3 Techniques to help Master Buoyancy Control

By | Blog

As a PADI Diving Instructor one of the most pleasurable parts of teaching is to see actual results in the water. Buoyancy control is one the most challenging skills to master. It’s all about fine tuning each student and spending time with them to allow an understanding of the skill before training in the water. Buoyancy really is the freedom to swim weightless underwater, but achieving this for a lot of beginner divers can be challenging.  All it takes is to understand these 3 techniques, remember them on your next dive and put them into practice.

Scuba Diving has many different aspects, divers get under the water for a multitude of reasons. Maybe to look for the detail in a reef, searching out small critters like cleaner shrimp which require an “up close and personal” relationship with the reef. Diving on a wreck, ensuring not to kick up silt and manoeuvre through delicate passage ways ensuring a “no touch” style or as an underwater photographer who requires to be stable and adapt a “motionless” style. Everything we do in the water whilst scuba diving needs good buoyancy, and lets not forget it’s makes us look like we know what we’re doing and of course look good at the same time! So what’s the secret? Truly my belief is there isn’t one, it’s a just a case of understanding these 3 elements and using them.

  1. TRIM & WEIGHT CHECK
  • Weight check. Ensuring we have the right amount of weight needed to dive is something taught on the PADI Open Water Diver course and is a basic skill and understanding. It unfortunately seems to be one of the first things divers forget to do from then on. Unless (of course) diving in the same location, with the same equipment and same conditions every time we dive, a check must be carried out. Remember: do a weight check at the surface by floating upright with your regulator in and with full lungs, you should be at the water’s surface at eye level, exhale fully and slowly sink. Add or remove weight and repeat until you get it right. Keep in mind this ideally should be done with reserve air in the cylinder (50 bar) to ensure you’re not too light on your safety stop.
  • Correct weight distribution. Think about what position you want to be in. A coral wall dive suits a vertical position where a muck dive to search out critters requires a horizontal position. By moving your weights from to the back of your body assists in achieving a vertical position, by moving weights to the front of your body aids a horizontal one making your trim more refined. Trim pouches allow for more adaption than a weight belt and lead shot bags allow for a more fine tuned distribution of weight.

2. BREATH CONTROL

  • The end goal is to fine tune your buoyancy by using your lungs as your main buoyancy device. Once you have achieved the feeling of general “neutral buoyancy” by adding air to your buoyancy control device (BCD) via your low inflator we need to understand “diaphragm breathing”. Utilising your full lung capacity from empty to full to fine tune the rise and fall in the water, with the final result of each breath in and out cancelling each other – so we stay truly neutral. Once you feel neutrally buoyant at depth, leave your BCD’s inflator hose alone. Now make minor buoyancy changes with slow, deliberate breathing. Take a long, deep breath to rise slightly as you swim over a coral head, and exhale slowly and completely to sink if you were to kneel on a sandy bottom.

       3. DEPTH

  • There are multiple things to take into consideration regarding depth. Whatever the surface buoyancy of your wetsuit, it will change with depth – pressure reduces those thousands of gas bubbles making your wetsuit thinner and therefore displacing less water. Remember you lose half of your surface buoyancy in the first 10 metres (33 feet) of your descent and a third in the next 10 metres. Below 20 metres (66 feet), there’s only one-sixth of the original buoyancy left to lose no matter how deep you go. The same goes for your Buoyancy Control Device (BCD), basically the single large bubble in your BCD behaves the same way.  That’s why it’s often hard to get submerged, but once you’re down a few metres, you feel you are getting heavier and sinking more easily. When you ascend, you get back the buoyancy of your wetsuit and your BCD instantly. So you have to be alert to buoyancy changes whenever you change depth, and especially when you ascend. Most runaway ascents happen when divers forget to vent air from their BCD as they ascend. Air expands as you go up therefore making you more buoyant, so always start your ascent by venting air from your BCD.

To conclude, take on board the 3 tips above and put them together every time you dive. Remember – be patient and reap the rewards of having amazing buoyancy ensuring a safe and enjoyable dive.

7 Reasons To Get Your PADI Certification in Phuket

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Get your PADI Certification in Phuket – Diving Paradise

Phuket in Thailand, the “Land of Smiles,” offers miles of tropical beaches, stunning island scenery, exhilarating cultural attractions and excellent scuba diving. Surrounded by the Andaman Sea, Phuket is a fantastic location to immerse yourself in the underwater world and is one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse places to dive on Earth. Diving opportunities include colourful reefs, deep drop-offs, wrecks, walls, boulders and pinnacles. This world famous dive destination gives access to a range of different sites to suit divers of all levels and a perfect reason to get your worldwide recognised PADI certification in Phuket!

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1. Huge Diversity of Marine Life

Beautiful Colourful Marine LifeStunning aquatic flora and fauna is present all year round in Phuket. Typical Indo-Pacific reef fish are bountiful and sharks, turtles and seahorses thrive in colourful coral gardens just metres below the surface. There’s a good chance you will see moray eels, giant pufferfish, triggerfish and Moorish idols, as well as manta rays, leopard sharks and possibly whale sharks. Not only is this beautiful location a great place to experience such fascinating creatures, but also a great way to learn about the plight of endangered marine species and what you can do to help.

2. Wide Choice of Top-Quality Dive Sites

Some of the top Andaman Sea dive sites are within easy reach on our Phuket diving day trips and include:
Racha Noi & Racha Yai – Located south of Phuket, these islands boast great visibility and a range of stunning dive sites. Expect to see moray eels, crocodile fish, sting rays, chevron barracuda and large schools of snappers and batfish, as well as the odd manta ray and whale shark. These are great sites to learn to dive on your PADI Open Water Diver course.
Koh Dok Mai – This is a superb wall and drift dive, with hidden caves and crevices lurking in its limestone rock face. Glide by gardens of yellow tube corals and look for moray eels hiding in the rock cracks. This site is home to seahorses, pipefish, nudibranchs and bamboo sharks.
Koh Bida Nok – This breathtaking site near Phi Phi Island offers a rich diversity of marine life and is alive with snappers, tuna, trevallies and jacks. Sea snakes, turtles, moray eels, wrasses and blacktip reef sharks keep the action coming, while the soft corals, parrotfish, and angelfish provide a stunning colourful backdrop.

Others can be reached on a 2-5 day Liveaboard trip:


Richelieu Rock – About 200 km north of Phuket, this horseshoe-shaped rock in the Andaman Sea is probably Thailand’s most famous dive site. Dive here from a Similans liveaboard and look for the majestic whale shark, along with big schools of barracuda and jacks, and clouds of tropical fish. You’ll also find seahorses, anemonefish, frogfish, scorpionfish and cuttlefish. For underwater photographers, the hardest thing about diving this site is deciding whether to go wide angle or macro.

 

Hin Daeng – This site and nearby Hin Muang are some of the best dive sites in Thailand. They offer steep walls, masses of fish and healthy soft coral gardens which give the pinnacles their names – Red Rock and Purple Rock. Whalesharks and manta rays can be seen here on a regular basis. Dive here on a 2 day liveaboard trip or charter our super-fast Diamond Speedboat for a day trip.

3. Exciting Opportunities to Learn a PADI Specialty

Phuket offers several exciting wrecks including King Cruiser near Shark Point, and the Harruby at Racha Yai. These wrecks are deep so you’ll need to be PADI Advanced Open Water certified at the minimum or you could take your PADI Wreck Dive speciality. To make the most of your time exploring these wrecks, consider undertaking PADI’s Deep Diver and/or Enriched Air Diver specialities.

Phuket’s underwater beauty is something you’ll want to share with everyone. Turtles, barracudas, leopard sharks and angelfish – it’s hard to remember each marine species you see on a dive! To relive your diving adventures and to be able to show your encounters to family and friends, take PADI’s Underwater Digital Imaging course to learn how to take excellent photos effortlessly. Phuket is also an excellent location to become a PADI Pro by taking the PADI Divemaster course. You can even study your chosen course before you get here by signing up for PADI’s eLearning.

4. Excellent Conditions

Sail away for your scuba diving day tripWhat better place to learn to dive or further your training than in the Andaman Seas warm, clear waters.
Water Temperature – A pleasant 28-30° C year-round.
Visibility – Generally good and averages around 30 metres
Weather – Its tropical location ensures that Phuket has a hot and humid climate.

It is warm and wet during the May to September monsoon, then mostly dry from November to April. Air temperatures range from 30–35°C. The diving is typically good all year, but at its peak from November through April in the Andaman Sea.

5.  No better place to meet new people!

As Phuket attracts people from all over the world each year, it’s the perfect place to learn to dive whether you are a solo traveller, couple, with friends or with family.  With the friendliness of the locals to the holiday-makers, you can guarantee you will leave this beautiful place with wonderful memories and new friends after your Scuba Diving day trip or PADI certification in Phuket!

6.  Flexibility around your holiday

We want to make your learning as easy and comfortable as we can for you so we can tailor-make our courses to fit in with your holiday – if you’re looking at completing your first PADI certification in Phuket then you could look to complete the theory ahead of your holiday with our PADI eLearning package allowing you to study before you start your holiday!

7. Easy To Reach Location

Finally, Phuket’s central South-East Asia location provides divers with easily-accessible dive destinations. Its International airport means there are direct flights from Australia, Europe and many major cities around the world with new direct flights being forecast from a number of popular major cities.

So if you’re thinking of taking your PADI course in Phuket then don’t hesitate to contact us. We provide private tuition at no extra cost so you can learn at your own pace, and enjoy great diving too!

What’s stopping you? 🙂

 

Whaleshark at Richalieu

Phuket weather and the best time to come..

By | Blog

When Is The Best Time To Visit Phuket?

When planning a trip to Thailand one of the first things you are going to want to know is what the weather will be like and when is the best time to visit Phuket.

Phuket has a tropical climate which means it has warm temperatures along with plenty of sunshine, and we dive all year round.
However there are 2 distinct weather patterns. From early November until late April the northeast monsoon prevails bringing a light easterly breeze to Southern Thailand. The sea is flat calm and there are blue skies and plenty of sunshine. Phuket gets an average 26 sunny days a month at this time of year! This period is known as tourist high season.

From May to the end of October the southwest monsoon prevails which brings more rain and frequent winds to Phuket. Mostly the showers are light with long periods of sunshine too although there can be days of solid rain – this is generally more likely in September. This period is known as the low season in Phuket but the island still averages 20 sunny days per month in this season.

High Season

The months of November through to April provide great dive site conditions, with calm seas and excellent visibility. The busiest months are December and January, which are known as peak season. You can expect to pay more for your accommodation and the dive boats are often full. If you’re coming at this time of year its a good idea to book your Phuket diving day trip or liveaboard cruise well in advance. February to April is a fantastic time to visit Phuket as there are fewer tourists and sea and dive site conditions are perfect.

In high season we highly recommend for certified divers the Phi Phi Island dive sites and Shark Point, Anemone Reef, King Cruiser wreck and Koh Doc Mai as they are all teeming with fish life and you have the chance to dive with turtles and the beautiful, docile leopard shark.

High season weather is also perfect for the Thailand liveaboards which run to the Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, Richalieu Rock, Hin Daeng and Burma from mid-October until mid-May. This is the best time of year to see whale sharks – last year was an excellent season with whale shark encounters on almost every liveaboard trip and sightings off Phi Phi Islands and Shark Point. This season promises to be just as good with several encounters already in these areas. Manta rays are also frequent visitors to the Similan Islands – particularly at Koh Bon and Koh Tachai. March to May is a good time to spot them at Racha Noi off Phuket when there is a higher concentration of plankton.

Video Credit: Matthew Clifford @ Richalieu Rock

Low Season

Also known as Green Season, from May to October sea conditions are more variable and there is a greater chance of rain. Visibility can be reduced at all the Phuket dive sites except Racha Noi and Yai. The seas can be choppy and the boat ride from Phuket to the dive sites can be bumpy but this is usually not a problem for more experienced divers. Now and then we get the odd storm when it is not safe to take the dive boat out but this only occurs a handful of times during this 6 month period. If you’re planning to visit at this time of year then the chances are you will still get to go diving and we can advise you on predicted weather conditions.

In low season we tend to dive the sites on the east coast of the islands which are protected from the west-prevailing wind. This is the best time of year to dive Racha Noi and Racha Yai as these islands have excellent visibility of up to 30 metres and are located in beautiful sheltered bays. These are great sites for both complete beginners and experienced divers alike with the chance to dive with barracudas, batfish and ornate ghostpipefish.

Strong surge means beach diving is not possible at this time of year but the waves on the west coast beaches make it a great time for surfing and kite-boarding and more and more people are attracted to Phuket for these activities.

Air Temperature

The temperature rarely drops below 26°C and the coolest month is January with an average temperature of 28°C. The hottest weather in Phuket occurs between April and May when the temperatures average in the early 30°C’s with the odd rainfall providing a drop in temperature.

Water Temperature

Generally the water temperature ranges throughout the year from 28 to 30°C. In March and April thermoclines can sweep in dropping the temperature down a few degrees but this also brings in the bigger creatures. In 2010 the water went up to 31°C which resulted in the bleaching of some corals but the Phuket dive sites are now recovering from that.

Visibility

This varies during the year but can often exceed 30m in high season. The presence of plankton in the water can reduce visibility but also attracts larger marine life such as mantas and whale sharks. In low season good visibility at Racha Noi and Yai is almost guaranteed.

So whatever time of year you visit Phuket in the ‘Land of Smiles’ you can expect warm temperatures along with warm hospitality too!

For additional information or to book a dive trip contact us HERE