By Harry Averill
Dramatically improve your compass course accuracy
It’s been a long and relaxing dive. You and your buddies have gone from one coral head to another. You snap photos and marvel at the aquatic life. The catch is, your pressure gauges say it’s time to head back to the boat. Unfortunately, you’ve lost track of where you are.
The good news is, you are in very shallow water. Coming to the surface to take a compass heading on the boat won’t create the problems usually associated with bounce dives and sawtooth profiles. You surface and see the boat approximately 100 m/330 ft away. You take a heading on the boat so you can return on the bottom.
You and your teammates could swim back on the surface. But you remember your instructor telling you to avoid long surface swims when possible. Underwater, you avoid waves, strong surface currents, and boat traffic. You have plenty of air left, so returning to the boat underwater seems like the best option.
With your buddies in tow, you align the centerline of your compass with the centerline of your body and swim at a relaxed pace. You remember from your Advanced Adventures course you can expect to cover roughly 25 m/80 ft per minute at this pace. Your relaxed pace should get you back to the boat in four minutes.
Four minutes pass. You look up. No boat. Not even the shadow of the boat on the bottom.
You and your teammates surface. Looking around, you spot the boat 20 m/65 ft away. You elect to swim the rest of the way on the surface.
You’re frustrated, though. All the way back, you kept your eyes glued to the compass dial. You did your best to keep your body aligned with the compass’s centerline. What went wrong? And what can you do to prevent this from happening in the future?
Compass use has limits Underwater compasses work best over short distances. Why? Because no matter how carefully you try to keep your body aligned with the compass, you can still be off by more than 10 to 15 degrees. Several factors can affect this.
As the earlier example shows, over the length of a soccer or football field, these factors can cause you to miss your target by more than the length of a dive boat.
So what can you do?
There are several steps you can take to improve compass course accuracy.
Because the objects to which you are swimming can’t move, you can achieve close to 100 percent accuracy. It’s also a lot more fun than having your eyes constantly glued to the compass dial.
Things to remember Compasses can help you in several ways.
By Tatyana Nikitina
Do you like your dry suit as much as I do? My love is not unfounded. Here are a few reasons I love dry suit diving:
Myth 1: Drysuits are hard to choose
I feel this is untrue. Yes, there are a large number of dry suit manufacturers. There are many brands in the USA, Europe and Russia. You’ll need to narrow your search by putting in some research before buying. First, ask yourself a few questions:
Myth 2: Drysuit care is very expensive.
This myth can be proved wrong through basic maintenance. Before each dive, lubricate the zipper. Follow the instructions on the zipper lubricant. Next, make sure you handle the neck seal and wrist seals with talcum powder or a special dry suit lubricant.
When removing your dry suit, use a water-based lubricant to protect your seals from tearing. Then close the zipper. If diving in salt or contaminated water, rinse the outside of your dry suit with clean, fresh water. Rinse any of the inner surfaces that may have come in contact with salt, such as the neck seal and wrist seals. Do not leave your dry suit in direct sunlight.
Here is how long you can expect you maintenance items to last. Costs will vary depending on where you live; however, nothing on this list should run more than the equivalent of ten US dollars.
The cost dry suit repairs will depend largely on the severity of the damage. Most divers turn to specialized dry suit repair centers to replace neck and wrist seals. Seals may break due to careless use or wear and oxidation over time.
Divers may also turn to a repair center if their dry suit leaks. The leak may be due to damage to the suit (cut or puncture), worn seams or broken zippers or valves. It can be difficult to find a puncture or leak in a seam. A dedicated dry suit repair center can conduct a leak test to determine exactly where the repair is needed.
The most expensive repairs generally involve replacing the waterproof zipper. In most cases, the damage is due to improper care.
How much do dry suit repairs cost? Again, this will depend on where you live, the make and model suit and other factors. Here are some typical costs in US dollars, including parts and labor:
Myth 4: Drysuits are dangerous
A dry suit is an additional air space divers must manage. To do so safely and enjoyably, you need to take the SDI Dry Suit Diver course. The theoretical part of the training includes:
Following this, students apply what they have learned in open water. Successful completion of academic, confined and open-water training means students are ready to begin diving dry without direct instructor supervision. As with most diving activities, however, learning never really stops.
Myth 5: You need to buy a dry suit to take a course
Depending on where and from whom you take your course, you may be required to either supply your own suit or rent one. Suit rental may be included in the price of the course. Conversely, some dive centers include the cost of training in the purchase price of a dry suit.
This past weekend a number of local past scuba summer camp participants braved the areas first real cold front for a dive at Troy Springs State Park. Two great dives were made to 70' with blind cave adapted crayfish spotted in the spring vents on both dives (see video). On dive two we did a drift down the spring run to the see the civil war era vessel along with numerous hogchokers caught by hand.
By Mark Powell
A topic that generates considerable online discussion is whether buoyancy control should be a specialty.
Buoyancy control is an important part of entry-level training. However, there is plenty of room for improving divers’ buoyancy skills with follow up courses.
As an analogy, look at decompression theory. The SDI Open Water Scuba Diver course includes a section on this topic. Few, however, would argue this course should include all aspects of decompression theory. It is normal, even desirable, to save more detailed information for advanced courses.
Buoyancy is a fundamental part of diving
At a recent Instructor Trainer Workshop (ITW), a candidate stated, “Buoyancy control is not a part of diving. It is diving.”
The feeling of weightlessness is one of the best parts of diving. The ability to descend and ascend effortlessly are essential parts of learning to dive. So is the ability to maintain position in the water column. Divers who cannot control buoyancy should not pass the Open Water Scuba Diver course.
However, many instructors consider buoyancy control “just another skill.” Just one more on a list of several skills instructors must tick off before certifying entry-level students. They feel teaching fin pivots or, even worse, Buddha hovers somehow constitutes teaching buoyancy control.
Once the instructor checks off this “skill,” students are often denied further instruction in or practice of buoyancy. This does not constitute mastery of buoyancy control. Thus, the need to teach remedial buoyancy control courses is often to overcome substandard entry-level training.
SDI standards are clear
To be certified as SDI Open Water Scuba Divers, students must be able to:
If instructors do a good job of covering all the required elements, students should have a fundamental mastery of buoyancy control. They should be able to maintain their position in the water throughout the dive.
This does not mean there is nothing more students can learn. Even the best instructors cannot teach every aspect of buoyancy control in entry-level classes. There is always room to improve.
The Advanced Buoyancy Control Course
The SDI Advanced Buoyancy Control course can help divers receive additional coaching on how to fine-tune buoyancy. It should also cover how to ensure they maintain their buoyancy while:
It’s unfortunate some instructors consider buoyancy to be just another skill on a checklist rather than a fundamental part of diving. This devalues the concept of a follow-on Buoyancy Control class. How? By turning it into a remedial Open Water Scuba Diver buoyancy lesson. It has the potential to be so much more.
SDI Instructors should always ensure their entry-level students are capable of basic buoyancy control. They should not be afraid, however, to allow students to further improve and fine-tune their buoyancy. The SDI Advanced Buoyancy Control course provides that opportunity.
THE WORLD WOULD BE AN EVEN BETTER PLACE WITH MORE SCUBA DIVERS
By Joe Stude
Now that’s a bold statement. It’s a twist on The world would be a better place if… rant many of us have heard. You may have used it yourself while inserting our own remedy at the end. The reason I feel scuba divers have such a positive impact on our planet and society is that I have seen it firsthand. This is from a person who is both a recreational diver and someone who has worked in the dive industry for many years.
So just what are these positives that diving brings to the table? Let’s have a look:
Our hectic schedules: Hectic schedules can be stress-inducing as well. I can recall a time when my children were school age and we were all home on one Friday evening. I thought that there must be somewhere we were supposed to be. It was not until the next day that we realized we missed an event the night before.
Everyone can use some rest and relaxation time. What better way than on a dive, even if it’s a one-day jaunt to the local dive site?
Cell phones: Now let’s talk about smartphones. Where is yours right now? Mine is right next to me as I write this. My guess is that yours is close by, too. Well, you cannot take your cell phone underwater with you. Actually, you can, but I don’t take calls or surf the web while breathing through my regulator at depth, even if I am using a full face mask. Therefore, diving reduces our screen time. That’s not a bad thing.
Our mind is racing again! Think about where our thoughts are when we dive. When diving, you are actually relaxing (there is that word again), and looking at your surroundings. You are not thinking about what I need to do Wednesday afternoon. Diving just creates time away from the daily grind to recharge.
Dive vacations: Is it possible that just seeing the words dive vacation brings a sense of calm to the moment? It does for me. If you have ever been on a dive vacation you know the amazing feeling of devoting time to explore the wonders of our underwater world for a week. Adding in the resort type atmosphere does not hurt either.
Of course, I realize that some types of diving are not necessarily relaxing. I used to do search and recovery diving so I am well aware of that fact. Those deep wreck dives off the coast of New Jersey did not feel the same as a hammock on a tropical beach. They were still amazing. I also know the feeling of a week in Bonaire. Feel free to insert your favorite dive vacation location in the comments.
Scuba diving is good for the environment As divers, we learn from the very beginning of our training to be aware of the impact we have on the undersea environment. We also learn how we can avoid damaging this beautiful but fragile ecosystem.
Buoyancy control: We practice our buoyancy control for several reasons. One reason is so that we may look without touching because we learn that just a simple touch can damage delicate sea life.
Shore cleanups: Some divers participate in shore cleanups. There are many who will pick up that soda can during a dive and put it in their catch bag so they can dispose of it properly later.
I can say from experience that when doing a shore dive from a neighborhood access spot, that anxious residents relax when they realize I actually took the time to pick up underwater trash during the dive. When they see me put it in the trash receptacle or in my vehicle to take with me, it goes a long way in helping give divers a good reputation.
Scuba diving promotes a healthier lifestyle Stop smoking: I do not have any statistics to back this up but personally, but I have seen more people quit smoking as they got into diving than for any other reason.
Exercise: Scuba diving tends to provide that extra incentive some need to get in shape. Those walks back up the hill after amazing dives do not hurt either. It provides exercise as well as the inspiration to exercise more, all at the same time. The dive itself is helping as a physical activity that provides exercise as well.
A Healthy Diet: We learn from the beginning that a healthy diet is beneficial in many ways when scuba diving. The trend is to see more fruit than greasy fried foods when at the dive site.
Scuba diving provides a boost to the economy. Scuba diving creates jobs for those wishing to work in the field. Let’s take a brief look at the industry.
Instruction: It all began with scuba instruction and it continues today. Most divers who really get into diving go on to take additional training past their initial course. This, along with the right equipment, is money well spent. I have never heard a diver say, “I should have bought that new lawnmower instead of my BC.” The same holds true for training. Think safety!
Equipment: Think about what your favorite equipment manufacturer had to do to get you that regulator you really wanted. Obviously, it takes a team of employees ranging from design, engineering, marketing, advertising, sales and more.
Scuba diving promotes a sense of community Last but not least is the diving community. Whenever someone comes to me for information regarding scuba lessons I always include information about the diving community as part of our meeting.
The directors will be at the following Florida venues this year. Come by the booth to meet us and learn more about Earth Immersion Scuba Summer Camp and our other scuba offerings.