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Jump into… Discovering new dive sites

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My favourite time of the year is when we head out and find new dive sites for the season.

One of the things that I love about diving is the unknown, and let’s be honest, how many of us go out and pick a spot to dive and just go for it (with a thorough dive plan of course), just to see what is there. Well, that’s exactly what the team and I do each year, every year. Leading us to change our dive site list for the year, usually keeping the ones that you love… and finding new ones to share with you all. 

Over the years I had been very lucky to get to explore areas of the coastline such as Porth Ysgaden, and Rhoscolyn, as well as further afield sites such as Puffin Island and the Kimya – all stunning sites around the area. I have to admit though, the one site that I have loved exploring from the very start, and one that only ever gets better and better, never failing to introduce new marine life… the Menai Strait. 

The amount of marine life in the Menai is unbelievable, from tompot blennys, to dogfish to octopus, this site has everything and can cater for any level of diver too… another reason for my love of the site. It has something for the adrenaline junkie loving drifts, to the cautious new open water diver wanting to stay shallow and see the marine life. An absolute must for any diver. 

Last year was our first year at Pwllheli, and we ventured quite a lot around the stunning Tudwals Islands. This year… well, I would love to tell you, but it is of course top secret… we don’t want you all knowing about the sites before they are released! 

We will be heading further out across the mainland and around the Pwllheli area, as well as also having a few new bays on our list, for those of you not too keen on the boat diving just yet. So how do we decide on our sites? Obviously the guides liking them is a top consideration! But also the marine life, topography, and most importantly, the skill level required. Each year we are always very picky over what sites we choose. We want sites that all divers are capable of diving with our guides. That is, after all, the way that we choose to operate. Small groups, personal centres, to ensure that we can meet your needs and either get you to fall in love with UK diving, or as an experienced diver, to see why Wales should have been on your list all along. 

Our new sites will be revealed on social media over the next few months, but whilst you are waiting, you can get ready for the season and contact us with regards to your bespoke dive trip!

Clare Dutton, is a PADI Course Director and Director of Duttons Divers and Vivian Dive Centre. At the age of 25, Clare was one of the youngest to be accepted on the PADI Course Director course. Her work in the industry has involved promoting cold water diving, putting sites such as the Menai on the map for divers, and assisting others to chase their ambition as a PADI Pro. Get in touch with Clare at www.duttonsdivers.com

Dive Training Blogs

Tips for… Navigation

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Not the most fun of topics we guess, but pretty important for any diver! Now we are sure that there are some of you out there that steer away from the navigation side and are quite happy to follow along at the back. But if you are one of those divers and the reason is because you think that it is ridiculously hard.. we want to give you a few basic tips to help you!

Now using a compass may look scary but actually there is not much to it. First rule to remember… North is North under the water as well as on land… it doesn’t change! So, with that in mind we can use that pretty easily under the water to at least give us a point of reference whilst we are diving, even if you are not leading it. Knowing the direction that you are going and how deep you are is a good reference and will help you to become more confident. Get into the habit of taking a ‘bearing’ – fancy word for direction – on the surface before going under and check the bearing as you are diving.

Knowing which way is left and right – well, when going right, the numbers increase, and when going left, the numbers decrease… easy! Starting off with turning left and right 90 degrees will start to get you into the habit of making turns. Try not to use complicated numbers when you first start off, nobody likes maths at the best of times, let alone trying to add 273 to 32 under the water! Keep it basic.

Last but not least, navigating is not all about using a compass. If you are not a fan of it and want to keep your dives simple, there is nothing wrong with natural navigation. There are some amazing sites around our coastline that are perfect for this – harbour walls, piers, open sea coves, all allow the point of reference to be followed on one side of your body on the way out and the opposite on the way back. You can also check that you are going the right way on your return as the depth will start to decrease. This is a great way to start building your confidence with navigating if you are new to it, and what is even better, lots of marine life love to congress around these rocky areas!

Other aspects to consider to throw into your natural navigation bag are picking some land marks during your dives. If there is something notable that doesn’t move (fish are not highly recommended!) take a note of this and use it as a reference and pick another. On the return journey, you can use these ‘markers’ to find your way back to the starting point. A nice and simple way to find where you are going.

So, give it a go in a nice shallow bay area and see how you get on… practice makes perfect!


Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com

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Dive Training Blogs

Jump into… Behind the scenes of a dive centre

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Ah yes, the glamorous dive instructor. Just as you see in the adverts walking around in swimwear coming out of the sea… and as you guys see us, walking into the centre to meet you at 10am and having done two dives, finishing at 2pm and heading home…

Or not. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the job as a dive instructor, more than I could ever tell you. But, it does not come without the negative side as I am sure with any job. 

So first off, let’s get these 10am starts out of our heads. A lot of our dives do meet at 10am, to be honest, that is mainly to give you the time to get to us and avoid the traffic! We are there longggg before this, setting up the boat, making sure everything is working correctly, checking the equipment, paperwork and loading everything up to have a smooth, well planned day when you get here. Oh, and as for the 2pm finish. I wish! Over the summer months you will usually find us here until late at night, if we aren’t out doing late afternoon dives, we will be there cleaning the equipment from the day… filling tanks… and making sure everything is ready for the following day.

Next. What else do you not see us doing on the PADI adverts? Cleaning? The centres aren’t exactly small and take a lot of work for us all to maintain… you know what it is like when you are on holiday and get sand in your shoes and it takes ages to finally get rid of it all? Well times that by 100 and you have an idea! 

But it’s not just about the cleaning and preparation parts of the job. There is also a lot of training. From risk assessment training, to scenario days with the staff, we plan monthly training sessions to make sure everyone is up to date with policies and procedures, any training updates and run emergency scenarios to make sure everyone is safe and prepared. 

Last but not least, the actual courses and guiding that you see us doing. The fun part… and what we all live for. Taking you all into the water whether it is to take your first breaths or to learn how to become an instructor. This is what we do all of the rest of the work for. And, I most definitely would not change this for the world. 

So, all jobs have negatives, and in the grand scheme of things, I can cope with filling some cylinders late at night for a career of exploration and seeing the most amazing sites I could ever wish to see. What are the positives and negatives of your job? If they’re nothing like this… why not become a dive instructor?! 


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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