Ok, so not the most exciting of topics… but an important one nonetheless. Especially as many of us will be starting to enjoy the UK dive season and heading out to explore our beautiful coastline. Some of you may even be heading into the UK waters for the first time due to the travel restrictions… welcome, you will wish that you had done it sooner!
Surface marker buoys. SMB’s are an invaluable piece of equipment. To demonstrate your position in the water, to fend off boats, to show off your buoyancy to your dive buddy when you can inflate it without moving an inch in the water… or to un-intentionally make your buddy laugh when you forget to attach your reel and send it up like a lost rocket… A must have skill and piece of equipment for all divers. But, how do you choose which one is right for you, and how do you use it correctly?
Choosing a colour, we all know to look cool as a diver, its all about co-ordinating, but not so much with SMB’s I’m afraid. The standard colour is orange and is what you will typically see being used, and yellow due to it’s higher ability to be seen at night time is just for an emergency…. Not because it is your favourite colour…sorry yellow lovers! If you are wanting to personalise it though you could put your name down the SMB, that way the surface cover knows who it is underneath.
Next, inflation. Here we have the option of open bottom or direct inflation. An open bottom means that you will need to use your alternate to inflate the SMB, direct inflation you would use your inflator hose. Either of these are sufficient and is generally down to preference. If you are not sure which you prefer, or how to use them, there is a course that you can take to learn all of the skills and offer some helpful tips of how to inflate it and control your buoyancy too. I happen to know an instructor that teaches it… so just drop me a message and I can help…!
So, we have the SMB, next we need a line or spool. So many decisions with a basic piece of kit! Most SMB’s will come with a line, which is great as you can use the equipment straight away. The only down side is, with gloves it can become annoying, especially if you are changing depths quite often as typical on a shore dive here. You may wish to look at a spool instead… They also come in more colours, and this time you can choose which ever you want… even yellow, result!
Having got to the point of choosing you SMB and line/spool, where are we now going to keep it? Clipping it onto your BCD, keeping it in your pocket. Anywhere is sufficient as long as its easily accessible… like not in your car once you have entered the water…. So be sure to add you SMB to your buddy check! Happy diving!
Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com.
Tips for… Choosing Equipment
We are divers…we all love the nice new shiny dive toys right?! But, how do we choose what is best to get? The best brand or because it’s orange? In our experience, we suggest that ultimately it comes down to what you are going to use it for.
Each year we have divers come onto our dive boat or for shore diving with their light fins that are perfect for the Red Sea, but end up with their feet in the air in a drysuit; and their regulators which are not cold water rated ultimately ending up in free-flow. So, our first suggestion with equipment is to not only consider the purchase based on what your current diving entails, but consider your future aspirations.
This does not just relate to warm water and cold water diving, but what you may consider in the future in relation to specialities. Will you be looking to progress into Advanced diving and using Nitrox? Then purchase a dive computer with this capability. It is easy to jump into buying dive equipment just because we want it now! But take a moment to consider your future diving journey.
I guess the next question that we get asked all of the time is what to buy? What items as a new diver should we get? Admittedly what we suggest and what others suggest will vary, however our personal suggestion is to get your own mask and dive computer. An ill-fitting mask will make your diving far from enjoyable and so this should (in our opinion) be a first for all divers, and a dive computer – well, we all want to start logging our dives!
Not only that, but these are two items you can take with you anywhere in the world… easy to pack into your suitcase and not specific to a local area. Getting these two items start your equipment purchase journey but also gives you the time to try the other items such as regulators and BCD’s and see what best works for you.
The last tip of ours in relation to equipment is… don’t rush into buying and buy what YOU want. Just because someone else has it, does not mean that it will work for you. If you want a red framed mask yet the store only has yellow, wait for the red to come on order. If you purchase correctly, you can most definitely have these same items for a number of years, especially when looked after correctly. Get it right the first time and save yourself the headache of extra expense in the future.
Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com
Jump into… Starting a charity
As if having two dive centres and Scuba Escape was ‘not enough’, I also decided, last year, to set up a charity for mental health in diving. Why? Because it seemed as though it was not just my personal experience demonstrating a need for this. Some of you may or may not be aware of certain issues that prevailed in the previous year, what you do not know are the stories from the previous four years before that. We can leave that conversation for another time though!
We usually see diving as a way to improve our mental health, at least I hope that is the case for most of you. A minority of others, despite loving the activity, are subject to bullying within our industry. Don’t just take my word for it. From a survey completed by over 250 of you in the UK, 72% of you said that you had either been bullied, or witnessed bullying. 62% said that this still exists. A scary thought for our amazing industry.
So what are the actual issues? Many of you stated that the bullying related to agencies or equipment, a person’s size, gender and age were also focal points within the survey. All things that have no bearing on us undertaking Scuba Diving at all. This presented the need for the charity. People completing this survey had stated that they remain with these individuals or organisations because they have nowhere to go, yet want to dive; others also stating that they stopped diving altogether because of having no other place. That then became the idea for the ‘Just Scuba Charity’, which is, as it says, Just Scuba. No politics, nobody caring what equipment you are using… Or what size your drysuit is… just diving.
The charity will be starting up this year as I have been waiting, and successfully obtaining, charitable status. We will be asking for divers wishing to volunteer as ‘dive buddies’ that others having personal issues with their mental health in diving can come to, and just dive. To find a new network of friendly, non-judgemental people to share their passion of the water. Other aspects of the charity will include mental health support options for divers to access, information on how to respond to bullying, to challenge the behaviour or report it, and for those feeling like they have nowhere to turn, a contact email and chat to access support.
Whether you have been affected by bullying within diving or not, unfortunately it does exist and now is the time for us all to come together and stand up to this, to protect our diving community.
If you have not yet checked out the charity, please visit www.thejustscubacharity.org
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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