Friday, May 22, 2009

A "descent" blog:

Among my best days at my 'office' are when I am diving with some one I have dove with in the past. I had several good days at the office diving with two 'mermaids', Glenise and Lyndall (from the UK) these past days. Both dove with me for the first time a year ago and came to me via South Beach Divers ( and SoBe Divers, as I do, contract with Ocean Divers here in Key Largo ( when we engage with our students of scuba and or dive clients.

Both mermaids are relatively new divers and like many do not have the fortune to dive every chance they would like to. But do manage a couple trips in each year. They came to me looking to improve their scuba diving which we did by them participating in Peak Performance Buoyancy and UW Navigation specialty courses. Congrats, Glenise and Lyndall on your successfull completion of both.

During our first day or two together I observed a characteristic of new and infrequent divers and that is, some difficulty in descending. I know that many reading my blog do not get to dive as frequently as they would wish to, and, believe some may have experienced the same issue when descending. So, thought I would make a 'descent' blog and give some tips and pointers on 'descending to the depths of Mother Ocean' ( Cousteau).

Here goes: First of all the diver wants to take their time when making their entry and after making their entry. Get used to the feeling of the water and its temperature. Develop and begin to 'scuba breathe', which is slow and full in both the inhale and exhale parts of the respiratory cycle. And start to consciously relax. Get used to the feeling of being in your scuba and how it surrounds you.

Take a moment to put your face down into the water and start checking out the sights below! Now, the diver 'should' be in the right mindset to begin the descent. If wearing any thermal protection (other than a drysuit) flood it, so as to not try to descend with air trapped inside of it. That is the same thing as trying to descend with air still in the BCD. While orientating yourself to your entry/exit point and buddy, deflate all the air out of your BCD.

At that moment, fully exhale and relax to the point where you could be characterized as a cooked piece of pasta. Think: 'I just arrived home from a tough day at work and I am headed for my favorite chair and am going to literally sink into it once I get there'. This the mindset I am in when I descend. It works.

I equalize early and often and equalize on or after I exhale. I do not need to take a giant deep full breath of air to equalize two very small air spaces in my middle ears. Doing so, causes me to be positively buoyant and at a time when I want to be negatively buoyant. I exhale and then equalize.

The descent can be a very busy part of our dive. Lots to do and or lots going on, during our descent. We want to keep orientated, keep track of and close to our buddy, relax and it helps to keep breathing properly and in your scuba breathing rythum, equalize, dump the air from our BCD, and invariably our mask will leak a little, so it needs clearing. If we are trying to descend, we need to not be moving our fins at all, as long as our head is higher in the water column than the fins are. (it does not make a lot of difference what 'attitude' or position your body is in during the descent, rather that you are simply descending and able to equalize)

Each one of these are tasks. Tasks in diving can be stressors. Stressors in diving diminish the ability to properly breathe. By that I mean, when we are under stress in our diving, we lose our scuba breathing rythum, and, while we will fully inhale, we do stop fully exhaling. That results in a higher than normal residual lung volume, and makes the diver more positively buoyant and again at a time when negative buoyancy is the desired state of buoyancy to be in.

If you are optimally weighted and wearing a wetsuit it may be helpfull to cup your hands and turning them palm side up, use them to propel yourself down a little. Once your suit compresses a bit, the descent will get even easier. Stay relaxed and breath properly and equalize. The next thing you know, you will arrive at your desired depth for you dive!

I believe if you follow the above suggestions you will have a much easier time descending and in all likelihood not need to add weight just to aid you in your descents. Your dive will be off to a great start. Which begins with a nice relaxed and easy descent.

Go ahead and try these suggestions the next time you go diving. Know you are having a day off, and, once in the water, give yourself time to relax and get back into your scuba diver mode. Then begin your descent. Worked for us these past few days!


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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Congrats to Janet B !

One use I've found for this blog is to recognize some of the accomplishments made by some of those who come to me for scuba instruction or instruction in underwater photography.

A few years ago, Janet came to me for instruction in underwater photography. She is featured on my website and in the 'Contributors Gallery'. Janet was recently back in Key Largo, taking time off from her job where she works for the Navy, to learn to become a scuba instructor.

She completed her IDC, Instructor Development Course, through Ocean Divers ( Following this she successfully passed her Instructor Examinations .
Janet is now a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. And I thought I would take a minute to congratulate her , both for her accomplishements in her UW photography and in her becoming a SCUBA instructor.
S0, congrats Janet!
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