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Plan the Dive then Dive the Plan

here’s a saying in scuba diving circles ‘Plan the Dive then Dive the Plan’. It’s sound advice. Every time you hit the water, you should have a good idea of what you are planning to do. But there has to be some flexibility for when things just don’t go the way you planned.

For example Gill (my wife) and I were on a dive boat for a week diving in the Red Sea. We were scheduled to dive Elphinstone reef. The skipper informed us that there was a light current flowing from north to south around the reef. He planned to drop us at the northern end of the reef and follow us back as we gently drifted along the reef to the southern end where he would collect us. Our plan was to dive along the wall of the reef at no more than 30 metres, swim onto the plateau, follow this to the end and hopefully see some sharks hunting in the current that flows over the drop off. Then we would swim back up the plateau for the boat to collect us.

Gill is qualified as a rescue diver, I’m a divemaster. We have hundreds of dives under our belts. The dive started well and as expected, a gentle current gave us a beautiful drift along the reef.

At the plateau the current picked up and was forcing us down. As we descended the current became stronger pushing us further down the plateau toward the steep drop off. We quickly hit 45 metres and were being pushed deeper and deeper. We swam low to avoid the strongest of the current and grabbed at the reef. We steadied ourselves and made sure we were both OK. We then used the reef to claw our way back up the plateau hand over hand until we reached the leeward side of the reef. Eventually the current slowed.

We’d had a plan but had to adapt when the conditions changed. Planning is critical in many aspects of life, whether it’s a trip; implementing an ERP system; or a dive. Planning ensures that everyone knows what should happen and what’s expected of them. However, things can occur that we haven’t planned for. If these new risks are identified early we can react quickly. So we have to stay alert and be flexible with the plan. Good planning allows us to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.