One of the hardest things to master when you first set out to learn scuba diving is buoyancy! During your Open water training you might have seen your instructor hanging in the water like Buddha himself and wondered how is he doing that. With this skill you will improve your buoyancy fast and you can practice it basically everywhere.
The hoover method
The hoover skill is one you might remember out of your open water training. This is actually a great skill to improve your buoyancy and you can practice it anywhere. Like with any skill practice makes perfect and the best way to master this skill is to at least do it every dive. An easy way to integrate it in your dive is to do it during a safety stop at the end of your dive.
3 small puffs
Start the skill with negative buoyancy on the bottom and add three small puffs of air to your BCD with your inflator. Now breath in and see if you have some lift. No? Then add three more puffs of air and breath in again, by now you should feel a bit of lift but probably you haven’t reached neutral buoyancy yet. From this point on it is better to add one puff at a time. Keep adding puffs of air until you have sufficient lift when you breath in. The goal of the skill is to remain neutrally buoyant in the water and therefore you can’t touch the ground nor break the surface. The best way to control it is by breathing in the correct manner.
How should I breathe?
Most new divers try to control their position and depth by using their arms and legs but the best way to do this is using your lungs. When you slowly breath in you will notice your starting to ascend a bit. When you slowly breath out you will descent a bit, the fast you breath out the more you stay on level. The slower you breath in the more you will ascent, important is that you keep breathing and won’t hold your breath. The variety in speed with which you breath in and out is what gives you control over your buoyancy. This takes some practice and getting used to.
Often when performing this skill during a open water course the position taught is like the picture above. However this isn’t the only way to do the hover correctly. Other ways are wrapping your arms around your knees and sort of sit in the water, it is even possible to put your hands behind your head and lie down as if your in a hammock. Just find a position which you find most comfortable and practice it. Important is that your hands and legs are crossed or holding something because when the are free you tend to use them for balance, which we don’t want.
If you need some help it is always possible to ask a experienced buddy to coach you or enroll in a SSI Perfect Buoyancy/PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty course.
The techniques you practice with this skill is needed during every dive you do ever again. The sooner you have good buoyancy the more you will enjoy diving.