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Scuba Diving Tips Beyond the Basics

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Scuba diving means a lot of different things to people. As divers discover their passions and explore new kinds of diving, they’ll need to learn new tricks and consider different gear in order to have the safest, most fulfilling experience possible.

But while the internet is full of information for scuba diving beginners, most people who want to move beyond that have to learn either on the dive, or by asking around. We wanted to make it a little easier to go from a basic dive to something more adventurous.

We’ll share a few pointers from a few types of advanced and technical diving, and provide resources to learn more in-depth tips about each.

Scuba Diving Tips for Safety

Technical diving requires a little more planning and a little more caution. Here are some diving safety tips to consider as you plan your dives.

Some of these tips may be applicable in more than one situation. If something is applicable for wreck diving, for instance, it’s probably applicable any time you’re in a smaller or darker diving environment.

Have the Proper Training

The most important tip is to take a class from an accredited group before attempting any type of advanced diving such as wreck, cave, or technical diving.  Proper training will allow safer enjoyment of these more extreme types of diving.

Bring a Reel When You Wreck Dive

Wreck diving gives you a unique look at our underwater cultural heritage. But it also presents a host of navigation problems. Even if your sense of direction is phenomenal, a silt-out can ruin visibility.

Take a wreck reel, and use it to trace your path as you move through the shipwreck. This can help you find your way back out, regardless of how far through the water you can see.  Your wreck diving diving course will teach you how to use your wreck reel.  

Have a Backup System When You Cave Dive

Most people already know to show up for a scuba dive prepared for anything. In the case of cave diving, that means tripling your light sources.  Cave divers will generally use a specialty canister light with a long battery life as their primary light. You’ll want two other, more traditional dive lights for backup.  These are usually mounted to a mask strap or your BCD webbing.  Cave safety also means having backups for your air.  You want to bring a system with two on-off valves and two regulator first stages.

For cavern divers, who go no further than 130 feet into a cave, they still need to carry two lights.  The natural light from the cave entrance counts as the third light, and it should always be visible when cavern diving.

Secure and Streamline Your Kit for Drift Diving

Drift diving is a great way to see a lot of scenery with minimal effort and air. And the physical sensation is unique. People describe it as thrilling and Zen, all at the same time. But when you drift dive, be sure to secure all of your gear.

You want to keep a low profile, so that you can glide through the water as smoothly as possible. But you also want to make sure that the current that’s carrying you doesn’t yank a hose out of place.

Bring Gear That You Know Well for Deep Diving

It seems like the ocean only gets stranger and more beautiful the deeper you go. But if you plan on deep diving, make sure that you’re extremely comfortable with your gear.

You want to be familiar with the controls on your BCD. You want to know the layout of your dive computer by heart.

Even something as basic as your mask needs to be completely reliable, because you don’t want to reach the bottom of your dive and learn that your brand-new mask fogs up on you.

Deep dives are the time to bring your most trustworthy standbys. Bringing your own gear is best, but if you can’t, at least make sure the gear you rent is gear you’re familiar with.

Gear Related Diving Tips

Obviously, better gear won’t make you a better diver. But at the same time, better gear makes sense for people who have been diving for a while. You know that you’re invested in scuba, emotionally and financially. And you know what you like and what you don’t when you’re underwater. Maybe you’ve tried things out by renting different types of gear, and now you’re ready to settle in for gear of your own to take on more advanced dives.

As you advance in your abilities and scuba experiences, you want gear that can keep up with you. Here are some suggestions for equipment to consider for more advanced dives.

Galileo HUD Hands-Free Dive Computer

The Galileo HUD is a revolutionary dive computer that affixes to your dive mask and projects information about your dive right in your field of vision. When you don’t want to use it, you can flip it up and out of sight. But when you do want to use it, you can do so without taking your eyes off of your surroundings.

Of course, there are plenty of other options out there, if you’re considering a dive computer.

Technical BCDs

If you want to venture into technical diving, you may need to take a specialized buoyancy control device along. Technical BCDs include backplate or sidemount systems that are designed to streamline your profile and to carry the multiple tanks needed for these special dives.  The maneuverability and flexibility that a technical BCD affords can make a huge difference for cave dives, wreck dives, and more.

Cold-Water Regulators

Not all regulators are equal. If you’re planning a scuba dive in icy waters, it’s important to take a regulator that’s insulated enough to handle the elements. The combination of the MK25 EVO and A700 Carbon BT is a great first stage/second stage pairing that gives you fantastic heat exchange, powerful insulation, and the light-but-durable Diamond-Like Carbon protection on the A700.

Even More Scuba Diving Tips

There’s more to scuba diving than just safety or gearing up, of course. Sometimes good dive technique means incorporating new knowledge. Sometimes it just means returning to basics with fresh context for when a certain technique might be useful.

Know When to Use Each Kick

You learn a few kicks in open water certification, but most divers eventually settle in on a kick that works for them (usually a modified flutter kick) and stop thinking about it.

But cave divers need a good handle on the frog kick and the short frog. These kicks are subtle, and avoid kicking up silt by aiming propulsion behind the diver, instead of down towards the floor.

Likewise, having the back kick and the helicopter turn under your belt is important for maneuvering in tight spaces without disrupting the water too much. While these kicks are technically “basics,” they’re basics that are often forgotten in that space between beginning scuba diving and exploring more technical scuba diving. They’re worth revisiting and re-incorporating into your dives.

Don’t Forget About Specialty Diving Courses

If you want to do it, odds are there’s a specialty diving course for it.  From full-on certifications to niche specialties, your diving shop has classes on everything from diving at altitude to underwater videography.

Some of these classes are required for people wanting to do certain types of dives, like wreck diving and cave diving. Others can simply help you brush up on skill sets that you may feel weak on.

All of them have something of value to offer scuba divers who want to improve themselves.

Scope out Night Diving Sights During the Day

Night diving is exciting, because the underwater world turns into a whole new place at night. Nocturnal creatures come out of hiding and bring a whole new kind of life to the water.

But that doesn’t mean that a night dive should be a “whole new place” for you, for real. The day of your night dives, go out and dive the location in the daylight. Get the lay of the land, so that you aren’t dealing with low light and unknown territory at the same time.

Never Stop Learning!

Part of the beauty of scuba diving is that there’s always something else to learn, and something else to see. The next new adventure is just around the corner, and odds are it’s something you’ve never tried before.

Our scuba training articles can help you prepare—and they just might give you an idea of what to try next.

story and photo credit: scubapro.com

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Kris

Scuba Instructor at Midwest Scuba since 2005. I love what I do. Everyday I just do "Scuba Stuff;" It's a dream come true.

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