In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Rich Somerset, Territory Director PADI EMEA Regional Support about Dive Project Cornwall and PADI’s conservation work.
Rich began diving as a teenager on the south coast of England. His university studies took him to the North of the UK and he developed a passion for cold water wreck diving in the frigid waters of Scotland. After finishing university, Rich became only the second person to be awarded the European Our World Underwater Rolex Scholarship. This experience allowed him to travel and develop training in a wide range of scuba related disciplines, including hyperbaric medicine, technical diving and marine conservation. Rich then worked as a PADI Instructor in Australia, Micronesia and the Caribbean before setting up and running dive centres in England.
A PADI Course Director and Instructor Examiner, Rich is now the Territory Director, leading a team of PADI staff supporting over 800 dive centres across the UK, Ireland, Maldives, France, Greece and Portugal.
Find out more at www.padi.com/padi-dive-centers/regional-support/emea and www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk
Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.
Tips for… Using an SMB
Ok, so not the most exciting of topics… but an important one nonetheless. Especially as many of us will be getting ready for the UK dive season and heading out to explore our beautiful coastline. Some of you may even be heading into the UK waters for the first time due to the travel restrictions… welcome, you will wish that you had done it sooner!
Surface marker buoys. SMB’s are an invaluable piece of equipment – to demonstrate your position in the water, to fend off boats, to show off your buoyancy to your dive buddy when you can inflate it without moving an inch in the water… or to unintentionally make your buddy laugh when you forget to attach your reel and send it up like a lost rocket! Using an SMB is a must-have skill and piece of equipment for all divers. But, how do you choose which one is right for you, and how do you use it correctly?
Choosing a colour – we all know to look cool as a diver is all about co-ordinating, but not so much with SMB’s I’m afraid. The standard colour is orange and is what you will typically see being used. Yellow due to its higher ability to be seen at night time is just for an emergency… not because it is your favourite colour… sorry, yellow lovers! If you are wanting to personalise it though you could put your name down the SMB, that way the surface cover knows who it is underneath.
Next, inflation. Here we have the option of open bottom or direct inflation. An open bottom means that you will need to use your alternate to inflate the SMB, direct inflation you would use your inflator hose. Either of these are sufficient and it’s generally down to preference. If you are not sure which you prefer, or how to use them, there is a course that you can take to learn all of the skills which offers some helpful tips on how to inflate it and control your buoyancy too. I happen to know an instructor that teaches it… so just drop me a message and I can help!
So, we have the SMB, next we need a line or spool. So many decisions with a basic piece of kit! Most SMB’s will come with a line, which is great as you can use the equipment straight away. The only downside is that with gloves it can become annoying, especially if you are changing depths quite often as is typical on a shore dive here. So, you may wish to look at a spool instead. They also come in more colours, and this time you can choose whichever you want… even yellow, result!
Having got to the point of choosing your SMB and line/spool, where are we now going to keep it? Clipping it onto your BCD; keeping it in your pocket. Anywhere is sufficient as long as it’s easily accessible… like not in your car once you have entered the water! So be sure to add your SMB to your buddy check! Happy diving!
For more visit www.duttonsdivers.com
Jump into… Powerboats
As divers we all love the water, either on top or underneath, so what could be better than learning to powerboat. This was something that I had not really looked to do before… basically because I knew that I would be hooked with already being a huge pirate fan, and that’s exactly what happened!
Last year I joined the RNLI, which has been a fantastic organisation to get involved with. I could not think of a better way to volunteer my time and, I get to jump aboard and helm a 20m Shannon… awesome! At the same time, after 6 years of owning a boat, I decided to take my Powerboat Level 2 Course. Learning the basics of operating the boat, the two main things that I learnt were:
- I now have huge respect for the boat skippers that work here being able to get right close up to come and pick me up regardless of the conditions.
- There are no breaks… no back ups…at all!
It was an awesome course, just as good as my PADI Open Water Course, I was hooked and wanted to learn more. The next step being the Advanced course (deja vu!) and then, I went on to do the Day Skipper and Instructor. So, even cooler, we can now offer the RYA Powerboat Courses at Hafan Marina Dive Centre with our boat Little Viv.
Doing the course was great for me, to be able to move out of my comfort zone and learn something completely new. Like being an Open Water student again, I just wanted to learn more… and more… and find out what came next. It was brilliant to be the student again and pick up new tips and tricks, as well as having the frustrations of not being able to do something. An aspect that was a good reminder for my own teaching, that we as instructors should remember from time to time!
The Powerboat Course is definitely something that I would recommend any diver to do, not only to have an appreciation of the boats, but to improve your knowledge and understanding of tides, charts and all of those things that are useful for our dive planning. I like to think that I had a good knowledge of these beforehand, but doing the course has definitely reinforced this aspect… and if doing the course to become a better diver still doesn’t do it for you, surely the thought of a 250hp engine on the back of the boat will do!
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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