Snorkel feature of the month - February 2013

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Snorkel feature of the month - February 2013
TORBETONTHETUBE
Torbet on the Tube:
Plan the snorkel
A New Year beckons – so how can you develop your snorkelling skills
and awareness in 2013? Andy Torbet has a few suggestions
RAbove: Andy enjoys
a duck dive with his
girlfriend, jazz singer
Becki Biggins
22
The depth question
Overhead environments
This is a matter of deciding what
depth you are comfortable duckdiving down to. It may be you
want to look at something at
your limit and are happy
spending an hour in the water for
maybe ten one-minute visits…
with the other 50 minutes spent
catching your breath and
preparing for the next jaunt
below. Alternatively you may
want to choose something
reasonably shallow where you
can pop up and down all day and
move with the object of your
dive. Finally, the site may be very
shallow and with clear enough
visibility to see all the attractions
without ever having the tip of
your snorkel leave the open air.
I’m not your Mum [thanks for
clearing that one up – Editor].
I snorkel into wrecks and caves,
so I’d be an enormous hypocrite to
warn you off it. Besides I’d like to
hope most people would approach
snorkelling through an underwater
overhead environment with the
respect it is due. I’d advise
choosing something you are
confident in seeing and knowing
the way out or being able to turn
around easily.
Fishing lines
Getting tangled in a line when
diving can be a serious business
but equally it can simply be a
momentary issue. When
snorkelling it will always be
potentially very dangerous.
I always carry a knife. When
considering a line-cutting tool
you have to address the issue of
fishing line, since snorkellers tend
to dive from the accessible
shorelines often visited by
fishermen. For instance, you can
often see John Dory in the
shallow of Hope Cove in Dorset,
but I’ll guarantee you see more
lines and sinkers.
SMBs and Floats
Divers tend only to deploy these
when boats are involved.
However, a large SMB or float
can be an advantage not just for
marking our position as
snorkellers to shore/boat cover,
other boats and fishermen but
also as a place to rest up. When
I’m out far from shore or for a
few hours I take a float of some
description. I let it go whenever I
dive down and it’s never that far
away when I surface. It’ll only
disappear during your dive if the
wind is strong and if that’s the
case I’m clinging to it and
heading home. To ensure you
don’t risk a disappearing float or
SMB, attach it to a small reel.
Scuba and freediving
Calculating surface intervals and
combined dives is something
scuba divers pay a lot of attention
to, however, people often forget
that banging out a dive with
significant deco then freediving
to 20 metres five minutes later is
not a smart move. These depths
may be outside the realms of
snorkelling and certainly if your
intention is to remain on or near
the surface then you’ve little to
worry about. However, there have
been cases of divers suffering
decompression sickness after a
morning dive and then some
freediving soon after. I’m afraid
ALL PHOTOS: DAN BOLT
there are no guidelines on times
and depth so I’d recommend
caution. If I am doing any
snorkelling at depths below
about 6m I’ll try to snorkel first
and increase the safety margins
on subsequent dives or avoid any
diving that day if I’m planning on
venturing deep on a duck dive.
Consider buoyancy
With scuba it’s pretty cut and dry.
Ideally with a cylinder and 50 bar,
you should be able to
comfortably hold a three-metre
stop. But when snorkelling you
should consider what sort of dive
you’re doing. For beginners or
those with no intention of leaving
the surface there is no point in
wearing weight, in fact it’s a
good idea to have a buoyancy aid
other than your suit.
As you get more advanced,
then there are times when you
may wish to wear some weight.
Ideally you should still be positively
buoyant at the surface so that you
can rest and catch your breath.
Then as the pressure increases
with depth your suit will squeeze
and you should become more
neutrally buoyant. Obviously, you
need to experiment by adding
small amounts of lead (and with
boat or shore support at hand).
Advanced swimmers such as
spear-fishers often choose to be
negatively buoyant, but this is
potentially dangerous and should
only be attempted by very
experienced snorkellers, with the
correct support and build-up.
VTop: Starfish feeding
on mussels under
Swanage pier
RAbove: Using an
SMB for support
SBelow: Shallow fun
in a weed bed
23

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