Our instructor’s blog (Mike) of their open water weekend teaching …..
“As weekends go, Emily was in for a treat. With the other student cancelled due to an ear infection, her Open Water dives were always going to have a bespoke feel. One student to two instructors intimidating? You will have to ask Emily…
The weather at Wraysbury was glorious, a balmy 25 degrees at the picnic benches and 14 in the water! The visibility was also impressive 6-8m which is unheard of at the weekends – or maybe our instructors can just find the best parts to train in.
Having completed Open Water dives 1-3 with consulate ease, a discussion between the instructors evolved into a novel idea for Open Water Dive 4: why not use the dive to introduce Emily to some more exotic UK scenery? (I hear you asking, “What can be more exotic than an old bus and a shop mannequin?” I guess you can’t please everyone).
With an idea hatched, risk assessments reviewed and a few phone calls made, the Aquanauts team found themselves trundling down the M3 on Sunday morning – destination Swanage Pier. News of the exciting trip had travelled fast and the trio were joined by Emily’s boyfriend, Claudio, and Aquanaut regulars Chris and Greg. The 2 ½ hour trip might, on any other day, have seemed a bind but Greg was able to keep the van amused with fascinating and hilarious Rescue Diver stories (special thanks to Simon Davies for his contribution in respect of these!).
Arriving at Swanage pier the team, kitted up, briefed on the the impact of currents and making sure that additional weighting was added to compensate for the conditions, and were ready. The giant stride off Swanage Pier is an unusual entry – 1½ m drop – but no last minute nerves allowed a perfect start to the dive.
It is a great location for a first dive in UK coastal conditions. At High Water depths range from 4-6m and the sandy, rocky bottom means that visibility is normally ok.
The visibility under the pier was 4-6m and our new diver’s superb buoyancy meant we didn’t reduce that with fin full of sand in the water (Well done Emily). We spotted Edible Crab, Cuttle fish, Ballan Wrasse and Cuckoo Wrasse. Our divers enjoyed the colourful UK anemones and kelp fields – certainly there is enough here to occupy a diver for a couple of relaxing, shallow dives amongst the pier structure. And it’s a brilliant place to practice your macro photography skills.
The sea temperature was 12 degrees on Sunday and our newbie diver coped admirably in a 5mm wetsuit with 4.5mm shortie over. So the UK season is well and truly open for those who haven’t discovered the joys of Dry suit diving. But why not take a dry suit specialty course and enjoy the diversity that UK diving offers, all year round?
The Aquanauts instructing team were thinking that with the summer now threatening to disrupt the UK for a a few months (if only occasionally), there might be the appetite for another trip to the coast to explore some of Dorset’s other hidden treasures: Accessible from the shore and a great way to make the transition from puddles to salt water, it would be possible to include other adventure dives towards your Advance Open Water course (Navigation, Search and Recovery, Dry Suit, Under Water Photography and perhaps even a Night Dive). We can never guarantee the weather on the coast, but if there is sufficient interest we will look to come up with a package?
As it happens, Greg hadn’t exhausted his Rescue Diver Stories, so was able to use his narrative to send a bus full of tired divers into a gentle slumber on the trip home. Thanks Dan for driving!