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It’s never too late to get back in the water



Our Editor-In-Chief Dave Alexander has been so busy running Scubaverse that he hasn’t had time to actually go diving for… well, quite some time. But it’s never too late to get back into the water, so at the weekend he decided to blow the cobwebs off his dive gear and head North to get wet…

It was starting to get embarrassing. “So when was your last dive?”, I got asked with increasing regularity by people who actually, you know, go diving. “It’s been a while,” I’d say, hoping they wouldn’t ask how long, exactly. When they did (and they all of course inevitably did), I’d say “Well it’s been about 9 months”, but in all honesty that dive 9 months ago was in a pool testing gear, so it didn’t count; not really. In truth, it had been years.

It’s not that I don’t want to go diving – I do – but I’ve been locked away in Scubaverse HQ for what seems like centuries now. It’s not easy building an empire, y’know. Lots to do.

But enough was enough. How can I be running a diving website if I don’t go diving? Something had to be done. I had to get back in the water.

Luckily, there are other members of Team Scubaverse who do go diving on a regular basis. I called Nick and Caroline, our Underwater Photography Editors, and told them of my plans. Before I knew it I was heading for their place in Manchester with the promise of beer, curry and diving (although not necessarily in that order).

I arrived at Nick and Caroline’s house on Friday evening and we headed for the pub to plan the next day’s diving. We would be driving to Capernwray, one of the UK’s best known inland dive sites, the following morning.


Once a quarry, Capernwray is near the village of Over Kellet in Lancashire, and a great site for divers to train and hone their skills. To gain entry you must first become a member. There are two options: temporary membership for £10 (which lasts for 6 months), or a lifetime membership for £25. If you go for the temporary option, you can pay the additional £15 and upgrade to lifetime membership at any time within your 6 month membership period. On top of that you do have to pay a £12 entry fee, so as I opted to pay for a lifetime membership (ever the optimist), in total my first visit cost me £37 – but it will only cost me £12 a visit from here on in, a real bargain considering the first-class site and facilities on offer.

There is a dive shop on site which offers air fills and a wide range of diving equipment for you to buy or hire for the day. Other facilities include a conference room which can seat up to 30 people and is ideal for teaching/seminars; the Porthole Restaurant, which serves hot and cold food and has a fully licensed bar; and changing facilities which are clean and well maintained. There is plenty of parking space too.

Caroline had been experiencing some issues with one of her ears and although she had been given the all-clear to dive by the doctor, she decided that as her and Nick would be jetting off to go diving in the Bahamas the following week she wouldn’t risk it (fair enough!). So Nick and I, along with one of Nick and Caroline’s other friends, Luke, kitted up and made our way into the water.

The water wasn’t too cold – about 11°C – and I was nice and toasty in my dry suit, so it was all good. With Caroline acting as surface support, we soon descended down to the novice training area, which is no deeper than about 8 metres. Here there are a couple of fibreglass cartoon-style horses (one of which you can get on and ‘ride’) which, according to Capernwray’s website, originate from Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

There are plenty of fish too, which I was, for some reason, not expecting – lots of trout (seriously, they were everywhere), perch, roach, and some MASSIVE sturgeons, one of which I came face-to-face with at one point. Alas, Nick was looking the other way at the time, so there is no photographic evidence of my close encounter with this impressive creature.

We then moved out to the end of the training area where the wreck of a small boat called ‘Dreamer’ came into view (the vis was around 5 metres). The wreck has been gutted so it’s fairly easy to penetrate. After a short inspection and a few photo ops we started to make our way back to the surface where Caroline was waiting for us.

It was time for a spot of lunch, so we headed for the Porthole, ordered some drinks, and grabbed a table. After witnessing a waitress deliver what I can only describe as one of the biggest burgers I have ever seen (triple patty alert!) to a starving diver, I ordered a cheeseburger and chips to go with my cup of tea. It wasn’t long before I was doing my best Samuel L. Jackson impression (“Mmmm! This IS a tasty burger!”).

After lunch it was time for dive number two, so we kitted back up and made our way back down to the water. This time the plan was to remain to the right hand side of the quarry and descend 18 metres down the slope to the wreck of an impressive Hawker Siddeley HS 748 airliner. Unfortunately, Luke was having some issues equalising, so after several attempts to descend he finally admitted defeat and we all returned to the surface. Luke called it a day, but Nick and I decided to go back down and check out the plane.

When the Hawker emerges from the depths it’s an impressive site. The fuselage of the plane has been completely gutted, making swim-throughs easy, and it’s a great setting for photos.

It wasn’t long before we had to return to the surface ourselves. Once we had left the water, got changed and packed up our things, it was time for the drive back to Manchester for more beer and another well-earned curry.

I’d forgotten just how exhausting diving can be! I was shattered. Some rookie errors may have occurred (which I won’t be divulging here!), but for the most part it was just like riding a bike – it all came back to me once I got going. What was nice about going with friends, after not having dived for a while, was there were no expectations, no pressure… it was great to get back in the water and just go for a dive.

Now I’ve paid for a lifetime membership at Capernwray, I’d better make the most of it! There are still a few wrecks I haven’t explored yet and a gnome garden (that’s right – a gnome garden) to visit.

So…. anyone up for a dive?

Find out more about Capernwray Dive Centre at

All photos by Frogfish Photography unless otherwise stated.

Dive Training Blogs

Diving into the Gift of Choice



A guest blog by Chad Sinden

Chad Sinden is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Instructor and owner of Ocean Fox Dive Centre, a PADI ® Dive Centre in The Bahamas. His journey to becoming a diving professional has been anything but easy, yet despite all odds he continues to choose to dive-in to seek adventure and save the ocean every single day. Here is his story.

 My mission is to inspire others to feel good about themselves regardless of their challenges and to fall in love with the ocean. An ocean full of magic and wonder. If I can inspire just one person with my own challenges and failings, then I have succeeded.”

While I have been a PADI Open Water Dive Instructor since 2009, a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer since 2019 and the proud new owner of the PADI Dive Centre Ocean Fox Dive Centre, I wasn’t born loving the ocean.

I’ve been lucky enough to introduce a wide range of people to the beautiful underwater world. Regardless of age or ability, my goal is always the same with my diving students—to teach them to love the ocean and encourage them to explore and protect it. I am a firm believer that there truly is nothing more magical than the planet we live on and the contributions you as an individual make to it.

My love for sharks and the underwater world, that I am blessed to explore as a diver, arose from a time in my life where the world held no magic, wonder or mystery above the surface.

In fact, my journey to get to this point has been anything but magical. But my challenges and choices have led me to find sanctity at sea.

Learning to Love the Water, and Myself

I was born with a rare medical condition called ‘Poland Syndrome’, which left me without my right-side pectoral muscle or lateral muscle, made my right hand smaller than the left and gave me webbed fingers on my right hand. My medical condition also left me with severe depression, anxiety and a lack of confidence for most of my young adult life.

I also grew up with a fear of water. I nearly drowned three times before I was 16 and didn’t learn to actually swim until I was 25. And getting in the water with sharks? No thanks!

At the age of 11 my family moved to Australia. While we were surrounded by the New South Wales oasis of green valleys, I remained scared of the ocean and life there was anything but easy. We were illegal immigrants and were very poor. We first lived in a 30-foot-long caravan before moving into a small house that didn’t even have a real toilet.  But looking back I realise this prepared me to deal with less than ideal living conditions in years to come.

When I moved back to the UK as a young adult, I got run over by a drunk driver and was left with severe brain swelling, amnesia and post-traumatic stress that took me three years to recover from.

But my time at hospitals also led to my journey as a PADI Professional. It was at a hospital in Northhampton that I did my first PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience. Shortly after I went on to become a PADI Open Water Diver at Stoney Cave near Leicester. My instructor on that course inspired me to start my own journey to become a PADI Open Water Instructor. I had discovered a whole new world beneath the surface and had fallen in love with the ocean.

The ocean and all its inhabitants accepted me without question. I found home. I found peace. All the struggles I went through did not define me underwater.

A World of Underwater Adventure

Soon after diving into a life underwater, I discovered my passion for megafauna.

I remember the first moment a huge shark glided past me and looked me straight in the eyes. At first, I felt completely powerless and all I could do was stare back. But then that transformed into a beautiful moment of mutual curiosity and respect. A moment of connection between two species who realise they don’t want to harm each other. It is a moment that I will remember forever and I never felt more alive.

I eventually quit my full-time career as an electromechanical engineer to pursue ocean conservation. This led me to the beautiful Fiji Islands, where I volunteered for four years teaching reef conservation and scuba diving to international volunteers and indigenous locals. I was also there in 2016 when the devastating Category 5 Cyclone Winston devastated the island nation. But I will never forget the hospitality and kindness that was given to me by people there who lost everything. They taught me a valuable lesson in hope and kindness.

After continuing to work for many dive centres around the world, I found myself in the Bahamas in 2018. I invested my small life savings into 10% of a dive centre on the beautiful island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. It was the biggest financial risk I had ever taken.

Finding Shelter and Hope in a Dive Centre

After two years of working at this dive centre, and for reasons beyond my control, the relationship with the other owner had taken a turn for the worse and I was looking for ways to get out of my partial ownership.

At the same time, the global pandemic upended the dive industry and my livelihood. Tourism was shut down in the Bahamas and we entered one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. From Monday to Friday each week we were not allowed to leave the house, not even for food or medical care. The hospitals were simply over run on and the beautiful beaches we were surrounded by were now off limits.

After five months of zero income, a depleted savings account and a maxed-out credit card, I had to give up the small house I was renting and moved into my trusty 22 yr. old Toyota Rav4. It then dawned on me that the dive centre I used to work at was empty. The company couldn’t close or function due to all facilities being shut down.

The wetsuit racks became my wardrobe. The retail floor of the shop became my bedroom. And the occasional crab would become my roommate while the crickets sang to me all through the night.  I lived off generosity of friends family and locals.  And I reminded myself how lucky I was in comparison to those who suffer worse than me.

But I would still cry myself to sleep wondering if I would ever see my family again. I wondered how on earth I would pull through. I hit rock bottom, but reminded myself that I don’t go down without a fight, ever.

I began to formulate a plan to borrow money to buy the remaining assets of the dive centre. Since the banks were not lending, I made a list of every person and company I knew of affluence who I had met over my career that could be in a financial position to help me. I created a business plan for the dive centre and pitched it to everyone on the list. I expected zero response, but to my surprise I had three offers within a month! People recognised the importance of continuing shark interaction training and, more importantly, the excellent professional reputation I had attained from years in the industry.

But the hard times weren’t quite over yet. I managed to return to the UK after eight months of solitude, only to be put through another four-month lockdown with my family. In total, I had now spent more than 12 months without a single paycheck. But hope in my dive centre kept me going.

Diving into New Opportunities

I eventually returned to the Bahamas and reopened the dive centre in March this year. Things were slow at first. I found myself having to apologise to guests as they entered the dive shop and saw my bed leaning up against the wall and my clothes next to the wetsuits and a gas cooker in the corner. But my guests were very understanding. In fact, the tips this year have been the best ever!

Miraculously, we have had a successful season this year despite all the uncertainty and are looking forward to next year being one of our best years ever!

I’ve moved out of the dive centre and into a new home. The bills are paid. The dive centre has teamed up with the beautiful Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina and are looking forward to becoming a PADI 5 Star Resort and Dive Centre very soon.

Since taking over this dive centre, life has been on the up for both myself personally and professionally. After a whole year out of the water, I am now back diving with my favorite animals on the planet—sharks—and teaching others to love these beautiful creatures as well.

From humble beginnings I am now the proud owner of Ocean Fox Dive Centre in the Bahamas. I am a PADI Master Scuba Diver Instructor who gets to introduce people of all ages and abilities to the magic that lies beneath the surface of the ocean. I get to dive with sharks and be inspired by them every single day.

Life is about choices. What choices will you make today?

For more information about the Ocean Fox Dive Center visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Jeff chats to… Rich Somerset, Territory Director PADI EMEA (Watch Video)



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 and

Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Egypt | Safaga, Brothers & Elphinstone | 27 January – 04 February 2022 | Emperor Elite

Jump on board this famous Red Sea liveaboard and enjoy diving the famous wrecks of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer.  Emperor Elite offers a contemporary living space combined with the best itineraries available in the Red Sea.

Price NOW from just £975 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including:

  • Flights from London Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Booking deadline: Subject to availability.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email

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