A wetsuit does exactly what the name suggests- it keeps you wet. The moment you get into the water, the wetsuit soaks it right up. However, wetsuits are designed with minuscule air holes that keep the suit light and give them some buoyancy.
Do Wetsuits keep you dry? No, they don’t. However, they do keep you warm even in colder water. There’s a thin layer of water between your skin and the wetsuit and that water warms up. The Neoprene that the wetsuit is made of keeps that water where it is and that prevents you from getting (too) cold.
Before we look into whether a wetsuit is waterproof or not, we need to look at exactly what it does:
Since a wetsuit doesn’t keep you dry underwater, you’re probably wondering what it really does. Wetsuits keep you warm and help regulate your body temperature underwater. We know, it sounds strange that it makes you wet and still keeps you warm, but we’ll explain exactly how that happens.
A wetsuit only absorbs a small amount of water. The tiny holes in the suit prevent it from retaining too much of it. This absorbed water comes into contact with your skin, but does not soak through it.
According to the laws of physics, a hot object when placed in a cold space will dispel heat to balance the temperature difference. Similarly, when your body comes into contact with the cold water, it starts releasing heat.
At this point, your body has 3 protective layers: your skin, the thin layer of water trapped inside your wetsuit (it is in a vacuum and cannot escape until you remove your wetsuit), and your wetsuit. This prevents the cold ocean water from penetrating your wetsuit and your body maintains a level of warmth as you dive.
Your wetsuit is usually made of a material known as neoprene, which is a heat insulator. Since it doesn’t conduct heat, when your body releases warmth, it doesn’t spread it around. Hence, your body is able to retain its warmth for the duration of your dive. The neoprene is thicker around your front and torso, but it is relatively thinner around your armpits and between your legs to allow for more flexibility as you move around.
This answers the question: wetsuits are not waterproof since they allow water to penetrate through them.
Since the wetsuit allows water to come in contact with your skin, it quite obviously makes you wet. Your body heat is what prevents this water from giving you hypothermia.
Another concern some people have is that this stuffy situation might make your wetsuit reek. However, if you clean your wetsuit regularly, it won’t stink. Think of it as your gym socks. If you wear the same socks daily without washing them, they’ll smell like a dead rat, but if you wash your wet suit after each use, they’ll remain fresh and clean.
Even though wetsuits aren’t waterproof, you can still opt for a semi-dry wetsuit that’ll help keep some of the water out. Generally, wetsuits function by allowing a small layer of water to come in contact with the body. This small amount of water heats up due to the body’s warmth, but it also tends to cool down rapidly.
The semi-dry wetsuit helps the water retain its warmth for a longer time period. The semi-dry suit has latex and rubber seals sewn in that prevent heat from escaping.
In fact, some divers even wear t-shirts under their semi-dry suits that help them remain more or less completely dry underwater.
Now that you know how a wetsuit works, you need to be able to decide what type of wetsuit you need for your dive:
Wetsuits are generally designed for warm water dives and are usually 2-4 mm thick. However, for dives in moderately cold water, wetsuits with a thickness of 5-7 mm are preferred.
Apart from the thickness, you also need to choose the right fit. A loose wetsuit will weigh you down and you’ll need to use more energy to get around. Ideally, a wetsuit should be so well fit, it almost doubles as a second skin. A loose-fitted suit won’t be able to keep you warm in the water since water will keep flowing in and out and your body won’t be able to retain its heat. The more body heat you lose, the higher are the chances of you getting hypothermia.
Ill-fitting wetsuits, apart from making you sick and exhausted, can also give you a rash. The loose fabric will keep moving and rubbing against your skin, causing it to flare up and break out in a rash.
Make sure that you look at all the features of the wetsuit: the fit, the thickness, and the size before you buy it. Also, remember that a wetsuit doesn’t last forever, so when the neoprene fabric starts itching, it’s time to replace it.
Old neoprene, apart from being uncomfortable, also allows too much water to seep through, becomes ill-fitted and can give you rashes. Similarly, if your wetsuit accidentally gets stuck or torn somehow, it needs to be replaced since a torn suit will not help you stay warm.
Apart from choosing the right fit, you can also choose the type of wetsuit you buy. Each one has different uses and can come in handy in different types of dives:
Shorties have short sleeves and leggings. Since they don’t cover your entire body, they’re ideal for dives in warm, tropical waters and are also great for snorkeling and surfing.
These wetsuits cover your entire body, all the way till your foot joints. They also cover your entire arms till the wrists. They’re ideal for cold water dives and can be paired with diving gloves, booties, and a hood to keep you warm.
For shallow dives and dives in very warm climates, such as in the Middle East, a pair of trunks and a dive vest can be sufficient for your dive. A full wetsuit is not required.
It is important to remember that all the different types of wetsuits are made of neoprene and fulfill the same basic purpose of keeping you warm underwater. The differences in design are based on the type of coverage they offer.
Since wetsuits soak up water, it’s obvious that you can’t use one if you’re diving in very cold water. For such cases, you need a drysuit that prevents any water from seeping in and protects you from the risk of getting hypothermia.
Drysuits bring in some problems of their own. Even though they keep the water out, they’re loose-fitting and can make it difficult for you to move freely in the water. If you’re wearing a drysuit, your dive will have to be shorter because the extra effort to move around will finish the air supply in your scuba tank faster.
A few last things to remember before you’re ready to get your wetsuit:
For frequent divers, wetsuits may need to be replaced once a year since they undergo heavy wear-and-tear.
So there you have it! Wetsuits don’t keep you dry, but they do keep you warm and they’re an essential part of your diving gear.
Scuba diving is a thrilling water activity that is suitable for people of most ages. It’s an amazing way to experience what life is like in the ocean, but more than that, it can also be seen as a form of exercise.
How many calories do you burn scuba diving? Depending on some factors you typically burn between 300 and 600 calories per hour scuba diving. The colder the environment the more calories you burn. Other factors are depth, gender and overall fitness.
There aren’t any fixed requirements for divers to be physically fit before they can enter the water. However, being out of shape and having less stamina increases the chances of divers experiencing decompression sickness (joint pain due to the build-up of compressed gases in the body). Many serious divers maintain a healthy diet, but the question still remains, does scuba diving burn calories?
Diving for a week can help divers lose several pounds. This does take into consideration that divers may eat big, hearty meals, especially if they’re diving during their vacation.
When you’re diving, you need to control your breathing so that you don’t overexert yourself. In fact, many people see scuba diving as a calming activity. So how exactly are you losing weight if you’re lazily floating through the water?
Essentially, the way we burn calories underwater is through a process known as thermoregulation. Our standard body temperature on land is 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Once we’re submerged in the water, we’re exposed to much lower temperatures and our body loses fat 25 times faster in water than on land. Our body seeks to maintain body temperature at 98 degrees underwater. The effort exerted during this process helps us burn calories scuba diving. In fact, our body can expend up to 70% of its daily caloric requirement to maintain a constant body temperature.
Water density is another factor that impacts the amount of energy we use underwater. Water is 800 times denser than air, which means it can absorb our body heat faster. Our body needs to use more energy to make up for the lost heat and our metabolism speeds up, helping us burn calories as we dive.
The amount of calories you burn per dive varies significantly, based on factors such as temperature, depth and how much effort you put into your dive. Research indicates the following estimates of the number of calories burned during a dive:
The average number of calories burned per dive is generally between 400-700. This is roughly the same as a one-hour jog, but the experience is considerably more enjoyable.
Depth, temperature and physical fitness impact how many calories you burn with each dive.
The deeper you go in the water, the more the water pressure increases. The body needs to exert more effort to move around as well as to push against the water pressure during the ascent.
Diving in cold water requires twice as much effort as diving in warm, tropical waters. The more effort you exert, the more calories you are likely to burn.
However, diving in extremely hot and humid regions means that the body requires more effort to adapt to the water temperature. Following the concept of thermoregulation we discussed earlier, adapting to warmer waters also helps divers burn calories.
To help you understand just how many calories the body can burn in cold water, let’s give you a point of reference: in the Arctic, a person needs to consume an average of 6000-9000 calories/day (as opposed to the standard 1500-2000) just to keep their body warm. This also signifies the intense amount of calories they burn in this process. Of course, you’re not diving in the Arctic, but cold water dives will still help you burn a significant number of calories.
On average, the daily calorie intake is 2000 for men and 1500 for women. Therefore, even if you dive twice in one day, you’re likely to burn around at least 800 calories, which is why even if your food consumption is high, a full week of diving can help you lose a significant amount of weight. Divers may lose around 2-5 pounds after a week of dives, even if they have several full meals a day.
Men have more lean muscle as compared to women and are likely to burn 40% more calories than women under the same dive conditions.
The estimated rate of burning calories is around 475 calories/hour of diving at an average body weight of around 150 pounds. People with a higher muscle mass (or body fat) are likely to burn more calories under the same dive conditions as a person with lower muscle mass.
Beginners generally burn more calories than seasoned professionals since they’re likely to flap their arms and exert more effort while breathing in an attempt to get more comfortable in the water.
Regardless of how long you’ve been diving for, swimming against the water current is a full-body workout. Unlike weight-lifting, etc. where only specific parts of the body, such as your arms or legs are doing the hard work, the entire body is active and strengthened during scuba diving.
If you’re diving with the purpose of burning fat, you can keep a calorie-tracking device with yourself. However, most calorie counters don’t take water temperature into consideration, so the values you obtain will be a rough estimate.
Even though you don’t break a sweat while scuba diving, it can be a challenging sport. If you’re a newbie, of course, the first hurdle is regulating your breath to ensure that you can breathe comfortably without running out of the air supply in your oxygen tank.
The second factor is that your entire body is at work to swim against the resistance of the water current. Combine that with the high density of the water, and your body uses up a significant percent of your daily calorie intake to move around.
Scuba diving can be a great water sport, whether you’re young and fit, or old and have joint pains. It can also be considered an effective form of exercise for elderly patients who have trouble moving around since the water makes you feel weightless. When the entire body is submerged, the joints (such as the knees) don’t have to support the weight of your upper body and it becomes easier for you to move around.
However, it is important to remember that scuba diving cannot be treated as an alternative for strength training and cardio workouts. It won’t help you burn the same amount of calories you’re aiming to burn if you’re strength training. It also won’t help you build as much lean muscle.
If you’re looking for a light workout that can also double up as a fun activity, scuba diving can definitely be a good option. You’ll burn the same number of calories as an hour’s worth of a jog while enjoying a fantastic view of the fish and corals. Not to mention, you won’t have to worry about sweating or gasping for air.
If you’re really interested in scuba diving for weight loss, let your instructor know beforehand. They will provide you with a calorie counter to keep with you during your dive as well as any other guidelines you may need to follow to get the most out of your dive.
Diving speeds up your metabolism, which means that you are likely to feel hungrier after your dive. If you’re diving more than once a day, snack on a banana, which is high in potassium or some other nutritional snack to avoid layering your body with unhealthy fats post-workout.
You can also use an online calculator to give you an idea of how much your daily calorie intake should be to balance out what you eat and what you burn during your dive.
Diving is an expensive sport. For the casual diver, renting the dive equipment is a good option, but for a pro, having your own dive equipment is key. From the mask to the tank to the dive computer, everything needs to be just right. Dive computers are a crucial piece of equipment for deep divers.
How much does a dive computer cost? You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 up to $1,500 or even more for a dive computer. It will depend on the capabilities you require. Entry level devices are to be had for under $500 and the ones that provide more features are above that price point.
Here is everything you need to know before buying a dive computer:
Dive computer prices vary based on whether you buy a new one or a used one. The basic price range of dive computers are as follows:
You can even find a dive computer within around USD 50, but the more premium and high tech dive computer models retail at USD 1,000 or more.
For beginners, it is ideal to get a new dive computer (even if it’s not the most advanced model) because you’re still trying to get the hang of things. As you progress, if you’re trying to save up, you can invest in a used (but still in good shape) dive computer.
One of the most expensive ones, the SUUNTO Eon Core Wrist Dive Computer is one of the most expensive dive computers available on the market today. The list price is quite north of $1,000! With great price comes a great list of features, which include:
Professional divers are in love with this because it’s easy to use, it’s lightweight and the battery lasts forever.
Regardless of whether your dive computer is on your wrist or attached to your belt, their function doesn’t change. Console computers are relatively cheaper than wrist-mounted ones, which makes them a good option if you have a limited budget.
While console computers display more information than the wrist-mounted ones, they’re also bulkier and it can be frustrating to stop to check your computer. With a watch, you can just check your wrist on-the-go.
Some divers have pointed out that wrist-mounted computers have the added danger of getting caught in something, but this isn’t a deal-breaker.
In fact, the two main factors that determine what you buy are the price and your personal preference and comfort level.
Divers generally make use of a pressure gauge to check the remaining pressure in their tank. However, an air integrated dive computer is connected to your tank and keeps track of the remaining air or nitrox mix left. This allows the computer to calculate how much time you have left underwater (considering other factors already being measured by the computer such s current depth).
You can analyze stored data to attain a value for the Surface Air Consumption (SAC) rate. In fact, the SAC rate will decrease as you dive more frequently which means you become better at utilizing your air supply underwater.
Air integrated dive computers are more expensive than regular dive computers, but it does have the added benefit of helping you improve your SAC rate. Beyond that, it’s your personal preference and comfort that will determine which type of computer you’ll end up buying.
Generally, dive computers offer a range of settings, control buttons, selection menu and one or more algorithms such as the Buhlmann Model which is used to calculate the buildup of compressed gases in the body or the Bubble Model which provides divers with information on when to make decompression stops. You can even connect your dive computer to your desktop to transfer your previous dive logs (as a backup or to empty up space in your dive computer).
Here are the key features you need to look for when buying a dive computer:
Some other features to look for include:
There are some dive computers that cater to very specific types of dives. If you have a specific purpose in mind, the store where you purchase your dive computer from can guide you on the model which will work best for you.
It isn’t always necessary to dive with a dive computer. There are some cases when you can dive without one:
It’s important to remember that while it is possible to dive without a computer, it is not recommended. In fact, for divers using Nitrox tanks, dive computers become even more important. This is because if you forget to check your dive table or you check it too late, the risk of decompression sickness is higher due to a greater content of compressed nitrogen.
If you’re new to the world of scuba diving, it’s difficult to know which option is more cost-effective and suitable for you: renting or buying a dive computer.
Here are all the reasons why you should buy a dive computer of your own.
Whether you’re scuba diving once a year or it’s something you live for, it is recommended that you should always buy your own dive computer. Each dive computer makes use of a different type of algorithm (such as the Buhlmann Model) to calculate factors such as when to make decompression stops. Each dive computer also contains data from the diver’s history. Renting a computer means that you’ll have to spend a certain amount of time erasing the data already stored in it.
Diver history takes into consideration approximately how much compressed nitrogen your body has retained based on the number of dives you’ve performed in one day. This further determines at what depth it becomes necessary for you to make decompression stops and how frequently.
Since rented computers hold other divers’ data, you need to erase it all before you start using it.
When you’re going underwater, you need to be comfortable and confident with the equipment that you’re using. Dive computers display a lot of information about your dive such as how long it lasted, how deep you went etc. with your own dive computer, you have the chance to get comfortable with how it works beforehand, but with a rented computer, you might not even be able to figure it out and you can lose information about that particular dive.
Secondly, you know that the computer you’ve bought is a model that has been used by other divers and has good reviews. With rented computers, you can never be sure how accurate it is, how old it is and what the odds are of it malfunctioning underwater (which can be very dangerous during deep dives).
Here are some of the reasons why renting a dive computer is a better option in certain cases:
Investing in your own diving computer can be extremely cost-efficient in the long run, but if you go for a die once, maybe twice a year (or even less than that), then it’s better to rent one.
If you don’t live by a coastline, you’ll need to travel every time you want to scuba dive. You’ll need to keep your luggage light, not to mention that if you want to pack your dive computer, you need to pack it properly because battery-operated items can’t be kept in your carry-on. To avoid the danger of damaging an expensive piece of equipment, it’s a better option to rent it.
Make sure you are well-researched on the type of dive computer you need, whether or not it fits in your budget and if it’s been used and liked by other divers. Once you buy the right device, you won’t need to replace it for a couple of years, and the better the quality, the longer it will last.
Many people crave the thrill of underwater exploration. Diving deep beneath the surface, swimming with mysterious creatures, and enjoying stunning views is certainly exciting. However, when you are actually down there, surrounded by nothing but blue on all sides, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lose your way. Did you pass by that reef already? Who knows! It looks exactly the same as the other ones you just swam by.
Losing your way is dangerous even on land, but underwater, it can be truly terrifying. Even if you are not afraid, it can be inconvenient if you miss your target and swim farther away, and you’d waste a lot of energy backtracking.
To avoid that, divers use special compasses designed to work underwater. However, since the environmental conditions there are different, this life-saving piece of equipment is also not as simple to use as a regular land compass. Figuring out how to use one by yourself can be difficult and confusing, but with this comprehensive guide, no diving compass will ever be a mystery to you.
A scuba diving compass is still just a device that helps you navigate. It usually has a round face that contains the four cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west. There are also guiding ticks or numbers evenly interspersed between these four. The numbers correspond to the degrees in a full circle and go from 0 to 360.
One of the most important parts of a normal compass is the needle — a moving arrow that points north. All compasses can always find where north is because of the Earth’s magnetic field.
The needle in a scuba diving compass, however, is usually painted on the card. The entire card is floating and spinning inside the corpus of the device so that it can orient itself when surrounded by moving water. Still, the card of the compass will feature an easy-to-spot shape that is similar to the needle in normal compasses, which you have to pay attention to.
When you know where true north is, it’s easy to find your way, especially when you rely on the ticks or degrees along the bezel. This might seem complicated at first, but once you get to know all of the parts of your diving compass, it will all begin to click.
It is not impossible, but it is not recommended. It may not be of much use, depending on the conditions of your dive and your overall navigation skills.
Even though both land and diving compasses respond to the planet’s magnetic field, the pressure underwater is different. Not all land compasses can survive a deep dive. Even if a land compass claims to be waterproof, that usually means that it can take some light water exposure. It might be fine if it falls into a stream during a hike, but that doesn’t mean it would do well in an extended dive. Moreover, a regular compass is more difficult to read underwater due to the lack of an easy-to-follow guide, such as the lubber line or the bezel.
The card is the free-floating face of the compass. It shows the four cardinal directions with degrees in between for a more accurate sense of direction. The needle is painted onto the card, so the entire structure rotates when it’s trying to find magnetic north.
In order to have an accurate reading of your bearings, you need to keep the card level. This is why a diving compass is mounted and positioned in a certain way. You must always ensure you are reading it horizontally and that you are not tilting it to the side.
The lubber line is a red (or sometimes black) line painted onto the compass. It never moves, and its purpose is to give you a clear pointer.
To take a heading, you need to point the lubber line at your target. When you are underwater, always try to align your body with the lubber line so that it points in the direction you are moving.
When pointing at your target, the line will also overlap with a certain degree on the bezel. Remember the numerical value of your heading, in case you stray from your path and need to find it again.
The bezel is a ring with degrees surrounding the card.
To help you find your way more reliably, the bezel usually has two symmetrical bold ticks. You need to align them with the north-pointing needle once it settles. When your compass is level, and the needle finds north, you have to rotate the bezel until north falls between the two index ticks. That way, the 0 on the bezel will equal true north.
When you begin swimming towards your destination, keep an eye on the bezel. If you notice that the north measurement is moving outside of the index markings, it means you’ve turned more than you needed to. You have to stop, find north, and align the index markings to it again. Afterward, turn until the lubber line points to the same tick or degree from your initial heading.
Because you need to keep your diving compass level, it is easier to read it horizontally. For this reason, there is a window on the side of the compass that provides you with an eye-level reading. The lubber line extends to this window so that you can still follow it. Additionally, the side window contains a numerical reading from the card, in case you need the extra information to get your bearings.
The numbers on your compass are there to help you by indicating in what direction you are moving. That being said, it is nearly impossible to follow a number precisely. If your target is not very far away, even if you are a tick or two off of your original goal, you will most likely still make it to your destination just fine.
However, as distances increase, so does the range of what lies between every two numbers on your compass. If you plan to travel a great deal underwater, sticking to the numbers will be extremely important.
For most short trips or recreational dives, you won’t need to worry about all the numbers on the bezel. The main directions will coincide with 90-degree intervals, with north at 0, east at 90, south at 180, and west at 270 degrees on the dial.
It can also be helpful to note the ticks that mark important midpoints between these measurements (30, 60, 120, etc.) for fine-tuning. But even if you don’t bother with the number on the bezel, you can count the ticks and remember your direction that way. If you point your lubber line towards the goal and see that it aligns with two ticks to the right of the north, you can just think of that as N +2, for example.
While it’s not mandatory to rely on the numbers on your compass, if you find that it makes more sense to you and you don’t get easily confused by degree measurements, by all means, follow the numbers! They are there to help you, after all. Sticking to the cardinal directions and important ticks is easier for less experienced divers. Still, if you are already used to your compass, there’s no reason not to utilize it to the fullest.
Handling a diving compass is a bit trickier than handling a regular one. If you look at the face of your compass the way you would on land, but you’re underwater, you might be headed straight into trouble. Because the card is floating inside the compass, looking at it from above would not tell you if the card is perfectly horizontal, and you will get skewed readings.
First off, you need to position the compass in front of you. You cannot look at it from above, for reasons previously explained. Instead, you want to align it with your field of vision so that the compass is between your eyes and your target destination.
Make sure the card is perfectly flat. This is where the side window comes in handy: it will allow you to see the card from the side. Once it’s level, you should be able to see the lubber line pointing to a degree. That’s your direction.
Hopefully, you took a heading before getting in the water and know to compare that with whatever value the lubber line is pointing to — they should be the same number.
Align your body with the lubber line. In fact, imagine the line as an extension of your body.
First, set up your compass correctly, allowing the needle to find north, and then aligning the bezel’s north index markings with it. Once that’s done, simply point your compass in the direction of your target. For example, if you’re planning to swim to an island, you can get above water, see where the island is, and point the lubber line at it. All you have to do underwater is to keep following the line.
The lubber line is great at guiding you towards your target. However, if your body is not perfectly straight, you may actually be moving slightly sideways. This is why the line is accompanied by a numerical value.
Remember that value when you first pointed your compass at your goal? If the needle is still inside the index markings, the lubber line should be pointing at the same value. If it’s not, you have to realign the bezel just like described above and spin until the lubber line is pointing at the correct degree again.
In some cases, you might be perfectly able to reach your target without relying on the numbers too much. However, they will be your best friend in several situations, including coming back to the point of origin.
Let’s imagine that you had been swimming for a while and reached your goal with your lubber line at, say, 120 degrees. To get back, you need to do some math.
You can either add or subtract 180 degrees. The numbers always add up to 360 in total, so if you want to avoid working with negatives, remember it this way: if your goal was at a degree less than 180, add. If it was above 180, subtract. Since your goal at 120 is less than 180, you need to add 180 to it and get 300. That’s your way back (also known as your reciprocal).
Don’t worry about the addition/subtraction too much. If you can’t remember when to do which, just stick to addition. If you get a sum over 360, subtract 360 from it.
Underwater currents are perfectly natural, but they can be annoying if they push you off-course. If you get caught in one during your dive, you need to turn upcurrent and swim in that direction until you cross the current.
Be mindful that this detour could steer you off-course. That’s why you need to check if the needle is still locked between the bezel’s index markings.
This is a great exercise for training your overall navigation skills. Imagine you are swimming inside a square box, and you start at one vertex. To cover all four sides and return to the point of origin, you’d need to swim straight ahead and then do 90-degree additions every time you need to turn.
The cardinal points are located at 0, 90, 180, and 270, but you probably won’t start off at 0. To dive a box course starting from 40, for example, you’d need to turn right at 130, 220, and 310 instead.
To complete the box course by only turning right, you need to rely on addition. Conversely, if you want to complete the exercise with left turns, do subtraction. This is a good, simple way to get used to the numbers on your compass.
As mentioned above, the position of your underwater compass is absolutely crucial if you want it to work correctly. Simply holding it in your hand won’t make it stable enough for you to get an accurate reading. This is why diving compasses are mounted in various ways.
A wrist mount means that your compass is attached to your wrist, similar to a watch. However, you can’t just look at it from above as if you are checking the time. You need to read it horizontally, remember?
To do that, extend both arms in front of you. Now use the arm where your compass is to grab onto the elbow of your other arm. You are trying to form 90-degree angles between your hand and your elbow. This should give you enough support to steady the card within the compass. You can then get a reliable reading through the side window.
Using a wrist mount might seem convenient, but it’s not a foolproof way to handle your compass. It can cause issues with buoyancy since your body is off-balance and your arm might be tilting the card. It is safer to mount your compass on a console — a physical structure that you can hold with both hands in front of you as you swim. This will help with your posture and will make following the lubber line feel more natural.
If dealing with a mechanical compass seems like too much of a hassle, you could just opt for a dive computer instead. A dive computer is a small digital device that offers various important readings to the diver, such as depth, pressure, and more. Many dive computers made today also include a compass, eliminating the need to carry multiple devices with you.
Remember that your compass is not the only way to orient yourself in the water. Natural navigation is just as useful, especially if you are in an area with many unique features. Keep an eye out for anything noteworthy, such as rocks, reefs, and other structures that can guide you as you swim. For instance, if your lubber line is pointing at a rock, you can swim towards it without looking at your compass.
Please note that while an underwater compass is different from a regular one, it still works even when it’s not underwater. For the sake of your own safety, learn how to use your diving compass by practicing on land. As long as you don’t form a bad habit of looking down on your diving compass, this little exercise would be of great help when you finally step into the water.
Traditional scuba diving is for individuals who like to roam around freely in deep waters without limiting themselves. Hookah diving is the ideal option for divers who don’t want to carry the whole SCUBA air system with them while being submerged in a restricted zone of water for long periods.
What is Hookah Diving? It’s basically scuba diving while you’re attached to a hose that supplies the air instead of using tanks with compressed air. You can only dive as deep as the hose is long. The advantage is that you can dive for longer periods of time as you’re not depending on how much air you have in the tank!
With the Hookah air system, the diver doesn’t need to wear any high-pressure air tanks on their back. Instead, a small-sized air compressor is placed at the surface of the ocean which conventionally receives power by a portable gasoline engine or an electric motor. The diver receives the air through a floating air hose.
With this system, the diver has a never-ending and almost free-of-cost supply of air. The air flow would only stop if the gasoline engine or the motor that powers the air compressor fails to operate. This air system is quite economical when compared to the expense it takes to refill a SCUBA tank after every hour or so.
If you have excelled at swimming and have become an expert at snorkeling, then it’s time to explore the ocean just below the surface a tad bit more by considering hookah diving. With a hookah diving system, you can dive deeper into the ocean; go up to 90 ft below the surface, and that too for longer periods! Unlike the traditional scuba diving, you won’t have to resurface for air or go through the hassle of lugging around heavy air tanks.
Here are some of the benefits that hookah diving offers in general:
When compared with scuba, hookah diving is ideal for newbie divers from a safety perspective. Because of its lightweight nature, the movements of the divers remain restricted to the surface, making it impossible for them to dive too far below the surface. This can be a life-saving advantage for them.
Because of being tethered to the surface, hookah divers don’t have to face the potential risks of diver’s disease. Also known as decompression sickness, diver’s disease is caused by the dissolved gases that are released from the body of the diver during depressurization i.e. when they are ascending to the surface.
Studies suggest that decompression sickness is indeed possible in hookah divers. But as the length of the air umbilical cord used in hookah diving prevents them from going too deep in the water, they remain protected from the extreme effects of this disease.
Since hookah divers are required to stay close to the surface of the ocean, it keeps all the divers within eyesight of each other. Not only does this encourage a safer environment but it also provides a more social form of diving which isn’t the case with scuba.
This is a well-known fact that cave diving is very risky and dangerous; therefore, it should only be attempted by professional divers. Due to the limitations of hookah umbilical hoses and their inability to not go far enough to reach an underwater cave’s depth, hookah divers are restricted from entering them. Same goes for wreck diving. Exploring the wreckage of ships, aircraft, and other similar artificial structures can be difficult as the use of the umbilical cord restricts the divers from reaching areas far away in the ocean.
Like all other diving forms, there are some disadvantages to hookah diving.
A punctured air hose is always a potential danger when you hookah dive. The air systems are manufactured with high-density vinyl and nylon, and both the materials are prone to punctures. Therefore, there is never 100% guaranteed safety from aquatic-life attacks.
The length of the umbilical cord plays an important role in your hookah diving experience but it can limit your exploration. The cord only lets you extend to a certain depth. You might find something interesting underwater and desire to see it up-close but with a hose that is not long enough, you can’t reach your desired destination.
Hookah air is believed to reach extremely high temperatures sometimes. A reserve tank works as a cooling and condensation vessel. As the air enters it, it expands and cools down.
Now, there are two types of hookah diving systems. A hookah system is either powered by a gasoline or electricity. Each type comes with its share of pros and cons.
Hookah, also known as surface-supplied diving, is not like your usual snorkeling. It is actually much more complex than that. Hookah diving systems use sophisticated and advanced equipment to provide each diver with a safe experience and a reliable, suitable supply of oxygen.
Hookah diving systems that are heavy-duty, safe, and reliable make use of a helmet that is connected to the surface system through a cord called an umbilical hose. While a snorkel lets air pass through a non-return valve and lets it flow into the lungs of the diver, such is not the case with hookah diving.
In this system, the level of atmospheric pressure in the helmet should match the air from the surface. Otherwise, the air supply will get blocked by the forced build-up. For this reason, the attendant hose of the helmet and the helmet itself feature multiple exhaust valves.
Because of those valves, the pressure can be adjusted in accordance with the depth of the hookah diver in real-time. In result, the oxygen supply gets to flow freely according to the needs of the diver and the pressure they are diving at.
Professional hookah divers use reserve tanks of oxygen gas for emergency purposes. They carry it with them while diving. These tanks are used to provide them with oxygen and they get refilled continuously through the air compressor located at the surface of the ocean.
Many people are not aware of the fact that hookah air can sometimes reach very high, dangerously hot temperatures. A high-quality and properly functioning tank ensures the cooling of the air flow so that it becomes appropriate for the diver to consume.
Lastly, the hookah compressor system is the most fundamental unit of the whole diving gear. It remains on the surface of the ocean and gathers air from the surrounding atmosphere. As mentioned above, the hookah air compressor receives its power from either a gasoline engine or an electrical source.
Scuba diving demands thorough, in-depth training and certification. However, hookah diving can be performed without going through any kind of schooling. Going through some degree of training before attempting a hookah dive is strongly recommended.
There aren’t any institutes offering hookah diving certifications at present. However, you can take The Air Line by J Sink’s Hookah Training Home Study Course to gain relevant knowledge.
Surface Supplied Air or Hookah for recreational divers has been gaining popularity in various locations all around the world. As discussed above, this activity doesn’t require any special training or certification which makes it convenient for the divers.
Once you buy a hookah diving system, the only extra cost you’ll have to worry about is of the fuel since the majority of hookah air compressors are powered by gasoline engines. Even if an electrical motor is the power source for your compressor, you can enjoy a cost-free air supply until your power source malfunctions. The cost of these systems ranges from $1500 to $5500 but the experience is definitely worth it!
Tickets. Bathing suit. Dive Gear. You’ve got all the essentials for your scuba vacation, but there are still two things that stand in your way: packing your gear properly and getting your luggage through airport security. While some people rent their snorkel or scuba gear when on vacation, others make the trip specifically to snorkel or scuba dive. In such cases, you’re likely to be travelling with snorkel or scuba equipment which can be a bit tricky.
Can you take snorkel or scuba gear on a plane? Yes, you can at least take some gear on a plane. Pack your gear carefully so it won’t get damaged. Carry-on has different rules and you have to check whether you can bring certain gear with you inside the cabin or whether you have to check the gear.
Read on to find out about how to pack your gear to make it survive the flight and whether it’s worth investing in travel scuba gear or not. Pack your gear in your luggage without having to worry about dealing with those pesky extra charges for overweight luggage.
Every airline has a set limit on the amount and weight of the luggage you can take onboard. Generally, lower cost airlines are likely to be more stringent about these rules. Even if you’ve flown with an airline before, if your next flight is a charter flights, check these limits again because they’re likely to be stricter. The right airline can really save you from the excess baggage cost.
Some airlines have a limit for free luggage check-in while others may charge you per piece. The cost for either may vary, so do your research to find the most cost-saving option. It’s also a good idea to check if the airline you’re considering has luggage check-in packages especially for divers. These packages may be less costly than the excess luggage cost.
When you’re travelling, you have limited luggage space so only pack the essentials. If you’re planning on going scuba diving in a popular tourist location, you can easily rent some of the bulkier scuba gear items such as a wetsuit, fins and so on.
The important gear which to some level will be customized specifically for you such as your dive computer, mask and regulator should definitely be packed in our suitcase.
No we’re not talking about plastering a serial killer smile on your face. Just be courteous with the security and customs staff and don’t act defensive when they’re checking your luggage.
While trolley bags seem great because you can comfortably wheel them around at the airport, they add extra weight which you could’ve used to pack your equipment. A lightweight bag such as a duffle bag is particularly useful.
Your carry-on cabin bag can generally weigh 5kg. if you’ve got one final piece of equipment and all your other bags are stuffed, sneak it into the carry-on. Make sure that your carry-on isn’t a trolley bag because that is more likely to get weighed as opposed to a hand-carry bag. Walk in nonchalantly like your bag contains air so that you don’t run the risk of being hounded by baggage handlers who will certainly notice that your bag is overweight.
Avoid using this hack for electronic equipment such as your dive torch and computer since many airlines require all electronics to be checked in with their batteries removed.
You may have noticed wildlife photographers and hikers wearing vests with multiple compartments. These compartments are expandable, so if worst comes to worst and you face a problem with overweight luggage, you can squeeze at least around 15 pounds worth of items into your vest pockets.
Not only can you take fins on a plane, you can actually use them as a way to protect some of your more sensitive equipment. Travel bags either have a hard shell or are soft-sided. If you have a soft bag, create a makeshift shell using your fins and maybe your clothes on all sides. Snorkel or scuba equipment in your travel bag such as the dive computer and torch can be placed in the center to protect them from the force of impact when the bags are thrown into their luggage cabin or onto the carousel.
If you’re travelling for a short period of time, you probably don’t have a lot of luggage. In this case, pack your fins in your carry-on so that you have enough space for items like your dive computer in your suitcase.
If your trip is really short, you can leave your fins out and rent them instead.
Your snorkel or scuba mask can take up quite a bit of space in your luggage. The mask and snorkel tube (if you have one) can easily be carried in a carry-on as you don’t have to deal with any batteries or crossing the carry-on weight limit.
If you have small items such as camera lenses for your underwater camera, you can roll them up inside your socks. If you don’t have socks, just ball them up in your wetsuit which will keep your items safe.
If you’ve made a protective wall using your fins etc. with your equipment in the center, there might be some gaps in between. Fill them with your clothes to keep your equipment in place and prevent anything from rolling around inside and chipping.
For small items like your dive computer batteries and so on, you can make use of plastic containers from your kitchen to keep items dry and safe. They’re lightweight so they won’t make your bag heavier. Ziplock bags also come in handy, but should be avoided since they’re not recyclable and can be very dangerous for sea creatures if they wash up into the ocean.
Some cloth bags are compact and can be folded into tiny squares when empty. If you’re having problems with overweight luggage, you can use one of these and place your batteries and other small items in them.
If you’re traveling with a companion, divide the snorkel or scuba gear in different bags so that if in case one gets lost, you won’t lose all your equipment.
It is highly unadvisable to travel with a scuba tank or scuba weights. They’re extremely heavy and are likely to take up almost your entire weight-limit. In fact, if you’re going on a proper diving trip planned by a dive center, the cost of your tank is already being covered by them so you don’t need to take one with you. In fact, many divers are comfortable with just taking their mask and snorkel and renting any other equipment they might need.
If you still want to carry your own tank, make sure to pack it properly. Open the tank valve and empty out all the compressed air (this is not necessary if you’re travelling by road). Don’t attach the valve again just yet. Carry it separately since the tank will need to be inspected at security check points.
Cover the tank with a cardboard or padded-cloth wall (even your wetsuit can be used here) to prevent the surface from getting scratched. Make sure it’s stuck in place in your bag so it doesn’t roll around and damage any other equipment or sustain any damage itself.
For travel purposes, choose a BCD with plastic buckles since it will be more lightweight than one with metal buckles. Just fold it and pack it with the rest of your luggage items.
Even though there are many restrictions on carrying sharp objects on an airplane, dive knives are allowed granted that they are packed properly.
Keep the knife in its sheath. If you don’t have one, wrap it a few times in a thick towel. Don’t forget to mark what’s inside the towel to avoid arousing suspicion. Make sure it’s in your check-in luggage since knives of any kind are not allowed in carry-on luggage.
If you’re asked about it, don’t panic. As long as you tell security why you have a dive knife, you won’t get into any trouble.
For frequent scuba travelers, travel diving gear can be a blessing. Here are a few ways they can really help lighten your load:
It is important to remember that even though you can reduce the total weight of your snorkel or scuba gear, it comes with a price. For instance, travel regulators don’t fare well in cold water and are only suitable for warm-water dives. The investment in additional dive equipment is ideal for those travelling frequently to snorkel or scuba dive. If it’s an annual vacation, it’s better to have your own equipment at home and either travelling with that or renting it if you’re only going for a few days.
While there are bags designed especially to transport scuba or snorkel equipment, they are not an essential part of your travel gear. You can get other lightweight duffle and nylon bags which can be just as useful for carrying your scuba or snorkel equipment without being as heavy as trolley bags.
Travel divers and snorkelers are generally of three types:
Regardless of which one of the three you are, make sure you’ve planned your snorkel or scuba trip properly. This includes packing your gear the right way if you’re taking it with you, and checking in advance if the place you’re going to will rent out equipment if you’re planning on renting it. As long as you plan your vacation thoroughly and in advance, you’ll get to your destination with damaging your equipment or fighting your way through security check posts.
A pacemaker is a battery-powered device used to stimulate heart muscle and regulate its rhythm. If you are a sport diver with a pacemaker and wondering if you’ll ever get to experience the adventures of scuba diving again, then you’re in the right place.
Can you scuba dive with a pacemaker? Yes, you can. With the caveat that you discuss your specific pacemaker and your scuba diving with your medical professional. You need to get clearance that your pacemaker can withstand the pressure and that there’s no risk for your health!
For a military or a commercial diver, a cardiac pacemaker is all it takes to disqualify them from this activity. However, as a sport diver, there still might be some hope left for you. In the past, the answer to the question “can I scuba dive with a pacemaker?” used to be an outright ‘No’. However, nowadays a new logical and defensive reasoning has been brought forward.
It is believed that every individual diver should be evaluated separately. Two essential factors need to be taken into account; the reason the diver is dependent on a pacemaker and the quality of the pacemaker being used. When evaluating quality, you need to know if it is capable of performing safely at depths during recreational activities like scuba diving. Let’s dive straight into these two approaches.
An individual can be dependent on a pacemaker for several different reasons.
Damaged heart muscle after a major heart attack may be one of the reasons for an individual to depend on a pacemaker. This may be an indication that they are not fit enough to safely perform activities in deep water.
On the other hand, a mild heart attack doesn’t cause much damage to the heart muscle. However, the heart’s conduction system that is responsible for sending signals to contract the heart muscle remains unreliable after the attack; this makes using a pacemaker necessary.
Arrhythmias (heart rhythm disorders) and cardiac conduction abnormalities can be the other reason. In this case, the portion of the heart responsible for generating the electrical impulse might not function properly or consistently.
Sometimes, the circuitry that sends the electrical impulse to the heart becomes defective and the conducted signals are not regular or proper. If an individual doesn’t use a pacemaker, they may go through syncopal episodes i.e. the blood flow to the brain drops temporarily causing unconsciousness and loss of muscle control.
If your cardiologist confirms that you can safely dive with your heart conditions and your pacemaker is rated to function at 130-foot sea water or higher pressures then you may be considered fit for scuba diving. However, consulting a doctor is highly recommended in this case.
Once your cardiologist gives you a pass to scuba dive while keeping your heart condition in mind, it is necessary that you have a pacemaker that is suitable for the hefty task.
A cardiac pacemaker is situated under the skin of an individual. During recreational diving, it gets exposed to the same extreme depths as the diver. Therefore, a suitable pacemaker would be the one that can perform under a depth of at least 130 ft/40m and must be able to tolerate the rapidly fluctuating pressures.
Medtronic pacemakers are believed to be built to stand up to 180 feet of depth whereas manufacturers like St. Jude Medical claim that their pacemakers are suitable for exposure up to pressures of 7 atmospheres or the equivalent depth of 198 feet of saltwater.
Scuba diving is an activity that exposes you to effects like immersion in water, loss of heat, increased pressure, a lot of exertion, and stressful conditions. When you exercise and your heart rate increases, a healthy heart ensures your safety while a diseased heart is not capable of providing enough support to your system. Here is how scuba diving strains your heart:
When your body is immersed in deep water, it gets exposed to a pressure gradient. This causes the blood from the vessels in your legs to move to the vessels in your chest cavity, increasing the volume of the blood in your chest by up to 700ml. As a result, the blood in your heart increases by about 180ml to 240ml and thus, all its four chambers get expanded. All of this causes the pressure in your right atrium to rise along with a 30% escalation in cardiac output and a slight elevation in your overall blood pressure.
Water is known to have high thermal conductivity. With the same temperature under water and in dry air, the latter would feel more comfortable to you. When you immerse yourself in water, your body tends to lose more heat than usual.
During the loss of heat, your body goes through a condition known as peripheral vasoconstriction which means the narrowing or constriction of the blood vessels that supply your extremities. This consequently increases the blood in your heart putting extra pressure on its right side, making it pump more blood. As the arteries are constricted, it decreases the blood flow to your body and thus raises your overall blood pressure.
During scuba diving, you breathe air under increased pressure, greatly affecting your cardiac and circulatory systems. The levels of oxygen escalate which again causes vasoconstriction, increases blood pressure, and decreases your pulse rate and cardiac output.
When you exercise during recreational diving, pulmonary ventilation might get reduced because of dense gases. The levels of carbon dioxide may increase which can cause the blood to flow with more speed to your brain and can be toxic for you.
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) in your body is responsible for controlling the functions of the body that are not consciously directed, such as your heart rate, breathing, and digestion. These functions are affected by scuba diving too. ANS is divided into two divisions, one is sympathetic that is associated with fight-or-flight responses and the other is parasympathetic which governs resting and energy-conservation functions.
When your heart is healthy and you scuba dive, the parasympathetic effects increase, preserving your pulse rate. While diving with a diseased heart, the sympathetic responses come into action. The dive becomes stressful and the pulse rate increases, increasing the risk of arrhythmia.
Scuba diving usually takes place in an isolated area where there aren’t any facilities available to provide any cardiac assistance. While the factors determining each individual’s qualification differs greatly, divers with severe cardiovascular diseases are discouraged from participating in such vigorous activities.
There is insufficient data present on the tolerance of heart pacemakers during scuba diving. Therefore, Lafay V conducted a study called “Effects of Hyperbaric Exposures on Cardiac Pacemakers”. This research aimed was to find out the electronic and mechanical tolerance of cardiac pacemakers that are susceptible to the pressures experienced during recreational diving.
They found out that cardiac pacemakers that were exposed to a pressure of 30msw (approximately 98 feet of depth) didn’t have any noticeable electronic dysfunctions; only a temporary increase in the pacing rate was observed during pressurization. The same pacemakers were exposed to a pressure of 60msw (approximately 196 feet of depth) a month later and these were found to be deformed.
Although the tests weren’t conducted with implanted pacemakers, it is advised that implanted pacemaker patients shouldn’t expose themselves to hyperbaric pressure of more than 30msw because of the potential risks involved.
Scuba diving is a great sport, but it can be quite challenging. Whether you’re a beginner trying to get comfortable in the water, or a pro wanting to experiment (for instance, improving your air consumption rate), scuba diving in an indoor pool is a great option.
Diving in an indoor pool sounds pretty boring, right? There’s no fish and no coral, and instead of staring into the endless depths of the ocean, you’re looking at tiled flooring.
But there are many reasons why divers opt to dive in an indoor pool:
In some regions, it gets so cold in the winter that it’s not possible to scuba dive in the ocean. Divers who want to stay in shape and want to maintain the diving skills they’ve developed over the course of time may choose to dive indoors in the winter months.
If you’re a beginner and you’re not too keen on the idea of going a few meters deep into the ocean, the swimming pool is a good place to start. In fact, there are special courses where you can practice your diving skills and engage in other water activities to make you feel more at ease.
If you have any allergies or your skin is too sensitive to deal with the sun, indoor diving will give you a taste of the real thing without having to see a paramedic.
The ocean can seem like a scary place for some people. If you’ve ever been to the beach during high tide or when there’s a strong wind blowing, you can see why.
You can overcome those fears by becoming skilled at scuba diving. Once you’re ready, you can take on the real thing.
A pool needs to be at least 7 meters deep for it to be a dive pool. Diving pools around the world are generally much deeper than that to give you the true scuba diving experience. Here are some famous diving pools around the world:
For many years, the Nemo33 used to be the deepest pool in the world, but it has now been replaced by the Y-40, which has a depth of 42.5 meters. The pool is also known as “Deep Joy” and features a tunnel you can walk through if you just want to visit and not dive.
In the future, should it be realized, there’s also the Blue Abyss in England with a depth of 50 meters. It’s no scheduled yet to open anytime soon. You can stay on top of the development there at http://blueabyss.uk/.
Nemo33 may not be the world’s deepest pool, but it’s certainly quite famous and it’s located in Belgium. It’s more than just a pool- it’s an entire underwater complex complete with underwater caves and tunnels. In fact, if you don’t know your way, around you can easily get lost in it.
The pool is 113 feet (around 34 meters) deep and can hold around 2.5 million liters of water! In order to reach the tunnels and the caves, you have to get right to the bottom. The pool has two stepping platforms at shallow intervals at around 16 feet and 32 feet before it opens up to its real depth. You better bring your dive gear like your computer to make it a fantastic dive down to the bottom!
Whether you’re a deep-diver who wants to cave dive or a tourist who just wants to observe from outside, the pool is open to everyone. The pool contains a combination of natural and artificial lighting which constantly gives the pool, a warm, blue vibe.
There are even caves where divers can just stay put and breathe freely. The caves themselves are decorated to imitate the ocean with one cave featuring stalactites and another one with portholes displaying pictures of sea creatures. In fact, for everyone who receives their certification at Nemo33, there is a champagne toast in the third cave.
At Nemo33, you’ll get the chance to obtain certification for open-water and professional diving.
There are 309,000 swimming pools in America with a very small percentage being dive pools. You can find dive pools in many places worldwide, especially in Europe. You just need to do a little research, sign up for classes and you’re ready to get in the water.
Indoor scuba lessons are probably not as expensive as building your own dive pool, but they’re not cheap either. You can find some dive courses, which start at around USD 200, but you’ll need to add the cost of rented equipment to this as well.
However, in major cities such as London, New York or Tokyo, the diving costs start at around USD700-1000 and only go up from there.
If you want to attain proper diving certification, even if it’s basic open-water certification, the fee starts from around USD600 and more. This will generally include the cost of any dive tanks being used, but the rest of the equipment is an additional expense.
Diving in an indoor pool may be expensive
You’ve probably had many childhood fantasies of digging a hole in your backyard and filling it up with water and there has probably always been a parent or someone telling you that it doesn’t work that way. Well, it’s possible to build a diving pool on your own property.
Of course, you won’t be digging it yourself, you’ll need to hire a contractor. And you’ll need a million dollars or two to actually fulfill your dream.
It sounds crazy but it’s actually been done by someone in Utah, who built a pool 8 meters deep in their own home, just so they could scuba dive without having to travel for it!
The pool also features a water slide, a paddling pool, waterfalls, and of course, the main diving pool. Essentially, you need to own a large-sized property and have a lot of money in the bank and then you’re ready to build your own diving pool.
While you don’t get to experience the ocean waves and the whimsical feel of being deep in the ocean, diving in an indoor pool is a great stepping stone for the real thing. You can opt for indoor diving in the winters if you don’t want to miss out on the adrenaline rush of being underwater. You can combat any fears you have about scuba diving with some test dives in swimming pools.
Consider dive pools to be the first step you take towards entering the aquatic world.
We’ve all occasionally inhaled a chockfull of salty water when we’re out in the ocean. Whether it involves breathing through a snorkel tube or using air from a scuba tank, water sports require you to regulate your breathing to a great extent.
Can snorkeling or scuba diving cause a sinus infection? Yes, under certain circumstances it can happen. It’s unlikely to happen if you are healthy when you start out with snorkeling or diving. However, if you are sick already or can’t deal with the higher pressure when scuba diving then take it slow and enjoy the day at the beach instead of in the water!
While breathing in the water may be tricky, the real cause for concern would be if this led to sinus infections. Sinus infections range from a case of bad breath to breathing difficulties. Let’s dive in to see what role snorkeling or scuba diving play in causing sinus infections.
Generally, divers and snorkelers who already have symptoms of developing a sinus infection or have a weak immune system (due to an illness, etc.) are more susceptible to sinus infections when they get into the ocean.
There are a number of ways these water activities affect your sinuses:
Changes in pressure can greatly impact your sinuses. When you’re diving underwater, the pressure increases by around ½ pound for every foot (it also decreases at the same rate when you are ascending).
Increasing pressure can disrupt your sinus canal and cause sinus blockage. This eventually leads to the growth of bacteria because of trapped mucus and appears in the form of a sinus infection.
Based on the laws of physics, as pressure increases, volume decreases. In diving terms, this means that as pressure increases during your descent, the volume of gases in your body decrease proportionately. However, it is vital that this gas is distributed evenly through your body.
For this equal distribution to happen, you need to be free of any sinus or nasal infections. Your throat and nose should be functioning completely normally. Even the slightest disturbance can put you at risk of undergoing barotrauma.
Barotrauma is an injury which usually affects your ears or lungs and is caused by a change in environmental pressure. There are a few ways to equally distribute the pressure in your ears to avoid sinus infections due to snorkeling or scuba diving:
Failure to equalize the pressure leads to sinus squeeze.
Sinus squeeze is the result of unequal distribution of intra-sinus pressure. It is characterized by irritation in the mucosal lining of your nasal sinuses. Symptoms include a runny or bloody nose and watery eyes. In some cases, it can also cause tooth ache.
Sinus squeeze is usually the result of ascending or descending too quickly in the water. it may be occasional, recurrent or chronic. The treatment involves consuming antibiotics. It is advisable to avoid water activities till you have been completely cured.
Diving or snorkeling with a sinus infection is likely to aggravate your condition and intensify the pain.
Before diving, you need to make sure you can freely do the following:
Many divers opt to use decongestants just for the dive. Frequent use can cause inflammation in your sinuses and do more harm than good. If you feel like you have the strength to dive, you’ll have to be very careful and descend and ascend very slowly. This is because mucus buildup will make it harder for your body to equalize air pressure.
Even if you’re near the end of your dive, ascending too fast can cause ear barotrauma which is extremely painful.
In most cases, it is advisable to avoid diving or snorkeling if you have the flu, allergies or other medical conditions which affect your sinuses.
Using a jug or pot with a spout, pour warm, salted water in your nose. It will clear up accumulated mucus and unblock your nose. This trick can be used as a precaution before your nose has even gotten blocked to avoid buildup.
Get a prescription for ointments which are applied to your sinuses, temples, around your ears and below your nose. They will help equal distribution of air, even if atmospheric pressure is high.
Certain yoga techniques have been known to help people get rid of sinus problems. Whether you’re experiencing migraines, wheezing or slight breathing irregularities, regularly performing the following yoga techniques can reduce the symptoms (these are just of the many poses that divers or snorkelers can use to cure their sinus infections):
All these poses are suitable for beginners and should be done on an empty stomach. There are other poses which you can find out more about from a yoga instructor in your area who can better assess your condition.
Make sure you’re in great health before you go for a dive or go snorkeling. If you’re still in the recovery stages after a bad flu or viral cough, put off your dive for a few days till your nasal system is completely clear.
There are a number of ways to cure sinus infections. Keep medication as a last resort but if your sinus infections due to diving or snorkeling are becoming chronic, consult a physician.
Deep diving may be done recreationally or to explore old ruins at the bottom of the ocean. Regardless of the purpose, deep diving is trickier and has greater risks involved as opposed to scuba diving in shallow water. To avoid the buildup of compressed gases in the body, divers have to make decompression stops as they return to the surface.
How deep can you dive without decompression stops? There are a number of factors that come into play: Previous Dives, Gas mixes used, Length of dive, to just name a few. All these impact the depth you can dive down to before you have to make a decompression stop.
Decompression simply defines the process of releasing pressure or compression. Scuba diving places you in a high-pressure environment, and as you go deeper, the water pressure increases.
In fact, the water pressure increases by 14.5 psi (unit to measure psi) after around every thirty feet. Atmospheric pressure at sea is around 14.7 psi. it doesn’t take a scientist to understand that the deeper you go, your body will have to deal with pressure which is two or three times greater than what you’re sued to. Sea creatures have flexible and lucid bodies, which help them deal with the water pressure, but our bodies are not designed the same way.
This is about to get a little scientific, but just stay with us: essentially, the compressed air that you breathe in is a combination of nitrogen and oxygen (much like the air you breathe in on land).
The more time you spend underwater, the more compressed nitrogen you take into your body. This is because the water is denser than air and the inhaled nitrogen takes longer to escape through our skin. The more the nitrogen content in your body, the more time it will take to escape your body and decompress.
As you ascend, the water pressure decreases, and the nitrogen finds it easier to escape from your body. However, if it escapes too fast, you become prone to decompression sickness. So how exactly do scuba divers decompress without exerting their bodies too much?
Divers decompress by slowly returning to the surface. As you ascend, the compressed nitrogen slowly releases from your body. If you ascend too fast, these gases will also escape fast and create bubbles. Nitrogen bubbles are likely to lead to decompression sickness.
Decompression sickness is characterized by joint pains, knee cramps and other body pains, but in the worst-case scenario, it can potentially lead to heart trouble. The buildup of nitrogen bubbles in your bloodstream can damage your blood vessels and rupture the flow of blood in your body. This may lead to heart attacks, heart failure and even paralysis.
Therefore it is essential to ascend slowly. Your dive computer can help you regulate your ascent rate to avoid the formation of nitrogen bubbles.
To avoid the problem of decompression sickness, divers make decompression stops during their ascent. These stops are an opportunity for any gas bubbles that have already formed to escape.
Decompression stops are necessary for deep divers. Not making these stops can be detrimental to a diver’s health.
Safety stops usually last around five minutes and are required for anyone diving to a depth of around 15 feet. They are more of a precautionary measure and even if you miss one, it is not likely to be harmful.
For divers going deeper than 15 feet, safety stops are a must. Once you’re done with your dive, as you ascend, you need to make a safety stop after around every five minutes.
Put simply, the Non-Decompression Limit, short NDL, is the depth at which you can dive and ascend from without making decompression stops. This limit varies, based on your diving history and the depth to which you’re going.
If you’ve dived earlier on in the day, your body is likely to have residual nitrogen. If you go for another dive, your tolerance for compressed nitrogen will be lower and decompression sickness is likely to occur in a shorter time period.
Staying underwater beyond the NDL means that a diver needs to make decompression stops while resurfacing to avoid the risk of decompression sickness. In fact, a diver should never exceed the NDL unless they have the appropriate training on how to make decompression stops.
The nitrogen levels in your body determine the NDL for a dive. If you’ve absorbed too much nitrogen during your dive, you cannot ascend without making decompression stops. This is because the more nitrogen there is in your system, the more likely it is to escape in the form of bubbles, which will lead to decompression sickness.
The nitrogen content in a diver’s body is dependent on a few things:
If you consistently use the same dive computer then it will take care of all these factors. It keeps your dive history with all relevant information and will take these into consideration when giving you guidance on safety and decompression stops.
Let’s look at the details of diving without making decompression stops. Pretty much all dives are decompression dives because in all cases, your body will dispel compressed gas as you return to the surface. The question remains, how deep can you dive without making any decompression stops?
Decompression stops are dependent on 2 variables:
This simply means that you can spend more time underwater at shallower depths than if you go deep diving. The compressed air will escape your system before you need to make a decompression stop. This doesn’t change the fact that you still need to return to the surface slowly to avoid any sudden buildup of gas bubbles.
Diving to depths of around 80 feet means you will have less time to spend at that depth because you need to save time and energy for your decompression stops on your way back up.
Here are some estimates of the depth and duration of dives you can make without making decompression stops. Keep in mind that these only consider the first dive of the day and the values will significantly change if you’ve already gone for a dive or two earlier on in the past 24 hours.
Crossing these time limits will mean that you need to make a decompression stop/s as you ascend. You will notice that as the depth increases, the time you can spend underwater significantly decreases.
If you do need to make decompression stops, you will also have to consider factors such as how much air you have left in your tank. This is because you will require air to breathe at your decompression stops as well so you can’t use it all up during your descent.
In order to deep dive, you need to have special certification and training to:
Diving to a depth of 18 meters or below is considered deep diving. The greatest depth you can go to without deep diving certification is around 40 meters.
In order to be a certified deep diver, you need to be older than fifteen years and at least have an Open Water Diver certification. The deep diving certification will equip you with knowledge of how to properly use your diving equipment, regulate your air supply and other information to have a safe dive.
Nitrox diving simply involves using a gas mix which has a greater oxygen content. It can help you increase your dive time, but in order to become a Nitrox diver, you need to have proper certification.
Deep diving can be an incredible experience because it lets you explore the depths of the ocean and all its mysteries. All you need to do is take the right precautionary measures to ensure that you avoid the risk of decompression sickness.