Thursday, 12 September 2013

DIVING FUNDAMENTALS

GUEST POST BY ANDREW MICHELIN

I always get a heightened feeling of excitement and adventure when I first enter the water in search of my next meal. I don’t know whether it is the cold water encapsulating my body or the feeling that you have just entered a completely new world with different rules. Whatever it is, I always feel compelled and drawn back to it time after time.

Despite diving professionally on compressed gases and specialised diving equipment, I feel that for a more practical application to any shallow water task, I prefer to choose Free Diving (breath hold diving), I choose this because I find it practical, simple and inexpensive.
Despite risks involved with Free Diving, I believe the benefits outweigh the negatives, provided you follow some fundamental rules:
  1. Always conduct any underwater task with a friend or buddy
  2. At minimum, have a general understanding of the area you are diving in
  3. choose your days wisely and check weather forcasts. Don’t risk diving in rough conditions
  4. When operating a Speargun, always maintain weapon safety.
  5. Wear appropriate equipment for the task.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS
windsurfAny activity you endeavour to embark upon rests solely on the understanding 
and knowledge of the Environment and Weather.
Having some “local Knowledge” can make the difference between a great outing, or a potential disaster.
It is more beneficial to work with the seasons when it comes to lifestyle activities.
E.g. typically on the east coast, in the summer time the wind will pick up at around 10:00 am and blow from a north east direction, getting stronger as the day progresses. Then late in the afternoon we may encounter a Southerly change.
As a Diver expecting to get in the water, it would be wise to choose a South facing coastline that is protected from these winds.
As a surfer you could anticipate that the swell may pick up throughout the course of the day brought on by the strong winds pushing the ocean water into the shorelines. Then you may be lucky enough to have a Southerly change in the afternoon bringing an ‘off shore’ breeze to clean the waves up and hollow them out.offshore surf
Having the awareness to grasp the knowledge of what is happening in and around your location and being able to foresee the changes in the environment before they happen gives most people a feeling of pride and being ‘one’ with land and sea.
When diving in pairs is it always good practice to know where your buddy is at all times and what he is up too. This works well for safety reasons, however it makes for efficient hunting. If utilising a weapon like a speargun it is wise to have a leader and a supporter. The leader has his safety off, stalking, hunting and searching while the supporter is back a few metres within visibility distance, both members minimising movement.
What works well for me is if I am the leader, I will do a free dive, hunt, then surface and retire to become the supporter, then supporter becomes leader with a rested heart rate and lungs full of air.
Never point or laser (imagine a laser on the end of your gun pointing to infinity) your weapon across another person for obvious reasons. Load your weapon in the water, not out of it just incase your weapon fires accidentally, A. It looks uncool, and B. It can ruin your equipment.
Equipment:  FINS – MASK – KNIFE – GLOVES
finz knife mask gloves
When conducting any underwater task, I always have these four minimum equipment requirements.
My fins are not extremely long like you may see with other divers and the reason for this is once again for practicality, I generally dive from shore and  these fins give great propulsion without cramps.
My knife is worn on my right leg, inside. The reason for this is that it reduces it becoming fouled in my float-line and also because it is easy for both hands to reach it.
A good mask that suits the contours of your face  is important and I always have a tube of toothpaste handy to clean the inside of the lens prior to diving to stop fogging up.
Gloves are important as you may be working around pylons with sharp edges or handling fish with spines. I am a right handed shooter and have cut the thumb and for finger out for trigger manipulation and also it helps with dexterity when using ropes or cordage.
Keep posted for more info on this later…
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