The full face experience
Being recreational divers, we are used to having a regulator in our mouth all the time and breathing through the nose is not possible while wearing an ordinary diving mask. It's a different story when you dive with a full face mask! You will be breathing as if you were on the surface and, most definitely, enjoy this new diving experience. In addition, you will be able to appreciate the fantastic wider field of view while diving.
The PADI distinctive specialty course starts with a classroom session looking at the equipment and configuration considerations. The value of the classroom session is learning how to set up the masks perfectly for you before even getting near the water. This is particularly important when we talk about equalisation. The masks come in two different sizes with three different size plugs for various nose sizes. Fitting the correct size for you and adjusting them correctly makes all the difference.
There are also three sets of straps that need to be fasten in a set sequence to get the best and most comfortable fit, getting this wrong is certainly noticeable. While on dry land and not connected to an air supply, the most important feature to learn about is the Surface Air Valve that allows you to breathe normally with the mask on.
Diving and skills
The early part of the dive is spent completing the required skills. First up, clearing the mask. The biggest consideration is that now the mask and breathing are one complete unit – unlike normal masks where you have your separate regulator.
After a few repeats we move on to the next skill, complete mask removal and replacement. Again, removing the mask means not just losing vision but also your air supply.
Skills done, you now have two dives to a max of 18 metres/60 feet to complete the course. The dives are opportunities to get used to the mask and really enjoy the benefits. The all round vision is amazing – you can see your buddy at your side with out having to turn your head.
So what advantages are there to full face masks?
The distinct advantages are the much greater field of vision, the ease of breathing and ability to breathe through the nose. An additional plus for cold water diving where it provides excellent coverage and protection against cold water and no more numb teeth!
As an option, you can also have a communications system fitted to the OCEAN REEF mask, including a microphone inside the mask and an ear piece that is connected via the mask straps. Speaking underwater is a totally different proposition then having a conversation on land. There are a number of steps and rules to learn as part of underwater communication, which include:
- Pressing the button to begin transmitting. After hearing the activation beep, wait a few seconds before speaking.
- Speak slowly and pronounce your words carefully.
- Every communication should end with the word “over”.
See the Underwater Communication speciality course.