For many divers – not just beginners – buoyancy control can be one of the hardest skills to master. I hope to explain the best ways to tackle any buoyancy issues which will in turn have your air lasting longer, being able to fin faster and with ease as well as conserving energy through the dive.
Like many sports practise makes perfect and this is definitely the case with buoyancy control. There are quite a few ways you can tweak your diving to achieve perfect buoyancy- read on for more!
Tips for Perfect Buoyancy With Every Dive
Make Sure you are Weighted Correctly
This is quite possibly the easiest and surest way to gain buoyancy control. If you have a rough idea of how much weight you need to start to tweak it ever so slightly. This will give a great indication of your buoyancy sweet spot.
If you are weighted correctly your BCD will only need the slightest bit of inflating if not none at all. You can always use your BCD if you are over weighted. Bear in mind this will start burning your air if you do it repeatedly.
This means there will be less drag allow you to fin more efficiently.
How Much Weight Do I Need?
There are a few factors to consider when weighting up. The thickness of your wetsuit as well as body composition will provide an estimate. During your learners course or on your first guided tour your guide will be able to estimate what you need. Generally they are pretty accurate.
When I first began to scuba dive I would tend to over weigh myself. In my opinion sinking can very easily be counteracted by inflating your BCD slightly. If you are too light and finding it very hard to get down then it’s going to be a nightmare. You will burn through your air very quickly and become quite flustered in the process.
It is also dangerous to float straight to the surface during your safety ascend like I have battled with before. Again, having the extra weight here is going to be very beneficial.
Complete a Surface Weight Check
With a full tank and empty BCD you should slowly sink while breathing through your regulator. Even on an inhale you should still gently sink below the surface.
Many schools will teach that you should float at eye level. I find that this is only true at the end of the dive when the tank weighs less. So taking that into consideration you will need roughly 5 pounds of extra weight at the beginning.
Use your Safety Stop Wisely
For me during my safety stops I would always start to float up. I would often be fighting the water to remain at the decompression point.
If you are weighted correctly you should be neutral when completing your safety stop. Here you can practise perfecting your buoyancy control.
Many dive schools teach a component on buoyancy control. There are also courses offered in perfecting it.
If you have the time diving purely to practise buoyancy will be very beneficial. With 500psi at 15feet release all the air from your BCD. Here you can start to relax and use your hands or feet to swim upwards. This is a simple way to see buoyancy control. Inhale and your body will rise slowly and an exhale will have to sink slowly. If you aren’t then add or take off weight until you can control this. Or you could place extra weights in your BCD and play around with weights at 15 feet of depth.
Log Each Dive Including the Weight
Record your weight, the thickness of your wetsuit, water temperature, body weight, equipment used, air tank and how your buoyancy felt while diving.
Logging your dives is a great way to work out your perfect weight for buoyancy control.
Don’t forgot if you loose or gain weight or are in warm waters that don;t need a wetsuit you’ll need to account for the weight change.
Try to think about your weight evenly spread across the body. This will help you swim horizontally through the water and make it easy to swim.
Buoyancy Exercises to Practise
Once you think you have your ideal weight during your safety stop consider trying to following exercises. Try not to overthink it – relaxing is key!
Take your legs into the cross legged position or lotus and hold onto the tips of your find. In this exercise by holding the fins your feet and hands are occupied and you are unable to fidget. Are you falling to one side? Your weight is probably unevenly distributed- correct it and try it again.
Assume the position you would to swim. Stretch your body out but try to limit movement in your hands and feet. Are you rolling to one side? Are your feet sinking or rising?
Again stretch out like in the front hover and then roll onto your side. Try to keep your hands/arms and feet still. Do you begin to roll over? Which way?
Weight Conversion for Freshwater & Saltwater
When diving in saltwater you must change your weight belt.
As a rule of thumb when going from fresh water to salt water you multiply your weight by 0.025 and add it on.
Vice versa when going from fresh water to salt water. Multiply your weight by 0.025 and subtract it.
It’s always easier to see an example so lets consider the following:
- Your weight= 180 pounds
- Equipment= 70 pounds for salt water diving
- Total Weight= 250 pounds
- Weight needed for fresh water dive = 250 x 0.025 = 6.25
- For freshwater diving you subtract 6.25 pound from your weight belt
Buoyancy control is arguably one of the harder skills to master when scuba diving. Through correct weighting and the exercises mentioned above you can begin to perfect buoyancy with every dive. Have you got any other tips that helped with buoyancy control? Share in the comments below!