Category Archives: Recreational Scuba Training

Top 10 factors a diver should consider

In the life of a scuba diver, one sees and hear all kind of things. From the regular recurring “is there any sharks here?” all the way up to “I dive DIR, I hope the DM will match me with a good diver otherwise I want my $$ back!” and so on and so forth.

I recently stumbled up upon a scuba diver’s article online and could not help but do a remix of it all…  Let say I jump into the arena and see what’s there. Too tempting 😀
It may unleash the fire of hatred or the critical eyes of a few but hey, the news are what they are today – biased. So, here, I will try to give you the other side of the coin.

  • Using your tank valve to dry off your dust cap

It is actually a good thing to dry your dust cap prior to placing it back onto your first stage regulator. Doing this will avoid moisture to get in and start corrosion. As of how to do it, this is another thing. Consideration would dictate your actions but…if you use it considerately, you can use your tank valve to dry the dust cap off, or, you can also use your mouth to blow air in the cap – it is usually enough!

  • Make good use of your kitting area

Don’t spread your kit on one side if your entry point is on the other side…DUH!!!!

  • Take your time..but keep on track

Kitting up on a sunny day is a great motivating factor but watch out for some details. You can be the most experienced diver on the boat or site, so take a second or two to observe your team. If there is a diver who takes longer and/or repeat tasks at nauseum, you can conclude that this person is under stress. Instead of starting to complain and getting ready too fast, stop what you’re doing, go and speak with her/him. This is a sign of stress. For you Rescue Divers, does it sound familiar? It does to me! 😀
Maybe the dive plan is too aggressive or the side too intimidating. Getting to know your team members during the boat ride out to the site is a nice way to “screen” everybody. Be nice!

  • Communication is key

To avoid confusion, a team of divers must agree on a plan and stick to it. Along with a series of hand signal, a team leader should be assigned. During a dive, in a group, there is no “passenger”. Let me explain this: I do not follow blindly the DM and barely monitor my gas, I am an active member of the team. Therefore, I keep and eye on them as I know, that they keep an eye on me. No “I” in TEAM 🙂

  •  A theme dive should be filled with like-minded divers

If you are a photo maniac (like me!) and you want to dive just for taking photos, the best to avoid the “accidental” photo bombing, is to book onto a photographer’s dive trip. Like this, you are among divers who will be doing the same they’ll expect you to do: be smart.

  • Did I already said you should be considerate?

If you, the diver photographer refused to listen to our advice and find yourself on a boat full of non-photographers, then be considerate and use this to your advantage – this day, you can build something super interesting with the team and have your them participate. Yes, this photo shoot will be with models, get used to it! You and your team, now form a perfect crew for making your photos NatGeo‘s eligible shots. A dive plan, with assigned roles and solid communication will make this dive a bliss rather than a nightmare. Be smart!

  • More often than not, you could end up being the most experienced dive on-board

Yes, it is a fact that you could end up being the diver with the most experience on board. Does it mean you are a snob? Certainly not. Can you play the snob? Sure! Should you? Certainly NOT 🙂
Hear me out here a second. The most experience you have, the more others are going to turn to you and ask for advice. This your time to shine.
Be a role model. Like always. 🙂
On the other hand, that means that you are within your comfort zone and will not learn much, if not more “people skills”. So think again when booking your next diving holidays – FACE YOUR FEAR – give yourself a challenge. If you are an instructor, take an instructor course to better your knowledge and if you are Rescue diver, take onto some new challenge and like this, keep your hobby interesting.

 

So, here it is, I have said what I wanted to say. There is only 9 points in the end because I think there is no need to repeat too many times the same thing.
We are in an individualistic social activity, if that make sense. It is probably one of the most social sport to meet people, travel to new places and have fun.
In my opinion, learning to scuba in resort destination is not the best thing to do to your hobby. Unless you are learning an advanced form of diving, not being taught at your local dive shop. Sidemount scuba diving comes to mind, as well as cave diving.
Once you become a sidemount diver and/or a cave diver, you first can be proud of yourself as these two courses are challenging. But keep in mind that it is not for every diver and that your experience can and will help others.
Your experience, over those many dives that you have logged, have given you the “resuce others” type of skill set. Give away those tips and tricks you’ve learned and be the diver everybody wants to dive with.

If you feel you’ve reached a plateau, then take up on a new course. Challenge yourself and make sure you’re doing it for the right reason – HAVE FUN 🙂

 

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Gas managment

How much gas is enough?

“OK guys and gals, the reef is right under the boat, it is 40ft/12m deep, there is a slight current coming from the North and for the more experienced, the wreck is at bearing 160. Have fun and make sure to use the descent line and come back when you have 700PSI/50BAR. Have fun!”

How much gas is enough?

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Delayed Surface Marker Buoys

surface marker for ocean diving

Deep sea diving or should I say open water diving? In any cases divers will need to be able to signal their position and communicate with the surface by using a surface marker buoy aka SMB, DSMB, sausage or even  a bolb!!
At a beginner’s level, surface suport is just the boat captain and maybe his crew, just waitng in the drift to see ‘where’ the client-divers are going to surface from their dive. Pretty basic you’d say…
It should be, as long as it is agreed before the dive, that an SMB must be used and the boat crew know the type and eventualy color of the surface markers in use within that group of recreational divers.

But on the other hand, we’d have the more experienced diver, possibly a technical diver, even a sidemount technical diver 😉 who absolutely need surface support for his or her safety. During your technical diving class with Essential Scuba Training, you will learn how to deploy safely an SMB.

Surface Marker

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Maximum Operating Death (Part 1)

Cylinder labels – Where and what to write

Scuba diving is still claiming victims. Sometimes, reading newspapers, it is possible to hear about the diver’s oxygen cylinder that ran out. If you read this blog, you are probably a diver and therefore know exactly what I am talking about!
With today’s demand for advanced diver training these journalist could never be so far from the truth. Oxygen cylinders are dangerous, a bit like a loaded weapon. If mishandled, it is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ will it kill!? Unless…

As soon as divers enter in the Technical diving realm, they will carry along a variety of gasses either to extend their bottom time or to help during the decompression or ascent phase of the dive.

All you need is this!

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Mix Gas Sidemount Scuba Diving

Nitrox or Helium, either way, in sidemount!

For a while now, Nitrox (oxygen enriched mix) and or helium based mixes, aka trimix, have been the sole toys of technical divers. It is true in a way, and thanks God to these different mixes, man (ok, women as well!) are pushing the limits of scuba diving and helping understand the intricacies of deep, very deep diving as well as decompression models. If Nitrox is not new, nor is helium, they are still seen as ‘voodoo’ mixes.

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The Art of teaching scuba diving

…Or The Value of Training

Yes, teaching scuba diving is an art. I know this because I have just been taught by one of the best trainer there is in the industry at the moment. His name is Steve Bogaerts, owner of Go Sidemount in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico.

I decided to take my sidemount cave diver training from the Master himself! If you don’t know who I am talking about, check out Steve’s website and you will understand. His teaching method is impressive, his eye for detail is unique andhe has a way of explaining things which makes them easy to understand.  Another bonus of his sidemount cave course is that you have to dive with the harness he designed ­– the Razor harness — after many years of sidemount diving in one of the harshest environments in scuba diving.

Basic Sidemount Drill

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Diving Weight vs Balanced Rig

To weight or Not to weight?

Once wrapped into your wetsuit, weight belt and BCD you are now ‘free’ to go and enjoy the wonders of the aquatic realm. Do you remember your first dive? As it happens I do and I remember putting on a weight belt with 2 blocks on it – I guess they were two pounders. Don’t exactly remember how I was in the water as my concentration was on my breathing and my instructor, a very attractive mermaid!
This said, my initial scuba training was done under the banner of the CMAS, World Underwater Federation, and at the time the use of a BCD was sort of newish, specially that I was in the French Caribbean. OK, ok, did I mention already that I have a great life?
Being balanced and trimmed underwater is quite challenging, especially when it’s your first time. Usually, dive resorts have what we call ‘try dives,’ and as the amount done means more profit, things can go a little bit too quickly, so you may not really have time to adjust. Also, the instructor who runs your try dive has another four clients, and probably more waiting on the boat to get the chance of their life to try scuba diving.
Have a look at this video, shot by Steve Martin during a trip to Tortuga Reef, Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The quality is not great, but you will get a better idea of where I’m going with all this:
Overweighted scuba Diver

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Overhead Diver Training

Deco Stop or physical ceiling?

When scuba diving, we are limited in how fast we can come up to the surface, due to dissolved gas in our body and sometimes, we even have to stop for few minutes, to off-gas or do a decompression stop.
The similarity with this type of technical diving and overhead diving seat in our obligation to consider a ceiling that we cannot break or go through physically.

Buoyancy then trim and finally, the frog kick!

According to our dear online encyclopedia, there are four types of overhead diving: cave diving, deep, ice or wreck diving.
Due to its very demanding environment, cave diving is probably the most challenging forme of technical diving, along with deep trimix exploration dives. Continue reading


Sidemount diving vs Backmounted doubles

Fun dives vs established rules?!?

Let me tell you this, I am not a big fan of established rules and on one side it is good that not everybody think like me and on the other side it helps me put my point across!

As you may have realised, if you follow the scuba diving industry news, that sidemount scuba diving is becoming very popular. More than a trend who is called to fade out in time, I think it is a way of life or should I say, a way of diving.

Better redundancy in sidemount!

Couple of PADI courses are out there already and whoever tries it claim it is a revelation. More fun, more practical, easier to get to, as doubles are not as available as would be a pair of singles and also offers real redundancy.

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Buoyancy, Trim and Propulsion

Buoyancy, Trim and Propulsion, in that order.

Like any physical activity, scuba diving is demanding and requires a certain level of fitness to enjoy it safely. We could stress that physiological preparedness is the main core of scuba diving, so trim, buoyancy and propulsion are the essential skills needed for its practice.

To get a good trim, you need rock solid buoyancy skills.

Divers often forget the impact on the environment from which they have evolved. Although the practice of the sport was founded on exploration of the aquatic realm from a conservation point of view, the skills needed today for a more sustainable scuba diving practice are on many diver’s minds.
Much of the diving community is aware of the need for more responsible diving.
There is much more interest these days in technical diving, overhead diving, including prestigious cave diving, and voodoo deep gas diving.
Although some of these have been practiced for a long time in some circles, the demand from recreational divers is increasing.
New agencies have been set up to support a more established and strict set of training standards.

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