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At 100 metres, no one can hear you scream… but can they hear you sing?

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The Mile High Club. Ever heard of it?

The 100 Metre Club. Ever heard of that?

Which one is more risky?

Which one is more achievable, more probable, more plannable?

Well it isn’t the Boeing 747 option with the toilet roll holder stuck up your backside and a pair of tights strangling you and one stray big toe constantly hitting the attendant call button.

Paul 5

Getting to the Big One Hundred takes far more courage and a lot more planning, it’s a hell of a lot less risky and a lot less embarrassing if you get caught doing it. It used to be only deep explorers that went as deep as 100 metres; now 100m divers are high-tec divers, and without diminishing the achievement of planning and executing a dive of this calibre, a little bit more common.

It is still a very exclusive club, one that I would like you all to join. There are no guarantees that you will be able to get there (in terms of your ability), but with the right understanding, desire, training and experience, I do believe that the 100 metre club could be a lot bigger. The funny thing here is that most of the girls reading this article are thinking that it’s a waste of time to read further. Well, in my opinion, you are the future big deep hairy (and I’m not referencing armpits, legs or Brazilians here) tech divers. Girls struggle less with peer pressure, they are calm under fire and most importantly, they breathe a whole lot less gas. More gas means more time. More time means more exploration.

So how exactly do you get there?

In previous articles I have written about choosing the instructor and training agency, also whether you are going to be an Open Circuit or Closed Circuit technical diver. The most important decisions after those are, do you need to go to 100 and why? I don’t believe in just doing a dive to 100 metres for the hell of it, I believe we should have an objective. For me, that usually means a wreck or some beautiful topography, as I’m afraid to say it is not teeming with fish down there. If you will never use the skills learned on this course again, then it seems like a real waste.

Doing the dive

You do not need to dive to 100 on your training course; in fact some agencies do not allow it, however I believe that it is a very good thing to do. My reasoning is empirical really. I have qualified a fair few Trimix divers now, and when a divers depth timer/computer hits triple figures, there is something that changes within that diver, as recounted by Alex Griffin of Diving Leisure London:

Paul 4“As a reasonably experienced diver and instructor I find that the most excitement I draw from recreational diving comes from either diving in environments or places substantially different from those I’ve dived before or from seeing the enjoyment in the faces of those that I teach.

“In some ways I’ve come to miss that nervous excitement that comes from being on a boat heading out to a dive, knowing that your limits and abilities are about to challenged.

“When I completed my IANTD Trimix course with Diving Matrix in Malta I perfectly re-captured that feeling as I went out to complete my 100m qualifying dive. This is an experience that you know is going to be monumental. I enjoyed the anticipation of knowing I was about to do something I’d never done before, that was a major challenge – but also knowing I was capable of pulling it off.

“The dive itself went without a hitch. The sensation of looking at your computer and seeing 100m on the display is pretty mind boggling. We also had the privilege of completing the dive on a massive unidentified cargo ship and we had a few minutes to explore the bow. That was incredible; to actually be at a 100m and ‘doing a dive’ was, for me, the highlight of the experience. The decompression schedule was surprisingly light and the whole dive took only an hour; I returned to the surface feeling a mix of awe, triumph and extreme happiness.

Paul 2“Going back in to harbour I realised that this is why I love scuba diving so much; no matter who you are or how much experience you have, there is always something new to see or do that will keep you feeling just like you did when you first put your head under the water.”

I believe it is best to experience your first 100 metre dive under the watchful eye of an experienced deep Trimix instructor, so pick your Trimix instructor with as much caution as you chose your entry level instructor… as you are about to turn your world on its head.

What about the training?

The training is actually not that hellish. You will have to go through a series of courses before you get the prerequisites for Full Trimix. I can assure you of one thing, every one of the courses is an absolute blast.

Beginning with Advanced Nitrox (and Deco procedures, depending on agency), which teaches you basic twinset, long hose and stage cylinder management. This course teaches minimal deco and about a 40 odd metre depth maximum.

Next you have an Extended Range (Tec Deep) or Normoxic (breathable at the surface) Trimix. On this course deco is dramatically increased and a max depth of around 60 metres can be achieved.

And finally you are eligible for full blown Trimix. This is an unlimited deco, multi stage 100 metres maximum depth programme (some agencies like DSAT are 75 metres).

Paul 6On completion of the dive I do believe that life changes a little. Something in your soul lights up like a little beacon.  I felt like I had journeyed to another galaxy like an extreme explorer, and I suppose I did. Not that many people even peer underwater using a mask and snorkel, let alone dive to 100 metres, so I guess I had been to another galaxy. I certainly looked like I was going into space. Sadly, the world’s media were not there to meet me when I surfaced grinning like a Cheshire cat. I was not put into the hall of fame along side Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but there is a champagne bottle in my local pub that has 11 ATA (11 atmospheres) printed in silver along it’s side on the top shelf as you walk in the door. All my friends came out to celebrate with me, and for a few fleeting moments I became the explorer I had always dreamed I would be.

Become all that you want to be, that’s really all this article is about. If you fancy doing 100 metres then go out and talk to an Instructor and let them help you realise your dreams.

RAID_Concepts_vF

Paul is the Director of Training at RAID. To find out more about the courses that RAID offers, visit www.diveraid.com.

After living in South Africa for 23 years, Paul moved to the UK, where he discovered diving. Within months of learning to dive he had his own centre in London and rapidly progressed to Course Director before finding his passion for technical diving. Paul is an avid wreck, cave and rebreather diver, and has worked as an Instructor and Instructor Trainer for PADI, IANTD, and TDI. Paul recently held the position of Director of Technical Training for SSI, but moved on when he was offered the chance to co-own and run his own training agency. Paul now holds the role of Director of Diver Training at RAID International.

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Western Ecology Tour: Notes from the Field – Scotland

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Scubaverse blogger, Donovan Lewis, is currently on the Western Ecology Tour. The aim of the expedition is to travel to the northern reaches of Scotland, along the West Coast to the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales, and finally onto Pembrokeshire, diving the best the west has to offer. The expedition is looking to live life in a minimalist way, camping and cooking out in the open air.

The teams aim is not just to dive sites, but to tackle conservation issues and shed light on projects up and down the UK, they have three projects which the trip will be focusing on. These projects include the Shark & Skate Citizen Science Scotland, Project Seagrass, and Neptune’s Army of Rubbish Cleaners (NARC). The team will be accompanied with a Biologist or expert that works on each of the 3 projects to aid and guide the team, but also help shed extra light on the critical conservation work being carried out.


Here are Donovan’s notes from the first leg of the trip:

The time has come for the Western Ecology Tour, I’m going to be giving you updates throughout the expedition. It’s been an amazing first two days up here in the Highlands of Scotland. The first day we dived Loch Duich, where we did 3 dives. We dived on local dive sites lead by members of Shark & Skate Citizen Science Scotland. Our first site,next to the Ratagan Youth Hostel, was a slope with a muddy bottom absolutely covered in life, including squat lobsters, brittlestars and anemones.

Our second dive was at a site unfortunately known as the Rubbish Dump, an area that was littered with trash such as bottles, plates, fishing line and quite literally bags of bones. The third dive was at School Bay, a bay with a school in it, this was a thick muddy bottomed dive site that was covered with sea pens, fireworks anemones, and scorpionfish.

The second day we dived in Loch Carron, where we dived Conservation Bay it was a light drift dive on a wall covered in dead man’s fingers and kelp. The second dive was in Castle Bay which started in a Bay with a castle at the top of a cliff, this was again another draft dive with walls covered in Dead Man’s Fingers that ended at the end of a slipway and a flat sandy seabed, which littered with flatfish, crabs, gobies and decorator crabs.

This is a quick blog on what we’ve seen, however at the end of our trip keep your eyes out for an Expedition Report about what we saw and experienced.


If you’d like any further information and to keep up to date with Expedition Western Ecology Tour check out the webpage https://andythenortherndiver.com/expedition-wet/

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Marine Life & Conservation

Ghost Fishing UK clean up at the Plastic Free Awards

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The ocean conservation charity Ghost Fishing UK has netted the ‘Best Plastic Campaign’ prize at the ‘Plastic free Awards 2021’ for their voluntary work cleaning up our oceans of lost fishing gear.

It is estimated that 640,000 tonnes of lost fishing gear or ‘ghost gear’ is lost into our oceans each year. Modern fishing gear is primarily made of plastics and not only continues catching and killing wildlife once it has been lost, but leaves a legacy issue of broken down plastic circulating in our oceans. These fragments known as microplastics can be ingested by animals and ultimately end up in our food chain.

The Plastic Free Awards returned for their second year to celebrate those making the biggest waves in the fight against plastic pollution. The awards are a unique opportunity to recognise the achievements of campaigners, innovators, small businesses and communities across the UK leading the charge on plastic.

Partnering with Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, the awards are designed to bring together environmental champions and leaders of the plastic free movement. With 12 award categories covering all areas from Best Plastic Campaign to Youth Activist Award, anyone can be nominated; yourself, a friend, family member, school, community, or business – anyone you think is a plastic free hero. Shortlisted nominees are chosen by a panel of expert judges.

Volunteer divers from the charity Ghost Fishing UK are carefully selected to survey and recover lost fishing gear which is reported through their website. Both divers and fishermen are invited to report fishing gear losses so the team can recover them, stopping the cycle of death and pollution in its tracks.

The materials are then stored until they reach sufficient quantities to be recycled into various items, including plant pots.

Operations Officer and trustee for the charity Fred Nunn is based in Cornwall and said: “It’s so humbling to be recognised by the community when there are so, so many others all doing truly amazing things all towards a common goal.”

Scuba divers who make the grade are put through an intensive training course over three days to prepare them for dealing with ghost nets. The job underwater can be dangerous, often with poor visibility, hard physical work and the ever present risk of the divers becoming entangled in the nets themselves.

On the day of the awards ceremony, many of the divers missed the event as they were finishing up a project in Brighton to remove a huge net form the wreck of the Cairndhu, operating from Channel Diver. They were assisted by a trawling vessel who heard the team were in the area and offered to help, using his fishing boat to haul the net on board. The fishermen are hoping to be able to repair and re-use the net depending on how badly it has been damaged whilst entangled in the wreck. If not, the net will be sent for recycling.

Trustee Christine Grosart said: “Today was a fantastic day! It was brilliant to have a trawling vessel offer assistance to our mission to get the net off the Cairndhu but to go on and win this award in the evening was the cherry on the cake.

Many people think we do this for a living but we don’t – we all have day jobs, families and normal lives to work around. It takes special individuals to give up what free time and cash they have spare to this cause and that is why they are so deserving of this award.

I was watching the awards from the middle of the Danish north sea on board a sat diving vessel and they could hear me shrieking from the Bridge!”

Chair Dr Richard Walker was also out on Channel Diver, photographing the day’s mission as it unfolded. He was travelling home when the winners were announced: “To actually win this award means more to me than you can imagine. It means that I can publicly thank all of our dedicated volunteers, who scuba dive to recover lost fishing nets from the reefs and shipwrecks around the United Kingdom and the huge contribution that our divers make in keeping the projects happening.

I can praise our instructors who teach our divers how to be safe and effective on our projects and show my appreciation to our committee who look after our administration, who send our message to the public, who make links with the fishing community and other groups.”

 Ghost Fishing UK this weekend is rolling out a new reporting system dedicated to fishermen and fishing vessels to be able to report lost fishing gear anonymously. The charity is very keen to work with the fishing community in harmony to help solve the problem of ghost fishing by getting accidentally lost gear out of the sea as soon as possible.

To report lost fishing gear, please head to the charity’s website: www.ghostfishing.co.uk/report

If you are a fisherman and know of any lost fishing gear, please report it anonymously here:

Ghost Fishing UK – Fishing Community Reporting Form

Richard Walker said “I want to thank each and every one of the Ghost Fishing UK team, and all of our supporters. They are all a key part of the job to reduce our dependence on plastics and preventing it from getting into our beautiful oceans.

And finally, a big thank you to the Surfers Against Sewage and the Plastic Free Awards for this prestigious award.”

For more information about Ghost Fishing UK visit their website by clicking here.

Header image: Richard Walker

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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