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Dive Training Blogs

A Beginner Diver’s Journey

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Ever wondered what it’s like to learn to dive?  Marketing Executive Chloe Spencer-Ades from The Scuba Place shares her experience…

I’ve always been a natural sports fanatic, getting involved in anything and everything I could to do with sport. I am extremely competitive and from a young age I was heavily involved in athletics and rugby, which drifted into football, and hockey and so on. Our family weekends consisted of getting up early, driving me to a match on a Saturday, and then the same on a Sunday, until I was old enough to drive myself. I’ve carried on at university, where I play hockey for Loughborough. So, it seemed fitting when I was introduced to the scuba world by my dad, and I knew I’d never look back!

My first ever dive was in Mexico in 2016. I did a try-dive at La Musa, the underwater sculpture museum created by Jason De Caires Taylor. I had no idea what I was doing, but at the young age of 16, I didn’t have any fears (a quality I wish I still had now). I was in extremely safe hands and was itching to get in the water. When I think about that first diving experience, I don’t remember setting up the kit, the pre-dive safety checks, the entry or descent – but I do remember the overwhelming feeling of “I can’t believe I’m doing this, this is crazy!” All I thought about was how little sense it made that I was breathing as normal, underwater, watching fish dash past me, weaving in and out of the Volkswagen Beetle sculpture. It didn’t make sense, but I knew that I had to do it again! I also remember having to sort my mask out a ridiculous number of times, as I was constantly smiling and laughing, and it leaked and leaked.

My next scuba diving adventure was about a year later and this time it was becoming official, I was set to take my PADI Open Water Course! I was rather nervous considering I had only been on one Try Dive over a year ago! I did a lot of studying at home (probably too much) and completed the online theory section of the course before we flew out to Egypt. We spent the week in Roots Red Sea in El Quseir, which sits between Hurghada and Marsa Alam on a really quiet stretch of coastline. If you haven’t been there, it’s a must! It’s a great base for learning to dive as well as for those who are already qualified – even at expert level!

Day One, and we were straight into the pool for our confined water skills such as taking my mask off or filling it with water. The Instructors were amazing, friendly, patient, super-relaxed and honestly, they made it so easy and fun. All the other drills and skills, like buddy-breathing, trying to hover and even simulating running out of air were far easier than I had expected! Then it was off to the house reef to put the skills we had learned in the pool to use – and WOW! Breathing underwater, surrounded by beautiful corals and exotic marine life. It wasn’t easy to concentrate on what we were supposed to be doing at all!

The biggest ‘learn’ for me was that this wasn’t like I had expected it to be – the learning is fun, and it isn’t difficult either. Every lesson or skill has its use, and every dive you do, the skills fit into place more and more.

On Day 4 of our trip, we had one more dive to do and then we were qualified as Open Water Divers!! This last dive was really fun – no skills to demonstrate or learn, and we got to really focus on looking at the corals and marine life – we even spent time watching Nemo on a bright red anemone. It was beautiful. Then, as we headed up to the shallows to make our exit, we spotted puffer fish, a blue spotted stingray, some cuttlefish and some beautiful angel fish.

Once I was a Certified Open Water Diver, I felt like part of the group, a true scuba diver! I was rewarded on my first dive with a visit from a huge green turtle, who could believe it? My first ever turtle encounter immediately after passing, I was in awe!

Three years had passed since my certification, and much to my disappointment, I hadn’t been able to fit in anymore diving. Studies had taken over my life as I took my A-Levels, got into Loughborough University and settled into the university lifestyle. However, I was due to do a placement year where I secured a job with a physiotherapy clinic. As well as working there, my dad made the best decision of his life to hire me as the new Marketing Executive at The Scuba Place in mid-2020!

After a few months of working in my placement year, I was settling in and finding my rhythm. It hadn’t, by any means, been the easiest year for anyone due to Covid-19, let alone for a company working in the travel industry, but we were determined to soldier on. After having several trips postponed, we were eager to get the wheels off of the tarmac. Following some extensive research and planning, The Scuba Place put a trip together to Grenada for October 2020. To say that everyone on the trip was looking forward to it would be an understatement. Unfortunately, nothing comes easily as we did run into some troubles with travelling due to the pandemic. We have an article on this, so check out our other blog post ‘Travelling During a Pandemic’ to see how we handled it all.  Thankfully, we made it to Grenada.

I set myself the challenge of furthering my diving experience and education with the Advanced Open Water, Nitrox and Deep Diver certifications during the Grenada trip. For someone who hadn’t been diving in three years, I was a little nervous. However, as soon as I hit that water and dropped down, that feeling of uncontainable excitement was there. It all came back so naturally, and I was loving it! Every bit of coral, tiny little shrimp, fish and the underwater world itself blew me away all over again! I truly felt like a kid in a sweet shop, and I couldn’t believe all the wonderful things I was seeing!

During the trip to Grenada, I saw my first ever shark, had my first encounter with eagle rays, dived my first ever wreck, saw schooling creole wrasse at the aptly named dive site ‘Purple Rain’ and so many other beautiful things. I passed my Advanced Open Water, my Deep Diver and NITROX certifications! I also made a big gang of friends and buddies who I can’t wait to dive with again! I was so proud of myself, but especially thankful to everyone on that trip. From the dive centre staff, to my instructor, and our clients and friends. That is what scuba diving is all about and that is why I love it. It’s a true community. Everyone you meet shares the same passion, enthusiasm, care for others and love for scuba diving. That’s the most wonderful feeling, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.

I haven’t been diving long, and my journey has only just started, but I can’t wait to get back in the water as soon as we can to continue it!


Find out more about the worldwide dive itineraries that The Scuba Place offers at www.thescubaplace.co.uk.

The Scuba Genies are John and Mona Spencer-Ades, owners and Directors of ATOL and ABTA bonded Tour Operator and Travel Agency, The Scuba Place Ltd. The Scuba Place design and custom-build exceptional diving holidays around the globe, and have been doing so since 2011. They provide travel services to groups, clubs, buddy-pairs and individuals, and have a wealth of hands on experience when it comes to destinations as they are fanatical divers themselves. John has been diving over 30 years and is a PADI Dive Master, having logged over 2600 dives. Mona started her diving career in 2004, and has logged over 600 dives – she is currently a PADI Rescue Diver. The Scuba Place also provide hosted trips to both new and their favourite destinations each year, providing expert support, under their banner ‘Come Dive with Us!’ Previous trips have been to the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Bonaire, Florida, the Maldives, Malta, Bahamas, Thailand, Truk Lagoon, Grenada, St Lucia, Cozumel, Cuba and Egypt. For 2022 and beyond, Palau, Bali, Raja Ampat, Ambon and Coron are in the planning stage.

Dive Training Blogs

Tips for… Navigation

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Not the most fun of topics we guess, but pretty important for any diver! Now we are sure that there are some of you out there that steer away from the navigation side and are quite happy to follow along at the back. But if you are one of those divers and the reason is because you think that it is ridiculously hard.. we want to give you a few basic tips to help you!

Now using a compass may look scary but actually there is not much to it. First rule to remember… North is North under the water as well as on land… it doesn’t change! So, with that in mind we can use that pretty easily under the water to at least give us a point of reference whilst we are diving, even if you are not leading it. Knowing the direction that you are going and how deep you are is a good reference and will help you to become more confident. Get into the habit of taking a ‘bearing’ – fancy word for direction – on the surface before going under and check the bearing as you are diving.

Knowing which way is left and right – well, when going right, the numbers increase, and when going left, the numbers decrease… easy! Starting off with turning left and right 90 degrees will start to get you into the habit of making turns. Try not to use complicated numbers when you first start off, nobody likes maths at the best of times, let alone trying to add 273 to 32 under the water! Keep it basic.

Last but not least, navigating is not all about using a compass. If you are not a fan of it and want to keep your dives simple, there is nothing wrong with natural navigation. There are some amazing sites around our coastline that are perfect for this – harbour walls, piers, open sea coves, all allow the point of reference to be followed on one side of your body on the way out and the opposite on the way back. You can also check that you are going the right way on your return as the depth will start to decrease. This is a great way to start building your confidence with navigating if you are new to it, and what is even better, lots of marine life love to congress around these rocky areas!

Other aspects to consider to throw into your natural navigation bag are picking some land marks during your dives. If there is something notable that doesn’t move (fish are not highly recommended!) take a note of this and use it as a reference and pick another. On the return journey, you can use these ‘markers’ to find your way back to the starting point. A nice and simple way to find where you are going.

So, give it a go in a nice shallow bay area and see how you get on… practice makes perfect!


Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com

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Dive Training Blogs

Jump into… Behind the scenes of a dive centre

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Ah yes, the glamorous dive instructor. Just as you see in the adverts walking around in swimwear coming out of the sea… and as you guys see us, walking into the centre to meet you at 10am and having done two dives, finishing at 2pm and heading home…

Or not. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the job as a dive instructor, more than I could ever tell you. But, it does not come without the negative side as I am sure with any job. 

So first off, let’s get these 10am starts out of our heads. A lot of our dives do meet at 10am, to be honest, that is mainly to give you the time to get to us and avoid the traffic! We are there longggg before this, setting up the boat, making sure everything is working correctly, checking the equipment, paperwork and loading everything up to have a smooth, well planned day when you get here. Oh, and as for the 2pm finish. I wish! Over the summer months you will usually find us here until late at night, if we aren’t out doing late afternoon dives, we will be there cleaning the equipment from the day… filling tanks… and making sure everything is ready for the following day.

Next. What else do you not see us doing on the PADI adverts? Cleaning? The centres aren’t exactly small and take a lot of work for us all to maintain… you know what it is like when you are on holiday and get sand in your shoes and it takes ages to finally get rid of it all? Well times that by 100 and you have an idea! 

But it’s not just about the cleaning and preparation parts of the job. There is also a lot of training. From risk assessment training, to scenario days with the staff, we plan monthly training sessions to make sure everyone is up to date with policies and procedures, any training updates and run emergency scenarios to make sure everyone is safe and prepared. 

Last but not least, the actual courses and guiding that you see us doing. The fun part… and what we all live for. Taking you all into the water whether it is to take your first breaths or to learn how to become an instructor. This is what we do all of the rest of the work for. And, I most definitely would not change this for the world. 

So, all jobs have negatives, and in the grand scheme of things, I can cope with filling some cylinders late at night for a career of exploration and seeing the most amazing sites I could ever wish to see. What are the positives and negatives of your job? If they’re nothing like this… why not become a dive instructor?! 


Clare began Duttons Divers at just 19 years old and a short while later became one of the world’s youngest PADI Course Directors. Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com

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