Sunday, September 27, 2009


Looking for a great way to spend a weekend with a friend or family member? S.C.U.B.A. diving may be the way to go! Have you ever wondered what it would be like? It's a whole lot better than sitting on your couch all weekend eating potato chips. I have been a certified diver for six years, and my wife recently received her qualification. There is nothing quite like being able to breathe 100 feet below the surface. If that sounds scary to you, don't worry. More people die bowling every year (heart attack, stroke.. i guess all that beer and cigarette smoke really is bad for you ) than die from scuba accidents. My dive instructor told me from day one that "There is no such thing as an underwater emergency". I believe what he really meant by that is this. As long as you keep your head about you, there is always a fail safe as long as you follow the rules.

If you like adventure (and my comments above didn't scare you away) then this sport may be for you! There are diving sites all over the world that offer unique experiences. You could dive ship wrecks, or coral reefs. You could be an underwater photographer or even a treasure hunter. Lets look at some of the basic gear so that you will be able to determine if you would like to get into this sport.

Scuba is an acronym for self contained underwater breathing apparatus. This apparatus is usually composed of the following parts and systems.

1. BCD or buoyancy compensating device: This allows you to inflate or deflate a bag inside the vest to make yourself buoyant in the water. I.E. Allows you to hover at any given depth without shooting up to the surface or sinking like a rock.

2. Tank and regulators + hoses: The most common tank for recreational diving seems to be either a steel or aluminum 80 cubic inch tank. It will hold up to 3,000 psi of glorious air. This should be enough to keep you underwater for at least an hour or so depending on your depth. Attached to the tank is a first stage regulator that converts the high pressure in the tank to a lower pressure that you can breath from or inflate your bcd. Hoses run from the first stage to your second stage/s and your bcd. The second stage is another regulator, but this one has a mouthpiece that you can breath from. Modern second stage regs. have a diaphragm that allows you to breath quite easily underwater. It makes it just as easy to breath underwater as it is on the surface. Also attached to the first stage is one more hose that goes to your gauge pod. Gauges can range from just depth and air pressure to full blown dive computers that calculate every aspect of a dive. For beginners a dive computer is really not needed.

3. Mask, fins, snorkel: These items are really up to personal preference. Some divers swear by their split fins, while I swear by my old scuba pro jet fins. It's really up to you to find what works best. The only thing in this arena that is imperative is that you have a mask with tempered glass. A mask that has a plastic or even untempered glass could crack or implode from the pressure of being so far under the surface.
This is in no way a complete gear list. In most places you'll most likely wear a wetsuit, hood, boots, gloves etc. There are also dry suits and other various equipment that many divers choose to take down such as underwater cameras and writing boards. A friend of mine and I even made an underwater deck of cards by weighting all plastic playing cards. The options are nearly endless.

In conclusion, scuba is a very fun and rewarding hobby that may take you to many interesting places.

Keep in mind that you should never dive without a buddy, and you should not dive unless you have completed a divers certification course. These courses are available at most dive centers. If you are land-locked fear not! There are many rock quarries across the country that have been converted to diving sanctuaries. I got certified in Ohio and made many of my early dives in a quarry. Remember, be safe and have fun. I'll see you on the bottom!

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