How to beat the cold while diving
From the title you may think I dive in the Artic or at least in Scotland, but I don’t, I dive in Bali! However, if you are anything like me with bad circulation, cold fingers and a jumper on in midsummer, you know that the cold is an issue even with waters as warm as 26°c.
Around Nusa Penida, the water temperature cools down from May until October usually. In the coldest months, it can go below 20°c! This is what brings us the mola-mola and other big animals, but it can get a bit chilly... (and not to worry, we provide you with good 5mm long wetsuits for diving).
So, we won’t be talking about dry suits or even semi drys, we will instead discuss the tricks to not get cold in warm waters using wetsuits.
Piece of advice #1
Yup, it sounds obvious but if you go diving on an empty stomach your body has less fuel to keep you warm and you’ll get cold fast. Don’t skip breakfast.
Piece of advice #2
Just like when you’re trying to beat the cold on land, trapping layers of warmth helps. Stop the water moving by trapping it with several garments. It might go like this: shark suit chicken vest with hood, rashy, neoprene vest no hood, long wetsuit with hood. That will keep you pretty toasty even when water temp drops to something way too close to 20 degrees. Make sure the order of the layers makes sense to trap the water and seal all gaps.
Piece of advice # 3
Cover your head if nothing else.
Just like on land you lose a lot of body heat from your head. Invest in just a hood if you don’t travel with your own gear, it’ll make a huge difference.
Piece of advice #4
Have warm dry clothes handy for when you get out.
After you get out of the water, feeling chilled, and have to sit on the boat, soaking wet and in the wind, you will be truly freezing so plan a jumper and a wooly hat (head and body heat issue here again) or at least a nice warm towel to wrap yourself up in during surface interval and on the way back to the dive centre.
Piece of advice #5
Have a cup of tea.
The answer to all woes according to the British and in this case well deserved. A piping hot cup of tea between dives and during the ride back will warm you up in no time. You may want to check your dive operator has some available before leaving (they usually do).
Piece of advice #6
Don’t think about it.
I’ve noticed that when I have a really exceptional dive, I completely forget about the cold. I’ve tried to apply this to less exceptional dives, so when I start feeling cold, I do my best to focus on other stuff, look for critters and stay active (= keep moving, instead of freezing into a self-hugging, any-water-movement-avoiding, shivering creature).
To all you cold prone people out there we hope this little bit of advice helps you stay toasty down there!