Looking After Yourself

Looking After Yourself

Created: 2019-04-04

Diving is apparently a sport, which still amuses me every time that I hear it as by default, that makes me a professional sports person which I’m both fully on board with and find utterly hilarious in equal measure!

For many people, diving is so much more than that, it’s a way of conquering fears, pushing personal boundaries and making new friends as well as giving people a reason to explore new corners of the globe that many can’t even imagine.

With such a rewarding but extreme activity, there are of course risks and these are apparent at every stage of proceedings whether it is when buying kit, getting set up or in the water. Regardless of your level whether you’re new to the sport or at a professional level, we need to remember these things, otherwise there’s a real possibility that we will end up in the Chamber of Secrets (with only cold toast to sustain us).

Let’s have a look at the different elements to safe and successful diving to make sure we can all have a lot of fun in the water.

Kit

Dive gear is, as a general rule of thumb, a little on the expensive side. There is no way around this. If you think about it and what the equipment is designed to do, the monetary cost should become less of a consideration.

Dive equipment is designed with a lot of skill, technology and experience from the manufacturers to keep you alive in what is effectively an alien environment.

If you are on a budget, have a think about what you can stretch to and whether the places where you are going to dive have rental equipment available as an alternative.  The majority of dive centres and resorts make sure that all of their equipment is fully serviced so you know that anything that you are renting will be in good working order. That being said, if you did get given a piece of equipment that you’re not happy with, make sure you speak up and get it changed.

Second hand equipment can also be a total minefield and there is a saying “buy online, buy it twice” that sadly rings true a lot of the time. Always proceed with extreme caution when buying dive gear online. A cylinder that has “only been used one” might be several years old and require testing (and may even fail) similarly with regulators, they may not have been used, but they may not have been set up correctly in the first instance so should always go through a complete service before you go into the water with them. With used equipment, or even some new on sites such as eBay or Faceache, there is always the risk that you will end up with a piece of equipment that fails servicing or requires replacement parts and you end up spending more money that you would have if you’d bought new.

The other risk with buying second hand, unserviced equipment is that you could arrive at a dive site, assemble your kit and only then find out that you’re going to have to miss your dive due to equipment malfunction or worse, have a catastrophic failure whilst underwater which has the potential of creating an emergency situation!

Getting Ready

With any activity that we do repeatedly, it is always possible, and likely, that we will forget things. I am particularly good at losing my keys which I pride myself on doing at least once a week! Although this is frustrating, in the grand scheme of things it is just a mild inconvenience. However, when preparing for a dive, forgetting to do a thorough check of your kit could result in equipment failure or malfunction which at best would cause you to have to abort a dive or worst-case, lead to injury.

It doesn’t matter what acronym or pneumonic you use to remember your pre-dive safety checks, you should always go through each part of your equipment to make sure that it looks right, is fitted and assembled correctly and that everything is in working order. Also, most importantly, make sure you are familiar with your buddy’s set up. They may have their alternate air source on the opposite side to you or dive with a wing and twinset where you are only familiar with a single cylinder so take the time to really make sure you’re happy with their set up.

The last thing with set up is to make sure that you have your weighting correct. It is very easy to get into the habit of chucking on an overweight belt or loading up your pockets with more lead than you need to just so you can get in the water a few minutes quicker. If you always dive with the same equipment and thermal protection, you don’t need to do this every time, but it would probably surprise you how much difference thicker thermals can make or a brand-new wetsuit versus one that you have worn and loved for many years and especially the difference between steel and aluminium cylinders!  One final task that is prudent to perform is a tec diving style bubble check where you descend a short distance and get your buddy to make sure that there are no bubbles coming from any part of your equipment which could indicate a leak and that something isn’t quite right.

Going for a dive

Everyone has s**t days regardless of whether they are in the water or on land. Sometimes things just don’t click and for whatever reason, you’re off your game and feel uncomfortable. If you’re sat at your desk, this isn’t really a problem, you can just switch focus and spend time on other tasks before you’ve collected yourself and can resume the tasks you’re meant to be concentrating on. When diving however, this is not necessarily a good idea.

I always try and drive home to any of my students that one of the best things you can do as a diver is to have the confidence to say no and call a dive. Due to its relaxing and often meditative nature, people forget that diving is an extreme sport with risks involved. You wouldn’t jump out of a plane if the straps to the parachute were slightly twisted or the harness didn’t feel right or comfortable so why should diving be any different?

As a diver, you also need to have awareness of your buddy and other people around you in the water. If you’re with someone that you know, and they seem in any way different, check that they are happy to complete the dive and don’t put any pressure on them if they’re not comfortable for any reason. If you’re with people that you’ve not been diving with before, make sure you keep communicating with them to make sure everyone has fun underwater.

After dive care

Once you have finished your dive, shared out the high 5s and beers, make sure that you’re drying and storing your equipment properly to help prolong its life but also, make sure that you are listening to what your body is telling you. Even if you have not been diving to depth and stayed within limits, there is still a chance, however small, that you could suffer from the dreaded bends. These may even take a day or two to present themselves so it’s always worth talking to a dive doctor if there is anything that is causing you concern.

In summary, diving is a great activity that brings people so much peace and joy in a busy world with benefits far beyond exploration and adventure. We all just need to make sure that we never take our safety and wellbeing for granted to make sure that we can continue to enjoy the other 70% and experience a world that so many don’t get to see.

Blog by Bettie Comley

 

 

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Where's your favourite warm water diving destination? Anna's sharing another of hers with us today.

SAPARUA ISLAND – BANDA SEA – INDONESIA

Where is Saparua and what’s so special about it?
Saparua is such a tiny island that a google map search probably won’t leave you much the wiser as to its location. Where many avid divers have heard of Raja Ampat (an area, not a single location), a few of those now consider Raja to be dived out, and favour a longer but ultimately more rewarding trip further south to the Lease Islands. Saparua, a speck off Ambon well known for its incredible muck diving, is home to breathtaking wall diving, superb muck sites and gigantic plate and brain corals. Tourism here is virtually zero, I had a guide, a boat and a resort totally to myself for a week. It’s not for everyone, for sure, but as an experienced diver with all my own equipment, getting off the beaten path and having the option to laze around the top of a wall for an hour and a half following an oblivious ghost pipefish, watching a solar powered Nudibranch meander the reef or have a staring match with a scorpionfish was a real bonus.

Why should I dive there?
You’ll be diving where very few people have been, getting into local culture and enjoying the sunsets. As I mentioned above, the dive sites around the island are superb, from an underwater arch entered at 5meters and spews you out at the top of a 100m wall, to huge table corals as far as the eye can see, to fabulously coloured coral covered walls and white sandy valleys for superbly long dives. You can motor down to the uninhabited island of Molana where there are several dive sites.

When to go?
February – April & September - November is good. Ambon, which is the muck diving heaven to the west, can be dived year-round as it’s sheltered, but Saparua lies to the eastern edge of the island cluster. The liveaboards that cruise the Banda sea avoid the in-between months due to those wet and windy seasons. Water temp is around the 28C, air temp up to 30C.

What to take?
Take your own gear – have it serviced beforehand. Take spares / redundancy if you can. Definitely take your own entertainment! And your camera.

Preparation, preparation, preparation !

Consider the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy for holding your position whilst photographing. Definitely look at investing in a good underwater camera with housing and light for both night and wall dives and get to know your way around your rig with the PADI Underwater Digital Photography specialty. I’ve mentioned before… my favourite mid range rig is the Olympus TG6, though I’m itching to get out with one of the new Sealife iPhone housings for (much) lighter travel. (Disclaimer, sadly none of the photos below were taken with either of the above, so don’t judge the quality of the cameras on my photos!). Do consider the PADI Equipment Specialist to get to know your way round your equipment and how to fix any niggly problems that may arise.

Where to stay
I stayed at the most amazing Mahu Lodge. Built and owned by local Paul, it’s now managed by his wonderful son Johann – both of whom speak great English. Mahu lodge is no-frills simple, and the grounds are stunning: huge mature trees including Clove, Nutmeg and giant palm; hibiscus, fruit trees and expansive green lawns give you ample space to relax after diving. The rooms are basic, clean and some have a/c (which, due to the number of trees around, isn’t strictly necessary to be honest). Meals are included and you can ask cook to prepare the local “Papeda” – a seafood stew made from the local sago palm. (Be warned. It’s a texture thing, but it’s cooked right in front of you and it’s an … interesting process).

Splurge. There is no splurge accommodation on Saparua. There are no restaurants in Spararua to spurge on either. And you don’t have to splurge to get pretty much a private dive experience here, that’s just par for the course! You can rent a scooter to see the sights, though you can also hire a driver to do just that. I did splurge (£15) on getting back to Ambon for my flight, as it was Sunday and I’d forgotten the ferry (£7) doesn’t run. See the photo of my private speedboat below! Of course, you could do a liveaboard in the Banda sea which is most definitely a splurge!

Bonus
Do visit the old Dutch fort Benteng Duurstede in the town, and do not miss the detailed, superb but slightly dusty dioramas at the museum next door. You’ll have to hunt around for the keyholder but definitely worth it to learn about how these islands were once the very centre of the nutmeg trade and fiercely fought over. A few metres away is the market – see the sago I mentioned earlier, and a plethora of different fruits and vegetables. It’s incredible to read the history of these once fiercely fought over islands at the centre of the spice trade and realise that they have reclaimed their culture and way of life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banda_Islands

How to get there?
Fly to Ambon via Doha/Singapore and Jakarta, then take a ferry.
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Please join me in congratulating Ocean Turtle Instructor @alunsalt on the amazing achievement of #masterscubadivertrainer

To earn this accolade he has studied to become an instructor in five PADI Specialties and certified 25 divers in various courses. No mean feat!

#diving #scubadiving #padi #oceanturtlediving #sea #ocean #ukdiving #adventure #underwater #livingthedream
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One of our Ocean Turtle Diving Hatchlings, Maisie, has written this great blog that we wanted to share.

My name is Maisie, I am now eleven years old and earlier in the year I passed my Junior PADI open water and dry suit diver qualification in February 2020 when I was ten years old. I saved all my money I got from my family for Christmas to be able to pay for the course. The course was tough and being in February very cold; but the Ocean Turtle Team were incredibly supportive.

I got inspiration for diving when I went to Greece in 2019. I did a pool dive followed by scuba diving in the sea. I started then to realise I loved scuba diving.

I love going scuba diving to see all the sea creatures and I would like to start helping the underwater environment. I am planning to go diving in the Red Sea next year (2021) and to hopefully get my photographer diver course, to examine the different types of sea creatures from Egypt (Marsa Alam) and the UK (Cornwall or Porthkerris). I have done multiple dives in different places, for example: Porthkerris, Vobster, Wraysbury and Greece. I also practice and keep up to date with my diving by practising my skills in the swimming pool.

In the future I hope to become more skilled and one day get my Master Qualification and learn more about the underwater world.

Maisie

To book your Hatchling onto a PADI Junior Open Water Course click the link below. They can begin their self-study over lockdown. https://shop.oceanturtlediving.com/shop/diving/en/view-course/padi-courses/begin-your-learning-journey/padi/open-water-diver-winter-12701
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