8 Easy Steps to Ensure Scuba Diving Safety

As most seasoned divers will tell you, Scuba diving is indeed an incredibly safe sport when it’s done properly. Well trained divers who use good judgement and follow the correct procedures have no need to be concerned. In fact, according to most research, diving is really no more dangerous than swimming. Certainly compared to many other adventure sports – and even many every day mundane activities that we do without hesitation! –  diving is very safe.

There are of course lots of things you can do to ensure you are well prepared and limit the possibility of running into any dangers or potential problems….

 

Dive regularly
Sounds like a no brainer, and it pretty much is! Those who dive more often will generally have better developed skills sets, more efficient communication and a more up to date base of knowledge – whether through having taken more courses, or simply through regular exposure to other divers with whom they share stories and information. The safest divers are those for whom basic skills have become second nature. For example a regular diver does not need to think too much about buoyancy control. They just naturally adapt their breathing to make small changes. Same goes for basic skills like mask clearing. If you were to ask a Divemaster how many times they cleared their mask during a particular dive for example, chances are they wouldn’t have a clue! They just do it by second nature.

diving-koh-tao-mangobay

Most divers readily admit that they would like nothing more than to dive more often. However for most people, and especially those living in colder climates, real world work and family responsibilities do tend to get in the way and it is not always possible to dive whenever you want to. Diving clubs do exist in most locations though, so it is always worth checking out a few options in your area. If cold water isn’t your thing, you may find that you’re happy just to jump in the pool every now and again and have a play around with your equipment, trim and basic skills. Even if you don’t physically get in the water at all, many local clubs have meet up evenings where you can share experiences and tips for future dive travel etc.

If you do end up dry for too long though, then it is always recommended to take a proper Scuba Review. Most major dive agencies recommend this after a period of 6 months, but there is no hard and fast rule. You’ll find each dive centre will have its different policies as to when they require divers to make a full scuba review, which will invariably take into account your number and frequency of logged dives, as well as the location of the dive centre itself and the dive conditions that are to be expected during your stay. For example if you are going diving in strong currents or reduced visibility, then a full refresh is definitely the way forward! A thorough refresher consists of some theory, a recap of equipment fitting and set up, as well as some skills practice. The vast majority of divers find it very rewarding, and in many holiday locations you’d be completing it in the sea, so chances are you’d get to see some fish and corals too! It really is a worthwhile experience though, as quite often divers are amazed at the wealth of information they have forgotten!

BCD Removal

Alternatives to refreshers include private guiding on a shallow reef for your first couple of dives of your trip, or perhaps a ‘check dive’ on the house reef – if shore diving is a viable option for the location. Our advice is not to skimp on refreshing your skills though. For a few extra bucks, you’ll have a much better experience overall if you spend a little extra time getting the basics sorted before heading out on deeper or more challenge dives.

 

Dive with a Reputable Operator
Again, sounds like a no brainer yes? But you’d be surprised! There are a whole host of dive centres out there and you’d be shocked how much ethics and morality varies between them. Some will promise top notch quality, service and professionalism and proceed to deliver it, whereas others appear as if they are just out to take your hard earned savings, with seemingly little care for your comfort or safety once you are through their door.

As with all areas of diving, the key is to use good judgement. This is especially true if you are choosing a dive centre not just for yourself, but for friends or family members who are travelling with you. It’s not worth saving a nominal amount to get the best deal if you’ll be using inferior dive gear or ill-equipped dive vessels, diving with inexperienced staff, or not learning in accordance with training agency standards. In this day and age, you’d expect adherence to agency and industry standards to be a given, but unfortunately quite often it’s just not the case.

learn-to-dive-koh-tao-sign

Try not to be too focussed on price and find a balance of value based on your expectations. After all, if the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is! It’s absolutely worth paying a little extra to know the operation you choose won’t be cutting corners at your expense. The best way to explain it is by equating learning to dive to learning other adventure activities. If you were looking to go sky diving or become a hang glider or try white water rafter for example, you wouldn’t really shop around for the cheapest possible option. You’d choose the centre with the best safety, equipment, standards and reputation. Diving should be no different.

 

Adopt Good Buddy Team Procedures
Some divers have their own regular buddies, but many others rely on their dive operator to pair them up with a suitable buddy, who hopefully will have a similar skill and experience level to you. Depending on where they’ve trained however, this may not be the case. We’ve all seen instances where an Advanced level diver with all of their own equipment shows up and proceeds to spoil the trip with their bad practices, know-it-all attitude and sub-par skill set. So if you are getting paired up with an ‘Insta-Buddy’, spend a little time chatting with them prior to the dive and gauge for what they’ll be like to dive with.

Don’t skip the buddy check! No matter how familiar you are with your gear and your buddies gear, or how excited you are to get off the boat and into the water. Safety protocols in scuba – and indeed every other industry too – have been developed and are in place for a reason. That reason generally being that if they are not followed, things can go wrong.

buddy-check-bwraf

Before the dive, make sure you are comfortable with the hand signals and communication techniques you’ll be using before the dive. Once you are underwater it is too late to ask questions! During the dive, maintain regular communication to ensure comfort and safety.

Stay close to your buddy, and maintain an awareness at all times as to where they are in relation to you. If you were to need their help in an out of air emergency for example, you need to be close enough to reach them. If you are checking your gauges frequently of course this shouldn’t need to happen. But still, they need to be within reach for your safety – and visa versa. If you are on a training course, remain close to your instructor and follow their directions when requested. Their role is to train you in good practices, as well as ensure your safety throughout your dives, so they generally don’t appreciate you drifting too far from them.

 

Maintain Good Health and Fitness for Diving
The healthier you are in general, the lower your risk of suffering from a dive related illness. If you are unfit, overweight, badly rested, dehydrated or have any residual alcohol or drugs in your system for example, then you are already more likely to suffer from Decompression Sickness (DCS) than if none of these factors apply. So to make the most of your dives, maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. When diving on vacation, make sure you drink adequate water (especially in hotter climates where becoming dehydrated is more likely) and are well rested before morning dives. It’s also a good idea to lay off the alcohol the night before. It’s a small price to pay for enjoying some amazing dives.

Don’t dive if you are not feeling well, or if you have a cold or are congested. This can be frustrating if you are on holiday and only have a set number of diving days, but it’s just not worth the risk. A blockage one day can turn into a full blown ear or sinus infection the next day if you push it – and any diver who’s ever suffered from reverse block will tell you it’s not an experience they’d ever want to repeat. Many illnesses have signs and symptoms which mimic those of DCS, so if you have been ill and feel better but are still not completely recovered, wait until all signs and symptoms have disappeared. An example of this would be Dengue fever which is a viral infection spread by mosquitos, and is common around Asia. When the fever breaks and normal health returns, a skin rash is common – just as it is with DCS. So if you were to suffer from a suspected case of DCS, physicians would not know whether your symptoms were fever related or dive related, making diagnosis and resulting treatment much more difficult.

Diving on Koh Tao

If you sign up to take any kind of dive course, you’ll be required to fill in a medical form. Certain medical conditions may prevent you from diving, such as active asthma and heart conditions for example. Whereas other conditions will require you to have a sign off from a Dive Medical Officer (DMO) or General Practitioner (GP) prior to getting started. If you take a diving holiday to a more remote diving areas, full medical services and consultations may not be available, so it’s worth doing the leg work prior to setting off on any conditions that need a physician’s sign off. In some areas the dive centre may be required by local regulations in terms of where you get your medical sign off, and who conducts it. This can sometimes eat into both your time and your savings to get organised properly, but it is imperative that you have the relevant consult. Be understanding that your dive operator is not trying to make the process more difficult for you by insisting on a proper medical, they are simply doing their due diligence to ensure the safety of you and other divers in their care. The golden rule is never to lie on the medical form! Not only is it a legally binding document, but if you lie on the form and then have an accident it’s unlikely your insurance will cover you – whether it’s related to the medical issue or not.

 

Dive Within Your Limits
Another seemingly fairly obvious one, but always something to keep at the forefront of your mind when planning dives. Your limits can be defined in many ways, first and foremost in terms of certification level as not only will different depth limits apply, but skill and experience levels would be expected to differ too. Whatever certification level you have, don’t be tempted to dive deeper than your licence allows, and stick to what you are qualified to do. If you don’t have a wreck or cave diving qualification for instance, then you should not be entering into any overhead environments. Bear in mind that if you stray beyond the limits of your current level and something were to go wrong, your insurance would not cover you.

Whale shark with divers

Each individual diver will also have limits in terms of comfort levels when it comes to visibility, water temperature, surge and surf, currents etc. Remember that every diver has the right to call off a dive at any time if they do not feel comfortable. So never allow yourself to be pressured to dive, or feel rushed to get into the water if you are not ready. Even during the dive it is absolutely acceptable to call it off if you feel out of your comfort zone and do not wish to continue. Equally, never put pressure on another diver to dive outside of their comfort zone either, and try to be understanding and supportive if they back out of a dive.

Dive in familiar equipment that you are confident using. Obviously it is not always feasible to take a full set of your own gear away with you on every trip. Plus if you are an infrequent or holiday diver, you may not have invested in larger items like a BCD or Regulator yet. However the main configuration should be the same, so if you are used to diving in a jacket style BCD for example, then switching to a backplate set up without the relevant instruction or advice would probably cause you discomfort in the water.

 

Take Continuing Education Courses
There’s no better way to stay current than investing in a continuing education course. After entry level certification the most popular course is the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, which allows you to explore different underwater environments – like diving deeper, on ship wrecks or at night. Advanced courses are great for developing your confidence and building on your scuba skills so you can become more comfortable in the water. And despite the name, you don’t have to be “advanced” to enroll. Most of the time you can sign up as soon as you get certified. This is a great way to get more dives under your belt while continuing to learn under the supervision of an instructor.

htms-sattakut-koh-tao

PADI Rescue Diver courses are also popular, and most divers who get Rescue certified say it was their favourite and the most rewarding course they have ever taken. A good Rescue course will make you far more aware of yourself and your dive buddy, maximizing safety and enjoyment, and gives you both the skills to avoid emergency situations before they arise, and the confidence to manage a real emergency situation should it occur.

There is a pretty endless list of Specialty Courses with the most popular being PADI Deep Diver, PADI Enriched Air Nitrox Diver and PADI Wreck Diver. Specialties are  a fantastic way to gain more skills, confidence and experience, and from the extensive menu available, there is always something to suit everyone.

 

Respect the Marine Environment
Abide by your parents favourite words “look but don’t touch”, or for a more Scuba applicable mantra “leave only bubbles, take only pictures”!

It is never OK to touch, pick up, harass or manipulate marine life. It’s as simple as that. Many of our favourite underwater inhabitants such as sharks, rays and turtles can become more susceptible to disease if we touch them. This is because their scales/shells/skins are covered in a thin protective layer of what scientists call biofilm. Once removed, they are at much greater risk of infection.

Turtle whilst snorkeling in Koh Tao

Corals are unfortunately very easy to damage too. Some corals are incredibly slow growing, and one careless fin kick can destroy up to ten years of growth. So it is imperative that you have good trim and buoyancy control, and don’t do any accidental harm.

Not only can you cause harm to marine life by touching or moving things, but the reef can also harm you. From sharp corals and spikey urchins to scorpion fish and stone fish spines, jelly fish stings and everything in between, coming into contact with marine life is just not a good idea. So do be aware of your surroundings, and if you do not feel you are in complete control of your movements, keep your distance.

 

Use Good Quality and Well Maintained Equipment
Another glaringly obvious one at first glance. Make sure you check the equipment you’ll be using thoroughly before it’s packed for the trip, and again during set up. If you are not happy with the quality of any of the rental gear, don’t be afraid to speak up. The better quality the equipment you use, the less chance their is of experiencing a malfunction. The regulator and BCD are generally the most important pieces of equipment your’ll need to check, as these provide your life support and control underwater. Don’t forget to check the tanks for visual and hydrostatic test dates too though.

The best way to retail control when it comes to equipment is to have your own. If you are using your own gear make sure it is up to date for service and maintenance. Each manufacturer’s guide will recommend a time frame, but for example with regulators the widely accepted consensus is to service once a year or every 100 dives, whichever is reached first. If you know that some of the parts for your set up are not common, then make sure you take spares with you. Many more experienced divers carry their own ‘save a dive kit’, with items such as fin straps, mask straps, mouth pieces, o-rings and cable ties for those little wear and tear replacements. If you dive regularly in hot locations, be wary of prolonged sun exposure, which can weaken or damage your equipment over time.

By following all of these recommendations you can minimise your risks and stay safe on any of your local dives or Scuba holidays. As you can see, most of it comes down to common sense and good judgement. Divers who treat both the sport and the ocean with respect, and dive with a healthy minds, bodies and attitudes, will experience no problems, and indeed nothing but pleasure in our amazing underwater world!

8 Things to Consider When Buying a Regulator

 

A couple of months ago we gave you all the low down on what to look for when buying a BCD, and we got some great feedback. So we thought it was a time for another equipment related blog, and this time we are focusing on regulators. Again, it’s a hotly contended topic, and you’re sure to get a whole array of recommendations depending on who you ask.

Most dive pro’s and regular recreational divers list their regulator, dive computer and mask as the most important pieces of equipment to travel with. Ultimately the reg set that is right for you will come down to what is most practical for the type of diving you do, and the environments you dive in. But here are a few things you should consider…

Some Advice About Price
As your lifeline and breathing source underwater, a regulator is up there in terms of the most important purchase you’ll ever make as a diver. And once you have your own, it’s very difficult to go back to diving with rental regs. It’s a big investment, but with such an important piece of gear our advice is to buy the best you can afford. Many divers who err on the side of caution and take a more basic regulator set end up regretting it as their dive skills, qualifications, dive travel and general requirements expand. Even budget regulators can offer high performance though, so don’t worry if you can’t stretch to the highest specifications. Prices vary, but to give you a general idea a basic first stage, second stages and gauge set like the Aqua Lung Calypso retails for just over 19,000THB. Typically you’ll have dived with regulators like this before as it’s the work horse of a large number of dive centres. Exploring into the mid-range, a set like the Aqua Lung Core retails for just over 27,000THB, while the Aqua Lung Legend at the higher end of the scale would cost just over 40,000THB.

Aqua Lung Calypso Second Stage
Aqua Lung Calypso Second Stage

 

Try Before You Buy
Just like with a BCD, you should ideally try out a regulator before purchasing it. Perhaps you have a friend who already uses the model you are looking at? If not, many retail stores do have demo/try before you buy models. As an Aqua Lung Partner Centre, we have access to a full range of try before you buy options for both Aqua Lung and Apex brands through Koh Tao Aqua Master.

Aqua Lung Core Second Stage
Aqua Lung Core Second Stage

 

Unbalanced or Balanced
Balanced regulators provide assistance at depth and resistance in the shallows, so that every breath of your dive is comfortable and consistent – even when your tank pressure is lower. An unbalanced regulator does not assist or resist breathing, so typically they breathe a bit harder on deeper dives and when running low on air. Given that it is within budget, we’d always recommend selecting a balanced regulator. But certainly if you regularly dive below 18m or in harsher conditions such as cold water or currents, it’s the way forward!

Aqua Lung Legend Second Stage
Aqua Lung Legend Second Stage

 

Here at Master Divers our rental regulators are the Aqualung Calypso (unbalanced) which are perfect for regular use on shallow dives such as PADI Discover Scuba Diving programmes and PADI Open Water Courses. However we also have a stock of Aqua Lung Titan (balanced) sets for use on PADI Advanced Open Water courses and Deep Specialty courses etc.

The Aqua Lung Micron is a popular choice for both Koh Tao waters and beyond, as it is both balanced, and very light due to its compact design, making it ideal for the travelling diver.

Aqua Lung Micron Second Stage
Aqua Lung Micron Second Stage

 

Breathing Resistance
All regulators technically provide enough air, however what is ‘enough’ air from one diver to the next is admittedly variable. So if possible, choose a regulator that has the option of adjusting the air flow on your primary air source. This technology was first developed by Aqua Lung, and is now common in many regulator sets. For your alternate air source/octopus, it’s a good idea to select a regulator with higher breathing resistance, so you can avoid it free flowing during your dives. The specification of your alternate doesn’t need to be the same as your primary, as it is designed as a back-up, therefore you’re better off investing more in the hose you’ll be breathing from on a regular basis, rather than the one that will seldom be used. However, it may still be used in a stressful situation in a low/out of air scenario so it does need to perform correctly and comfortably.

Second Stages
Second Stages

 

DIN or Yoke
Depending on where you dive in the world, this may not need to be an active consideration as you may have very little choice! Yokes are the most common fitting – especially in temperate climates – and they attach over the valve of the tank itself. DIN (Deutsche Industry Norm) fittings screw into the tank valve so are more streamlined and because the connection is inside the neck of the tank itself, making it less prone to seizing in colder water. It also means there is less chance of entanglement when diving in overhead environments. For these reasons, DIN regs are normally the preference for cold water divers and Tec divers.

Many Tanks accept both Yoke & DIN fittings, and here at Master Divers we have a number of tanks for customers with DIN regulators. For locations where no DIN tanks are available, divers use Yoke adapters instead. If you only dive in warmer waters then as a general rule, a Yoke fitting should be all you need. Do bear in mind when making your selection though, that it is much easier to convert a DIN to Yoke than the other way round.

 

DIN connection
DIN connection
Yoke Connection with ACD
Yoke Connection with ACD

 

Hoses
The norm is generally to have a shorter primary air source so that you are streamlined in the water, and a longer alternate/octopus so that it is both easily stowed and makes air sharing feasible. It may be worth having your hose length altered to suit your set up though, so do take a little time to work out exactly what you want to ensure both comfort and ease of use. For example, you may want a shorter high pressure hose if you are using a clip mount to secure it rather than a slide through pocket on your BCD.

Aside from the standard configuration, you could also look at a tech set up. In a typical tech configuration the primary second stage is longer than the alternate/octopus, which is secured round the neck using a bungee cord, and it is the primary that is shared in an out of air scenario.

If you are a regular diver or dive traveller, you may want to consider ‘miflex’ hoses, rather than the standard rubber ones. Whilst there is nothing innately wrong with regular rubber hoses, they are thicker and therefore heavier, and also more prone to cracking. Miflex hoses on the other hand, are more flexible, cope with heat better and are much lighter.

Apex Bungee Connector
Apex Bungee Connector

 

Mouthpiece Comfort
While it is important to look for a comfortable mouthpiece, don’t let it be a deal breaker in your selection process. You can buy a variety of mouth pieces separately, and simply swap it out with the original. Alternatively, many divers prefer to mould their own mouthpieces. Mouldable mouth pieces cost a little more, but last for years, and provide unrivalled comfort on your dives.

 

Ports
All first stages will have one high pressure port guaranteed, but ideally you should select a regulator with 2, as this way you have the option of integrating a transmitter for your dive computer as well as a high pressure hose with analogue depth and air gauge.

Regulator First Stage
Regulator First Stage

 

We hope this has helped to give you the low down on the variety of options available. If you have any more in depth questions by all means do let us know. We’re happy to answer your questions in advance via email, however a better solution would be to take a store visit with one of our experienced and knowledgeable staff, so they can advise you based on your requirements. So just let us know on arrival if this is something you’d like us to arrange for you.

Happy Shopping! 🙂

 

How to Choose the Right BCD

 

Which is the best BCD? It’s a common question, but depending on who you ask  you will get many different suggestions! Ultimately it will come down to what is most practical for the type of diving you do, and the environments you dive in. Here are a few tips on what to look for when buying a BCD…

 

Sizing

Making sure it fits correctly is number one on the list! Having a BCD that doesn’t fit nicely can turn diving into an uncomfortable experience. If possible, try it in the water first. Some stores have a ‘try before you buy’ policy on a range of their gear that makes this easy for you.  If you’re buying online make sure that you try it on BEFORE you get in the water, as if it doesn’t fit you may not be able to return it once its been used. Make sure it fits comfortably deflated and inflated and is neither too loose, too tight, too long or too short. Master Divers are proud to be an Aqua Lung Partner Centre, meaning that we have amazing access to try before you buy offers, as well as in store counselling and guidance at Koh Tao Aqua Master on all the newest trends and models.

 

Integrated Vs Weight Belt

Old school divers will remember the days before this was even a question, back when a traditional quick release belt with weights threaded onto them was the only option! However nowadays there is definitely a trend in shifting preferences towards an integrated system. Integrated weights are weights that are loaded into the BCD itself. Most integrated weights come in the form of quick release pouches that clip into the front of the BCD, normally right by the BDC pocket (if it has them). But many BCD’s also have trim pockets (although these are generally not quick release) on the tank band so divers are able to distribute weights more evenly to suit their needs.

It’s all a matter of personal preference, and many people prefer the traditional weight belt simply because that’s how they learned and that’s what they are used to. However most instructors prefer integrated systems as they are great for carrying additional weights for students. Many recreational divers prefer it for carrying extra weight in general, which is beneficial when diving in cooler temperatures or in a dry suit for example. You don’t have to worry about carrying or maintaining an extra piece of equipment when you have an integrated system. However on the downside it makes your equipment a lot heavier when the weights are in the BCD – which is something to consider of you are diving on smaller vessels and lifting your gear in and out of the water. Plus you do need to make sure you are extra thorough on pre-dive checks to make sure the system is locked properly.

Be aware that integrated weight systems do have limitations to how much weight they can hold though, and that any diver who needs a significant amount of weight may ultimately need a weight belt anyway.

Aqua Lung Sure Lock Integrated Weight Pocket
Aqua Lung Sure Lock Integrated Weight Pocket

 

Jacket, Wing or Back Inflate

Grab a seat and get your popcorn out, as this one can keep divers in discussion for hours!

The jacket style is generally the most common type of BCD, especially in the dive school environment. Here at Master Divers for example, we use the Aqua Lung Wave. This BCD type allows you to stay vertical at the surface with ease, and surface swim on your back in comfort too. Generally speaking, jacket BCDs also have spacious pockets, which are helpful in stowing/carrying additional equipment you may need underwater. They can be notoriously difficult to access on the surface while fully inflated though!

Aqua Lung Wave
Aqua Lung Wave

 

The back plate with wing style of BCDs originate from technical diving and are incredibly adaptable, hence the growth in their popularity. This set up consists of an adjustable aluminium or steel back plate and harness to which the inflatable wing is attached. This is great if you are interested in technical diving ( if using twin set tanks, you’ll need a wing with a greater lift capacity) or want to change the size of the wing for different environments or activities (for example switching between steel and aluminium back plates depending on water temperate and exposure protection).  On the down side, there is no place for pockets or integrated weight pouches, so you’d need to add these yourself if this is a requirement. Underwater, most divers agree that buoyancy and trim is better with a wing than jacket style BCD, but they do tend to push you forward on the surface when fully inflated, so are not so great for extended periods of time on the surface.

Relatively new to the BCD market is the hybrid style of  jacket and wing design, with back inflate designed to provide the best of both worlds in one system. The Aqua Lung Axiom is a perfect example of this. The idea is that it fits somewhat like a jacket (just without all of those jackety bits!) around the waist and shoulders, whilst providing lift from the back. They still have pockets, but generally not as sizeable as jacket style BCDs, and most have integrated weigh options. The back inflation makes horizontal neutral buoyancy underwater easier, although as with the wing,  it can be more difficult to maintain a steady  position  at the surface.

Aqua Lung Axiom
Aqua Lung Axiom

 

Dump Valves

Generally speaking, the more dump valves on a BCD the better, and it helps if they are well designed and streamlined. Usually located on the rear right shoulder area and rear left hip area, most BCDs have two. Modern BCD’s sometimes have a third built into the inflator/deflator mechanism on the left shoulder. You should learn where these are by feel so you can locate and use them effectively should you need to.

Dump Valve with Shoulder Placement
Dump Valve with Shoulder Placement

 

D Rings

D rings are sometimes overlooked when choosing a BCD or wing but its important to keep them in mind, depending on what diving you intend to do and where your diving career is taking you. For example more D rings may be beneficial if you have a lot of additional equipment to carry. It’s also important to note the material of the D rings. Some BCDs only have plastic D rings which overtime are more likely to snap or bend in comparison to metal D rings.

 

Ladies BCDs

Historically BCD’s were developed for the male market and became unisex by default as more women took up the sport. Now more and more dive manufactures are developing gender specific BCDs and wings, which is yet another step towards diving becoming a female friendly community. There are many benefits, but the primary reason is guaranteeing a good fit, which in turn means you’ll feel safer and enjoy more relaxed dives.

Aqua Lung Pearl
Aqua Lung Pearl

 

Travel BCDs

For the intrepid explorer, these are light weight and can be packed down small, however they are not as durable as standard BCs as the material used is a lot lighter that the normal ones. The material is robust enough for regular use though, and it is super easy to pack. Just bear in mind that you wont be able to carry lots of extra weights and most travel BCD’s don’t have enough pockets or clips to carry much extra equipment, so if you are a diver who likes their accessories, then perhaps this is not a great choice for you!

Aqua Lung Zuma
Aqua Lung Zuma

 

Hopefully this has helped explain some of the differences between the vast array of options available. Dont forget there is no substitute for research though, and its also massively important to physically try on a prospective new BCD purchase. So do be wary of buying online unseen. And if you need some help here on Koh Tao just let us know, and our staff will be more than happy to help 🙂

 

Our PADI Tec Rec Gas Blender Course

Here at Master Divers we are incredibly proud to be running our popular Tec Rec Gas Blender course on monthly basis! With the same guaranteed ratio of 4 students to each instructor that we offer on all of our courses, we provide both student and instructor levels of training.

WHY TAKE THE TEC REC GAS BLENDER COURSE?

The popularity of technical dive courses is growing fast, and more people are diving with Enriched Air Nitrox than ever before. In fact, the PADI Enriched Air Diver course is now the most popular specialty on the market.  This means in turn that the demand for enriched air tank fills is also increasing. However, there needs to be someone qualified on hand to fill the tanks needed to meet demand. This is where the PADI Gas Blender course comes in…

TecRec Gas Blender Manual

WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU?

The Tec Rec Gas Blender course will help you stand out on your CV, setting you apart from other Divemasters, Instructors and MSDT’s, and making yourself more employable! Having Gas Blenders on staff is important for all schools offering Enriched Air Nitrox to their customers. Aside from being a valuable asset to dive operators here on Koh Tao, it is also a required qualification for many staff working in more remote locations elsewhere, and on Live-aboard vessels too. Plus, as well as the standard PADI curriculum, we’ll teach you how to operate a compressor in terms of basic maintenance and procedures – something that all dive professionals should know something about!

Enriched AIr Nitrox (Eanx)
Enriched AIr Nitrox (Eanx)

 

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

The Tec Rec Gas Blender course will train you as a qualified Gas Blender, allowing you to provide gas mixes to all appropriately certified consumers. You’ll learn more about the physical properties of oxygen, its associated hazards, handling requirements and what cleaning equipment is necessary. Finally, you will learn the five methods of obtaining the desired enriched air nitrox mix, the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as the various methods used to obtain proper helium mixes.

It is a very hands on course but as with all of our programmes, there is a little self-study to complete beforehand! The Tec Rec Gas Blender Manual is included in the course cost, so between this and your instructor, we will familiarize you with the all of procedures and techniques needed to get you out there as a fully qualified Gas Blender on completion of your course (certification fees are also included in the price).

tec-gas-blender

THE SPECIFICS

You must be at least 18 years of age and a PADI Enriched Air Diver certification (or qualifying certification from another organization) to enrol.

The student level course costs 10,000THB, and is inclusive of all teaching materials, instruction, practice time and certification costs. If you’d like more info on becoming a Tec Rec Gas Blending Instructor, please contact us for more details.

The course runs over 2 days, and we do try to schedule it so it fits in best with the lives of working professionals. So typically the course will begin on full moon party day each month, and complete the day after, meaning you won’t need to miss out on group bookings for guiding or teaching. But as with any course, we can be a little flexible based on your requirements, so just let us know what works for you and we’ll try our very best to meet your needs!

So…what are you waiting for? Email, call or just pop in to book your Tec Rec Gas Blender course today!

Experience, Safety and Standards at Master Divers

When browsing for a good dive centre, certain words and phrases tend to stand out in reviews online. Who wouldn’t want to dive with ‘the safest’, ‘most professional’, and ‘best’ dive centre with the most ‘experienced instructors’? But what do these descriptions really mean? And how do you differentiate between a bunch of dive centres who all promise you safe, fun and professional experiences? Here at Master Divers we pride ourselves on our high standards, and also on the safety and the enjoyment of our customers, so we thought we’d fill you in with some more details on how we achieve that…..

Our staff at Master Divers come from various nationalities and backgrounds, however one of the things they all have in common is their commitment to safety and the upkeep of industry standards. Every one of our team members has been specifically selected on the strength of their extensive experience, knowledge, skills, and qualifications in their field. We run regular staff training and development sessions, and encourage all employees to take part in further professional development programmes whenever possible, ensuring high quality experiences for our customers and also continued employment suitability and job satisfaction for our crew. Because of this, our staff turnover is low compared to many other dive centres here on Koh Tao, and our staff generally comprises of more experienced PADI Instructors and Divemasters than at most other centres too. This has been recognised in an official professionalism review conducted by PADI, where our staff (as well as our equipment, facilities etc) were rated excellent across the board.

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Receiving our Certificate of Excellence for our PADI Professionalism Review

We do employ from within when possible to give new Instructors and Divemasters a chance – as well as the support and mentorship they need – to start their careers. But we’re not the kind of centre where every instructor you’ll meet is a brand new recruit with no additional training (“all the gear, but no idea” as they are often referred to in the industry!). In fact, quite the opposite, and we’re well known for having a solid team of experienced and knowledgeable dive pro’s. Even our newer staff members have additional specialties and qualifications to add to their knowledge and skills set – most are Master Scuba Diver Trainers, and some are also Tec Divers, Gas Blenders, Equipment Specialists, Freedivers etc too. All staff members are knowledgeable about dive equipment across the full range of brands, and if you are interested in investing in your own gear they will happily spend some time advising you on the best choices for you. They will even visit the dive retail stores with you to assist you with trying on/equipment fitting if you wish.

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All of our dive instructors are also instructors in Emergency First Response (First Aid and CPR), and are trained in the provision of Oxygen. In addition to this, specific staff members are also trained in advanced medical response and survival. Our emergency procedures are designed to precision. Each boat has a full Emergency Assistance Plan on board, as well as first aid kits, oxygen and spare equipment. We do not allow unsupervised passengers on our boats, and we make sure that every customer has adequate insurance to cover their needs. Many of the better holiday insurance policies do cover SCUBA activities, but if yours does not cover you we offer dive insurance coverage though us on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis as required. We are also proud to be a dive centre who support Divers Alert Network (DAN)  and also the SSS (Scuba Safety Services) network in our region.

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We are well known as a dive centre that does everything by standards, so you will not find us cutting corners, rushing courses, or providing you with misinformation to make a quick buck. Quite the opposite in fact – we will teach you how to be a competent and confident diver and if we have to spend extra time doing this, then we will do that…at no additional cost. As such, we have built a reputation for not just meeting, but exceeding PADI standards, and are well known in the industry as the dive centre to come to if you want to have things done properly. This includes the provision of all relevant course paperwork and medical forms. The dive industry is rife with horror stories of students having ‘YES’ answers on medical forms, but being advised that it is OK just to go ahead if they wrote ‘NO’ on the form, or if they get signed off by a physician who is not a specialist in the area required. Here at Master Divers we absolutely refuse to do this, although we are happy to help prior to arrival by recommending test centres and helping you research for a specialist if required for sign off. Sometimes this practice loses us customers, but we would rather not have the business than put your safety – and the safety of other students and staff – at risk. We are proud to be a centre that takes pride in the quality of our work, and make every effort to provide all of the correct and relevant information prior to arrival. This includes not just medical and insurance info etc, but also ensuring you have all the help you need with none dive related information such as where to stay , things to do, and where the best beaches are etc. We also help with information on visas and transport options for getting to/from Koh Tao.

PADI Medical Form

Our equipment is checked on a regular basis and we are constantly cycling all of our gear through our tried and tested equipment maintenance regime. All BCDs and regulators are taken apart and cleaned inside and out at least once per month, and our tanks are visually inspected at least once per year and hydrostatically tested at least once every 5 years (as per industry standards). We have a tech room on site where our equipment technicians perform day to day repairs and replacements for any wear and tear pieces such as o-ring/mouthpiece/mask strap replacements, new hoses, depth guages etc. Any faulty or damaged equipment is immediately serviced or replaced to ensure maximum safety. Our compressors have their filters and oil changed frequently, and our 2 dive boats and our longtail boat are each sent to dry dock on the mainland for a month every year for servicing,  maintenance, repainting and upgrades.

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We invest in the best facilities so that your time with us is as comfortable as possible. The dive shop itself is large and airy, with many tables and chairs where you can chat to staff, fellow students, and log your dives after a day out at seas. We have a well stocked retail area and can provide equipment counselling of anything any everything scuba related.

Dive Centre
Dive Centre

Upstairs you will find our custom designed classrooms. Each has the teaching essentials – a mini retail area, whiteboards and markers, comfortable tables and chairs and full set of gear for practice set ups. Each classroom also has a full digital library of PADI videos for each and every course that we teach, so there’ll be no getting stuck with scratched and outdated DVD’s when you learn with us. We also have a set of tablets pre-loaded with digital materials, so if your ferry is late on arrival or you are running a little behind schedule, you can watch the course videos at your resort in the evenings so as not to lose time and delay your course.

Classroom
Classroom

Our equipment room is also large, and is well organised, well vented and well looked after. Everything is clearly labelled and has its place, and our efficient daily sign out procedure helps us keep track of any gear that is not in its place, or out of circulation for servicing/maintenance. The kit room is cleaned daily, and there is plenty space for customers with their own gear to store their belongings whilst diving with us.

Equipment Room
Equipment Room

We have a full stock of additional equipment for rent and also a range of dive specific gear for use on everything from entry level to pro level courses. We use Suunto Zoop dive computers which are given to all students free of charge for use on course dives from open water upwards. We also have SK7 compasses and dive knives for the PADI Advanced Open Water Course. Plus lift bags and reels so we can run Search and Recovery adventure dives and specialty courses. We also have Olympus Tough underwater cameras and housings available for rent for use on Digital Underwater Photography adventure dives and specialty courses.

Suunto Dive Computers

My first underwater camera !

All in all we invest a lot in making sure our equipment, facilities and staff are up to the highest possible standards, and that we have the equipment and skills to be able to teach you any PADI course you may be interested in (within reason of course – if you are interested in Dry Suit Diving or Ice Diving for example, then Koh Tao is not the place for you!).

Your safety and enjoyment are our top priorities, so we hope you enjoy your time with us, and feel comfortable in our care!

Why We Are an Aqua Lung Partner Centre!

Master Divers has been officially partnering with Aqua Lung since 2015, and it’s something we’re very proud of. There’s no denying the very phrase ‘Aqua Lung Partner Centre’ sounds pretty impressive, but unless you are already familiar with the SCUBA industry or down with the ‘know how’ when it comes to equipment brands, it may not be immediately obvious what that means to you as our divers/students. So let’s break it down….

History

The Aqua Lung brand itself is very iconic. Invented in 1943 by the famous ‘father of SCUBA’ Jacques Cousteau and engineer friend Émile Gagnan, the first ever Aqua Lung was a regulator that let people bring air with them under water. Prior to this marine diving activities were conducted using a diving suit and helmet, and relied on air provided by a hose from the surface.

The Aqua Lung made it possible to go deeper underwater, and stay there long enough to observe and study marine life, and explore shipwrecks and caves – something which had not been possible up until this point. If you hadn’t already guessed the connection, the modern name for the Aqua Lung is SCUBA, an acronym for ‘Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus’.

Though originally a basic regulator, the brand has expanded, diversified and thrived since those early days, and it is now possible to find all kinds of gear for SCUBA, snorkelling and swimming that come branded with the Aqua Lung logo.

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Quality

When selecting gear for our customers to use, Aqualung is an easy choice as their reputation for quality mirrors ours when it comes to having the highest standards of safety, as well as a whole heap of experience and knowledge to ensure that the equipment is comfortable and fits you well.

As part of our promise as a partner centre, we are committed to servicing and renewing all of our equipment on a regular basis, so you can be assured that all of our rental gear is either recently purchased or recently serviced.  Old and worn kit is retired and renewed whenever necessary as part of our ongoing commitment to ensuring our customers have access to the best possible equipment during their courses with us.

Here at Master Divers we believe in leading by example. So you’ll see our staff rocking out in Aqualung gear too! The Axiom is a popular BCD choice for many of our instructors and divemasters, and the Legend and Titan regulator sets are generally the ‘go to’ regulators of choice. There’s not much our team doesn’t know about dive equipment, so feel free to ask them questions. Just make sure you’re not in a rush and have the time to listen their answers…depending on who you ask you may need a few hours!

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Service

With our local Aqua Lung distributer, Koh Tao Aqua Master, located just a stone’s through (or at least a half decent catapult!) away in the centre of Mae Haad, we’re always just a few minutes’ walk from SCUBA shopping heaven (the temptation is real)! Our local Aqua Lung representatives, Brett and Lana, are always on hand to offer advice, information and support – great for us and our customers alike! Plus it means if you can’t find what you are looking for in our own retail section, a lunch time stroll up the street with one of our staff will have you decked out in your own gear in no time.

The quality of Aqua Lung gear speaks for itself, however in the unlikely event something was to go wrong with a piece of equipment, the warranty policies are excellent – and most problems can be fixed in house.

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Training

Another draw card of being an Aqua Lung Partner Centre is the technical support and knowledge they have to pass on. Aqua Master offer regular in-store training programmes in regulator and BCD servicing and repairs. Not only does this keep our staff some of the most skilled and capable around in terms of boosting their professional development, but it means that in turn, we can fix most problems ourselves on site as and when they happen. All of our full time staff have some technical qualifications, whether in equipment servicing, gas blending or compressor maintenance etc, so you can rest assured that you are in safe, skilled and knowledgeable hands. And on the off chance there’s something we can’t fix (unlikely, have you seen how geeky Jason & Thomas are about equipment?!) we know that help is on hand just a few minutes’ walk, or a phone call to Brett or Lana away.

Aqualung Technician

Direct Benefits

As well as a range of benefits that we can pass on to you, our customers are also entitled to direct privileges thanks to us being an Aqua Lung Partner Centre. Firstly, it means you are entitled to ‘try before you buy’ on a wide range of all products, including BCDs and regulator sets. This is a huge advantage – especially on expensive purchases – as it means you can be 100% sure that you investing in the gear that is right for you.

For those taking one of our pro level programmes and investing in whole sets of their own gear, Aqua Lung have provided us with a range of equipment package options to suit every preference, requirement and budget. For those who are not so excited by the prospect of shopping (are you mad? This is scuba gear, not a new pair of work shoes!) it makes the process quick, easy and hassle free!

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Innovation & Development

Having witnessed several years of changes across all models of Aqua Lung regulators, BCDs, masks and exposure suits etc, we’ve seen so many positive advances in line with new technology. As a company we’re always looking to stay ahead of the trends and keep up with market forces, so it’s both reassuring and motivating for us to work with partners who operate the same way, as it means we can be at the top of our game – and the benefits get passed on to you, our divers!

The latest development and new for 2017 is Aqua Lung’s range of dive computers – something which we are very excited about, and there has already been a few heated ‘discussions’ between the staff about who will get to trial one first! Although we don’t have them in-house yet as they are still very new, some of our customers have made purchases and are already seeing the benefits. One of the best things about the Aqua Lung computer range is the fact that if you need updates or repairs, these can be done either in-house or at head office in Phuket. No need to send them back to Europe/America like with some of the other brands. Awesome!

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So…as you can see there are many reasons and benefits to diving with an Aqua Lung partner centre. If you have any further questions though feel free to comment or contact us via email. And if we’ve caught your interest with the technical side of things, you can learn more on our PADI Equipment Specialist course. If you are interested in being able to service and maintain equipment yourself, ask us for details of the next Aqua Lung course!

Dive shops in Low/Monsoon Season

So, it’s low season here in Koh Tao.  This means less visitors to the island and monsoon seems to have started (I am sat in The Coconut Monkey watching the rain as I type).

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For some, it’s time to go on holiday or even to go home for a few months to catch up with family. High season generally gets going around December time. I’m planning on visiting the West coast for a diving holiday (that’s what we do, go on holiday to do what we do everyday!) for a few days later in November.

Here down at Master Divers, it’s a perfect opportunity to overhaul all of our equipment. Something we’re very proud of here is the quality and condition of our equipment, so it’s servicing time!

Scuba tanks are required to be visually inspected annually and hydrostatic tested every five years.  Time to dig out the spreadsheets and start finding tanks. We have around 130 tanks, fortunately we spread the service schedule out over the year for some but the majority are due between September and December. We take the valves off (we service our own valves) and send them off to Asia Dive Tech in Mae Haad for visual or hydro testing.  Regulators are also serviced annually and we do this in-house.  Service kits are ordered and it’s a great time to hide in the workshop out of the rain pulling them all apart and servicing them. Our second stages are given a basic clean weekly so our regulators are well looked after throughout the year too! (Best addition to a workshop? A Bose Bluetooth Speaker!).

Equipment Room

Masks and straps are inspected weekly for signs of wear and tear so no real need to worry about them as they are replaced as and when required.

Equipment Room

BCD’s and wetsuits – Now is time to repair or replace, fortunately, most of ours are fairly new!  Fins and straps are also overhauled.

Equipment Room

Also, at this time of year, all the dive shops on the island send their boats off for annual service and repaint. Usually they are  sent to dry dock in Chumpon for 2-4 weeks. One day I’ll get over there and have a look at the process, it must be crazy busy over there at this time of year! Our smaller boat was sent earlier this year and the big boat goes over in the next few days. Timing is critical on this with regards to boat space, bookings and also weather conditions for it’s safe journey there and back (people still dive in monsoon!).
So whilst some shops/PADI Pro’s enjoy a holiday or quieter months, down here at Master Divers it stays busy but with slightly different roles. Everyone mucks in for shop renovations and improvements, the tins of paint are out! Different ideas are banded around on how to improve things and get ready for the upcoming high season.

 

Underwater Communication

Effective communication underwater is crucial throughout a dive to keep a dive group together and to ensure everyone is safe, comfortable and still has plenty of air. Dive leaders will communicate their instructions and intentions to other divers, and will often point out and name many marine life species to a dive group so that everyone knows what amazing creatures they are seeing. However, for obvious reasons communication underwater has to be slightly adapted to communication on land. Firstly, we are unable to speak whilst diving because of our regulator and the limited frequency and amplitude of our voices. Another problem is that water actually increases the transmission of acoustic sound due to its density and elasticity meaning sound waves hit both our ear drums at such a speed, the time difference between right and left (or vice versa) is too small for our brains to determine its direction.

Therefore, the easiest and simplest way to communicate whilst diving is by using hand signals. These are easily learnt and understood within the diving community to convey essential messages whilst underwater. From okay, to not okay, asking and responding to air, instructions to ascend or descent, these can immediately be both sent and received at the flick of the wrist. Most dive professionals will also have home grown signals specific to their style and environment, so keep an eye out and listen to the dive briefing on every dive!

UnderwaterSignals

Hand signals are adequate for diving, as good buddies and dive groups stay within visual distance of each other, are attentive to others actions, and are recreationally in very safe conditions. However, how can underwater communication be more effective and improved, and what new technologies are being developed?

Our main source of land-based communication is through radio waves, water prevents the propagation and transmission of radio waves unless at very low frequencies, which then limits the power of data transmission and communication. Submarines can use extremely low-frequency radio waves at shallow depths to receive communication (but not transmit), however this is not very applicable to divers who wish to communicate to one another on a dive. To develop more effective underwater communications systems, science looked to nature and found that by harnessing the use of acoustic sound waves as whales and dolphins do, we can begin to send and receive data over greater distances and to greater depths. Special communication systems called hydrophones have now been developed that have the power to convert speech into an ultrasound wave that is emitted in high-frequency vibrations too acute for the human ear. These ultrasounds travel through the water very effectively and are detected and decoded by another diver’s receiver which converts it back into sound. This system clearly has many benefits for recreational divers in buddy teams, but even more so for high-risk tech diving and commercial diving where divers are able to communicate clearly with both each other and any surface support

UnderwaterComs

This technology is great for safety, and there are already products in development to allow simplistic communication through buddy devices that don’t rely on voice communications. So although many divers may not feel the need for open voice communication channels underwater, an additional ‘buddy bracelet’ may become common in recreational diving in the future and allow instant communication at the touch of a button. As the technology advances further, researchers hope to make vast improvements to tsunami detection, pollution monitoring and offshore oil and natural gas exploration.

DART II System Schematic

 

Do we still need NDL Tables?

 

Throughout the history of diving, decompression limits have been calculated using standard No Decompression Limit (NDL) Tables, the first of which were developed in 1908 by John Haldane after several experiments exposing goats to pressure. Since then, tables have been redeveloped and redefined to provide a model for safety limits within diving based on depth and time. There are several different variations based on different decompression research, however recreationally we typically use the quite conservative Recreational Dive Planner (RDP).

NDL Tables act as a mathematical model to predict how much nitrogen our bodies will absorb during a dive based on maximum depth and bottom time. Providing we stay within the parameters of the tables, do not approach the limits, and follow the rules such as maximum ascent rates, we can theoretically avoid decompression complications whilst diving. However, with technological advances introducing dive computers into mainstream diving, is it still important to use dive tables?

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One negative of dive tables is that their NDL limits are based on a square dive profile, assuming we will be descending to our maximum depth at the beginning of the dive and remain at that depth for our planned bottom time. This actually limits our dive time as in reality we rarely stay at our deepest depth for an entire dive, but instead step up throughout the dive to reduce the effects of pressure and extend our usable air. It is possible to plan multi-level dives using dive tables, however this can sometimes be complex to calculate and it still means you are left with a fixed dive plan with strict depths and times. Computers on the other hand periodically calculate your current time and depth throughout a dive and therefore calculate a real-time NDL based on your actual dive. This benefits divers by extending out NDL times by crediting a diver for ascending to a shallower depth at lower pressure, but will also penalise and alert a diver who is approaching their NDL limits. These constant updates allow for more flexible, yet also more controlled and safer diving.

The most basic dive computers will calculate real-time NDL limits based on time and depth, which will then be used to plan surface intervals and future dive limits per individual diver. However more advanced models can also calculate EANx dive limits and oxygen exposure, multiple gases, and gas switching adding extra safety to technical diving. Some models even have digital compasses and wireless air transmitters calculating real-time air consumption. Not all of these features are necessary on every dive, but each provides a real-time safety parameter that NDL tables cannot.

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Due to their benefits, dive computer use has now become so engrained in modern diving that certification organisations such as PADI no longer require instructors to teach NDL tables as part of the Open Water course. But does this mean they are obsolete, or shouldn’t be taught? No. Understanding dive tables and NDL limits is a vital part of understanding dive theory, dive planning, and diving safely. Without the knowledge and comprehension of decompression theory and NDL limits it is difficult to understand or respect what a dive computer is telling you. Understanding what a dive computer shows is important, but so is understanding why. These principals can be taught without tables, or by demonstrations shown on computers, but the best way to illustrate the functionality of NDL limits is through learning how to use original dive tables.

That is why we will always go through the effort of teaching dive tables to make sure our students fully understand how decompression effects diving, and how to dive safely within the NDL’s. We’d still always recommend diving with computers for the added benefits and safety current tech and future developments provide, just make sure you understand the theory, and if ever without a computer revert back to the tables. Dive tables will also never run out of batteries!

Thank the Tank

 

Scuba tanks are often taken for granted, and overlooked as an integral piece of diving equipment. They are seen as disposable, single use, dull and grey, and are often indistinguishable from one another. However, we rely on our tanks every dive to provide the very essential air we breathe. To dive safely, we should at the very least know the differences between tanks, the safety checks when inspecting our tanks, and the regulations and testing of tanks.

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First of all, each tank should have several markings around the tank neck providing the specific details of each tank. These should include the area of manufacture, the material, the working pressure, the serial code, and the hydrostatic pressure test dates. It’s important to know the material of your tank as this will affect its weight throughout the dive. Common aluminium tanks (3AL) actually lose weight throughout a dive as we use up the air from within, typically losing around 2 kg of negative buoyancy. This means divers generally have to carry additional weight with them when using aluminium tanks to stay in control of their buoyancy when approaching the surface to complete their safety stop on low air. Steel tanks (3AA) on the other hand maintain their weight throughout the dive and therefore extra weight is not always necessary.

While studying the details inscribed on the tank, it’s also important to remember to check the tanks hydrostatic pressure test dates. This highlights when the tank was previously tested for its safety and structural integrity by a certified technician. During the test, a tank’s valve is removed and the tank is filled with water inside a special hydro compression barrel where it is pressurised to 140% of its working pressure. The tanks expansion under pressure is measured by water displacement, the amount of which determines a pass or a fail. Upon passing the test, the date is inscribed on the neck and the tank is certified for the next 5 years (or less depending on local laws and regulations). Please remember to always check test dates and only dive on safe and certified tanks!

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Tank valve systems also change between tanks. Yolk systems are all fitted with an O ring and require yolk regulators to clamp over the valve to create a seal. Alternatively, DIN tank valves allow DIN regulators to screw into the tank valve for a tighter and more robust attachment. DIN regulators all have their own O ring, and are often used in colder, more strenuous diving where the likelihood of freezing or impact is increased (e.g. Tech, Ice, Cavern, and Cave). Both systems are reliable and used worldwide, yet it is important to know which is which, and how each tank valve and regulator interact.

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As few people own their own tank due to travel and transportation difficulties, it’s a good idea to always check a rental tank before setting up your scuba equipment. Firstly you want to make a note of its material, and check the tank is within 5 years or less of its previous hydrostatic pressure test dates. Also make sure it has the right tank valve for your regulators, and that either the tank (yolk) or your regulators (DIN) have an intact O ring. Always check the tank over for any dents or deformities in a visual inspection. Once satisfied it appears in good shape, remember to open the tank valve momentarily to clear any dust or debris before attaching your regulators.

After you’ve done all your checks and you’re happy with your tank, assemble your equipment and you’re good to go diving with the assurance your tank is safe to use. Although heavy, and dull, we truly couldn’t dive without scuba tanks, so try to show a little appreciation and thank the tank!