Tips for Fine Tuning Your Neutral Buoyancy

neutral buoyancyNeutral buoyancy is a fundamental skill that divers must learn to master, allowing them to get close enough to examine a reef thoroughly but with enough distance to avoid crushing its inhabitants. Excellent divers demonstrate the kind of pinpoint control that can only come from fine tuning neutral buoyancy.

Basic buoyancy control is easy enough to master: balance the static downward force of your weights against the changing upward force of your BC inflation. When they cancel each other out, you can hover motionlessly in the water. Achieving this is easier said than done, but it’s something that plenty of practice will make absolutely perfect. In order to attain good neutral buoyancy, there are a few basic factors to take into consideration.

Your Wetsuit

Gas trapped in tiny bubbles make neoprene warm and ideal for diving underwater, but they also make it buoyant. Furthermore, neoprene loses buoyancy and warmth over time. Adjusting the thickness of your wetsuit is a way of fine tuning neutral buoyancy, but it must be balanced against the temperature of the water in order to avoid getting too cold, which can fatigue and stress your body on the dive.

Trim

neutral buoyancy

Types of neoprene

Difficulties achieving neutral buoyancy might be traced back to problems with your trim, a term that refers to the position of your body in the water when neutral. If your fins are lower than your body, kicking your feet will also propel your body up, causing you to compensate by releasing air from your BC vest which will make you sink further. To check your trim, hold your body as still as possible while horizontal in the water, your legs stretching behind you, preferably with your knees bent and feet above your hips. If your feet sink or float, you’ll need to reconfigure your gear, frequently with the use of trim weights. If you are having problems adjusting your trim, it’s worth consulting with a qualified professional who should be able to help you.

Breath Control

One of the most important basic skills to master is underwater breath control. If you practice skip breathing or intentionally breath shallow, your buoyancy is likely to be negatively impacted. Your lungs can be used for fine control. If you need to ascend a foot or two to swim over a head of coral, take a slightly deeper breath than normal. If you need to descend a foot or two, exhale extra deep. Always remember to consistently breath slowly and steadily and never hold your breath. If you’re having trouble finding the sweet spot for perfect neutral buoyancy, adjusting your breathing can go a long way.

What are your favorite tips for fine tuning your buoyancy while SCUBA diving?

Images via Thespis377, Google Images

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