In The Drift

You know Cozumel is known for some of the best drift diving in the world. The currents run on almost every reef here, every day.  It is usually about 1-2 knots but can be as much as six at times. With practice, you will learn to prefer the faster currents and here are some reasons why.

Tony · 12 March 2018

You know Cozumel is known for some of the best drift diving in the world. The currents run on almost every reef here, every day.  It is usually about 1-2 knots but can be as much as six at times. With practice, you will learn to prefer the faster currents and here are some reasons why.

First-time drift dives can be intimidating to divers that have not done it before. They feel out of control and at the mercy of the water.  The faster the current, the farther you travel during the dive and the more you see.  Some of it you can’t see for very long because you are flying by, but often you can find a way to stop or at least slowdown. Having a guide with you is helpful of course. We know what to expect. We know which direction to go and where to end up, so we meet up with the boat. Have you ever wondered why we get in the water first and check the current and location? It tells us a lot but only because we are used to it, and it can usually show us where we will go and what will happen during the dive.  It will still throw us a change-up mid-dive sometimes, but mostly we can predict it.

The water has a lot of power. The stronger the current, the more you have to surrender yourself to it. If you are and know how to play it, you can still go where you want, but you have to know the tricks, so you don’t get blown away or waste your whole tank in the process.  Here are a few techniques to stay in control and not let the current overpower you: Get low.  The current is a lot like the wind.  If you are standing straight up, you get hit with more wind. If you are low or behind something, there is less wind. The difference, of course, is that water can push you away whereas it has to be a mighty wind to change your balance. The lower you are, the slower and less force the current has. If you are on a wall dive, get close to the wall.  On shallower dives, tuck behind a rock or a sponge or a little ledge. 

The higher you are, the faster you will be blown downstream. If you get behind the group, move up about 10 feet. Again, the farther you are from obstacles, the faster the current runs. If you stop to take a picture or pose with a turtle, just rise a few feet, and you will catch up to the group without having to swim. Streamline. Where have you heard that before? The more streamlined you are, the less the water has to grab as it flows past your body. Tuck in gages, gear, and accessories especially if you have to swim against the current for a short time. Play with it. Instead of swimming up over an upcoming coral head, just inhale and sail over the top of it and exhale to descend back down.

If you need to stop or slow down find something that you can get behind to wait. It does not take a huge thing at the bottom to slow down. Anything 2 feet across or more will be enough to come to a complete stop. You just have to get close and stay in the slipstream position. You might also look for a small hole in the bottom rock that you can put your finger inside. Make sure it is not living coral and never grab a sponge.  They will tear away if you do and you have killed it. Any more tips will have to come from one of the guides. Don't be afraid to ask questions. We are here for you to become better divers.


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