Great Scuba Practices to Live By

All divers want their experience to last as long as possible when scuba diving. One of the most effective methods for making the air in your tank last for longer periods is practicing, and learning how to control, your scuba breathing technique.

But the ability to make that air last so you stay underwater longer isn’t the only ingredient in that recipe that cooks up the dessert that we call “sipping air.”

How you breathe has a major impact on how long that air lasts. You have a number of techniques available for your use when you strap on that scuba gear. Your challenge is choosing the method that works best for you, and your diving style. I experimented with techniques over the years, and ended up with a personal style that works well for me. It combines parts of three or four different breathing methods, as well as the use of the best inversion table I can find to expand my back for more capacity.

Once I designed a technique I felt comfortable with, and tried it on a few dives to make sure it worked for me, I practiced it on land every time it came to mind. Then I mentally eased my breathing into it before I jumped into the water. (I made a conscious effort every time I went diving to breathe that way until my technique became a habit.)

That’s how you do it. Find your right style. Practice it on land until you own it. Then consciously breathe that way until you automatically do so every time you strap on that equipment.

But like I said, scuba breathing technique is only one element that affects how long you stay underwater.

I won’t get into the obvious limitations that scuba diving puts on you depending on your diving depth. You can dive past those limits if you like, but you won’t do that very many times.

Those elements you do control, or not, depend on your skills as a scuba diver. You can practice, and sharpen your skills. It’s your choice.

These other dive-lengthening activities include the following:

  • Your state of health.
  • Mental preparation.
  • Dive equipment.
  • Gear trim.
  • Your comfort in the underwater environment.
  • Your fin cycle speed.
  • Your dive style.

How you feel before any dive influences your dive length. A cold, congestion, or even a hangover distracts you from your diving skills. This type of distraction affects your breathing. You breathe faster, and your air won’t last long.

When you’re in a less than cheery mood, or you just don’t feel like diving, you don’t pay attention to your skills. Mentally preparing your attitude before each dive gets you into the frame of mind that keeps your attention sharp.

The more bulky your dive gear is the more you exert yourself moving through the water. The more you exert yourself, the faster you breathe. Adapt your equipment to the dive ahead of you. Don’t use a buoyancy control device with more lift capacity than you need. The more volume those bladders occupy the more friction against your progress. Small your equipment down so it doesn’t make you push too much water as you fin.

Improper gear trim attention adds to your exertion. All those tools and toys you hang around your body for enhancing your dive experience also shorten that experience. Those dive slates, lights, and gauge consoles increase drag when they hang loosely. Keep them strapped close to your body. Better yet, when you’re not using a particular item tuck it into a pocket. Or hide it inside your buoyancy control device.

Make sure you study your dive location, and normal conditions. Your comfort with the environment lends directly to whether you’re calm, or anxious. Staying calm makes for rewarding dive experiences. But if you grow anxious because of unexpected currents, or surprise visits from aquatic creatures you don’t expect, stress takes over, and you breathe faster.

Your fin cycle speed affects your breathing, just like a Honeywell SilentComfort air purifier does. The faster you kick through the water the more you exert yourself. Higher exertion both increases how fast you breathe, and tires you out so you don’t enjoy your dive as much.

I’ve seen many diving styles during my underwater excursions. Some people spend their whole dive over one small area of reef, entertained by all the colors and life in that area. Other divers try to visit every inch of reef on one dive. They flit here, rush there, and fly on to the next spot. The calmer your progress through the water the less you tire yourself. And, again, the less tired you become, the slower you breathe.

Scuba breathing technique is important to the length of your dive. But consider all of these other elements along with breathing. Practice them all, and hone your skills.

Then when you’re scuba diving you’ll enjoy longer dives, and a more rewarding underwater experience.

Staying Warm in Cold Waters

Dive quarry waters get mighty cold once you drop below 20-feet. And without some sort of protection from that cold scuba divers would stay down no longer than it takes a cat to dip a paw. You can’t enjoy a diving adventure when cold water keeps you from visiting the underwater attractions.

To keep from freezing while they’re in the water divers wear dive suits. Those dive suits work in different ways (depending on the design) to help protect the body from the frigid temperatures.

Divers have some options when choosing the type of dive suit they need for a given underwater trip. The two basic kinds of suit used for recreational diving include the wetsuit, and the dry suit.

Wetsuits are the most common for sport diving. Made of neoprene, similar to the Honeywell 17000, they range in thickness from one millimeter all the way up to 10 millimeter. Ten-millimeter wetsuits are rare in recreational diving. Divers use them almost exclusively for commercial operations.

A wetsuit insulates the diver by fitting snugly. It allows a thin layer of water to enter, and form, between the body and the neoprene material. Once this layer is in place it mostly stays in place. The suit allows very little exchange between the inside water and the outside water.

The body heat warms the inner layer of water, which creates the insulating barrier, and keeps the body warm.

When first jumping into the water the scuba diver gets an initial chill as the water enters the suit. That chill quickly goes away as the water layer warms to the body temperature. From that point on the insulating effect takes over, and the diver stays warm throughout the dive (as long as the suit fits properly).

One to three millimeter wetsuits work well in warmer waters like the tropics. They also work great for shallow dives of no more than 20-feet where the sun keeps the water above sixty to sixty-five degrees. Any colder than that, and these thin suits no longer insulate the body.

Manufacturers rate five millimeter suits and thicker for temperatures down around 50-degrees. Although you can dive these thicker suits in colder waters. It depends on your personal tolerance to lower temperatures. In my younger days I dove in water temperatures as low as 39-degrees with my 7-millimeter wetsuit. During those dives I stayed comfortable.

These days those colder waters get to me rather fast though. And though I occasionally make a dive into them, it’s rarely more than a short dive. The cold doesn’t bother me so much during the dive as afterward. The last time I dove a cold-water quarry in a recent April I didn’t warm up until a week later.

Dry suits for recreational diving are either semi-dry, or full dry.

Semi-dry suits have rubber seals at the wrists and ankles to minimize water entry. These suits are also neoprene, and the main difference between this and the wetsuit, other than the seals, is that the semi-dry suit is extra thick.

If the semi-dry suit accidentally floods it acts as a wetsuit. It still gives some insulation from the cold water.

Full dry suit seals are tight enough that no water gets into the suit. Most divers wear insulating undergarments designed for use with dry suits. Reading through a Honeywell 50250 S review, some divers also use the air purifier to improve lung function and make getting into a dry suit easier. Some wear sweat clothes, or insulated underwear.

The air forms a gap between the suit and the body. The body heat, assisted by the undergarments, warms the air. The warmed air insulates the diver.

When a dry suit accidentally floods the suit loses its insulation. The diver has no protection from the cold.

Without protection scuba divers get cold in water temperatures below 80-degrees. Diving suits protect against those colder waters.

Be Wary of Overhead Dangers

Divers sometimes face a variety of overhead dangers depending on the type of scuba diving they do.

When cavern diving overhead obstacles are part of the diving experience. And cave divers train so they have knowledge about how to dive safely with no access to air above them.

I once dove Devil’s Den in Florida. On that visit I got a small feel for what cavern divers must keep aware of every moment they enjoy their favorite sport.

The main area of the den has open cavern above the water, but tunnels branch off that main area. Gates block entry to the deeper tunnels because inexperienced diving into them threatens the life of the diver. Other tunnels are short, and open to exploration if you’d rather do that than read HSI flat iron reviews.

While diving there I explored a few of those short caves. In one I surfaced to an air space with just enough room for my head between the water and the overhead rock. In the others water met the rock above, with no air pocket to surface into.

Wreck divers also know the dangers of overhead hazards when they dive inside a sunken boat or ship.

In the case of small boats the danger is minimal. Many of our dive quarries in the Midwest have sunken cars, cabin cruisers and sailing yachts that permit our entry inside. These boats offer ready exit back outside the boat, and unless the diver tangles, or snags, his gear he encounters no problems touring inside the wreck.

Larger ships are different. You face long distances between exit points when diving the large spaces, and lower decks. The deeper you dive into bigger vessels the higher the threat because you take much longer getting back to open water.

But what about scuba diving in open water? No overhead environment but open air to surface to, at least for the most part.

In the quarries the condition of no overhead is mostly true. Unless you enter into one of those sunken vehicles, or fin into a small cavity in the rock, where you do find obstacles overhead.

But in the ocean, and especially in lakes, you always have a possibility of boats and ships cruising above you.

To protect themselves from overhead vessels divers display dive flags, and diver down floats to warn that people are underwater.

Flags and floats normally protect the divers in the ocean. They dive at designated dive sites; most boaters recognize the dive symbol on the flags and floats, and steer well clear of the area where they see diving activity in progress.

That isn’t always the case in recreational lakes.

I often dive a private lake in Indiana. The people who live around the lake own it. A committee of owners governs the property. That committee maintains rules (voted on by the owner’s association), and enforces those rules.

One rule is that diver’s tow diver down floats when diving in the lake. Each dive buddy team must tow at least one float.

The boaters of this lake know the rules, and recognize a dive float when they see one. When they spot a diver down float on the lake they steer cautiously around the area.

On other of the state’s recreational lakes conditions are much different. Many boaters have absolutely no idea what that red balloon floating on the water is all about – they are often busy looking on their phone for an MM-B80 review. I sometimes see boaters who apparently think those floats are racing pylons, and they see how close, and how fast, they can race around the float.

In those situations a diver who surfaces a few feet away from the float faces the threat of serious injury, or death.

Don’t take for granted that diver down float gives you all the protection you need.

Be aware of where you’re diving, along with the boater’s attitudes and knowledge, on that body of water.

When you’re scuba diving, safety for your life is your responsibility.