I am a fan of the snorkel as a piece of dive kit. Many are not and I thought it may be interesting to discuss some of the pros and cons to this simple piece of scuba gear. Let’s start with some of the positives: obviously, a snorkel is only any good at the surface. Any period of being sat on the surface and the snorkel allows 360-degree view without a mouthful of water or at the expense of your cylinder air. More than once in the sea I have been sat waiting for the boat to collect us, a snorkel makes this much more comfortable and less stressful.
A non-venting snorkel can be used to give in water ventilation in an emergency (a dubious and tricky practice but that is a whole different blog post). If you getting it in a matching colour to your mask it looks pretty… The negatives: Underwater it becomes completely useless. In a current in causes your mask to twist, potentially leak or even come off. It is a great target for another divers fin to try and catch and dislodge your mask whilst going up a shot line. I guess the potential middle ground here is a snorkel kept in your BCD pocket, that you can get out if needed at the surface. That’s fine if it’s your own BCD but there is not much chance of remembering to remove it from the pocket of a hired BC. By keeping it attached to your mask you are unlikely to forget it.
Do I wear one? Mostly. If I am training it’s just part of the uniform. I don’t tend to if the dive is just up and down (i know that should be the opposite way round but it just doesn’t read quite right) a shot line or if there is a significant current. If there is a chance I need to spend any time on the surface then yes absolutely. Do you rate the humble snorkel? Share your thoughts and observations here.