California offers divers both unique opportunities and challenges. Divers become comfortable and enjoy new diving situations by gaining confidence through experience. In addition to mastering diving skills such as buoyancy control and navigation, there are simple things you can do to increase your joy of California diving. Here is my top ten:
10. Carry a light. Diving beneath a thick bed of kelp, or under a plankton layer can be dark. A good light will allow you to see more critters and see their true color.
9. Join a club. Clubs are a great way to meet and dive with experienced divers and share both experience and friendship. Most clubs have regular outings that allow you to experience new sites with divers who are familiar with that site.
8. Give back something to the ocean. The ocean gives you a lot of enjoyment. Perhaps you should consider giving something back? Try participating in a beach or harbor clean up, or fish count. This is also a great way to meet new buddies.
7. Find a fun excuse to dive. Sightseeing may be lot of fun at first, but may not be enough to keep you diving. Take up photography, hunting, or take the time to learn something about the critters you encounter. You will be surprised how much more joy you will find in diving if you have a little more knowledge and purpose.
6. Don’t quit diving in winter. The very best visibility of the year occurs in between winter storms. Over the years I have found that my best wide-angle photographs are taken during these days of exceptional visibility. Although the air may be cooler, the water temperature is often warmer in winter!
5. Explore a new dive site. Tired of your favorite site? Have you given all the fish names? Try adding to your repertoire of sites. This will add freshness and diversity to your diving, and the challenge of diving different sites will extend your comfort range.
4. Buy your own gear. Do you rent different gear each time? Does it fit less than optimally? If you own your own gear you can get what fits your body and diving style, and you gain comfort in familiarity.
3. Dive regularly. Regular diving keeps your skills current. Diving will be more enjoyable if you can focus on the ocean’s critters and not on your diving technique.
2. Kelp-proof your gear. Most of California diving is within our magnificent kelp beds. Look over you gear and remove or secure pieces that may hook kelp. Tape the loose ends of your fin straps; electrical tape works well. Position your knife on the inside of your leg, or better yet on your BC. Many BC manufactures offer kelp-friendly options to mount knife sheaths.
And the top tip is:
1. Get the right exposure suit. How many times have you watched a new diver suffer because their wetsuit did not fit? Are you cold between dives? If you are cold you are not going to enjoy your dive. Most divers will find a dry suit will offer the most warmth and comfort, particularly when doing repetitive diving. For many activities a wetsuit is preferable to a dry suit, but unless you have an off-the-rack body you will be warmer in a custom suit.