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Ear Equalizing and time to depth.

Discussion in 'New Divers & Those Considering Diving' started by TheDivingBear, Sep 9, 2005.

  1. TheDivingBear

    TheDivingBear Registered

    As a newly certified OW diver, I have a question. But first, a little background.

    It took several attempts for me to get through the open water dives. During my first attempt, I was nervous or anxious and had trouble equalizing my ears. I felt pressure (not just from the water) to get down to the group quickly (I was one of the last to go down). I tried several methods of equalizing my ears, but none seemed to work. Finally, I called the dive (not wanting to hold up the rest of the group).

    After talking to the dive shop (after a second failed attempt), I asked for some one-on-one and got it (for a fee of course). We went out and he went up and down with me (four feet down, two feet up, four feet down, two up, you get the picture). Anyway, it took me nearly five minutes to get to the platform at twenty feet. I felt no pain (or when I did, I would raise a little and equalize), but it was not comfortable. I've been to a ENT after the first dive and there was nothing physically wrong. He did suggest I take an extra Allegra-D (or a 12 hour sudafed) about an hour before my dive (damned hayfever). I had done that and my sinuses felt extremely clear.

    On my second dive, the DI went down and said he would sit there and wait on me. There was no pressure or need to hurry, "I don't mind sitting there waiting and I'll keep you in my sight. Take your time", and I did. This time it took me just over four minutes to get down to twenty feet. The next day, dive's three and four were no different; he went down and it took me four minutes or just under.

    Once at depth for a few minutes, I had no trouble, either going deeper (from the twenty down to thirty-five) or rising to the surface. I came in last, finishing after my tiniest bubble and my ears were fine. I also learned a lesson in physics on dive four, a nearly empty tank (600-700 psi) is more bouyant. I slowly ascended to the surface without much control and a very puzzled look on my face (according to the DI).

    Ok, now that you have a littel background, my question is how should I (and my buddy) handle the time it takes me to get to twenty feet? I mean, I would expect my buddy to stay with me (as I am sure she will). How would this effect the rest of the group if we were to go on a dive boat and descend via a line? My DI suggested that I explain this to the rest of the group and that I ask to be one of the first ones in, offering them to go around me as we slowly descend, does that sound fair? How would you seasoned verteran divers react to that?


  2. spectrum

    spectrum Dive Bum Wannabe ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: The Atlantic Northeast (Maine)
    As a new diver you air usage is likely to be higher than seasoned divers so odds are if you do cause them to "waste" some air it won't change anything if you're diving as a group, all turning the dive together. Nonetheless it's a good idea to communicate the expected delay. Some may choose to go down first to grab a few extra minutes near the bottom of the line while waiting for you and your buddy.

    The good news is that equaization almost always gets easier and easier with experience so dive, dive and dive.

  3. TheDivingBear

    TheDivingBear Registered


    Oh trust me, I plan to. My wife is the fish (Scorpio's like me don't like the water). But, I did enjoy the dives and when i was not thinking about what I was doing (demonstraing skills), I was fine and doing the skills without hesitation or problems (even cleared my fully flooded mask when the DI's fin tip caught it without panicking (and he MISSED it). There is only quarries to dive at close by, but Blue Springs is nice and open through the week (when there is not a crowd of OW cert classes). And, I heard France Park is nice too (but only open on the weekends). So, the short of it, I spent the money on classes and some equipment (i got a nice second stage reg, it is adjustable so I don't feel like I am breathing through a straw) and we will be diving.


  4. pearl4diving

    pearl4diving Divemaster

    You are not alone Diving Bear. There are many out there that need time to descend. I think your DI gave you the right message - just communicate it to others you are diving with. Often what we do in dive groups is we all go down the line, if some got there sooner, we swim around checking out fish while the rest continue their descent. We do not however, go out of view of the line, so that we can swim back and regroup as soon as everyone is together.

    No need to worry, there are many people that need to take it slow to descend. And I firmly agree with Spectrum. Dive, Dive, Dive - it will get easier and more comfortable the more you dive.

  5. fishoutawater

    fishoutawater Contributor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Near St Louis Mo
    Have you tried pressurizing your eardrums just before your head goes underwater? Try that, then keep equalizing continuously on your way down.
    I find that if I can keep the pressure higher on the inside of my drums higher than outside, I have no problems. If I forget, I have to come back up a couple feet just like you're doing now.
  6. Silvertip57

    Silvertip57 Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New Mexico
    DB.......take your time! Let the folks you are diving with know it may be an extra minute or two but don't be pressured into forcing the dive. I have dove with lots of folks who need a little extra time going down and always use the time to find something interesting to take a picture of. I think, from past experience, that as you get more dives and more comfortable in the water you will find that you're able to clear easier and decend more quickly.
  7. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    Not to worry. Two weeks ago I was the designated bring em down slow guy for two ow students. One made it down after the second try but the other didn't get down till the next day. Like you said down 4 up 2 then we tried it down 1 equalize down another 1 equalize. Slow but steady progress and by the last dive for the one who couldn't get down at all the day before was the same and got rewarded with a big smile. Do not ever feel pressure to get down as fast as the others. There's nothing down there that important and it does seem to get easier with experience. Welcome to a wonderful new world.
  8. toodive4

    toodive4 Instructor, Scuba


    What does this mean? It means if you're going diving in October and it is now September... start equalizing. The eustation tubes must be trained to function. Equalizing is not a normal process... hence the pain when you fly in an airplane or descend into the ocean. People laugh at me... but what I'm saying here will help you...

    Here is the process for equalizing:
    1. Start equalizing 3 X a day for the entire month before you go on a dive trip.
    2. The week before you leave increase this to 6 X a day.
    3. When you get to your diving destination equalize every hour.
    4. Equalize on the boat ride out to the dive site about every 15 - 30 minutes
    5. Equalize Just prior to jumping in the water
    6. Equalize again on the surface just prior to beginning descent
    7. Equalize every 3 feet until you reach 30 feet... so about 10 X on the way down...
    8. Now go diving...

    If you do this, you will not have trouble equalizing and you will not hold up your buddy or your group. If you still have trouble after following this process, you probably have at least one eustation tube that does not function properly...


  9. pipedope

    pipedope Contributor

    It will get easier and faster with practice.

    I had lots of trouble equalizing when I first started diving but now can often equalize without blocking my nose, especially in a Full Face Mask or hard Helmet.

    Go to;
    and watch the streaming video, "The Diver's Ear"

    It will go a long way top help you understand what is happening and also give you more ways to equalize.
  10. TheDivingBear

    TheDivingBear Registered

    Thank you, that helped a great deal.

    In short, we dove in Cozamel. I wanted a shore dive and found a place (Paradise Reef) and had a max depth of 35 feet. It was perfect for me. I even learned that I was okay at bouyancy control without a BC (it failed shortly into the dive).



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