How Improving my Buoyancy and Trim Got Me Into Exploration Projects

If you’ve ever looked at diving projects in magazines or online, or maybe you’ve seen a diver give a presentation at your club or a dive show, then you’ve probably wondered how you could ever get involved in something like that. It probably seems so far away from where you are now with your diving.

It’s a lot closer than you think

Ever since I learned to dive, I wanted to get involved in project work. I would read about these projects in the diving magazines, and see them on TV, but I had no idea how to even get started. Most of the project leaders I’d spoken to were not interested in having me join their team. I was too inexperienced. I didn’t have the right skills. They didn’t know who I was. And why should they? They already had a team of divers with a track record and saw no reason to bring in an unknown quantity.

I felt like I was stuck with nowhere for me to go with my diving

But I decided to change all of that. I didn’t want to stay stuck in a rut, so I found instructors that were actively involved in project work. I figured these guys would be able to teach me what I needed to know. I thought I was a pretty decent diver, and would simply be offered a place on a project once they’d seen me in the water. How wrong I was!

I was not as good as I thought!

The main focus of my early training was all about buoyancy and trim, and some of the most rigorous teamwork I’d ever been exposed to. It was a bit like the scene in the Karate Kid movie where Daniel has to rub the wax onto the car for hours on end. It wasn’t quite clear where I was heading at the start, but it pretty soon it changed the way I dived forever!

Wax On, Wax Off

I sucked up all of the training I could from these divers over the period of a few years, and started diving with a team that was exploring shipwrecks on the South coast of England. I was amazed that the things I’d been taught in the Florida caves worked seamlessly in the English Channel. Since then, I’ve joined cave diving projects in Bosnia, France and Croatia, wreck diving projects in the Baltic, Adriatic and Scapa Flow and now I even run my own projects too.

All this started with a focused approach to trim, buoyancy and teamwork

Imagine if you could shortcut all of my mistakes – the annoying phase of knowing that you won’t get a chance on projects. The realization that you need more skills, but not knowing where to get them.

What if I told you that the first steps to being a better diver are available to you right now? What if you could learn those tools that some of the world’s foremost divers use in all of their dives? And make those dives more efficient, safer and heaps more fun?

Fun, Safe and Efficient

I’ve been delivering the same training that I took back in the early 2000’s now for over 10 years. I’ve seen just about every student problem that exists and that gives me the experience to teach you the skills you need, along with being able to back it up with real world project diving experience.

“My biggest problem before the course was not having a solid enough platform. That meant that whilst my buoyancy could be OK, it definitely suffered as soon as I got task loaded.”

A lot of people think that this kind of training is like an army boot-camp. They worry that their buoyancy and trim is not up to scratch. Maybe they feel they haven’t been taught properly in the first place so will struggle to keep up.

It’s a useful course for any level of experience. I’m not a particularly experienced diver; however my buddy for the course was a very experienced cave diver. He also got a lot out of it.”

We’re going to spend the first two days working on these basic buoyancy and trim skills. Your equipment will be set up properly for you, and you’ll be given precise instruction on how to achieve pin-point accuracy with buoyancy and trim. There is no magic here, but breaking it down into precise steps is the way forward.

It’s a kind of magic…Well, no, not really

Many divers say that they worry about their abilities to deal with emergencies in the water in a real-world scenario.

“I don’t want to be worrying about buoyancy and trim when unknown or unexpected things happen”

Again, the course goes into some very precise techniques for sharing gas and making a controlled ascent. We apply a lot of effort to getting some apparently minor points right, and sometimes people interpret this as an elitist approach. The reason we’re so meticulous is that if you can’t solve an emergency cleanly in a training scenario, then it for sure won’t work in the heat of a real problem. So we train you to a very high proficiency level.

“When the s**t hits the fan, reflexes kick in. Problems are solved quickly and efficiently”

These approaches give you the confidence to know that are doing the right thing. Both in a day-to-day enjoying your diving way, and also should anything go wrong, you have the skill set needed to solve the problem in a safe and controlled way.

It’s All About the Basics

At Wreck and Cave, we have a constant focus on buoyancy and trim. This is the foundation of every great diver, and we will give you solutions to improve your buoyancy and trim after every single dive.

But intense training like this is difficult

Yes, it is! But like any skill in life, it usually takes a bit of time to master. With our help, you will get there quickly and without too many mistakes or wasted effort.

I’m not ready yet

Yes, you are! We’ve trained novice divers with 10 dives through to instructor trainers, and everybody improves on our courses. The earlier you take the class, the less there is to unlearn, so it’s often the case that the least experienced divers progress the fastest.

I can learn this stuff on the internet

Wrong. You can see people doing skills on the internet, but you can’t always see “how” they’re doing it. You also won’t get focused feedback on your own attempts.

My friends will teach me

It’s a nice idea, and honestly, sometimes it works. But frequently, these mentoring approaches lack any real focus and structure. Without the experience of an instructor helping you, it can be difficult for a friend to unpick bad habits and replace them with new ones. And picking the right order to do it all in!

“It’s well worth doing, and you’ll learn a lot on the course. Practice beforehand may be useful, but may reinforce bad habits, and you’ll learn the key skills thoroughly on the course anyway”

What’s going to happen to me?

The training program we’re going to use is the GUE Fundamentals course. We’ve been delivering this at Wreck and Cave since 2004, and it’s the perfect tool for the work we need to do. We’ll start the class by sitting down and talking to you about what you most want to get from the class. We’ll ask you about your experience and interests too. This way we’ll be able to tune the lessons to relate EXACTLY to what you need from the course.

Start with the basics

On the first dive, you’ll learn how to manage the gas in your wing BC and drysuit (if you’re using one) to become neutrally buoyant. You’ll fine-tune this using breathing control. Trim will then be brought into the mix, and you’ll be shown how to achieve good trim, and then asked to practice a couple of simple exercises. Feedback will be given to you in the water at all times, and after 20 minutes or so, you will have made some noticeable improvements.

Mastering your position in the water is not only about buoyancy and trim – we also need to be able to move around accurately. Many people struggle with the backwards kick, but our pool session allows you to learn the mechanics of this kick without equipment on. This amazing trick means that we get over 90% of our students back-kicking on the first “real diving” attempt.

One step at a time

The second dive is where we practice the back kick and 5 basic skills. We will learn the basic 5 in a field drill on land, and then build these onto your new skills of buoyancy and trim. Repeat a few times and watch for the feedback in the water and you’ll soon be doing these skills neutrally buoyant, stationary and with great team awareness. All of the skills start with their own field drill to get you comfortable with the sequence, and then move to the water to practice, refine and build these skills.

Safety and emergencies

Practicing the gas sharing drill in the water is given a whole dive so that all of the mechanics can be polished. The team positioning and communication are also refined. And the result is a diver that can donate and receive gas within a team, and make a controlled and safe ascent to the surface. You’ll be a safer and better team diver after this dive, and the trim and buoyancy will be starting feel like second nature to you.

At the end of every dive, and at the end of the class, you will be given personal feedback about your buoyancy and trim, and all of the other skills that you’ve learned. You’ll be told what you did well and why, but also what needs to be improved. Most importantly you will be told EXACTLY what to do to improve. You will never hear us say “just go and practice some more”. There will be concrete tangible suggestions for your continued improvement.

What’s included?

The GUE Fundamentals course includes the following things:

  • 4 days of training
  • Precision buoyancy and trim coaching
  • Advanced teamwork skills coaching
  • Video feedback when appropriate
  • Theory sessions on Buoyancy and trim, gas management, decompression and breathing gasses.

You can do the class in a 4-day continuous event, or you can split it into two parts. Either way, there are three different options you can choose from.

What you getBasic packageEnhanced packageDeluxe package
GUE Fundamentals course
Pre-class consultation
Pre-class preparation information
Pre-class prep day
Post class follow-up
Site entry / boat fees
Gear rental*
GUE Registration
Breathing gas
Post-class coaching

But you don’t need to make your mind up on the options just yet. You can start getting the pre-class information and even do the pre-class consultation simply by signing up using the button. One of the Wreck and Cave GUE Instructors will arrange a call with you, and work out the best way of moving you forward with your diving. The preparation information is free, and will start being delivered to your inbox over the next few weeks. 

The best bit is that a GUE Fundamentals course from Wreck and Cave comes with a money back guarantee!

Our Money-Back Guarantee:


If you do not feel that your diving skills improved on your GUE Fundamentals class, all you need to do is to let your instructor know within 48 hours of the end of the class. We will review the video footage of your course dives with you.


If you have not improved, we will provide you with either a place on a second class within 6 months, or a refund of the package cost, minus the GUE registration fee.

GUE Fundamentals doesn’t get fairer, more flexible or risk-free than that. Sign up. You’ve nothing to lose!