You’re on a dive in 65 feet (that’s about 30 meters for my non-American friends ) and your regulator begins to free flow. How comfortable are you with the situation? Without going into what the proper procedure would be (I’ll leave that to the training agencies) how comfortable would you be with the situation. Unless it’s something that you feel would be a minor annoyance, you might want to read on and try the drill in this post.
One of the most important attributes you can have as a diver is to be both comfortable and confident while underwater. Unfortunately this is one of the toughest things to “teach” . This is of course because of how much of a psychological factor it is.
One of the best ways that I have seen my students become comfortable underwater over the years is by mastering skills which require them to hold their breath. The reason why breath held skills increase your comfort on Scuba is simple. If you know you can handle tasks which require you not to breathe for more than a few seconds, then any situation which can happen on a Scuba unit becomes trivial because for the most part you’ll always have air. Even in the event of a worst case scenario, an out of air situation, you’ll still know you have plenty of time to figure out what to do and execute.
The skill I like to teach, and have my students master is a skin diving bail out. This skill should be done in shallow water, 4 or 5 feet (1.5 meters) is plenty. A skin diving bail out is when you immerse yourself into the water with your mask and fins off. You can wear a weight belt for this skill, just make sure you do a buoyancy check, and are properly weighted.
You begin a skin diving bail out sitting on the edge of the pool with your mask and fins in your hands. You then immerse yourself into the water while holding your breath. Once you are underwater you now place your fins on your feet. Place you mask on your face and clear it, and then come to the surface and blast your snorkel. You should be able to continue breathing through your snorkel at the end of the skin diving bail out.
The key to mastering this skill is to take your time doing it. Make sure you breathe slowly and deeply before jumping in the water. Take a deep breath just before you jump in the water. Now stay calm! Slowly put your fins on, put your mask on, clear it and finally clear your snorkel. Staying calm and taking your time is key! You’ll be amazed at how much faster the skill seems when you take your time. Rushing usually will just make you feel anxious and have you run out of air much sooner.
This is the real takeaway. Whatever happens underwater can be handled, the key is staying calm, and acting slowly and deliberately. Watch the video below to see how I do a skin diving bail out.
Have you ever done a skin diving bail before? If so, what was your experience with it? I’d love to know in the comments below