Diving is an activity that few are gifted at the first time they hit the water. There is a lot to keep track of, and sometimes even the most active diver can forget some of the basics that will keep you from being “that guy” on the dive. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but by remembering these simple things, each dive will be easier and safer.
Buoyancy is the downfall of many a diver. Good divers work on it, technical divers have advanced levels of it, and cave divers master it. While not everyone needs to be perfect, floating up and down less than 5cm either way as you breath, having good control is a plus. Staying off the bottom, not kicking up silt and not losing air to constant inflation/deflation of your BCD should be the minimum goal you set as a diver. If you want a hint on how to get good at buoyancy? Get a camera. The need to be still at the right level is key to good shots, and there’s nothing like purpose to motivate!
This one gets us all at one point or another. Whether its a new BCD, computer, camera or even a surface signal device (the first time I used mine I watched it rocket to the surface, then started spooling out sting before it took me with it!). Lack of familiarity with equipment can lead to safety issues in the event of an incident, and to wasted bottom time. Test out and play with your gear prior to the dive and get a good feel for it and where it is. Also, tell your dive buddy about anything odd or unusual, so that in the event of a problem, they don’t have to fumble around!
Dive Your Plan
I can’t stress this enough, as story after story has been surfacing lately of lost divers, forgotten divers and dead divers; all with a single thing in common: there wasn’t a dive plan, or if there was, it was junk. I wrote a short article on the subject, Planning a Dive, that gives the bare bones of how to plan a dive. It may seem like trying to be a wet blanket, but a dive plan, pre-dive to post-dive, combined with good buddy habits, will help you avoid dangerous situations, or at least allow you to respond to them more quickly!
A final note is to be smart when you’re diving. It’s a sport and activity that is (outside of a very few areas) non-competitive. There’s no need to push envelopes that don’t need pushing. Don’t drain your breathing gas to the last breath then rush your surface. Don’t “play the system” with your tables or computer. Just relax and enjoy the dive! If you’re being hyper competitive, odds are, you’re making the dive suck for someone else; possibly the whole group if you’re scaring all the marine life off before they can see it! Additionally, be honest with yourself about your state for diving. There’s no shame in calling a dive if you’re not up for it.
So… a post on time! Right on! Have a great weekend everyone!