What I have learned about proper weighting

When you learn to dive, at least with the shop I go to, you are overweighted at the beginning.  This helps you to stay down even when you may not have all the air out of your vest or when doing skills in shallow water.  During your class you learn the importance, but maybe not the feel, of proper weighting.  In the confined water series and again in the open water dives a buoyancy check is taught.  It’s the only time we are allowed to hold our breath in diving. 

Even so, coming out of open water most people simply use the amount of weight they were given in class because they don’t know any better.  In advanced open water a buoyancy check and fine tuning of the weights is revisited in the Peak Performance Buoyancy Elective.  In my opinion this should be mandatory rather than an elective.  PPD teaches more techniques to stay neutral thereby reducing damage to the environment, reducing air consumption, and increasing diver comfort.   But even the PPD elective doesn’t cover it all. 

Proper weighting is highly individual and, at least for me, is more of an art than a science.  After my Open Water and Advanced courses I was over weighted and I knew it.  So I took of 2lbs and it felt great.  I felt free in the water and everything was much easier.  This carried me through rescue and several more recreational dives.  Recently, I found myself feeling over weighted again.  Again, I removed 2lbs and it felt good.  As before I felt it was easier to move around and I didn’t have to work as hard. 

Then came my skills workshops for Divemaster.  I was perfectly weighted for an open water dive but too light for stationary skill work in shallow water.   I also found myself being pulled forward, face first, into the sand.  So I changed things up again adding weight to my previously empty trim pockets. 

The funny thing about being properly weighted as a divemaster or instructor is that it’s inadvisable.  All of the instructors and divemasters I have talked to all say they carry extra weight.  There is a purpose to this of course.  When you enter the water with customers who are under weighted it’s a good idea to have extra weight to be able to give to them.  And if you have a group of 6 and 2 or 3 are under weight you may have to give up quite a bit. 

The good news is that being overweighted is easy to compensate for by adding air to your BCD.  I find it funny that I have yet to really find my perfect weight configuration and here I am overweighting myself on purpose.  Perhaps I will never really know what perfectly balanced is.


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