Easy ways to Peak Performance Buoyancy
The dive starts off well enough, your descent starts off easily but then you start to find yourself sinking too quickly and adding air to your BCD to compensate. You still crash to the bottom and stir up a cloud of sand and silt around you. Once you recover, you start the dive but now find yourself constantly adding air to your BCD to stay off the bottom. Around you other divers in your group seem to be having no problems while you become more frustrated and tired as the dive wears on. As the Divemaster heads to shallower depths to start the safety stop, you’re constantly venting air from your BCD in order to not get above the group. The safety stop itself becomes a non stop cycle of inflate/deflate to maintain 15 feet. You get on the boat tired, frustrated, and ready to go back to shore.
We’ve all been there; the overweighted diver struggling to stay off the bottom. Why not try a few easy ways to improve your buoyancy on your next dive?
Estimate your buoyancy- Start with a chart, such as PADI’s Basic Weight Guidelines, to estimate your weighting. For Seattle Dive Tours, factoring in gear and cylinders, we use 10% of your body weight plus 10 pounds, then adjust on the second dive.
Take time to try a buoyancy check at the surface- Can you float at eye level with an empty BCD while holding a normal breath? Don’t be afraid to add or subtract a couple of pounds before the dive.
Relax and practice proper descent techniques- The most common reason for overweighting is not being able to descend. Remember to stop kicking, hold your arms still, exhale and allow yourself to slip below the water. See my post on descending here.
Add as little air to your BCD as possible- Your BCD should be used primarily for surface flotation. Only add just enough air while underwater to achieve neutral buoyancy.
Remember breath control- Want to get a bit higher to see something? Take an extra big breath instead to adding air to your BCD. You’ll rise up a bit in the water column and not have to add air to your BCD. Do not hold your breath!
Pay attention to trim- Center the weight around your front hip bones. In cold water where more weight is necessary, distribute the weight between your BCD integrated weight pockets and a weight belt or weight harness. Avoid using anything more than 1 or 2 pounds in back trim pockets.
Ditch the ankle weights- Switch to a heavier fin instead.
Develop a smooth kick stroke- Are you bicycle-pedaling in the water? Make sure you are horizontal, using a scissor kick with your hip flexors moving your legs.
Streamline your gear- Computers, dive lights, and slates should be clipped to your BCD or tucked in a pocket.
Try a class– We schedule the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course monthly, plus we can teach the class any day of the week for divers visiting Seattle. Call us at (206) 265-0006 or e-mail us to set up your custom class date.