Mastering buoyancy control while scuba diving is one of the key skills that you need to have to enjoy diving. Acquiring the skills to have total control on your buoyancy might seem difficult at first but with practice, it gets easier. Not being able to control your buoyancy properly during a dive can be frustrating as you’ll end up having to add and let out air from your BC (Buoyancy Compensator) constantly to keep from bumping into things or grazing the floor with your fins or knees. You will lose a lot of precious air, hurt yourself and the reefs.
The tips and advice listed below are things you will learn in the Open Water Scuba Diving course.
In order to master scuba diving buoyancy, you need to first understand the 3 types of buoyancy:
- Positive buoyancy – You are positively buoyant when you are floating (position 1)
- Negative buoyancy – You are negatively buoyant when you are sinking (position 2)
- Neutral buoyancy – You are neutrally buoyant when you are neither sinking nor floating (position 3)
Wear the correct amount of weight
The amount of weights needed varies from person to person and also the type of gear you are carrying. To check if you have the correct amount of lead do the following. Get into the water and release all your air from BCD and observe:
- If you have the correct weight, with full lungs you will be at chin level (position 1). you will be floating at the eye level while breathing normally (position 2). You will begin to go down (position 3) with empty lungs.
- If you have too much weight, you will go down even with full lungs. A little extra weight can be helpful if you are still new to diving and have trouble with buoyancy at the end of the dive. You become negatively buoyant as the air in your tank is used up.
- If you do not have enough weight, you will remain on the surface even after you empty your lungs.
Most new divers have trouble with buoyancy during descending. If you descend too quickly you will not have enough time to equalize thus causing pain in your ear and hitting the sea bed. The best way to descend is to remain in a vertical position for 1-2 meters and then become horizontal. The horizontal position helps you to keep an eye at the seafloor and your dive buddy. If you feel you are sinking too fast add small puffs of air to your BCD until you are neutrally buoyant.
Correct your body position
The next thing to master buoyancy is trim. Trim in diving is your body position. Your center of gravity should balance around your navel. The correct neutral position is when you are horizontal (position 2) to the seabed and your knees bent 90 degrees and fins pointing backward. If you have too much weight your knees will sink (position 3) and you will be positively buoyant. Conversely, if you have too little weight your head will point downwards (position 1) and you will be negatively buoyant.
Learn to use your lungs
Once you are neutrally buoyant leave the inflator hose alone and continue to observe what happens when you take a long inhale and exhale. You will notice you will be able to ascend and descend just by using your lungs. Remember, do not hold your breath. It will take some time but eventually, you will get a hang of it.
Use BCD correctly
Your BCD is not a lifting device. Most new divers pump in air to ascend. This is dangerous since you do not have any control over your ascend speed and thereby injure yourself by ascending too fast. To ascend you should maintain your horizontal position until you reach 1-2 meters from the surface.
By the end of the dive, you are positively buoyant since your tanks have emptied, so it’s a good idea to vent some air out of the BCD before ascending. The air expands when the pressure decreases as you ascend, so remember to vent our air if you feel you are ascending too fast.
Benefits of having good scuba diving buoyancy control
- Lower air consumption
- Longer bottom time
- Less effort
- More FUN
And there you have it! The tips on how to master buoyancy. Got any thoughts, comments, questions, or suggestions? Leave us a comment below or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!