about blue wave scuba

Everything you need at BWS Nelspruit

Blue Wave Scuba is a one stop scuba shop in Nelspruit. We can help you with everything from scuba courses and training to new scuba gear and repairs, we can even help you plan your next scuba holiday, scuba Mozambique perhaps?

We are dedicated to providing innovative quality diving and leisure activities for adults and children, outstanding customer service and great value for money.

Dive Club

Our dive club gives you the opportunity to socialize and learn from people that share your passion for the sea. Joining the club is free, all we ask is that you subscribe to our mailing list so that we can inform you about any planned events.

Being an owner run dive shop, Blue Wave Scuba has a very high quality of service and a personal touch you don’t get at all dive shops. When you meet owner Tinus Opperman you will immediately be taken in by his passion and knowledge of scuba diving that he gathered from working across the globe in the diving industry.

Come and experience the underwater world at Blue Wave Scuba in Nelspruit, your one stop scuba shop.

About scuba diving

what is scuba diving?

Scuba diving is a fantastic activity that cannot be compared to anything else! The fact that it has a world wide audience is not a coincidence! Through their underwater adventures divers can experience unique feelings such as weightlessness, serenity, escaping of daily routine, observation of underwater life etc. Scuba diving is a mode of underwater diving where the diver uses a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba), which is completely independent of surface supply, to breathe underwater.[1] Scuba divers carry their own source of breathing gas, usually compressed air,[2] allowing them greater independence and freedom of movement than surface-supplied divers, and longer underwater endurance than breath-hold divers.[1]The experiences that one can obtain through Scuba Diving can be classified as an extremely addictive hobby!

Although the use of compressed air is common, a new mixture called enriched air (Nitrox) has been gaining popularity due to its benefit of reduced nitrogen intake during repetitive dives. Open circuit scuba systems discharge the breathing gas into the environment as it is exhaled, and consist of one or more diving cylinders containing breathing gas at high pressure which is supplied to the diver through a regulator. They may include additional cylinders for range extension, decompression gas or emergency breathing gas.[3]

scuba diving equipment

being under water

Breathing apparatus

The defining equipment used by a scuba diver is the eponymous scuba, the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus which allows the diver to breathe while diving, and is transported by the diver. As one descends, in addition to the normal atmospheric pressure at the surface, the water exerts increasing hydrostatic pressure of approximately 1 bar (14.7 pounds per square inch) for every 10 m (33 feet) of depth. The pressure of the inhaled breath must balance the surrounding or ambient pressure to allow inflation of the lungs. It becomes virtually impossible to breathe air at normal atmospheric pressure through a tube below three feet under the water.[2]

Most recreational scuba diving is done using a half mask which covers the diver’s eyes and nose, and a mouthpiece to supply the breathing gas from the demand valve or rebreather. Inhaling from a regulator’s mouthpiece becomes second nature very quickly. The other common arrangement is a full face mask which covers the eyes, nose and mouth, and often allows the diver to breathe through the nose. Professional scuba divers are more likely to use full face masks, which protect the diver’s airway if the diver loses consciousness.[43]

Buoyancy control and trim

To dive safely, divers must control their rate of descent and ascent in the water[2] and be able to maintain a constant depth in midwater.[51] Ignoring other forces such as water currents and swimming, the diver’s overall buoyancy determines whether they ascend or descend. Equipment such as diving weighting systems, diving suits (wet, dry or semi-dry suits are used depending on the water temperature) and buoyancy compensators can be used to adjust the overall buoyancy.[1] When divers want to remain at constant depth, they try to achieve neutral buoyancy. This minimises the effort of swimming to maintain depth and therefore reduces gas consumption.[51]

The buoyancy force on the diver is the weight of the volume of the liquid that they and their equipment displace minus the weight of the diver and their equipment; if the result is positive, that force is upwards. The buoyancy of any object immersed in water is also affected by the density of the water. The density of fresh water is about 3% less than that of ocean water.[52] Therefore, divers who are neutrally buoyant at one dive destination (e.g. a fresh water lake) will predictably be positively or negatively buoyant when using the same equipment at destinations with different water densities (e.g. a tropical coral reef).[51] The removal (“ditching” or “shedding”) of diver weighting systems can be used to reduce the diver’s weight and cause a buoyant ascent in an emergency.[51]

Diving suits made of compressible materials decrease in volume as the diver descends, and expand again as the diver ascends, causing buoyancy changes. Diving in different environments also necessitates adjustments in the amount of weight carried to achieve neutral buoyancy. The diver can inject air into dry suits to counteract the compression effect and squeeze. Buoyancy compensators allow easy and fine adjustments in the diver’s overall volume and therefore buoyancy.[51]

Neutral buoyancy in a diver is an unstable state. It is changed by small differences in ambient pressure caused by a change in depth, and the change has a positive feedback effect. A small descent will increase the pressure, which will compress the gas filled spaces and reduce the total volume of diver and equipment. This will further reduce the buoyancy, and unless counteracted, will result in sinking more rapidly. The equivalent effect applies to a small ascent, which will trigger an increased buoyancy and will result in accelerated ascent unless counteracted. The diver must continuously adjust buoyancy or depth in order to remain neutral. Fine control of buoyancy can be achieved by controlling the average lung volume in open circuit scuba, but this feature is not available to the closed circuit rebreather diver, as exhaled gas remains in the breathing loop. This is a skill which improves with practice until it becomes second nature.[51]

Buoyancy changes with depth variation are proportional to the compressible part of the volume of the diver and equipment, and to the proportional change in pressure, which is greater per unit of depth near the surface. Minimising the volume of gas required in the buoyancy compensator will minimise the buoyancy fluctuations with changes in depth. This can be achieved by accurate selection of ballast weight, which should be the minimum to allow neutral buoyancy with depleted gas supplies at the end of the dive unless there is an operational requirement for greater negative buoyancy during the dive.[35] Buoyancy and trim can significantly affect drag of a diver. The effect of swimming with a head up angle of about 15°, as is quite common in poorly trimmed divers, can be an increase in drag in the order of 50%.[48]

The ability to ascend at a controlled rate and remain at a constant depth is important for correct decompression. Recreational divers who do not incur decompression obligations can get away with imperfect buoyancy control, but when long decompression stops at specific depths are required, the risk of decompression sickness is increased by depth variations while at a stop. Decompression stops are typically done when the breathing gas in the cylinders has been largely used up, and the reduction in weight of the cylinders increases the buoyancy of the diver. Enough weight must be carried to allow the diver to decompress at the end of the dive with nearly empty cylinders.[35]

Underwater vision

Water has a higher refractive index than air – similar to that of the cornea of the eye. Light entering the cornea from water is hardly refracted at all, leaving only the eye’s crystalline lens to focus light. This leads to very severe hypermetropia. People with severe myopia, therefore, can see better underwater without a mask than normal-sighted people.[53] Diving masks and helmets solve this problem by providing an air space in front of the diver’s eyes.[1] The refraction error created by the water is mostly corrected as the light travels from water to air through a flat lens, except that objects appear approximately 34% bigger and 25% closer in water than they actually are. The faceplate of the mask is supported by a frame and skirt, which are opaque or translucent, therefore total field-of-view is significantly reduced and eye–hand coordination must be adjusted.[53]

Divers who need corrective lenses to see clearly outside the water would normally need the same prescription while wearing a mask. Generic corrective lenses are available off the shelf for some two-window masks, and custom lenses can be bonded onto masks that have a single front window or two windows.[54]

As a diver descends, they must periodically exhale through their nose to equalise the internal pressure of the mask with that of the surrounding water. Swimming goggles are not suitable for diving because they only cover the eyes and thus do not allow for equalisation. Failure to equalise the pressure inside the mask may lead to a form of barotrauma known as mask squeeze.[1][3]

Masks tend to fog when warm humid exhaled air condenses on the cold inside of the faceplate. To prevent fogging many divers spit into the dry mask before use, spread the saliva around the inside of the glass and rinse it out with a little water. The saliva residue allows condensation to wet the glass and form a continuous film, rather than tiny droplets. There are several commercial products that can be used as an alternative to saliva, some of which are more effective and last longer, but there is a risk of getting the anti-fog agent in the eyes.[55]

Environmental protection

Protection from heat loss in cold water is usually provided by wetsuits or dry suits. These also provide protection from sunburn, abrasion and stings from some marine organisms. Where thermal insulation is not important, lycra suits/diving skins may be sufficient.[58]

A wetsuit is a garment, usually made of foamed neoprene, which provides thermal insulation, abrasion resistance and buoyancy. The insulation properties depend on bubbles of gas enclosed within the material, which reduce its ability to conduct heat. The bubbles also give the wetsuit a low density, providing buoyancy in water. Suits range from a thin (2 mm or less) “shortie”, covering just the torso, to a full 8 mm semi-dry, usually complemented by neoprene boots, gloves and hood. A good close fit and few zips help the suit to remain waterproof and reduce flushing – the replacement of water trapped between suit and body by cold water from the outside. Improved seals at the neck, wrists and ankles and baffles under the entry zip produce a suit known as “semi-dry”.[59][58]

A dry suit also provides thermal insulation to the wearer while immersed in water,[60][61][62][63] and normally protects the whole body except the head, hands, and sometimes the feet. In some configurations, these are also covered. Dry suits are usually used where the water temperature is below 15 °C (60 °F) or for extended immersion in water above 15 °C (60 °F), where a wetsuit user would get cold, and with an integral helmet, boots, and gloves for personal protection when diving in contaminated water.[64] Dry suits are designed to prevent water from entering. This generally allows better insulation making them more suitable for use in cold water. They can be uncomfortably hot in warm or hot air, and are typically more expensive and more complex to don. For divers, they add some degree of complexity as the suit must be inflated and deflated with changes in depth in order to avoid “squeeze” on descent or uncontrolled rapid ascent due to over-buoyancy.[64]


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