Buoyancy Control

ssi buoyancy control

Of all the skills you learn when taking up scuba diving, perhaps the most important is buoyancy control. Once mastered you can achieve that feeling of weightlessness and it will make your diving much more enjoyable.

Although some find it hard to master their buoyancy, you can generally get it right once you have completed an accurate weight check and practiced in the water. As with many things in diving, repetition and practice are key to success. Don’t expect to be 100% perfect the very first time, just keep trying and your skills will develop, good buoyancy will then become second nature.

Finding the Right Weight

The first thing to do is find the right amount of weight you need on your weight belt or integrated weights. When wearing your full gear, with your regulator in and in sufficient depth of water that you can float upright, release air from your jacket and drysuit (if you’re wearing one). You should be able to sink slowly to at least eye level in the water or just below the surface. If you sink fast, you are over -weighted, if you can’t get your head down into the water then you don’t have enough weight. Add or remove weights in small steps until you can sink gently under the water.

You Are Not A Stone

It may be necessary on occasion to either gently pull yourself down on a shotline or fin down the first metre or two to start your descent, you should not be dropping rapidly through the water from the start. As we have mentioned you are not a stone and you should be able to control your descent to allow for ear-clearing and to stop you hitting the bottom and either kicking up silt or destroying what you land on. Generally once you have started to descend the weight of water above you helps and as you approach your target depth you will be adding air to your BCD and suit for comfort and control.

You Are Not A Balloon Either

Controlling your buoyancy should not involve huge amounts of air. Small bursts on to inflate your BCD and drysuit should be enough to make you neutrally buoyant. If you have to add a lot of air to stop yourself sinking, it can be a sign you are over-weighted.

Breath Control

When swimming at your target depth most small adjustments to avoid a piece of wreckage or natural obstacle can be achieved by breathing in deeply. This will you to float up and over the object and then drop back down again on the other side by breathing out. Messing around with you BCD inflator for small adjustments is likely to lead to too much lift and then the need to dump air to sink again.

Ascending Normally Means Dumping Air

As you start to ascend the air in all of your gear and in your lungs is going to start expanding, so you may need a small amount adding to start an ascent but finning up and taking a deeper breath may also be enough to start your ascent. You will quickly become positively buoyant and will need to start releasing air to control your ascent rate and allow for your safety stops.

Familiarise Yourself With Any Changes of Kit Configuration or Location

If you change your equipment, it may mean repeating your weight check. Even a new undersuit can change your buoyancy and a change of drysuit will definitely need checking out. If you go from freshwater to saltwater or from dry suit dives to wet suit dives, just repeat the process on your first dive and check your weights are correct for the new conditions.

A little bit of practice (and writing it in you log book for different situations) and you will soon know what weight to carry and that will make your diving much more fun.

SSI Buoyancy Control

We also run a SSI Buoyancy Control training course if you are looking to develop your skills. Details are available here… “SSI Perfect Buoyancy

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