Real World Diving Tips
You're exposed to a lot of information when you're doing your PADI Open Water Certification course. Everything you learn is important and will help you be a better and safer diver. There's also a whole bunch of information you'll learn when you start diving and talk to other divers. Many of these are aha moments. Here are some of the diving tips I've thought of or other divers have shared with me.
1. Clearing the Air Tank Valve
If you want to be extra careful, consider releasing a small amount of air from your tank before you hook up any equipment. The air will blow out any debris such as sand. Be sure to keep your finger in front of the valve though to catch the o-ring if it flies out.
2. O-Ring Leaks
It can't be helped. There will be at least one dive on a trip where there's an o-ring leak. If you're lucky, you'll notice it while still topside most likely from the sound of hissing air. If you do notice such a leak, close the air valve, release the pressure, disconnect the hoses, and pop-out the o-ring. If you have a replacement, great. If not, one trick is to lick the o-ring and then re-insert it with the front side now at the back.
And if you happen to notice a small leak after getting into the water it's probably not a big deal. The tiny amount of air escaping is likely negligible. If you're on a shallow dive or good with your air, such a small leak won't have any impact on your dive.
3. Test That Your Air is Flowing
Sometimes in the shuffle of getting ready, you forget whether your air has been turned on or not. To quickly check, take two breaths from your regulator while looking at your gauge. If the needle doesn't move, you're good. Not a bad test to do even if you're sure your air was turned on.
4. Easily Release Air From Your BCD
New and not so new divers alike will orient vertically before releasing air from their BCDs. This is learned from how you typically descend from the surface. However, doing this can also mess up your balance and cause you to kick your fins unnecessarily. Instead, tug on your BCD hose and air will come out from the back even while you're horizontal.
5. Removing Your BCD Easily
Your BCD straps have buckles. To get out of your BCD, open one of the buckles and slide out. Be sure to snap the buckle closed immediately.
6. Use a Flashlight Even With Day Dives
Pointing at something small on a reef is not particularly effective. Typically your buddy can't tell what you're pointing at without several moments of searching. Instead, if you use a flashlight with a narrow beam, you can “point” at something while still being a few feet away and the spot of light is easier to find than trying to follow the line from someone's finger.
7. Use “Dry To the Touch” Sunscreen
Using sunscreen is a must, but using the wrong kind can result in your mask sliding up your face. Using a quick drying variety of sunscreen will keep your mask from moving and will improve the chances of a good seal.
8. Bubbles to Clear Jellyfish
When you're ready to surface you may discover that you've got to get through a layer of jellyfish. To punch a hole through them, use your backup regulators to release bubbles which the jellyfish will move away from. Surface quickly, but safely and then keep your hands and face above the water until you're clear of the jellyfish.
9. Vinegar for Jellyfish Stings
Jellyfish stings are inevitable. You probably won't come in contact with one of the “bad” varieties, but even mild stings are annoying. Keeping some vinegar with your gear topside can help alleviate some of the pain.
10. Sand is Your Enemy
Getting sand in your gear is especially problematic with shore diving. Sand can jam buttons and block valves which can significantly increase the dangers of diving. Keep critical equipment like regulator and BCD connections away from sand-collecting gear like boots. If you can, put a big bucket or box in the back of your truck so that you can separate gear while driving to a new dive site.