First thing to look at, where should I go for a shore dive when I have no access to a boat?
New Zealand has miles and miles of fantastic coastline with easy access by vehicle, the trick is to find areas with good underwater visibility, minimal wave action and not too much boat traffic.
If there is a big city nearby there is a good chance the seabed will have a lot of sediment on it, this means any wave action will stir it up making the water very dirty, try and avoid this. Wave action also makes your entry into the water and exit later in the day dangerous, we will cover this further on.
Once you decide on a spot make sure someone knows where you are and always dive with a buddy.
Gear for shore diving needs to be kept to a minimum. Entering and exiting dressed like a Christmas tree is not only dangerous but you run the risk of losing gear should there be any wave action. Also if you have a big swim excess gear can tire you out faster than expected and this could cut short your dive. I have seen divers so engrossed in sorting out excess gear while diving that they actually miss seeing fish. You are there to experience the underwater world, not fight with equipment that is not really required.
Do not dive in areas with high boat traffic, ie areas close to boat ramps. A high number of boats sometimes travel to and from at speed, most will not be expecting divers in the area. A boat could severely injure or kill you if it hits you.
Spearfishing: shore diving tips
By Darren Shields
Got the gear, heard all the stories, time to have a crack for yourself. Shore diving can be a lot of fun but there are a few tips and tricks that, if followed, will make your day safer and more enjoyable.
If entering a river or harbour make sure you understand the flow of the tide, will you be able to make it back in should the tide be flowing against you at the end of your dive? It can be easier to enter or exit the water outside an estuary or harbour, make sure you take this
into account when planning your dive.
If your entry is from a beach the best way in is to fully gear up, unravel your float line at the water’s edge, walk backwards into the water as far as you can with fins on (it is very hard to walk forwards with fins). Once you are in a satisfactory depth, turn around, slowly submersing yourself with a forward motion and speargun in front. Do not load your gun until you’ve passed any wave action. If you happen to get picked up and dumped by a wave the last thing you want around you is a loaded gun. Another point when entering through surf is to ensure your mask is secure, you do not want a big wave to dislodge it.
When entering from the rocks first stop and watch the wave pattern before getting in, there is generally a lull between wave sets that make it safer for your entry. If possible throw your attached gun, float and line in ahead of you to be retrieved once you are in safely, it may be better to have both hands free in this situation.
When exiting the water: if in a big swell make sure you unload your gun first, you can swim to the rocks holding just the middle part of your float line while your gun and float streams out behind you. This leaves your hands free for scrambling up the rocks and you can then pull gun and float to you once you are safe high and dry. Never take off your mask until you have exited the water and are in a safe place. Should a wave drag you back into the water it is better to still have your mask and snorkel in place to help you see and breath.
To summarise the points:
1. Find an area away from major cities for best visibility.
2. Let someone know where you are going.
3. Minimise your equipment.
4. Do not dive a spot with lots of boat traffic.
5. Is the tidal flow too strong for you to return safely?
6. How big are the waves, will you be able to get in and out safely?
7. On returning to the rocks, hold your floatline in the middle with gun and float streaming out behind you to keep your hands free.
8. Check you are not spearfishing in a marine reserve. There are many around our coastline.
9. At the end of the day it is really common sense, do not be in a hurry to get in, sit back for a minute at your entry point and take into account what I have mentioned.