By Dillon Waters
The days of scuba diving being considered a bucket list item you check off on a random tropical vacation are long gone. Scuba diving is a growing lifetime recreational activity that has families, friends, and individuals all bonding over the beauty of the new world they’ve discovered. Did you know scuba offers many other benefits besides the obvious exercise and sightseeing opportunities? These are benefits for divers of any age too!
Now let’s look at just a FEW things that scuba diving can be used for:
Scuba diving allows people to enter a different world full of new and exciting things. For divers of any age, this can create a thirst for new knowledge and, after your initial certification, the opportunities to learn more about the underwater world continue to grow. There are a plethora of specialty courses that offer you a chance to learn different activities while diving and, since scuba courses are egalitarian, you and your family or friends can take the classes together without the worry of being the person who knows the least.
Scuba divers learn to love the water and the creatures that call it home. For many divers, marine conservation becomes an important part of their thinking and they want to do their part to help protect it. In addition, citizen science courses offer students the opportunity to apply the knowledge they are learning in the classroom to something practical and useful in the real world. This can mean volunteering to help build coral reef trees in the Florida Keys, raising awareness in their local communities, creating non-profit groups, or even deciding to take up marine conservation as a career path.
If you were to ask a group of divers what scuba is to them, you will probably hear many variations of the same answer: therapeutic. Diving has a surreal meditational feeling that seems to silence the outside world and the mundane reality that comes with it. All your above-water problems are left at the surface. As we breathe throughout a dive, we tend to breath slower and deeper than normal, which induces a state of calmness. This allows you to enjoy your underwater surroundings in an almost surreal state of being and helps you feel mentally relaxed once your day of diving is over.
Scientific research conducted by John Hopkins University has shown that scuba diving greatly assists those with serious physical injuries and is exceptionally successful in reducing reported symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). It is no wonder the therapeutic benefits of scuba are being used to treat physical and emotional disabilities among soldiers and many other groups of people and is being researched for other types of rehabilitation. Check out www.sudsdiving.org and our adaptive scuba courses in the Scubility program for more information.
If you are looking for a new hobby to do in your free time, there are plenty to choose from as a diver. Many of your land-based hobbies can also be practiced underwater. If you enjoy photography, underwater photos can be a wonderful addition to your portfolio. A history buff can focus on diving historical dive sites and shipwrecks, while someone who enjoys marine life can dive coral reefs or do a shark dive. Or let’s say that you enjoy hunting and fishing, you could combine the two with diving and begin spearfishing on the weekends. No matter what it is that you like to do, you can more than likely find a way to do it below the surface too.
Scuba diving gives you an undeniable sense of adventure. There is an entirely new world underwater with its own species, communities, and ways of life waiting to be discovered by you. With 71% of the earth being water, it goes without saying that if you want to “see the world”, you need to break free from the larger reality of the other 29%. Not only is being underwater a part of the adventure, but the new places you will travel for diving may be ones that you had never considered going before. In short, scuba diving allows you to see and experience things that can be found in no other way!
Scuba is a social sport. You will meet many new people and make new friends from all over the world in an intercultural exchange. Just by going out and diving, you will begin to build relationships within the local and world diving community. In addition, when children become scuba divers, they will be immersed in a multi-generational circle of healthy-living adventure enthusiasts. Once certified, you may find local dive clubs in your community that you didn’t know existed, or you can even start one of your own! Attending or hosting a dive club meeting is a great way to meet the local divers in your area, share dive stories, and learn about new dive sites that you will want to try out. Of all the things that scuba has given me the opportunity to do, the part I enjoy the most is being involved in the community that is built around it.
Scuba diving has long been seen as an activity that you would participate in on a tropical vacation, or as part of a cruise package, to check off yet another bucket list item. Scuba is much more than a one-time vacation activity though, and once you are certified, the opportunities become almost endless. Not only does scuba offer something for almost anyone, it can also benefit you, your family, and your friends in many ways!
The benefits that this sport has to offer could be talked about all day, but the only real way to see them all for yourself is to complete your scuba certification and immerse yourself into the world of underwater enthusiasts. Contact the instructor or dive center that shared this article today, or locate the dive center closest to you using our locator, and ask them what it’s like to be a scuba diver.
To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.
Tips for… Using an SMB
Ok, so not the most exciting of topics… but an important one nonetheless. Especially as many of us will be getting ready for the UK dive season and heading out to explore our beautiful coastline. Some of you may even be heading into the UK waters for the first time due to the travel restrictions… welcome, you will wish that you had done it sooner!
Surface marker buoys. SMB’s are an invaluable piece of equipment – to demonstrate your position in the water, to fend off boats, to show off your buoyancy to your dive buddy when you can inflate it without moving an inch in the water… or to unintentionally make your buddy laugh when you forget to attach your reel and send it up like a lost rocket! Using an SMB is a must-have skill and piece of equipment for all divers. But, how do you choose which one is right for you, and how do you use it correctly?
Choosing a colour – we all know to look cool as a diver is all about co-ordinating, but not so much with SMB’s I’m afraid. The standard colour is orange and is what you will typically see being used. Yellow due to its higher ability to be seen at night time is just for an emergency… not because it is your favourite colour… sorry, yellow lovers! If you are wanting to personalise it though you could put your name down the SMB, that way the surface cover knows who it is underneath.
Next, inflation. Here we have the option of open bottom or direct inflation. An open bottom means that you will need to use your alternate to inflate the SMB, direct inflation you would use your inflator hose. Either of these are sufficient and it’s generally down to preference. If you are not sure which you prefer, or how to use them, there is a course that you can take to learn all of the skills which offers some helpful tips on how to inflate it and control your buoyancy too. I happen to know an instructor that teaches it… so just drop me a message and I can help!
So, we have the SMB, next we need a line or spool. So many decisions with a basic piece of kit! Most SMB’s will come with a line, which is great as you can use the equipment straight away. The only downside is that with gloves it can become annoying, especially if you are changing depths quite often as is typical on a shore dive here. So, you may wish to look at a spool instead. They also come in more colours, and this time you can choose whichever you want… even yellow, result!
Having got to the point of choosing your SMB and line/spool, where are we now going to keep it? Clipping it onto your BCD; keeping it in your pocket. Anywhere is sufficient as long as it’s easily accessible… like not in your car once you have entered the water! So be sure to add your SMB to your buddy check! Happy diving!
For more visit www.duttonsdivers.com
Jump into… Powerboats
As divers we all love the water, either on top or underneath, so what could be better than learning to powerboat. This was something that I had not really looked to do before… basically because I knew that I would be hooked with already being a huge pirate fan, and that’s exactly what happened!
Last year I joined the RNLI, which has been a fantastic organisation to get involved with. I could not think of a better way to volunteer my time and, I get to jump aboard and helm a 20m Shannon… awesome! At the same time, after 6 years of owning a boat, I decided to take my Powerboat Level 2 Course. Learning the basics of operating the boat, the two main things that I learnt were:
- I now have huge respect for the boat skippers that work here being able to get right close up to come and pick me up regardless of the conditions.
- There are no breaks… no back ups…at all!
It was an awesome course, just as good as my PADI Open Water Course, I was hooked and wanted to learn more. The next step being the Advanced course (deja vu!) and then, I went on to do the Day Skipper and Instructor. So, even cooler, we can now offer the RYA Powerboat Courses at Hafan Marina Dive Centre with our boat Little Viv.
Doing the course was great for me, to be able to move out of my comfort zone and learn something completely new. Like being an Open Water student again, I just wanted to learn more… and more… and find out what came next. It was brilliant to be the student again and pick up new tips and tricks, as well as having the frustrations of not being able to do something. An aspect that was a good reminder for my own teaching, that we as instructors should remember from time to time!
The Powerboat Course is definitely something that I would recommend any diver to do, not only to have an appreciation of the boats, but to improve your knowledge and understanding of tides, charts and all of those things that are useful for our dive planning. I like to think that I had a good knowledge of these beforehand, but doing the course has definitely reinforced this aspect… and if doing the course to become a better diver still doesn’t do it for you, surely the thought of a 250hp engine on the back of the boat will do!
Clare began Duttons Divers at just 19 years old and a short while later became one of the world’s youngest PADI Course Directors. Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com
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