Be Master Of Your Own Buoyancy
Scuba divers who have perfected their buoyancy skills glide through the water effortlessly, conserve their air more economically, use less energy and can hover in all sorts of different positions – just as easy as standing up straight!
Would you like to be like them?
Why Is Buoyancy So Important?
Without a doubt buoyancy is the most important skill for scuba divers. Better buoyancy means more enjoyment, longer dives and a happier scuba diving life. By perfecting your buoyancy you are also becoming a more eco friendly diver as you will avoid crashing into coral reefs and causing damage to our fragile underwater world.
Here are some tips you will find useful in your quest for ever better buoyancy.
1. Correct Weighting
Unfortunately there are lots of Scuba Divers out there that are not correctly weighted during their dives. This causes you to use more energy, and over use the low pressure inflator hose when making depth changes, ultimately using more of your air.
The best way to check if you are correctly weighted is to perform the buoyancy check skill you mastered during your PADI Open Water diver course.
To perform this skill you float at the surface in water too deep to stand, take and hold a normal breath and deflate your BCD fully. If weighted properly you should float at eye level, if your head is underwater you have too many weights and if your head is still out water you need to add some weight.
It is recommended to perform this skill with a near empty tank which can be a bit of a pain if you are about to go diving, so if using a full tank add about 2.2kg to offset the air you will use diving.
Remember, if you are changing exposure suit or diving environment (saltwater to fresh), it will be essential to perform this skill.
Maintaining correct body position goes hand in hand with correct weighting. Being correctly weighted is important but it’s also essential the weights are correctly positioned. This will enable you to have perfect trim. Having the weights equally placed around your body will provide balance, a comfortable swimming position and whilst hovering you won’t be pulled to one side or the other.
3. Get Horizontal
Once you begin your descent try and adopt the horizontal position as soon as possible. Your descent speed will increase as the water pressure compresses your wetsuit making you negatively buoyant. If you are in a swimming position you can add small amounts of air to your BCD as you descend so as you arrive at your maximum depth you will be neutrally buoyant and ready to go.
4. Use Your Lungs
Once you have achieved neutral buoyancy you can fine tune your buoyancy by regulating your breathing. To rise a little, take a slow deeper breath in, and to sink a little extend the time you are exhaling. This is especially useful when diving sites like Green Rock where there are swim thru’s and caves navigate.
5. Log Your Dives
After your dives note down the amount of weights you were wearing and the type of exposure suit you worn. For more information on the importance of logging dives read this interesting article on ‘What is a Dive Log?’
6. Continue your Scuba Education
PADI have specific training dives and courses tailored to divers who wish to improve their buoyancy. Why not choose a Peak Performance Buoyancy Adventure dive as part of the PADI Advanced Open Water course.
Already an Advanced Diver? Check out the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty course which will teach you how to hover in different positions, as well as glide effortlessly through the water.
On Koh Tao the weather is good all year round. This means you don’t need a big chunky wetsuit that will affect your weighting and buoyancy more due to compression which occurs as you move up and down, and as you ascend and descend.
Koh Tao is known as the best scuba diving spot in the world for training as the dive sites and conditions are perfect for training – shallow, sandy, warm water with no major environmental conditions.
Once you have mastered buoyancy control you can look to enrol on other new and exciting courses where you will learn new skills that are dependent on good buoyancy. This would include the PADI Wreck Diver Speciality course where you will be swimming through the inside of the ship wreck. You won’t want to be kicking up the silt.
Digital Underwater Photography requires you to have excellent buoyancy so you can get into the positions necessary to get that shot really want. Being a master of your buoyancy is essential for you to get full value from these PADI Specialty courses not to mention just generally getting more form your scuba diving experiences.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)