Discerning content for Bad Hombres and Nasty Women

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Scuba Slang and Technical Terms


Nitrox50. 50% O2, 50% N2.
Commonly used as a travel mix.

Nitrox80. 80% O2, 20% N2. (See stroke mix.)



Alternate Air Source, such as a pony bottle.

ab(s) (1)

Abalone(s), a California shell fish pursued by divers and sea otters. The sea otters are better at it.

abs (2)
What studly macho divers think they have but don't.

ab irons

Tool used to get abalone off rock.

Adjustable Buoyacy Life Jacket, horse-collar style, forerunner of the BC. (British)


A popular full face mask, the AGA Divator MKII. Pictures. In New York pronounced "auger" (with a strong "AW" sound in the beginning).

AGA and com gear
An AGA equipped with a microphone and speakers to allow a diver to communicate by voice, typically through a wire to a surface support team.

Arterial Gas Embolism, bubble causing obstruction to a blood vessel

Assistant Instructor

air hog
Diver who sucks tank dry in record time. (Or in less time than it takes their buddy.) See Skip

aluminum 80

Most common tank in industry. Nominal capacity 80 cu. ft.

alpha flag

Alpha Flag. Diver Down, Keep Clear! International maritime signal flag, meaning "Diver down, keep clear!". Compare with the U.S. dive flag

Advanced Open Water (PADI qualification)

artificial spit
Small bottles of liquid purchased at exorbitant prices by divers who do not know better to keep their masks defogged. Made by having divemaster candidates fill small bottles with REAL spit. Also called "Goop."

An item removed from a wreck. See souvenir. Usually collected by CN's or "Strokes"

Absolute pressure. Includes the atmospheres of pressure you rack up under the water and the atmosphere of pressure at the sea level ATM machine.

Artificial Ventilation. EAR. (British)


back roll

Leave a boat by sitting on its rail and then rolling backwards into the water.

What you get in your picture after bozo the CN kicks the bottom.

bail-out bottle (1)
A small bottle filled with your favorite beverage to hold you until your friends come to bail you out of the Cozumel jail.

bail-out bottle (2)
Extra cylinder of gas carried by a surface supplied diver or a rebreather diver to enable them to reach safety in the event of an interruption of their primary supply. For saturation divers, this would typically be to reach a habitat.

Damage caused by water or air pressure.

Buoyancy Compensator.

Braille dive
Viz so bad you have to just feel your way around.

Buoyancy Control Device.

On old wetsuit jackets it hung down in the back. You pulled it through your legs, and velcroed it to the front of the jacket. Also called a beaver tail.

Historical note: Some 'real men' claim to have been able to fasten this without obtaining a high pitched voice. This is probably apocryphal.

Dive computer

bent (1)
Suffering from DCS.

bent (2)
Suffering from too much tequila.

blowing off
Omitting something, typically omitting required decompression.

blue water

Un-green water. Typically found somewhere you are not. Like Cozumel.

bolt snap

Brass or stainless steel fitting with a gate activated by your thumb.

bondage wings (1)

Impressive looking back mounted BC by OMS. Features dozens of little rubber straps to confine the bladder when not inflated. Implicated in a number of tech diving tragedies.

bondage wing (2)

A diving S&M toy



bottom dump

Valve on the bottom of a BC which allows you to empty air while in a head-down mode.

bottom mix (1)
Mix breathed at the bottom, especially when other gas mixes are used for travel and/or deco. Bottom mix should have ppO2 less than 1.4. END is typically chosen to be 99 fsw or 132 fsw.

bottom mix (2)

What is found in the bottom of used margarita glasses.

Bounce or bounce dive

To dive and surface at intervals repeatedly. A dive where you turn around to ascend immediately after reaching the bottom.

Bottom Time - definition is agency dependant.

buddy (1)
For the benefit of officious Divemasters - your nominal partner when you practice the "Same Day, Same Ocean" diving principle

buddy (2)
The person who always sees more interesting things on a dive than you do; knows the scientific names of all of those furry little green things that live under rock ledges; reveals to the rest of the passengers that your diving techniques are all wrong; and leaves you to wash out their gear at the end of the day.

buddy (3)
A person you're happy to go for a drink with.


Lobster. (Also crawfish in Louisiana)

bug bag

Lobster Bag. Generally of mesh and/or canvas. To carry all the lobsters that you catch, or the artifacts you recover.

bug hunting

Hunting for bugs.

BWRAF (pronounced "BEE-raf")
PADI training acronym: Check: “BCD, Weights, Regulator, Air, Final check,” Alt: "Bad Women Really Are Fun"; "Big White Rabbits Are Furry"; "Boogie With the Rich And Famous"; "Bruce Willis Ruins All Films".


canister light

A light where the battery is strapped to your belt and the light is held in your hand.

Cave mapping software and electronic survey equipment

cattle boat
We've all been there, done that. There are no cows on a cattleboat, at least not the four legged kind.

CESA (pronounced "SEE-sa")
Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent

Certification card

chamber (1)
Hyperbaric chamber, for diagnosis and treatment of DCS

chamber (2)
The room that contains the pot.

chamber ride (1)
To be compressed in a chamber.

chamber ride (2)
What you do on your last day at the hotel in Cozumel. See chamber (2).

charlie foxtrot

Euphemism for clusterfuck, derived from initials.


What you do on your last day at the hotel in Cozumel.

Form of DCS in which you are unable to breathe effectively. Generally fatal unless treated quickly with on-site O2 and prompt recompression.

Feeding the fishes. Performed voluntarily by fishermen in order to attract large fishes. Performed by divers involuntarily.

clear (1)
equalize ears

clear (2)
free of nitrogen - clear to fly

Complete pandemonium, often the result of strokery. Diving on the wrong day with the wrong equipment and the wrong attitude. American. See “incident pit.”

Clueless Newbie.

O2 toxicity Also known as tox or oxtox.

Dive computer.


Cardio-Pulmonary Rescusitation

A lobster below the legal size.

cu. ft.
Cubic feet. 1 cubic foot = 28.31685 liters.

Scuba tank



Divers Alert Network. When you have a big problem, call (919) 684-8111. Web site:

Decompression Illness, including DCS and AGE

Decompression Sickness, the 'bends'

dead reckoning (1)
Navigating without using external referents, using compass, initial known position, and estimates of speed, current, wind, etc.

dead reckoning (2)
The navigation method preferred by divers who never learned to use a compass. So called because they are frequently found dead.

deco mix (1)
Gas mixture used for decompression, such as 80/20 or 100% O2.

deco mix (2)

alt: 1 part Bacardi, 1 part Jack Daniel's, 2 parts lemonade.

deep air

Like deep throat, only different.

deserved hit

DCS occuring after violating table or computer limits.

DI (1)

Dive instructor

DI (2)
Drill instructor. Like a dive instructor, but without as many swear words.

Doing It Right

Doom Induced Nausea. Feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are about to do a dive which is completely out of your comfort zone or experience.

DIN valves (1)

Superior alternative to a yoke fitting for first stage. Screws in rather than clamps on, and O-ring is "captured" inside valve, reducing chance of O-ring failure.

DIN valves (2)

The noise made when insufficient care is taken loading tanks into a vehicle, and the valves are banging together.

dive babe

Woman who is a real diver - opposite of a chick

dive chick
Female diver who puts on make-up; brushes hair; has her boyfriend assemble her kit; and then has him carry it to the water before doing her dive.

dive dry

Diving in a dry suit.

dive flag
Red flag with white diagonal stripe from top of staff to bottom of fly: U.S. Dive Flag. Means the same as the alpha flag, but is almost unknown outside the U.S. and cultural vassals. Within or near U.S. waters, the best policy is to fly both. Outside, fly the alpha flag.


Dive Master

double steel 104's
Pair of steel cylinders, nominal capacity 104 cu. ft, connected together with bands and a manifold.

Diver Propulsion Vehicle. Scooter.

drift deco
hanging from a lift bag or DSMB during your deco (usually for high currents)

D rings

D-shaped rings. Attach to BC webbing with weight retainers.

Diving Unlimited International. Manufacturer best known for their dry suits



Equivalent Air Depth. The depth at which air would cause as much decompression obligation as a nitrox with a given fO2 at a given depth.


Enriched Air Nitrox

Equivalent Narcotic Depth. The depth at which air would cause as much narcosis as a given mix and depth.

person who - after you have put up with all of their foibles - gets to the bar and insists that it's your turn to buy.


fart bag


feed the fish


Feet First Ascent. Learning technique used by new drysuit divers.

Full Face Mask

Feet of Fresh Water

fin ladder

A pole with pegs attached to either side to facilitate climbing out of the water with your fins on.

flounder gig

A speargun spear with a SS cable attached to a T. This is used for flounder collecting.

Fraction of helium (He) in a mix. In air, fHe = 0, unless you are near certain natural gas wells, a birthday party, or tech divers.

Fraction of nitrogent (N2) in a mix. In air, fN2 = 0.791 = 79.1%. Actually this is a lie, counting the approximately 1% of other gasses in air (noble gasses etc.) as though they are nitrogen, but it is close enough.

Fraction of O2 in a mix. In air, fO2 = 0.209 = 20.9%.

free diver

A diver without scuba gear – breath-holding diver

foul the hook

To tie the wreckhook upside down to facilitate leaving the wreck. Usually done by the last person up.

Feet of Salt Water



Rig designed to reduce the amount of air the lower legs of a drysuit. See FFA.

get wet
What all divers want to do - go diving.

golden triangle
Area between the chin and the nipples where it is easiest to access equipment such as knives and regulators.

Global Positioning System

granny line

Line which goes from the stern platform or hangbar to the anchor line.


h valve

tank valve with two outlets.

Boundary between layers of water of different salinities. Looks like a barrier of mist.

To perform a decompression stop.

hang bar

Bar slung underneath boat for convenience during decompression stops

hang line

Horizontal line rigged for convenience during decompression stops

hang tank

Extra tank, ideally of deco mix, staged at deco stop.

Hawaiian sling

A long spear with an elastic loop at one end and 3-pointed gig on the other. You catch the loop in your thumb and pull the spear back. When you let go, the spear shoots forward, hopefully into a fish.

Breathing mix of helium and oxygen.

Incident of DCS.

mix, especially nitrox, brewed up at home, or by adding oxygen to a cylinder and then taking it to dive store for fill. Implicated in a number of fatalities.

regulator for breathing surface supplied air, either from a tank or a compressor, typically down to about 30 feet.

air hog

the old style floatation device (now BC).

HP hose
High Pressure Hose. Goes from 1st stage to air pressure gauge.

Hydrostatic testing for tank integrity



International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers


Generally means a RIB.

incident pit
Series of events which individually would not be dangerous, but each causes a problem, which is increased by the next, until you have a major incident.

The incident pit is a conceptual 'pit' with progressively steeper sides. Anything going wrong pushes you slightly further into the pit. As the sides steepen, it gets progressively more difficult to get out. British. (See “clusterfuck”)

Taking on additional nitrogen (and/or other inert gases).


Instructor who perpetuates strokery by instilling in students his own defective attitudes and techniques.

Intermediate Pressure, i.e. the pressure between the first and second stages

isolating manifold
manifold that also has a valve to isolate the two tanks, to preserve half the gas supply in the event of a failure.


Jersey reel

A large spool designed to hold ¼ diameter sisal line. Used in conjuction with a lift bag.


Old fashioned tank valve with a reserve lever, which signals that pressure is down to 300-500 psi by making breathing difficult. Often seen with reserve feature disabled on old steel 72s.


Regular tank valve

kelp crawl

Dog-paddle type swim stroke used to get over kelp on the surface.


legal bugs

Vs. shorts. Lobsters that are long enough to be taken, and do not have eggs on them.

lift bag
A device which you attach to an object you would like to lift off the bottom. Shaped like a upsidedown garbage bag, you pump air into to raise your object.

loot and scoot

Wreck diving in the Great Lakes.


Long-range Navigation.

A radionavigation system using land-based radio transmitters (operated in the United States by the USCG) and receivers to allow mariners, aviators, and (more recently) those interested in terrestrial navigation to determine their position.

Highly accurate (better than 0.25 nautical mile (NM) absolute accuracy in the defined coverage area), available (99.7% availability), 24-hour-a-day, all-weather radionavigation system. Loran-C (the present version of this system) coverage extends over the conterminous United States, portions of Alaska, and many other areas of the world.

Source: LORAN-C Users Handbook

Less accurate (for absolute position) than GPS, but cheaper, and universally installed on U.S. boats. LORAN is still more accurate for returning to a prior position (such as a wreck.)

Lorraine Smith Effect

pulmonary O2 toxicity

LP hose

Low Pressure hose. Goes from 1st stage to 2nd stage or to inflator.



plumbing to connect to tanks so that one regulator can access the gas in both. See isolating manifold

Diving equipment manufacturer.

mix [noun]
mixture of gases, often a trimix

Maximum Operating Depth for a mix, given a maximum ppO2.

MOD = (max ppO2 / fO2 - 1) * 33 fsw


National Association for Cave Diving

National Association of Underwater Instructors.
Not Another Underwater Idiot.
Need Another Underwater Instructor.

No-Decompression Limit

No Decompression Stop - no decompression limit according to table or computer

Someone new at diving, computers or anything else.


Any mixture of nitrogen and oxygen. Nitrox 32, Nitrox 36, Nitrox 50, Nitrox 80, etc: Nitrox with 32%, 36%, 50%, and 80% of oxygen respectively.

Nitrox I
Nitrox 32. The NOAA term, the term Nitrox 32 is more precise and therefore preferred.

Nitrox II
Nitrox 36.

National Speleological Society-Cave Diving Section


O2 clean
Clean enough of combustibles such as oil to allow use with high pressure O2.

Obnoxious Clueless Newbie.


Extra second stage regulator, for benefit of your buddy should they want to use your air.

Reducing the load of nitrogen (and/or other inert gases).

Ocean Management Systems, an equipment vendor well known for their low pressure steel tanks, and also unfortunately for their bondage wings.

Out Of Air


O.S. Systems, Inc., Shell dry suit manufacturer.


Open Water. The lowest level of PADI certification for scuba diving.



Professional Association of Dive Instructors.
Put Another Dollar In.
Pay And Dive Immediately.
Patches Available During Instruction.
Produce Another Dumb Instructor.
Patch and Dollar Industry.
Patches And Decals Included.
Pissed-off Another Dive Instructor.

Professional Diving Instructors Corporation. Certifying agency.


Any large crowbar, pipe wrench or sledge hammer used for souvenir hunting

pony bottle

15 to 30 cu. ft. tank, typically worn beside main tank, as a fully redundant emergency air supply.


Partial Pressure. The total pressure of a gas mixture is the sum of the partial pressures of the component gases.


Partial Pressure of Helium

Partial Pressure of Oxygen. Don't go over 1.4 ATA while diving, or over 1.6 ATA while decompressing.

Partial Pressure of Nitrogen


as in bent as a pretzel. Very bent, doubled over in agony.

The regulator with the long hose, wrapped around the canister light on the right of your harness belt, up to the left of your head, around your neck and into your mouth.


pounds per square inch. psi / 14.50377 = bar.

P weight

Weight designed to fit in the gully of a standard backplate.



Rigid Inflatable Boat, solid keel and large inflated tubes. (British)

riding the hook
Hooking up to a wreck by handing a diver the anchor and chain and said diver jumping over and riding it down to the wreck. Used for small/low-profile wrecks.

rolling a tank

Tumbling a tank to remove internal corrosion.

Rule #1
Don't dive with strokes.

Rule #2
Don't listen to strokes.

Rule of Thirds

Air - a third to get there, a third to get back, and last third belongs to your buddy.



Surface Air Consumption.


PADI training acronym: "Slowly Ascend From Every dive". Alt: "Submerge And Forget Everything".

safe second

SAR team

Search and Rescue Team


Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Contrast with SCBA, used by firefighters, which is similar but not intended for use underwater. Also compare with surface supplied air. Scuba is generally used to mean open circuit scuba, as opposed to closed or semi-closed circuit rebreathers.

sea lice

Yucky rash, actually caused by larvae of thimble jellyfish larva, getting trapped in bathing costume/lycra etc. and stinging. The larvae almost invisibly small. Sea Lice or Seabather's Eruption, according to which "any rash needs a thorough evaluation to rule out possible communicable causes", which also has detailed instructions for treatment.

set the hook

To make sure that the wreckhook is securely fastened to the wreck. Usually done by the first person down.

shoot a bag
To send a liftbag up with a line attached for a floating deco.


Complete loss of vision caused by silt being disturbed, typically by careless finning.


Surface Interval (between dives)

six-pack/fast boat
Small, open diveboat. Passengers generally limited to not more than six - ergo 6 pack.

In the USA a licensed captain can operate a boat carrying up to 6 paying passengers without the boat undergoing the rigorous inspection required of vessels that carry more passengers. Most dive boats tend to be either six packs less than 25 feet long or cattle boats of more than 40 feet. The six packs still have to be seaworthy and must carry certain safety gear, they just don't have to meet all the requirements that cruise ships do.

Lycra for warm-water wimps.

Wooden board you hold onto while being dragged by a boat.

Snotty (New York/New Jersey).


Rough sea conditions. In the Northeast, this means 14 foot seas. In Cozumel, it means 2 inch seas.

Surface Marker Buoy.

Same Ocean Buddy

shot line
A weight with line and buoy attached to mark the location of a wreck. Used primarily by european divers.

Stuff in a rebreather to absorb the carbon dioxide you breathe out. Adsorbent.


To remove items from a wreck.

Submersible Pressure Guage

spring straps

Stainless steel springs used to hold your fins on your feet.

square dive

A dive where you stay at the deepest point for the duration of the dive.

stage bottle
A separate gas supply which is detachable from the diver.

steel 72
Somewhat old-fashioned tank. Nominal capacity 72 cu. ft.


if it weren't for the honor of the thing, the safety stop would be a deco stop

stroke (1)
diver who's so clueless that he/she is a danger to him/herself and anyone nearby. Often considered an accident looking for a place to happen.

stroke (2)
Diver who refuses to learn even when shown a better way.

The practices of a stroke.

suicide clips
A type of brass clip with a springed gate notorious for trapping lines and killing divers.





also tek, tekkie, techie, and cowboy

Techdiver Salute
A raised fore-finger indicating all is well.

Boundary between layers of water of different temperatures.

tie in

To attach the wreck hook to the wreck with a separate line.


Underwater vis so good you can see the wreck from the surface.

Side-scan sonar transducer. Towed in water behind boat.


Slang for central nervous system oxygen toxicity that can happen when diving too deep on air or diving deeper than you should on an enriched air (nitrox) mixture. Also called the Paul Bert Effect, but tox is easier to remember and lots easier to type.


Breathing mix of three gases, typically oxygen, helium, and nitrogen. Composition is quoted as percentage of oxygen / percentage of helium, e.g. 17/50 is a trimix with 17% oxygen, 50% helium, balance (33%) nitrogen.


Clean tanks of internal corrosion, by filling them with an abrasive such as ceramic chips or aluminum oxide, and leaving on a machine that rotates them for several hours.

Transfer Under Pressure. A TUP system mates a portable compression chamber to another chamber to transfer a person under pressure from one chamber to the other.

Large plastic containers wreck divers use to haul all their gear.


undeserved hit

DCS occuring despite staying within table or computer limits.



Software that has been announced, but does not yet exist. Often pre-announced for marketing reasons, to discourage users from purchasing a real, shipping, competitive product.


Visual Inspection Program. Testing tank for integrity by visual inspection of insides.

Visibility. As in "viz was great - 15 to 20 feet" (North East wreck diver), or "viz was disgusting - 50 feet" (Florida tourist diver).

V weight
V-shaped lead weight designed to fit between your tanks behind your backplate.



Extreme form of nitrogen narcosis (and possibly oxygen toxicity), described in Cautionary Tales.

weight retainer

Small metal or plastic device used to keep lead weights from sliding, among other things.


wreck hook
An anchor with bendable tines, also called a grappling hook.


y valve

Tank valve with two outlets.

An inflatable boat. A Rib.

(via, mostly)

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