Controlling and being neutrally buoyant using the Buoyancy Control Device is a critical skill a diver should have and never stop learning. Being neutrally buoyant does not only prevent you from crashing down the bottom, but it also lessens incidents of damaging the corals and disturbing the bottom dwelling animals. More often than not, the majority of new divers have problems when it comes to controlling their buoyancy.
The BCD is one of the most important gears divers use in Scuba Diving; it’s your life support system underwater. Is commonly referred to as diving vest, dive jacket and buoyancy compensating device. Apparently, this device is named such as it is used to control or adjust a diver’s buoyancy. The BCD can be inflated or deflated. With just a touch of a button, divers can choose to hover, ascend and descend underwater. Another purpose of the BCD is that it holds the SCUBA tank and keep it safely attached to the diver’s body.
Now, can you imagine yourself diving without a BCD? Well, not unless you can adjust your buoyancy underwater by yourself or would want to carry your tank all throughout the dive then you just might don’t need one, right? 🙂
Styles of BCD
Over the years, various BCD styles and designs were released. However, two primary styles dominate dive shops in the planet nowadays, namely the BCD Jacket and the Harness or Wings.
This BCD jacket is undeniably the most popular style of BCD most specifically used in recreational diving. A typical BCD jacket inflates both its front and back air bladders.
The BCD wings inflate only on its the back and are more commonly used in technical diving:
Essential Parts of a BCD
Air bladders – Where air goes in when the BCD is inflated.
Adjustable band – Located at the back of the BCD, this straps and holds the SCUBA tank in place. It allows divers to change their tanks whenever needed conveniently. All scuba divers learn how to adjust the band during the open water course.
Inflator – This allows the diver to inflate the BCD by pressing the power buttons.
Deflator – This button allows the diver to deflate or release air from the air bladders.
Pockets – The pockets are located on each side of the jacket. It allows divers to carry accessories and even weights.Some BCDs have integrated weights system thus, eradicating the need to wear weight belts.
Dump/Quick Valves – Valves that let you expel air without using the deflator.
How to Choose your BCD
Choose which kind of diving you do. If you are a recreational diver, then the jacket style is right for you. Plus, using the jacket style BCDs can make divers more comfortable on the surface since it inflates all around. The wings on the other can make divers (especially new divers) less comfortable on the surface because of the tendency to push the diver forward.
Once you have done the first two things, then it’s time to try and fit the BCD!
It’s not necessary to wear a dive suit when trying the BCD. What’s important is that there is enough space that allows movement and that you can adjust the BCD to your preferred fit.
Although wearing a dive suit is not required, it is best, however, to bring your regulator to ensure compatibility of your hoses and accessories with the BCD.
With a lot of BCDs on the market to choose from, some divers tend to make the wrong decision and mistake by buying BCDs based on its look. A diver should always remember that safety is most important and quality is the key rather than the looks.