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.