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Featured Author // November 29, 2016

6 Things You Don’t Know About Dry Suit Diving

 by Brooke Morton


Rich Morin knows a lot about dry suits. Not only does he perform search-and-recovery operations under the ice for local police teams, he also teaches loads of Ice Diver certification courses through his PADI Five Star Dive Center, Rich Morin’s Pro Scuba Center in New York.

According to Morin, dry suits are a necessity for divers in his area who want to get as much time in the water as possible. “Because, we have nine months of winter and three months of bad sledding,” he says.

If you’re not already Dry Suit certified, here’s what you need to know to get started:

6. “The skills are nothing you can’t do,” says Morin.

One of the skills students must complete is to remove and replace the scuba unit and weight system.

“It’s something we’ve all done a million times, only now it’s a bit more challenging because of the bulk—and because you’ll need to disconnect and reconnect the inflator hose to the dry suit, which attaches on the bicep of the left arm, typically.

Dry Suit Specialty

 5. Yes, you will be upside-down in the suit at times, but that is part of the training.

Just as you did when you first got certified, you’ll learn to maneuver in a way that works with the equipment you’re wearing.

When you find your feet pointed skyward, you have a couple options. If you’re closer to the surface, ball up. Teaches Morin, “Tuck into a ball, then do a sit-up to be upright and vertical.” If there’s enough depth below you, kick down. “Swim down and then get horizontal—you’ll end up either on your belly or back, and if you’re on your back, just roll over,” says Morin.

4. Alpaca socks keep your feet the warmest.

“We’ve tried it all, and found that alpaca wool socks underneath the booties the manufacturer supplies do extremely well at keeping feet toasty warm.”

In addition to the socks, you’ll typically be wearing polypropylene t-shirt and pants. Then a fleece layer— shirt and pants. Then the undergarment/s supplied by the dry suit manufacturer.


3. Everything happens in slower motion when it comes to buoyancy in a dry suit.

Air doesn’t escape the suit as quickly as it does a BC. A BC has no resistance thanks to the urethane coating. But, when you’re bundled up in layers of clothing under the dry suit, says Morin, “It takes time for the air to travel through the undergarments.” And so, he reminds divers to “really take your time adding and subtracting air—do it in small amounts but frequently.”

2. You have to move periodically to stay warm.

Your body heat will warm the air in the suit, but you’ll need to help it circulate. “If you’re always in a face-down position while diving, your back stays toasty but your belly gets cold, so every once in a while you have to roll to move that air around,” says Morin.

Dry Suit

1. It’s easier than you think.

“Unfortunately, a lot of dry suit divers like to dwell on the complexity of the dry suit,” says Morin. But there’s really no merit to this initiation-like speech. The whole course is typically taught in one day, with one confined-water session and two open-water dives. But that length of time should speak to how easily the skills are for most divers. Says Morin, “In fact, the number one thing that surprises people about dry suit diving is how easy it is.”

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Source: http://www2.padi.com/blog/2016/11/01/6-things-you-dont-know-about-dry-suit-diving/ 

Featured Author // October 2, 2016

Calorie Counting Tips for Divers

Counting calories is one of the ways we measure our fuel intake vs. our energy expenditure. Why does it matter for divers?

We eat to stay alive, fuel our daily activities, and to heal the body. Our body is designed to enjoy the taste of food. So why do we count calories? Counting calories is one of several ways to measure how much fuel in the form of food and drink we consume and how much energy we expend through the body’s metabolic processes, daily activities and exercise. Most of us either consciously or unconsciously count the calories we consume; here are a few of our best calorie counting tips for divers.


Calorie counting tips for divers

The easiest way to count calories is to use a “food counts” book. Food counts books, similar to food labels, tell us how many calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, sodium and other nutrients are in a particular food. Some apps can provide a similar service online.

Fat has nine calories per gram while protein and carbohydrates have only four calories per gram. So based on calories alone, it seems that a diver who wants to lose body weight should avoid fat in the diet. But calories alone are not as important as the type of food. There are “good” fats like those found in avocados, for example. Some divers are already at an ideal body weight and eat to fuel exercise and sports. Long-distance runners actually rely on dietary fat for fuel to complete events that can last for hours. Divers, however, need very little fat as fuel for diving.

Limit your fats

Diving is a moderate activity, and with dives lasting less than an hour and surface-interval snacking, fat consumption of any kind is best kept to 15 percent or less of daily calories. Other macronutrient recommendations for diving are 55 percent of calories from carbohydrates and 35 percent from protein. This macronutrient combination is based on the muscle energetics of activities like sitting, walking and standing under the load of dive gear, moving around on the surface of the water and fin-kick swimming at depth. Fresh whole foods and natural lean proteins offer lots of efficient, healthy fuel. Divers can eat chicken, fish, beef, turkey, tofu and even lean pork up to four times a day.  Divers can also eat unlimited quantities of vegetables and several portions of fruit each day, giving them many choices to satisfy hunger and maintain a better body composition.

Practice mindful eating

Sometimes eating is for pleasure and food is almost always a part of celebrations. Other times, eating is mindless or because of stress and anxiety. Focus on your hunger, not boredom, to practice mindful eating. Eating small, frequent meals helps divers avoid cravings, overeating and binging, especially while watching television or at the movies. Remember, beverages often have more calories than foods. Soda, fancy coffees, and sports drinks are usually loaded with sugar, fats and stimulants. Eating protein first gives carbohydrates a place to land, helps regulate blood-sugar levels and makes the meal more satisfying.

How many calories do you need?

How many calories should a diver eat each day? A very general rule is to add a zero to your body weight. A diver weighing 185 pounds and planning to lose body fat might begin with a guideline of 1,850 calories as a baseline. Dives can decrease calories based on individual metabolic rate and increase calories to accommodate daily activities and exercise. Once you’ve determined your total daily caloric needs, structure your meal planning and portions by using calorie-counting tools or a food scale. Weighing food will help you visualize portion size and can make programmed eating easier.

Calorie counting and measuring don’t work for everyone, however. Healthy eating on the fly is best for some divers who don’t have time for measuring. Focusing too much on food can also represent a stumbling block. Avoiding bad fats and sugars is imperative to eating on the fly. Six small meals that include protein, fruits and vegetables spread out throughout the day will help maintain physical energy and mental acuity. New habits become part of a healthy lifestyle once a diver understands how important it is to eat foods with the highest nutritional value and the least calories. Visualizing portion sizes, paying attention to natural hunger, and eating smaller, more frequent meals are all part of a healthy lifestyle as well.


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Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/calorie-counting-tips-divers/

By Gretchen M. Ashton

Featured Author // August 29, 2016

Keeping Your Dive Skills Fresh


Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/06/11/keeping-dive-skills-fresh/

Being able to confidently undertake any skill makes you a good buddy and a safe diver, and the only way to ensure competence is through regular practice.

Keeping your dive skills fresh doesn’t mean you need a refresher course or that you must devote an entire dive to skills, rather, you can practice one or two skills at the beginning or end of any dive. But if, like many divers, you only dive once a year on vacation, you should enroll in a refresher course before diving. An afternoon re-familiarizing yourself with buoyancy control and fundamental skills under the guidance of a divemaster or instructor will help dust off those cobwebs and allow you to enjoy your dives with confidence.

If, on the other hand, you dive regularly, then you most likely don’t need reminding about how to control your buoyancy. But what about other diving skills? When was the last time you practiced them? If you’ve never needed a refresher, then chances are good that you last devoted time to skills practice during your Open Water course. But if that was a number of years ago, do feel confident that you would be able to calmly and effectively help a buddy in need of assistance, or commit a successful self-rescue? Can you honestly even remember what that might entail?

What You Should Know

Emergency skills include sharing air and ending your dive with a low-on-air/out-of-air buddy; dealing with an inflating BCD to prevent an uncontrolled ascent; ascending safely to the surface with a free-flowing regulator; and, if you are unable to keep air in your BCD, achieving positive buoyancy by ditching your weights. You’ll likely have to clear water from your mask during many dives, so setting aside time for practice shouldn’t be necessary, but you might want to practice mask removal and putting it back on underwater.

There’s a lot to be said for practicing skills on dry land first, but you should ultimately practice in shallow water. If you’re not sure of the process, ask a divemaster or active instructor from your training agency.

If you are being led by a divemaster on vacation, it’s always worth telling them that you want to brush up on your skills. They will have other divers to look out for during the dive, but most will be willing to help you practice a skill at the end of a dive.

Suggestions for each skill include:

Regulator recovery

Have your left hand on your alternate before taking your primary out of your mouth, and try to practice while remaining horizontal. Remember to blow bubbles any time the regulator is not in your mouth.

Out of air

Practice this situation with your buddy at the end of the dive after completing the safety stop. Ensure that you have fully briefed the skill with your buddy, as different agencies teach slightly different ways of doing the skill.

Free-flowing regulator

It’s best to practice this at the end of your dive after the safety stop as well, with your buddy looking out for you as you slowly ascend to the surface. On the next dive you’ll do the same for them.

Inflating LPI (low-pressure inflator)

Just practice the key steps — raise the LPI high, with your finger ready on the deflate button, and disconnect the hose with your right hand. After the safety stop is a good time for this one, too. Reconnect the LPI before ending your dive.

Ditching weights

You can practice this on the surface as long as you’re sure there are no divers below you. Let some air out of your BCD until you can remain vertical and at eye level with the surface. Feel for the weight belt in the way you were trained, then remove it and hold it out to the side away from your body. Don’t let go of it before putting it back on. If you’ve got a weight-integrated BCD, practice pulling the pouches out of the pockets. Ensure that your buddy is watching out for boat traffic.

Oral inflation

Before the dive, you can let all of the air out of your BCD and kick while blowing air back into it until you achieve positive buoyancy. Make this a regular habit.

Other emergency skills include the controlled emergency swimming ascent and controlled emergency buoyant ascent. I would recommend that you only practice these skills with an instructor or divemaster in a controlled environment, such as a swimming pool.

Any other skills I’ve forgotten about? How about awareness? Good awareness will often reduce the need to use any of the skills mentioned above, as you’ll already be on the lookout for problems throughout the dive, and will be able to deal with them before they become a bigger issue.

Finally, don’t just practice these skills robotically. Understand not only how to do them, but also why you might need them, as well as when you might need them. Reducing the likelihood that something will go wrong is as important as being able to effectively deal with a situation if it does. Keeping these skills fresh will allow you to not only enjoy your dives more, but also to know that you’re better prepared should something go wrong.


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