Most divers up until now will have gone through the interesting and some may argue “painful” process of learning to plan dives using dive tables. However, this process is quickly being replaced with the use of a dive computer.
Dive computers are now considered the most essential piece of gear you can own and should be the first thing you buy once you start diving. Prices have dropped significantly over the years and owning one just might save your life.
If that’s not already enough to convince you own a dive computer, we’ve done up a list of 8 GREAT WHITE reasons why you should!
Ease of Use – Seize the Dive!
Traditionally, scuba divers are trained to plan dive profiles using tables. This involves recording the plan on a slate and continually monitoring a watch and gauge. If repetitive diving, which most of us do, you must manually calculate surface interval times and no decompression limits. A dive computer automatically do all of this for you, meaning more time to enjoy the scenery and less stress on your dive day!
Before jumping in the water, be sure to read your computer’s instruction manual and that you know how to correctly interpret all of the information.
Accuracy – Increased Underwater Time
Dive computers are much more accurate than using dive tables or even electronic calculators for planning multi-level dives.
Computers track your dive metre-by-metre and minute-by-minute, giving you a more accurate no decompression limit. This means a longer and safer dive, since tables are only based on the deepest part of your dive and do not take the shallower portions into consideration.
Also, dive computers track your surface interval time, so you will know the moment the pool is open for the next dive!!
Safe Ascent Rates, Stops And Warnings – Not A Guessing Game
An awesome feature of all modern dive computers is that they come with built-in ascent rate indicators. These will count down your three minute safety stop at the end of your dive.
When you learned to scuba dive, you will have been told that during ascent, you should not go faster than 18 metres per minute. This is a lot harder to track in reality, especially if you find yourself in the blue with few visual cues.
Dive computers eliminate this, dare I say guessing game, by monitoring ascent rates using visual and audible alarms. The alarms often go off before you reach the 18 metres per minute rate, making them that much safer.
The last thing we want is a diver to end up with a decompression illness.
The added feature of a countdown for the safety stop is great too, as 3 minutes can seem really long when hanging out in the blue.
Flexibility – More Adventures
Things can change quickly while diving and having a computer will help you adjust on the fly. Maybe you see the most adorable little nudibranch and you want to just stare in amazement for 5 minutes more or a school of hammerheads is passing by. As long as you follow the instructions your dive computer gives you (and monitor your air consumption), changes such as these are okay.
Yay for wildlife encounters!
Dive Logging and Tracking – For the Memories
Dive computers can save and provide real-time details of your dives, such as maximum depth, average depth, total bottom time, temperature and whole dive profiles!
During your dive, it’s fun to “sea” these details. Many dive computers even allow you to download all that info to your PC, tablet or even smartphone via cables or wireless. You can then create a digital log book where you can add photos and stories of all the amazing things you have seen!
You will even be able to leave your water-stained log book at home, if you hadn’t already forgotten it!
Nitrox Diving – Say What?
Not nitrox certified yet? It’s a good option for you down the line if you continue to scuba dive.
Nitrox or EANx – Enriched Air Nitrox, is a gas mixture for diving that contains more oxygen and less nitrogen compared to your standard dive tank. That is to say, you could dive on a tank with 32 percent oxygen versus the regular 21 percent that you are breathing as you sit there reading.
We use nitrox because it means your body absorbs less nitrogen, leaving you with more energy after a few days of diving AND it allows longer no-decompression limits.
Nowadays, almost all dive computers are nitrox compatible.
Safety – Living Your Best Life
This one isn’t so much a tip, rather a summary of why, for YOUR OWN SAFETY, you need to own a dive computer!
Though dive accidents are rare, they usually happen because of human error. Plans can change during a dive, for awesome or unfortunate reasons. Having a computer that accurately adjusts to these changes is important.
Ascent rates are another serious matter and with indicator warnings, you reduce the risk of human error.
What if my dive buddy has a computer? Can we share?
Sharing is not recommended. No matter how hard you try, on a dive, no one will have the exact same profile. Also, what happens if you and your buddy get separated? Or if your buddy’s computer fails? You’ll both have to ascend as slow as you can to the surface without proper guidance…
Whereas, if you both have one, for the first situation, you will be able to ascend safely individually and meet on the surface. For the second, you and your buddy can share your dive computer to help both of you complete your safety stops and make a safe, slow ascent to the surface.
Save Money – Always a Yes
More and more dive centres are choosing to make the use of computers mandatory. If you don’t already have one, you will have to rent, in addition to the standard gear package, and then learn how to use it! Overtime, these rentals can add up!!
Fortunately, when it comes to basic safety, all dive computers are more or less created equal. If your budget is small, you can’t go wrong with some of the great entry-level models from brands like Suunto and Cressi. If you can afford it, you will have a wider set of options and some sleeker styles available.
As passionate divers, we want everyone exploring and sharing our beautiful oceans safely! We CANNOT recommend purchasing a dive computer enough!!
And lastly, as always, dive safe and have fun!
“We dive not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”