We’ve all been there. It’s day 1 of your Open Water Scuba Diver course. You’ve assembled the gear, managed to get the full equipment attached to your body, and are eagerly awaiting your chance to breathe underwater for the first time. As you giant stride into the water and begin to assess the fastest way to plummet to the bottom of the pool, your instructor interrupts your James Cameron reverie and asks you to perform a 50 meter snorkel.
Wait, what? Snorkeling is for suckers on the surface!!! Didn’t you sign up for scuba diving so that you could break away from that n00b lifesyle? You’ve already said “sayonara” to the annoying snorkel tube that has far too often stabbed you in the back with a mouthful of salt water! However, as tangle-y and sputter-y as snorkels can be, these little tubes can have your back big time.
You’ve all heard your instructor spout the benefits of snorkels, but a lot of times, you don’t see any plastic tube hanging off the left side of their mask! Well, Blue Marlin is here to tell you all about pros and cons of snorkels and how to really handle the classic annoyance like a pro.
First off, lets start with what we all know. Why the snorkel is the worst.
1. SNORKEL: DESTROYER OF HAIR DREAMS.
You didn’t mean to have those dreads, the snorkel just arranged/tangled it that way.
2. SNORKEL: PURVEYOR OF FALSE HOPE.
Is that a manta? A flamboyant cuttlefish? No, its just that colorful snorkel in the corner of your eye.
3. SNORKEL: WATER TORTURER.
You’re the last one off the boat struggling to keep up. Everything on? Sweet…. 2 meters down… nope… that’s a snorkel.
4. SNORKEL: THAT ANNOYING FRIEND WHO IS ALWAYS IN THE WAY.
Why does it have to be so irritatingly close to your low pressure inflator?!?!?
5. SNORKEL: ATTENTION WHORE.
Who hasn’t spent an entire dive fumbling with the snorkel that won’t stay attached… and missed the manta… and the shark… At least you still have your snork. : |
YES, ITS TERRIBLE. Until we get to the benefits…
1.SNORKEL: MAGICAL FAIRY GODMOTHER OF UNDERWATER TIME.
You can conserve air on swim out to your descent point. That’s right. Not only does it save you from having to breathe compressed air when you are working on your fitness/ trying to get to the dive site against a current on the surface, but it also ensures that all the compressed air in your tank only needs to be used on the actual dive. Hellooooo 10 more minutes of underwater time.
2. SNORKEL: WAY COOLER THAN ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS.
Snorkeling to the descent point can provide a great preview to the dive. Anyone who has tried to map a site from 10M underwater knows how useless your sense of direction is at depth. What you really need is a bird’s eye (snorkeler’s) view.
3. SNORKEL: UNASSUMING LIFE SAVER.
Safety comes into play as the snorkel acts as a contingency plan for use on the surface in an out of air situation. When we learn how to dive, we learn a whole array of out of air emergencies. However, what if you are out of air once you reach the surface? That’s where the snorkel is necessary if you’ve got a long way back to the boat or shore.
4. SNORKEL: STORM BREATHING-FACILITATOR.
To ensure those massive waves aren’t choking you out on your way to the boat. Rough seas? We all hate trying to get out of the boat, only to have each wave send us pushing away from the about in an effort to not get thrown about. Snorkels are perfect for these times. Why fight when it can be an easy task?
5. SNORKEL: YOUR PARENTS LOVE IT.
Certifying Agencies are super into them due to the aforementioned reasons. Seriously, they’re required by the big guys. You know. Just like parents require elbow pads when you go rollerblading. Outfit killer. Life saver.
Okay, so we’ve finally convinced you of the benefits. In fact, it was such a compelling argument, that you are thinking back on all the times you didn’t use a snorkel and are kicking yourself. How could you have been so stupid? As with many things in diving, though, the ultimate way to handle snorkel use is based on your comfort level, diving experience, and dive site conditions. If you are a newer diver, look into purchasing your own snorkel. Find one that isn’t too bulky with a custom attachment that minimizes distraction. If you feel pretty comfortable underwater, think about investing in a pocket snorkel. AquaLung makes the Nautilus snorkel made of silicone that rolls up no larger than the size of your fist. You can keep it on at the surface and as soon as you go underwater, collapse it into your BCD pockets. That way you can continue a safe and beneficial relationship with your snorkel.