Apart from all your gear, your buddy and your pre-dive safety check there are a number of things to remember. The following are the most common things new divers forget in the nervous excitement of their first open water dive.
Remain calm, remember to breath out as well as deflating to go down. Over-excitement and nervousness will increase your breathing rate making it harder for you to control your buoyancy. It will also mean you use your air faster too. Remember that shallow breathing means that you will not get the best air exchange through your regulator which can lead you to increase your breathing rate further and so the problem gets worse. Slow, steady and relaxed breathing is what you are aiming for.
2) Maintain proper diving position.
You need to be perfectly horizontal in the water which is not a common position for landlubbers and can feel a little awkward at first. It’s common for new divers to orientate themselves slightly upright. As your fins will propel you in the direction that your shoulders are pointing then this can have you heading for the surface. As you will likely have air in your BCD this will expand with the reducing pressure and speed your ascent.
3) Don’t use your arms.
Diving is not swimming but it’s difficult to drop that mental in water association at first. Using your arms only wastes energy and therefore air in your tank. Flapping can make it difficult for you to attain neutral buoyancy too, cause you to hit your buddy or the reef. If you are flapping your arms, ask yourself why…what are you trying to do? If it’s because you feel like you are sinking then instead breathe in and/or add a little air to your BCD. If it’s because you are trying to come down then stop all movement and exhale. If that doesn’t work come upright and deflate a little air from your BCD.
4) You need to be upright to deflate and let air out of your jacket.
Not only do you need to be upright but you need to hold the low pressure inflator hose high above your head and even slightly leaning back to let the air out. Remember air wants to travel upwards and it cant pass around a bent hose. When you come upright to do this remember to stop kicking your legs otherwise you will kick yourself up to the surface.
5) Fin from the hip.
If you have never used fins before they can feel awkward and ungainly. Stretch your legs out behind you and kick from the hip not the knee. You do not want to have a bicycle motion. This is very inefficient and will waste air and energy. Long leg strokes and think about it more like you were kicking a football than riding a bike.
Phew ! Awesome job …3 more dives to go !