Floating effortlessly on the surface, arms hanging slack in the water, halfway through your breathing pattern, eyes on the vanishing point of the descent line 25 meters below, your cool is blown. Water in the snorkel again. Not a lot, just a little. Just enough for the venturi jet of your slow, deep inhalations to blast it into a salty aerosol which tickles your throat and reminds you of that good old gag reflex lurking somewhere in your mushy grey. The clean whoooooosh of air rushing through the snorkel is now an ugly rasp.
Maybe a little chop splashed in. Maybe your lips went a little slack and a few drops wiggled through your teeth and past the mouthpiece. Who knows? Somehow, it gets in there. In any case, there it is, maybe no more than a teaspoon’s worth, sloshing in the "J" of that plastic tube you love so well.
Look, it is no more than an annoyance, in most instances, but as a freediver zones into the drop, any annoyance is pretty damned annoying.
Here’s what not to do: don’t try to blast it out with brute force. Sure, you could let fly an exhalation with everything you’ve got, all muscle groups chipping in with maximum horsepower, but where’s that at ? That is not exactly a step toward Serenity Now. It is far too exciting. As for going vertical, picking your head up out of the water and shaking the thing free of every trace of water – well, kiss the groove goodbye and start again.
No, the winning solution to those small but irritating accumulations of water in your snorkel is "The Hodgie." This maneuver is peaceful, low-energy and totally effective. Its origin is obscure, lost in the mists of diving history, but I learned it from Dan Hodgins of Seaview Dive Center on Grand Cayman, so to me it will always be The Hodgie.
Here’s how it goes: complete your slow, deep inhalation. As you begin your slow exhalation, gently and effortlessly roll on the longitudinal axis of your body. Continue your exhalation through the full 360 degrees, until you have returned to your original prone position. Finish your exhalation and continue, unintterrupted, your breathing pattern.
Voila! Your snorkel will be bone dry, the rasp gone and the whooosh back. All with no interruption in the rhythm or intensity of your normal ventilation, and no unneccesary fuss or excitement.
It seems so obvious once you try it. Maybe it’s something we all knew at some point, but over the past hundred or so freediving students I’ve observed, I’ve not found a Hodgie roller among them. Only blowhards and heads-uppers. Next time you want your snorkel clear to the last drop, try a Hodgie.
And thanks, Dan !