SNKG – CHAPTER 2 – LEADING SNORKELING EXCURSIONS – SNORKELING FROM A BOAT

In many parts of the world, the majority of the excursions are conducted from boats. Therefore, as an SNSI Snorkeling Guide, it’s important to have some knowledge of boating. While you don’t need a boating license to become an SNSI Snorkeling Guide, having one can enhance your professional credentials. Taking on the roles of both Snorkeling Guide and boat captain adds a significant level of responsibility, encompassing snorkeling-related tasks as well as ensuring on-board safety and navigation.
By reading this section of the SNSI Snorkeling Guide manual, you’ll acquire basic maritime knowledge relevant to snorkeling.
When snorkeling from a boat, several variables come into play, and there is no single correct approach as techniques vary by location and boat type. However, there are general guidelines that a Snorkeling Guide should follow, applicable to all boat snorkeling types.
If you are organizing a trip or excursion day with a dive center, make sure to inquire about the services provided so you can relay accurate information to the snorkelers you are organizing the outing for.
As the Snorkeling Guide, you should be well-acquainted with the boat used to transport snorkelers to the site and give a thorough briefing about the boat to all participants. Inform them about proper stowage of their gear, use of common areas, crew-only areas, and safety during mooring. If the boat has restrooms, explain how to use them.
Space on a boat is limited, so it’s crucial for everyone to be organized and keep their gear and other stuff in one place.
Finally, your decisions regarding the excursion will be influenced by the selected site and environmental conditions.

Snorkeling wit the boat anchored
In numerous sites frequented by boats carrying snorkelers, local authorities have installed moorings fastened to the bottom with robust lines or cables, marked by surface buoys for boats to tie up to. With the proliferation of marine parks, this approach is increasingly prevalent, as it significantly contributes to protecting aquatic environments by avoiding the destruction caused by heavy anchors impacting the bottom.
Where there are no fixed mooring points and drift snorkeling isn’t an option, dropping anchor becomes necessary. As a Snorkeling Guide, it’s important to know how to anchor the boat at the site so that it remains stationary for the duration of the excursion. The anchor must be securely fastened to the boat, and the best method involves using a chain for the entire length of the anchorage. An alternative is using 20-30 feet (6-9 meters) of chain connected to a nylon rope of adequate diameter to ensure optimal resistance to breaking. This setup allows the chain, with its weight, to rest on the bottom, keeping the anchor parallel to the bottom and thus resistant to being dragged. A short chain length can cause the anchor to lift from the bottom due to wave action, resulting in the anchor ‘plowing’ or sliding without gripping into the sand, mud, or getting stuck in rocky bottoms.
All anchoring systems use a ‘scope,’ a rope that is a certain number of times longer than the depth at the anchorage, dropped after the chain. A good rule of thumb is to have a scope that is 4/5 times the depth of the water: for example, at a depth of 50 feet (15 meters), you would pay out between 200 and 250 feet (60-75 meters) of scope. If only the chain is used to connect the anchor and boat, a reduced scope of approximately 3/4 times the depth is usually sufficient. Chain is generally preferred over rope for anchoring as it provides a more reliable hold.
The primary rule for anchoring is to do so at the shallowest point: this could be on the edge of a ‘plateau,’ atop a sandbar, or at the highest part of a steep wall. To anchor in the ‘right place,’ the general procedure is to point the bow of the boat into the wind (upwind), stop the boat, and drop the anchor chain, allowing the hull to drift back, pushed by the wind. In conditions with little or no wind or current, the same effect can be achieved by slowly backing up with the engines.
A good practice for a Snorkeling Guide is to check once in the water that the anchor is correctly positioned, ensuring that the line or chain isn’t twisted and is not plowing the bottom.

Drift Snorkeling Excursions
Drift excursions involves entering and exiting the water while the boat is moving, necessitating meticulous planning, careful selection of snorkelers, and a specialized briefing. Typically, as the boat reaches the entry point, the captain signals with a “Go” and the snorkelers then enter the water. As a Snorkeling Guide, it’s crucial to coordinate closely with the boat’s captain to determine the best entry point. The captain’s knowledge of the boat’s handling under current conditions is invaluable. Before conducting the excursion briefing, have a discussion with the captain to suggest the chosen site and verify if it’s suitable given the sea conditions. If the captain advises against snorkeling at a particular spot on that day, it’s wise to heed this guidance. The collaboration between the Snorkeling Guide and the boat crew is key to the successful execution of a drift snorkeling activity.
Once the site is confirmed with the captain, it’s essential to clearly outline the entry and exit procedures during the briefing. Prior to the boat reaching the entry point, all snorkelers should be fully geared up and ready to enter the water. If the boat is equipped with a rear platform, most participants should position themselves there, while the others stay nearby, prepared to follow.
Occasionally, the current’s direction may be uncertain. In such instances, instruct the clients to wait for your signal before entering the water, as you will enter first to verify that the current is flowing as anticipated. If the current is moving in an unexpected direction, you will return to the boat to reevaluate and potentially change the starting point of the excursion. This approach ensures a safe and well-coordinated entry, adapting to the conditions as needed.
During a drift excursion, it’s important for snorkelers to enter the water swiftly, as the boat, unanchored, will be moved by currents and wind. A slow entry could result in the group being dispersed across the surface, particularly in strong currents. Once everyone is in the water, gather them at the surface before starting to explore.
Without proper guidance, you may find yourself overwhelmed by numerous questions from the participants. Another common issue to prepare for is seasickness. As a Snorkeling Guide, you should be knowledgeable about its causes and preventive measures. Being able to advise and assist those who feel unwell can significantly improve their experience and maintain the comfort and safety of all passengers on board.

Preventing Seasickness
Humans depend on their eyes and ears for balance. The eyes provide the brain with visual cues about one’s position and movement relative to the surroundings. Inside the inner ear are three semicircular canals containing structures known as “otoliths”. These canals and otoliths work in tandem to maintain equilibrium. Otoliths respond to gravity and sudden linear movements. Seasickness occurs when the inner ear’s signals to the brain conflict with those from the eyes. This discrepancy confuses the brain, triggering the release of stress hormones and increasing the stomach’s electrical rhythms, leading to symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Without management, seasickness can cause severe dehydration and incapacitate an individual.
There are several over-the-counter medications available to prevent seasickness, with Dramamine and Bonine being well-known options that can be found at most pharmacies. As a Snorkeling Guide, it’s important to inform participants about the availability of these drugs, particularly when organizing a snorkeling trip. However, you should refrain from advising clients to take any medication, especially prescription drugs. Most seasickness medications come with side effects, which can include drowsiness and dehydration, both of which are detrimental to snorkeling safety. Moreover, the intensity of these side effects can vary significantly among individuals and in different situations. Therefore, snorkelers considering seasickness medication should be encouraged to consult their doctor for advice tailored to their personal health needs and conditions.
To prevent seasickness without medication, there are several steps you can take. Being well-rested and in good physical shape can reduce your susceptibility to the stress and fatigue associated with seasickness. It’s advisable to avoid acidic foods that can increase acidity in the stomach. For instance, coffee is known to exacerbate nausea related to seasickness. A common misconception is that an empty stomach can ward off seasickness, but in reality, not eating or eating very little can actually make you more prone to getting sick. Similarly, alcohol and smoking can intensify nausea. On the other hand, proper nutrition boosts energy levels and overall well-being.
Your position on the boat also plays a significant role in preventing seasickness. If possible, stay outside the cabin while on board. Being on deck allows you to have visual references like the horizon or coastline, which aid in maintaining balance. Focusing on a fixed point, such as the horizon or land, can minimize the discomfort caused by conflicting signals sent to your brain.
Additionally, fresh air can be effective in staving off nausea. It’s beneficial to stay clear of engine exhaust. Taking deep breaths and staying relaxed also contribute to preventing seasickness. These natural methods can be very effective in ensuring a more comfortable and enjoyable boat trip, free from the discomfort of seasickness.
You must assist your guests in understanding the causes of seasickness and ways to alleviate it. By doing so, you can help them overcome a significant barrier to enjoying their day. Share all this information with the participants and remind them that if they do experience seasickness, it’s important to inform you so you can provide assistance. As a Snorkeling Guide, you need to recognize the early signs of seasickness – lethargy, glassy eyes, and pale skin – and address them promptly. Approach the situation tactfully, reassuring them that seasickness is not a sign of weakness or physical inferiority, and that even experienced sailors can be affected. Offering comfort and attention is crucial, as a seasick person can become confused and weak, increasing the risk of accidents.
One natural remedy used by sailors is eating lemon at the onset of symptoms, which can help alleviate nausea. Ensure that the boat is stocked with lemons, especially if you’re spending a full day on the boat.
If seasickness occurs during a full-day trip, consider altering the route to find sheltered waters that minimize the boat’s movement. It’s better to choose a calmer site where everyone can enjoy the experience, rather than sticking to a fantastic but challenging location where seasickness may prevent someone from participating. Remember, as a Snorkeling Guide, your decisions should prioritize the needs and comfort of your snorkelers above all else.

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Snorkeling Guide