The Changing World of Scuba Diving
Scuba Diving is a Changing World from when I first Started
It is hard to believe, I still shake my head and chuckle a bit. By shear luck and happenstance, I was looking in a binder this week for some information and came across my Graduation Certificate. On this date, August 28, 1992 I graduated from the Combat Diver Course in Panama City, FL. I thought I knew what scuba diving was back then. Thought I was up on all the latest gear and sound scuba diving techniques. Gee, did I have a little more to learn…..
Recently we had a person that scuba dived in the 1970’s. Was another trained Military diver and did not have a valid certification card from an issuing (recognized) agency. By his statements he knows how to scuba dive and doesn’t need to take any classes. To which I think, do you still kick the switch on the floorboard to turn on and off the high beams in your car?
Equipment has dramatically changed since I have been a scuba diver. Scuba cylinders more often than not had a “J” Valve on them unlike today where most cylinders have a “K” valve. With the “J” valve you were supposed to dive with the little turn handle in the up position. Once your tank got down between 300 and 500 psi, you were not able to breath any longer so you pulled (or turned) that valve down and breathed the remainder of the air in the tank. Now if you happened to bump that valve against something, forgot to turn it up before stepping into the water, or if your “buddy” decided to turn it for you during the dive; you went to turn that valve down and it was already there. You now realized that you had no air reserve. Sounds comforting doesn’t it?
You might say, why didn’t you keep a better eye on your pressure gauge. Well that was the thing, and the reason you had the “J” valve, we didn’t have pressure gauges back then. We thought it was cool that one diver had a pressure gauge, so we all estimated our tank volume off that diver. If he was low, we were all low. Seems reasonable doesn’t it? You really didn’t have to worry about one diver being higher or lower by a great margin. They were only going as far as what your tether was. Yes, we were tethered together. Imagine 4 to 6 divers going through the water as 1 organism because we were all connected to each other. Don’t you enjoy your freedom a little more now?
Regulators are built for your comfort today. Most of you have heard that the best way to select a regulator is through the Ease of Breathing. Want to find out how easy your regulator breaths, try a Conshelf, Aqualung or a Dacor from the 1980’s and 90’s. LeeAnn had a chance to breath one and thought there was something wrong with it. I took a couple of breaths off it and let her know it was fine. It was that technology. Her chest hurt a bit from having to make the physical act of breathing. This was in the pool, I would have used it if we were scuba diving in the open water. For some reason, if you were over 100 feet underwater and upside down, then you really had to breath hard to get the air you needed. Sounds comforting doesn’t it?
Let’s not forget that BCD. My first was the “Horse Collar”. It really didn’t provide you with buoyancy. It provided you a level of safety by floating you to the surface. Your buoyancy was controlled by your speed. As long as you kept moving you were good. Dives for 90 minutes or longer were really not heard of on a single tank. Unless you did a couple of things were not going to mention here. Now, by relaxing and enjoying yourself, you could make a dive to 100 feet, come up and finish out the tank at a shallower depth and have 90 minutes or more underwater. I like the relaxing thing more now. It is so peaceful to be underwater and just floating around….
The equipment of Scuba diving has changed since that graduation certificate of mine. While I appreciate all that I was taught (and still use today), there was more to learn about scuba diving and the wonders of that world. Like all of us, I started out at one point and have progressed to another point. The changes coming to equipment in the future will make some of our equipment of today look quaint. Still, it is for the betterment of scuba divers. You are safer, more comfortable, and have the ability to enjoy yourselves more underwater today than what we did in the past. Still, you need to scuba dive to be a good diver! Or all these upgrades and conveniences really don’t mean a lot if you don’t dive.