Buoyancy Compensators Tips

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Millions of Americans Scuba Dive

With the diversity of diving trips offered today, enthusiasts can always find an outing to suit them. When planning for your trip, look for a variety of weight-integrated scuba BCDs (buoyancy compensator devices) through online divers supply shops. Many veteran divers choose state-of-the-art designs.

Does it matter whether I use a rental BC or buy one?

Invest in a BC That Fits Your Diving Needs

Your buoyancy compensator has many vital uses. You need a scuba BCD that fits well and is in good condition. If a BC does not fit or function well, it can spoil your dive. Consider all of a BC's functions:

  • Your BC lets you control your buoyancy underwater, even while carrying heavy equipment.
  • It keeps you at the depth you want.
  • It controls your descent and return to the surface.
  • Your BC also is a life-saving service. In an emergency, you can inflate your BC.

What is neutral buoyancy in scuba diving?

BCDs Keep You Diving at a Constant Depth

Your objective when scuba diving is to achieve neutral buoyancy, so you can explore the underwater environment without sinking or rising to the surface.

With neutral or diving buoyancy, you travel through the water with the ease of a fish. That is why it is essential to invest in a buoyancy compensator that fits and functions well.

It's also a good idea to know the basic science of neutral buoyancy. You don't need to have a PhD in physics to grasp how a diver's weight and volume affect scuba buoyancy underwater.

Just remember that neutral buoyancy occurs when the overall volume of the diver equals the diver's overall weight. The gas inside your body and equipment compresses on descent and expands as you rise toward the surface.

To stay neutrally buoyant, gas moves into the BC or scuba BCD, when the diver is too heavy. It is vented when the diver is too buoyant. Achieving neutral buoyancy will keep you diving at a constant depth.

Are there different types of buoyancy compensators?

Choose a BC That Fits Your Diving Needs

The more you know about your buoyancy compensator, the better control you will have in achieving diving buoyancy or staying at a constant depth.

Choosing a buoyancy compensator that fits snugly and is comfortable to wear is important for an enjoyable dive. You also need to pick the BC that fits your diving needs.

There are three primary types of BCs:

  1. Wings, which are attached to a back plate. Wings have high buoyancy and often are used in technical diving. Just like a bird's wings, the inflatable bladders are positioned behind and to the side of a diver. Wings are not for everyone. They may float the diver face down, posing a danger in a life-threatening situation.
  2. Stab jackets, or vest BCs. The inflatable vests are comfortable to wear, fitting around the upper torso. They also serve as a cylinder harness.
  3. Adjustable buoyancy life jackets. Also known as horsecollar BCs, they are worn around the neck and chest. These older-generation scuba BCDs are inexpensive, but divers sometimes find the straps that secure them uncomfortable.

Can a BCD function as a life-saving device?

Scuba BCDs are Life Savers in a Diving Emergency

Your buoyancy compensator is your life-saving device in an emergency. The diver can float face up at the surface by inflating the BC or BCD. Jettisoning weights will provide added buoyancy in an emergency.

Dive buddies can position an unconscious diver to float face up on the surface by using the scuba BCD and weight system. The unconscious diver's upper torso is raised with inflated bladders, while the lower body is held down with weights.

Fixed weights on the diver's cylinder will help ensure that an unconscious diver wearing BC wings or a stab jacket does not float face down. With inflatable wings or a vest, the center of buoyancy can be too far from the diver's head in an emergency. Wings now come with weight pouches so the diver's position can be adjusted more easily.

What kind of equipment do I need to scuba dive?

Millions of Americans Scuba Dive

If you are new to scuba diving, welcome to a sport enjoyed by more than 8.5 million certified American divers. No longer is scuba diving a recreational pastime dominated by 20-something men. Women, teens, seniors and entire families are learning to scuba dive and heading off for underwater adventures at some of the world's most spectacular ocean retreats -- the Cayman Islands, Florida Keys and the Bahamas.

Scuba adventures include recreational diving, night diving, shark diving, cave diving, spear fishing, even arctic diving under ice floes.

There is an upfront investment in equipment. Recreational divers should expect to outfit themselves with standard scuba gear that includes:

  1. Buoyancy compensator: The inflatable vest enables the diver to stay "neutrally" buoyant and float to the surface. It also holds gear in place.
  2. Regulator: Divers breathe through regulators, which are connected to air cylinders.
  3. Weight belt: Keeps divers from floating to the surface.
  4. Mask, fins and snorkel: The basic equipment that lets divers move through the water with ease.
  5. Air cylinder: Steel or aluminum cylinder holds compressed air.

What are some scuba gadgets?

Scuba Essentials Fascinate Gadget Geeks

If you are a gadget geek, you will love scuba diving. The sport requires divers to understand how a range of equipment operates and how to use it. There are new gadgets coming on line all the time, as well as advances in standard diving equipment.

The open water class for scuba diving shows students how to set up and use basic scuba equipment, as well as react to underwater emergencies. Your local dive shop or online retailer will offer the latest in diving gadgets, from state-of-the-art scuba bcds and regulators to underwater cameras and driver propulsion vehicles.

Here is a sample of scuba gadgets to discover as you learn to dive:

  • Scuba bcd: Buoyancy compensators, or bcds, are inflatable vests that allow a diver to float or sink. Scuba bcds are essential diving equipment.
  • Scuba computer: This gadget, worn on your wrist like a watch, automatically calculates nitrogen intake, so you can figure your decompression time. Most scuba computers also may display your current depth, maximum depth and dive time.
  • Diver Propulsion Vehicle: DPVs will never replace fins but they are fun and futuristic. The mechanical devices help divers move around underwater.

What kinds of features should I look for in a BCD?

Scuba BCDs Offer a Range of Features

Your scuba BCD, or buoyancy compensator, comes with a range of features, depending on the brand and type. Look for the following components in a new BCD:

  • A direct feed, or line, that moves gas from the diving cylinder and regulator to the BCD.
  • A main valve that allows gas into the BCDs bladders for inflation.
  • A vent valve that lets bladders deflate. Most BCDs have vents valves at the top and bottom.
  • An overpressurization valve that will automatically allow air to escape if the diver over-inflates the bladders.
  • Backplate that is metal or plastic for supporting dive cylinders.
  • Integrated weight system that contains weights inside pockets. The integrated weight system combines the BCD and weight belt into one piece of equipment.


Invest in a BC That Fits Your Diving Needs

While some divers choose to rent a used scuba BC, it is wise for frequent divers to invest in the right BC for them. These devices are available in back inflation, jacket, and technical styles. An Oceanic BC -- like the Islander, Ocean Pro and Ladies Isla -- will offer quality design, comfort and fit.


Scuba Essentials Fascinate Gadget Geeks

Consider your scuba BCD as life-support equipment. Of course, fit is important for a comfortable dive. But reliability is essential in allowing you to explore an alien world that does not support human life. If you are shopping for a gift for the favorite scuba diver in your life, consider packages of pre-selected diving equipment that may include a scuba bcd, regulator, octopus and gauge console.

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