A stable platform is the most important skill in diving at any level and in any piece of dive equipment. It is probably the skill that takes the longest to learn, in the early days of learning to dive the most frustrating, particularly, if in a Drysuit. It is a skill that we relearn the most often.
Every time we change our equipment configuration, or the diving environment, or the skills we are learning and mastering, in fact, sometimes buoyancy control just needs a little fine-tuning, but when you change a lot of things, it can take a lot of time to perfect.
So, whether you are still getting it right for the first time or fine tuning your skills you should PRACTISE, PRACTISE, PRACTISE
Compensating for poor buoyancy by wafting your arms or hands around, kicking your legs, constantly swimming to stay buoyant doesn’t hide that you are not in control, it just wastes air, takes effort and remember diving should be relaxing!
So practice and be brave. Keep trying to be still or moving slowly while controlling your position in the water. Make a mess of it, who cares, you are at least trying to do something about it and practise makes perfect after all.
So how to improve buoyancy, remember back to your open water dives, where you had to hover for a period of time, or if you did your Drysuit speciality you had to hover, while you were probably looking at some object. This is a visual reference, pick a spot, look at it and concentrate on not moving, trying to stay level with that spot
Then become less reliant on that reference and start to feel neutral / natural buoyancy. Take your eyes of the spot and continue to try and maintain position. Use your ears as a guide, they give you lots of clues, but more than that you can feel the water buoying you up and when you breath in and out you will feel the gentle rise and fall, once truly cracked there will be no movement at all!
Complete a Peak Performance Course - it does not matter if you have done one before! or have a Boost 121 session with a diving professional
Then is the time to practise with other pieces of equipment, such as a DSMB
Now importantly do not forget about balance. If your kit is well setup and your buoyancy is good, you should be able to move fairly easily even if in bulky technical kit.
Good buoyancy control allows you to pivot on your balance point, which is generally somewhere around your midpoint. This balance allows you to dive in a flat / skydiving position, but easily allow you to adjust your position if entering caves or caverns (subject to be qualified to do so).
Make adjustments slowly and methodically. So, if you do need to adjust your kit, make a note of what you are doing and what effect it has in the water. Don’t forget it can take a little time to relax into a new kit configuration and what felt difficult on the first dive may improve with time. Take baby steps. Add new equipment a little at a time.
IF you are changing to twins for the first time, it’s easier if the rest of your kit (Drysuit, baselayer etc.) is the same as normal and also if the environment you are diving in is familiar.
A new suit, new cylinder configuration plus DSMB’s, Reels, torches etc. maybe one step to far and always learn new skills with qualified professionals.
I remember the first time on my twinset, it was not a comfortable experience and until 2019 was one that I only did when I truly had to, but then I found an instructor and a buddy who wanted to learn more about the technical world and we spent time working together to resolve the issues, practising (as well as changing equipment!). but in the end we had a great week diving Scapa Flow, it was comfortable diving.
It just shows you need to keep practising and finding the RIGHT instructor is also part of the package and we are still on our technical journey - watch our social media.
As with buoyancy you need to practice and not just by swimming around. Practise skills, drills and using your new equipment until it is easy. Usually the skills you like the least are the ones you need to practise the most.
Take it slowly at first. The first step when doing a new skill, or a skill in new kit, is to think through and plan each step. Visualise what it is you are going to do.
Once underwater, TAKE YOUR TIME when practising new skills and work with your instructor to achieve if doing for the very first time. Check / correct your buoyancy and depth between each step. Once you have done it a few times you will find that you move much easier and the skill completion will be much quicker.
New equipment or new combinations of equipment can take time to master. Auxiliary equipment such as an DSMB you will not necessarily use on every dive, so always when possible take time to practise.
Congratulations to Robert O'Rourke on completing his DECO40 with us here at Dive Rutland. Our first course since becoming a RAID partner centre
Its been a great three days with Day one - classroom, Day two - skills practised at shallow depths and then finally on Day three bringing it all together and completing at depth
Some of you may have noticed, that over the last few years here at Dive Rutland, there have been some changes (loads I hear you say). We have concentrated on building a high quality diver training centre in fact we like to think of it as a ‘Diver Training Centre of Excellence’
The club decided last year that they wanted to go and dive Scapa flow in its anniversary year of 2019. That raised a number of questions about what our future technical offering should look like, particularly as Tracey decided she wanted to refresh and update her skills in preparation for the trip.
Tracey chose to refresh her technical skills with Garry Dallas, a RAID instructor trainer. Which raised the question why another agency, well it wasn’t necessarily at that time about the agency it was about finding someone who she was happy to work with - a bit like when a diver comes into the dive centre and wishes to learn to dive, its a bit like an interview to answer the question… Do I like you? Can I work with you? Will I learn what I want to learn?
Well the answer with Garry was yes and he came highly recommended by Charlie who is also a RAID instructor. It was not about the agency at that time.
During the time with Garry, we established that the values and ethos of RAID are similar to those of us here at Dive Rutland.
A small agency (in diving terms) with high standards, some may say they even match Dive Rutland’s.
Here at Dive Rutland we believe that learning to dive is not about ticking boxes, its about producing divers that are safe, with the right mindset and most importantly the skills required to do the type of diving they choose. In life you never stop learning, why should diving be any different. You might hold a particular qualification it doesn’t mean to say you should never revisit those skills originally learnt - things change - hence Tracey revisiting hers.
We are pleased to announce that Dive Rutland has become a RAID dive centre with the aim of offering RAID technical courses.
Want to know more? Stop in or give us a call
We tell our students that although you have qualified as a diver, you should continue to progress your education as no diver can know everything. Choose some aspect that you want to brush up on, learn more and then apply. It may be that you are going on yout first boat trip and the skipper expects you to put up an SMB and surface underneath and you have never deployed an SMB, so what do you do? You talk to a member of the Dive Rutland instructional team and we teach you.
With a Dive Rutland trip booked next August to dive in Scapa Flow and my technical skills a little rusty.. yes I dive a twinset when I can but not as often as I would like and was very aware that I want to be better at some of the skill circuits than I was. Now was the time to start revisiting some of those skills. When talking about it with the team, Bridget mentioned that she would like to join me so, we did some research looking for an instructor who not just teaches technical skills, but one that actually dives a lot as a technical diver and could bring real life experience to the process and is well respected within the industry.
We chose Garry Dallas. While Garry is a well known and well respected sidemount diver, he is someone that studies kit and dives it, not as a salesman or ambassador but as someone who wants to know how it works and what it feels like, perfect for new and rusty technical divers. In addition to his incredible skill set as a sidemount diver and technical advisor, Garry has established a good relationship with Charlie, our own Dive Rutland instructor, why not go to someone that we know, and know to be good?
We were able to get a course, outside of an agency standard, outside of a certification in order to better our skills. It does not matter who the instructor is, anyone from any agency could be the person to help. So taking the mantra that you should never stop learning and bettering your skills we took ourselves off to the Delph Watersports Centre. A site that neither of us have ever been to or dived so lots of unknowns.
Saturday was spent on a little theory recap as well as looking at how to work out Trimix mixes.. something neither of us are qualified to dive but lots of learning points and a few things we can add into our Enriched Air Speciality. A speciality that heavily relies on computers but what happens if you know what the maximum depth of the dive you are going to dive is, but you do not get the mix you asked for… then when. A little calculation and you have it…
As well as looking at our own personal metabolic oxygen drills, that was very interesting.. now I would prefer to think the results showed that I was the fittest but apparently they show us that Bridget is brainy as she couldn’t get as far as me on no oxygen!
Then Sunday was spent learning some new drills as well as practising some others.. during two long dives. the second dive was 75mins..in less than 6metres of water.. if you can run the drills there you can run them anywhere.
Lots of positives in our performances but during the weekend frustration, apprehension and nervousness all felt.. feelings that all of our students feel and ones we can most definitely relate to.
Our next steps are practise, practise and practise and a total kit replacement for me! as we always say to you.. having the right equipment for the job is a huge part of the process and that was the running theme of my weekend.
We would like to thank Garry for all of his support this weekend, but we do recommend you practise your 'Dive Rutland Dance'!
So, whether you take a specialty course, or you decide to work with an instructor under our own boost program, the more tools you have in your diver toolbox, the safer you will be for it.
As we continue to move forward with the courses we offer by adding in Technical Training.. the question about which Agency v Instructor is being asked and discussed more and more... so have a look at our updated Dive Technical Webpage as we have tried to give you things to think about when choosing who to train with.
Dive Rutland is the trading name for Dive Rutland Limited, a company registered in England and Wales with company number 9433835.
Registered address: 8 Horn Close, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6FE