Scuba diving is a unique experience, as we get the opportunity to explore a unique world; that of the seabed. The contact with the liquid element and the exploration of the marine world for a pretty long time, are two of the basic elements that make diving an adventurous and at the same time relaxing activity.
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History of diving
Historical evidence shows that diving took place in many fields of people’s everyday life. Initially, underwater diving was practiced for the finding or retrieval of treasures and precious materials from various expeditions. When it comes to the commercial part, diving was used in ancient Greece as well, in order to collect sponges from the seabed even at a 30 m depth.
In the Mediterranean , where shipping was highly developed, there were many cases of shipwrecks too. As a result, professional divers were hired to collect or rescue as many goods as possible. Divers, in this case, received as payment a portion of the rescued goods.
Finally, diving was exploited by military operations, with the intention of building defenses or sinking enemy ships.
Some of the ancient divers’ problems, besides the old or not even existent technology with which they were occupied in some cases, was, like today, the divers’ disease and the faint during their long stay on the seabed while holding their breath.
What is Scuba diving?
The word Scuba is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. In other words, the underwater activity using: an autonomous breathing apparatus, i.e. a tank, a buoyancy and a breathing regulator, which will be analyzed in more detail below. The difference from free diving lies in the fact that the diver dives autonomously.
How can I start?
The very first contact with the unique experience of Scuba diving usually starts with a ‘’getting to know it’’ dive, during which you are trained for two or three hours and come into contact with the equipment and safety measures, while you also make a dive at a small depth below 12 m. From then on, in order to start diving legally, one must be trained and certified as a diver. The certification as an autonomous diver can be provided in a school that follows the European standards. World-renowned certifications are these of PAPI and SSI organization and they are recognized worldwide.
Divers’ categories and diplomas
Except for the simple underwater ride, diving has got several subcategories, depending on the interest of each diver. Obviously, they vary from professional to amateur and they differ in what goals and eagerness everyone has. There are open-water programs that vary according to the depth of the dive. There are also rescue or special equipment programs, in which professionals are mainly interested. Finally, there are programs for various specialties, such as underwater photography or shipwreck diving.
|SPECIALTY COURSES||MAIN COURSES||PRO|
|Deep Diver||Bubble Maker|
Discover Scuba Diving
|Enriched air diver||Scuba Diver||Emergency First Response Instructor|
|Night Diver||Open Water Diver||Open Water Scuba Instructor|
|Advanced Open Water Diver||Emergency First Response|
|Search and recovery||Rescue Diver|
|Equipment specialist||Master Scuba Diver|
|Peak performance buoyancy|
Simple everyday problems, which are few or not at all visible on land, can be a big problem on the seabed, due to the increased pressure. Indicatively, some of these issues may be asthma or lung disorders, allergies, ear equalization problems or even any medical treatment the diver is taking. All these matters must be answered honestly when completing the relevant questionnaire. In terms of age, children from eight years old can already start one of the special training programs, to become familiar with diving.
You can see some Scuba diving videos below:
In my experience, I paid 380€ for the PAPI Open Water Diving program at my school, which is for diving up to 18 m. Usually, most people start with this, since it is a prerequisite for attending the next programs and specialties. From time to time there are various offers for each specialty, so it would be good to be aware and not give extra money. The cost includes training (theoretical &practical), equipment, certification, your logbook for keeping a record of your future dives and the theory book.
Mask: One of the most easily understood and yet one of the most basic things. It is distinguished in several types. The primary elements that must be considered by the diver are the size, as well as the correct application and the satisfactory field of view. The back of our head should not be pressured. In order not to fog during the dive, it is preferable to rinse it first with a little sea water or saliva.
Fins: They provide comfort, flexibility and speed for the diver, so that he/she becomes one with the environment in which he/she enters. In addition, they protect the diver from any injuries or contact with dangerous aquatic life. The flexibility of the fins varies, depending on the materials it is made of.
Snorkel: It enables the observation of the seabed without the need for surface breathing. It is also used before diving in case you need to swim to the starting point, so that you do not consume the available oxygen already from the beginning. Pay attention to the material it is made of. It must have a soft mouthpiece to avoid teeth and gum irritation.
Buoyancy Control Device (BCD): One of the most important elements of the diving equipment. It is the device that allows the diver to voluntarily adjust the buoyancy by adding or removing air. Out of the seabed, the regulator can be filled with air even by mouth, otherwise during the dive it can be filled only in a mechanical way by providing low pressure. For air removal there are relief valves.
Breathing regulator: The mechanism responsible for reducing the tank’s air pressure, to the point where the air becomes breathable. It is distinguished in two stages. The first stage provides the possibility of high- and low-pressure outputs that can be used to fill the BCD, whereas the second stage provides the outputs used by the control instruments.
Weight belt: In addition to the buoyancy regulator, comes the weight belt mechanism, which helps the diver’s buoyancy. Some important characteristics of the belt is the presence of a quick release buckle, the weight holding mechanism and the correct weight distribution by us, so as not to give your waist a hard time and avoid problems with the tank or the buoyancy regulator.
Diving suit: It protects the diver from contact with dangerous fish, sharp rocks, or other dangerous situations in the water. What is more, depending on the type of the suit, it provides the appropriate thermal protection to the diver. They are divided in dry and wet type, with the latter been widespread for recreational diving. The first one is mostly used in specialized diving with extreme temperature and high safety demands. Wet type suits are distinguished in different designs, according to the diver’s needs. They can be one-piece covering the whole body, with a built-in or non-built-in hood, or short at the knees and short sleeves for summer diving and can be accompanied by boots, socks and gloves.
Air tank: It is the element that distinguishes free from Scuba diving. It is the container that safely transfers the high-pressure air. Its shape and size are proportional to their manufacturer’s type. The most common capacities are 10, 12, 15 and 18 lt. They are filled with atmospheric air under the pressure of 200-300 ATM and the material from which they are made is either steel or aluminum alloy. Due to the constant pressure at which the tanks are, their manufacturing specifications are determined by government agencies.
Instruments consoles: All the necessary instruments with which the diver can monitor the depth of the dive (depth gauge), the pressure of the tank to control the air reserves (manometer), his/her direction underwater (compass) and the temperature of the seabed in all instruments which have a built-in thermometer. The above instruments are usually analog, which means that they have a mechanical function and provide a satisfactory set of information so that the diver remains within the designed limits of his/her dive. Lately, though, with the advancement of technology Dive computers are gaining ground. Although diving computers are becoming more and more reliable, one must always pay attention to the diving conditions and must not exceed his/her limits.
Dive torch: It is very useful in conditions of limited visibility, whether this is a shipwreck spot, or if we just want to see more clearly the inside of the rock. It is essential for underwater photography since the colors become more distinct with the additional brightness.
Underwater camera: Unfortunately, what one will encounter in the sea cannot be pre-determined and that is the exciting thing about it. Hence, it is necessary, to carry with us an underwater camera so that we can capture the moment because there may not be a second chance.