Recreational Diving - Cliff Diving
This type of cliff diving, to avoid confusion, does not involve diving off an actual cliff-face into the waters surface. Although actually doing so in full scuba panoply would make an interesting spectacle and one hell of an entrance into the water (a dangerous one too!)
Cliff diving is one of the most exhilarating types of scenic diving and is actively pursued by many divers. In warmer climates the term 'wall diving' is used to describe this type of dive. The rewards are great, provided that a few dive hazards are kept in mind.
Types of Cliff
The best types of cliff diving take place on vertical or overhanging rock faces. Sometimes the term is also applied to very steep boulder slopes and to mixed slopes of mud, sand, boulders and rocks.
Many divers find that 3 dimensional 'sky' diving down a huge, vertical cliff is a most exhilarating experience. It is possible to undertake a rapid 'big' dive with little physical effort. Additionally, the encrusting marine life is very often profuse and is set out in such a way as to make its observation and photography both easy and enjoyable.
There are, however, a number of extra dangers which are associated with cliff diving. These essentially derive from the fact that there is no bottom directly under the diver. This means that there is a danger of sinking to greater depths or even beyond the reach of potential rescuers. On some cliff dives the aspect of hovering over the dark gloom that appears like a black pit can unnerve some divers and be disconcerning. If a strong current or tidal stream runs close-by it may cause vertical eddies to push down along the wall, unaware divers may find this troubling also. In poor visability a disorientated divers may stray from the wall and have to make a mid-water ascent.
A variety of precautions should be taken when cliff diving. Divers should be experienced and not of a nervous nature. Buoyancy skills should be well adjusted and it is wise not to dive over-weighted. The use of a drysuit is recommended for precision buoyancy control down an under-water cliff. Torches are useful, especially if the cliff face is dark, faces north and/or deep. Buddy lines are considered essential in low-visibility dives, less so if not. Delayed submersible marker buoys (DSMBs) are not normally used, unless there is considerable tidal stream which, may allow the divers to along the face. A shotline down the cliff can be a useful guide, if the cliff does not begin at the surface it becomes very important in using it to aide deep exploration and the 'start' of the dive site. At the dives end try to avoid stirring up sediment off the wall and having to ascend in your own cloud of gloom. Be cautious of the danger of sinking too deep.