If this is your first time diving from Newbury Scuba Diving Club’s RIB, this first section is for you. Following these simple guidelines will make sure that you have a safe and pleasurable first experience out on the RIB.
Preparation and launching
Assemble your kit the night before so that it is ready to go straight onboard. If you are prone to seasickness take the appropriate medication in good time for it to take effect.
Arrive early at the boatyard so that you are not in a rush and can help in preparing the boat – removing the cover, starting the engines, fitting the navigation equipment, prepping the shot line etc.
Listen carefully to the Dive Manager’s briefing and fill in your emergency contact details on the sheet if you haven’t already done so on the online dive sign up sheet.
Find out who your buddy is and what order you will be diving in (i.e. the first pair in sits nearest the stern etc).
Secure your kit opposite your buddy’s as it is safer to enter the water opposing each other. Make sure that your regs and gauges are tucked up out of the way so they cannot be trodden on. See Kit Tip #5
Put your gloves and mask in your fin pockets and then pull your hood down over one of the fins. Place these in the fin rack above your kit along with your water bottle. Your DSMB, Torch, Camera, lube etc should be in a mesh ‘goody’ bag or in your BCD pockets. Stow your second cylinder onboard if instructed.
Stow your weight belt in the boat on your side, just forward of the console.
Stow your small(!) dry bag containing your lunch, keys, money etc in the bow area trying not to get in the way of the shot line. N.B NO KIT BOXES/BAGS ALLOWED ON THE RIB
Pay for a car park ticket in the office – cash only, but much cheaper than the machine. Parking is opposite the boatyard gates.
It is also a good idea to go to the loo before you put your dry-suit on!
Get suited and zipped up, make sure you hydrate. Don’t forget your computer, compass, hat, sunglasses etc.
The boatyard typically launches the RIB with all passengers onboard, so sit near your kit and hold on tight.
Transit, kitting up and entry
Always follow the cox’s instructions whilst onboard, hold on tight and be prepared to move forward along the tubes to help the boat stay on the plane when travelling at speed.
If you are prone to seasickness, look out at the horizon not down into the boat, especially when the boat is manoeuvring slowly whilst finding the dive target/waiting for the slack window.
Agree your dive plan with your buddy.
Kit up when told. Remember weight-belt first. Accept all offers of help such as holding your cylinder steady, routing hoses etc.
Once kitted up, do a buddy check and then move as far to the stern as possible when it is your turn.
Your dive leader will tell the cox once you are both ready to enter the water.
Inflate your BCD fully as this will help your self-rightening in the water.
Hold tight to any loose equipment such as torch,DSMB etc so that it cannot get caught.
When the boat is in position for you to enter, the cox will shout “In neutral” and then count down “Three, two, one, GO”. Roll backwards and on surfacing, immediately swim to the shot line. If the tide is running, please do not faff about as if you miss the shot line it is nearly impossible to swim back to it and it could ruin your and your buddy’s dive!
Hold onto the shot line, signal OK to your buddy and then keeping a light hold on the shot line descend. DO NOT pull yourself down the shot line as this could pull it off the wreck. Have a fabulous dive.
Diver retrieval and return
Once back on the surface, keep your reg in and stay close to your buddy. Resist the urge to say what a brilliant dive it was etc..
As the boat approaches, look at the cox who will give you instructions to separate, or stay together.
Swim to the boat when instructed and hold onto the ropes. Keep you reg in.
When the cox is ready to help you in, pass up your loose equipment such as DSMB, torch or camera. Fully inflate your BCD.
Pass up your weight belt. DO NOT let go until the cox says that they have it.
Release your BCD clips and your dry-suit feed whilst keeping your reg in your mouth.
Help the cox lift your dive kit back into the boat.
Wait for the cox to give the OK and then by finning very hard, simultaneously pulling down on the rope (and probably with a helping hand from the cox), get back into the boat.
Stow away all your dive kit and then tell your buddy/cox/other divers about the amazing dive you just had.
Once back at the slip, help retrieve the boat back onto the trailer, rinse it down and prep it for storage. Don’t forget to write up your dive details in the log and put your name down for the next fabulous RIB dive.
Dive Manager’s guide for the use of the club RIBs
One of the club RIBs is usually stored down at a boatyard on the south coast for the diving season. This negates the need for a towing vehicle to be available as the boatyard offers a launching service for a small fee. Make sure that you check the opening times of the boatyard as they do differ slightly for Spring and Autumn when there is less demand. The Diving Officer must be informed before the boat is taken out and you must always have a qualified BSAC Boat handler on board whilst at sea.
If you are using the RIB stored down at the coast, first before you leave, go to our boatshed and…..
Pick up the boat keys, kill cords, isolators, GPS, depth sounder, the Oxygen kit (assemble the kit and check it is full), a hand-held radio (make sure it is charged?) and the two boat boxes containing the flares and the tools.
When you get to the coast
Check in at reception and pay the launching fees
Remove the boat cover, fold it and stow it just in case the wind picks up whilst you are out.
Check the engine oil levels and top-up if necessary
Pump up the tubes if necessary – DO NOT OVER INFLATE. The pump is under the seat.
Check “A” flag, fire extinguisher, paddles, buoys, ropes, anchor, lifting bag and shots are still present.
Put the boat boxes in the cradles
Switch on the fuel lines in the front console. Vertical position is ON.
Insert the electrical isolator switches and switch ON. Insert keys and kill cords. Check that the radio works.
Fit the GPS, depth sounder and hand-held radio.
Load O2 kit
Load dive kit according to buddy pairs and entry sequence (pairs opposite each other and first pair in stored nearest to the stern).
Position the water tank under the prop and fill with water, prime the fuel lines and start the engine, check the tell-tale and then let it run for a couple of minutes to warm up. NB all three cooling inlets must be underwater for the tell-tale to work. If one battery is flat, they can be interconnected using the isolator under the console. This allows you to start or run both engines from the other battery. REMEMBER to switch off the isolator once started.
Follow the boatyard staff’s instructions/advice on how to launch the boat.
The tank holds approximately 80 usable litres of unleaded petrol. As a rough guide 20NM sailing at high throttle plus 3 hours slow idle in slight seas uses about 40 litres. It would be incredibly embarrassing for the Dive Manager if the boat ran out of fuel, so to make it easy there is an account set up with the refuelling barge company at the Portland marina which is under the name ‘Newbury Diver’. If you are returning early in the day, then it is a great courtesy to the next Dive Manager if you leave the boat refuelled ready for the next trip.
Under normal circumstances both engines should be kept running (though dive plan and fuel consumption considerations may dictate otherwise). If one engine is shut down, turn off the ignition. Note: the Newbury electronics are powered from the starboard battery; hence it is best to keep this running. If the boat is grounded, the sounder may spring from its mounting.
Return boat to Boatyard and help the staff by holding the boat and winching it back onto the trailer
Wash down the boat, don’t forget to attach the hose to the hub rinsing system and let it flush for at least 3 mins
Flush engines using the drum filled with fresh water until the tell-tales run warm
Lay out the ropes, flag etc. on the cylinder rack to dry out
Remove litter and loose items and take these home with you
Replace the boat cover and tie it down securely (not with a granny knot please!)
Is more engine oil required for next trip? If so, please let Equipment Officer know
Top Tip: Before you leave the boatyard, double check that you haven’t left anything behind!
The Dive Manager or other nominated person must report any problems or defects by email to the Equipment Officer, and note them on the board in the shed. Please report status, even if there are no problems, by the end of Monday.
Boat Preparation for towing
If you are taking the spare boat from the boatshed then make sure that it is fully prepared as it is likely that it has not been used for a while.
Check everything is on the boat – radio, buoys, ropes, shot, anchor, flag, fog horn, jack, paddles, O2 kit, flares and tools. Check the sounder transponder and paddle wheel (Kennet only) are clipped securely on the transom. Remember to check the engine oil level and top up if below half full. Take spare engine oil if going away for a long weekend. Note that the Honda and Mercury engines require different types of oil (4-stroke and 2-stroke respectively).
Check you have the correct boat keys (with cutouts) and trailer keys if required and the right set of isolators. All keys and isolators are boat/trailer specific. Is the boat battery(s) charged?
Check hatches are closed; all contents including buoys are secure; boat straps are tight; trailer board connected and all the lights are working. The wheel clamp must be used if the boat/trailer is parked at any time without being hitched to a vehicle (insurance requirement). The boats should be fully fuelled with normal unleaded petrol (95 RON on the pump). Tyres should be at 60 psi on Kennet and 35-40 psi on Newbury when cold.
Returning the RIB to our boatshed
After reversing, move the boat forward 5 cms to release the brakes before unhitching. Make any final movements by hand. Chock the wheels but DO NOT put on the hand brake
Remove the seats and open the hatches to allow for ventilation
Remove engine covers
Leave ropes, flag, jack and other equipment in a position to dry e.g. on the tubes or cylinder rack
Store the oxygen kits with lids released but closed, on the O2 kit shelf in the boatshed
Return the keys and hand radios to the key box
Boats and trailers, including controls, electronics and engines must be washed after diving or when returned to the boatshed
The Law On Towing… is a bit of a minefield, but you need to check;
– That your licence covers you for towing. That your car is suitable for towing the club boat/trailer combination (circa 1.8 tonnes), plus the weight of your diving kit in the car. Drivers who passed a driving test on or after 1 January 1997 are required to pass an additional driving test in order to tow trailers with a maximum authorised mass (MAM, alternatively known as the gross vehicle weight) greater than 750kg. All drivers who passed a car test before 1 January 1997 retain their entitlement to tow trailers until their licence expires. This means they are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM. That’s OK for the club boats.
The Highway Code on Towing
You MUST NOT overload your vehicle or trailer. You should not tow a weight greater than that recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle – so look in the handbook.
You MUST secure your load and it MUST NOT stick out dangerously
You should properly distribute the weight in your trailer with heavy items mainly over the axle(s) and ensure a downward load on the tow ball. Manufacturer’s recommended weight and tow ball load (50-100 kg is recommended by Indespension, but check this against tow vehicle recommendation) should not be exceeded. This should minimise the possibility of swerving or snaking and going out of control. If this does happen, ease off the accelerator and reduce speed gently to regain control.
…..and finally remember that the maximum towing speeds are 50 mph for single carriageways and 60 mph for dual carriageways and motorways.