The mercury is slowly inching its way into warmer temperatures, and your scuba gear’s all ready. But how are those dive skills? Still fresh after the off-season?
In a previous article, we covered how to prepare your gear for the coming of the spring, and with it, the dive season. But the dive equipment is only part of diving.
The main part is what is using that gear: the diver.
And just as gear can gather dust over the winter months, so can the all-important dive skills.
If you dive with a dive center, and if it has been a while since your last dive, they’ll ask you to do a checkup dive. But if you’re diving on your own, no one is going to require this of you. However, you can do your own.
Here’s what I focus on when I take a new client, who hasn’t been in the water for a while.
Dive Equipment Assembly
Putting the gear together before a dive is a key skill, and if you’re new to diving, it may not be second nature.
But even if you’re experienced, take your time assembling it for the first dive of the season, and make sure you get all the details right.
One of the skills that deteriorate the quickest is buoyancy control. Those intricate little maneuvers and adjustments that make up good buoyancy may be second nature at the end of the season, but coming back after a long break. I’ve always found that they’re not as sharp as they could be.
So take your time on this, and be very conscious of any adjustments you make. You might want to consider starting your dive out with a few basic buoyancy exercises, such as a fin pivot and a stationary hover.
We’ve already covered this in a previous article as well, read the whole finning techniques article.
For the first dive or two, check your finning and look back every now and again to see how much, if any, sediment you’re kicking up as you swim close to the bottom.
Basic scuba skills
It is also worthwhile to practice a few of the basic drills from your entry-level dive course. Mask clearing, mask replacement, and ascending at the correct speed are all skills every diver should have down to a “T”, and worth practicing from time to time. Breathing is also important in diving, make sure your breaths are slow, deep, and deliberate, as they always should be.
After a winter of staying on dry land, sometimes some of that ease we build in the water as we do a number of dives during the summer goes away. So as you’re diving, take note of your general tension level, and work on releasing any tension you may be feeling.
By taking a dive or two at a well-known site that is well within your comfort level. You’ll get time to focus on the basics of scuba diving and it’ll be a great way to start the season off right.
After all, if the basics are out of whack, everything else suffers, too.
Are you ready to start the dive season?
Did you already do your check dive? What skills did you practice? Was there any specific skill you had difficulties mastering again?
Tell us how your dive-season-start-up-dive when, in a comment below.