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How about a Dive Club holiday?

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For those that haven’t considered it yet, there are many good reasons for joining a local dive club. Enjoying the company of friends who share the same interests, availability of buddies for local diving, kit tips, access to training, information about local dive sites and conditions, getting the benefit of someone else’s knowledge and experience, first-hand information on potential holiday destinations  – the list goes on and on. It can really be considered to be more like a community than just a club, with friendships extending outside the common interest in diving as people discover they have other things in common. Many clubs have regular social evenings; ours also has guest speakers on a range of subjects of interest to divers, such as photography or environmental issues. Kit nights are popular too, with presentations by manufacturer reps and the opportunity to try out those shiny new toys.

Deco chamber

There have been some decompression chamber visits as well – these are always popular. One at the Diver Training College near York has an added twist and is always oversubscribed. It is combined with a ‘hard-hat’ dive, giving a chance to experience what it was like in the early days of diving. What a strange experience that was. Massively heavy metal boots, a big bulky helmet with a very restricted view and a heavy chunk of lead hung around the neck. Makes you appreciate modern scuba gear that much more.

Sandy hard hat

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One thriving area at my local club, Christal Seas Scuba in Norwich, is group dive weekends and holidays. This is another benefit of a dive club, as the planning for these can be either shared or centrally organised. Lift sharing can be arranged too, cutting down on costs. Chris and Polly run a very active club, and almost every weekend there is something going on from Open Water training to Tec trips and everything in between. Christal Seas Scuba is a 5* PADI IDC doing a huge number of certifications every year, which keeps the Instructors (and us DMs) run ragged at times.

Me with Instructor & OW students  Chepstow Tec 40_45 trip

If you read my last travel article (Leap into Saint Lucia) you will be aware that for quite a few years my wife Sandy was a non-diver. This didn’t stop her from joining us on a club trip to El Gouna in the Red Sea, or enjoying a trip to Mexico, split between Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel, during which in between spa sessions she tried her first Open Water dive (and really enjoyed it). It was the social aspect that attracted her, and when she started her Open Water training it was surprising how much information she had picked up just by being around divers during the inevitable discussions over gear, the benefits of this or that piece of equipment and of course the post-dive ‘did you see’ and ‘what happened was’ conversations in the bar.

Sandy's first ever OW dive

Fast forward a couple of years and Sandy is now an Advanced Open Water diver with a couple of good diving holidays in Malta, Egypt and Saint Lucia behind her and is just considering whether to do her Rescue Diver course on the way to Master Scuba Diver (not at all bad for someone who wouldn’t go out of her depth 2 years ago, but don’t tell her I said so). She has even joined us at Stoney Cove for a few weekends. For those who don’t know it, Stoney Cove is an inland dive centre that used to be a quarry. As such it has different depth shelves, which makes it an ideal training site so the club travels there – a lot. We take most of the rooms in a local hotel and make a social weekend of it because it’s too far for daily travel and you really need to be on site early to get the best parking. There are underwater attractions such as wrecks, aircraft and vehicles to make it more interesting too.

A cold rainy Stoney Cove early morning

Sandy wasn’t diving, I hasten to add. There’s still no prospect that any water cold enough to require a drysuit will be suitable for serious consideration, but someone doing surface cover for the club is always welcome. No, that’s not accurate enough. The surface cover job is not just welcome, it is essential, indeed many dive sites require dive groups to have someone doing this job, and it frequently falls to non-diving partners or other family members who tolerate the strange addiction we have for pulling on rubber suits and jumping in water. They need to be familiar with the dive plan and the emergency action plan. Logging divers in and out, running to the van when someone has forgotten something or had a kit malfunction, helping divers don fins & masks and those wet gloves that just WON’T pull over your hands, keeping the first aid kit and oxygen handy, passing weights to someone who has underestimated just how much more they will need using a drysuit, looking after keys, wallets, purses, phones……even when it’s pouring with rain and blowing a gale. Look around during your next dive trip. Are there people doing that for your group or club? If so, when was the last time you bought them a drink, because they definitely deserve one.

Sandy and apprentice surface cover

Anyway, back to the holiday theme. We both love our holidays but one type of holiday that I had reluctantly ruled out up to now was a liveaboard. Not because it wasn’t attractive to me, but because when Sandy was a non-diver I thought it would be unfair to trap her on a small boat for a week with a group of enthusiastic divers, having nothing much to do except read, sunbathe and listen to us bore her about things she was only going to see in photos or videos. Well imagine my enthusiasm when after completing her AOW, she looked at the upcoming club holidays and said “well what about going on that Red Sea liveaboard trip in June then?”

Red Sea sunrise from dive boat

So, a (very) short while later we were signed up to a club trip to the Southern Red Sea, St Johns, Elphinstone, Fury Shoal etc. booked through the ever popular Scuba Travel.

A first for both of us – our first liveaboard holiday, but hopefully not our last. An area of the Red Sea neither of us have dived in. Strangely, the club members on the trip are mostly recently qualified or less experienced divers. In fact Sandy is going to be one of the more experienced divers among us (in terms of dive numbers), which she still can’t quite believe. It should be an interesting trip with plenty to write about.

John Topham started diving about 8 years ago after leaving the Royal Air Force, and immediately wondered why he hadn’t tried it before. He enjoys trying a different diving challenge every year, and is now a Divemaster and occasional Tec diver. Combining diving with a love of travel, John & Sandy now take 3 or 4 diving holidays a year, spending a lot of time in the Red Sea or Malta.

News

Nauticam announce NA-A7C Housing for Sony a7C Camera

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Sony’s latest full frame mirrorless camera, the a7C offers the underwater image maker one of the most compact and travel friendly full frame systems available on the market today.  The a7C features Sony’s latest stellar autofocus and a much improved battery life thanks to its use of the larger Z series battery. The BIONZ X processor delivers superb low-light performance and faster image processing. For video shooters, the a7C features internal UHD 4K capture in the wide-dynamic range HLG image profile at up to 30p.

Nauticam has housed more mirrorless cameras, and more Sony E Mount cameras than any other housing manufacturer. This experience results in the most evolved housing line with broadest range of accessories available today.

Pioneering optical accessories elevate performance to a new level. Magnifying viewfinders, the sharpest super macro accessory lenses ever made, and now the highest quality water contact wide angle lenses (the WWL-1B and WACP-1) combine with the NA-A7C housing to form a complete imaging system.

Nauticam is known for ergonomics, and an unmatched experience. Key controls are placed at the photographer’s fingertips. The housing and accessories are light weight, and easy to assemble. The camera drops in without any control presetting, and lens port changes are effortless.

NA-A7C features an integrated handle system. This ergonomic style provides exceptional control access, even with thick gloves, with ideal placement of the shutter release and a thumb-lever to actuate the AF-ON button from the right handle.

Nauticam build quality is well known by underwater photographers around the globe. The housing is machined from a solid block of aluminum, then hard anodized making it impervious to salt water corrosion. Marine grade stainless and plastic parts complete the housing, and it is backed by a two year warranty against manufacturing defects.

For more information in the UK visit the Nauticam website by clicking here.

For more information in the USA visit the Nauticam website by clicking here.

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Blogs

BLUE EARTH – Future Frogmen Podcast Series – The Next Generation of Ocean Stewards: Lauren Brideau

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

The Next Generation of Ocean Stewards: Lauren Brideau

We have a new host, Dr. Colleen Bielitz, and today we’ll be interviewing a recent college graduate as part of our once-a-month episode that focuses on students: the next generation of conservationists, researchers, and activists.

What are the next generation of ocean stewards doing to protect our Blue Earth? Join us as we find out by speaking to Lauren Brideau, a recent graduate of Southern Connecticut State University. Lauren started as an undeclared major but soon found her calling, now she is part of a research team conserving life below water.  She is a prime example that if you want to defend our oceans and the creatures that depend on the sea to survive, now is the time to become part of the solution.


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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Competitions

This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.  

Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

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