7 common mistakes new divers make – Part 1
To start this section, I felt it appropriate to address this issue, which I believe of particular interest both for new divers that are just starting recreational scuba diving, and for professionals that serve at Dive Centres, as both collectives equally suffer from the consequences deriving from such mistakes.
From the perspective of my own professional experience, I think that the list of most common mistakes found among new divers can be shortened, and also be sorted, according to which is most important. This is to focus diver’s attention, always limited, on avoiding the most relevant mistakes.
Over the following posts, I will present the abbreviated list sorted by the significance of those mistakes that I consider most frequents among new divers. By giving due regard to these aspects it will help to avoid entering into stressing situations. You will also ensure a rewarding experience for yourself every time you dive. This is also the case for experienced divers. Ultimately it will lead to create a greater passion for this wonderful activity:
1. Neglecting proper gear set-up and weighting
In the 7 Common mistakes of new divers Part 1, it would point out once again the proper set-up of the gear, which also includes choosing the right thermal protection based on water temperature. Also properly setting up the weight belt is also entirely the responsibility of the diver.
Those divers that have only recently finished the Open Water Diver course feel certain uneasiness when setting up their gear and weight belt for the dive. This is a totally common situation, as you only become skilled with practice. Bearing this in mind, I recommend that you turn to the Guide’s for support and assistance. Nobody is born wise. Do strive to become independent, but make sure that you get the Dive Centre professionals’ guide and supervision. Ask them to answer your doubts and questions. After all, this is why they are there. By doing this, you will soon acquire the needed skill to become independent in this step.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, these are some of the recommendations that you may follow when setting up your dive gear:
– Remember to properly do the strap fixing the tank to the BCD.
– Make sure the hose is dully connected to the BCD (jacket) inflator. Do also make sure that dump valves work properly by checking that they inflate and deflate properly.
– Check that your SPG (Submersible Pressure Gauge) works properly, and that the air tank pressure display reads at least 200 bars.
With regards to the weighting system, remember that you need to adjust the set-up according to the neoprene suit thickness. (The higher the suit thickness, the more additional weight you will need.) It also depends on your body density and, if applicable, the tank’s material, whether it is steel or aluminium. Aluminium tanks do require more weight (2 to 4 additional kg) due to the highest buoyancy pull that they get as they gradually get emptier. Ensure that the weight set-up is right with the weight test. At the surface, with the BCD empty and keeping a normal breath, you should be hovering in the water with the waterline at the level of your eye. If not add or remove weight as necessary.
Do not forget that a proper weight set-up will help you to reduce the effort when propelling yourself. It will prevent from excessive BCD inflation when you dive, and ultimately, it will increase the comfort by reducing dramatically your air consumption
In the 7 Common mistakes of new divers Part 1 we would also like to talk about buoyancy.
2. Neglecting enough positive buoyancy at the surface
Oddly enough, the higher number of incidences takes place when the divers find themselves at the surface. The reason is that divers frequently forget inflating completely their BCD. As you know, BCD should be inflated to keep you at the surface level, both when you are starting and finishing your dive. They need to kick with the fins to maintain the head over the water level. Many times it happens when they have the regulator off their mouth. This put them in a stress situation, which is completely needless.
The recommended action to take is easy. When you are at the surface, keep your BCD full of air by adding air with the inflator until you hear the overpressure valve activating. Do it so right before you get into the water, and also when you reach the surface after your dive. Do not remove off the regulator out of your mouth, neither the mask, until your BCD is completely full of air. Otherwise, keep regulator and mask in their places until you get the boat or you feel the bottom with your feet.