24 Skills – Skill Session 2

Clearing the mask

Clearing the mask

As I am doing my IDC shortly I am reviewing the 24 skills that must be demonstrated on an Open Water Course. This is so that I have them clearly defined in my head and I know how to do them flawlessly.  Here are the skills from Session 2.

6. Descents
When descending we use a 5-point descent. This uses the mnemonic SORTED.S = Signal – Signal to your buddy that you are going to descent. Give them a big thumbs down.
O = Orientate – Look around, get your bearings to the boat or shore. Check what is below you.
R = Regulator – Exchange your snorkel for your regulator. This is important, you don’t want to descend or allow your buddy to descend with a snorkel in their mouth.
T = Time – Note time / Start timer even / especially if using a dive computer.
E = Elevate – Lift low pressure inflater hose and deflate your BCD,
D = Descend –  Equalize while descending, looking down.Descend feet first but once you are able try to get to a horizontal position. Remember that you use the LPI to stop you from descending, adding a little at a time.

7. Regulator Clearing

This is a skill that is also done on a DSD. The first one that I demonstrate is the clearing by exhalation, the second is by using the purge button. To demonstrate these skills. Take the regulator out of your mouth, hold it mouth-piece down, remember to make bubbles and move it to the side. Show that you are blowing bubbles. Point to the bottom of the regulator and highlight that that goes towards the chin. Put the regulator back in your mouth. Now you obviously the first time you clear the regulator by exhaling and the second time you use the purge button.

For recovering the regulator, it starts the same as the above two skills, but this time rather than replacing the regulator you let go of it to the side. Put your right arm out in front of you, touch your knee, then touch the bottom of the cylinder. Lean to the right, then make a large circle with your right arm. Finish the circle with your arm in front of you. Take your left hand and follow along your right arm until you find the hose for the regulator, retrieve the regulator, put it in your mouth and then clear it any way you like.

8. Mask Removal and Replacement + Clearing

At some point you will lose your mask on a dive or more than likely you will get a little water in it and you need to remove it. This is why we practice this skill. A lot of students struggle with this skill – even just adding a little water to the mask.

Pinch the top of your mask so that it breaks the seal with your face. This allows a small amount of water to trickle in. Allow the mask to fill completely (on the DSD you only need to put a little water in and then clear it). Once the mask is full, remove the strap from behind your head and then slowly remove the mask from your face. Put your thumb in the nose cavity of the mask.  Now that the mask has been removed it can be replaced. Make sure that there is nothing inside the mask, and then brush your hair out of the way. Place the mask on your face, using your thumb in the nose cavity to help get it on correctly. Pull the strap over your head.

Now it is time to clear the mask. Press firmly on the top corners of your mask with your index and middle fingers – your thumbs should not touch the mask. Pressing firmly tilt your head back slowly while you exhale from your nose. (Pro tip: close your eyes as sometimes the salt water will splash your eyes).  You should also check that you have put the strap on correctly and that it is not twisted.

9. Air Depletion / Alternative Air Source Combined

In this skill the instructor turns off the air for the diver. The diver continues to breath while watching the SPG. The diver should note the the SPG reads zero and make the out of air signal. When he makes this signal his buddy should lift his arms and make his octopus easily accessible. It is a good idea for the buddy to cover his mouth with his hands so that the out-of-air diver doesn’t take the primary regulator from him. The out-of-air diver should take his buddy’s octopus and swap it with his primary. Remember to clear the regulator. Once the out-of-air diver is breathing him and his buddy link arms, making sure that the hose for the octopus isn’t trapped under the arms. The buddy then signals “up”, the out-of-air diver reciprocate. In this skill the remain stationary for 1 minute, they don’t ascend.

10. Alternative Air Source Assisted Ascent

This skill is almost the same as the previous one, but you don’t have to simulate air depletion and instead of breathing for 1 minute the out-of-air diver and his buddy ascend to the surface in a controlled manner. At the surface the out-of-air diver manually inflates his BCD orally.

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