Buoyancy is something you have to constantly practice and perfect while diving. It is not something you learn once and then move on as there are so many different variables. The water depth, tank weight, BCD, weights, and your breathing all impact your buoyancy.Matt has it mastered and can literally site Indian style in the water, gently moving up and down with each breath. Sign of a skilled and controlled diver and flexible yogi.
My new BCD has helped tremendously. The original BCD was a unisex BCD which did not fit me correctly. The torso was too long and it sat below my hips and was overall just too big. I sold it and bought a female Aqua Lung Pearl which fits much better and gives me far more control.
I am pretty flat (or neutral) while I am diving. But I do tend to struggle when I want to stay in one place to take a photo, look at a critter, or wait for other divers.
Work needed to be done so I jumped at the chance when Eric on “Ad Astra“ offered to do buoyancy skills with a few of us. Eric is a dive instructor and has over a dozen certifications (rescue, first aid, deep, technical, side mount, etc…) and is the perfect person to teach us new techniques.Jane from “Cheetah II,” Daryl and Janet from “Maple” joined me at “Ad Astra’s” mooring where Eric had rigged a little skills course. He put up a diagonal line creating a space that got smaller as the line met the sea bed on opposite side.
Eric had us practice fin kicks where you leave the tips of your fins on the floor and raise your body up with an inhale and down with an exhale. After we “mastered” this exercise, he showed us different fin kicks. Most people do the flutter kick which tends to kick up sand and can disturb the sea life so we were learning alternative kicks that are less disruptive to the animals.
Types of Kicks:
- Flutter kick
- Modified Flutter kick
- Frog Kick
- Helicopter turn
After displaying our new skills, we used the modified flutter kick to get under the line, then helicopter around and swim back under the line without touching the line or the ground.
Next, we used the same kick to swim barely over the line, then we headed straight down (perpendicular to the ground, head first), then swam under the line belly up (tank closest to the ground). Of course, I looked at him in disbelief when he demonstrated it and indicated I might not be able to do it, but to my surprise, I killed it!
The next skill I had heard about and swore I would never do – but here I am preparing to do it in front of 5 other people. You swim slowly, just above the floor (18″), up to a spoon that has been buried in the sand (the top part of the spoon showing). As you slowly approach the spoon, you gently nudge it with your regulator, then slowly and calmly remove your regulator, grab the spoon with your mouth, look at Eric, and then replace your regulator. I am not sure what the spoon’s problem was but it kept evading my mouth or jumping out of my mouth- it was comedic for everyone but me. Goin in, miss, goin in again, miss, spoon flops on sand – try the entire move again. Eventually, I got it, but man it was irritating.
For the last skill we slowly swam up to the mooring, 18″ off the floor, hovered at the mooring for 5 seconds. We then used our breath to raise up over the mooring then headed upside down, holding for 5 count (basically doing a “U” around the mooring.When we came up to the surface, we were all surprised to learn that we had been down for 90 minutes! It was an incredibly educational and useful session that we are all very grateful to have received. It certainly should be included in the basic Open Water or at least in Advanced training – which it is not.
None the less I feel much more equipped to handle my buoyancy and look forward to putting my new skills to work while diving.