SNORKELING REFRESHER COURSE
© 2005-6 Dolfun.com All Rights Reserved.
FOR EXPERIENCED DIVERS AND BEGINNERS
Prepared by Dolfun pod member, Steve, who has over 33 years of professional scuba instructing experience and is certified as a Master Scuba Diving Instructor with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors).
Do you want to have a fabulous fun safe ocean adventure with the Dolphins?
Do you want to stay in with the Dolphins longer and not get tired or cold?
Then we recommend that prior to coming on one of our snorkeling or scuba trips on Maui that you:
1) Have a professional scuba instructor check out all of your equipment.
2) Take a refresher or beginner snorkeling lesson with a professional scuba instructor in a swimming pool or open water and master all of the snorkeling skills listed in this section.
3) Practice these skills in a swimming pool to perfect them and get into good physical condition.
You will be safer and more efficient in the water with these skills.
Without them you will get tired more quickly and may use techniques that are ineffective and exhausting.
That means you will not have as much fun as you could have and not stay in with the Dolphins as long as you could have.
Many scuba instructors omit or quickly brush over the optional snorkeling skills during scuba certification courses.
If you are an experience snorkeler that feels they do not need an instructor or one is not available then at the least please practice your skills prior to coming out.
On Maui we can arrange with a certified instructor for a beginner snorkeling lesson or an advanced lesson if you are experienced.
The quality of your equipment will be in direct proportion to the quality and comfort of your diving experience. Inexpensive and ineffective equipment or equipment that does not fit properly can determine if you are going to have a enjoyable fun time or an exhausting and miserable experience. Here are some suggestions.
Type - I recommend a clear silicone mask with no purge valve. Choose one that is comfortable and one that gives you the best view as diving is a visual experience. The more expensive masks have a softer silicone this is very comfortable and makes the best watertight seal. Pick a strap that will not slip up or down on the back of your head. Be sure the mask has strap clamps that won’t slip loose. My favorite mask is a tri vision which has additional small windows on each side providing a wider view. The clear silicone ones let more light inside your mask so if you are being photographed your eyes will be seen clearly.
Proper Fit - Breath only through your mouth and hold the mask up on your face touching as lightly as possible. Don’t push it in. There should be no air space gaps for a perfect fit. Then inhale lightly through the nose and the mask should suck on instantly and tightly. Now adjust the straps as loosely as possible to keep the mask sealed and just tight enough not to fall off. Many make the mistake of ovetightening the mask. Place the strap high enough on the head so it won’t slip up or down. A mask adjusted to tight will give you a mask hickey and too loose will constantly fill with water.
Types - Choose one that is a comfortable fit in your mouth. I recommend one that has a purge valve at the bottom near the mouth piece and at the top a valve that keeps waves from coming in. Also one that has a keeper that attaches to the mask strap that won’t fall off.
Proper Fit - Snorkels are usually placed on the left side of the mask since in scuba diving the regulator comes from the right side. Adjust it so that when you face is looking down at a 45 degree angle the snorkel is pointed straight up.
Types - I recommend fins with an open back and adjustable heel straps that are used for scuba diving. These fins will take you further with the least effort. They are worn with booties which are very comfortable.
Full foot fins come in either in soft, medium or hard firmness and small, medium or large surface area. The softer smaller ones are like kicking with wet cardboard. You spend a lot of energy and go hardly anywhere. The dive stores usually rent the cheaper types. Medium ones give you more distance for your kick. Hard and larger ones allow you to go the furthest with the least effort. If you go with the full foot fin choose a larger firmer type. If there is an emergency or a strong current the fin with the greatest “traction” can save you.
Proper Fit - For full foot fins, better a little loose than too tight. If too tight you can get a blister or wear away some skin. The test for length is to put the fin on and raise your heel up putting the weight on the ball of your foot. If your heels comes out of the fin it is too big and will fall off in the water. If you heel stays in it is a good fit. Then check that the width is not too small and tight cutting off circulation. Best to try them out in a swimming pool before going out into the ocean.
The adjustable heel strap fins are pulled snug enough not to fall off but not too tight to cramp or cut off circulation. Also be sure they are not too narrow. A little wider is better.
Putting On - Each boat has it’s best time to put on your fins and best way to enter the water. Most will have you put on you fins after putting on your mask and just before entering while sitting on the swim step or transom(rear of boat). Most will have you remove them and passing them onto the boat before climbing up the ladder back into the boat. Never walk around a boat with your fins on. This is dangerous as you could fall.
When entering from the beach, if it is calm walk out into waist high water and them put on your fins. It is best to walk with your fins on as little as possible. Walking backwards is safest when you wear your fins on shore. This includes entering and exiting the water. Back into and out of the water. Hold your buddies shoulder and remove or put on your fins as quickly as possible. It is not safe to stay in the surf zone. Get quickly on land when exiting or in deeper water when entering.
Types - I prefer the higher style to the low cut ones as they protect your ankles from the coral and rocks. Always get ones with a hard rubber sole as the make walking on slippery rocks and boats easier. They are very comfortable and protect the feet from blister sand sores that you can get from full foot fins. They do add buoyancy to your feet and make it harder to dive underwater.
Proper Fit - A comfortable snug fit is ideal and a zipper makes getting them on easier.
Types - I recommend wearing a wet suit. Maui ocean water temperature are in the low 70’s in the winter and the low 80’s in the summer with September the hottest. The more neoprene you have on the warmer you will be and the longer you can stay in the water and play with the Dolphins. I always wear a full suit. I have a thick one for winter and thinner one for summer. There are shorties or Full Suits. 3 mil or 5 mil thickness. Even if you come from a cold climate you will begin to get cold after 45 minutes and few can stay in for over 2 hours unless you have a wet suit. Girls will lose body heat and get colder faster than guys. A wet suit is buoyant and you can’t dive down underwater easily. It is impossible to sink with a wet suit on so it is safer and allows you to rest easily. It protects from sun burn.
Proper Fit - They work by allowing water to enter between your skin and the suit and your body heats this trapped water keeping you warm. If the suit is too big and colder water keeps coming in then the suit won’t keep you warm. Snug as possible but comfortable enough to let you breath and move. Custom suits are available if you like brighter colors than basic black or don’t fit into a stock size. Ladies can usually fit into a men's X Small or Small.
Types - Most commercial snorkel trips do not require you to wear a flotation vest. If you are a weak swimmer or out of shape and get tired easily you should wear a flotation vest. Most people are buoyant and float. Some people are negatively buoyant and sink. If you are a sinker you should wear a vest. If you are wearing a wet suit which is buoyant and no weight belt you do not need a vest. If you are wearing a weight belt you must wear a vest. There is a snorkeling type and a scuba type. The scuba type provides more buoyancy needed for scuba diving. Please advise us if you will be needing a vest and why.
Proper Fit - Fit is simple. Sizes are from XS, S, M, L , XL. Straps are adjusted to you fit comfortable on your body.
Putting On - Put on over your wet suit and adjust the straps.
Inflating / Deflating - Check with your Divemaster on how to put air into and out of your vest. All can be manually blown up and some have a CO2 cartridge for emergency inflation. To deflate get upright with head up and feet down and hold the hose high up in the air and open the valve. The water will push the air out. They do not need to be fully inflated while snorkeling. Just enough to keep you afloat.
SKILLS & TECHNIQUES
Quick Gear On - All of your gear should be adjusted and at hand ready to put on quickly. Dolphins can show up unexpectedly and then be on their way. Those who can get into the water fast get to play and those who snooze loose. Practice to see how fast you can get into all of your gear.
Putting On Wetsuit - If you put your suit on too long before you enter the water you will get too hot. However you never know when the Dolphins will show up and a quick entry is always best as you never know how long they will be there. I will put my full suit on up to the waist and just have to pull on the top which is quick. You may be able to wear your shortie without getting too hot. Once you get your suit on relieving yourself is more difficult. Don’t get dehydrated but don’t drink too much. A tight racing swimsuit is best as a baggy swimsuit is more difficult to get into with a wetsuit and lets less water in so you stay warmer.
De Fogging Mask - Warm moist air inside the mask and cooler water on the outside causes the inside of your mask to fog up blocking vision. All DeFogs work the same way. Apply to the mask glass just before diving and then rinse off before entering the water. Dive stores have many different types of DeFog solutions for sale. Some are very expensive. I use regular tooth paste and always carry a tube with me. Toothpaste can be put in the mask when you get on the boat and will last until you are ready to dive. Best technique for a fast entry. Also many use dish and other soaps diluted with water work. Be sure the soap won’t irritate your eyes. Saliva is the old standby. Just spit onto the glass.
Putting On Mask - Hold the mask up to you face with one hand and pull the strap over the back of the head with the other.
Boat Entry - Never enter the water without a clear “OK TO GO” from the Captain as a moving propellor or the boat making contact with your body can ruin your day. Most large boats will have you do a giant stride entry of the rear swim step. Smaller boats you can seated or back roll of the side. Practice in a swimming pool.
Boat Exit- Never exit the water without a clear “OK TO GET OUT” from the Captain as a moving propellor or the boat making contact with your body can ruin your day. Most boats will have you remove your fins and pass them onto the boat before climbing up the ladder. Do not take your fins off until you have a hole on the ladder. Do not approach a ladder until the previous diver has gotten in the boat. They could slip and fall back onto you. On small boats you can keep your fins on and kick yourself up over the side into the boat.
Kayak Entry - If you let go of your kayak it can be blown away and you may not be able to catch it. Before entering attach you leash to your wrist before entering or hook the kayak to the guides boat. Put your fins and mask on and slid over the side of the kayak.
Kayak Exit - With all of your gear on kick up onto the kayak landing with your stomach in the center of the kayak. Roll over onto your back and pull your legs in and get into your seat before taking off your snorkeling gear. It is easy to roll you kayak over when getting on and with no mask and fins which will be sinking to the bottom it is most challenging to get the kayak upright and get in.
Beach Entry - If calm walk with mask on into the water up to your waist and holding your buddies shoulder if needed put on you fins. If there are waves walk in backward with all gear on and when in waist high water turn around and kick quickly out of the surf zone.
Beach Exit - Remove your fins in waist high water and walk out as fast as is safe. It is not safe to stand in the surf zone.
Giant Stride Entry - Put all of your gear on while sitting on the transom. When ready and the entry area is clear of divers. Hold your mask with one or both hands and look straight ahead at the horizon. Stand up and immediately take a big step out into the water with both legs spread apart when you go in. Bring both leg together when in to bring yourself back to the surface. Move out of the entry area for the next diver to come in.
Seated Entry - Sitting on the swim step or on the side of a small boat with your feet in the water with all gear on. Push yourself away from the boat and slide into the water. Move away from the boat.
Back Roll Entry - Seated with you feet in the boat and back toward the water and all gear on, hold your mask with one or both hands and roll backwards. Move away form the boat after surfacing.
Resting - The most important and useful skill to master. You must be able to rest when tired. The alternative is to keep getting exhausted until you panic and then struggle more frantically to get higher up out of the water until you pass out and drown. Resting is what I consider the first skill of diving. What do you do? Nothing! Just float with you face in the water with your mask, snorkel and fins on and do nothing except breath deeply. This is resting. Continue until you are no longer tired. If you have a wet suit on you cannot sink and it makes resting easier. You can rest in a head up position if you are positively buoyant but if you are negatively buoyant and a sinker you will have to be kicking to stay up and cannot rest. If you are negatively buoyant rest horizontally and kick slow forward to maintain a flat position and move toward the boat or shore. Next dive a dd a floatation vest or wet suit.
Practice in a pool until you master it. You could swim laps until breathing heavily and then rest until you recover.
Hand Signals - This is how we communicate from a long distance or without talking.
Distant OK - Put all finger tips on the top of your head using one or both arms.
Distress- Help Me - Wave one arm back and forth. (Never wave hello to someone)
Danger - Point a straight arm with a fist at the danger.
Dolphins - Move arm and hand in an up and down wavy motion.
This Way - Point with arm and all fingers straight toward the direction.
Numbers - Hold up 1 to 5 fingers until the total # is reached. ie. 5+5+5+3=18
Follow Me - Slow motions with open hand and arm going toward you.
Come Faster - Fast motions with open hand and arm toward you.
Slow Down - Fingers out and palm down move hand up and down slowly.
Go Back - Make fist with thumb sticking out and point thumb toward back.
Time - Point to watch.
Wearing Mask- Keep the mask on you face at all times when in the water. Never put it on the top of your head or it can fall off when hit by a wave and be lost. With your mask and snorkel off you will have to exert more energy to hold your head up to breath and risk becoming exhausted. Exhaustion leads to panic and drowning. A diver who is panicking will always put the mask on the top of their head or pull it off making their situation worse. Trained Divemasters who see this will be coming over to help and rescue you. Also all of your DeFog can be washed off. Never take your mask off once you enter the water. Wait until you are back on the boat or shore.
Leaking Mask- Even proper fitting masks can leak so knowing how to clear easily is a must. Even if you are having a fabulously great time don’t smile or water will come in through the wrinkle created on each side of your mouth. Pulling the hair back from underneath the top and sides of your mask prevents leaking. If you have a mustache expect to be clearing your mask continuously. Clear silicone gel helps some with mustaches but don’t use petroleum jelly as it can destroy the rubber in your mask. You can safely open you eyes and see in salt water however if you have a constantly leaking mask where salt water then air is repeatedly on the eyes it will begin to irritate them and they can become red and sore. Choose a proper fitting mask, adjust it correctly and know how to easily clear it before going into the ocean.
Clearing Mask - When water is in you mask : 1) PUSH in on the top of you mask with your palm or fingers (A two handed version can be used by placing your thumbs on the sides and index finger on the front upper corners and pushing in.) 2) TILT your head back so you are looking up which puts the water into the bottom of the mask 3) BLOW gently and steadily until all of the water escapes through the bottom of the mask which is the path of least resistance since the top is being held tight. Do not pull the bottom of the mask away from the face as water will come back in if you stop blowing before the bottom is resealed.
Advanced Mask Clearing Skill - This is a skill you can practice in a swimming pool once you have mastered surface dives, mask clearing and inverted snorkel clearing. Drop your mask and snorkel into the bottom of the deep end of the pool. Take a deep breath and do a one or two legged surface dive to the bottom. Put your mask on and clear it while on the bottom. Then clear your snorkel with the inverted clearing technique as you come up. Go into the resting position with a completely cleared snorkel and rest.
Snorkel Clearing - At the surface pop or blast the water out. It will go out the purge valve at the bottom and through the top. If your lungs are empty you will have to remove the snorkel and take a quick breath put it back in and then clear.
Inverted Snorkel Clearing - Inverted snorkel clearing is done when you are returning to the surface after diving below the surface. The body is head up as you kick up. Tilt you head back and look up so the top of the snorkel is pointed down and slowly exhale into the mouthpiece. If timed properly when you reach the surface and level out into the resting position there is no water left in the snorkel.
Then you can take a breath without having to clear.
Ear Clearing - The air pressure in the middle ear must be equalized when you dive below the surface. There is an airspace on the inside of the ear drum that is connected to the back of the throat by the Eustachian tube. As you go down under water the pressure increases and causes the air in this space to become smaller. The ear drum is pulled into this smaller space and bends inward. Depending on how deep you go and how long you stay there the ear drum can be damaged. The blood vessels on the inside of the ear drum will rupture and the air space will fill with blood to equalize the pressure. If you go deep enough quickly the ear drum will rupture and water will come in through the hole to equalize the pressure in this space. This causes extreme vertigo until the water is warmed up to body temperature.
There is a simple solution to avoid this. At the end of the Eustachian tube in the throat is a fold od of skin that keep all of the stuff we put in our mouth from entering the tube. All we need to do is open that flap of skin and put in some air to equalize the air pressure in the middle ear. There are several ways to do this.
1) Squeeze the nose, block the mouth and blow gently until your ears “pop”. Pop means you feel some pressure on your ear drum which means you have successfully put air in.
2) Technique #1 and move your jaw back and forth.
3) Technique #1 and push the tongue against the roof of the mouth.
4) Technique #1 and yawning. (Don’t let water in your snorkel when doing this)
5) Technique #1 and swallowing.
6) You can open the tube mentally with the muscles that are there. Since you have never used them before it is like learning to wiggle you ears. It takes praxis.
Find out which technique works for you and use it. These also work when flying in an air plane.
As you go down you must put air into the ear ever 1-2 feet as you go down. If you miss a clearing you will feel pressure or pain on the ear drum. You must immediately go back up until the pain goes away. A little pressure on the ear drum is enough to rupture it. So tolerate NO pressure at all and absolutely NO pain. If you miss one of your stops on the way down the Eustachian tube will collapse and no air can be introduced until you go back up and open the tube. Go up to the last place you could successfully clear and start down again if you have enough air. Some free divers can go down to 60 feet and some to over 100 feet.
Kicking - Kick with a wide, slow, easy straight legged stroke with you toes pointed out like a ballet dancer. If you are doing the bicycle kick with bent knees you are using the most ineffective, tiring, non productive kick possible. Practice trading water in a pool until you master your kick and get your muscles in shape. Also there is the Dolphin kick. Keep both legs and fins together and move your body at the waist up and down to propel yourself through the water like a Dolphin. You can also practice summersaults and spins and turns. Use your hands and arms only fro turning and balance NEVER use your hands for propulsion. This is very ineffective and tiring. Let your fins do all of the work.
One Leg Dive - Kicking flat on the surface bend at the waist 90 degrees head down and with the waist to foot still level. Then lift one leg up into the air so it is straight with the rest of the body. The weight of that leg will carry you straight down.
Two Leg Dive - Kicking flat on the surface bend at the waist 90 degrees head down and with the waist to feet still level. Then lift both leg up into the air so it is straight with the rest of the body. The weight of the legs will carry you straight down.
Uprighting From Horizontal Position - When you are face down in the water and want to get into the head up feet down position just roll over onto your back and pull your feet down.
Hyperventilating - If done correctly this technique can increase the time you can hold your breath. I advise that this technique be taught by a Certified Scuba Instructor who will determine how many breaths are right for you. Once mastered you could double or triple you time underwater on a breath. Practice on land first. If done improperly and you take too many breaths you can black out and pass out underwater and drown. It is better to practice first on land so if you have taken too many breaths and pass out you will not drown. Once you know how many breaths you can take practice with someone watching you in a swimming pool and see how many lengths you can swim with and without hyperventilating.
Sunscreen Lotion - A must is a waterproof 30 to 50 spf sun screen lotion, No oils allowed.
Hat - A wide 360 degree brim hat is best.
Sun Glasses - Strongly recommended and with a strap so they don’t fall off.
Shirt - A light color and weight long sleeve shirt is recommended.
Body Suit - A lycra full body suit is fabulous for sun protection on the ocean.
Hair Conditioner - Ladies lots of hair conditioner before and after diving will save your hair.
Mental Attitude - 99.9% of seasickness is mental. Decide you are not going to get sick and you won’t.
Prevention - Stay up on deck and be looking a a stable point on land and breath deeply. Stay away from the boat exhaust especially diesel fumes. Standing helps many.
Wrist Band - Elastic wrist bands with a accupressure point are widely used.
Food - It is recommended to eat a big solid meal such as oatmeal and to avoid acid food like orange juice.
Ginger - Many claim raw or powdered ginger helps them.
Medications - If you use any of the motion sickness medications available from drug stores I recommend you consult your Doctor first and try them out on land to see if you have any side effects. We cannot legally offer any medical advise or recommendations.
You must receive a Doctors prescription for the patches and tablets that are available.
Shoes - Most boats will not let you wear shoes onboard. Sandals and hard soles are dangerous as you can fall easily and all shoes make the decks dirty. Wet suit booties are OK to wear.
Gear - You are responsible for bringing ALL of your gear with you and making sure it is all working and adjusted properly and you should know the techniques to use your equipment.
Head (Toilet)- Marine toilets are very y sensitive and nothing that has not been eaten by you should be put into them as this will clog them and no one else can use it for the rest of the trip. There will be a waste basket for all paper products including toilet tissue.
Sunscreen Oil - Sun screen oils are forbidden on boats. They are extremely dangerous. If you touch a ladder, railing or anything with oily hands the next person grabbing that place will slip off losing their grip and falling. In rough sea this causes injuries. Only suntan lotions are permitted.
Glass - No glass is permitted on boats because broken glass and bare feet don’t mix well. Please bring cans or plastic bottles. Eye glasses, diving masks and camera lenses are OK.
Alcohol - Smoking - Drugs- All of our trips are Smoke Free, Alcohol Free and Drug Free. Do not bring any of these items on board. The owner of the boat can have their boat confiscated if even one passenger has even a small amount of an illegal drug in their possession. The boat Captain will not appreciate you putting his boat and livelihood at risk and can have you arrested.
We can arrange a private charter on a dive boat with our team where you can go Dolfun scuba diving and Dolfun snorkeling. Or we can book you on a professional scuba charter boat that is going to a great dive site like Molokini with other tourists to fulfill you scuba needs. Then you could go on a snorkeling only Dolphin adventure with us.
Will you see Dolphins when scuba diving? It happens but not very often or for very long. I’ve heard of Dolphins playing with divers for their entire scuba dive. It is more likely that you will swim with the Dolphins while snorkeling and enjoy a normal scuba dive.
1) We do scuba diving only on private charters.
2) A Certified Divemaster will lead all scuba dives.
3) Each scuba diver must have their Certification Card with them.
4) Checking out and adjusting all equipment and refreshing all of your scuba skills prior to your Dolfun Scuba Adventure is strongly recommended both in a swimming pool and on an ocean dive.
5) A refresher dive prior to the trip is required if it has been over a year since your last dive.
6) Some charter boats provide tanks, weight belts and wetsuits and some do not. Each diver is responsible for bringing all of their own equipment if not provided. Equipment can be rented from a local dive shop.
When booking please inform us of the following info for each diver.
1) Date Certified?
2) Level of certification and agency?
3) Do you have a certification card?
3) How long since last scuba dive?
4) How many dives have you done total in you life?
5) How many of these dives have been in the ocean?
6) When was your last scuba refresher dive?
7) Would you like to schedule a scuba refresher dive? Pool and / or Ocean?
8) Did you read the Dolfun Snorkeling 101?
9) Did you practice the Dolfun Snorkeling 101 techniques in a pool or ocean?
10) Would you like to schedule a snorkeling class? Beginner or Advanced?
15) How many scuba dives do you want to do per day?
12) Female or Male?
13) Do you have a wet suit?
14) How many pounds of weight will you need for your weight belt?
16) What equipment are you bringing?
17) What equipment will you need to rent?
19) Will you be bringing an underwater camera?
18) Would you like to have us take underwater photos or videos of you?
20) Do you have any special needs, considerations and health concerns?
Need To Rent Snorkeling Gear On Maui?
There are dozens of places and one of them is Snorkel Bob's.
Call 808-879-7447 or 808-661-4421.
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All Rights Reserved.