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Joining BSAC and my first Dive Show

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There was the initial search for a worthwhile hobby.  Something to counteract occupational stress (as a probation officer and child protection social worker) and to avoid ‘Eastenders.’  If I wanted to watch people with funny accents arguing I could go to work.

I am an older dad aged 61 with a 13 year old son.  Preferably, I wanted something we could both do.  This was harder than it sounds as he is better and faster than me at most things now.  He is also quite good at silences, grunts or gazing with disdain when I sing along to my radio favourites.

However, as a semi responsible parent I needed to get him away from stealing another virtual car with a virtual gun on his Xbox.

I always enjoyed trips to natural places.  Fishing in the south west of Ireland (Cork) or walking holidays in Scotland.  Last year a trip to the Deserts of Oman.  Scuba diving has always attracted me.  However, as a mortgage slave who lost money in the property crash, the initial starts up costs were daunting.  I took the plunge and after a few on-line false starts, turned up to my local Club (Chadderton).

We have a dive pool at Oldham baths.  I dragged my son along to where we train. Blank faces greeted me as (through me not reading the e-mail properly) the club were not yet expecting us.

Nevertheless they managed to get the kit together and, over the next three weeks we enjoyed the ‘try dives.’ Remaining somewhat apprehensive of my lad’s staying power, we signed up and I paid the BSAC fees (keeping the receipt in case he develops a conscience, when earning, at the age of 18).

Chadderton has some 40 members and has its own club house so the informal supportive atmosphere was inviting. Although all were welcoming, being a talented observer of life, I noted the subtle contrast between the confident appraisal of the older hands and the ‘bright and breezy’ nods of the greener divers.  What I would call the consciously competent and the incomers.

After the three ‘try plunges’ and four practical dives (in the local dive pool) I was ready to start buying gear.  Fortunately, the BSAC dive show was coming up.  Ged and Steve, who had been my main instructors, were attending to represent the branch.  I hardly knew the correct terms for the items I needed to survive in a liquid element.  I was never any good at shopping.  Consequently, their guidance would be crucial if I wanted to avoid coming away with a tank top, dive scooter and a mortgage on a state-of-the-art rebreather.

As the weeks passed, I became marginally more aware of dive speak etiquette.  For example, never use the ‘F’ word-   ‘flipp**’   but ‘fins’ on all occasions, especially when addressing the ‘old hands’ at potato pie suppers.

The day of the dive show arrived.  I desired a ‘buddy commando’ vest but, with help (from instructors, hard bargaining and credit card), I managed to purchase similar vest, fins and regulator, all for £515.   Better start saving for the dry suit now.

The dive show at the NEC was a revelation.  I had never been there before preferring to spend my leisure time in the great outdoors rather than the greater outdoors. The show area is, in effect, an extension of the airport.  It is a 1970’s version of what the future will look like complete with monorail, ATM’s that charge £2 for their use and futuristic pasties.  They must be transported from the future as one cost me £3.75.

However, the people I met were great.  I am used to engaging with people with multiple substance misuse problems (SMS to you engineering types.).  While you cannot generalise, it is positive to have time off on occasion with people who get their highs from nature.  All the people I met were a pleasure to talk with (all except the server of the full breakfast at the Wetherspoons, who refused to smile or provide top-up coffee as advertised in magazine, on the grounds we were in the terminal).

For example, Julio with his red sea charter Liveaboard, offered all inclusive (for 8-unfortunately without alcohol-‘www.deepdarksafari.com’) for £300 per week. It costs £114 a night in Blackpool – but then again you have the lights and there is a wreck off the north pier!

There was the La Herradura dive school near Malaga.  I greatly enjoyed talking with the ‘oceanaddicts’ representative who runs out of Kinsale, Southern Ireland.  I know the area with its simple accessibility for raw nature and fantastic bounty of the seas.

The most satisfying (although selfish) experience occurrred when Ged and Steve took time off to wander the exhibits (or that’s what they told us!) Paul and I were on hand when the BSAC photographer took our photo and we were rewarded for our eternal vigilance by it being the lead photo on the BSAC website.

However, the most exciting meeting was with Monty Halls who acts as an inspiration for his commitment, presentation and engagement with wild places.  We were lucky enough to have our picture taken with him.

In the hotel I accessed Ged’s facebook comment ‘me dogs are barking’ and could not agree more.  A tiring but amazing weekend that makes me look forward to my first ‘outside’ dive.  I cannot wait to try out my new equipment and pleased that I had chosen a hobby that keys into nature and offers a way of life.

Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


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Dive Training Blogs

5 Ways To Use Less Gas When Scuba Diving

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5 Ways To Use Less Gas When Scuba Diving. There is no magic wand to having an amazing SAC rate. You have to do the work!

We’re covering how to perfect your core skills as a scuba diver to help you use your gas more efficiently, plus how the art of zen can help you breathe less gas whilst scuba diving.

How can I breath less gas whilst diving? A very common question I get asked all the time and on the subject of breathing itself. There is a right way and many different wrong ways to breath whilst scuba diving. I’ll explain the difference.

Thanks for watching, as always! D.S.D.O James


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