Perfecting your Buoyancy

16th August 2017

djl blog perfectiong your buoyancy

Whether you are new to diving or a veteran, buoyancy control is something you should strive to improve. As a new diver, learning buoyancy is your key to greater control in the water. It reduces your air consumption and improves your safety in the water. As a more advanced diver great buoyancy is pretty much essential for more challenging dives such as wreck and cavern diving. Photographers will benefit from rock steady positioning in the water and at the most challenging extreme, technical diving requires on point buoyancy control to ensure accurate decompression.

Buoyancy control is the combination of a number of factors. The BCD or wing, buoyancy from the suit, your weight, your position in the water, your other equipment, and the air in your lungs. I tell my students to think about adjusting their BCD (and/or drysuit) much like changing gear in a car. When you change depth you need to re set your buoyancy. But at a fixed depth your BCD controls should only require the most occasional tweak to compensate for the tank getting lighter. Breathing control is more like the accelerator pedal and is used to provide second by second control in the water.

With your BCD correctly set, next you need to work on your breathing. A little known fact is that blood flow is better in the lower part of your lungs. This means you will get better gas exchange if you breathe out fully when you dive. Most people tend not to breathe out properly, but by using your diaphragm muscle to exhale, as if doing yoga, the increase in oxygen and reduction of CO2, causes a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing that contributes to being a comfortable diver. As we inhale we tend to rise, as we exhale we tend to sink. The density of water resists movement so you notice a slight lag between breathing and actually moving. Skilled divers learn to take advantage of this lag, timing their breathing to exhale just before the start to rise and inhale just before they start to sink for rock steady precision control of depth.

Hand in hand with buoyancy control is your trim. Trim is your angle in the water. Trim is considered to be good when your body is perfectly horizontal in most cases. Although in some situations, such as sloping cavern passageways, trim can be thought of as dynamic. Reaching forward and arching your back helps to move air towards the bottom of your BCD helping to correct the common ‘doggy paddle’ position adopted by so many novice divers. Always diving with the correct weight also avoids the lower half of your body from being dragged down. A slight, side to side fin action can help to nail the final control of trim angle.

At Davy Jones Locker, our instructors are always ready to help you improve this critical area of your dive skills. From open water training, through to advanced and beyond we will strive to make you the best diver you can be.