4 Basic Scuba Diving Skills for Beginners (Part 1)

June 17, 2022

Having dreams of the underwater world? You are not alone. So many people are curious about mermaid life and the colorful coral reefs that abound in our oceans. Human bodies, however, aren’t aquatic animals that live underwater and last long to see life under the deep blue sea. Thank goodness to the genius brains of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan who invented and designed the first ever commercial open-circuit scuba known as the Aqua-Lung. It was in 1942 and since then, so many enthusiasts and experts have taken up the sport with the desire to catch a glimpse of life underwater. There are of course many levels of learning an aspiring scuba diver has to go through before they can safely dive underwater without an instructor. You are defying what your body does so yes, it’s an extreme sport that must be exercised with caution. So if you want to become a qualified scuba diver, the first thing you should do is to sign up for an entry-level certification course. Then afterward, you have to master the basics that will help keep you safe while navigating the underwater world. For instance, the PADI Open water diver course will tackle 40 skills, broken down into the gritty details from entering the water with the correct form and movement to removing your equipment after the dive. We’re not here to discuss all of those 40 skills because it might take us forever but will give you the rundown of the essential beginner scuba skills that you should know and master.
Assembling Your Dive Gear
Check when was the last time that your dive tank or cylinder was tested. This will make sure that the O-ring of your valve is still seating properly. The valve must face the back of the jacket so you need to slip the buoyancy control device (BSC) strap on top of your cylinder, making sure that four fingers can fit in between the cylinder’s neck and the BCD strap’s top. Afterward, secure your BCD. Then you must unscrew the dust cap of your regulator. You have to put and orient the first stage over your cylinder valve that will put the second stage on your right side. The first stage will be screwed into place before attaching the inflator hose to the BCD. The glass must face away from you so don’t forget to turn the air gauge before you turn the air on. Then, slowly turn the valve until it fully opens.
Communicating Underwater
You won’t be able to talk when you’re underwater so this means you need to communicate with your fellow divers using hand signals. There is a universal language underwater that divers use and you must know by heart. These are the following: OK - Your first finger and thumb must make a circle. Another way is using your one arm to touch the top of your head, which can either be asking if the other diver is okay or yourself saying that you are okay. Descend - Put your thumb down if you are going down the water. Ascend - Put your thumb up if you are going up the water. Stop - Put one of your hands in front of you, with the palm facing outwards. Something’s wrong - With your palm facing downwards, your hand must be in front of you, tilting it from one side to another. Afterward, you’ll point to what your problem is. Look- Point at your eyes with your index and middle fingers. Afterward, point at where you want the other diver to look. "How much air do you still have?": Put your index and middle fingers on the palm of your opposite hand. “I don’t have air anymore”: With a flat hand, make a slash motion across your neck.
Controlling Buoyancy
There are three types of buoyancy: positive, negative, and neutral buoyancy. These three are controlled by different factors that include your breathing, the how heavy the additional weight you are wearing, and how much air is in your BCD. You can add air to the BCD by pressing the inflate button quickly and sharply. You will be slowly adding air when you are already submerged underwater. This controls your buoyancy. You shouldn’t be adding air too fast because it might cause you to ascend out of control. For instance, if there is no more air in the cylinder, you could still inflate the buoyancy. You just have to hold down the inflate button and breathe into your attached mouthpiece. If you want to release air, there’s a deflate button that you can press while you’re upright in the water. Note as well that BCDs come with one or two emergency dump valves which can help you release air regardless of your position underwater.
Recovering and Clearing Your Regulator
There will be instances when your regulator will be knocked out of your mouth. When this happens, do not panic. You can recover your regulator by first putting yourself in an upright position. Lean to the right side and then extend down your arm until it reaches your knee and behind it to reach the cylinder before you sweep your hand forwards again. By doing this, you will have caught your regulator hose which will help you to replace the second stage in your mouth. Never hold your breath, rather blow small bubbles while doing this process. The regulator will be full of water which you would need to clear. Exhale hard to remove the water out of the second stage. You can also clear the accumulated water by pressing the purge button which is located in the middle of your regulator. Your tongue must serve as the splash guard so that water will not be pushed into your mouth. There are four more essential skills that you should learn, and we’ll be discussing them in our next article. Remember to also store your gear properly by using a storage chest or plastic containers. You can set this aside in your garage and make sure there is space for it by using smart storage solutions. Install overhead storage racks or wall shelves so that you are able to maximize the storage capacity of your garage.