1. Be a Solo Diver: This rule doesn’t entail ditching your dive buddy and diving alone. By all means stay close to your buddy and be ready to help him. But as far as your own safety is concerned, pretend he’s not there or won’t be when you need him, in other words be self reliant. In any emergency your most dependable rescuer is yourself. Think solo, plan smarter and rehearse beforehand how you could deal with a situation so that if one arises you know how to react without wasting time looking for a rescuer.
Keep at hand all the dive gear and equipment you may need as if you were diving solo. For example: Have your own completely redundant air source, like a pony bottle, instead of relying on your buddy’s octopus. You may want several cutting tools instead of just one, mounted so you can reach at least one with either hand. Be prepared for yourself and carry your own backups.
2. Be Lazy: Mimic a sloth. Doing everything in slow motion will stretch your air supply. Move like you’re too exhausted to move. Every fin stroke, arm movement or even a head turn requires a lot more energy under water as it’s almost 800 times more dense than air. Energy in diving equals oxygen, so the faster you burn energy the faster you empty your dive tank. It’s that simple.
It takes a conscious effort to move at slow motion speeds, but practice will make it second nature. The payoff is bragging rights over your air-hog buddy at the end of the dive. Be lazy out of the water before and after a dive too. Sit down as much as possible and relax to conserve energy and you won’t feel fatigued. Most importantly stay lazy with your body in order to stay alert with your mind.
3. Breathe Efficiently: One of the first diving no-no’s you learn is to never hold your breath. And certainly don’t. To significantly improve your breathing efficiency, reverse your normal breathing pattern from inhale-exhale-pause to inhale-pause- exhale, the pattern many experienced divers adopt naturally over time. What you have to keep in mind is the pause you take when your lungs are filled is not held with your throat closed and most definitely not forced.
The few seconds pause while your lungs are full of air allows more time for gas exchange, so you take in more oxygen and dump more carbon dioxide with each breath. Therefore, your need to breathe will lessen and you will get more cycles out of your cylinder. This breathing technique is not taught because a pause can be confused as holding your breath with a closed-throat. So, if you aren’t sure of the difference or of not inadvertently closing your throat to pause, don’t try it.
4. Avoid Using Your BCD: Using the BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) throughout a dive for control is a mistake made by many divers, especially rookies. Since water is denser, momentum gathered takes a little more time to slow or stop. While you’re squirting a little more air in you BCD thinking you’re a little negative, before you realize it you’re actually a little positive. But you won’t feel positive because you come to a stop and pause there for a moment or two before that little squirt of air in your BC begins gathering its strength before raising you slowly.
Naturally, you need to use some judgment and assess the need to use those buttons when you’re dropping like a rock or rising like a cork. But, as you zero in on neutral buoyancy you don’t want to mess it up by touching the buttons again. You can make depth changes of four or five feet by using your lungs alone, without messing with your buoyancy compensator and losing that hard-to-find neutral buoyancy.
5. Don’t Overdo the Gear: By don’t overdo the dive gear we don’t mean offload your weights, ditch spare regulators or don’t wear a dive computer, it simply means don’t let your equipment get the better of you. Diving with an all new kit of diving equipment with a fancy new dive computer on one hand, an underwater camera in another and a squeaky new BCD you’re unfamiliar can be overwhelming. The use of your dive gear should be intuitive and not take up your attention. Another reason to avoid carrying extra gear apart from unnecessary fidgeting is the temptation to seek security in equipment rather than in technique. As a general rule, get more experience before more gear.
That said, we like to encourage divers to own their own gear and not rent, because owners know their gear better and take care of it better. We also think divers should buy their gear new and of top quality. There’s no such thing as too much performance and you definitely can’t put a price on safety.