Written by Robert Currer
“I need a favor,” asked a dive instructor friend. He was blushing, an act unusual to the retired Marine. “Can I borrow some of your spare gear?”
“No problem,” I said, not thinking much of it. “What do you need?”
“Everything.” His features tightened into a grimace. I squinted at him through the mid-morning light, certain I had misheard. “I left my all my gear at home.” Trying not to show my surprise, I strode across the gravel parking lot to fish my spare kit from the car.
Admittedly, that is an extreme example of dive day forgetfulness. Yet with all the gear and teaching aids that go into an effective dive class, it is surprisingly easy to forget some critical piece of gear and find yourself scrambling to secure a loaner.
It doesn’t have to be that way. By adopting a simple system for your training materials and spares, you can ensure you always have what you need for each course. There are lots of ways to accomplish this but I’m a proponent of what I call The Box Method.
THE BOX METHOD
I am by nature lazy. If there is an easier way to accomplish something, then I am generally onboard. This is why the box method appeals to me. It is an incredibly easy system to implement. First, you make a list of all of the classes you teach on a regular basis (Open Water, Advanced, Navigation, etc.) and gather all the equipment and teaching aids that you will need to teach that course, excluding your scuba kit since you use that on every dive. For example, you might make a pile for the Search & Recovery Adventure Dive that includes a lift bag, lines for knots, a weight belt for your large item, and a brightly colored phone case for your small item.
Next, you select an appropriately-sized sturdy, water-resistant box with a lid for each course (I like clear-sided plastic shoe boxes for this, but you’ll need something larger for some courses). Label the boxes so that each only holds the materials and equipment for the specific course. For example, you might have a box for Rescue, another for Deep, a third for Wreck, and so on. If you really want to get fancy you can drill small drain holes in the bottom of the boxes.
When you put everything you need for a particular course into its own box, whenever you are get ready to teach that course, you only need to that box and you’re ready, other than the kit you use on all dives.
There is an important requirement with this method: you must put everything back in the correct box, and replace anything lost or consumed, when you’re done. With the drain holes, you can rinse and restow everything wet without having to worry about it sitting in standing water. Leave the box where it gets fresh air and the top off until dry, then close and store it until next time.
A WAY OF LIFE
Besides dive gear, thee Box Method helps with dive day staples like emergency supplies; spare paperwork, clipboards, pens, save-a-dive kits and even snacks and water. As dive shop manager and Course Director, I organized thirty-diver dive weekends annually without completely losing my mind and with minimal missing equipment, thanks to the Box Method. No system is perfect, but when apply this one consistently, and you’ll save time and stress while you focus on what really matters: your divers.