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Dive Training Blogs

Can we go diving yet?

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By Mark Powell

After an unprecedented year, it finally looks like we are getting into the final phase of the coronavirus pandemic. Vaccines are starting to be rolled out and cases are starting to fall. In a number of areas, it is possible to anticipate lockdown restrictions being lifted, and as a result, people are getting ready to get back in the water. For some people, it has been a year, or even longer, since they have been diving. In many cases, this may be the longest time out of the water they have ever had to endure. Before you jump back in, there are a number of things to think about in order to ensure you can get back to diving safely.

Are you dive fit? If you have been out of the water for any length of time, there are a number of things to check

The first is to have an honest look at your fitness levels. If you were used to diving regularly, you may have taken your diving fitness for granted. Many people have used this period of lockdown to work on their fitness through walking, running, or other forms of socially distanced exercise. However, if lockdown has resulted in you putting on some weight or caused a reduction in your activity levels, it might be worth thinking of a gentle fitness plan to get back in shape. The last thing you want is to injure yourself by putting on your dive gear for the first time in several months or get into trouble if you cannot swim as well against a current as you could before the enforced dry season. Start to slowly build up your stamina and strength levels so that you can comfortably resume diving.

A note if you’ve had COVID-19 

If you are one of the millions of people who caught and then recovered from COVID-19, then you should ensure you are fit to dive. Your respiratory system can be affected by the coronavirus and it can have long term effects on your lungs and other systems that could impact on your ability to dive safely. The new UHMS 2020 Medical for screening divers undergoing training specifically covers COVID-19. If you have had COVID-19, then a doctor will need to confirm that you are fit to dive. It is likely that there will be a high demand for advice from diving doctors, so if you know you have had COVID-19, get in contact with your doctor as early as possible just in case an appointment may be necessary.

Mental Fitness 

In addition to physical fitness, we also need to consider mental fitness. Start reviewing your training material to refresh your knowledge. You can review physical course manuals, but also remember that if you did eLearning you can always go back and review the course content online. You can also work through various “what if” scenarios to deal with various hypothetical situations, including normal dives as well as emergency situations. This can be done alone, but works well as a group exercise with your dive buddies.

There is plenty of evidence that diving and being near water is beneficial for good mental wellbeing. I know many divers look forward to getting back in the water in order to get back to their “happy place”. Equally, it is perfectly normal for some people to feel nervous or apprehensive about their return dive. Making sure you are properly prepared, both physically and mentally, as well as checking all of your equipment is in full working order can reduce these concerns and ensure you are in the right frame of mind.

Your equipment 

If your equipment hasn’t been used for some time, then it is essential to take the time to ensure it is in working order. Cylinders may need to be tested or cleaned. Regulators will need to be serviced. Batteries will need to be charged or replaced and all of your other equipment will need to be checked. Make sure you allow plenty of time for this. There is likely to be a high level of demand for cylinder testing and regulator servicing in the next few months. If you wait until last minute, it is highly likely that your local dive shop won’t be able to get all of your equipment serviced. Even for equipment that doesn’t need to be serviced at your LDS, spend some time checking that it’s all working so that you have time to resolve any issues, rather than having to rush at the last minute or ever worse, lose a dive because your equipment isn’t working.

Skill levels fade if not used regularly and diving skills are no exception. Things that were slick and easy last year may feel awkward and clumsy now. Any diver, no matter what their level, should start their return to diving with a shallow shake down dive to ensure their kit is working and all of their skills are up to scratch. It’s a good idea to review all the skills that form part of your various diving qualifications and, starting from the basic qualification, make sure you can still perform each of the skills. Although a lot of things will come back quickly, it is always surprising to see how rusty divers are during that first dive after an extended time out of the water.


To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.

From its humble beginning in 1994 to today, the group of training agencies Scuba Diving International (SDI), Technical Diving International (TDI), and Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) form one of the largest diving certification agencies in the World – International Training. With 24 Regional Offices servicing more than 100 countries, the company today far exceeds the original vision the founders had when they conceived the idea on a napkin, sitting at a kitchen table in the early 1990’s.

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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