Early on in most people’s diving careers they are encouraged to log their dives, if only to demonstrate the training they have completed. After that, many people simply stop bothering. That’s fair enough but, speaking as a committed logger of all my dives, here are a few reasons why it’s worth doing:
- It means you can look back at dives and remind yourself what worked and what didn’t. If you do varied dives in varied conditions, it can be helpful to be able to quickly look back and check, for example, what weight you carried last time you dived in a 3mm shorty with a 15l steel tank, as that will be different to the dives you may have done in a 5mm long wetsuit with a 12l aluminium tank, and so on. I always make a note if I feel I was slightly wrongly weighted, or had any issues with any piece of kit as, while you might think you will remember, you probably won’t, especially if it’s a year later. Having it all logged is a big plus.
- You can look back on particularly good dives. I like having a note in my logbook of, say, the time I saw a sleeping shark in Fiji and my dive buddy pretended she was going to pull its tail… That was ten years ago now, but I can flip through my logbook and remind myself of such particularly good or interesting dives, and who was with me on them.
- You may need evidence of your experience. If you’ve read my post on Deeper Blue about the Master Scuba Diver rating, you’ll know that I’m not overly impressed by it. To put it another way, what’s the difference between a MSD with 50 dives in clear, still warm water, and a MSD with 500 dives in varied challenging conditions? Answer: Their logbook. Sure, you may only rarely actually have to give evidence of your experience, but it could happen especially if you want to do demanding dives with groups that don’t know you well. At least with a logbook you can do so if asked.
So should all divers always keep a logbook? Well, maybe not. Here are some times when you may want to stop bothering.
- Experienced instructors. While for your training and first job, instructors may need to provide evidence of their experience, after a while number of certifications and length of time in previous diving jobs will become more important than exactly how many dives you’ve dine, and I can understand why some experienced pros may stop logging every single dive, particularly as they will be largely diving in a single location and should have their kit configuration pretty buttoned down.
- If you’re comfortable diving with a club or group, in similar locations, with it you are well-to, and have no real need to prove you experience to anyone. Personally I’d still log my dives but I could see how some people might think there’s no real need after a while.
- If you log everything online. If you always use the same watch then maybe you don’t need a log. That said, I’ve not yet seen a computer that makes it as easy to scan the logs for information, add your own comments (and info like weights that won’t be logged) and show to interested parties as a paper log. You can always transfer the information to a computer but then, guess what, you’re keeping a log anyway…
Ultimately, like all things, it’s down to personal preference. Many divers, especially those with thousands of dives, no longer see any value in logging every single dive, and I can understand that. However, especially while you are still developing and are likely to be doing more courses in the future, keeping a log is well worth the time and effort. If you choose not to do it, make sure it’s for a good reason and not simple laziness.