Sub Arctic Scuba's Tips & Bits

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This page is a place to locate the various little tips and ideas that help make our sport of scuba diving more exciting. If you have a tip that should be here, drop me an e-mail with your tip so it can be included here.

I've separated the tips into categories to make it easier, hopefully, to find.
Your suggestions are welcome.

Click on the category you are looking for, or just scroll down the page.

Wetsuit Tips   Drysuit Tips   Mask, Snorkle, Fin Tips   Equipment Tips   Swimmng Tips    Breathing & Headaches.    Bouyancy, etc.   Warm to Cold Diving Tips

Some general tips about wetsuits:

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Some general tips about Drysuits

  • Storing your Suit - Neoprene dry suits should always be hung to dry and hung in between dives. Folding neoprene will crush the bubbles that make up the neoprene, along the fold line, resulting in a fold line that remains visible and a loss of insulation along that fold-line. You may have to fold it to transport it, but the suit should be hung on a thick, preferably plastic, hanger as soon as possible. This, of course, does not apply to dry suits made out of vulcanized rubber or from other coated-type fabrics, such as those used in fabric or tri-laminate suits, but care should still be used with transporting the suit, such as care when folding the suit to minimize damage to the zipper(s), etc. After rinsing and drying, the suit should be stored in a cool, dark, dry area, away from sunlight, etc., always with the waterproof zipper(s) open. This not only allows the suit to air out, but it also alows the zipper material to relax between uses, keeping it sealing better when used. Just be sure to remember to close that convenience zipper before stepping into the water!

  • Transporting a Neoprene Dry Suit - When transporting a neoprene dry suit, it is necesary to protect the very expensive zipper from getting any kinks or sharp bends in it, as this may cause stress on the material within the zipper, resulting in an early zipper failure (and an expensive repair bill). Since we, most often, cannot transport the suit laying it flat and open, we must try to fold it up in such a manner as not to cause undue stress on the zipper. The best method I have found begins with laying the suit down on a flat surface, front side up. I then fold the legs up, over the top of the suit, then back down, again, in an accordian fashion, so the fold lines coincide with the top of the suit and so the boots are near the bottom fold. I then take the arms and carefully fold them towards the front, over the legs of the suit, so the open zipper does not fold but forms a curve where it comes around the front of the suit. The suit can, then, be slipped into its own carry bag for transport to and from the dive site. Be sure to unfold and hang the suit as soon as possible, allowing any potential fold marks to come right out. Even rubberized material type of dry suits (vulcanized, tri-lam, etc.) should also be hung to store, allowing them to air out and to prevent any possibilty of moulds, etc. starting within the folds of the stored suit. Always store all dry suits with the zipper(s) open, allowing the materials to relax in between uses.

  • A Good Fitting Suit - A neoprene dry suit should not fit as snugly as a wet suit. Because the seals at the wrists and neck keep the water out of the suit, a looser fit will be much more comfortable, allowing extra room for warm under-garments and for future personal growth. For most people, the slight extra cost of a custom-made suit will pay off with the first couple of dives. If the legs, for example, are too long, the boots and fins may tend to slip off your foot underwater, causing problems and discomfort while your buddy (who's always with you, right?) tries to work your foot back into the squished foot pocket. While the fit of the suit should be looser than a wet suit, comfort still requires a proper fit.

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Some Tips on Masks, Snorkels & Fins

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Some Tips on Regulators, B.C.D.'s, etc.

  • Bouyancy Compensators (B.C.D.'s):
    • Fit - B.C.D.'s should fit you, just as any other piece of your personal dive gear. Most B.C.'s have a fair range of adjustability to allow for different divers and for diving under different conditions - such as warm water to cold water. Take into consideration, when you are shopping for a B.C.D., that it should fit you when you are dressed for warm-water diving and it should, also, be able to adjust to fit over heavier cold-water suits - either wet suits or a dry suit with under-garments.

    • Correct Fit - The B.C.D. should fit around your body so the unit is held in place - not tightly but snug enought that it will not ride up under your neck. The cummerbund should still have some adjustment room left, both ways. If it is adjustable, then it should be adjusted as such. The shoulder straps should be tightened up, while your buddy is holding your cylinder up, to snug up the shoulder straps. There should, also, be some room left to adjust these straps - they should not be pulled as tight as possible and they should never be adjusted with the weight of your cylinder hanging from your shoulders - have your buddy lift the weight of the cylinder off your shoulders, else the buckles may well break from the addded strain. The chest strap, if present, should be adjusted so you can, easily, fit your clenched fist, on edge, between the strap and your chest. This strap is only intended to help stop the jacket splaying outwards as you move through the water, not to hold the B.C.D. tight onto you. Otherwise, as you add air to the B.C.D., particularly on the surface, it will restrict your ability to take in full breaths of air.
  • Regulators:
    • Basics: - What should you look for in a regulator? It really depends on what type of diving you plan on doing - but don't forget, the regulator you buy today should still be serving your needs 15 years from now! I suggest buying a good quality regulator with some of the features that you might want in the future and make sure that you will be able to get it serviced where ever you are - in other words, stick to a known brand name. I also recommend buying a regulator that will work well in our cold waters - the same regulator will also work well in warmer waters. All regulators should be equipped with an octopus and a 3-gauge console - which should include, at the minimum, a compass.

    • Options: -Do I need a computer? How about an adjustable second stage? Maybe an alternate inflator-regulator? These are all options that only you can decide.

      Should you get a dive computer? If you are only planning the odd, single dive, a dive computer is, probably, a luxury, but if you plan on doing multiple dives each day, either at home or on vacation, a dive computer is well worth the investment. Because it tracks evey dive every minute and can calculate your actual nitrogen levels based on your exact dive profile, you will be a safer diver and will get much more underwater time with a dive computer. Many live-aboard dive boats and many resorts urge their customers to use a dive computer because it will, for one thing, mean the diver will get much more diving for their money.

      What is the advantage to adjustable 2nd stages? How about these adjustable vanes? Both of these vary with individual tastes and preferences. One theory is that if a regulator is set up correctly, an adjustable 2nd stage is unnecesary. The arguement to that is that you should be able to adjust your breathing effort at various depths. The vanes (venturi assist, etc.) on some regulators helps to reduce breathng effort after the breath has started. These arguements all have merit.

      What about an alternate inflator-regulator? These come in several different configurations, but all have one thing in common. They combine the functions of your B.C.D. inflator with that of a spare regulator or octopus. The main advantages of this configuration is that you eliminate one hose coming off your first stage, you always know exactly where your spare regulator is because you should be be handling your inflator on a somewhat regular basis and one out-of-air theory says that by the time an out-of-air diver gets to you, they are going to want an air source they can see and find immediately - your main regulator, in other words. Your actions, then, should be to let them take your main regulator while you switch to your alternate regulator that is with your inflator. Should you choose this configuration, ensure your buddy(ies) is/are aware of which regulator they should take in an emergency. This configuration is becoming much more common than in the past.

    • Maintenance: - Your regulator should, with a little care, last you for many years. As a piece of life-support equipment, your regulator should be looked after and kept in good shape to ensure it is always working as it was designed to. You should always, then, ensure your regulator is rinsed after every dive, hung up to dry, kept free of sand and silt, dry the dust cap and make sure it is in position whenever the regulator is not on a cylinder, visually checked prior to every dive, operationally checked prior to every dive and serviced regularly. Do not attempt to open your regulators yourself, as there are no user-serviceable parts inside and special tools and gauges are required to set up the regulators so they will operate as designed. Don't forget - this is life-support equipment and your life may be on-the-line if something goes wrong. Regulators still require regular servicing, even if they have not been used (much) as o-rings still dry out and seats still get imprinted with time.

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Some Tips on Swimming, Use of Fins, etc.

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Some General Tips on Breathing

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Some General Tips on Bouyancy

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Some insights about going from warm water diving to cold water:

  • What is the difference between warm- and cold-water diving?
    • Gnerally, it is all about the equipment - and that can be very serious. Many divers complete their course in warm-water locales and many of these people only dive in warm, clear waters. The minimal equipment requirements lead to easy, relaxed diving and the clearer waters typical of tropical destinations mean it is easier to stay with a group or buddy ('same ocean' buddy system). Equipment requirements often mean a very thin wet suit (or just a bathing suit), a light-wieght B.C.D., up to about 10 pounds of weight, no hood or gloves. This means the diver's comfort envelope is formed by these equipment requirements and by the enviromental conditions the diver becomes accustomed to. Also many divers just use rental equipment when travelling to vacation destinations rather than buying and hauling their own B.C.D., regulators and fins along with them. Rental equipment can be, at some locations, in less-than-ideal condition.
    • Cold water diving has very different equipment requirements as well as additional training considerations. First off, thermal protection is, likely, the most obvious difference - a much thicker wet suit or a dry suit is required and a hood & gloves or mitts become part of the diving package. The thicker wet suit (usually a 'farmer john/jane' with overlapping jacket) means somewhat restricted movements and then adding the hood further restricts head and neck movement and narrows the field of vision. Adding thick gloves or mitts further challenges the diver's dexterity.
      "How do you dive with all that restricitve gear on?? It must make diving really hard!"
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