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New diver help--I can't stop floating to the surface!

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by asag, May 6, 2014.

  1. Derek S

    Derek S Divemaster

    As others have stated, make sure you aren't holding your breath. Weight yourself for the end of the dive, not the beginning. When you're at the surface and ready to descend, make sure you breathe out in a continuous stream as you go down. Once you get to depth, it'll be much easier to become neutrally buoyant by using your BCD and lungs. If you're weighted properly, you can actually achieve a state of zen where you use the air in your lungs (or lack thereof) to rise and sink in the water column.

    Most of it will just come with experience and bottom time. Don't be so hard on yourself. Remain calm during this, getting worked up or nervous is also something that makes getting down difficult as well. You're not in control of your breathing. Good luck and welcome to SCUBA!
  2. asag

    asag Garibaldi

    # of Dives:
    Location: United States
    Thanks all for the great advise and input!
    I'm having another pool session this weekend. I'll try to figure out the problem and try out as many of the steps recommended as I can :)
    It's true I might have gotten nervous during ocean dives. I did notice that when I descend I start kicking whenever a wave hits me. And I just listened to myself breathing, I do have breath holding tendency even when I'm not in water--I tend to do long inhale, hold, long exhale, hold.... gotta somehow correct that.
    I had a brief exchange with my instructor this week, we talked about the kicking, breathing issue and staying horizontal underwater, we'll focus on that this coming weekend.
    Will update when I come back!!:praying:
  3. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace

    asag, you might get a kick out of reading the journal of my open water class. (Link in my sig line.). You are not alone in struggling with this!
  4. EmJay

    EmJay Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Johannesburg
    I battled a little bit to get down on my first few dives. I am very inexperienced and have recently been certified, so I can relate to your experiences. On one of trips, my very first dive trip after a break after my initial OW sea dives, I was battling to get down. I got a brand new wet suit and I underestimated the weight requirement. I had to do an under weighted descent. That dive was difficult as I was constantly battling to stay down. Got worse as the dive went on as my tank got lighter. Was a very interesting dive.

    It took a few good dives to get my weight 100%. I went from being 2KGs overweight to completely under weighted that I would slowly float to the surface as my tank was nearing empty. After some playing around, I thankfully managed to get it 100% right. Just a couple of things you can look at:

    • Watch finning while trying to sink. A good tip I heard was to cross your legs as some people fin compulsively. Works if you sink vertically or horizontally. Also cross your legs while waiting on the surface to avoid CO2 buildup.

    • Seems like you are fiddling around with your BCD way too much. I use a very low volume back inflation BC (about 5KGs of lift, if that). My BCD is specially designed for South African warm water diving (single tank, 5mil wetsuit). I have seen massive "arm chair" type BCDs which have way too much lift for single tank, wetsuit dives. You need to very slowly add air to your BCD. As someone mentioned, it takes a while for buoyancy changes to kick in. Saying that your BCD was only 20% or 50% full means nothing as we don't know how much water your full BCD displaces. I usually start slowing my descent about half way down by adding very small squirts of air in my BCD, waiting to see the effect and adjusting from there. By the time I get to the bottom, I have achieved neutral buoyancy and don't have to touch my BC until near the end of my dive as my tank empties and I want to ascend. If you are worried you are slowing the group down, just explain that you take longer and they should not have an issue with it. A controlled, but slower descent is a far better option.

    • I also used to skip breath without realizing I was doing it. I had the exact same problem you have described: long inhales with long exhales and pauses between each. You just need to be conscious about your breathing. First try stopping the pauses between breaths. I had 2 dives where I would come up with splitting headaches and they would clear up 10 minutes after getting on the boat. Not fun. I can feel the headache starting to build up, so the moment you feel it, you need to adjust your breathing.

    • Even though I feel like a fish in water, I sometimes get a bit nervous on the surface on my first dive of a dive trip. What I do is after we have kitted up and waiting for the count down to roll off the boat, I take a few long deep breaths and exhales to make sure I get rid of any excess CO2 from kitting up on the boat.

    I got a bit frustrated in the beginning. I just kept at it and when it came all together, the achievement felt amazing. I am now plotting to get my family to move to the coast so I can dive more than 4 times a year. Best of luck and let us know how it goes.
  5. asag

    asag Garibaldi

    # of Dives:
    Location: United States
    Hello all!

    I did some pool dive this weekend and tried all the suggestions above. Most importantly I tried to control my breath a lot better. I tried to push all the air out on my way down and slowly breath in at the bottom, and when I can do a good pivot, I started maneuver around.

    I went down to as far as 15' and was able to swim around without floating--hits the bottom sometimes but I can bring myself to neutral right away, so most of time it was successful. Only trouble was when I come back to about 4~5' side of the pool I lost the buoyancy a little and float a bit--I forced a lot of air out of my lung at that point so i didn't float all the way to the top, still stay under water. :cool2: Instructor said it's mostly because of wetsuit expansion due to loss of pressure.

    I tried descending with 16 pounds of weight first and take 2 pounds out every time I go down. At the end, with the same set of gears, I was able to stay at the bottom of the pool with only 12 pounds of weight! :D

    The last dive with 12 pounds of weight I was able to stay at the bottom of the pool for almost 45 minutes!! Amazingly with over one hour of dive total I used a lot less air (typically I have 3000 psi, had only 1000 remaining when I'm down there for 30~40 minutes, this time I have 1000 left after the whole afternoon)!

    Only thing is I was probably trying pretty hard at the pool so I came back up with a lot of sore on my back and the last dive probably the longest I've been underwater, I got slightly dizzy when I got up. Went home and slept, got away the dizziness, now battling the sore. :blinking:

    Thanks all for your advise!! I'm ready for my next dive!!!!
    EmJay, TSandM and Npallasi like this.
  6. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace

    Just remember that when you go to salt water, you will need about five more pounds!
  7. Fish in a Barrel

    Fish in a Barrel Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: St Louis, MO
    Nice job! I wouldn't worry too much about not being able to hold 4-5 feet. That's tough for a new diver. And if you're at that depth, you're probably intending to surface anyhow.

    I used to wind up with a sore back all the time. In my case, my buoyancy and trim was off, so I was arching my back constantly. Now that I am better able to fine-tune my buoyancy, I can stay nice and flat--no more sore back! That comes with comfort and experience. You've already noticed how being more confident and comfortable has drastically improved your air usage. Keep diving and you'll get there.
  8. Frosty

    Frosty Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Auckland NZ
    good onya asag. Youll find starting out in any sport you get a bit achey and sore the first few times. You'll find as you relax more with time you don't get so sore.

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