The question is usually quite simple. When a diver checks in at the dive center they are asked, “How much weight do you need?” The answers though, run the gamut. Some divers know exactly what they need and keep a record, which is a good idea because it certainly can save a dive. Others don’t have a clue and their answers are more like the following:
- “I don’t know!” This is the simplest answer. Sometimes this is because it is a diver’s first experience in different conditions. The diver may have done all certifying dives in a quarry in the spring and now this is their first tropical dive with less wetsuit. But too many just don’t know, even though they dive year after year at the same place.
- “I use 3 of them.” One of my personal favorite answers. Since 3 of “them” could be anywhere from 3 pounds to 18 or more, it does not help the person trying to assist in getting weights.
- “They are the square ones.” This answer is usually a follow-up from # 2 when trying to determine more accurately the amount.
- “Same as last year.” As if every resort operator or divemaster remembers everyone’s needs.
- “32”! An answer like this usually provokes another question, if the diver is in the tropics, such as “Is that what you wear at home?”, which usually turns on a light and the diver suddenly realizes they are diving in a skin only.
- “I don’t know. What do you think?” You don’t want to know what I think.
- “Oh, 10 to 15 pounds.” There is a 50 % increase from 10 to 15! Also that leaves 11, 12, 13 and 14 as options. Not a good answer.
The whole point is that weighting is very important. It is a major aspect of a diver’s training and therefore should be a major part of a diver’s preparedness. The old 10% rule which says start at 10% of your body weight is too broad. First of all does this mean in fresh or salt water? Does it mean a dive skin, a 3 mm shorty wetsuit or a full 6 mm farmer john and jacket, hood, boots and gloves? These are just a few of many variables in weighting oneself.
So where do you start if this is your first dive under different conditions? Try asking your instructor or the divemaster for suggestions. Or if a swimming pool is available, practice with some various sized leads close by so adjustments can be made. Always have on the same equipment you will be using at your dive. Remember to add some extra for salt water.
After all is said and done, the most important thing is that once you are satisfied with your weighting, write it down somewhere. A log book is the obvious place. Many have an area for this. Keep a record of where you were diving and what equipment was worn. Now you will always have a starting point from where you can improve your skills. It will make your first dive of the season or vacation that much more fun. You’ll also impress your divemaster.