Dive computers have changed the world of diving, and are commonplace now. They help us extend our bottom times, track critical dive information, and, let’s face it, they’re just plain easier to use than the dive tables. But computers and smart devices also have the capability of providing us with a wealth of information to plan, execute, and track our dives. Here are a few of my favorites, and how I use them. Some of them weren’t really intended for Scuba Divers, but we won’t let that stop us from using them and having a great dive! Finally, please note that I’m not affiliated with any of these software producers. They’re just cool programs that I’ve found to improve my diving.
Surfline is a website, but they also publish an app available for iOS and Android devices. Offering both a free version (3 day forecast) and a premium / pay version (7 day forecast), Surfline provides surf reports for popular beaches in the area. You can set favorites for easy browsing. While the service was designed for surfers, this app is still handy for divers – we’re looking for small surf, instead of big surf.
The app provides a wealth of information to the beach diver, including surf heights, wind direction, swell direction, regional charts, and a forecast. As they say, “know before you go,” and with this app, you can get details on whether the beach you’re planning on diving is going to be a rough or smooth entry. And with swell directions, you can refine your information – South facing beach but West swell? The points may be good for surfing, but the flats may be good for diving.
TideTrac is an app available only on iOS (at the time of this writing). With this handy app, you can get tide information for any location, any day of the year, now and into the future. While it is a pay app, it can really help determine optimal dates for beach dives. Let’s cover how that is…
Big tide swings move lots of sand off and onto our beaches. Sand movement decreases diver visibility on a beach dive. By determining dates with the lowest tide swings, a diver can up their chances of getting good visibility off of the beach. Additionally, a beach exit is best executed as the tide reaches its highest point – this reduces the amount of energy moving on / off the beach, and will float a diver over rocks and other debris on the exit. Using TideTrac, you can plan your entry time so your exit occurs at high tide, saving you much stress and energy.
SwimGuide rounds out our best apps for the beach diving category. Available for iOS and Android, this app, updated by the WaterKeeper Alliance, provides details on water quality off of our beaches (and other water ways). Updated frequently by their network of water testers, this app provides up to date information on water quality off of our beaches, so you can avoid anything nasty out there.
SwimGuide lets you pull up beaches in your region, and provides a red / yellow / green indication for water quality. By selecting a particular beach, you can get details on when last testing was performed, and information on the beach at hand, including how the beach is most commonly used, facilities / features, and logistics such as stairs and the like. Useful info all around, particularly if you are heading to a new beach. Get this app, and check your beach – no reason to get sick from water quality on your dive. Just wait for it to clear up!
BuoyWeather is to boat divers what SurfLine is to beach divers. Available as a website, as well as on iOS and Android devices as an app, BuoyWeather gives you forecasts on sea and swell conditions for your ocean passages. Like SurfLine, the service is available for free (3 day forecast) and premium / pay (7 day forecast) options.
By clicking on a map to set your desired location, BuoyWeather will pull up the closest monitored offshore buoy, providing information on craft advisories, wind conditions, and swell size / period. The information is broken up into morning and afternoon reports for each day, so you can determine if that morning trip over to the islands is going to be just as smooth on your return. And with forecasting tools, you can figure out what the best day is to make that trip over to your favorite dive spot.
Alright, I know… You heard it from your instructor, and now you’re hearing it from me… You should be logging your dives. Not only is it a great way to build a wealth of information on your diving performance and experience, with tools like DiveLog, you can really get a bigger picture of your diving career. DiveLog is an iOS app, and synchs up with a separate desktop program called Diving Log. Together, they give you the ability to keep all of your dive information up to date.
Have you ever wanted to know all the places you’ve gone diving? With the app, you can use the GPS feature on your mobile device to pin each of your dive spots. The “locations” information provides you with a map of all your dive spots.
Want all the details on each of your dives? Everything is covered. Add as much or as little information as you would like. And with built in calculations, things like Surface Air Consumption (SAC) rates are calculated off of each dive’s data, providing you with updated information on your diving performance.
Have a dive computer? Of course you do! With support for a huge number of dive computers, you can transfer your dive profile information into your desktop, and sync with your mobile device, so you always have your information at hand.
Finally, the program has great abilities to provide you with data on your dives. Who’s your favorite dive buddy? How many dives have you done per month? How many times have you used your primary regulator set? How many times have you gone to your favorite dive site? Longest dive? No problem. How much time have I spent underwater? No problem with that either. A true wealth of information at your fingertips, just by filling out some basic information.
So, there you have it. Five apps / programs that can make your diving a bit easier, and maybe a bit more rewarding. Let me know if you have others that you use to add to the list!