Mask clearing made easy…
Mask clearing is every new diver’s worst nightmare! Here at Manta Manta Diving Bali, we teach that the sooner you can become comfortable with this simple skill the more you will enjoy every dive. On our PADI Scuba Diver and PADI Open Water courses, we always spend lots of time in the swimming pool making sure our students are happy with this skill. Once a diver is able to perform this skill in the pool, there is no reason they can not safely repeat it when diving in Tulamben at the USAT Liberty shipwreck (WW2), diving in Padang Bai on the lovely reefs or diving in Nusa Penida and Lembongan with manta rays and mola mola (giant sunfish).
During a dive, water will normally leak into the mask a bit. There are a number of reasons your mask may leak. Maybe you have hair between your mask and face, or you haven’t shaved for a few days, causing a break in the seal. Or possible your mask just doesn’t fit very well and you should try a different mask.
A lot of new divers think that having the mask tight on your face will stop water coming in. This isn’t true, it will just become uncomfortable and leave you with a mask imprint on your face for 2 hours after the dive. Really not cool! Just have the mask strap tight enough to keep the mask in place, the water pressure will do the rest. Also have the mask strap slightly higher up at the back, so the strap is not touching the ears, again this may hurt the ears after 30 minutes underwater. If you have to tie your hair back, you may want to have it tied lower than usual so it isn’t in the way of the mask strap.
So, how to clear your mask without having to swim to the surface to the surface every time it lets water in (this really is not an option at all).
Manta Manta Diving Bali’s 7 simple steps to successful mask clearing…
(if you wear contact lenses or you’re not comfortable with water on your open eyes, just close them! Your instructor can tap you on the shoulder when all the water has been removed and it’s ok to open your eyes again)
Mask Clearing Step 1:
Practice on dry land – Before you even get in the water, put the mask on your face, ensure it is a good fit and practice the steps detailed below. When you do this on dry land you will feel the air rushing out of the lower part of the mask, where your cheek bones are. If doing this underwater, the water will rush out of the lower part of the mask instead, hence clearing the mask.
Mask Clearing Step 2:
Position your fingers correctly – With both hands, have your index and middle fingers pointing straight out (like a playing guns as a kid), then clench your ring and little fingers and hold clenched with your thumb. By locking your thumbs over the ring and little fingers, you will not be able to pull the bottom of the mask away from the face, which is a poor technique that allows water back into the mask.
Mask Clearing Step 3:
Press the finger onto the mask – With the hand position detailed above, position the index and middle fingers of both hands, at the top of the mask, where the glass meets the frame. This must be at the top of the glass, if you push at the middle or bottom of the glass, it will prevent the water coming out.
You should then push the mask straight onto the face. If you push the mask upwards, you may expose the nostrils to the outside water, which will mean all the air bubbles go outside of the mask and do not push the water inside of the mask out.
Mask Clearing Step 4:
Look down – by looking down you will stop water getting into your nose and tickling or irritating the nose.
Mask Clearing Step 5:
Breathe – Take a few breaths to calm yourself down and ensure you have enough air in your longs to begin the mask clearing.
Mask Clearing Step 6:
Clearing – Now you can start breathing out through your nose. At the same time as you breathe out, start looking up to the surface. Remember it must be through your nose, breathing out through your mouth will not clear your mask! Your breath out should be long, continuos and powerful enough to force the water out of he mask. When you finish breathing out you should be looking as high up to the sky as you can, by looking all the way up, you clear the last bit of water out of the bottom of the mask.
Mask Clearing Step 7:
Repeat – If all the water has not come out of the mask, thats ok. Just look back down again, take a few breaths to stay nice and calm, then repeat until the mask is clear.
This skill should be learnt in the shallow end of a swimming pool with just a bit of water in the mask. If that goes ok, add more water. If that works, take the mask off and replace it. Then progress to deeper water and repeat, then to the sea and repeat. If it’s not working to start with, don’t dwell on it, try a different skill and come back to this one later. You may even find that you clear your mask perfectly during other skills without even thinking about it.
You may also choose to deliberately add a bit of water to your mask to clear out any fog or mist that is forming, then clear the water out again to restore perfect visibility.
This skill maybe learnt kneeling down in a swimming pool, but you should be able to do it whilst hovering too. In the sea you should be able to clear your mask without sinking or floating to the surface. In our next blog we will talk more about good buoyancy control and how it benefits your diving.
If you want to learn more about mask clearing or anything else related to scuba diving, please get in touch with Manta Manta Diving in Bali. [email protected] You can also learn more about this skill by doing our PADI Scuba Diver or PADI Open Water Diver course or just come along for some fun dives and we can explain all of this in our dive briefings if requested.