $15/dive). Since it adds quite a bit to the total, I would start out with the guide for the first 2 or 3 dives and then see how you feel. Just make sure you talk with the divemaster(s) a lot to plan how you want to do each of your dives.
They look just about as good as all of the better dive trips there (including very nice looking staterooms, but I stopped digging too much once I realized the limited options, since I wanted to get this message to you right away so that you can book it before it disappears.
I asked him the best way to book quickly as well, and he said you can simply book online here: http://fhands.com/0B5J3V8
(reefencounter.com.au) Or you can call their office at +61 7 4037 2700
They also have a premium package option called “Top Deck” which includes some extras like breakfast in bed and champagne, but I sent you the link for the regular package, just so you know.
If possible, I would book with them ASAP to make sure you have a spot.
Let me know if you have any additional questions.