I recently got my diving certification and would like to improve my neutral buoyancy. I will be going to a nearby quarry. My question involves the proper amount of weight to be added. I will be wearing a 7 mil wetsuit and using an 80 cu. ft. steel tank. I weigh 175 lbs. and own a Scubapro Knighthawk bcd. How much weight should I add to the bcd? Should the weight be evenly distributed in the front and back pockets? Thanks for your help.
Most new divers struggle with buoyancy. I know I did. It wasn't until my advanced open water course that I got some good tips from my instructor on dealing with neutral buoyancy.
Tips for figuring out how much weight you need to be neutrally buoyant:
Start with about five percent of your body weight.
Add weight according to the thickness of your wetsuit. I wear a 7mm wetsuit and I add three pounds. If you are using 7mm hood, booties and gloves, try about five pounds.
If you are diving in salt water, add an additional three to five pounds. (You do not need to worry about this now because you will be diving in a fresh water quarry).
An eighty cubic foot tank will become positively buoyant towards the end of the dive. You can add another three to five pounds to compensate for this.
This adds up to about 17 pounds of weight. To check if this is the proper amount of weight you need, do a weight check once you are in the water.
At the surface, with your bcd inflated, take a couple of breaths to relax. Once you are relaxed and ready to desend, exhale completely and slowly start releasing the air from your bcd. If you are properly weighted, you should start to slowing desend. If you start dropping like a rock, swim back to the surface, inflate your bcd and remove two pounds of weight and try again. If you deflate your bcd and you are still looking at the shore, add two pounds.
You will know when you have the right amount of weight when after you exhale, you can slowly desend by deflating your bcd. Desend about five feet and take a breathe. You should feel your desent stop. Exhale and you will start to desend again. Once you can do this, you will be able to maintain a stationary position anywhere in the water colume by your breathing. This is the Zen of diving or, underwater medatation.
I find that if I wear my weights just in front of my hips, this helps me stay in a good face down swimming position and keeps me more streamline in the water.
Achieving neutral buoyancy takes practice and patience. The more you dive, the better your buoyancy will become.
Try this tips out and see if they work for you. They've worked for me for a long time. I would be interested in knowing how you dive turns out.