How to Improve your Buoyancy Control Skills
Buoyancy is a diver’s tendency to float and is one of the most critical skills any diver can learn and perfect. Excellent buoyancy helps you master your underwater movement, maximize air consumption, fine-tune your diving efficiency and make diving fun and effortless.
Buoyancy control can be a challenging skill for most divers to perfect and not being able to do so can be a bit frustrating especially when it impedes motion and leads to the destruction of the fragile marine environment. There are several factors which affect the buoyancy of a diver underwater but there are six primary factors, and they include: the amount of lead the diver is wearing, how much their BCD is inflated, the nature of their exposure suit, their trim, breath control, and depth. With so many factors affecting buoyancy, complete mastery may be a bit tricky to perfect. Below are a few tips that can help you master the skills needed for buoyancy control.
- USE PROPER SCUBA WEIGHTS
In perfecting buoyancy, wearing the right weights is crucial. With a full tank and air in your BC (Buoyancy Compensator), you’d be negatively buoyant, sinking right down to the bottom of the ocean while with an empty tank and no air in your BC, you’d be just on the eye surface with the water, making you positively buoyant. The goal is to be just neutrally buoyant, at the 15-foot safety stop, where your tank will have reduced air and be positively buoyant. When adjusting your weight, do so in 1-2 lb. increments.
- REDUCE THE USE OF YOUR BUOYANCY COMPENSATOR
A legit means of improving your buoyancy is by making use of your buoyancy compensator a lot less, and in a lot of cases, it is a reason for divers failing to achieve the perfect buoyancy. The idea is this; as you first descend, release air from your BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) slowly, this gives it time to take effect. Once you get to the depth you desire, don’t touch your BC for the rest of the dive.
- ADJUST YOUR POSITION AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO WATER
As soon as you’re underwater, go horizontal. This change in position creates pressure from the water on your body, helping you descend faster without losing much air from your BC, allowing you keep a decent amount to stay neutrally buoyant close to the bottom and not sink like a rock if you let out too much. Staying horizontal means when you kick you are propelled forward and not upwards.
- BREATHE RIGHT, DEEPLY AND CONSISTENTLY
Learning to control your breath gives you the freedom of ascending or descending a few feet just by breathing in and out. Control your breath and not hold it, is the idea and exhale fully before reaching for the inflator buttons on your BC. A lung full of air can give you as much as 10 pounds of buoyancy.
- STAY RELAXED
Unnecessary movements like flailing arms and improper finning can give you positive buoyancy without you even realizing it. This may make you think that you are lighter than what you are actually. Most persons are often anxious when descending, so you have to be extra careful to keep your arms still and extend your legs, directing your diving fins straight down for the least resistance.
Like the cliché says, “practice makes perfect, ” and like most scuba diving skills, buoyancy control takes some time to perfect. With more dives under your belt, you grow more relaxed and at home with the water, making buoyancy controls a breeze wherein you wouldn’t have to think about it. It also gives you more experience as it enables you to know the weights you used for each dive, allowing you to identify a standard.