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Miscellaneous Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Rick Ayrton

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Gemma and Ian chat to Rick Ayrton. Rick learnt to dive and remains a member of Clifton BSAC club, Bristol UK. He is a BSAC Advanced Diver and has the HSE Commercial diving qualification. He has additional technical diving qualifications including hypoxic trimix, allowing dives in excess of 100m. An early adopter of rebreathers he continues to dive with an AP Diving Inspiration unit.

Rick enjoys the challenge of underwater photography and is currently Chair of the Bristol Underwater Photo Group. His first book “Expedition Britannic” was published in October 2021. It has been well received by divers and non-divers, adding to the wealth of information with a connection to that most famous shipwreck of all, the Titanic.

Have a listen here:

To buy the book go to:  https://amzn.to/3M7aLN8

Find out more:


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

Marine Life & Conservation

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Andy Forster of Dive Project Cornwall

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Gemma and Ian chat to Andy Forster.  Andy is the Project Director at Dive Project Cornwall.  He tells us about his own passion for diving as well as how Dive Project Cornwall is going to educate and inspire many youngsters over the coming year.

Have a listen here:

Find out more at www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk


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

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: The Boys in the Cave

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Review of The Boys in the Cave: Deep inside the impossible rescue in Thailand (2018)

On the 23rd  June 2018 twelve members of the Thai Wild Boars youth football team, and their coach, strolled into the Tham Luang Cave in northern Thailand. Hours later they were trapped, over a mile inside the cave, by monsoon driven, rising flood water. Initial attempts to find the lost group were thwarted by the torrent of water rushing through the cave system. After ten days without contact, food and warm clothing, it was feared the group were dead from hypothermia or drowning.

Two experienced British cave rescue divers, Rick Stanton and John Vollanthen volunteered to swim against the current, through over a mile of pitch black, flooded tunnels, negotiate sumps and slither through crevices in an attempt to discover if they were alive or dead. They found them alive on a raised sand bank, over one and half miles into the cave system; thus started ‘one of the largest cave search and rescue operations in history.’ (p.93). However, their rescue was perilous. Josh Morris, the intermediary between the rescuers and the Thai political and military decision makers, announced: ‘You have two terrible choices… In one, everyone is going to die. And in the other, some people are going to die.’ (p188).

Twenty-five days later the boys and their coach emerged, cocooned on special stretchers. They were bound, sedated, in wet suits and breathing via positive pressure face masks. If, at any time, during the tortuous journey, in pitch blackness, the face masks had been dislodged the boy would drown.

We may recall that all thirteen of those trapped were rescued alive, but a Thai Navy SEAL drowned. However, this does not detract from the story of the rescue told and illustrated by Matt Gutman. He manages to capture the race against time drama as the strength of the boys, and oxygen levels in the cave fall to dangerous levels. Gutman describes the tension as water levels continue to rise and more monsoon rains approach. He also describes the toll on the rescue divers as cuts and scratches, grazes and blisters become infected and sheer exhaustion starts to overtake them. The story is enhanced by maps of the cave system and the forty-nine colour photographs; they convey the enormity of the rescue.

A noteworthy feature of The Boys in the Cave is that Matt Gutman does not shy away from describing the bizarre and chaotic attempts at rescue by well meaning people who didn’t know what they were doing. He records the politically driven, bureaucratic public announcements that were at odds with reality. He also acknowledges the rivalries, antagonism and emotional involvement of those present. It was a testing time for all – especially when failure was the most likely outcome.

You do not have to be a diver, let alone a cave diver, to appreciate the challenges that the volunteer rescue divers undertook. Exhausting eight to ten hour swims, in pitch darkness, through a tangled web of lines and tubes, ropes and electrical cable that are waiting to snag you. It was a booby-trapped labyrinth in which you could becoming jammed in a choke point, lose the line and get lost, running out of air or be caught up in a flash flood. It was a heroic endeavour and one I’m sure you will enjoy reading.


The Boys in the Cave: Deep inside the impossible rescue in Thailand (2018)

  • Author: Matt Guttman
  • Publisher: New York: Harper Collins
  • 307pp
  • ISBN 978 006 29099 23

Matt Gutman was part of the international news team that reported on the rescue. He was born in Princeton, New Jersey, USA on 5th December 1977 and graduated from Williams College in 2000. As a reporter he has worked for the Jerusalem Post, USA Today and ABC News Radio. He is currently the Chief National Correspondent for ABC News in America. The Boys in the Cave is his first book.


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

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A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

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

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