3 Essential Pieces of Scuba Gear Most Divers Forget To Bring!

3 Essential Pieces of Scuba Gear Most Divers Forget To Bring!

For this weeks freelance diver post, we have the Scuba Diving Dreams team contributing their thoughts on 3 pieces of scuba gear most divers over look when traveling. We had the pleasure of diving with Jason several weeks ago down in Costa Rica and he was kind enough to offer to do a quick scuba info article for us to help build out our website with some more great content for you fellow divers! Enjoy ūüôā

If you are traveling all over the world to go scuba diving, chances are you are either carting around all your own scuba gear, or for more short term adventures, renting equipment from the local dive shop. While 99% of the time they can easily cover you for the essentials such as a scuba mask, BCD, and fins, there are some essential pieces of scuba equipment most rental shops do not have on hand. These pieces of gear can come in extremely handy and like most things over looked, you only really wish you had brought them in situations where you desperately need them. Better to be safe than sorry so be sure to bring these 3 things on your next dive!

A Dive Knife

This is probably the most commonly forgotten piece of scuba gear that can really come in handy in a lot of situations. A dive knife can help you free marine animals tangled in discarded fishing line or garbage. 2 weeks ago we managed to cut loose a hawks-bill sea turtle that was ensnared in some loose rigging line that had been left behind on a dive site. A nice sharp titanium dive knife will resist corrosion from the sea and is small enough to be transported easily in your checked luggage. We recommend blunt tip style dive knives as they tend to be more versatile and can work as a prying tool. Anyone doing wreck or cave diving and using a guide line should always carry a high quality divers knife on them, getting tangled in the rope can be fatal, and having a scuba knife on hand can help you cut yourself free and clear the line. Trust us on this one and you won’t regret it!

dive knife

A High Quality Dive Light

This is another often forgotten piece of gear. Most scuba divers will of course bring a dive light on a night dive, but even daytime diving they have their uses. If you are going on a deep dive, especially in low visibility or during plankton blooms, powerful dive lights can help your buddy find you in an emergency situation or keep track of you at all time. Bringing an underwater flashlight with you can also help you light up the reef and reveal all the amazing colors that get lost due to the reduced light spectrum at depth. The difference can be quite shocking as anyone who has seen this effect can attest to. Having a high quality dive light with a large beam can also aid in underwater communication, which is always an added bonus for divemasters or instructors. Being able to shine your light on an eel hiding in a crevice or blink it to get another divers attention makes bringing a dive light on your next outing a no brainer. small and compact, most underwater flashlights can easily be tucked into a pocket on your BCD until you need them. We would highly recommend investing in this essential piece of scuba gear.

dive lights

An Underwater Camera

Thanks to modern technology we now have the ability to take amazing underwater photos or video. Having a video from your last dive adventure is a great way to convince your non diver friends to get into the sport! Divers carrying GoPros is now a common sight on most dive boats, as these tiny underwater cameras provide an amazing level of quality and are extremely rugged and come equipped with a waterproof housing. For more professional photographers or serious media creators, there are some awesome high quality waterproof cases for almost every modern DSLR camera on the market, just be warned they can be quite expensive. We cannot count the number of times other scuba divers have asked us to send them a copy of our dive footage because they either forgot to bring their underwater camera, or don’t own one. Of course this is always an option but you never know exactly what that video or picture is going to be like. It is best to bring your own waterproof camera and take the exact shots you want! You definitely will have some amazing experiences while scuba diving. From surprise whale shark or dolphin encounters to finding super interesting reef fish, bringing a camera with you is a great way to share those adventures with the world. There are some amazing scuba diving videos on youtube!

underwater camera
don’t forget your gopro!
4 ways to improve your buoyancy while scuba diving

4 ways to improve your buoyancy while scuba diving

One of the things most new scuba divers struggle with the most is controlling their buoyancy. It can be difficult at first, as every action you take while underwater has a delayed response. Add some air to your BCD, and you begin to ascend several seconds later. Deflate and you will slowly begin to descend, but at a rapidly increasing rate as the water pressure builds. So what can you do to help improve your control over your buoyancy during a dive so you can float and pivot like a smoothly controlled fighter jet? We have created a list that should help new divers quickly and efficiently gain some added control over the underwater positioning. For more information on technical aspects of scuba diving, you can check out Diver World for in depth scuba gear information, it is a pretty good resource.

1. Make sure you are properly weighted before each dive

Any time you dive with new scuba gear, a different thickness of wetsuit, or switch between fresh and salt water you need to adjust your weights to compensate. A good way to check this is by doing a buoyancy check by deflating your BCD, and holding a normal breath, you should float at eye level, and begin to descend when you exhale. If you float higher, you are over weighted, if you still sink even while holding that normal breath you are over weighted.

scuba diving weights
fine tune your weights before each dive trip!

Keep in mind you are more naturally buoyant in salt water than in fresh, so you will generally need more weight than if you were diving in a lake or river. Also, remember, neoprene is extremely buoyant especially at surface pressure, so the difference in weight you will need if you are wearing a 3mm shorty vs a 5-7mm full length wetsuit . Having too much weight means you will be constantly adding or removing air from your BCD, resulting in dramatic changes in depth each time. A diver with proper weight can dive with a fully empty bcd at depth and remain in control. This means less air wasted from BCD use.

2. Use your breathing to make subtle adjustments

Once you have yourself weighted correctly, making fine tuned adjustments to your depth level using your breath will give you fine control. Just remember, the change will be delayed over several seconds so take action accordingly. If you find yourself gliding a little too close to some coral, quickly take a deeper breath and let it out very slowly. Don’t hold your breath, just slowly let it out and keep your lungs as full as possible. you will notice you quickly begin to ascend. In the opposite regard, if you are swimming through a cave or overhang, quickly exhale a bit to descend several feet and avoid banging your head or tank on whatever is above you! With a little bit of practice, you will be cruising at the perfect depth in no time. On your next dive do some experimentation while focusing on your breathing and you should notice a big difference!

scuba diver in cave
watch your head! Use your buoyancy while going under overhangs

3. Streamline your scuba gear to avoid distractions

One of the biggest mistakes we see newer divers making is any time they are asked to check their current air or depth, whenever they have to fumble about for their depth gauge and spend several seconds trying to get a clear reading, they tend to ascend. This is usually because of the distraction of focusing on getting that information, and many people tend to half hold their breath while doing it. This of course means their lungs are full of air and they begin to rise. Having your scuba gear streamlined and all gauges readily available and within visual range means less distraction and fumbling. Using a wrist mounted dive computer to keep track of your depth and dive time is a great start. Some dive computers even have air integration, making all the essential information availiable in a single glance. So make sure your scuba gear is lean, streamlined and effective! This will help keep extra weight down, and you will also be more effective in emergency situations.

dive gear depth gauge

4. Practice diving in various conditions as much as possible

The more dives you have under your belt, the more confident of a scuba diver you will become. A great way to boost that confidence even quicker is to spend time diving in as many diverse locations and conditions as possible. Getting used to controlling your buoyancy in cold fresh water while wearing a thick 7mm wetsuit and 20lbs of additional weights will certainly help give you a new perspective on how to maneuver underwater. Having experience with different scuba gear will give you more fine control and diving will become much more enjoyable as a result.

 

We hope this list has given you some good insights on how to quickly master buoyancy control and gives you some actionable steps to take on your next scuba diving adventure. Wherever you are around the globe, always remember to dive with a buddy, stay safe and have fun!

 

Snorkeling In The Florida Keys: World Class?!

Snorkeling In The Florida Keys: World Class?!

Recently we had the opportunity to take some time away from the daily grind and head down to the lovely Florida keys for 7 days of scuba diving and snorkeling. All our friends are constantly asking us how the conditions were and we decided to kick off our first blog post with a quick write up on our experience. While the focus of this blog will be scuba diving, we also really enjoy snorkeling from time to time as well, it is one of the most laid back water sports around, and everyone can enjoy it! Read on and let us know in the comments if you have been diving or snorkeling in the keys before!

Snorkeling in Key West

For the first 3 days of our trip we stayed on the island of Key West. It is more touristic and probably the most popular of all the islands in the keys, but that also means there are lots of great restaurants to visit and some very nice hotels to stay at. There are also plenty of local marine charters pretty much everywhere you look, and it took us only 20 minutes of shopping around to find a captain who seemed like a good fit, and the good news was they were planning a big day of snorkeling the following morning. This worked for us!

key west snorkeling vacation
Key West as seen from the air. beautiful!

The next day about 10 of us boarded the local charter and we were off. Roaring across the high seas to a little island adventure all of our own. The nice thing about most of the snorkeling sites around Key West is the waters are all fairly shallow, which means they are warm to swim in, and visibility is usually great! Seeing as most of us on the boat were all certified divers we had a great time identifying all the different reef fish, as well as working on our freediving skills in a deeper area. We even got to see a few medium sized reef sharks, which was totally awesome(check the video below).

There was a ton of fish on display, and even a couple green turtles stopped by to say hello. Turtles are so fun to swim with, and so graceful when in the water, able to turn on a dime and rocket away with a quick flap of their fins. After 5 hours of snorkeling around multiple dive sites around key west, we were all tired and heading home as the Caribbean sun went down, all of us with big smiles on our faces.

 

Scuba diving in Key Largo, going deep!

After several super relaxing days exploring the waters around key west, we decided to head over to the less touristy island of Key Largo. This island has some great diving spots but almost all of them require hiring a charter or visiting the local dive shop to organize a day trip. Most of the sites are several miles offshore and only accessible via boats. The upside of this is there is less divers visiting Key Largo which means less spoiled dive sites overall. Upon arrival, we spent some time talking to other divers we saw coming in from a day out under the waves and got several reputable dive shop recommendations. Even though we are professional divers, we always try to deffer to local opinion when arriving in a new place.

scuba diving on a shipwreck
exploring some awesome wrecks!

So once we found a good dive shop we decided to spend some time doing some deep wreck dives. Scuba diving on wrecks is one of the most exciting things you can do as a diver and the keys have almost 200 different wreck sites to explore. We would highly recommend it for your next dive trip to they keys!