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Deptherapy takes on the wreck diving challenge in Malta

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Imagine for a moment – if you can – that you are a diver with Chronic PTSD from your service in Afghanistan. Would you be able to dive and penetrate a wreck at 20 metres, with your mask ‘blacked out’? Then be taken off the penetration line and find your way back onto it without being able to see it? Then work out which direction you are heading? Would you be able to do that without a panic attack or a stress-induced flashback?

80% of beneficiaries diving with Scuba Diving rehabilitation charity Deptherapy have Chronic or Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often in addition to physical injuries. Yet on a recent expedition to Malta, eight Deptherapy divers successfully completed their skills and drills to perfection, without panic, but with the confidence to trust their dive buddies and the highly experienced instructional team – a true testament to the rigorous Deptherapy training process and the development of its divers to face and surpass such challenges.

This September, eight beneficiaries and three instructors headed to St Julien’s Bay for a week’s diving expedition focused on Malta’s historical wrecks using the RAID Advanced Wreck Course as the training model. The aim of the course was to develop the skillset and confidence of those who will lead teams on the 2022 Marine Biology Red Sea expedition on Roots’ Red Sea’s liveaboard Big Blue. The liveaboard is funded by a grant from the Armed Forces’ Covenant Fund Trust.

Deptherapy beneficiary Jon Beever penetrates a wreck in Malta

The week’s diving was based at the Divewise Dive Centre and as usual, Alan and Viv Whitehead were the perfect hosts. Since leaving the EU, visiting British Instructors cannot teach in Malta and so a RAID Instructor, Joe – one of the Divewise / Techwise team – was assigned to Team Deptherapy for the week.

The plan had been to hit the ground running on the first day with some theory, followed by SMB skills on the house reef but sadly the weather had different ideas. For the first time since April, the heavens opened with heavy rain accompanied by thunder, lightning, and high winds.  The normally calm and protected house reef resembled a wave machine and although the team did manage one dive in the afternoon, many subsequently felt unwell.

The forecast didn’t bode much better for the next few days and so the original plan to complete the course on days two and three was amended, with the main focus being to complete the four required dives by the end of the week.

The weather improved significantly within a couple of days and the team were able to dive HMS Maori, a boat with a tremendous history and one of the vessels that tracked the Bismarck in World War II.

Everyone was enthused for the next day diving from a boat at Comino but again, high winds made boat diving impossible and a shore dive at the recently sunk P33 ex East German patrol boat was second choice, followed by easier access to a shallow harbour wreck. A further trip to the P33 was also scuppered by high winds but the team enjoyed the P29 wreck in popular Cirkewwa which has a couple of wrecks, swimthroughs and reef to explore.

The last day of diving, after having COVID tests first thing, was on the Tugboat which was reached by rib from the dive centre, Fortunately, the team were able to complete their skills – resulting in eight very happy RAID Advanced Wreck Divers.

Deptherapy beneficiaries practise diving with blacked out masks in Malta

Deptherapy beneficiary and Trustee Michael Hawley said:

“A great week of diving, pity about the weather. The course is outstanding and the challenges pretty massive, but everyone responded positively. Lots of new skills were learnt and we worked together as a team to live up to our mantra to adapt and overcome.”

A note: From an adaptive teaching point of view many of Malta’s dive sites are not easily accessible even for able bodied divers and would be almost totally inaccessible to wheelchairs or many prosthetic wearers.  With a considerable amount of money being generated by scuba divers travelling to Malta it would be a good investment for the Maltese Government to make dive sites more accessible to all divers.

Deptherapy’s thanks go to Alan, Viv and Joe at Divewise for their excellent support, and to the beneficiaries and volunteer instructors of Team Deptherapy for rising to and surpassing each and every challenge during the week.

For more information about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education visit www.deptherapy.co.uk.

Photos: Deptherapy / Martin Weddell

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Win copies of Action Camera Underwater Video Basics, a Paralenz Vaquita and more!

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Dived Up Publications, Paralenz and Scubaverse have come together to celebrate the October 2021 release of Scubaverse Editor-at-Large Jeff Goodman’s Action Camera Underwater Video Basics: The Essential Guide to Making Underwater Films.

Share better underwater videos with Jeff’s book and Paralenz Vaquita.

Win a copy of Jeff’s new book, as well as a selection of other great prizes including a Paralenz Vaquita camera, rash guard and water bottles, in the free to enter prize draw.

1st Prize

  • 1x Paralenz Vaquita (RRP £659)
  • 1x Action Camera Underwater Video Basics (RRP £20)

2nd Prize

  • 1 x Paralenz rash guard (RRP £59)
  • 1x Action Camera Underwater Video Basics

3rd Prize (5 available)

  • 1x Action Camera Underwater Video Basics
  • 1x Paralenz water bottle (RRP £8)

4th Prize (3 available)

  • 1x Action Camera Underwater Video Basics

Enter now for free at www.DivedUp.com/prize-draw

No purchase necessary. Internet access and email address required. Winners will be chosen at random. No cash or alternative prizes offered. Open to over-18s only. Other exclusions apply. Closing date 23 November 2021. Draw will be made within 7 days of closing. Winners will be notified by email. See website to enter, for full prize details and terms and conditions.

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Fiji’s borders to reopen on December 1st 2021

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The island paradise of Fiji will be open to visitors once again starting this December. After nearly two years of being closed to the outside world, Fiji is ready to safely welcome its travelers back. The 333 islands are as beautiful as ever, brimming with idyllic turquoise waters, soft white sand beaches, and the vibrant “Bula Spirit” for which Fiji is known.

“It’s been almost two years since we welcomed international visitors. And in these two years, we’ve struggled, we’ve adapted, and we’ve prepared,” said Hon. Faiyaz Koya, Minister for Tourism.

“Today, our national airline is ready, our hotels and tour providers are ready, and Fijians are ready to safely welcome the world back. We are ready to let happiness find you again.”

Fiji will still have entry requirements in place to ensure the utmost safety of both visitors and locals. These include being a fully vaccinated traveler from a “Travel Partner” country such as Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Qatar, Germany, Spain, France, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan and most Pacific Island Countries and Territories.

Travelers from these countries will need to provide a negative PCR test taken less than 3 days prior to departure from home country and fulfil any obligation to take an additional test prior to returning back home, based on individual home country requirements. Unvaccinated children under the age of 18 will be able to travel to Fiji accompanied by a vaccinated adult. Travel insurance is, as always, highly recommended. For more information on country-specific travel requirements, please visit www.fiji.travel.

“We are ecstatic that Fiji will open its borders to international visitors before the end of the year,” says Tourism Fiji CEO Brent Hill.

“This is the moment we have been planning for nearly two years now and I can assure the world that Fiji is safe and ready to welcome you back. The islands are just as beautiful – if not more beautiful – than ever and the locals just as warm and friendly. Fiji is the vacation the world needs and deserves right now, and we can finally offer that again starting December.”

Tourism Fiji have been preparing for this moment. Travellers can book and travel in confidence with the Care Fiji Commitment, where they can stay in certified resorts, use certified transportation and experiences, and be assured that all tourism businesses they come in to contact with have a 100% vaccinated staff. Tourism Fiji started working on this programme when the pandemic first arrived in Fiji. Now they have over 206 CFC approved businesses, and over 320 nominated Wellness Ambassadors across Fiji.

Travellers can reserve their flights now at www.fijiairways.com. Check out diving and resort packages at Fiji’s leading Volivoli Beach Resort

Find out more about visiting Fiji at www.fiji.travel.

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Competitions

Our special, extended, 14 night charter of MV Carpe Diem in the Maldives will visit some of our favourite sites in the central and near-south atolls. We will be spending 14 nights on-board, specifically because we want to travel and have time to enjoy the sites without rushing too much.

The boat will depart from Male on Saturday 23rd October and guests will disembark on Saturday 06th November. The route will incorporate our favourite manta points, shark diving points and spectacular coral reefs.

 

Please contact us for last minute prices on 01473921888 or email us at info@greatescapesdivingholidays.com

 

 

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