Snorkeling, More Of A Sport Than Most People Think
Snorkeling as a sport or even as a physical exercise gets very little noticed in many parts of the world. A part of the reason is that it is so easy to learn the basics and cattle boats preach that anyone can do it.
Cattle Boats is a reference to tour companies that in some parts of the world, especially the Caribbean, get as many people on a boat as possible and take them to a reef to flop around for a while before heading back to land passing out the rum punches.
Companies, around the Great Barrier Reef, take a different approach to snorkeling and recognize that there are many advantages to learning how to snorkel.
What Is Snorkeling
You can look at snorkeling as you would most other sports, there are different skills that can be learn each additional one enhancing and building upon the others.
The equipment is simple and easy to use. There are five basic pieces of gear for the snorkeler: a swim suit, mask, snorkel with a keeper, fins, fins and floatation vest.
- Swim suit is self explanatory, however you also need to consider the force of the sun. Adding a t-shirt is a good suggestion to reduce the risk of a serious sunburn on your back. Some more serious snorkelers will wear a dive skin. A dive skin is a lightweight suit to protect against minor scrapes, many also come with an SPF rating. Using the same scales as sunscreen the higher the SPF the less UV rays hit your covered skin.
- Mask, the purpose of the mask it to provide an air pocket in front of your eyes. Diving mask are made for to perform well under pressures that snorkels normally do not experience.
- Snorkels are simple devices and the majority on the market are simple tubes with a curve. Called a “J” tube because of the shape they allow snorkeler to breath while still remaining face down. A keeper is a small band designed to attach the snorkel to the mask.
- Fins come in three types: snorkeling, scuba diving and free diving. They are also available in two designs open heel and close heel. A snorkelers fins are the simplest of the three types and are design for easy movement at and near the surface.
Free diving fins are very powerful and long making them difficult to us at the surface and in shallow waters.
The Diving fin is shorter and broader than the snorkeling fins, they may be used for snorkeling but many will find that it takes more effort to use them. Open heel fins require the user to wear booties, while the close heel, also called slipper type, use just slide your bare foot in.
- Flotation device. Most advance snorkelers wear an inflatable snorkeling vest that allows them to add buoyancy while at the surface but does not interfere when empty and the snorkeler wants to go under water.
- Beginners and those who are not strong swimmers often wear a flotation device that keeps them on the surface. Many snorkelers consider this an option.
While most snorkelers learned by laying flat at the surface, many advanced to more involved methods.
With a little training and practice a snorkeler can drop a few metres under the surface and explore a reef as easily as a scuba diver.
It just takes some basic skills and some practice.
Snorkeling From A Diving Liveaboard
Most Liveaboards are very welcoming to snorkelers, some such as the MV Reef Encounter, have special snorkeling programs.
A snorkeler both the beginner who stays at the surface and the more advance who will swim down a few metres will find that most dive sites suitable for diver training or novice divers are excellent sites for snorkeling.
Some of the Liveaboards offer guided snorkeling trips and advance lessons.