5 common mistakes of certified scuba divers and how to prevent them

If you’re interested in becoming a better diver, and to make the best out of your passion, this small guide is for you.

Being a dive instructor and diving every day gives us the chance to see all kind of divers, diving styles and… common mistakes, we summed them up for you.

1) Buoyancy Buoyancy Buoyancy

I can’t remember how many divers I’ve seen that they keep the inflation button in their hands the whole dive, they seem to love to inflate and deflate their BCD’s all the time… just to never find the proper buoyancy. Those are the divers that I always keep closer to me because sooner or later I know that I’ll have to swim after them to avoid an uncontrolled ascent or to prevent them to go deeper than the rest of the group.

If you struggle with your buoyancy try those easy tips the next time you blow bubbles underwater.Add PPB specialty.

Tip number one: Patience, as an instructor I always say in my briefings that the easiest way to know if you have the right buoyancy is to stop swimming for a while and do the following: give yourself 10-20 seconds, do a full cycle of breathing, see if you sink or if you are positively buoyant, and adjust with small bursts on your inflation/deflation button accordingly.

Tip number two: Account for the depth, we tend to forget that the deeper we go the less buoyant we are, therefore we need to add more air into the BCD as we descend, and even more important, we need to let the air go as we ascend (as we become more buoyant), if you account for that you’ll see how much you improve in your next dive.

Tip number three: Delicacy, when you inflate/deflate your BCD do it always for less than a second, is always better to do many small adjustments often, than a big one suddenly, remember: good divers are the ones who adjust their buoyancy very often, but also very little every time.

2) Adding too much lead

A lot of lead in your belt will give you the confidence that you’ll go down easily, but this is the only time that is going to help you, the first minute of your dive, after that, is only going to make your life difficult. What are the consequences of having too much lead?

-Over inflated BCD
-Over exerting yourself
-Excessive air consumption
-Unnatural dive position
-As a consequence of all that: a shorter, more uncomfortable dive

Let me explain it:

Adding too much lead will consequently make you add more air to your BCD in order to compensate for the weight dragging you down, (ideally weighted you should be able to dive with an almost empty BCD), now you’ll have to inflate it half way or some times even more to be able to keep your desired depth underwater, as a result of that you’ll become more voluminous and you’ll have to push more water in order to move, needing a bigger effort to swim, being more prone to cramps, also using more air, and all this resulting in shorter, more uncomfortable dives.

On top of that when you add more weight than what’s strictly necessary, your hips tend to descend giving you the wrong dive position, your body naturally compensates for that keeping your head up, stiffing your neck and lower back while doing it, and this is why many times you feel that your dive wasn’t as smooth as it should be, simply because in this position you are forcing you neck/back and being less hydrodynamic.

How to solve it? Very simple: weight check.

On the surface, before you start your dive, deflate almost completely your BCD and while holding a normal breath you should be floating around eye level, if your chin is all the way out of the water then you’ll need to add a little more weight, on the other hand, if you sink, you’ll have to remove some, and never be shy to ask your instructor/dive master, we always carry extra weights with us, and we don’t mind taking one or two out of your belt if necessary.

3) Peer pressure

Too many times I’ve witnessed a couple diving together and one pushing the limits of the other, when this happens, my role as instructor is to break this circle and emphasize, as I like to remember in every briefing: that any diver can cancel any dive, at any moment, for any reason, and…we will all congratulate him because we avoided having any bigger problem.

Needless to say, you shouldn’t be influenced by what you believe others will think, or by letting your partner down, you’ll have thousands of days to dive in your life, if you don’t feel ok, there is no need to push anything, just say it and everyone who is a real diver will respect and support your opinion, because no one knows you better than yourself.

4) Air consumption

Your air consumption is quite high? Do you feel like your dives are always shorter than the rest of the group, did you ever had to surface while everyone else kept diving?

Well, bad news is air consumption is not something that you can change by just doing one thing, is not a switch, is a consequence of doing many little things right.

Good thing is that, there is a trick that can help you increase your underwater time by around 10%, and is not related to your level of certification, knowledge, or number of dives. Which one?

Before you descend, talk with your buddy and agree to keep yourselves always around 1.5 or 2 meters (5 – 6.5 feet) higher than the rest of the group, just by doing this little change in your dive plan, you can increase your time underwater because you’ve been a little bit higher than the other divers, simple enough no?

How does this work you’ll guess? I could use complicated formulas to explain you why, but we’ll keep it simple: the deeper we go the more pressure we have, the more pressure we have, the more air we use, therefore by being just a little shallower we’ll save this extra air through all the dive, and at the end of it, it will make the difference.

If you want to learn more about air consumption, and how to get better, stay tuned to our blog as we’ll make one entry just about this topic.

5) Fitness

When I mean fitness I don’t mean being able to swim 1km (0.62miles) in less than 8 minutes, I mean having a good rest and being hydrated.

Teaching and diving in Santorini is a blessing, we are able to enjoy the most beautiful sunsets in the world, daily! But we all know what happens after sunset… pubs, discos and cocktail bars are open. As a result of that, from now and then we have divers in bad shape, not because they don’t exercise, but because they don’t give themselves the proper time to rest, the way of having a great day of diving starts the night before with a good 7-8 hours of sleep.

DAN (Divers Alert Network) ranks dehydration as one of the top factors of having decompression sickness, and alcohol acts as a diuretic, it causes your body to remove fluids from your blood, so if you plan on diving, make sure to be responsible with your alcohol consumption the day before, and also to drink a bit more water than what you use to (this will also prevent you a headache).

Diving is a demanding activity, although we float weightlessly and swim effortlessly, in temperate waters we burn around 600 calories an hour, 2 dives around 45 min each account for almost 900 calories, if the average daily intake of calories for a man is 2.000, and for a woman 1.500, do your math, and you’ll come to the conclusion that is better to be well rested before you go diving…and also a fantastic way of doing diet 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this short list, and as always: kind regards and happy dives.