Scuba Diving Is Less Stressful When Your Weight Is Right
One of the most important scuba diving skills is proper weighting.
If you carry too much weight on a dive you fight to stay off the bottom. The extra weight drags you downward, and you must constantly adjust the air in your buoyancy control device (BCD), trying to keep yourself at an even level.
Plunging uncontrollably into the bottom kills coral. It stirs up the bottom (clouding the water).
Strap on too little weight and you float straight back to the surface every time you try to descend to diving depth.
Skyrocket to the surface because you’re under weighted and you risk injury to your lungs as they inflate faster than you can exhale the air from them.
Either way that battling to stay at one depth causes a huge amount of stress for you. Stressful diving creates anxiety. When you’re anxious and uncomfortable you suck air faster than current runs in the Gulf Stream. Your dive is short, and not fun.
When your weight is right for your diving setup you glide along smoothly at constant depth. Only your breathing affects your buoyancy as you ascend with your inhalations, and descend with your exhalations.
Since you don’t struggle for buoyancy control your dive is comfortable, with little to no stress.
During the basic open water certification course every diver learns to determine how much weight he needs. That lesson teaches us to float in the water without our BCD, scuba tank, and regulator. Then add weight until our eyes are level with the water’s surface.
Go through that exercise and you know how much weight you’ll need every time you dive – right?
Actually that’s not true because your weight needs change for various reasons during your diving life.
If you’re in the habit of wearing a wet suit on your dives the material in the suit compresses over time. That compression decreases the buoyancy of the suit. As that happens you need lower amounts of weight.
If you gain weight you increase the buoyancy of your body, creating a need for more weight on each dive.
When you lose weight you decrease your body’s buoyancy. That decreases your body’s weight requirements.
You need more or less weight depending on the thickness of your wet suit, and you need more weight for a dry suit.
Your BCD adds buoyancy to your diving profile creating higher weight requirements. Diving accessories like flashlights and dive knives add or detract from you weight needs.
Calculate how much weight you need before each dive. It’s the only reliable way to make sure your weight is right every time you go scuba diving.
Make a habit of doing the weight exercise on a regular basis, and save yourself the stress of improper weighting.