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Its all in the trim  

Perfecting Buoyancy Control

It’s not surprising that the most common injuries among divers are related to buoyancy issues—barotrauma, uncontrolled ascents, marine life injuries and more could be prevented with some practice and attention to detail.

Inefficient buoyancy control can result in descending deeper than planned, altering the intended dive profile and potentially increasing air consumption. Constant adjustments to your buoyancy control device can also affect air consumption.

The worst case scenario is an uncontrolled ascent, which places the diver at risk for a lung overexpansion injury (pulmonary barotrauma) and substantially increases the risk for an arterial gas embolism.

Ear injuries are also commonly associated with ineffective buoyancy control. During descent, if you feel uncomfortable pressure in your middle ears or sinuses, you should stop your descent, ascend until the pressure resolves, attempt to equalize and, if successful, continue to descend. If you experience a reverse block on ascent, you should descend a bit and attempt to equalize. These procedures are difficult to execute without proper buoyancy control.

Most marine life injuries result from unintentional contact between a diver and the marine life. Proper buoyancy control is essential to protect ourselves and the environment.

 

Ask any diver or dive professional what skill separate’s the upper and lower echelons of dive proficiency, and you’ll almost always get the same answer Buoyancy control. Divers who master buoyancy control move through the water gracefully. They seem to ascend, st6op, hover and descend at will with hardly any effort. It’s as if they think it and it happens.

By contrast those without such control constantly kick or wave to stay off the bottom. They constantly adjust their BCDs, and visibly expend effort with every depth change. They may dive safely and effectively, but not efficiently.

Few skills can do as much for you as effective buoyancy control. It’s a skill that reaches into every dive, no matter where or what you are doing. It saves you air, it saves you energy and it makes diving more enjoyable. It also helps you to avoid damage to the environment and it distinguishes you as a diver.

A lot of people dive over weighted I have seen dive centres around the world putting on a little too much weight on people just to get them down. An important rule to perfecting buoyancy is don’t wear more weight than you need. Your BCD may be able to offset a bit of excess weight, but every gram you wear that you don’t need adds to your drag and magnifies the adjustments you have to make throughout your dive.

To work out what weight, we need we need to conduct a buoyancy check or a weight check.

$1·         Enter the water fully equipped for a dive

$1·         Go to water to deep to stand up in and completely deflate your BCD (if you are diving in a drysuit ensure any automatic exhaust valve is fully open.

$1·         Hang vertical and motionless holding a normal breath.

$1·         Add/subtract weight until you float at eye level with the water while holding a normal breath.

$1·         When you start to exhale you should slowly start to sink.

It may take a few tries to get this exact, also be aware that at the end of the dive you will be lighter than you were when you started the dive as you use the air from your cylinder so you may want to do a weight check at the end of the dive as well. Remember your weighting will be different when diving in fresh water and salt water so you will need to conduct a weight check in both fresh and salt. You may also want to conduct a weight check when you change your dive equipment for example exposure suit, drysuit to wetsuit.

Fine tuning your buoyancy. When wearing a wetsuit or a drysuit you’ll need to adjust your buoyancy throughout your dive to account for changes firstly you’ll need to adjust as you use air from your cylinder. You will also need to adjust for lost buoyancy as you descend as pressure compresses your wetsuit or the air in your drysuit, and you will need to adjust for increased buoyancy as you ascend as your suit expands.

You can also fine tune your buoyancy with breath control using your lung volume when you inhale you tend to rise slightly, and when you exhale you tend to sink slightly. Weight distribution also plays an important factor in perfecting that buoyancy. As a rule of thumb, you want your weight forward towards your sides and stomach, which helps you maintain a neutral swimming position. Weight distribution will vary from one diver to the next it can also vary from one dive to the next.

To be able to move through the water gracefully and without effort we need to consider what we call streamlining what do I mean here, think about a car with a roof box on the top going down the motorway fully laden the car will use more fuel on its journey because the box is creating a drag as it cuts through the air which puts more effort in the car and results in more thirst for fuel. It’s the same for us in the water the less streamlined we are the more energy we will use cutting through the water. The more energy we use the more air we consume from our cylinder.

Create less drag by keeping equipment tucked in nice and tidy and easy to reach gauges easy accessible to read don’t have equipment hanging off you all over the place, when moving through the water keep as horizontal as you can and visualize how you want to be in the water this all aides to perfecting that buoyancy.

Buoyancy takes time and practise the more you get in the water and practise the more proficient you will become. The better you become with your buoyancy you will then notice differences’ in your diving you become more relaxed, this enables you to enjoy the environment around you and you can take more of it in. you will start to notice your air consumption improve as your buoyancy improves allowing us to enjoy the environment for longer.

All about knots  

This months v-blog looks at knot tying....If  you havent done the search and recovery course then you may not know there are three knots that PADI expect you to know....These are made to look easy under the hands of Al Gorey...plus a few other knots that may be useful to know as divers....

https://youtu.be/-QIEvzkh6A8

A Red Sea Virgin  

My first diving liveaboard

Up to now most of my diving experiences have been in fairly (very !) cold and murky UK dive centres with the occasional dive in the warmer waters of the Med whilst on holiday. However this year I decided to go on one of the liveaboard trips that Scubascene organise every year. I opted for the Red Sea trip in June as I was promised clear warm water with lots to see. I was also told that I would be living life by the bell !!

So on 31st May 13 divers from Scubascene arrived in the Red Sea port of Haghada, laden down with kit including all the shiny new toys they wanted to try out and boarded the Blue Fin along with 6 other divers – strangely enough 4 of which were also from the South West.

First thing to do was to find a place on the dive deck and set up your kit. One advantage of being on a liveaboard is that you don’t have to move your kit around – once it is set up it stays that way throughout the trip and the crew come along a refill your cylinder between dives. We then had a safety briefing on the boat’s procedures and layout before having an evening meal in the salon.

The following morning we had a check dive to sort out weighting and make adjustments to equipment and then we were off. We had up to 4 dives a day, starting with an early morning pre breakfast dive and ending with a night dive. The diving was rarely on the same site and was a variety of reefs and wrecks. There was a stunning array of aquatic life to see and a wide range of wrecks to dive on including some that you could go into if that is your thing. There was the option of doing deeper dives but also plenty to see at shallower depths.

The water was, as promised, crystal clear and warm even at 20 plus metres – though surprisingly some members of the group still felt the need to wear extra layers. There was never any pressure to do all of the dives or do anything that you felt uncomfortable with on a dive. It was always possible to find a buddy that wanted to do the same type of dive as you.

A great aspect of a week on a liveboard is that everything is geared solely towards the diving and it gives you a great chance to develop your diving skills in nice clear warm water, to try out any new kit that you have and to change the way that you have your kit set up so that you can optimise your trim and buoyancy as well as to ask lots of questions about diving from a range of people who are all willing to share their knowledge and experiences. The crew were always on hand to help you get into your kit and into the water and there again to help you out of the water and out of your kit. It could not have been easier.

Some members of the group used the trip as a means completing some of their spec packages such as deep or wreck diving. The conditions or environment could not have been better for these specs. I wish all those years ago I had had the foresight to complete those specs abroad rather than in the cold murky depths of Vobster.

If you were considering a trip on a liveaboard then all I can say as a newbie to this type of holiday is that you will not regret it. It is a chance to dive with like minded people doing something that is enjoyable and gives you the chance to see things that only a few people will see except on the TV and your diving will improve considerably over the course of the week.

So what does living by the bell mean ? Well the bell rings to wake you up, to summon you for a dive briefing, to tell you it’s time to eat and sometimes just because the bell is there. I still miss the routine of the bell.

There are some downsides though. When on deck between dives you have to learn to sleep with one eye open or the chances are you are going to wake up with bright pink nail polish on either your fingers or toes, the shirts Ian got us to wear were of questionable taste but most importantly do not leave your dive buddies waiting for you to get ready when they are fully kitted up and waiting in 40 degree heat or all you will hear for the rest of the week is – “Darren, Darren are you ready yet ? Darren !! “

Don’t hesitate any longer – book that trip – I am sure you will not regret it.

It just doesnt matter...  

This month's blog is all about the continual discussions in diving about the merits of quarries versus sea and courses versus dives for experience. I have split the two parts up but I know that many of the arguments for and against will apply equally but I will start and finish with this point...

'It just doesn't matter!!' You should do the diving YOU want to do - be that courses, general diving, sea or quarry diving....GO OUT and JUST GET WET!!!

Part 1 - quarries versus sea

Ever since divers found that jumping in any kind watery wet hole meant they got to feel the underwater sensations that can only come from SCUBA, then that's what they have done...For the people out there that described this as just not 'proper diving' I have to say why? Just what exactly is proper diving? Yes it is a different type of diving, yes you may need to have a different skill set - but surely diving in the tropical waters with gin clear visibility needs a different skill set to diving in the low visibility cooler waters of the UK. The physics of diving don't change just the personal psychology of the diver. (And the attitude of the divers around them!!)

https://youtu.be/5mMjlJP0GwA

I know that there are various arguments for why someone should dive in the sea...such as the massive abundance of life in the waters in the sea and the chance to challenge yourself to adapting to new skills and experiences (such as the not so rocking of a boat when trying to kit up) but at the end of the day, do what you enjoy not what someone who supposedly knows better (after all as individuals we all have our own opinions - this is just mine) has to say on the matter.......

Part 2 - courses versus dives

Imagine those days when someone whom just got in the water with kit they just picked up..(And yes I know that those people still exist)..to the days when the training came from the ex-military divers wanting to show how real divers dive...to now the days when you have a course for pretty much any kind of diving (and some you hadn't even thought of) with lots of different agencies to choose from.

https://youtu.be/TtaXcP6SU54

As I stated in the clip yes I run a business that depends on people learning to dive and then continuing with their own diving careers (and I don't mean that in a course sense - since my business is also about equipment sales, hire, servicing and generally anything to do with diving!) I offer opportunities for people to get wet for the first time and then get qualified so the can actually get out and dive.

For all the divers that know me I have always said that the ideal place to get to is PADI rescue diver (yes every agency has its own level as equivalency) that way you at least have the skill set to not only to hopefully sort yourself out but at least the basics on what to do if your dive buddy (or another person) gets themselves into difficulty. We as a dive centre, offer opportunities for people to get wet, for some they want to do courses, for others they just want to get qualified so they can go out diving - we do not set the level that is down to them.

I'm going to end with how I started which is to say....

'It just doesn't matter!!' You should do the diving you want to do - be that courses, general diving, sea or quarry diving....go out and just get wet!!!

Equipment set up  

It may seem like a strange video to put up....'putting kit together'...however we have seen divers struggle with this basic skill after coming back from overseas diving...so just to help everyone, Lee has put together this handy video clip.

https://youtu.be/Krxv-TeImtQ

Is diving expensive?  

Scuba Diving is it an expensive hobby?

 

Being able to experience the diversity of the underwater world is amazing, you can dive the same site 10 times and always find or see something different. When I’m talking to people telling them about my underwater adventures they often ask me is scuba diving expensive? I think it’s how you look at It and what you want to gain. The PADI open water certification is about £445 and this enables you to dive anywhere in the world. Where you wish to take your level of diving is up to you.

It’s like any hobby/sport that you want to get into, there is always an initial cost for equipment and training courses etc. the biggest cost especially for UK diving is a drysuit, BCD and Regulators. When buying a drysuit you want to be able to try one on, get advice on fit, pros and cons of different types of drysuit.

Regulators, there are lots of deals about on the internet but when you look further into it a cheap deal can become expensive when you start to look at servicing costs etc. My advice here would to be buy local from a dealer as you can get first hand advice on servicing and which would suit your needs best. I also tend to say that birthdays and Christmas is a great way of getting dive kit together, expanding or upgrading from existing kit but when thought about and planned it becomes relatively easy.

We could look at mountain biking or golf again the initial cost of a decent bike can be expensive, but once you have laidout the initial cost the rest becomes easier. Once you have made the investment in equipment going out being active with our hobby is easier on the pocket.

Going out diving for the day around any of our wonderful coastline won’t cost anything to get wet. The only cost would be for fuel and the odd cylinder fills (at around £5 a fill). Just like with any sport of hobby you would still have a running cost.

Once we have built our collection of dive kit then there is the annual servicing of the equipment that requires to be done. Servicing generally varies depending on the manufacturers cost of service kits (the labour costs remain the same regardless of manufacturer) so a little homework can save high ongoing costs

So overall when looking at the cost of the sport/hobby it may seem daunting with the cost of equipment but when you look around all hobbies/sports will have an expense - some less than others. Never let cost of equipment hold you back most dive centres will have equipment that you can rent, (for around £35 for a day) so you can still get out diving whilst building up your collection of dive kit whilst enjoying the underwater world.

Like most hobbies you can spend a fortunate in a single hit or you can build kit slowly and hire the rest. Diving is no exception but it doesnt havent to cost the earth once you are certified.

News from the club  

Hi Hope this letter finds you in good health. I just wanted to bring you up to speed with what’s been happening over the last few months at scuba scene. Starting back in May we had our Red Sea trip which is always a popular trip and fills the boat with all levels of experienced divers. The Red Sea has some pristine coral reefs with an abundance of fish life full of color. This year we had some amazing encounters with Oceanic white tip sharks and sightings of hammerhead sharks.

Next years Red Seawe are doing theNorth and BrothersItinerary, this gives us the best of both worlds where we will spend time in the north exploring the wonderful wrecks and reefs the Red Sea has to offer. We will also sail further south to explore the famous brother Islands looking for some bigger aquatic life. Next years trip is a trip that will suit all levels of diver and will build a vast amount of confidence in your diving during the weeks.

During the months of June, July and August we organized some day trips around the Devon/Cornwall coast line wanting to further enhance our dive club and bring in new members as well as old, build a stronger, friendly community with people who share the same interest and want to go out and explore our coast line underwater which offers an abundance of aquatic life and diversity. We want to build on and welcome more members along with newly qualified divers. Also organize day trips for newly qualified divers down on the coast where we can build on confidence, experience as well asknowledge, so we can all enjoy the benefits the underwater world has to offer.

End of June beginning of July we had our annual weekend down atPorthkerris, a place which is tucked away in a quiet Cornish locationbut offers some of the best UK diving in the country. The weekend gives us the opportunity to have very enjoyablesocial weekend along with some amazing diving. You have the choice of either going out on some boat diving and visit the Manacles a reef with an abundance of color and life, or the Drawna rock shore dive which is teaming with life. 2 days diving around this rock and you still want more.

September/ October we organized a trip which took us half way around the world to Bali. Tsunamis and volcanos didn’t stop Scuba Scene, we had an amazing trip and came across an abundance of diversity the Indian Ocean has to offer. Turtles and abundance of different sea horses and the highlight, a molamola or sun fish as its also known.Which is a tick in the bucket list for any diver, these fish can grow to an incredible size and dwarf a person in the water. The trip also included a few days stop over in Singapore taking in all the iconic sights and locations that Singapore has to offer with our own personal guide. Our depth of knowledge here at Scuba Scene holds no boundaries

Along with our diving we also like to organize social evenings out.We have seen and had some good side splitting (with laughter) bowling evenings, meals out, or just a few relaxing drinks in a bar with friends talking diving and got to get it in, a bit of football. We like to think of our club as a friendly family atmosphere a group of people who come together have a good time and share the adventure.

Moving forward what’s going on…………over the next month or so we would like to organize some diving activities for newly qualified divers and experienced, join us down on the coast and have a day out diving, meet the team if you have not already done so. We can all go for a dive, boost your confidence build on your confidence and take the step into exploring the underwear world. Join us and explore. We have social activities on going we are looking at an evening in November where we inform you of what we have planned for next year. Its set to be an exciting year and can guarantee it’s a life experience you will never look back on.

Christmas is coming up what do we do…….. have you thought about joining the team for our annual Christmas party it’s an evening to unwind, chat andquiz the team on your diving queries (be wary on the answer though lol) come along andcheckout the team dressed up in their best bib and brace. (no dry suits allowed). Don’t think you can’t go…… I don’t know anyone. This is another evening where you/ we, can all come together and enjoy each other’s company, talk about life, diving, what we want for Christmas and what the new year holds for our adventures………..

Weighting and buoyancy  

As we are at the beginning of new year I thought it may be good time to put some of my observations down on some of the issues new divers commonly suffer with.

The most basic issues, certainly those doing their open water and more generally the newer divers suffer are around weighting and buoyancy control. Whilst on your open water course divers your instructors endeavour to getting your weighting correct at the beginning of dives there are somethings that you can do to help. The first of these come from your open water manual which shows a weighting chart, now the basic talk around your required amount of weight is about 10% of your body weight is not going to be 100% accurate, it is a good starting point. As there are a lot of variables around your correct weighting things like type of exposure suit i.e. drysuit or wetsuit or whether you are diving salt or fresh water along with things like confidence in the water and what types of cylinders are being used as steel cylinders will generally go from negatively buoyant to neutral throughout a dive aluminium cylinders will go from slightly negative to positively buoyant , how old your exposure protection is as a new undersuit will be more buoyant than one that has been washed multiple times, so as the above goes to show weight checks are important to continue throughout your diving journey.

Now going back to the common issues the most basic issue is that open water divers and newer divers tend to kick their fins whilst trying to descend now this is normally subconsciously and is to do with nerves as you are still not use to being able to breath underwater and will go away in time, but in the short term people tend to over weight them selves rather than address the actual issue, the first and easiest thing to do is cross your legs when trying to descend as then you cant kick your fins, other things you can do begin the night before, I personally will pack my kit the night before I go diving, giving myself a chance to do any minor repairs and being able to pack without rushing giving a chance to double check I have packed everything thus me being more relaxed when I get to the dive site in the morning. Another thing is to set yourself a goal to accomplish on a dive but you want to keep this goal simple it can be something like concentrating on breathing slowly and deeply or may be having good look at something your dive guide has mentioned in the briefing this will allow you to focus on the up coming dive.When you are kitting up have check list in place this can be a mental check list or a written check list to go through, so that you set your kit up the same each time in the same order to avoid mistakes, once you have put your kit on and are getting into the water rather than rushing to get below the surface and into the dive take a minute to let your body to adjust to the water temperature and think about the goal you wish to accomplish this will allow you to slow your breathing and relax making it easier to descend. Once you are ready to descend as I said before cross your legs let your self relax and exhale fully whilst deflating your BCD and equalise your ears early and often, once you are about half a meter to a meter down start breathing fully and slowly, think to yourself although you may be in open water now and the dive deeper you have done all this before in the pool.

All of the above will allow you to need less weight to descend and be more relaxed in the water which will promote better air consumption rates and buoyancy control, prolonging your dives and again all this will improve the more dives you do in general allowing you to enjoy your diving, but don’t forget thou that by far the best time to do a weight check is at the end of a dive when you have about 50 to 80 bar left in your cylinder so please feel free to ask your buddy or instructor to allow you to carry out a weight check at the end of the dive. As a last thought when logging your dive remember to log the weight you used as this will create a record of your weighting in different conditions and times of year allowing you to make better estimate of the weight you require when dive in new conditions.

If you like and find the above useful please let us know, we can expand on the above and bring up some new topics as the year progresses.

Red Sea blog  

Although its early in the morning you are up and ready to go.. a few others, also quite keen for the day ahead are up drinking tea or coffee and having a quick sugar fix with some of the snacks on hand. A while later the rest of the group are all assembled (so much for needing the early morning wake up call). The bell rings a couple of times meaning that its briefing time (you get to live by the bell once onboard). We head indoors to get the first dive briefing...its a fairly easy dive max depth around 14m no more than 60 minutes underwater just so everyone can familiarise themselves with diving in warm water...no need for the drysuit over here!

The first group heads down onto the dive deck to get themselves geared up and into the water. The other half wait patiently so there is more space to move around...in fact the second group usually remember all those bits and pieces the first group is yelling out for when they realise they have forgotton to get dressed properly "Can someone grab my dive computer??", "where's my camera??"

After squeezing into those wetsuits (I'm sure mine has shrunk since the last time I put it on!) we also get kitted up, a quick buddy check, fins on and into the water. A lush deep blue colour. Its a shock to the system when you drop down that you can see for what seems forever and just remembering that you actually have to inflate your BC and not your drysuit takes some getting used to..

Underwater the serenity takes over..down on the seabed patches of coral intersperse with fine white sand. On top of a patch of Acropora coral a shoal of damsel fish playing a game of hide and seek as you get close to them. A sea cucumber on the sand in no desperate hurry to move anywhere and a lion fish gently riding the water movement looking for its next victim. You move over to a larger coral head and hear the grinding of coral as a parrot fish takes a bite and then heads off dispersing white sand in its wake. You spot a blue spotted ray on the bottom just in the recess of where the coral meets the sand doing its best to blend into the sea bed. And as you swim over the top of the coral you spot a yellow-speckled moray with it head out of a small hole. Now that you've seen him you're not sure how sure you could have missed it as you first swam over. He looks like he is gulping lots of air making him seem very angry....time to move on me thinks....

All too soon it's time to head back to the surface, but before you do, a chance to double check you know how to put the SMB up (not that I expect to do much of it during the rest of the week). Back on the surface i'm already pretty much at the bottom of the ladder so pass my fins up and then climb up back on to our floating hotel...

The kit comes off and back into my slot for the week and then its time to exchange the dive stories...who saw what and who gets bragging rights over the best spotted fish. The camera guys all staring intently into the screens to see if they got a picture of the one that got away! The bell rings so time to head indoors for breakfast.....the great news is I've got all week of this!!!

Our next trip is Red Sea liveaboard - departing on the 31st May 2019...Cost is £1349 per person (plus VISA and based on two people sharing a twin room. All flights, dives and food are included (apart from last day)....we have spaces left so if you are interested please get in touch...

NEWS BLOG

  • Its all in the trim

    17 September 2019
    Perfecting Buoyancy Control It’s not surprising that the most common injuries among ...
  • All about knots

    17 July 2019
    This months v-blog looks at knot tying....If  you havent done the search and rec...