Part 2 – How to choose, care for, and use your snorkel…”Be the sea”
With so many brands and styles of snorkels available, how do you narrow your choices down to the right one for you? Well, I am going to help you out with that very issue in today’s blog.
Whether you are using a snorkel for snorkeling or scuba diving, there are some good options out there that will suit your need. Here are some bullet points listing things to look for when you buy (some of this is a repeat from the first blog in this series):
- Comfort and Fit And, if you can have all that and matching colors with your gear you are winning!
A good silicone mouthpiece should be soft and pliable, and should not excessive pull at the corner of your mouth. The snorkel should be held to your head via a “keeper” attached to the left side of your mask. The presence of the snorkel on your mask should not cause discomfort or displacement of the mask to the degree that there is water leakage into the mask. The snorkel should not feel unduly heavy.
In my previous blog I discussed some features, but I will review them quickly here. Some snorkels come with the purge valve, to assist in maintaining a dry breathing experience and making the clearing of the snorkel efficient. A corrugated elbow just after the mouthpiece should help with comfort and prevent undue pulling on your mask. And, they come in many fun colors.
The semi-dry snorkel design helps prevent splashing water from entering the top end of the tube, by using a deflector. A semidry snorkel will fill with water when you are below the water. The dry snorkel, as I discussed in the previous blog offering, has a ball in a cage that closed like a valve and prevented water from entering into the tube. These are obsolete, and I suggest you pass this older type right on by. The dry snorkel keeps a snorkel totally dry while allowing air to pass in and out. This is a challenging concept, and the industry continues to address the problem. Totally dry snorkels tend to be heavier, and cumbersome. A dry snorkel is not totally free of water in the system. Sand, incorrect use, among other things, may introduce water. The idea is to keep the system as dry as possible at the top, while the purge valve assist at the mouth, making the snorkel as functionally “dry” as possible. The industry is constantly changing snorkel designs in an effort to make improvements. I personally dive an Atomic Aquatics SV snorkel and I love it.
- Length and Diameter
I discussed the importance of length, diameter, and the concept of “dead space” within the snorkel breathing system, in the last blog. The improper snorkel measurements can greatly increase your potential for hypercapnia, as can extended periods of snorkel use. And, because of the potential for blackout while snorkeling, it is considered a buddy sport, just like any time you are in the water recreationally.
Price should not be an issue, as the snorkel is one of you less expensive pieces of dive gear. It should and can, with proper care, last a lifetime. You can find a snorkel for as low as $10 used, to $60 new. If you are buying new, I suggest you go with a mid-range priced model (whether semi-dry or dry). Usually mid-range has the extras you need, but you don’t pay for the big name price. If you are buying a used snorkel, get one as new as you can, and expect to pay no more than 25-30% of MSRP if it is in like-new condition. Of course, the more wear, the more your discount. And, keep in mind that clear silicone with yellow over a short time, affecting both the look and the resale of the item.
Considerations when buying a used snorkel
How to care for your snorkel:
Check for ease of breathing, try the snorkel out. Look for signs of wear, damage, discoloration, cracking, or stiff silicone and other parts. Check the mouthpiece, it may need replacement. Verify whether it is a plain tube, a semi-dry, or a dry snorkel. Test it to make sure the purge valve is functional. Look for dirt or grit in small spaces. And remember, no ball/cage snorkels, no mask/snorkel one-piece units. Go as new as you can. And don’t over pay!
Snorkels are essentially maintenance free, requiring only a fresh water rinse after each use (pool, fresh, or salt water). When the mouthpiece becomes worn, rough, or uncomfortable, simply replace it. Your LDS can assist you with the change out. The keeper, attaching the snorkel to the mask, may become weak, loose, or break over time. They are very inexpensive and you can replace it easily yourself. Sand, grit, and dirt, can get into the purge valve, causing it to malfunction. If you can’t fix the problem with a good rinse and blow, see your LDS for a part and some help with repairs. The part is pennies. As with the rest of your dive system, it is best not to leave it exposed to extreme weather for long periods of time, and sun can degrade the silicone and make the plastic brittle.
How to use your snorkel:
Appropriately attach your snorkel to your mask. Don a snorkel vest. Place the mask and snorkel on your head, and put the mouthpiece in your mouth. The snorkel will be at an approximate 45 degree angle as you lay face down in the water. Breathe slowly and deeply in and out of the snorkel while enjoying the underwater scenery! Clearing the snorkel is easy, peasy. With the end of the snorkel out of the water, blow firmly and quickly thru your mouth. Water will be forced out of the purge valve and the top end of the snorkel. Diving with your snorkel is easy too.
How to dive:
If you dive below the water to get a better look at the sea life, take a deep breath before diving. When you surface for another breath, keeping your face and head under water, blow firmly and forcefully just as you surface. This will clear your snorkel as discussed previously. Diving and surfacing for a breath can take some practice, to coordinate the breach of the water with the force needed for exhalation, but with some practice you will quickly be a pro. If you are having difficulty learning on your own, your LDS can give you a quick lesson.
Now you are ready to purchase a snorkel, and start enjoying some undersea adventures. If you have any questions, are looking for a new or used snorkel, or just want to comment, go to blueorbdiving.com and leave me an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org!
Authored by Lisa J Henry
“Be the sea”