Removing Mask: A Challenging Dive Skill

Majority of student divers and unexperienced certified scuba divers find this basic skill difficult. They have the fear to perform mask removal.

The reason behind this fear is that we are evolved/created (choose the one you like) to live on land, not underwater.

We eat, drink, dance, walk and see on land. We do these for years and know nowhere else to do such kind of activities!

However one day, a bald scuba instructor like me takes you into the ocean and wants you to breathe underwater! Isn’t this “a little bit weird already, even though it is fascinating” you are thinking…

Like this ain’t enough, your instructor wants you to perform some diving skills! He/she is demonstrating these skills easily. But when your instructor gives you the “now your turn” signal, those skills start not to be that easy, huh?

Or…

You are a certified scuba diver but you completed your diving course a couple of weeks ago.

You were removing your mask, feeling a little bit anxious, but handled it. But you still have a piece of fear against this skill.

What if I need to replace my mask if it is removed from my face in my open water dives one day?!

Do you match with one of these two profiles?

Ooookay…

First, you are not alone!

Removing Your Mask UnderwaterAs I have mentioned above, majority of the student divers and unexperienced scuba divers find mask removal a really challenging scuba skill.

Because when you remove your mask underwater, water surrounds your eyes, mouth and eyes. When performed in open water as a part of scuba diving training, salty water may disturb you. This is extremely normal.

In addition to this, we are used to inhale through our nose. This is a reflex for us and it is difficult to control.

However, we should inhale and exhale through our mouth underwater. That’s because we are using a regulator second stage for breathing there.

And when we inhale through our nose when we remove our mask underwater, water comes in! This disturbs us naturally. We need to cough and take deep breaths to overcome this issue, right? [Read more…]

5 Ways of Self-Improvement in Diving

You did it! From now on, you are a certified scuba diver. All the academic sessions and the training dives are over.
You are looking at your brand-new dive certification and becoming proud of you. Now you can dive as long as you want, share your experience with your friends and family. You became one of the guys in National Geographic Channel whom you were admiring just because they were diving in a harmony. How cool you feel now!

However, this is only a start, the beginning of your scuba diving journey. It is a life-time hobby that will turn into a life-style in time. Like all the other relationships you have, you and scuba diving will mature by time which will lead you to an amazing life experience.

In this article, I wanted to help you make safe and comfortable dives. Knowing and applying these simple “tips” will make you better divers.

Alright then, let’s start.

Maintaining and Developing Your Scuba Diving Knowledge

We forget. That’s the truth. To maintain what we learnt, we should repeat. The entry level course books are the base of our scuba diving knowledge. Whichever your diving agency is, your “starter book” should always be on your desk.

From time to time, take a look at the chapters. Not the whole book maybe, but the key points in it. I suggest you to highlight the parts that you tell as a key point. It is then easy to find these lines when you decide to re-read it.

This is only the maintaining part. It is the base of our “house of diving.

You should read monthly well-respected dive magazines, follow a TV show in an alternative channel like NetGeo, Discovery and/or Animal Planet, read other books (in addition to your own diving manual) written by your favorite doyenne scuba diver.

By this way, you’ll learn new things and be able to follow the trend in scuba diving.

A good knowledge will make you a better and conscious diver.

Sharpening Your Scuba Diving Skills

You learnt a lot in your dive training. Remember your scuba diving skills like clearing your mask and your regulator second stage, using alternate air source, maintaining perfect buoyancy?

These skills should always be sharp.

Some of these skills will not be used frequently in your dives, such as emergency ascents.

By not repeating, these skills may “become rusty.

To prevent this, you should practice your skills from time to time. Ask your instructor to make him/her help you with this. A good instructor will be happy for this and help you without hesitation.

When one of my students asks me for such kind of an update, I congratulate him/her and help to sharpen his/her skills without any doubt.

Sharp skills will help you increase your self-confidence and self-motivation, resulting in safer and more comfortable dives.

Diving In Different Regions

When we always dive in the same dive spot/region, we only learn the aspects of that specific region.

Diving in different regions with different dive professionals will teach you a lot. You’ll gain more experience.

You cannot study maths by multiplying 2 with 2 everyday, huh?

A dive spot with current (with proper –drift diving- training, for sure), for example, will make you have a great experience and ease your regular dives without current.

Diving in fresh water can be another example. By this way, you’ll learn that you need less weight with respect to your dives you make in salty sea water.

Diving in altitude (over 300 meters from the sea level) is another example. It’ll teach you that you need different tables and applications to follow when you are in a lower atmospheric pressure.

Examples are limitless.

Diving with other divers and dive professionals is another asset for us.

Every diver and dive professional has their own style that will help you extend your vision.

Diving Frequently

Scuba Schools International has a teaching philosophy: “Comfort through repetition.

Just like every other things in our life, like playing football, studying for a lesson, driving a car or a motorcycle, we get better when we practice it.

Scuba diving is the same.

We learn diving by diving.

Unlike riding a bike, we cannot easily remember to dive when we give a long break. Our buoyancy skills, for example, decrease if we don’t dive for a long time.

That’s why majority of the dive agencies require a “scuba skills update” program for divers who didn’t dive for a certain period (6 months in most of them).

Therefore, we should go on diving frequently. Learn and develop it by doing it.

Simple.

Keeping In Touch With Other Divers and Dive Pros

Learning is social.

All divers can learn and improve themselves by staying in touch with each other.

A small scuba diving speech generally turns into a brain storm and give good lessons for both sides.

It is certain that there are parts that we really know about, enjoy reading about it and etc. On the other hand, there are parts that we are weak and needs to be improved.

We can easily exchange these parts with a proper dive partner that we like to talk. This is a really good way of self-improvement.

If your “dive speech partner” is a dive professional, it is even better.

You can do this by joining scuba diving groups/clubs in your region. They motivate people talk about scuba diving and dive professionals regulate these conversations by joining the group in a good harmony.

Another way to stay in touch with others is the scuba diving forums. I advise you scubadiving.com’s forums to help you improve your scuba diving knowledge.

http://forums.scubadiving.com/forum.php

And for DWS readers, you can always e-mail me from seaman@divewithseaman.com if you have something in mind or just want to talk about a topic.

How do you improve yourself?

Controlled Descent Is the Best Start

Mustafa and I were in Antalya-Kemer/TURKEY for diving several years ago.

It was a wreck dive.

We were not alone. Our group consisted of 6 scuba divers (including us) and a dive leader.

I and Mustafa were instructors, but the rest were starters.

Right after the dive briefing, dive leader told us that me and my buddy Mustafa may stay at the back of the group while enjoying the dive and serve as a rearguard for him.

That was no problem. We accepted. [Read more…]

Choosing the Proper Amount of Weight

Diving requires balance.

Balance (called ‘buoyancy‘ in scuba diving) should not only be horizontal, but also vertical.

Vertical balance means ‘not to sink nor to float.

To be able to make safe and enjoyable dives, you need to be ‘neutrally buoyant.

I advise you to read Buoyancy Underwater: Tips for Perfect Buoyancy article to learn more about buoyancy underwater.

One of the elements of buoyancy is the amount of weight scuba divers use.

What is a Diving Weight?

Usually made of lead, diving weights help a scuba diver ‘to be able to get under the water.

All the equipment a diver uses makes him/her float (positively buoyant).

Even the dive tanks/cylinders acts like a buoy at the last minutes of the dive. Because the pressured air in the tank will decrease.

Wet-suits, buoyancy compensators and every other equipment… They will all try to pull you to the surface.

To balance this, scuba divers use weights. You can read Weight Systems page for more information about the weight systems in scuba diving.

Why to Choose Proper Amount of Weight

The ideal amount of weight a scuba diver uses should not make a diver ‘crawl on the ocean floor.This will make the diver to use more air.

That’s because diver will want to be neutrally buoyant and inflate his/her BCD with more air. In addition, diver will consume much more energy.

Think about yourself walking with an extra 10 kg, right?

Using more air means less bottom time.

On the other hand,the ideal amount of weight a scuba diver uses should not make a diver ‘float like a balloon on the surface.’

This will make the diver struggle to be able to descent and start to dive.

Even if the scuba diver can succeed to descent, he/she will possibly ‘dodge’ to the surface when air in the tank is decreased.

This will result in an unenjoyed dive. But beyond this, rapid ascend is not safe (read: Decompression: Sickness or Illness).

How to Choose Proper Amount of Weight

It is quiet simple.

First, consult your instructor for the amount of weight you should choose and put on that amount of weight to your weight belt.

Then wear your wet-suit/dry suit and put on all the diving gear you use. Fins, mask, scuba and everything…

  1. Get in to the water that your fins tips don’t touch the bottom.
  2. Wear your mask and regulator.
  3. Inhale slowly while deflating your BC
  4. Hold your breath for a couple of seconds
  • If you start to descent, you have more amount of weight than you need.
  • If the water level is on your eye-level, you have ideal amount of weight.
  • If the water level is on your -for example- shoulders, you have less amount of weight than you need.

Some Examples

Let’s take some examples for a better understanding.

Case 1

You put on 10 kilograms of weight.

Applied all the steps I have mentioned above.

With a fully deflated BC and normally holded breath, let’s assume that you start to descent.

You should retry this test with 8 kilograms of weight.

Case 2

You put on 6 kilograms of weight.

Applied all the steps I have mentioned above.

With a fully deflated BC and normally holded breath, let’s assume that the water-level is at your shoulder-level.

You should retry this test with 8 kilograms of weight.

Conclusion

Choosing the right amount of weight is very important, because it directly effects our buoyancy (balance).

With the test explained in this article, you are going to be able to choose the ideal amount of weight and make safe and enjoyable dives. 

Remember that every single change in your equipment and your own weight will effect the amount of weight you’ll choose.

Wearing a shorty means to put on less weight. If you are using 10 kilograms of weight in winter, you should use something like 8 kilograms (find the exact amount buy applying the test) while wearing a shorty in summer.

Using an aliminum tank requires you to use more weight because aliminum is a lighter metal than steel. If you are using 8 kilograms of weight with a steel tank, you should use something like 10 kilograms (find the exact amount buy applying the test) while using an aliminum tank.

Do you have something to add?

5 Ways to Make Relaxed Dives

We are all diving for pleasure.

So scuba diving should be fun and relaxing.

If we can ‘avoid stress‘, we can feel both comfortable and self-confident. [Read more…]

Nitrogen Narcosis: Pull Yourself Together!

Have you ever seen a herd of zebra or an Asian elephant running towards you underwater? Couple of mermaids swimming peacefully, chasing you to follow them?

Don’t worry, you didn’t go nuts. But this is also something out of favor.

Nitrogen narcosis is simply “being tipsy underwater.”  But why and how this happens? [Read more…]

I Don’t Want to Dive Today

It sounds like becoming a little bit sad and maybe worried leaving home for a job that you have always dreamed about outside your hometown. You know that it’s gonna be great deep inside but you are leaving your family even tough you know that you can take a bus and see’em whenever you’d like to. Missing your room, garden and friends in the town. List goes on… This mood is damn interesting, on one side, you are dying to do it, on the other side, you are worried. [Read more…]

10 Golden Rules of Scuba Diving

Scuba diving has some potential risks just like every other outdoor activity does. However, these risks can easily be minimized by obeying a couple of rules. DiveWithSeaman.com already has a “Rules For Diving” page but here in this post, I wanted to give the most important rules one by one which will increase the safety and comfort of your dives starting right after you finish reading. Here are 10 golden rules of scuba diving that will increase the safety, quality and pleasure of your dives while decreasing the anxiety under the water.  [Read more…]

Best Breathing Technique While Scuba Diving

It is obvious that we should all breath underwater from our air sources. But what should be the frequency and/or duration of each inhale and exhale while scuba diving? Most common mistake is to breath just like you do on land. There are some points in breathing through an apparatus. If you inhale normally (like you are doing right now) while scuba diving, you will get tired and consume your air faster (you can read my Using Less Air While Diving article). I admit that we, instructors always say to “take a normal breath underwater“. However, we actually don’t mean that a diver should breath just like he/she does on land, but mean that it is still easy even under the water. This makes the diver (candidate) to feel better prior to enter the water. Below is the best breathing technique while scuba diving that will make you feel much more comfortable, maximize your bottom time and save your air… [Read more…]

Decompression: Sickness or Illness?

I am always asked about these two terms when I meet non-divers or in my Open Water Diver classes. It is known that “decompression” is something bad and related to diving. It is one of the topics everybody is familiar, however minority of them really know what decompression is. In most languages (in Turkish for example), “illness” and “sickness” refer to the same word. But in fact, decompression sickness and decompression illness are different but related. [Read more…]