Now you have become an Open Water diver you have the basic knowledge and skills needed to safely scuba dive. However, there is so much more to learn, and so much more equipment to learn how to use in order to become a better diver.
Becoming more comfortable and more proficient with the use of scuba equipment will help you to dive safer, deeper and be more comfortable with different local environments underwater.
You where taught the basics of using a compass underwater during your Open water course, and you mastered how to navigate a reciprocal heading over a short distance. You should know the correct position to hold and swim with the compass.
You can learn more about using a compass underwater by enrolling on the Navigation Adventure dive, which is part of the Adventures in Diving program, and one of the mandatory dives required to become an Advanced Open Water diver. You will learn how to estimate distance underwater, how to navigate a reciprocal heading using natural navigation as well as navigating a square pattern.
We all want to enjoy our dives as much as possible. Having a good understanding of underwater navigation and compass use will limit the possibilities of becoming lost whilst underwater, which can ruin your dive. The compass is also a very handy item to have in case you were to lose something underwater as you can use it to perform search patterns that may help you find the missing object.
Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB)
Otherwise known as a safety sausage, this is a long plastic tube shaped balloon that you inflate underwater with your alternate air source to take it to the surface.
The Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB) is used to warn potential boats that divers are underwater so not to approach too close. It is important to use a DSMB while on your safety stop. This will ensure your safety while finishing off you dive at 5 metres depth.
You will have been given your first opportunity to use a DSMB during the dive flexi skills you mastered during the open water dives on the Open Water course.
It does take some practice at first to ensure you do not get entangled in the line upon inflating or to make sure you don’t hold on which could cause an uncontrolled ascent.
All PADI professionals carry a DSMB and will deploy it at the end of a dive. It is a very good idea to have one of your own especially if you are fun diving without a Divemaster.
After mask, snorkel and fins a dive computer should be one of the first pieces of scuba diving equipment a diver invest in. This little device will monitor everything from your maximum depth and dive time, to your No Decompression Limit (NDL) and the water temperature during your dive, giving you all relevant information needed to dive safely.
However, it is essential that you really know how to use the dive computer correctly thoroughly reading the instructional manual! A dive computer will give you peace of mind through a dive as it records your depth and no stop time throughout your time underwater. Plus it’s a lot easier than using the old school dive tables!
Line & Reel
The line and reel can be a very useful tool for a few different circumstances. First of all you can use it as part of your surface marker buoy setup, allowing you to deploy your DSMB from greater depths, enhancing your safety.
Also, if wishing to become a wreck diver then it is an essential part of being able to penetrate inside an underwater shipwreck. You would use the line, reeling it out as you move through the wreck after tying it off outside. This will prevent getting lost once you have penetrated.
Taking the Wreck Speciality Course will teach you the correct techniques for tying off and how to reel in and out of a wreck safely and efficiently although you will need to be at least a PADI Adventure Diver before you can start this course. This is a very basic and inexpensive tool that is very handy to have as part of your rig set up.
The snorkel is very few people’s favourite piece of scuba equipment but it can help to make the whole dive experience more comfortable if used correctly.
If, on the surface, it’s a little wavy and choppy, switching to your snorkel will protect your airway from water as you breathe. It also means that you do not have to use your regulator, thus conserving air in your cylinder.
Just ensure that you are proficient in the use and clearing of the snorkel to ensure you don’t breathe in any unnecessary water when using it as you head to your descent point.
You will be familiar with this from the Open water course, when you mastered how to clear a snorkel, and how to switch from the Snorkel to the Regulator.
Not an actual piece of scuba equipment, but helpful to ensure a safe and enjoyable dive for both you and your dive buddy. Remember what you learned during your training. If you feel that you are a little rusty after some time away from diving then consider taking a scuba review to refresh your knowledge and sharpen your scuba skills.
Always plan your dive and dive your plan and go over hand signals with your buddy especially if you have never dived with them before. And most of all – don’t do anything stupid.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)