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Review: The Great Northern Dive Show

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After last year’s inaugural outing, was The Great Northern Dive Show 2017 a success?

When is a dive show not a dive show… but still a dive show? Stay with me here…

The Great Northern Dive Show is the brainchild of Ruth Mort, who owns and runs H2O Divers in Wigan in the UK with her husband Duncan. From the very beginning, Ruth wanted to do something different – and she’s certainly achieved that. There aren’t many dive shows that can claim to have Darth Vader wandering the aisles with a legion of Imperial Stormtroopers in tow; or a dinosaur walking (that’s right, walking) the show floor.

Yes, I hear you all say, Star Wars is indeed awesome (and if you’re not saying that, you’re wrong) – but what has it got to do with Scuba Diving?

Well the short answer is, nothing. And if I’m being totally honest, when I was speaking to Ruth on the phone months ago and she was saying things like “we’re going to have a dinosaur at the show”, and “we’ve got stormtroopers from Star Wars”, I found myself asking her the same question, and wondering if perhaps she had lost sight of what it was she was actually trying to achieve – putting on a dive show. But it turns out Ruth knew what she was doing all along.

Because despite sounding like she’d gone completely mad, Ruth has made her dive show accessible to families. Divers were able to take their kids knowing that they would be entertained. And big kids like myself enjoyed it too. It kind of works.

And it’s the only dive show (to my knowledge, at least) that has an opening ceremony (with a singer, which admittedly I missed) and closing ceremony (with fire dancers).

But what about the diving?

Like last year, this year’s show also featured the Aqua Theatre, which is the largest portable open windowed tank in the world. Freedivers from Apneists UK did stints in the tank dressed as mermaids, which was a definite crowd-pleaser and yet another big hit with the kids. Tech divers demonstrated skill sets, and Mark Powell from SDI/TDI even did a rebreather demo, so there was always something going on in the tank to keep visitors enthralled.

There were lots of great talks on the main stage given by well-known names from the UK dive scene. Highlights included James Rogers from RAID UK & Malta speaking about the training agency’s exciting and exclusive partnership with Blue Abyss; Scubaverse.com’s very own Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown, who had only returned from a liveaboard trip to Socorro the previous day, speaking about their most recent diving adventure; and Mark Powell shared his experiences of diving the wreck of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic. Other speakers included Sidemount guru Garry Dallas, Diver Medic Founder Chantelle Taylor-Newman, GUE Instructor Trainer John Kendall, and Dave Thompson from the Warrington Disability Partnership.

Once again, The Northern Underwater Photography Group (NUPG) held their annual print competition at the show. There were some stunning images on display, with the winning shots of the majority of the categories being chosen by the show’s visitors, and the overall UK and Overseas category winners being chosen by each category’s sponsor, Fleet Dive (UK category sponsor) and Safari Diving Lanzarote (Overseas category sponsor). Scubaverse’s UWP editor and NUPG member Caroline Robertson-Brown did well, winning both the British and Irish Wide Angle Category and the Overall Overseas category. Nick and Caroline’s full report on the NUPG print competition will be appearing on Scubaverse tomorrow.

The majority of the companies that exhibited last year were back for 2017’s show, and a few new exhibitors had taken the plunge and given the show a chance too. Visitor numbers weren’t as high as some were expecting, but were still respectable; the show just so happened to take place on the warmest weekend of the year so far, which may well have put some off spending their weekend inside. There were also some companies that were noticeable by their absence who hopefully will give the show a chance next year.

In its first year, the majority of those who attended The Great Northern Dive Show agreed that although the show was small and footfall wasn’t amazingly high, there was a great vibe and that the idea had legs. There was still an enormous amount of positivity this year, but there was also disappointment from some that more divers didn’t come through the doors. This will need to be addressed by Ruth and her team should the show go ahead for a third year.

I can’t emphasise enough though how refreshing The Great Northern Dive Show is. It has a lot going for it, and is a great opportunity for divers North of the border to come together and celebrate this great sport of ours. Now if only the rest of the industry would get behind it….

www.thegreatnortherndiveshow.com

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Introducing two new Colours of OBLU resorts in the Maldives

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COLOURS OF OBLU, a brand by Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts, has opened two exciting new resorts in Male Atoll in the Maldives this year.

OBLU XPERIENCE Ailafushi opened in June. Translating from the Maldivian dialect of Dhivehi, ‘Aila’ means family and ‘Fushi’ means island, in essence, the Family Island. A 15-minute speedboat ride from Velana International Airport brings guests to this beautiful tropical island.

The four-star resort’s 268 villas and rooms are designed to experience nature at its best. A striking fleet of water villas shaped like dhonis are lined up along the jetty – a perfect spot for snapping some selfies. From the moment of arrival, a carefree and relaxed holiday unfolds with the generous Fushi Plan™. Dining, activities, a multi-level kids club with a pool and food corner, overwater gym, and live entertainment are all blended within the stay for a hassle-free holiday.

Sumptuous all-day dining options are available at the Element X Restaurant which serves modern Western, Central Asian, and Far Eastern cuisines. X360 Bar features a 1000 sqm infinity pool – one of the largest in the Maldives. Guests can enjoy unlimited orders of refreshing spirits, wines, and beer from the grab and go bar counter. Evenings come alive with enthralling music and party vibes at the bar’s dance floor. The Copper Pot Food Truck parked on the beach is perfect for an open-air dinner of choicest fresh seafood and meat grills that can be relished on the soft sandy beach beneath the starry sky.

Walk up to La Promenade located beside a channel that meanders across Ailafushi island. This picturesque walkway has cosy seating corners along with a wine boutique, souvenir shop, and café. There is so much to do here — lounge at the scenic overwater deck, sip a cup of coffee, and socialise with like-minded travellers. Experiential highlights also include The Dome, a futuristic 15-meter theatre and entertainment centre.

Sister resort OBLU SELECT Lobigili is an adults only property that opened in March. In the Maldivian language of Dhivehi, ‘Lobi’ means love and ‘Gili’ means island. Lobigili is, in essence, the island of love.

Blessed with verdant foliage, this five-star resort features 68 contemporary beach and water villas – all assuring gorgeous views of the turquoise-blue lagoon. With the resort’s exclusive Lobi PlanTM guests can immerse in a blissfully carefree stay. This generous plan includes specialty fine-dining, unlimited beverages, spa services, Indian Ocean excursions, a selection of non-motorised watersports as well as a fully stocked minibar replenished daily.

OBLU SELECT Lobigili continues with the brand’s tradition of exceptional fine dining, elevating the mealtime experience with playful and fun touches. At Ylang-Ylang, the All-Day Dining Restaurant, delectable world cuisine with intimate nooks for couples and a unique book corner are unmissable. The Swing Bar with itschilled out beachside vibe features chic hammocks, swings and a stunning infinity pool that is one of the largest in the Maldives. Evenings come alive with handcrafted, aromatised cocktails and hypnotic DJ and Live Band performances.

That is not all. There is Gaadiya 17 Food Truck serving grab-and-go game meat grills to be relished in a fun, open-air setting on the beach under starry skies. And an exotic ONLY BLU Underwater Restaurant, one of the largest underwater restaurants in the country, where guests can experience impeccable modern gourmet cuisine.

A standout experience is ELE | NA The Spa – designed exclusively for couples and adults – featuring locally inspired spa treatments including  Lobi Dhooni (Love Bird) Hithun Hithath (Heart To Heart) and Dhekanbalun (You & Me).

Scuba Diving from both resorts is with OBLU’s partner dive centre, TGI Maldives, one of the best-known in the country. The dive centre teaches a variety of PADI and SSI courses. The island’s house reef is perfect for relaxed dives, snorkeling and training, whilst many of North Male Atoll’s best dive sites are just a short boat ride away. In particular, the atoll is well-known for its manta ray sightings from May to October.

Discover more at www.coloursofoblu.com

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SSI releases new Explorers program for kids

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SSI has announced the release of the SSI Explorers Program, where kids aged 6-11 years old can get a taste of the many ways to explore the aquatic world around them. This exciting program makes diving for kids stress-free, guiding them in engaging underwater adventures where they can scuba dive, act like a real mermaid, and go underwater on a single breath with freediving. SSI has invested much time and energy into re-vamping this child-centered experience program.

Formerly known as Scuba Rangers, the new SSI Explorers Program is today’s most extensive aquatic experience program for kids in the dive industry. Children who have not yet reached the minimum age for scuba diving will not only gain a solid foundation in ocean conservation, but they will have the opportunity to experience four main aquatic adventures and many specialties.

Your young aquatic explorer will join Emma and Nico on exciting underwater adventures with their marine friends, Star the starfish, Shelly the sea turtle, and Spike the shark. The comprehensive children’s manual is very engaging, with colourful cartoon drawings and authentic ocean images for this young audience. Emma and Nico guide children throughout the manual’s educational content in a fun and engaging way, using Spike as their equipment expert and Shelly as the ocean environment advocate.

The SSI Explorers materials start by introducing children to the importance of protecting and preserving our oceans by becoming a Blue Oceans Explorer. After learning why our oceans are important, about the world’s five oceans, and what they can do to help protect our oceans, students earn the SSI Blue Oceans Explorer recognition rating. They can then move on to learn all there is to know about snorkel equipment and snorkelling in a confined water environment to earn their Snorkel Explorer rating.

After completing these two initial experiences, SSI Explorers can choose from one of three aquatic adventures and either become a Scuba Explorer, Mermaid Explorer, or Freediving Explorer. Better yet, they can continue on to earn all three ratings!

SSI Mermaid Explorers get to swim around like real mermaids while improving their swimming skills. SSI Freediving Explorers will go underwater and dive deeper by holding their breath longer in an encouraging, relaxed environment.  Explorers who have not met the minimum age for scuba diving can try it out within the safety of a pool or confined water and become an SSI Scuba Explorer.

The fun doesn’t stop there, however! SSI Explorers can go on even more underwater adventures to earn 22 different Specialty Explorer ratings. They can improve their explorer skills with exciting specialties like Underwater Model Explorer, Rescue Explorer, Shark Ecology Explorer, and Search & Rescue Explorer, just to name a few. Your child can earn the Specialty Explorer recognition rating by completing two Explorer specialties. When they complete four specialties, they will become Advanced Explorers, and after completing the Rescue Explorer specialty, they can become a Master Explorer. SSI Explorers will even be able to earn real C-Cards just like their parents to show off their hard-earned recognition ratings.

To look back on their explorer fun, SSI has included a logbook section toward the back of the colourfully engaging SSI Explorers manual. The Explorer Logbook is where students can record details of their underwater adventures as they work through these exciting experiences. Near the logbook, SSI has also included an area for the Explorer Instructor to place an SSI recognition sticker specific to each completed explorer activity. Children will be excited to work toward earning them all!

The SSI Explorers program is now available as a book or digitally in four languages: German, English, Spanish, and Italian, with more languages hopefully coming soon.

Training the next generation of ocean lovers and aquatic enthusiasts is very important to SSI and all SSI Training Centres and Pros. The SSI Explorers Program is an excellent way to promote ocean conservation and aquatic safety in our younger population and prepare them for future open water certification opportunities once they reach the minimum age for scuba diving.

Look for an SSI Explorers Program at an SSI Training Centre near you. To find your nearest SSI Training Centre, check out the SSI Centre Locator here.

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