This article is aimed specifically at dive retailers, instructors and anyone else who sells or recommends equipment to students. Its message is simple: The kind of snorkel we’re generally recommending or selling to beginning scuba divers is absolutely, positively the worst kind for them to buy. And we’ll tell you why.
If you are going to post diving advice on Facebook, you might want to take the time to check your facts and think things all the way through. Case in point: A person I know recently responded to a thread that had nothing to do with gas sharing by saying, “Most PADI divers use that AIR2 crap.” He later justified his position by posting this:
People often ask me where I get my material. It’s really very simple. I just go to a local open water dive site (any site will do) and wait ten minutes. What I will see during those ten minutes will be more than enough for a lengthy article. Today was no exception.
What is the correct way to attach a snorkel while scuba diving? Is it to put it on the left? On the right? Far forward on the mask strap? Farther back? Well, for most scuba divers, the correct answer is none of the above. To understand why, you first need to know a little bit about the history of snorkels and scuba diving — and about some very real drawbacks snorkels have that training agencies seem unwilling to acknowledge.
An article in a recent edition of DAN’s Alert Diver magazine warns of the perils of diving with an isolator valve you only think is open (link below). While your SPG may be telling you that you have phenomenal gas consumption, the reality is that you are sucking the right side of your doubles dry and may soon run out of air without warning. This story hit close to home for me, as I’ve witnessed this same situation twice…and experienced it once.
What happens when the people we rely on most to provide good role models for new divers drop the ball? That’s easy. The divers get bad information and, as a result, make poor decisions. This is why being a role model is so important.
For the record, I have nothing against snorkels. Hell, I even use one…every single time I go snorkeling. I also make sure that, when diving in the ocean — or any body of water sufficiently large that I might find myself stuck on the surface some distance from the boat or shore — I have my trusty folding snorkel with me. At the very bottom of my thigh pocket. Below the safety tube, signal mirror, pocket mask and whistle (items I’m more likely to actually need under these circumstances). But to stick one on my mask? While scuba diving? Do I really look that stupid?
Is there a “right” way to thread a standard 50 mm/2.0 in quick-release buckle? No — if for no other reason than not all of these buckles are identical. There is, however, a way that we’ve found works extremely well with most such buckles and for most applications.
Odds are, you learned that the object in the accompanying picture is called a Buoyancy Control Device or BCD. The funny thing is, most of the companies that make this equipment — not to mention the majority of dive magazines and training agencies — don’t call it that.