Whether you are a brand new certified diver or an experienced diver, you’ve undoubtedly heard the topic of buoyancy discussed. No, it’s not the name of a newly discovered creature off the coast of Indonesia. Nor is it the newest wreck sunk off the coast of Florida. However, it is arguably the most important skill a diver can master.
So why is buoyancy so important and how will it improve your dives? Mastering buoyancy control will in fact offer you many benefits over the course of your dives to come. Whether you are a novice or a long-time experienced diver that could still use a bit of practice, here are the top three reasons why you should develop good buoyancy skills.
The first and most important reason of all is safety. Sure, we were all taught that diving has inherent risks, but we can minimize these risks through safe diving practices. Controlling your buoyancy is a main component to safer diving not just for you, but for the environment and reef as well.
Having a firm grasp on your buoyancy will allow you to stay safely at the depth you planned for. If you lose control and go too deep, you could exceed your no-decompression limits. If that happens, you now have mandatory decompression obligations to deal with. Do you have enough air for that? Does your buddy? The dangers and complications can quickly add up.
Suppose you are in an environment where you do not have to worry about depth. You are diving on a reef and the bottom depth is only 60FT (18M), without proper buoyancy you won’t sink down to the abyss, but you may come crashing down on to the reef. This is not only bad for the coral but can cause you physical injuries as well. Corals can scrape, cut, sting, and cause your new wound site to become infected. Additionally, many types of coral grow very slowly. Breaking off even a tiny piece can be the loss of years of growth.
Being negatively buoyant is not your only concern. Conversely, you also have to consider the implications of being positively buoyant. One of the tenets of safe diving is always making slow and controlled ascents. With awareness and control of the expanding air in your Buoyancy Compensator Device, you can manage a slow, safe ascent by venting air out of your BCD as you ascend. If you lack good buoyancy control along with the ability to vent expanding air as you ascend, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation such as a runaway ascent.
Safety concerns aside, mastering your buoyancy can also improve your overall dive experience. The reason most of us go diving is to see amazing things and enjoy the underwater world. So naturally you try to maximize the amount of time you spend underwater on each dive. If you can dial in your buoyancy quickly and easily, you spend less time fiddling with your inflator. Constantly adding and releasing air from your buoyancy compensator device wastes air from your tank that could extend your dive time. In addition, good buoyancy allows you to relax more; when you are relaxed, your respiration rate is slower and steadier. This is also going to help you conserve the air in your tank and extend your overall dive time.
Finally, developing good buoyancy skills will offer advantages when expanding into other areas of recreational diving. If you’ve ever considered delving into the world of underwater photography, the first piece of advice any photographer will give you is to make sure you’ve mastered your buoyancy. Getting the best possible shot under water can be tricky enough to begin with so it is imperative you precisely control your position in the water.
By now you are probably wondering how to improve your buoyancy skills. Luckily, you have several options available to you that will help you in your efforts. The most logical suggestion is to enroll in an Advanced Buoyancy course at your local SDI dive center. You can learn all you need to know to master buoyancy control under the guidance of a qualified instructor. There is also no substitute for actual practice. So dive as often as you can wherever and whenever you have the opportunity. The more experience you have, the more your skills will improve. The good news is that once you’ve perfected your buoyancy skills, you will have them for as long as you continue diving.
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