View Full Version : dangers of snorkeling

04-04-2008, 12:12 PM
i would like to start a thread to openly discuss the dangers of snorkling so that all may benifit. firstly i am an amature. but an enthusiast. im trying to track down some good books to read up. anyone have any hazardous conditions that have happened or stories to share? i love a good story.my typical experience are limited to mask and snorkle falures, and fishing line(no knife with!). ive also been out way way to long in the water to the point i could barely get back to shore(i think in excess of 4hours!). anyone got any better stories..

oh and ive had afew close calls with jellyfish.

04-05-2008, 07:08 AM
Having a sudden allergic reaction to sea lice during a snorkel in Coz.:( I would recommend a fullsuit in any thickness to prevent this.

Having a buddy that would not swim off on you would be helpful too.

Having a pre-snorkel briefing from the DM or boat captain about currents & conditions. Found myself in a nasty hidden current once.

04-05-2008, 12:18 PM
I began snorkelling when I entered my teens, back in the early 1960s. In the 1970s, I spent my summers away from the UK in Mediterranean seaside resorts, where I had ample opportunity to combine a little beach snorkelling with some cultural sightseeing.

A few years ago I decided to resume snorkelling for some much-needed exercise. This time the venue would be the coast of the North East of England where I live. I went window-shopping at my local dive store to find out what modern snorkelling gear was like. I hated every mask, fin and snorkel I saw, not only the "space-age" designs but also the oil-derived synthetics everything appeared to be made from. So I decided to do some online research to find out whether the 1960s-style sub-aqua gear I grew up with was still around. Indeed it was, but it wasn't available locally. Using various online retailers and eBay, I eventually purchased a pair of black full-foot fins, a blue-skirted oval mask and a simple J-shaped snorkel. I completed the outfit with a reproduction 1950s-style valve-less two-piece drysuit.

I drove to the coast around 5.30 one summer weekend morning and donned my gear on the sandy beach near the water's edge. It was still quite dark and the beach was deserted except for one dog walker. The sea itself was calm and I strode into the waves until I reached chest-level. As I began to swim, the drysuit kept the chill at bay, but the air inside made it difficult to do anything but float on the water. I soon mastered the art of venting the suit using the seal around the face and the wrists. The suit proved ideal for swimming, providing both warmth and flexibility. In the past, I have found wetuits very movement-constricting.

I spent about half an hour snorkelling this way, enjoying the tranquillity and the view of the sun slowly rising over the horizon. I then glanced beachwards and spotted two uniformed policemen standing at the water's edge. They were waving at me. Many thoughts went through my head. Had I infringed some local law? I began trudging towards the shore, mask and snorkel on my forehead Mike Nelson-style, and removed my fins before I reached the sand. "Is anything the matter?" I asked the first policeman. "We were just wondering what you were doing" said his partner. "When we spotted a black figure in the sea, we thought you could have been a North Korean spy or perhaps somebody trying to commit suicide. There's nothing to see under the water hereabouts, which made us suspicious". I explained how my snorkelling expedition was only designed to give me a little exercise and bring back some childhood memories, which seemed to satisfy them and they walked away.

So snorkelling can arouse the suspicions of the guardians of the law. Does that qualify as one of the dangers of snorkelling? At the time I did think so. I've been back to my favourite stretch of beach many times since then, once losing a fin, another time losing my blue-skirted mask and J-shaped snorkel irretrievably to the waves. How this happened is a tale for another occasion. I've since replaced the losses, like with like, by scouring eBay and online retailers abroad. Vintage snorkelling gear is perfect for the gentle underwater swimming I currently enjoy and nothing will persuade me otherwise!

02-14-2009, 08:38 PM
Usually I would distinguish between free diving and snorkeling.
I normally say that snorkeling might be something you can do with a hangover while on Oahu; free diving may be something you do to exercise, explore, spearfish, set an anchor, or even compete.

What separates the two? Lots of skills and lots of practice.

Today, though, I will discuss the value of scuba divers having strong snorkeling skills; skills which, with training, could be developed into free diving skills.

I can teach my beginning dive students the basics of snorkeling in a few hours; equalize their ears; mask, snorkel, and fin lecture; mask and snorkel clearing; basic body position, and basic fin strokes; then pike dives, and kelp dives are just the beginning. First in confined water then in the big pond.
Hyperventilating, advanced body position, neutral buoyancy (with or without a wetsuit), and developing a diving rhythm take much longer.

If you have a Southern California beach to dive and snorkel from, like my students did, then environmental training is essential, and very specialized.
You need to understand how the ocean works, and what's in it, before you get in: tides, waves, sets, surges, riptides, marine animals, safe access and egress, rocks, and reefs, sand in all your gear (and every orifice!) etc. (Lots of gear will fail when exposed to sand and waves, without regular maintenance; some will fail right on the spot.)
We would teach a whole water session on safe surf entries, and another one on snorkeling.

I assert that most divers in class are lead quickly through snorkeling skills, to get to what is perceived to be the good stuff: SCUBA! The problem is, anyone can breathe from a regulator; most divers just aren't comfortable resting on the surface, unless they can inflate their BC.
Most problems happen on the surface. Equipment can fail, divers run out of air, and/or people get tired and panicky.

What are YOU going to do when this happens?

This is where snorkeling skills become essential. A diver trained to snorkel can simply lie face down on the surface, breathing free air, and can rest as long as they need to. They can also swim face down wherever they need to go, as well...

The added benefits you will get by developing your snorkeling skills are profound; increasing your strength and endurance, and your confidence in the water, are priceless.
Develop what I call "universal awareness"; that is, know what it going on around you at all times.
Having solid snorkeling skills can ensure peace of mind on the surface; which will result in fewer problems, and produce much more fun while diving.

Here is my soapbox, if you will indulge me.

Many scuba instructors don't have the swimming skills and water background to teach proper snorkeling to their students.
If you don't know it, you cant teach it.

The dive industry pushes equipment sales, and therefore equipment dependency with it's divers.
Divers aren't taught swimming skills, and rely on "push button diving". -Inflate your BC, kick out on your back, then descend feet first by dumping air because you are over weighted to begin with...etc. Gag me.

Is this the easy way to get people in the water? Sure, it is. And the easy way to sell dive gear. This may work in calm confined water.
In the ocean though, it may be fatal.

I believe in common sense, and self reliance. How can you get there?
Emulate the masters, like dolphins.
They are strong and sleek and smart, and have tons of fun.
(Dolphin are amazing free divers.)

The answer is to develop, and practice your snorkeling skills.
Regardless of what your Instructor taught you.

Here's what I do before diving season:
I swim laps in the pool with mask, snorkel, and fins on. I practice proper body position and kicks. I clear my mask and snorkel. I hyperventilate and swim under water. I swim laps with a crawl stroke and fins on. I sprint; I swim distance. I get in shape for what I will be doing.

02-15-2009, 04:11 PM
Tiger- I couldn't agree more with you especially your "soapbox" Just one little thing as a lifeguard the term riptide bothers me but is used all the time along with another common one: undertow. There is no such thing it's just a ripcurrent. But again I couldn't agree more with you and everything you mentioned.

02-15-2009, 11:58 PM
Yeah, you're right. That's just we called it growing up.
Ever been to Woods Cove? That's where I took my students from Sea Sports.

02-16-2009, 04:30 PM
Yea I been to woods several times but I haven't been down to Laguna since last summer because I'm away at school enjoying Monterey diving:)