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Miscellaneous Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast… Diving in the Farne Islands

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A roving report style podcast from our three day trip to Seahouses in North East England and our diving adventures in the Farne Islands just off the coast.  The trip was organised by our local dive centre Christal Seas Scuba. 

Have a listen here:

Here are some useful links:


Find more podcast episodes and information at the new www.thebigscuba.com  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

The BiG Scuba Podcast is a UK based podcast, discussing everything to do with diving, other underwater and on the water activities and the ocean. Our hope is to promote scuba diving to more people including women. Ian Last and Gemma Kemp are the “I” and the “G” of The BiG Scuba Podcast. Ian is a PADI Divemaster, with about 300 dives from diving in the UK, Mexico and Red Sea. He works with our local PADI Dive Centre in Norwich, Norfolk and also teaches in the water. Gemma Kemp is a very positive person and makes a good ambassador for new women divers in the sport of scuba. Gemma began her scuba journey in January and continued studying through lockdown and then got some experience in our local rivers snorkelling. Gemma completed her PADI Open Water qualification in July 2020 and now has completed just short of 20 dives. We actively encourage interaction with our listeners and have a Patron page so that anyone with an interest in scuba diving can have a voice at The BiG Scuba Podcast. Take your first breaths with The BiG Scuba at thebigscubapodcast.com

Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: Dead Mountain: The untold story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident (2014)

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The front cover of Dead Mountain (2014), by Donnie Eichar, encapsulates the essence of the whole book; a group of cross country skiers disappearing into the gloom of a cold, frozen waste. It’s a photograph taken by a member of the ill-fated group.

In February 1959 a group of ten students and graduates from the Ural Polytechnic Institute in Sverdlovsk, Russia embarked on a winter adventure. It was to be a Grade III trip in which they would cover 300 kms in a minimum of 16 days with one-third of the trip challenging. They were to travel hundreds of miles due north, by train and truck, and then on foot and skis to the bleak Otorten Mountain. They were all experienced hikers and skiers and lead by the most experienced; Igor Dyatlov. It was acknowledged that “Igor had indisputable authority” (p.31).

A remote woodcutter settlement marked a decision point for the expedition. Beyond this point there would be no other settlements, no roads, no people, no help just a barren, frozen wasteland. A member of the group, Yuri Yudin, made a decision to abandon the trip at this point. Illness made it impossible for him to continue and should it get worse he would put the rest of the party in danger. As his friends trudged off into the snow and mist it was the last time he would see them alive. Their slashed and abandoned tent, complete with their boots and equipment, clothing and food all neatly arranged would be found by the search party. Their bodies, partly clad, without shoes and three with evidence of violent trauma would be found months later. Some died from their injuries, the others by hypothermia… within a few hundred yards or so from their tent. At the time of their last diary entry the temperature would be forty degrees below zero with winds of 40 mph. It raised the obvious question: “What… provoked the nine hikers to leave the sanctuary of their tent?” (p.217); the official answer was an “unknown compelling force” (p.253). Thus began the mystery of the Dyatlov Pass Incident.

In his exploration of the Dyatlov Pass Incident  Donnie Eichar weaves together two stories. One involves pen portraits of group members and their friendship. The numerous, grainy, black and white photographs capture moments in their lives and along their route. A description of life in Russia in the late 1950s, the impact of the Cold War, restrictions and secrecy serves to explain the attraction of wild open spaces.

The other is a desire to understand the circumstances surrounding the unexplained deaths of nine young people in bizarre circumstances. In doing so Eichar actually retraced their steps in the bleak Russian wilderness. He drew upon his research skills as a documentary film maker and the insights provided by the only survivor, Yuri Yudin. Eichar’s story also draws upon the hiker’s journals and photographs, government records and interviews, maps and witness statements. He assembles the evidence and in doing so challenges the myths and legends that have emerged in over fifty years.

Dead Mountain: The untold story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident  is a compelling read. Informed by the ‘evidence’ Eichar skilfully explores previous explanations – only to challenge and discount them. He finally formulates an account that satisfies all the known and previously unavailable scientific evidence. In the words of Sherlock Holmes: ‘when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’ Donnie Eichar’s conclusions may just persuade you that the mystery of the Dyatlov Pass Incident is finally solved.


Dead Mountain: The untold story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident (2014)

  • by Donnie Eichar
  • Publisher – San Francisco: Chronicle Books
  •  288 pp
  • ISBN 9781452140032         

Donnie Eichar is a director and producer of film and television. His work includes the documentary Soaked in Bleach (2015) and the TV Series Buried Life (2010) and Killing Fields (2016).

He was born in Florida, USA and now lives in Malibu, California with his wife.


Find out more about the reviewer, Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Review: The Rescue

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National Geographic’s latest documentary, “The Rescue”, tells the remarkable story from 2018 when a football team became stuck in a cave in Northern Thailand.

It is now showing on Disney + and Scubaverse blogger, Alex Tasker, was keen to watch it. Here is what he thought…


I was fascinated by this story in 2018 and that’s undiminished now. It’s got it all – extreme jeopardy, a ticking clock, politics, unconventional heroes, maverick rule-breaking, even romance! I defy anyone to be moved by the heroism and human endeavour portrayed in this movie.

We already know the ending, and the documentary style is pretty straightforward, but it’s still thrilling. While the story itself needs no embellishment, the photography is great (as you’d expect from NatGeo!), supported by cgi visualisations of the cave structure, reconstructions of some of the terrifying action and brand new interview footage.

In those interviews we learn a bit about the characteristics of those key individuals, their backstories and how they became the few men who could pull off such an incredible rescue. They are remarkably frank about the ups and downs of the rescue and how they were personally able to cope with those mind-boggling challenges over the days that passed before it could be executed.

Watch the trailer:

If you enjoyed the documentary and want to read more about this incredible rescue, then “Aquanaut” by Rick Stanton and “Thirteen Lessons that Saved Thirteen Lives” by John Volanthen are both good reads.

For more on how you can watch it visit the Disney+ website by clicking here.

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Situated in Naama Bay, this 4-star hotel offers air-conditioned rooms with a balcony or terrace overlooking the landscaped pool area or Naama Bay. A free shuttle to its waterpark and private beach are provided at specified times.

The resort has 3 bars and an in-house restaurant serving local and international dishes. Guests can also enjoy traditional shisha, and room service is available.

The beach and Naama Bay’s nightlife, restaurants, and shops are within walking distance.

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  • Direct flights from Gatwick to Sharm el Sheikh with 15kgs baggage
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*Marine Park fees payable locally

Other departure airports available at a supplement.

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – alternative dates available.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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