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The Best Way to Dive for Sailors

Louise Reardon, Captain and RYA Yachtmaster Instructor

Louise Reardon, Captain and RYA Yachtmaster Instructor

Louise Reardon has been sailing around the globe on private yachts since 1992 and taught sailing with Offshore Sailing School on Tortola since 2006. She holds an MCA 3000 ton Masters, is a RYA Yachtmaster Instructor, US Sailing Instructor, and has a BA hons in Asian & African Geography.
Louise Reardon, Captain and RYA Yachtmaster Instructor

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Skipper’s Tips: The Best Way to Dive for Sailors

The concept of Rendezvous Diving was pioneered in the BVI in the early 1980s. A simple model, it’s a winning combination here where we have so many visitors who come to sail and would like to dive, navigating to and through the dive sites without travelling with their own dive gear or renting it.

It is the ultimate convenience when you can sail to pretty much any anchorage and the dive centre brings the boat, the equipment, and the staff to you. Escorted to the dive site, they ensure you see all the key features, correctly identify coral and fish types, navigate you safely back to the boat, and return you to your yacht after a hassle free two-tank dive. Must fortunately, dive centres run this service at no extra cost.

There is more to value in Rendezvous Diving when you consider the benefit of having the instructors describe the dive site’s history and lore. It makes famous hotspots like the Wreck of the Rhone even more enjoyable when the staff share the elaborate story of how the ship met her fate, inspiring divers during their excursion, and making certain individuals see all the artefacts that would be difficult to find on their own; the dive companies are so geared to ensuring that the overall experience is exceptional, that a solid amount of planning would be necessary to match this experience if you were doing it on your own. Divers will also have confidence in that these custom dive boats are fully equipped with life rings, life vests, first aid kits, oxygen, flares, VHF and local cell phones. In addition to this, there is stress-alleviation when a trained professional is guiding you and added benefit from a measure of tuition.

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Now, this is not to say that renting gear for the week and diving independent isn’t a fine plan too – on the contrary, if you have a dive professional in your group or you are a repeat visitor, this works well. All dive centres frequently rent equipment to yachts, which is cheaper if you are planning to do many dives during your cruise. On most islands, there are facilities to refill the tanks for a nominal rate, but you will have to stow and clean bulky equipment, which for a large group might burden your holiday.

For those non-regulars to the BVI—those who plan only a couple dives or those with less experience—Rendezvous makes sense. It also fits if you have a mixed group of certified and non-certified divers like a parents and children scenario, because the first-timers can go with an instructor if they are curious to share the event.

After researching the diving location in the BVI Dive Map, make arrangements for a Rendezvous dive, contact the dive centre at least a day or two ahead of the proposed date. They will need to know the intended location, name of your boat, number of divers, and their BCD size (Buoyancy Compensating Device).

On the day, you are to monitor VHF channel 16 for instructions on which side to put your lines and fenders for the dive boat to raft up next to you. At this point, you would normally produce proof of certification and method of payment. You can call in your credit card details, but some boats will also carry the traditional manual imprinter, with a carbon copy for your records.

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Travel-Talk-Online and Trip Advisor have a number of contributors who have discussed Rendezvous Diving in the BVI and attest to its convenience. There have also been online discussions of budding divers using the opportunity to discover Scuba Diving and even progressing to complete the training for PADI’s Open Water diver certification.

Many visitors opt to do the basic theory and pool training at home and come to the BVI with a referral from their local dive centre. All they then have to do is two days of four dives at the beginning of their vacation, and all this can be accomplished on the Rendezvous boats.

Sticking to the larger certification agencies like PADI and SSI would guarantee that you are able to partner with a dive centre here in the BVI and call yourself a diver by midweek – it has been said that as much as 85% of the dive trade is through Rendezvous.

So to the skippers that ply these waters, consider your role as concierge to charter guests and hook them up with one of our excellent dive operations here. There is so much to see on these islands, above and below the water, and we want their overall BVI experience to be outstanding.

All they have to do, is jump in, swim, breathe, and enjoy.

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