This section contains details about planning for

  1. More Distant Sites - i.e. sites outside the normal operations of the branch, but those that can be executed within a (probably extended) day.

  2. Hardboats

  3. Expeditions - which may be considerably more distant, and consequently may last for a number of days.

Expeditions are assumed to be within the limits of the British Isles. Obviously, an expedition to South Georgia or Micronesia will require a completely different level of planning, which is not addressed here.

The following planning advice supplements the Dive Marshal Procedures, (which are still required once a site and date are decided), and helps plan the additional items that need to be taken into account when venturing further afield from the branch.

Club Diving at More Distant Sites

The essential difference is that you will be organising diving at a site that is not well known to the Club.

You will require information from some or all of the following sources as well as our Dive Marshal Resources.

You will require Admiralty Charts and Tide Tables for the area that you want to dive in. The Diving Officer will have access to tide tables for most of the British Isles. Charts may be found in the DM Kit if the club has used that area before, or else can be obtained from UK Chart Agents. It is highly likely that you can claim the cost back from the club if the chart ends up in the DM Kit for future use (so obtain a receipt!).

You can either start by selecting a

  • dive site you want to visit and finding a suitable launch site, or

  • launch site that you want to use, and find a suitable dive site.

In either case, you will probably need to make a reconnaissance trip, going to the actual site and gathering information there, rather than relying on external sources. Get some detailed maps, either standard Ordnance Survey maps, or one from an Internet provider such as Streetmap or Multimap.

You will need to obtain fairly good information about your launch site, specifically

  • How long it will take members to drive from home to the launch site.

  • Maps how to get there.

  • Hours, or times of the tide when you can launch/recover your boat

  • Launching fees, and who to pay

  • Car parking, including the boat trailers, and how much it costs. How busy the car parks get.

  • Harbour bye-laws, speed limits, navigation, and lights

  • Restricted areas where permission to dive is required. Details of licenses, who to contact.

  • Departure times of ferries and other hazards to free navigation.

  • Location of public lavatories, cafe's, snack bars, pubs, sandwich shops, ice-cream sellers etc.

  • Any special attractions or diversions for non-diving families

Once you have selected and confirmed both your dive site and launching site, most of the other tasks are detailed in the Dive Marshal Procedures.

Hardboat (Day-Boat) Diving

It is up to you to do all the co-ordination with the skipper/owner. This includes:

  • Initial booking and payment of deposits.

  • Communication with the skipper

  • Potentially a visit to the boat to discover facilities and learn the "Skipper's rules" - how he wants diving to be done from his vessel, where kit should be stored and what areas should not be obstructed, where the dry and wet areas are, how long it normally takes to load the boat, etc.

  • Providing maps for the divers, and details of car parking availability and charges. Where they can unload their cars, and how they can transport their equipment onto the boat.

  • Confirmation the day before that the weather will permit the trip will go ahead.

  • Organisation of the divers, especially getting them there in plenty of time to load the boat, along with details of when the boat will leave, and when it will get back.

  • Agreement with the skipper on which sites to dive from the selection offered by him.

  • All the normal Dive Marshal things - safety briefing, diver pairings, record keeping, etc

  • Final payment to the skipper/owner.

  • Submission of records and accounts to the branch.

Club Diving Expeditions

The organisation of these is really quite different from normal day diving or and of the above. The Expedition Leader need not be the Dive Marshal, and in most cases it is preferable that they are not.

  1. The Expedition Leader first needs to select a general area to go diving in, such as South Devon, Cornwall, West Wales, etc, or even a subset of such areas e.g. The Farnes, The Manacles, etc.

  2. Once selected, the Expedition Leader must determine all the appropriate launch sites for the area in question (including all the various items in the list of launch site information above), and assess all the possible dives sites that are accessible and within range of those launch sites.

  3. The Expedition Leader must then research suitable accommodation given the location of the launch sites that are planned to be used. There are quite a number of considerations to be made here, including

    • Number of divers to accommodate

    • Provision of a range of affordable cost options

    • Availability of space

    • Whether non-diving families will be accompanying the expedition

    • Desirability of keeping all the party in one location (recommended)

    • Space to park cars, and the boat

    • Space to dry dive kit

    • Locations of laundry facilities

    • Locations of supermarkets, off-licenses, restaurant, and take-aways.

    • Attractions and diversions for non-diving families.

    • Location of nearest Accident and Emergency Unit

  4. Other facilities that need to be planned are:

    • Location and opening times of air stations.

    • Locations and opening times of dive shops.

    • Where to get fuel for the boat

    • Where to get oil and other consumables for the boat, including odd items that may break.

    • Where to get spares for the trailer.

    • Location of nearest Recompression Facilites

    • Name and contact details for local Coastguard MRSC

    • Name and contact details for Harbour Masters

  5. The Expedition Leader needs to advertise the trip, and provide interested members with all the information that they may need in advance, such as dates, booking details for accommodation, and details of facilities.

  6. In advance of the start, the Expedition Leader should select/co-opt Dive Marshals for each day of the expedition from amongst the ranks of the divers attending. The Expedition Leader should allocate a launch site for the day, and provide the Dive Marshals with appropriate resources such as

    • Details of appropriate dive sites.

    • Details of the launch site

    • Tides for the day.

    However it is not intended that the Expedition Leader does all the Marshalling Work, but instead ensures that a suitable selection of resources are available to each Dive Marshal to enable them to conduct the day's diving effectively.

  7. Once details are finalised, the Expedition Leader should communicate the expedition plan to all attendees. This should include all details of accommodation, dive sites, launch sites, events, contact numbers, and anything else that is felt to be of direct relevance and importance to the diving members
  8. Things change constantly during a week's expedition, and the members need to be aware of who the Expedition Leader and the Dive Marshals are. If staying in varied accommodation, then an accommodation list needs to be distributed to all members on arrival or soon afterwards. A list of mobile telephone numbers of all those attending, given to each member, will also be of considerable value. Members should be instructed that they are expected to contact the next day's Dive Marshal and confirm their attendance on the dive.
  9. The Expedition Leader should be monitoring the weather, especially in the longer term, on a day by day basis. Early warning of adverse weather will permit the development of alternative plans for days when the weather is forecast to preclude diving at the planned location.
  10. There is little more organisation that is required. There may be expenses associated with the expedition itself rather than individual day's diving - such items may be towing fees to the expedition location, or a one-week launch permit from the local harbour. Such items need to be accounted for, and recovered on an equitable basis from all members of the expedition.

    In addition, if the expedition lasts for a week or so, then it may be appropriate to organise an evening out at a local restaurant or pub, and if all the divers are staying in close proximity, such as tents, caravans, or bungalows, then have a rota for post-dinner drinks, and possibly a barbeque evening!
  11. The Expedition Leader is in charge of all logistics, which means that they should organise the boat prep before the expedition, the boat washing after the expedition, and reporting that needs to be done to the Equipment Officer.
  12. The Expedition Leader should also keep an eye on things like boat oil, that vary from day to day, and whose replenishment may be overlooked by a Dive Marshall.
  13. In the absence of the Diving Officer, the Expedition Leader must be viewed as the most senior Marshal present, and must be prepared to intervene on diving safety matters. If incidents occur, then they must liaise with the Dive Marshal involved and ensure that appropriate paperwork is completed. The Expedition Leader, as well as the Dive Marshals, have the authority to suspend any member of the club from diving if they consider that safety might be compromised.

Example Expedition Briefings

Here are two examples of documents sent by Expedition Leaders. Neither contain necessarily all of the information that may be of use or interest, but between them they ably illustrate the sort of thing that is needed.

"Real" Expeditions

BSAC host an Expeditions Section on their website.

We stated earlier that an expedition to South Georgia or Micronesia will require a completely different level of planning, which is not within the scope of this document, and not addressed here.

However, resources do exist to help plan such expeditions, and our recommendation is that the first place to look is the Royal Geographic Society web site, specifically their Expedition Planning Section. This is based on the 2004 Expedition Planners' Handbook. While the book itself can be purchased, each chapter of each section is available as a .pdf. Look for the links on the right hand side of the page.

If you are interested in further details, then we recommend an Internet search via Google looking for the terms "Expedition Planning", which will return some useful results (along with the usual less relevant ones!).

For more general resources on planning try