Thursday, January 27, 2005

why buoyancy is so important

BY: Scott Fraser

In your open water scuba course you learned the importance of buoyancy: the fin pivot, manually inflating your BCD via your breath etc. To call this thing buoyancy a skill that could save your dive……..buoyancy could be just more than that. It is THE skill that will save your dive and quite possibly your life. To master buoyancy is to master the art of diving. Without buoyancy you are not enjoying diving. Cave divers rely on proper buoyancy techniques to keep silt from running a muck and reducing there visibility to zero. Wreck divers are the same caliber, buoyancy is used to keep them from becoming entangled in the many obstructions i.e.: cables, wires, concrete, that lie below and above the diver. In my opinion if you want to become a better diver and advance in the diving field, buoyancy is the most important skill you can attain. Safety is also a factor, but I put skills and safety on two different plains, If you are not a safe diver you have no business diving in the first place. After becoming a safety conscious diver, skills are next. Buoyancy is that next step.

I, just like many divers struggled with the art of buoyancy. At first you are so encompassed with your surroundings that you don’t even think of where you are positioned in the water. Then BOOM, you hit the bottom. How in the hell did that happen???? Your buoyancy wasn’t under control. Now it comes into play. How do I avoid the constant up and down while diving??

First and foremost, don’t over weight. Some underwater hunters (spear fishermen, lobster divers) etc. will tell you that overweighting is necessary to be able to sit on the bottom and not be pushed by the current so you can get an accurate shot, or position yourself on the reef to catch that big lobster. Not true. Over weighting can cause many problems: your ascent to the surface can become quite cumbersome if over weighted. After a dive, exerted, and tired, imagine having to kick to the surface from 120ft. over weighted. This can cause severe stress and over exertion. You stop at the suggested 15 ft for your safety stop (decompression). The safety stop is 3 minutes. Usually a DECO stop would be nice a relaxing, calming experience. NOT IF YOU ARE OVER WEIGHTED!!!! You spend three minutes kicking, not floating, and hoping you don’t drop below your decompression mark. Over weighting is a big mistake many divers make. Just don’t do it. Become accustomed to the amount of weight you need and go with it.
DIVE, DIVE, DIVE!! Keep at it. Just like anything practice makes………. Well not perfect. If you ever feel you are a perfect diver, then stop diving. Once complacent with diving you end up dead!!!!

Second. Always consider your lungs as a BCD. Your lungs inflate with every breath, pulling you upward. If you breathe in and tap your power inflator you could ascend twice as high as intended. Tap your inflator while breathing out. You will ascend, breathe in, stop and wait. If your breath caused you to float up then you are good. You want to control your buoyancy with your breathing. In, out, in out. You float up and down with every breath. Practice this skill and you will be OK. It’s your responsibility as a conscious, education driven diver to research, practice, and perform skills underwater. Take these tips and apply them to your dive, but never stop educating yourself on the sport of scuba diving. You will learn more and more everyday if you apply yourself.

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