Wednesday 18 September 2013

A view to a Dive....

Diving equipment is all important but a mask helps us all see the underwater world Many times I am asked by Divers what the most important piece of equipment is that they buy themselves.

Of course, all kit is important in its own rights. Your regulators are life support equipment and it is essential you have well serviced working regs. Wetsuits must fit well to keep you warm and it isn't nice to rent a wetsuit knowing what many other divers have done to keep themselves warm... you know what I am talking about....

But for me, the most important piece of equipment for a Diver is a good MASK!!!

Masks are extremely personal pieces of equipment and a good mask can be the difference between an uncomfortable dive and an amazing one. If you try scuba with an ill fitting mask that constantly leaks (or worse a mask that constantly fogs up on the dive so you can't see), it can ruin your dive.

When shopping for masks, there are so many different styles now to choose from. High Volume and Low Volume masks and full face designs. The skirts that used to be pretty rigid and standard are now available in clear or black skirts and are becoming more supple and soft and easily mould around the contours of your own face.

That's the other thing about a mask, it is so personal because a mask tends to mould to your face and no two faces are perfectly alike. Even when you gain or lose weight, it can change the shape of your face and cause your mask to leak a bit.

My advice, if you are learning to dive with a Dive Centre or a Dive Club, make use of the supplies they have at their disposal and try a few different models while you are diving to see which fits you better. Just because a mask fits your instructor or your friend doesn't mean it is ideal for you.

When you try a mask on, put it against your face and suck in through your nose, making sure all your hair etc is out of the skirt so it can seal. If the mask sticks to your face, it has formed a seal, which is a good first step.

Make sure the mask feels comfortable and isn't pushing against any part of your face, particularly your nose and the point between your eyebrows. If you can feel it above water, you can pretty much guarantee under pressure underwater it will be much worse.

When you find one you like, toothpaste it. You will need an abrasive toothpaste, so the gels are no good for this. Put a good dollop on each lens and rub it around. This is to take off the silicon layer that causes the mask to fog up in the water. Rinse it off and repeat a couple times.

Finally, when you dive in your mask, do not be tempted to pull the straps too tight, as this distorts the face and creates little wrinkles in the skin that are like channels for the water to pass through, breaking the mask's seal. The water pressure will keep the mask on your face without being too tight plus you shouldn't have that lovely red ring around your face when you pop out later that tells everyone where you have been.

So, the secret to a good mask... try as many as you can to find the best fit for you and see where Scuba Diving can take you.

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