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DiveLife and Canary Divers join forces!

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Oli van Overbeek from DiveLife In Manchester and Kris Fearnley from Canary Divers in Rishton have announced a collaboration between their two dive businesses. As both stores have become a victim of their own individual successes, it was decided to share resources and support one another’s strengths, a model that Mr van Overbeek has been keen to push for some time now.

In practical terms DiveLife will now take the lead in all retail sales for both stores, whereas Canary Divers will take on the recreational training and club activity for both stores and clubs. This allows an unparalleled offering in quality and customer support.

The combined entity offers:

  • Cylinder testing
  • Equipment Servicing for all major brands
  • Recreational Training at both facilities
  • Wing & Long hose available
  • National and international club trips
  • Access to two RAID instructor trainers, and a myriad of experienced instructors and divemasters
  • A comprehensive membership scheme supported by both stores (for 1 membership fee)
  • All major brands, SANTI, HALCYON, APEKS, MARES, XDEEP, AMMONITE, DIVESOFT, POSEIDON, RAZOR, SHEARWATER, SUUNTO, etc
  • Technical and Rebreather training available to instructor level

DiveLife has been a staple name in the northwest of England, a store that has changed hands several times and not always with the most successful outcomes. When Mr van Overbeek took the reins just a few years ago, he rebuilt the shop from the ground up, making it the success it is today. A well-stocked shop and a great online outlet.

Oli van Overbeek says:

“As we rebuilt DiveLife to a status that it deserved we soon came to realise that the industry was changing; because of this I’ve felt and repeatedly stated that having a 1001 micro shops and schools was not a sustainable model. I’ve had the vision for larger global training centres which can be a training and support hub for local instructors and clubs; having this collaboration agreement with Mr Fearnley from Canary Divers will surely be the first step in such a Hub. Kris has done wonders at Canary in terms of the social atmosphere and training ethos, and I’m excited to say we have been working together to get him and part of his team over to RAID to increase their offering. We’ve mainly focused on being an equipment supply company and therefore it made sense to work together and support each other and the clients at the end of the day.” 

Kris Fearnley says:

“The collaboration between the centres makes 100% sense, Canary has been focused on training and offering a fantastic friendly dive club but as a side of being so incredibly busy on that side we have had to neglect the retail, while Dive life focuses on retail primarily it makes complete sense to join the centres and continue focusing on our strengths and continue the growth both centres have had over the last few years.“

Canary Divers in Rishton is a dive shop and training centre with years of experience training and supporting the local diving community, recently in the news for their Youth Diver Network initiatives and raising money and awareness for various charities. Situated on the Rishton High Street it’s hard to miss them, the shop features a large welcoming reception and even onsite café.

Divelife in Whitefield, Manchester is a specialist retail outlet offering anything from simple clips to full tech equipment. Run by Oli van Overbeek since 2018, who has 20+ years of experience in diving, after the store had been re-opened by local divers and enthusiasts. Since taking the reins, Oli has built the shop out to the level of a UK premier supplier in just under 3 years. The store now holds the highest levels of accounts with premium brands such as SANTI, Halcyon, xDeep, Ammonite, Poseidon, Mares, Divesoft, and SEAC just to name a few.

DiveLife offers a 3-tier structure of training to offer the best and most modern way of diver training. DiveLife has in-house RAID trained instructors, offer 1-2-1 training via Matrix Diving and also has associate trainers who work with DiveLife from multiple agencies. Servicing and air-fills are also offered on-site, with two extra servicing workshops available for a quick turnaround for cylinders, drysuits and regulators.

For more, visit www.divelife.co.uk and www.canarydivers.com.

Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: Dragon Sea (2007) by Frank Pope

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Dragon Sea, by Frank Pope, tells the true story of the location, combined archaeological survey of a large, five-hundred year old wreck and salvage of over 250,000 Vietnamese ceramic artefacts from the Hoi Ann shipwreck. It also charts the complex negotiation with government departments, legal and cultural bodies in Vietnam, as well as international groups, which had a vested interest in the outcome of the excavations and sale of artefacts.

It was a sensitive and expensive project. The ransacking of ancient Chinese porcelain artefacts from the wreck of the Dutch East India Company Geldermalsen, a few years earlier, had generated US$20 Million at auction but prompted furious international condemnation at the destruction of the wreck site for profit. In addition to managerial and ethical problems, the Vietnamese Hoi Ann shipwreck rested on the seabed over seventy metres below the surface in the turbulent and typhoon prone South China Sea. It would be a testing site on which to work.

At the outset the endeavour seemed to offer so much to everyone involved. The wreck site was a time capsule, sealed on the day of its sinking. It offered insights into Vietnamese culture and ceramics made during the golden days of the civilization. The Chief Archaeologist explained “shipwrecks preserve information in a way that very few land sites could – by freezing a moment in time” (p. 8).There was the prospect of huge financial rewards to the businessman leading the consortium of investors. Divers and technicians, managers and workmen, as well as Vietnamese institutions, all stood to benefit.

In his account Frank Pope combines the excitement of both archaeologists and accountants as pristine artefacts are uncovered and brought to the surface. His descriptions are vivid: “fragile kendis and ewers, vases, and large blue-and-white storage jars had cascaded down as the wood around them disintegrated” (p. 196). The numerous sketches Pope includes in his book are useful, but actual photographs of some of the artefacts and scenes would have been a valuable addition.

Throughout the book a central theme emerges; it’s the cost cutting measures under which the project operated. The author reveals how these pressures and accompanying resentments grew within the team as a result of these measures. For the divers, their work time in saturation (living inside a pressurized chamber breathing helium and oxygen, and working at seventy metres plus) was extended far beyond the recognised limit. Eventually, when they emerge after fifty-nine days of saturation diving, they were “thin and bearded, their skin yellowed and covered in rashes and lesions” (p.259).

Calm waters do not typify the South China Sea – especially as the typhoon season approaches. A recreational diver may experience surge, current and turbulent water; but is not working for twelve hours a day, for weeks, at a depth of more than seventy metres! The effect of surface sea conditions on a dive platform, waves and swell, are magnified underwater. The diving bell and the umbilical attached to a diver are continuously wrenched up and dropped down in the current. Even in calmer conditions the process of negotiating the metal grid positioned over the wreck is problematic. It “was like trying to clamber through a climbing frame on a moonless night with a gale blowing, wearing full dive gear, trailing a cable and carrying a heavy basket of fragile ceramics” (p.209).

Pope skilfully describes the changing atmosphere surrounding the project – both above the water and below. Close, personal friendships become strained as fatigue and adverse weather, financial constraints and day to day problems begin to overwhelm those involved. The uneasy balance between rigorous archaeological practise and the economic need to recover artefacts takes centre stage. The Chief Archaeologist “couldn’t shake the fear that despite his instructions, the divers were ignoring anything that wasn’t ceramic.” The businessman believed the actions of the archaeologist were sabotaging the recovery of artefacts. The crescendo, the sale of the artefacts from the Hoi Ann shipwreck, is not what you may have expected.

Perhaps the outstanding feature of Dragon Sea is the way Frank Pope succeeds in building a relationship between the main characters and the reader. You want a diver to survive, another character to change, broken relationships mended. The closing sections provide a pleasant summary of what subsequently happened to them. However, perhaps the most salutary comment is reserved for the state of marine archaeology in many parts of the world. Frank Pope writes “In most of Southeast Asia, however, it is still open season on the seabed.” (p. 315)


Dragon Sea (2007)

  • By Frank Pope
  • New York: Harcourt Books
  • ISBN 9780156033299
  • 341 pp

Frank Pope obtained a degree in Zoology from Edinburgh University and is Ocean Correspondent for The Times newspaper. He has worked on underwater expeditions under the auspices of Oxford MARE (Maritime Archeological Research and Excavation), including the salvage of Lord Nelson’s flagship Agamemnon. His most recent book is 72 hours (2013); the Royal Navy’s dramatic race to save the crew trapped inside a Russian submarine.


Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

BLUE EARTH – Future Frogmen Podcast Series -Mapping Resilience – Coastal Communities in Iceland

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A series of conservation educational podcasts from Future Frogmen, introduced by Jeff Goodman.

Mapping Resilience – Coastal Communities in Iceland

What does it take for individuals, communities and systems to adapt to change? Hear Dr. Matthias Kokorsch’s community resilience framework that lays out six key parameters for community and social resilience.


Richard E Hyman Bio

Richard is the Chairman and President of Future Frogmen.

Born from mentoring and love of the ocean, Richard is developing an impactful non-profit organization. His memoir, FROGMEN, details expeditions aboard Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s famed ship Calypso.

Future Frogmen, Inc. is a nonprofit organization and public charity that works to improve ocean health by deepening the connection between people and nature. They foster ocean ambassadors and future leaders to protect the ocean by accomplishing five objectives.


You can find more episodes and information at www.futurefrogmen.org and on most social platforms @futurefrogmen.

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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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