We all know the 2 ‘Golden’ rules of Scuba Diving?
- #1 – Never hold your breath!
- #2 – Always look cool!
We all remember our first Instructors and Divemasters and how we all instantly thought they were the coolest thing since sliced bread and how we wanted to be just like them…. well, most of us did anyway!
Well if you follow these top tips you can be.
Whether you are a beginner or just need a refresher, working on dive skills is time well spent. Whether it’s improving your air consumption or controlling your buoyancy, better diving skills will increase the enjoyment of any dive.
And enjoying ourselves underwater is what it is all about anyway, isn’t it?
As we all know, diving is a very social sport, but there is one area that makes us all competitive with our buddies, and it can be summed up in the one big question we all want to know when we have finished a dive.
“How much air do you have left?”
Do you want better air consumption? The easiest answer, ‘log more dives. Air hog’.
We have all heard this at some point, and nobody wants to be known as the air hog of the buddy team or dive group, but in case you haven’t heard this term, this is what the diver whose tank has the least amount of air in it at the end of a dive is referred to as. This label often falls on the new diver.
Don’t worry; it’s natural to breathe more when you’re excited – and what’s more exciting than your first dive? The good news is, as you start to log more dives your air consumption will improve as you gain more experience, you become more comfortable with your scuba equipment, and your buoyancy starts to become second nature.
Relax and Slow Down
Diving is unlike any other sport. It’s basically a sport for lazy people, like me! The calmer, slower and more deliberate you make your movements the better. This will help keep your breathing rate under control, with nice slow, deep and controlled breaths. Doing this will reduce any stress and allow you to focus on just enjoying the ride; by reducing your workload under the water, you’ll also reduce your air consumption.
Ensure You Are Correctly Weighted
From better air-consumption, to having the skills necessary to avoid damaging the underwater environment to being able to relax while diving, it all comes down to good buoyancy, and that requires proper weighting. To help with estimating what your correct weighting is, perform a buoyancy check on your next dive and then each time you change something that affects how much weight you need such as different exposure suits or wetsuit thickness, diving in salt water versus diving in fresh water, different size or type of cylinder.
Make a note in your log book recording the amount of weight you need for in each scenario. That way even if you go a few years without diving in that scenario again, you can quickly reference how much weight you used for any given diving environment and situation.
Having the correct amount of weights will make your dives easier, more comfortable and more enjoyable. If you need to add air to your BCD then do so in small bursts, wait a few seconds and see how the air you added changes your buoyancy. Add a few bursts, take a few breaths and, after a few kicks, reassess. Slowly adding air to your BCD keeps your dive profile from looking like the zigzags on a saw blade.
Remember – Don’t add air to your BC to ascend. Use your fins instead and slowly release expanding air.
Invest In A Well Fitting Mask
There’s nothing more uncomfortable and annoying than a leaking mask. The whole point of diving is to see what’s going on underwater. If your mask is always leaking, it’s a distraction and impairs your vision. For an optimal scuba experience, begin with choosing a mask fitted by a professional. A properly fitting mask keeps you focused and makes your dive more enjoyable.
Keep A Dive Log
From your first dives as an open water student you will log the dives you make. At first, you’ll mainly write down all the awesome marine life you have seen on your dives, but having a log book is a invaluable tool whether you have 5 or 500 dives. It’s not only a living record of your experiences; it’s also a place to keep track of your weighting, air consumption and the equipment you used on a particular dive.
Having a reference gives you quick information for planning a dive, getting your weighting right and noting when equipment needs to be serviced. Keeping a logbook allows any dive center see your what you have done so they can tailor the dives to suit your experience. This ultimately means a more enjoyable diving experience.
Do Your Research
In what is now the technological age, information is so easy to come by so be sure to familiarize yourself with local knowledge, the local marine life or the history of a wreck for example, before you dive someplace new. It will be more exciting to recognize an animal, or wreck you are at least semi familiar with, than to be surprised when you are exposed to it for the first time.
Knowing an animal’s habits and behaviors will also allow you to react to it in the correct manner for photo opportunities and other interactions.
Additional information will also help you find that particular marine life animal more easily. Knowing about a particular wreck will make it easier for you to view its hidden wonders or avoid any potential hazards, making it more interesting and just as importantly, a safe dive experience.
Author: Andy McEvoy (PADI MSDT)