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Dive Fest Diaries – Day 1



Each year the magical, Caribbean island of Barbados holds a festival to celebrate scuba diving, free diving and marine conservation. This year, Nick and Caroline went along to see what it was all about…

Wednesday 4th July: Day 1

We arrived in Barbados last night, and headed straight to our hotel: Coconut Court. We have a large room, with plenty of space for all our camera equipment and a stunning beach view from our balcony. We had dinner with the group and then headed back to our room to prepare our cameras for the diving tomorrow. At breakfast, we discovered that if you do not cover up your food, whilst heading to the buffet to collect items, the bananaquits, pearly-eyed threshers and any other savvy bird, will come in and steal your food and drink!

We are diving with West Side Scuba Centre for the first couple of days of Dive Fest Barbados and on this day one, we have two morning dives planned, before joining in the underwater clean-up dives that all the dive shops will take part in. West Side Scuba Centre is based at The Boatyard, and we met the team early in the morning to start to prepare for our day ahead. Peter, the owner, greeted us and informed us that the plan for the first dive was the SS Stavronikita wreck – a huge wreck that is a highlight of the diving here. It was going to be a great start.

The wreck does not disappoint. We made a tour of the exterior, marvelling at the incredible, lush coral growth on the deck and masts. The top of the deck lies in about 20 metres of water, with huge a-frame style masts reaching up to the surface, but not breaking it. These structures attracted schooling fish and even, at the very end of the dive, a solitary turtle. What a great start to Dive Fest Barbados.

Our second dive led us to explore a shallower reef, with a small wreck thrown in too. Alas, a tropical storm was heading our way and the waves and surge were picking-up and hence the visibility was not so great. However, even in these conditions, we found plenty to enjoy, hunting out tiny Flamingo Tongues, huge lobster, Moray Eels and Drumfish.

It was a short ride back to The Boatyard and time to grab some lunch at this busy and popular tourist hangout. While youngsters soaked up the sun and partook in drinking games, we re-hydrated in a more sensible fashion, as we still had another dive to do! Once we had eaten, we jumped back on the boat and headed to the National Park area to help out on the underwater clean-up. West Side Scuba Centre offered this dive to its customers for free, to ensure a large turn out to help collect any rubbish we found.

Underwater, all the volunteer divers formed a large line and we started our search for trash. Each diver had a mesh bag to collect the detritus and we found items of clothing, lighters, plastic cups and other plastic utensils, discarded fishing gear as well as plenty of undetermined pieces of plastic. Between us we pulled up a good amount of rubbish, but not as much as we had expected to – which is good news for this area.

Our day was rounded off with an exceptional Thai meal at the Zen Restaurant, where we watched the storm clouds build from behind the huge glass windows of this tranquil dining room. Our first dive of Dive Fest Barbados had given us some great diving, and shown us the spirit of this event: to bring together divers who are passionate about protecting marine life. Now we needed some well-earned rest…..

Want to join in on all the fun at Dive Fest Barbados 2019 – put the dates in your diary: 3rd to 7th July 2019!

Equipment used:

  • Nikon D800, Nauticam housing, INON Strobes
  • Olympus OMD EM-1 mkII, Nauticam housing, INON Strobes
  • Olympus TG5

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown are a husband and wife team of underwater photographers. Both have degrees in environmental biology from Manchester University, with Caroline also having a masters in animal behaviour. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in underwater wildlife photography and he also has a masters in teaching. They are passionate about marine conservation and hope that their images can inspire people to look after the world's seas and oceans. Their Manchester-based company, Frogfish Photography, offers a wide range of services and advice. They offer tuition with their own tailor made course - the Complete Underwater Photography Award. The modules of the course have been written to complement the corresponding chapters in Nick's own book: Underwater Photography Art and Techniques. They also offer equipment sales and underwater photography trips in the UK and abroad. For more information visit

Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 1



Over the next seven days, join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy as we publish a Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Deptherapy made the very brave decision to book an expedition to our home in Egypt as soon as Roots Red Sea received their certificate from the Egyptian Authorities that the camp and dive centre was COVID secure. Roots is one of very few resorts to receive a certificate from the Egyptian Government.

We arrived in Roots the day after they re-opened.

Getting together an expedition was a major task. Very few Approved Medical Examiners’ of Divers or Dive Referees are conducting consultations at the moment. Availability of beneficiaries and the requirement to quarantine on return from Egypt affected the number of beneficiaries available.

There was also a requirement to pass a COVID PCR virus test within 72 hours of travelling.

We had decided on a small expedition and on the day of travel we had six flying to Egypt.  Unfortunately, Chris Middleton had to drop out the day before we travelled after emergency wisdom tooth surgery.

Our group comprised of Richard Cullen, Michael Hawley, Tom Oates, Tom Swarbrick, Keiron Bradbury and Corey Goodson.  Keiron was undertaking his RAID Master Rescue Course and, as it turned out, Corey was undertaking the RAID Open Water 20 course.

A deserted Gatwick Airport at 0900 on 10 October

Our outbound flight was before midday on Saturday 10 October and I must admit we were all shocked at how deserted was.  Checking in with easyJet took minutes and when we boarded the plane, we found it less than half full.

Corey is a paraplegic since a car accident two years ago while he was training prior to joining the Royal Anglian Regiment.  Corey has no sensation below the waist and is unable to use his legs.  The cabin crew on our flight were quite amazed to see the two Toms and Michael lift him from his wheelchair and place him in his seat for the flight.

Mask protocols were strictly observed by the team, the flight was uneventful, and the easyJet Cabin Crew superb. We also took a digital thermometer to check temperatures prior to flying.

Corey having a pre-flight temperature check

Hurghada Airport was very quiet and we moved through Immigration and collected our baggage in very quick time.

Two things to note:  If you are travelling to Hurghada you need to complete a COVID declaration for the Egyptian Authorities. If not, you have to fill out the rather lengthy form when you arrive.  You can undertake a COVID test on arrival at Hurghada Airport but the queues are long.  It costs much less than the tests we had done in the UK – BUT – you are required to be quarantined at your hotel until the test result comes through.  This means two days with no access to resort facilities.  If the test comes back as positive you have at least two weeks being confined to your room.

COVID guidelines

Transport to Roots was, as ever, on hand and we were soon at the camp and being briefed about the COVID arrangements.  A lot of work has been put in place to make Roots COVID compliant – and all at considerable expense.

None of the usual hugs with the Roots team and you have your temperature checked every morning and every time you return from the dive centre.  Your dive kit is sterilised every night ready for the next day’s diving.

Sterilised Dive Kit

We all felt very COVID secure.

Check back for tomorrow’s Blog and our first day diving…

Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at

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And the winner of our TUSA Paragon S Mask competition is…



We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who entered our competition to win a TUSA Paragon S Mask from our good friends at CPS Partnership!

As usual, lots of you entered… but there can, of course, be only one winner!

And that winner is…

  • Lee Evans from the UK.

Congratulations Lee – your prize will be on its way to you soon!

Not a winner this time? Don’t worry – there are plenty of other competitions running on right now. To see what other awesome prizes you could be in with a chance of winning, click here!

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