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Book Review: Diving the Thistlegorm

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Diving the Thistlegorm – The ultimate guide to a World War Two shipwreck by Simon Brown, Jon Henderson, Alex Mustard and Mike Postons.

A Review by Jeff Goodman

It’s a real pleasure when I get great books like this to read and review. This book takes the reader on a historic and fully comprehensive journey of the Thistlegorm. A brilliant in depth guide to the wreck and all it’s facets, all illustrated by superb photos and graphics. The detail of research into this ship is impressive and portrayed to the reader in an easy to read style and layout. It is obvious how much hard work has been done to make this book enjoyable to read as well as be educational.

When I first dived the Thistlegorm I knew very little about the wreck except for the brief safety dive talk given on our boat prior to entering the water. I truly wish I had had this book to read before hand. It would have given me such an important insight to what I was diving on and looking at. My dive would have been even more enjoyable. I can only hope that every boat heading out to the wreck in the future has at least one copy on board.  We need more books like this.

I remember the first dive I ever had on the Thistlegorm. It was fantastic. The water was clear, there was an abundance of wildlife and the wreck itself was awesome. Gliding over the decks and the cargo holds, filled with machines and items of war, was an experience never to be forgotten. I didn’t really know just how lucky I was. So you can imagine how happy I was to know a few years later that I was to dive it again. I awoke early on the Liveaboard and eagerly looked off the open stern to the wreck site. Instead of the clear blue open sea I had seen before just a few years previously, there were now twelve to fourteen other Liveaboard dive boats all moored up to the wreck and already discharging divers into the water.

My dive on the wreck this time was truly not an experience I wanted to have again. There were more divers than fish. The decks were busy with criss-crossing people and the holds were choc-a-block with divers who seemed to have little care either for the wreck itself or other people. I was often pushed from behind, had a few fins in the face and lights blazed directly into my eyes.

With this memory in mind it was with a little trepidation that I started to read ‘Diving the Thistlegorm’. Was this simply going to draw more divers to the wreck with no consideration for careful diving practices? To my great relief, the second section of the book was titled ‘Wreck under threat’ and addressed my very concerns about the Thistlegorm being systematically ruined by careless and unregulated mooring of dive boats on the ships superstructure, as well as disregard of the wrecks contents by many divers. The section didn’t dwell too long on this, but the points for wreck preservation were strong and well made.


About the authors of Diving the Thistlegorm

Simon Brown is a photogrammetry/3D reconstruction expert who has documented underwater subjects for a wide range of clients including Historic England and television companies such as National Geographic Channel and Discovery Canada. He is currently teaching police forensic collision investigators the use of photogrammetry for evidence preservation.

Jon Henderson is Reader in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh where he is the Director of theUnderwater Archaeology Research Centre. With specific research interests in submerged prehistoric settlements and developing underwater survey techniques, he has directed underwater projects in the UK, Poland, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Jamaica and Malaysia.

Alex Mustard is a former marine biologist and award-winning underwater photographer. In 2018 he was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for “Services to underwater photography”.

Mike Postons pioneered the use of digital 3D modelling to visualise shipwrecks, as well as the processes of reconstructing original ships from historic plans. He has worked with a number of organisations including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Historic England and the Nautical Archaeological Society.


Diving the Thistlegorm – The ultimate guide to a World War Two shipwreck is available now from Divedup.com, online and from retailers. ISBN 978-1-909455-37-5 | 240 pages | 160 × 21 × 240 mm

Jeff Goodman is the Editor-at-Large for Scubaverse.com with responsibility for conservation and underwater videography. Jeff is an award-winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker who lives in Cornwall, UK. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

Dive Training Blogs

My Dive Buddies Episode 1: Alejandro Dutto’s Best Wreck Dives! (Watch Video)

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My Dive Buddies Episode 1: Alejandro Dutto’s Best Wreck Dives!

The first in a new series, where I invite my local scuba diving buddies into the Dive Locker for a beer and a chat! This week I’m chatting with Alejandro Dutto, Co-Founder of the International Scuba Divers Club and Publisher of the digital scuba magazine ‘Trim.’ I know Alejandro is a man after my own heart. Before covid hit, we dived South Florida wrecks together frequently and I’m looking forward to getting back in the water with him.

But for now, I’m happy to have a beer with him and talk about our top three favourite South Florida Wreck Dives. Alejandro also talks about the challenges of filming at technical diving depths and about his new Spanish language dive magazine.

Please follow Alejandro’s channels here:

Thanks everyone! D.S.D.O James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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Dive Training Blogs

Anxiety and Diving – My Story

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What can you do to help a friend or a dive buddy who experiences anxiety? Chloe from The Scuba Place shares her personal experience dealing with anxiety in and out of the water.

Lockdown is nearly over! None of us knew how long it would last, what to expect or what to do. Throughout lockdown, we’ve been restricted from working, socialising, doing what we love, seeing who we love and so much more. The long-term restriction has affected some more than others and has taken a toll on the mental health of many. I feel it’s important to discuss this so we can better understand how lockdown has affected people not just physically and socially, but mentally, so that when the time comes, we’ll be ready to get back into diving safely. To that point, I would like to share my struggles and experiences with my mental health in and out of the water, so others can learn and become more aware.

One aspect of mental health I want to address in particular is anxiety. Anxiety affects everyone, even though you may not realise it! Anxiety can include feelings of nausea, lack of motivation, becoming lazy or over-active, shutting down, or acting fidgety, over thinking situations or feelings of underachievement, and many many more symptoms. I personally don’t like to define the term anxiety, because I don’t believe there is one specific definition. What we need to take notice of, is that if any of these thoughts start to feel like they can’t be controlled, it can lead to a panic attack. Panic attacks can be life threatening, especially under water, so it’s important we learn more about what to do if it happens. I personally struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, which can be quite difficult, especially when you’re a diver. I thought I would share some mishaps I’ve had in the past, how I overcame them, and how having a buddy who’s aware can reduce stress and danger.

For me, I couldn’t tell you why I am anxious 70% of the time, and that is extremely frustrating. Not knowing where these emotions are coming from is particularly overwhelming for me, and I often work myself up into a panic attack. Over time, I have learnt to accept my anxiety, acknowledge it’s there, and use some coping mechanisms to help although, I haven’t perfected this yet! There are certainly times where I can’t tell myself I’ll be ok in ten minutes, an hour or tomorrow. The feelings can be constant and intense, but I’m learning that it’s ok. Everyone can experience some form of anxiety, and it is normal. For the other 30% of the time, not knowing an outcome can get my anxiety rocketing! So, for someone who isn’t the most experienced diver, I tend to feel sick to my stomach before and during a dive trip – and I promise it’s not the sea sickness, not all of it anyway!

As I mentioned previously, anxiety can be different for everyone, but by sharing how it manifests for me, I hope others can learn more about it, and others who experience anxiety can feel comfortable talking about it. As I’ve not known what causes most of my anxiety, it’s been difficult to pinpoint triggers, but after some time I’ve established that anticipation can be really hard for me. All the build-up to a dive; waking up in the morning, making sure I’m eating enough for breakfast, getting dive kit on the boat, the dive briefing, travelling to the dive site, kitting up and pre-dive safety checks. It can be a lot of waiting and anticipating. Anticipation kills me and I have no idea why.

Let me share an experience from my last diving trip. We were lucky enough to go to Grenada in October 2020. I hadn’t been diving for three years, and in all honesty, I was incredibly nervous. I knew I would be anxious to go diving again because I wanted to make sure I could remember how to dive well, and safely. My biggest fear was putting anyone else at risk, and I think this made me overthink so much. My anxiety was already on board the plane to Grenada before I was!

Luckily, my dad had a conversation with my instructor the day before our first dive to let him know about my anxious tendencies and my panic attacks. I didn’t feel as though I could say anything myself, and I felt a bit embarrassed to talk about it. Looking back on it now, that seems silly. Nonetheless, if you feel as though you can’t speak to your buddy or instructor yourself, it’s perfectly ok for someone who knows to talk to them for you. I know for a fact it made me feel a lot more comfortable straight away. When the morning came for our first day of diving, I was agitated, fidgety, very quiet and I felt sick. However, I did want to go diving. I have such amazing memories from my previous experiences, I knew it was just my brain telling me nonsense through anxiety. But with that first giant stride, my anxiety was literally washed away! I felt all the wonderful emotions that I had on my first ever dive, and every dive since!

It’s certainly important to take the small wins with anxiety to help you when you can’t seem to shake it. For example, the first day of diving in Grenada was a good day for me. Granted, I felt dreadful all morning, but as soon as I hit the water, I was fine. So, how do I deal with my anxiety when it doesn’t disappear, or panic creeps up on me in the water? If you’re a Rescue Diver, you’ll remember that PADI advise an anxious diver to Stop, Think and then Act. This is done through communicating with your buddy, signalling, and then slowing down or stopping until the feeling subsides. This is great advice! Great communication with a buddy massively helps an anxious diver and is another reason why your buddy should be informed if you tend to get anxious during diving. I want to take PADI’s advice a bit further and share what helps for me.

Unfortunately, I have had anxious moments underwater that have led to panic attacks, but how my buddy(s) dealt with it saved us from being in any serious danger. When I feel a panic attack coming on, its sudden and immediate, and the massive wave of anxiety scares me so much I go into a panic. When underwater, I tap my buddy, if they haven’t noticed first, and tell them there’s a problem, and signal it’s my anxiety and I can’t control it. What has helped me best is when my buddy signals if it’s ok to put their hand on my arm – sometimes I welcome a physical touch, other times I feel claustrophobic and want as much space as possible – and look into my eyes. Then with a signal to take slow, deep breaths, we do this together. After a minute, I decide if I feel well enough to continue the dive. Most of the time this is the case, and we continue the dive but if I can’t control my breathing, we end the dive. It’s as simple as that. We get to the surface as quickly and safely as we can (including the safety stop, I must force myself through this) and I have help removing all my kit on the surface.

I can feel trapped when I have a panic attack, so I’ve learned that removing my kit helps a lot. If I still can’t control my breathing, I have been lifted onto the boat and I lie down until I can calm down. Having my buddy next to me and reassuring me it’s ok really helps! The one thing I appreciate most when I’m anxious is acceptance. Having someone next to me telling me what’s happening is ok can be so helpful. So much more helpful than someone who is freaking out about what they need to do to help. For me, I typically need space, reassurance, and water when I’ve calmed down.

I hope sharing my experiences, and how I deal with my anxiety, helps you or someone you know feel more comfortable when dealing with anxiety. If you get feelings like me, I hope you’ll now feel more comfortable talking about it. If you have a dive buddy who gets anxious, I hope this gives you a little insight on what you could do to help. Make sure you ask them about their anxiety, what triggers them and what helps them. Everyone is different! As we build up to a dive, many people have feelings of nervousness, fear, or apprehension. Is this what we call anxiety? However you take it, these feelings are completely normal and I’ll say this over and over again! It’s become my mantra because as an anxious person, I worry so much about affecting other people with my anxiety. I hate slowing down a dive because I feel wobbly, I hate having to end a dive because I’m panicking for an unknown reason. These thoughts will stay with me for the rest of the day and into the night because I feel so guilty. Yet, it happens! It happens to a lot of people and the more we say it is ok, the less people will feel isolated, guilty for having normal emotions, or that they can’t talk about their feelings.

When we scuba dive, we are literally jumping into a new world, an alien environment. It is so important to remember that we aren’t built to breathe underwater, so the concept of doing so may throw our brains sideways a bit! Anxiety can be different for every person and that’s why it’s so important to share your feelings with your buddy, instructor, and others. Anxiety is normal, and it’s perfectly OK! Everyone experiences it and the best thing we can do is talk about it and educate people. We can then be more aware so we can help those who need it. But remember, even if your buddy isn’t an anxious diver, always check up on them, because a great buddy relationship makes for even better divers.


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

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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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