Friday, October 11, 2013

Love this video! Not sure about the music. Almost fighting the urge to break the glow sticks out but more than made up by the truly epic footage;

And then this short clip from the same people for the intro, nice footage and the better more ambient music;

Sunday, September 22, 2013

OC Trimix Diving Alive and Well, Don't Believe The Hype - A Trip Report From SS Warilda

Everything Above;

I had seen a few videos of dives done on the SS Warilda and each one looked as amazing as the last. 20m visibility extremely intact super structure of which there is loads and if you're in to, enough squidgy stuff to keep the most avid fish freak happy for as long as your gas will allow. Being in the middle of the Channel and at a depth of between 51 and 42ish metres it is perfect Tech1 level diving. With amazing vis common here that is rarely seen on wrecks closer in to shore. Also to reiterate the wreck is albeit broken in two but largely intact as well as completely and I mean completely covered in fish life. All this topped off with a long overdue catch up dive with my buddy and fellow Tech1 course partner Rob Waran makes for a very happy diver. I was chomping at the bit to this dive and after some tooing (sp?) and throwing I managed to get the time off and the van ready for 29th August.

All the dive kit, bedding and electronic entertainment

The dive kit assembled, gas analysed and ready to go.
I decided to drive down to Brighton the night before as ropes of was a bright n' early 7:30am. The back of the van was turned in to an appropriate nest for the night with a multitude of duvets, sleeping bags and pillows and of course all the relevant dive gear. One last minute mod to an old pair of wetsuit boots, as the appropriate sized ones seem to have gone walk about. Nothing my old friend stanley couldn't fix though and turned out to be more comfortable and less cramp inducing dive than their predecessors. After a pretty cushty sleep and an easy rise at 6am I headed down to the Marina which, I had managed to park 2mins away from on a long stretch of road with lots and lots of laybys, winning. I was feeling pretty smug at my new found stop over and even more smug as I was the first to place all my dive kit assembled by the marina gates, early!?.

My new MTF wetsuit boots, surprisingly comfortable.
My nest for the evening, again surprisingly comfortable
Despite everyone being ready, all 6 of us, at 7:30 we didn't leave until 8 for the very comfortable just over 3hour ride out there. Not quite mirror like but not a wave to be seen and enough room to swing a large dog, made for a boat load of happy divers. This combined with a brilliant skipper who regaled us with tales of diving of yesteryear, clear skies and beaming sunshine, you'd have been hard pushed to wipe the smile off my ever so slightly sea sprayed face. All of this combined with a few tales from Graham and Butch to keep everyone chipper.

This is in the middle of the channel!?! Look how flat it is. :)
Look at that smile.

Everything Below;

The dive could easily have been a disappointment. With so much excitement in the build up, watching videos, reading reports and researching info on the I can happily say it was far from it. The vis looked good as we looked straight down the shot (the guide rope to the wreck), the tide was barely running and our slack (time without water movement/tide) window was to be more than comfortable for the whole dive.

I politely allowed Rob to be the dive leader and deco captain leaving me to fire the bag on the ascent and be dragged round the wreck at his mercy. Then again I've never been very good at letting anyone else take charge. After what felt like for me a slow ascent I decided to take over and pull hand over hand down the shot barely injecting any gas in to my suit and none in to my wing. To be honest I like to get as close to feeling like I'm at free fall on the way down to the wreck, not least of all to conserve precious trimix (the gas we breath on dives below 30m made up of helium/He, oxygen/O2 and Nitrogen/N) but partly to get a little kick out of it. Not strictly DIR or GUE so I'm not advising it but boy it feels good racing down the shot and skidding to a halt just before chin hits rust. The visibility wasn't good though, it was bloody amazing! We could see the whole stern of the wreck with her list to port and she is massive. Like a lot of wrecks she is broken mid ships. After a quick nudge to remind Rob to reset his avg depth and time and a miffed returned look as if to say, "please, b!@ch I got this," we headed over the starboard side and swam down the wreck towards the nearest diver sized hole. We had swam probably 30m down the starboard side when we came to the entrance we had been looking for and the opportunity for some reel penetration. We had a quick swim around inside to check there was a way on. Another nod and Rob got the reel out while I tried to enlighten the situation. This is team diving at its best. I don't care what you say about solo diving when you dive with people you know and trust things just flow beautifully.

We spent 20-25mins inside the wreck, swam past some big boilers which, I presume to be for water aboard the ship, they were big but upon reflection perhaps not big enough to be the main boilers (I culd be wrong and they could be the main boilers so don't quote me on this, maybe someone more in the know could comment below), we continued to swim down some tight passage past some huge pit bull headed congers. We did find a find a way out but Rob being the pikey diver he is decided he wanted to save line and reel back to where we started from. God knows why, the reel was fit to burst and the paid out line looked to be a much needed relief. After our return we still had ten minutes on the wreck and our average depth was a joyful 42m giving us a much welcomed extra 5minutes with out being penalised in deco (deco - decompression is needed to allow time to let the on gassed nitrogen out of the body). Back outside we swam a little further along the starboard before we headed over to look at the sea and waves of fish covering the mid ship. Massive cod, pollock and lots of other well sized fish in large numbers. Because of this and despite the wreck being mid channel, perhaps slightly closer to France she does attract fishermen and is thus quite well snared with mono-filament and a few nets, nothing that isn't easily avoidable though.

Me and Rob spent another ten minutes swimming around in the sea of fish doing a loop before finishing our dive back where we started at the stern. We took a quick swim around and look at the propellor and rudder which is huge. The rudder has come away from the wreck and looks to be laying there ready to craned away. I couldn't guess how much it weighs though. We called the dive on 35mins and began our ascent. It is a real pleasure to look over the wreck as we ascend especially with so much ambient light. I need to remember this for the future to ascend slightly mid dive as it great to get a good feel for the wreck this way, probably something else I wouldn't suggest as the ensuing saw tooth profile could cause some silent bubble formation and I don't want anyone blaming me for a helicopter ride home,  perhaps one reason to slow down the descent and case the wreck out in good visibility before beginning the dive. Still she is an incredible wreck and we really only saw half of her 125m long hull. Definitely to appreciate this wreck I would like to do two more dives on her, one with a scooter and another to do some more ferreting. 

Deco was deco, bag shot, some new hand signals and facial expressions invented. We were both completely covered in rust so did the honourable thing and cleaned the rust off of each other. That is what buddies are for. You know you have been wreck ferreting when you both do barrel rolls on deco and the rust and squidge that falls out of the space between your tanks lowers the visibility. We did 30 mins deco, 3mins up, 15 at 6 and then 1m a min from there. Again the joys of diving with people you know and trust its such a joy. I always feel like it is such a shame to get out in that last metre where I could just stay, float and reflect for a while longer, the joys of a pee valve, thanks Graham.

Back on the surface the sun was still beaming down and the skipper smiling to greet us with a few fish he had managed to catch while we were immersed. The other 4 all dove together, Graham, Butch, Jon and Stephen and they were up about 10mins after us. Doing a slightly longer dive than us but who's counting. Smiles all round as we helped them de-kit back onboard. This is what UK diving is all about.

We steadily motored back lying down in the ample room on deck. Brighton Diver the boat we were diving off is huge with enough space  to put more benches in, this combined with only 6divers meant we could relax with out worrying about treading on anyone's toes, fortunate for me as this what I had cut off my wetsuit boots. It took about 3hours to get back as the wind picked up very slightly but I mean slightly it was still an extremely comfortable ride back and everyone looked happy.

Big massive thank you to Rob for organising this trip, it really was one of my best UK dives and such a joy to dive with a true champ. Thank you everyone else for being good sports and nice to meet you Jon and Stephen hopefully we will catch a dive together soon. GUE and OC trimix is alive and well in the UK, don't believe the hype.

Apologies for no photos below but the photos I got above definitely capture the mood.
Brighton diver. A mahusive brilliant dive boat with a great skipper and only 6 divers so loads of space.

Jon trying to get that all over tan on just one finger?
 Everything About The Wreck;

I have taken this without permission from I could paraphrase it but I would simply be changing what someone else has all ready written so here it is. To see the original please go here;

Vleggeert Nico19/09/2008
The Warilda was taken over for government service as a troopship during the First World War. After several voyages she was fitted out as a hospital ship and engaged upon the Southampton-Havre run. On August 3rd, 1918, when returning from France with about 700 wounded she was torpedoed and sunk with a very heavy loss of life. The weather was thick but the white hull and red crosses of the ship were fairly discernable.

The Warilda remained afloat for about two hours and then sank, taking with her 123 persons. The number saved was 678, including the commander, Capt. Sim, who was later decorated with the O.B.E. by King George V. Up to the time of her sinking the vessel had carried over 70,000 troops and wounded.

Warren Ivan25/11/2007
First dived by divers aboard the "Michelle Mary". The bridge bell was recovered 22.8.92 also seen on the dive was the main bell, this was recovered 26.8.92.
ref. used

Lettens Jan06/08/2007
7.713 tons. 16 knots. Adelaide SS Co Ltd Adelaide. Manned by Australian officers and (during part of her service) Australian crews. Torpedoed and sunk by submarine UC-49 in the English Channel 3 August 1918, while transporting 700 wounded from Le Havre.


passenger ship
date built:

weight (tons):
7713  grt
dimensions :
125.4 x 18.3 x 10.39 m
2 x 4 cyl. quadruple expansion engines
16  knots
yard no.:
IMO/Off. no.:

Thank you all the dedicated wreck detectives out there that have put so much work in to make wreck site such a brilliant resource.


Rob looking like he's about to perform some egyptian burlesque show.

Add caption

Sunday, April 21, 2013

It Is Always Nice To Go Away But Boy Is It Nice To Get Back.

Okay so I'm officially sitting back on UK ground and in the comfort of armchair in my front room connected to my internet eating a big beans, egg and bacon toasted sandwich. Ahhhh! I feel very relieved to be back in the comfort of everything that is familiar, I've done a good job of creating a comfortable cave for which to frequent so it is a joy to cocoon myself back in to all my creature comforts that said, I'm sad that I have left Malta behind, especially as the weather here is well typically British yet dry.

First off big thank you to Karen Hyde who was kind enough to actually offer to pick me up from Luton Airport when I arrived back yesterday afternoon. It was great to see you Karen and great to have a royal catch up. Always good to see true friends you haven't seen for a while and both talk non stop for hours on end about well everything. 

So..... my last week in Malta at Divewise. I was lucky enough to wear my equipment while doing quite a bit of guided diving on some of the amazing wrecks the Maltese coast line has to offer. I took some more guys from Swed Tech out and we dived the Um El Faroud (check this link out as it is 3D tour of the wreck from the 4th Element website.) What a wreck she is. Which to the non divers probably sounds like a bad thing but when a diver says that, he usually means it is a good dive. The wreck is massive with big long swim throughs and some good opportunities to practice some safe penetrations on a younger more intact wreck. What a fantastic end to my time in Malta.

I have to say Divewise have gone above and beyond the whole way. I wasn't the easiest person to teach and I'm sure at times the guys were pulling their hair out but thank you everyone for being so accommodating. Big thank you to Nev, Howard and Sarah (who I nearlly killed on land on the last night, again I'm so sorry Sarah : ) ) for being patient with me. And an extra specially big thank you to Viv and Alan who put me up for the last few days, it meant more than you can realise. Thank you.

I hope to go back out to Malta and would definitely return to Divewise some time in the future.

Things learned above;

Check a vehicle isn't in gear before you turn the ignition on to close the window while standing on the outside.

Take a walk around your hotel when you arrive and find out what is there. Something I did on the last day only to find an outside swimming pool.

When someone wants to have a moan about GUE to you (as a GUE diver) take it and don't wait 5mins until they stop to breath and then give them a perfectly constructed, conformed and concise response this will only lengthen the conversation you don't want to be having. (Not aimed at you Andrew just in case your wondering.)

Malta is a really good holiday destination. Perfect for diving, relaxing and walking/running. Good food, reasonably priced and they drive on the same side of the road.

Things learned below;

I can dive with a lot less weight. I had to give a student 3kilos off my weight belt underwater. Admittedly I was cold and wouldn't choose to do it but I can if for any reason I need to.

It still gets me a bit scared swimming in mid water leading a group with them behind me, with no visual reference other than my D timer. Which is weird because ascents in mid water don't scare me but swimming aiming for something does. Anyway I man up and get on with it but I still feel a certain arse clenching.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Photos as promised - Quick Update and Recap

 A bike I found underwater while diving with Andrew on his wreck diver speciality. It was a great dive on a landing craft. The only one used here and brought over to Malta from the UK. Andrew mapped the wreck while we had a good ferret about before getting up to some mischief on the return swim. Great dive. Especially seeing Andrew brimming with enthusiasm. I can see he has been bitten by the bug well and truly. It was also nice because I was allowed to dive using my kit which is familiar and perfectly fitted for me. Bit like getting in your own car and not having to move the seat. That added comfort which comes from using something lots.

 Above another photo from Andrew's wreck diver speciality. 
And below me putting my twins together again. Always always puts a smile on my face. This was pre a dive on Manoel Island on the X127 which, was a barge used to pump drinking water to troops on Malta during the second world war. I got a chance to dive with a load of the guys from Swed Tech which, is a DIR style diving organisation based in, you geussed it Sweeden. These guys are all really cool. Also great to see some younger faces doing tech diving, a sport predominantly dominated by crusty old men. This dive was hilarious as I was guiding two divers and accompanied by another diver. The wreck is only small and there were 9divers on it all wearing very very similar equipment. All good fun and didn't loose anyone even if I did have to do quite a few double checks to make sure those eyes were part of our team. All very competent divers and an absolute pleasure to feel at home diving with people who do everything under water the same as me. There is no way of knowing how relaxed and pleasurable it is to dive with a group of well trained DIR divers with out actually doing it (right). I know this is contraversial still in some circles but to be frank and to look at the facts anyone who dives a twinsett and doesn't do stuff this way is fast becoming the minority. Very odd when only a few years ago even the mention of DIR and people got their backs up. I once trolled a post on a forum about this asking the question if GUE has achieved what it set out to do. This was met with up raw but looking at the divers I see traveling around all diving as a team, practicing skills and refining techniques. The bar has officailly been raised and this has snow balled out to the whole dive industry which, is great to see.
 Me showing off my BCD (bouyancy control device), something I was not that familiar diving in before starting my DM but has become second nature, it is the same kit the students use and make things simpler for them. 

This is a photo of me giving the briefing to one of the groups of Scouts. Great fun ad great to see so many young faces really enjoying all things diving.

Last but definitely not least I have had an opportunity to do a try dive on the JJ rebreather (can't express how awesome this is) but I am going to save my thoughts on this until the next post where I should have some HQ (or at least better quality) photos of me diving on it. Wish me luck. My bubbleless adventure starts here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dive dive dive, dob dob dob - Do What You Love

I've been busy working like a camel in the dessert for the last week. Hence the lack of daily updates. I'm not sure you my loyal readers would appreciate a daily update so it is probably convenient for me and a relief for you to read this update a little later than the rest. Anyway as Mr T would say, "quit your gibber gabber fool."

This last week has been a roller coaster of progression. Where I have skipped from feeling as if I have made giant leaps to perhaps this whole thing isn't for me. It is tougher than I could have imagined when I booked the trip out here. I that I had no preconceptions before coming out here however, I must have as I feel kind of hard done by thinking that I should be on some jolly holiday on the beach by 4, enjoying a BBQ with the customers. Having said that I need to be kept busy and that I certainly have been. Idle time may be the Devil's play thing, and as most of you know I love to get in to scrapes of one sort of another so the long hours and 6working days a week satisfies my lust to be occupied.

I have been doing a lot of donkey work this week but it is fun to try and keep the whole thing organised especially when teaching 20 Cub Scouts and leaders. I have been fortunate as well that I have had a lot of opportunities to give briefings explaining the basics of SCUBA and the ins and outs of the DSD (discover SCUBA diving) program. The DSD is the introduction to SCUBA diving and is a very intensive 1-2hour mini course where a new diver is put through the paces with some skills and then taken on a little dive to see some of the cool stuff that exists underwater here. As mentioned I've done a good few briefings and I have also done the in water skills with some newbie divers. It is great to watch new divers get the hang of it and extremely frustrating to watch complete idiots struggle with the most basic things. It is! There is just no way around the fact that unfortunately due to the nature of teaching so much more time is spent working with the people who aren't naturally geared to doing this stuff. That said it is very rewarding to watch people succeed when it hasn't been easy for them. It has amazed me to see some of the things that people do when under the water. As Nev says DSDs are the building block for an instructor as this is where all the bizarre things are likely to happen and this has definitely been the case. It is good fun if a little worrying and tiring attempting to herd new divers as they take there first few unconfident fin kicks. I am still astounded and need to stress this point how some people take to it like a fish and others just struggle on regardless. Fair play to those dedicated few who are going to do it against the odds they are my kind of diver and all though sometimes frustrating, I will happily spend all day helping them perfect whatever it is they are struggling with, as I'm not sure I had the most stable start (more on that later) and the determination to do it no matter what is endearing.

I've been diving in a few places in Malta and the weather has been a comfortable 24'c on land. We have had quite a lot of wind here though and because of this have had to shuffle locations around to suit conditions. Alas even in paradise there is one thing we can't do anything about and that is the weather. I've been fortunate enough that I have been surrounded in my free time with some experienced tech divers who have taught me lots and probably allowed me to talk incessantly at them as I vent my days withheld and thus built up tech jargon. I have been on a journey away from what I know in the realisation that it is not possible to expect a student to be perfectly flat, frog kicking or complete a perfect in trim ascent. Nor is it probably safe and this realisation does not come easily. In fact it is slowly being bashed out of me. The recreational PADI training here is great and I don't want any of this last sentence to deter anyone's opinion of what Divewise does because, they are an awesome outfit and care passionately about teaching people well. Anyway blah blah there I go again being boring and looking way to deeply in to a simple activity that should be enjoyed more frequently on face value. Still if I didn't have an opinion to offer you wouldn't be reading this so.....

I haven't really done any diving for the fun of it (outside of courses and teaching) and haven't seen anyone except Anne Japan do any. Anne has now left for a few weeks and won't be back until the day before I go which, is a real shame. I really rate Anne as a diver and an instructor her passion for diving is so clear and I can see that in a few years time she is going to be a super tech instructor and diver. I've also had the opportunity to do the Divemaster skills with Sarah this week. I was awful at the swim tests all though I believe I passed, it was a struggle. Sarah helped me work through the skills from the previous circuit that I had done badly. I was blown away by her detailed teaching style. I love working on the finesse of the skills to make them as perfect as possible and Sarah seemed only too happy to help me. I really enjoyed the in water stuff with Sarah. We worked on CESAs (controlled emergency swimming ascent - what you would do if you (which you never would be) were out of gas and had to swim directly to the surface), Kit exchange (where two people swap kit underwater while sharing one regulator (buddy breathing) designed as a stress test) I really enjoyed it and found it easy and fun barring the few glugs of swimming pool inadvertently consumed and finally weight belt removal and replace. The pool was a toasty 26'c even still I was cold by the time we got out all of a couple of hours later. All done and as far as I know all passed.

I went out last Saturday to reggae night on the island, in a club that is outdoors but under a huge canopy with trees growing on the dance floor. the club was very cool and made me wonder what the whole experience was designed for people who enjoy dancing around fields, hugging trees covered in nothing but body paint with huge pictures of Buddha dotted around the place. ;) I saw the event on facebook and left a message to see if anyone would share a taxi. I got a reply and went to meet a guy who turned out to be from Scotland. The night was awesome and Fraser the guy who replied to the facebook message turned out to be really cool. The night was great, especially hearing quite a few tracks from bands I have seen live over the last few years at festivals always feels strange hearing music I would choose to listen to when miles away from home. Also not forgetting of course the sexy hippy chicks which I can't help falling for and were in abundance. Alas I was so tired from working all week I snuck of early at 2am to go home and sleep through Sunday. It was nice to go out in Malta though. I have been sensible and stayed in every night so far in a vein ditched attempt to save money but more so to help me with training. That is it for this week. I hope where ever you are reading this you are doing what you love.



P.S. I promised photos and I will come through in the next couple of days.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

First Off, First Aid - The Recovery Position

I have had an awesome few days and have hastily crammed lots in. Earlier on in the week I did both parts of the First Aid course with some instructors in training and instructor trainers watching on. All very enlightening. The CPR speed is a lot slower than I would have presumed and in the heat of the moment, even with the dummy it was quite easy to get drawn in to going much faster than necessary.  Later on that day I was fortunate enough to get to practice on a real dummy! Upon returning to my flat there was a gentleman swimming in what can only be described as barely digested food while adding to the ever expanding pool he had created for himself. I want to mention it because it was a surprise to me when I finally did get some words out of him he wasn't British or Irish. I know shocker right?! Anyway what was the point. Oh yeah. So being the newly qualified Emergency First Responder I leapt in to action with a bottle of water and after some contemplation around the good Samaritan part of my conscience a pillow. I placed him in the recovery position and left. He seemed chuffed with his new purchases and I must admit it felt good helping someone. I decided to leave him in what looked barring the sick, a pretty comfortable position to sleep it off for an hour, while I went for a run. At least I planned for an hour. I'm so glad to be out in Malta training for the big run, rather than back in the UK at the moment where the thought of sticking shorts on and going outside it bordering on crazy. After 45mins of beautiful running I love running on the road at night here, I decided to ask someone which way I needed to head as nothing looked familiar. The old gentlemen profusely explained that I needed to get on a bus and until after much explanation that Paceville is where I had run from he reluctantly told me which direction I needed to run, although and he stressed this it was a very long way. Undeterred probably by naivety or some form of smug arrogance I thought the old man unknowing of my running skills that was until I had run for another 30mins and still couldn't see anything I recognised. I decided to ask another Elderly Maltese looking gentleman who I have to say all seem friendly and speak good English. This guy was shocked not quite as shocked as the previous guy but none the less expressed that I was miles away from Paceville. His friend however was on the same ship as my previous friend and he tried convincing me to get one of the many as mentioned before Arrriva buses which seem to be no more than two minutes away every where I go. Again naive and arrogant I march on undeterred. Another 15mins later and I'm running along familiar coastline still not home but no longer feeling confused by every turn I take whilst desperately looking for the one big sky scraping that, I stupidly thought would be visible from most of the 19mile wide island. This said my training really needs to step up a gear I know this consciously and haven't done too much about it and this could well be my subconscious kicking in. The gentleman, the bottle, the pillow and thankfully the sick were all gone upon returning home.

Back to diving and I have been fortunate to go to a few different beautiful shore spots here on Malta this week. That is the beauty of diving here as many spots are well set up to easily access good diving from the road side. I have also enjoyed taking out a few different nationalities of divers or people discovering diving. It is so apparent to me that diving is universal. Helped as the only form of communication is a limited number of hand signals, everything else becomes translated through the eyes. That is why it is so rewarding to see people's faces light up as the ocean comes alive in front of them. Words  literally can't and probably shouldn't describe it.

I've had some great fun with Nev and Howard this week while we drive about all over the island picking people up, diving and dropping people off. Nev has been teaching me some above water tips that I won't write here but needless to say I will remember them. I have also cracked on with some of the required stuff for the Divemaster course. For some reason unbeknown to me I have hesitated with doing more and tried where ever possible to slow the course down. It is stupid really because I would be very comfortable doing the course in the estimated time. I think it is the rebel in me that wants to fight the norm and challenge any flaw I see. The challenge for me over the next few weeks is to be more accepting even when at first I want to question I need to learn to go with the flow. This said where I have been putting up barriers Nev, Howard, Sarah and Anne Japan have been putting me straight, I do really feel for them as I'm sure over the last few days I have driven a few people mad with my questioning of everything but I'm so happy with what I have learned. My head is becoming more and more crammed with knowledge this is extremely gratifying to feel I am learning lots. It is difficult taking some of the stuff on board that, my tech training doesn't agree with and I  really mean that, it is a massive internal battle that is often spilling out externally in the form of tech diving tourettes and unlike the stand up comedian with tourettes who was on the TV program The Undateables recently, my outbursts are less funny and more like the kind that would make you cross the street if I you were walking towards me.

Again I simply can't stress this enough Divewise have been such a professional outfit. I'm also chuffed as I have completed all my knowledge reviews which are the small quizzes at the end of each chapter in the DM book and a prerequisite for completing the course. Then the 120 questions Divemaster exam of which, I only got one wrong. I was chuffed, then on to a skills circuit where 24 SCUBA and Skin diver skills are demonstrated by me in the same way they would be demonstrated to a student on a course. I did struggle with a couple of the skills. Namely weight removal and replace due to my 12.5kilo weight belt that I required for use with my drysuit. I did however demonstrate an almost perfect kit removal and replace off the bat with no practice what so ever. I have to say the skill was explained to me very well by Howard and who with out which, I'm sure it would have been a lot more of a cluster fudge. Still with nearly all of the skills completed and only a couple that required further work I was very happy. For some reason I have created a huge pressure on myself to perform well. I think it is because I have some experience and probably more over the fact I have a massive gob that loves to dig me a nice grave that I like to skip around from time to time.

I'm really enjoying myself at the moment and can't wait to see what the next few days bring. Today I am taking out a fellow diver on a fun dive and I'm allowed to dive in my full twinset. Yes!!!!!!!

Things Learned Above ;

CPR is 100-110 compressions a minute. This is easy to calculate with a metronome.

Things Learned Below ;

Doing all the skills in a drysuit with a big weight belt is neither fun nor sensible.


Monday, March 18, 2013

BCD's and Single Cylinders - Listening To Gabba

Over the last couple of days I have been able to get stuck in to my Dive Master course here at Dive Wise in St Julian's in Malta. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be working with Anne from Japan. Known here as Anne Japan. In the morning we went to Manwell Island and did a check out refresher dive with a student who hadn't dived in a while. This was after we had spent some time working out how to use the key fob to get in via the automatic gates that allow entry to the site. The spot is perfect for check out and refresher dives as it has both easy entry and exit points and remains very shallow with a small number of fish to be seen swimming about us. The student had some difficulties probably due to her long dry spell but nothing that we couldn't over come with the nice slow dive that ensued.

I was slightly under weighted but Anne Japan sorted me out with an extra kilo just enough to allow me to take the squeeze off my suit. Once I had added the weight I felt comfortable even in the unfamiliar kit of a single cylinder and BCD. We did some of the basic skills such as reg recovery and mask removal and replace all done in the correct PADI way. Again I was chuffed that this all came to me very easily as I have been doing things the GUE way for a while and was worried that unlearning this was going to be a nightmare. Believe me when you have practised skills a certain way in quarries time and time again back in the UK, the idea of doing them differently is slightly daunting but fortunately my fears were unfounded.

Later on in the day I was to be helping Anne with a couple of OW students in the pool. We covered a whole host of skills that I won't bore you with here but needless to say I was impressed with the amount we covered and the effort put in by Anne. She is a tough instructor to please and this makes her students all the better. We reran through everyone of the skills she felt needed a little more je n'ai se que. Both students looked very tired and confessed to be so when we were packing the kit away later than planned. Both were happy though and I know they will be better divers for it. Afterwards we went back to the dive centre and packed everything away. It is also worth noting that we weren't the last van back. Testament to how hard these guys work.

I got back to my room at 7PM and grabbed a quick bite to eat over the road before heading back for another bout of food narcolepsy. Falling asleep at 8PM on a Saturday night is not a good idea when your balcony faces Paceville, the local party central of the area. As you can probably guess I awoke to find the town alive at 2AM with all sorts of music pumping at the same time while pissed up people trundle up and down the hall way celebrating their achievements of drinking themselves in to an unsociable state. The only thing I can describe it as, is like living in a squat with Gabba playing at a ridiculous volume all hours of the night while incoherent people talk as if they were standing at opposite ends of a tennis court. I'm thinking of writing to the American's as I think they have missed a trick at Gwantanamo bay.  Still for €9 a night I can put up with one night of loudness and besides if I hadn't passed out so early I wouldn't have woken up. Anyone who knows me, knows I can sleep through anything. Literally anything. I once slept through my room mate breaking in to our bedroom after half an hour of banging on the door before climbing from another window in to the window of our room and violently shaking me because she feared the worst.

Today I was blessed to spend the day with Nev one of the owners of the centre and go out with some qualified divers on a guided dive. Well that was the plan anyway. In diving as with anything the best laid plans go to waste. On this occasion the problem was as simple as a regulator leak meaning I surrendered my kit to one of the students being guided. If I'm honest I was quite happy to do this as I was tired from over sleeping the night before and it meant I could make repeated trips to the snack van parked up on site. The dive site looked interesting but the weather was still not quite perfect with the wind blowing slightly on to shore creating a small swell making both entry and exit a bit of a coffufle. I helped the students set the gear up, do buddy checks and then helped them down to the water. I'm so happy doing this stuff. I feel relaxed working with the students and Nev seems happy letting me do it which, makes me even more comfortable that I am doing it right. With only a couple of pointers about how to demonstrate just to make it easier for the students to understand. Because of my surface cover day it means I have been able to get that signed off as it is an essential part of the DM course and is critical to understanding the logistics of running a dive operation.

Back at the dive centre I have been helping all the rebreather guys analyse their gas which I'm sure sounds strange to say but I really enjoy doing this. Watching them tinkering with their rebreathers I can't help planning ways I can buy one. My passion as has been mentioned is tech diving. Big thanks to Ad ad Mic, who without their enthusiasm being shown to me I may not have picked up the taste for helium. I'm not sure it was intentional on their part and I'm not sure when they gave me a CD with the Scuba Guys video of Narvik 2005 on it that they knew that it would have quite the effect on me that it did but here I sit having been surrounded by divers all day talking about diving and thoughts pretty much dominated by diving and upon finishing work (ha if you can call it work), I go to the restaurant (mainly to use the free wifi) and eat my dinner whilst watching some dive videos uploaded to DIRx ( dive forum Here ( / I love this stuff. It does make me think that really my passions lye away from teaching recreational divers but I suppose we all start somewhere.

Things Learned Above ;

Nev is a legend! Super chilled out and passionate about what he does, like all the staff I've met here at Dive Wise.
Falling asleep before necessary is not a good idea on Saturdays in Paceville.

Things Learned Below ;

I'm comfortable and relaxed when working with students. A feeling I wouldn't have said was common place for me but seems to just happen naturally while I'm doing this stuff.
I can do skills the PADI way with no drama.
Diving with a BCD and a single is not difficult or even massively more cumbersome which, I thought it would be as it is something I haven't done since 2007 when I did my Advance Open Water.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Getting Settled - Pizza, Beds and Briefings

First off I suppose I should mention that which I am most excited about. This morning upon arriving in the centre Alan turns to me and says I will be getting to have a go on the JJ , he may have been joking or maybe not but what he doesn't know yet is I am now going to be like a dog with a bone and not stop until I've satisfied my rebreather thirst. That feels like an expensive sentence as I type it and I can feel the ever increasing charred remains of what used to be my pockets getting hotter.

Anyway back to other more pressing issues. Everyone at Dive Wise are amazingly friendly. I literally could not feel more relaxed and at home here. My room has turned up more surprises in the shape of a fourth bed which doubles as a sofa.

Today I went in to the centre for a Dive Master orientation with Sarah or Soogle as she is affectionately known here. The reason for her nick name is because she is the fountain of knowledge and I am informed if I have a question she is the lady to ask similar in ways to Google. Sarah did a great job of making the boring task of going through some of the slides as interesting as possible. This may be an unfair statement as some people may find the slides fairly interesting however, I was not ever one for school or sitting still for longer than I deemed necessary. Still it was fairly fun, nothing major new covered but one essential part over and out the way.

Alan the owner then asked me if I would like to go for a car ride with him. We had a talk and for some reason I got quite emotional still I'm hoping for the sake of my man hood and pride I kept it hidden (I realise I'm publishing this online, proving the point it is incredible what people will write online.) I mean this when I say it. I am completely amazed at Alan's positive friendly attitude towards life. It is great to have a good role model to look up to especially as a large part of this course is learning how to become a good role model. Something which, in the past I have not been very good at. I have bent and broken most of the rules and luckily lived to tell the tale and had the balls to publish it online. I feel this is important as it can stop people making the same mistakes and not being as lucky as me.  This is something I'm sure Gareth Lock agrees with me here.

People for so long have tried to put me off working in the diving industry because there is no money in it. This is true it is difficult to make a decent living diving, these people have forgotten that money does not equal happiness though. Ha the naive opinions of a 24 year old. Anyway Alan seems like a great guy and kept asking me what I want to get out of my time here. My answers were simple, fun dives, DM cert, some specialities required for DM certification, experience with a very busy dive out fit and some sneaky squeaky mix dives of which Malta has lots to keep me busy.

I suppose before I go any further I should elaborate on the horrible looks I got when I pulled my DIR compliant kit out of my bag and then again when I sorted it all out this morning. Apparently it is not good for the students to see me in different kit however most of the instructors dive in single piece harnesses with wings when they dive for fun. This raises the question why on earth are we (and by we I mean the majority or the diving industry) still in the dark ages of teaching in rubbish kit that even the instructors won't use given the choice? Anyway this is not a dig at Dive Wise or PADI or anyone, more a question I think needs to be worked up through the ranks. I know some people will argue that most people will never complete techie dives and thus not need better kit but the better kit costs the same and why are we working to lower standards of equipment for the average diver who has a 5 year life span. 5 diving years that is. I think this will change in the future as it is now so common place to see people diving single piece harnesses very early on in their diving careers. I do hope I'm right but I feel the dive industry has more to gain from selling everyone recreational kit then a completely new system when they progress to technical diving and this may be the factor that tips the scale.

Alan dropped me off outside my hotel which I have just discovered has a pool and a fully and I mean fully functional gym. YES! I mean all this for €9 a night. Seriously I feel like I am doing them an injustice. I went back to my nice heated room to do the knowledge reviews at the end of the first four chapters of the Dive Master book. Again not really my fortey (sp?) so I decided to get half way have a break return to the centre and then grab a humongous 20" pizza for an amazing €9. Wow! That is literally going to keep me fed for the next two days. Then back to my room to finish off the last two chapters. One last thing I was learned from today and more specifically from Alan is to stay away from the Maltese women because they are crazy. Something else Alan didn't know but I was quick to tell him is that they are exactly the type I go for. In fact just before I started writing this I was walking down the street and I copped a glance from a girl who has dyed her hair bright green. I mean this glance was more like a 10 second staring match before I remembered what Alan had said and decided to head the warning.

With all the knowledge reviews done I passed out from what can only be known as symptoms of food narcolepsy. I woke up feeling awesome it is so nice to wake up and realise you have no places to be or go. I decided to go out for a run as the Marathon is gaining on me faster than I'd hoped. Despite this morning the wind being much decreased from yesterday it has seemed to kick up again this evening so running was, well refreshing. I can not believe how much I love being by the sea. I had forgotten how different the air is. I love it!

Lessons Learned Above;

Money does not equal happiness.
Sea air is the best! 
Please sponsor me the Virgin London Marathon is 5weeks away and I am doing it for a good cause ;
Stay away from the Maltese women, more on this to follow.

Lessons Learned Below;

Still N/A yet.
This first post comes to you straight from Malta where I am completing my Dive Master course with Dive Wise based right in the heart of the beautiful town of St Julian. The blog has been a long time waiting on the back burner as has the DM course. Anyway here goes;

I decided to come out to Malta to do the DM course because I have heard good things from a lot of people that have been here I am also running the London Marathon for charity this year and as result thought training in Malta would be more enjoyable (please sponsor me here - Dive Wise also has a sister company Tech Wise which concentrates on everything techie which is my real passion. I'm hoping while I am out here doing the course I will have a chance to dive some of the deeper wrecks and do a spot of cave diving. Malta is a very small island 60miles south of Sicily and 160miles north of Libya. The dive season really kicks of in May and ends in October. Ryan Air and Easy Jet do very cheap return flights for less than £250 including an extra 20kg sports bag of which I managed to squeeze and extra 0.2kilos smashing apart my preconceptions of Ryan Air and their baggage policy.

The journey out to Malta was fairly uneventful after a rush through the Luton airport due to my perfectly on time (not early enough) arrival I boarded the plane with not a second to spare. I had reserved seat 1a right next to the front door. I'm not sure why but this gave me a sense of some increased safety at a premium. I think in reality the fact is that, if we crashed no one would have gotten off but I still felt safer knowing I wasn't going to have to barge my way through cattle class in some vein ditched attempt to save myself while the plane turned in to something from a hollywood special effect scene.  This feeling was increased when the safety demonstration was performed the row behind us out of site of us, as if to say, "you guys next to the emergency exit don't need to hear this safety briefing because your the only ones who are going to survive." The flight was slightly delayed as they had to de-ice the plane. I say de-ice what I actually mean is defrost the frozen layer of snow that had settled on the plane from the previous night. Good bye minus something degrees Celsius.

I arrived in Malta airport to find that no one was there to pick me up which in reality is probably my fault for a lack of communication. After some wandering around I decided to find the dive shop on my own which, fortunately didn't turn out to be too hard.  I had an enjoyable bus journey through some beautiful but slightly unfinished parts of Malta. I'm taken away by how at home I already feel here. The buses are all Arriva as they are at home and everyone speaks better English than myself. I arrived in Schlim (?) where I stopped at a cafe´ and caught my breath. Fortunately for the sake of breath catching it was blowing a force9 so this required little to no effort and was more to do with opening the air way than actually forcing oneself to breath.Breath caught I got taxi to dive wise. €17s the taxi driver charged me to travel all of about 1km but I wasn't going to let this deter me from feeling epic. 

I met Viv and Alan the owners of Dive Wise. Alan was playing with JJ's outside the centre with Richard Stevenson who for some reason I became to embarrassed to talk to. To anyone who knows me that will come as a shock as usually it is shutting me up that is the problem. I really hope I get a chance to post more here about the JJ, what I'm saying is I hope if I beg and plead they might let me have a play. This might come as another shock to anyone who knows me as I have been a die hard GUE ( / DIR diver for some years now and since discovering the ways of the force haven't looked back and as such haven't done training with any other agency in a while. GUE have a very clear policy on eCCR (electronic closed circuit rebreathers) they feel that the technology isn't there yet and the risk is not out weighed by the rewards, this is easy to say when you live in Florida where Helium is half the price than it is in Europe. They do however use a SCR called the RB80 which has many of the benefits of CCR without some of the major pitfalls.  Alas I can see the future, the futures black and the futures JJ, or at least bubble less.

Alan returned to JJ land while Viv showed me around the centre. The centre is great they have two class rooms, a massive kitting up area, two compressors, loads of tech and rec kit to hire and all the usual jazz. Viv showed me the kit room and the compressor and Helium, "you know the stuff that makes your voice go all squeeky," :) I'm sure my ego will recover later today at some point. I was some what alarmed to find out that I would be starting at 8:30am every morning and finishing at 6:00pm 6days a week. Woah! Here was me thinking I was on a jolly holiday. Still I know this means I will get absolutely everything out of the course that I can.

After the very thorough guided tour of the dive centre and the standard form filling in session Viv showed me where the hotel was that I would be staying in. I had booked the Hotel myself and was remarkably impressed what you get for €9 a night in the off season. I had a TV, heater, air con, balcony and 3 beds. Yes I said 3beds. From this moment forth I'm going to introduce myself to the local talent which, there seems to be an abundance of probably due to the 3 international language schools in close proximity to the hotel, as Benny 3 beds. More on this to follow.

On the way to the hotel Viv said when it rains in Malta it rains really hard and really fast. All of 30seconds later and we had a quick 5 minute torrential down poor just to make me feel like I'm abroad and some what in awe of Viv's weather girl skills.

I parted company with Viv at 3PM and agreed to meet back at the centre at 6PM. The centre was literally a 1-2minute walk from my hotel. I decided to quickly lay down and recoup post travelling. This was not a good idea although I feel somewhat more alive now some 6hours later after a fully clothed sleep, shoes and all. Fortunately for me I still have eyebrows as none of my friends were here to witness it.

A greasy chicken and chips to make me feel at home, a quick message home to counter tips the balance, the obligatory smug facebook update and off to bed to write this.

Lessons learned above ;

Ask Taxi drivers for the price first.
Call ahead and confirm arrival times.
Don't have a 5minute lye down with out setting the alarm.
Ryan Air aren't all bad. I think I had a total of 51.5 kilos so was over by 1.5kg and they didn't bat an eye lid. No excess charges and even a smile from the lady behind the counter when I expressed my concern.

Lessons learned below ;