Scuba diving is a thrilling and rewarding activity that allows you to explore the underwater world – roughly 71% of the earth’s surface is water-covered and scuba diving provides a unique experience that can take you to depths and locations you wouldn’t be able to access otherwise.
But how does scuba diving work? This blog will guide you through the equipment needed and the main parts of a successful dive.
Scuba Diving Equipment
To fully enjoy a scuba diving experience, you need the right equipment. This includes a wetsuit, fins, mask, snorkel, tank, regulator, buoyancy control device, and more.
The most important piece of equipment for breathing underwater is called a regulator. It is a device that regulates the flow of air from your high-pressure scuba tank to your respiratory system, helping you breathe efficiently and safely. Since our bodies aren’t able to extract oxygen from water, your regulator is your lifeline! When choosing a regulator, it is important to make sure it provides for ease of breathing regardless of depth or conditions underwater. Ideally, it will make breathing underwater just as easy as it is above.
Buoyancy Compensating Device
A buoyancy compensating device (BCD) is a device that is used to allow you to float on the surface before you begin a dive, that helps you to control your position in the water column below the surface such that you feel weightless and can swim through the water fairly effortlessly with the propulsion generated by your fins. There are various styles of BCDs: jacket-style, back inflate jackets and backplate/wing setups. We at Paragon Dive Group are strong advocates for backplate/wing setups and use them for teaching. Contact us to find out why.
Fins are used to provide propulsion through the water. Water is extremely dense and our feet are not enough to provide propulsion. Fins come in several shapes, sizes, and stiffness with some styles being better than others depending on the conditions in which you are diving.
A mask is an essential part of any scuba diving kit. It helps you see clearly underwater and also prevents water from entering your eyes. While masks come in various shapes, styles, frame colors, the most important aspect is whether it fits your face correctly. This is a must to minimize the possibility of water leaking into your mask while on a dive. Prescription lens masks are available for anyone who requires a prescription and doesn’t wear contact lenses.
Wetsuits are typically made of neoprene…a rubbery like substance that allows tiny pockets of air to trap warmer water against your body and thus reduce heat loss while diving. They come in various styles and thickness allowing most divers to dive in water temperatures as low as 55 degrees. Fitting a wetsuit is important as one that is too snug will restrict motion and one that is too loose will allow too much water to enter and won’t provide sufficient warmth.
A properly-maintained scuba tank is one of the keys to a safe dive. This gas cylinder is used to store and allow access to breathing gas to a scuba diver via the regulator. These cylinders are made of aluminum or steel and allow for large volumes of compressed breathing gas. While regulations vary from country to country, most require hydrostatic testing every 5 years and visual inspections annually.
Because our bodies are naturally buoyant, divers require some additional weight (usually pieces of lead or bean bags with pellets) to be attached to their BCD or with a weight belt. This will help a scuba diver to descend and, with the BCD (Buoyancy Compensating Device), maintain neutral buoyancy throughout the dive.
Submersible Pressure Gauge
The Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG) is a simple, but essential, piece of equipment as it provides constant feedback to the diver as to how much air is left in their tank. This enables a diver to make safe decisions about when to complete their dive, ensuring that they do so before running out of air!
Dive computers have become an essential piece of equipment to minimize risk and to maximize dive times in the water. These computers can give ac
Scuba Diving in Four Main Parts
You can break down the scuba diving process into four main parts: equipment check, diving, exploring, and returning above water.
The first step for a dive is to plan the dive. This takes into account all objectives of the dive, the route to be taken on the surface and underwater, when to end the dive and any other aspects required to make sure everyone in the dive group returns safely to the boat.
2. Buddy Check
Before each dive, a diver and their buddy should check each other’s equipment to be sure that all of the diver’s gear is in place and ready to for the dive: that the valve on the tank is turned on, allowing the diver to access the air through the regulator, that the BCD is attached and can be inflated and deflated, that the diver has sufficient weight, that the diver’s computer is on and ready and that the SPG is showing that the tank is full.
Once their equipment is ready, the diver will enter the water, descend with the dive buddy and/or dive group and begin to execute the dive plan with the #1 of objective of every dive being a safe return to the starting point (boat, shore, etc) of their dive. During the dive, divers will explore the underwater world, observe fish, octopus, crabs, lobster, eels and more as well as stunning seascapes….an amazing work only accessible by those who are trained in scuba and brave the world below the surface.
4. Return to Surface
When the diver is ready to return to the surface, they will begin their ascent. A three-minute safety stop is typically executed about 15’ below the surface to allow the diver to off-gas the extra nitrogen gas in their system. Returning to the surface is done in a controlled, slow ascent in order to minimize risk and maximize safety. Buoyance control – which is taught in the Open Water Scuba Diver Course – is essential.
Custom-Tailored Dive Training and Equipment in Arizona
Whether you want access to high-quality dive gear or open-water training, Paragon Dive Group is your hub for everything scuba diving. We offer a full line of rental equipment for divers of all experience levels, and our team can also help you get certified to scuba dive.