WHY IS THERE WATER IN YOUR MASK?
And other open water skills misconceptions.
Are you one those of those divers who always seems to have water in your mask? After 21 years as an instructor, dive guide, dive boat captain and former dive shop owner, I frequently see divers clearing their mask incorrectly. This isn’t the only mistake I see divers make because they misunderstood either the mechanics or purpose of skills they were taught in open water class. In this and the next blog I will debunk some of these mysteries. Focusing on mask clearing today.
When we are taught to clear our masks in open water class, the instructor often teaches us to “pull gently at the bottom of the mask to break the seal.” Unfortunately, many students graduate with the understanding that they must pull the bottom of their masks away from their face. While it does help get most of the water out of your mask I guarantee that there will still be some left. YOU DO NOT NEED TO PULL THE MASK AWAY FROM YOUR FACE. This usually results in water being sucked back in when you reseal it against your face because divers stop blowing air before they let the mask back into place. Most of the time you can get rid of the water without using your thumbs at all. Take one or two fingers of each hand and place them firmly on the top of each lens or the top of the frame. Next, push the mask firmly against your forehead. Not up but straight back. Then start blowing air out your nose like you are trying to get rid of that big snot wad. (You wouldn’t believe the disgusting things instructors see swimming around in your masks when it is done correctly and you are congested.) But that is ok and part of our job. Don’t be embarrassed by it. Next, tilt your head back and change your position so that you are looking towards the heavens. This allows all the water to settle in the bottom of the mask and be forced out when you are blowing. A diver who is swimming along in a nice horizontal posture will not get all of the water out of his mask until he gets himself in a more upright position allowing the air between the skirt and his skin to become the lowest point. Finally, in rare occasions, use your thumbs to break the seal and not pull the mask away from your face. Try it and see how easy it really is.
All faces are different shapes. For example, divers usually live happy lives so we get “smile lines”. These are the wrinkles that form on either side of your nose and mouth when you smile. There are hundreds of mask styles to choose from. Keep trying them on until you find one that seals correctly. To do this, make sure all of your hair is out of the way and push the mask gently against your face and don’t use the strap. Inhale through your nose so that the mask sucks to your face. Block your palette to your nose so that if you talk you would hear a nasally voice. If the mask stays on your face until you exhale through your nose it is a good fit. When a mask fits me right I can carry on a conversation without it falling off.
If you follow these instructions the next time you are diving you will have less of a problem with water in your mask. Guess what? You will see better and enjoy your dive more.
Until next time always make your total number of ascents equal your total number of descents.
Your really cool blogger,