BCD Buoyancy Control Device
This piece of scuba equipment does two things; one, it holds the scuba tank onto your back, and second, it inflates and deflates – acting as a life jacket and a buoyancy compensator while you are underwater diving. The BCD is worn like a jacket. Some are “jacket style” meaning that when inflated, the whole jacket inflates. Others are a “back inflate” which means there is a ring around the back of the jacket which inflates like “wings”. Everyone has a personal preference. Most schools use the jacket style for training.
Some BCD’s are weight integrated. This means that instead of wearing a weight belt, as most schools on Utila will teach, the weights are placed in special pockets or pouches within the BCD itself. There are many varieties of weight integration, just make sure you understand where the weights are and how to “dump” them in case of an emergency.
Most scuba diving professionals and avid divers will carry a dive computer. This is worn on the wrist or is mounted in the console where the pressure gauge is located. The computer calculates depth and time, and shows a diver how much time they are able to stay at each depth. The algorithms are based on the tables which you will learn throughout your diving courses. Dive computers give the most accurate reading, since they are calculating your exact depth, rather than an average depth, as with tables.
A regulator is the piece of scuba equipment that is attached to the scuba cylinder of oxygen that you breathe from. There are normally 4 hoses coming out of the first stage — the first chamber that is attached to the tank. Two of these hoses have a regulator or second stage. One is your primary source of air, and the second is a backup, in case of emergency for either you or your buddy. A third hose attaches to your BCD in order to power inflate the BCD jacket. The fourth and final hose is a high pressure hose which is attached to a gauge that will tell you how much air is left in your scuba tank at any given point in time. Usually in this console is a second gauge recording your current depth. If the depth gauge is not present, you will be given a separate one, or a computer that records your depth.
NOTE: Additional information about specific scuba equipment can be found under: