Peak Perfomance Buoyancy

Advanced Open Water

Dive Three

The third of five open water adventure dives to pass the PADI Advanced Open Water Certification

Peak buoyancy is controlling amount of air in your body to reach a skillful , effortless and controlled equilibrium in the water. Once mastered, you can rise and fall in depth or remain level at will just by controlling the air in your lungs with breath. It’s the essential diving skill that separates graceful goddesses from ambling amateurs.

Starting the dive, we found my optimum dive weight by applying 1kg weights to my BCD until my eye line was level with the water.  Once I was perfectly weighted, I learned how to hover horizontally in the water (known as being neutrally buoyant), first by holding both my arms and legs out like a starfish, then by tucking my arms under my belly, which is the PADI preferred method of diving. Diving in this position ensures you are correctly neutrally buoyant (instead of using a swimming motion to stay level, which uses up vital energy).

Neutral buoyancy makes diving effortless and allows you to hover at any depth. This can be useful to take a rest or hover over any interesting fish you find, without accidentally touching them or disturbing the bottom, (which can cause a cloud of sand or silt, not to mention the fish disappearing!). It’s an essential skill for underwater photography. Our first task was to pass a one kilogram weight between ourselves and to fill and empty our lungs to compensate for the weight, whilst remaining at the same depth in the water. It was quite difficult not to sink or rise at first but I gradually got the hang of it by increasing the air in my lungs, then decreasing the amount immediately having passed the weight across.  Next we used our neutral buoyancy to gently to rise and descend up and down the reef, using our breath to help us manoeuvre.

We practiced moving over the reef with gentle fin kicks, for the first time it was completely effortless and I felt truly at one with the ocean, the neutral buoyancy made me feel like I was flying weightless in the water. It wasn’t long before we found an octopus to hover over. Octopus are generally very shy, only coming out to hunt at night and darting quickly back to their holes when spooked. This one eyed us suspiciously from safety of his hole. I was thrilled. It was the first octopus I had ever seen in and his purple arms and legs were spectacular. Next we practiced a fin pivot. Lying on one side at a forty-five-degree angle and a fin tip on the sand, we slowly breathed in and out, gently rising and falling from the sea floor. The last technique was to practice hovering upright and cross-legged in the water like an underwater meditating Buddha. This was more difficult and took quite some time to master but with lots of colourful fish to watch in clear water and plenty of air, this was by no means an effort. This was a truly fantastic dive, developing and fine tuning my diving skills with a technique I would use on every dive going forward.


The skills covered in the navigation adventure dive

Natural Navigation
180 Degree Turn
Square Navigation
Hand Signals