Diving with Scuba Leeds in the Rea Sea

Scuba Leeds trip on Blue Melody Daedalus and St Johns Safari

The weekend the clocks changed I slept outside on the top deck of a boat in the Red Sea, the stars of the Milky Way clearly on show in the cloudless sky that was my ceiling.

I was one of the Scuba Leeds team on a trip to Daedalus and St Johns itinerary were Cato, Sally, Shep, Peter, Paul, Jenny, Ken, Abbie, Jake, Calab, non-diving Andy, and me. A small but perfectly formed group left Manchester airport headed to the sun in Egypt. This was my and Peter G’s second trip on Blue Melody this year this time we were headed south to Port Ghalib to join the safari exploring the southern Red Sea and for me to find and swim with Hammerhead sharks.

We arrived in Hurghada late in the day and had to transfer south to Port Ghalib where the boat was waiting for us. Safety film and briefing completed, passport handed over and disclaimer completed we had to set up or gear to ensure we had not left anything behind as we were going to be at Sea for a week and there was no coming back for a forgotten fin or mouth piece. At shortly after midnight I went down to my cabin and woke Leon who had arrive hours earlier on a different flight and been happily dreaming of sharks!

The first day had us diving after some breakfast, a check dive to make sure we were set up for the week. I was diving side mount, and using tanks that needed to be tuned in to be comfortable.

I dived all week with Cato and Sally, who both had instructed me on course during the year, feeling a bit of an interloper they took me under their wings and looked after me all week, improving my diving each time I got in the water.

First dive site was Abu Dabbab III. This was a quick (60 minute) check dive to fettle our equipment around. 63 minutes down to 17.3 metres. We stared of the weeks diving spending some time with a Napoleon Wrasse that was bigger than Cato. The check to identified that I needed to make some rigging changes and also to loose some weight as I was clearly too heavy with empty cylinders. When I came to enter the dive in my logbook I realised that this was dive number one hundred.

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We sailed on to the afternoon dive site and a visit to Elphinstone and our first shark encounter we were circled by an oceanic white tip as the boat was tied up. This had disappeared by the time we were in the water. The water all week was a nice 27 and 28 degrees which was a bit of a change from the weekend before in the Farne Islands where is was 12!

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Blue O Two describe Elphinstone Reef as a finger shaped reef, with north and south plateaus covered in hard and soft corals, unpredictable and exciting this truly is an awesome reef where hammerhead sharks are regularly spotted in the summer and oceanic white tip sharks often congregate in large numbers during late autumn.

After diving here we sailed on over night to St Johns where we spent a couple of days and managed to get in six dives including one night dive. We dived the following sites, Gota Kebir, Umm Aruk, Dangerous reef (day and night) Gota Soryr, and Umm Kharalim.

Blue O Two describe St Johns as follows; located on the Tropic of Cancer, this chain of reefs boasts stunning dive sites, most of which are very close to each other allowing you to move quickly and easily from one place to another. This adds a lot of variety to your dives; drop-offs, tunnels and stunning hard-coral formations. One of these dives (St Johns Caves or Umm Kharalim) is truly unique and is a photographer’s heaven with rays of light filtering through into the beautiful tunnels. The reef formation is not the only thing that will stun you at St Johns; the marine life and colours of the soft corals are some of the best in the Red Sea. With any luck, dolphins or pelagics will join you on your dives and St Johns will forever have a place in your heart.

The dives we completed were a mix of deep and reef dives and also Caleb was able to complete several of his dives needed for him to achieve his deep speciality certificate. These were a great series of dives and on Gota Soryr we had dived to 40 meters and as we moved to the surface at the end of the dive we were joined for our safety stop by a turtle who stayed with us mooching around and escorting us back to the boat.

Diving side mount meant that we were able to get the full benefit of both the depths and time available and this brought a new challenge to my diving and that was diving to no decompression limits rather than the amount of air I was gulping down.

St John offers some great dives and a real mix of soft and hard coral and plentiful sea life, still no sharks though! Listening to Shep describe the differences between different fish in the same family made me realise that I know nothing about what I was seeing. I will ask for a book for Christmas and learn more before I visit again.

The morning dive on St John’s was the last one and we sailed on to what was for a short while to be my favourite dive of the week. We stopped at Fury Shaol for a day into night dive on Sataya Reef.

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This large cluster of reefs offers unforgettable and easy dives. From the northern site of Small Abu Galawa to its most-southern site of Sataya, Fury Shoal can prove to be surprising and diverse. Each dive site has its particularity: from dolphins, to stunning hard coral formations and not forgetting the two little wrecks “Tug Boat” and the “Yacht”.

A late afternoon dive as the sun set, we dropped in the water just after 4pm. The plan was to swim out along the edge of the reef against the current and then drift back to under the boat and spend the rest of the time investigating the reef under and around the boat, max depth 30 meters and time 60 minutes. We dived the plan, the swim out along the edge of the reef was stunning and there were shoals of Barracuda out in the blue. As the sun started to drop the fish on the reef were everywhere and really active swimming in large groups as the sun dipped down and the reek darkened the large groups of fish disappeared to be replaced with different ones, we spent ages watching Goat fish (Shep would know which ones) hunting in groups for their dinner in patches of the sand. They would swim around the area very fast and then all dive in to the sand throwing it up in clouds and striking down on their prey before swimming round whilst the sand settled to do it again. There were very clearly rich pickings. The darkness brought the moray eels out into the open and the lionfish were using the light from out torches to locate their prey. This truly is a great time to be under the water and was the best dive of the trip, to that point.

After the dive the shop on board opened and started to sell goodies, there was no way I was going to buy anything with a hammerhead on it in case is cursed my luck. Team Cato Ball Smith did all buy matching jackets!

The next night was spent a sea sailing to Daedalus and its famous lighthouse.

Daedalus is described by Blue O Two as: a huge tear-drop shaped reef rises from the sea bed in the middle of the Red Sea, 80km offshore and more than 300km south of Hurghada. Easily recognised by its zebra-striped lighthouse, this reef offers some of the most amazing dives in the Red Sea. The sheer walls are covered in over-grown hard coral formations and a variety of reef fish. Napoleon wrasses and turtles are often cruising by, but make sure you keep your eyes open on the blue! Daedalus is one of those places where anything can happen… oceanic white tip, grey reef and thresher sharks are often sighted, but Daedalus is most famous for its scalloped hammerhead sharks which can often be seen in large schools out in the blue during the summer months. The sheer size of this reef means that you can do several dives here and never get bored!

My pulse had moved up a few beets and I had vivid dreams of sharks, boy was I excited. Not only sharks but also diving from a Zodiac, great!!!!

The plan was to ride to the north side drop in where the current split and swim into the blue spend a bit of time at 30 metres and just see. Swim back in towards the reek pop up an SMB and zodiac back to the boat. No guarantees of seeing anything!

There were a few boats already here and our first dive was to be one of the last first dives, we saw other divers returning and could see that they had indeed seen hammerhead sharks.

We set off in the first Zodiac and after getting the signal we rolled off and into the water. As soon as I levelled off I saw an arm out pointing to an oceanic grey shark. As I turned I spotted a group of about 50 barracuda swimming in the blue. As we moved out away from the reek into the blue I spotted two Hammerheads swimming below us I slowly dropped and hit the thermocline at 30 meters. Next time I looked I could see three and then five and finally seven. The sharks were stunning and just, as I had imagined. They were at about 40- 50 meters just a bit too far away to see real detail but close enough to realise how wonderful a creature they are. With computer alarms going off I was soon time to start to ascend and to head back towards the reef and the zodiac back that 50 minutes felt like one of the shortest dives ever made.

After two and a half hours we were back in the water, we dropped off the rib and descended into the blue. Oh boy, I was swimming with 15 hammerhead sharks they were above, below and at eye level swimming around me about a meter away from me. I could see the eye following me as they swam past. My dive alarm was chirping as I had forgotten to move the depth alarm to 40 meters and I was at the end of my range in the thermocline with these beauties. Then I looked up to see a massive manta ray swimming away in the blue another first. I spent the first tem minutes at 40 meters followed with 10 more at 30 meters and then another ten at 20 meters, all of this time in the company of hammerhead sharks. As we moved back up the water warmed and we swam back along the reef wall past one of the largest corals I had ever seen, (I missed this first time). There was also the sight of a diver that will forever be etched into my eyes each time they are closed. Budgie smugglers are not for the 20 plus stone gent diving in a skin that allowed his form to spill over the straps of his harness, I hope that your imagination allows this image to be shared with you.

For the final dive of the day Sally and I decided not to take the rib but to spend time under the boat, and this also paid of as Sally and I died along the edge of the reef next to the blue at about 30 meters Sally started pointing below us and I saw a thresher shark swim over the reef directly beneath us. As we headed for our safety stop white tip sharks swam around us at five meters.

We spent another day and three more dives at Daedalus what a place:

Dive one – Grey reef shark, Barracuda’s and seven hammerhead sharks

Dive two – Barracuda’s, fifteen hammerhead sharks and a manta ray

Dive three – Thresher shark, Barracuda’s and white tip sharks

Dive four – Grey reef shark, and two hammerhead sharks

Dive five – White tips sharks and Barracuda’s

Dive six – White tip sharks

There was only one day and two dives left and I was having some problems with my ears so I decided that this was a good place to end my diving in the Red sea for the year.

A quick summary of the year 4 minutes short of 22 hours under the water, 30 dives. Including visits to the following wrecks, Giannis D, Carina, Chrisoula K, Dunraven, Thistlegorm, Rosalie Moller and the Barge. Firsts included all of the sharks and the Manta ray.

If you haven’t been on one of these trips I cannot recommend these enough if you have you and I know we will be back on board again very soon.

Here are some pictures the shark one I have stolen from Jenny Cheesman who took them, thanks Jenny

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Red Sea Northern Wrecks and Reefs 2016

WE left a cold England to head to the Red Sea with hindsight Stephens little Peugeot while very capable was the smallest of our cars and letting Martin the smallest in the group sit in the front was not the best decision as we left Huddersfield the mad flaps kept the suspension from bottoming out.

THE car I was travelling in arrived last at the airport but being seasoned travellers we all passed through security first to see Neil, Josh and Peter being turned inside out by the ‘Border Force’. Of we headed to Frankie’s and Benny’s for breakfast and coffee. The waiter was not the fastest so we found that we ambled on to the plane last and made our way to the back.

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THE tail wind ensured that we landed in Hurghada 45 minute early; I managed to get some great shots of Mount Blanc as we passed the Alps. When I say Mount Blanc it was the highest hill I could see from the window. Josh and Martin had upgraded to a row alone and slept most of the way.

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WE got into Egypt without any of the trauma of leaving England we all looked like excited children and we grabbed our bags and passed through the airport. The transfer to the boat takes about ten minutes and we were welcomed no board like old friends, to be honest Peter was, but this was his eight trip! We picked our spot on the dive deck and set up our kit, mine was next to a 15li tank for obvious reasons and at times this was almost not enough!

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WE then went to the first of our briefings were we watched a safety film repeatedly in some parts. The most important thing to remember we were told is “when the bell rings feel you hair, if it’s dry its dive time, if its wet its food time”. This was to be a problem for Neville!

WE were allocated cabins and completed the paperwork had our passports taken to ensure we stayed for the whole of the week. After unpacking the bell rang feeling my dry hair I thought dive time only to be told no diving tonight that was the dinner bell. No wonder Richie was confused, the rule had been broken already. The food was great there was a great choice and as three of our groups were fussy eaters we often had alternate dishes on the table to share as well. I recommend that you go with a couple of fussy eaters to extend the choice at meal times. I had by this time found the beer fridge and was adding to my final account.

MORNING wake up drinks were ordered. Tea or coffee in bed what a treat, though as Josh had opted not to partake I felt obliged to also get up and make my own each morning. Eggs were ordered for breakfast what a choice and then you could add bits and extend the choice, Martin had spicy fried eggs!!!!

EAT, sleep dive repeat the T-shirt said. So soon it was bedtime! 5am the alarm went off. Not my alarm the one’s belonging to the other Martin who had to set up his rebreather. So I decided to sneak out of bed in the dark so as not to disturb Josh and heading to the urn to make a cupper as I was not getting one in bed only to find Josh had beaten my out so I could have turned the light on!

WE were at sea and headed to the first dive site, Poseidon Reef, when the bell rang for the briefing it was met with a mix of excitement and apprehension. The briefings throughout the trip were really clear with wonderful drawings and great descriptions that ramped up the expectations. With our buddies we were allocated wave to dive in to keep the amount of movement on the dive deck manageable. Soon we were gearing up for the first time. The team on the boat were very keen to assist with every aspect of kitting up and after the first dive they knew how we liked our set ups and which fins were ours, never bending down once in the entire trip to put fins on was special! As I was dry suit diving there was a trail of talc around my station, which the crew felt, may have been of Columbian origin! Buddy checked we were in striding off the rear of the boat. We had been told that the Red Sea is more saline that other seas but not 2kg more I hasten to add, I had no problems descending, we were off diving. After an all too short period we returned read Josh’s blog to find out what we saw. I dropped 2 kg after the dive and still had no problems descending.

Three dives on the first day the third of which, was my first night dive, don’t know why there is a PADI course for night diving, Josh and I have been in darker in Stoney Cove at 30 meters! I had great fun charming two lionfish that swam with me from the moment I turned my torch on. As a team we ate well that night me lighting up little glassfish on the sand and them coming in and pouncing on them. Thought they met their match when they had a go a boxfish. I enjoyed the night dive loads, the reef is very different once the sun has set.

BACK on the boat quick change and it was time for a beer and some dinner.

THE next day we had two wreck dives at Shaab Abu Nuhas the Canatic and Grisola K followed by a reef dive on the Alternatives. Well, the Alternatives. As one of the group was completing their deep spec course we needed to go a little off the plan to ensure we got enough depth. After ten minutes in the water Josh turned to me and used a non PADI authorised hand signal to ask me if I thought we were lost. His loosely held fist was bouncing off his forehead and he pointed at Neil. I signaled back that we had been here before. As we exchanged these signals Neil stopped and indicated he was deploying his periscope to have a look on the surface. As he had not packed the aforementioned periscope he popped topside for a quick look. Orientated he returned to us and we set off again. Unfortunately before we got were we needed I was at 70bar and we had to return to the boat. After completing our safety stop we all returned to the surface only to find someone had moved the boat, or perhaps we had got it wrong and instead of us being on the left (port) side our air had last longer and we were on the right (starboard) side. No some of the group were very discourteous about this and accused Neil of getting lost. At least we never had to come home in the zodiac of shame did we eh!

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THAT night I slept like a baby that was until I was woken by my cabin mate on his phone arranging for people to be towed home in his sleep!!!!

ON the third dive of the day I realised that I was feeling wet and had the feeling that my socks were full of water. As we returned to the dive boat it was clear that my dry suit was in fact wet! I had a leak. Whilst the rest of the gang were completing their night dive my suit had coke bottles in the wrists and a tank in the neck! The deck hands thought we were doing CPR as we were pressing down in the suit with our ear listening for escaping air. Soapy water failed to identify any escaping air. I assumed that I had had a problem with a seal so I hung it up and went for a beer.

The next day we dived Beacon Rock and the site where the Emperor Frazer sung in 2009. The Frazer was not one of the Blue O Two fleet if had been I am not sure we would have dived it. We were coming to the end of the dive and slowly ascending when we reached 12 meters I suddenly had problems maintaining my buoyancy and felt like I was running away to the surface I signaled this and Josh took charge he got me controlled and looked over my kit, as he did this I caught a look in his eye that something was not right but clearly he did not want to panic me. He indicated that if required to remember I could flood my suit by opening my neck seal! Odd I thought the suit is full of water already. I quickly checked and discovered one of my weight pockets was missing 4kg down no wonder I was struggling. I got to the safety stop and completed this and returned to the boat. Back on the boat Josh tells me he saw the pocket float to the sea bed at the start of the dive but as we all got down he though it belonged someone behind us. Clearly I was still over weighted. Fortunately Clinton had completed his dive with 4kgs extra and returned the pocket and weights to me a few minutes later. I emptied about 500ml of seawater from my suit. It was the Thistlegorm next so under suit was rung out and hung up to dry.

CHANGING buddies on this dive seemed like a good idea as I was consuming more air than the rest of the team despite using a larger cylinder, due to wet dry suit buoyancy issues so I thought is fairer I went with a group of newer divers and a guide. This was a good call as the guides were able to point out things that I would have missed. The first dive was over the decks looking at the anti aircraft gun, tanks and the steam engine and tenders all too soon the dive was done and I had 50bar. The second dive again was guided and we went into the holds. The guide who took me swam backwards and without a torch through all of the holds whilst pointing things out to me he knew the boat so well trucks, bikes, guns, battery, bath, toilet, then I was on 70bar the dive was over. On the line to the surface we held on for fear of the Zephyr of shame, as the current was raging there was a line of divers all at 90 degrees to the line, all with great big smiles on their faces. Who the heck had tied the mooring line was an unanswered question I had for the rest of the trip. As we moved off the mooring line there was a second line leading back to the boat. In the confusion I again managed to dislodge my weight pocket and this time it was not returned, Neil’s weight belt for me for the rest of the trip. This was my 50th dive completed. Not one to forget. Back on the boat I emptied 1000ml from my suit.

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I decided it was coke and cylinder time again. So I missed the night dive. This time I managed to locate a small leak from one of the rear seams. So we marked the suit and left it to dry. Once dry a patch was applied and weighted down. Needless to say that this failed to keep me dry, as the suit was new I decided to put up with the inconvenience and not attempt further repairs and return it to the manufacturer for them to put right. As I type this the suit is in a box in a post van headed back whence it came!!

Despite the wet dry suit, losing weights and sucking air like an Olympic rower I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would recommend anyone to give a live aboard a go. I have an understanding wife who lets me out without her that helps but honestly to dive some of the sites we dived you need to be on the live aboard. We were the only boat on the Thistlegorm I have seen YouTube were there are so many you risk getting on the wrong one I know we were spoilt Egypt is going through it at the moment but I would not let that stop you the people are great and the weather much better than at home.

 

 

 

 

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Whoah we’re going to Jamaica…

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…to the sunny Caribbean Sea!

My bags packed, my scuba gears packed, I have sun cream, shorts, hat, and plenty of time!

Never been to the Caribbean in fact I’ve never been on a beach holiday before. Being ginger the idea of sitting on the beach in 30+ degrees has never really done it for me. We went to Greece 26 years ago and I managed to burn the soles of my feet! That was well amusing!

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We have also not been away without the kids for 21 years. We have spent holidays with them in Wales, Scotland, Dorset, the states and New Zealand but never alone!

We have never been all inclusive before. The whole thought of having to battle with people for breakfast, lunch and dinner really turns me off years of living on hospital canteen food puts me off the whole idea.

So we’re of to an old Georgian colonial house that fronts an all inclusive beach resort where everything is included. Including the scuba diving!

The idea of diving in the morning, returning for a brunch, then some Red Stripe on the beach, before an hour sailing or learning to windsurf, before getting changed for dinner in a choice of al a carte restaurant. Finished off with cocktails on the veranda, before moonlight strolls along the beach.

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The resort pictures look wonderful, the pretty people in the brochure make the place look stunning with swim up bars, cabanas on the beach, over water hammocks, fire pits, and bathtubs on the balconies!

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I have booked our seats on the plane we are turning left when we get on and sitting upstairs! Thanks to @skybet and a six match accer that came in last weekend so that will be a bit special.

I also am planning on completing my deep diver speciality course when there I fancy seeing some of them wrecks that are a bit deeper and being able to dive to 40m gives a few more options. I also fancy diving in Widow Makers Cave. This is supposed to be an awesome dive, you enter the water and slowly submerge. At 12m you enter the chimney. Many people choose to go down feet first. Slowly drifting down to the chimney to the cave. The cave is conical shaped and as you swim around the cave you pop out of an opening into the blue Caribbean Sea at 30 meters. Here all depending on your air supply you drift along the reef, before ascending.

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But I am sure I can tell you all about it, better still I intend to give the GoPro some hammer and get some footage that I can post here.

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Thornwick Bay Shore Dive – @nicholassm1th

“Fancy another shore dive”, was how it started.

“Of course I do”, I need all the diving I can get, I am new and this it’s all exciting and each is a learning opportunity. After all I am diving in the Caribbean in 30 days.

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So Sunday we headed up to Thornwick bay in North Yorkshire. Go to Flamborough and keep going. If you fancy it the café postcode is YO15 1BD.

What a spot this is two of a series of bays on the east coast. Tide and winds were fine for a nice dive.

What had not been told until we were parked at the café was that access to the water was 40 meters down a cliff that had steps that had been washed away months ago and been replaced with a muddy groove!

We set of down to the beach to look at the entry and exit points. Exit first the boulders shown on the map are proper boulders all about the size of a gear crate but with the edges worn down by tide after tide after tide so that they were both rounded and mobile. In shorts and deck shoes they were quite easy to hope between. Back over the cliff we went to the entry point stopping at the top to look at the swim round.

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The entry point Little Thornwick bay a bay with several caves along either side, I will be back once I have completed my cave speciality.

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We had a plan made enter on the left side of the bay and swim around the pillars then head east until you can go no further then north till you can turn east again all the way back in to the main Thornwick bay for a exit and return to the van in the car park and finish with cake and tea.

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We started to carry the gear down to the little bay three trips, first BCD, regs and Cylinder. I had been kitted out with a 15 litre cylinder as I am a bit of a air hog and can suck 12 litres in a very shore time but I did notice that my consumption is on a downward profile. Then back up to collect fins, mask, gloves, hood and lead. This is the time I wished I could shed some weight. The final trip was to come down in dry suit ready to get wet.

The people out for the day by the beached watched on as we mountain goat like went up and down the cliff.

Buddied up of we went and had a great time looking in the chalky hollows for lobsters and crabs. We swam under kelp overhangs and found all sorts of interesting things a broken crab line and a hits of 1988 CD, ironically as we were at sea it was a pirate copy!

I though I dad seen a lobster but a closer look proved this not to be the case, we did find a couple of crabs resting under some of the boulders and there were some Wrasse not sure what type they were but we saw them.

As we rounded the headland the was a large hole in the cliff that we swam through to get out but there was not sufficient water there to swim out and the boulders were the size of old mini’s so we headed beck out to sea and swam further round. And came into the main part of the bay on the surface we headed to the planned exit point.

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How difficult is it to try and stand on rocking boulders, with a slight tide, whilst wearing fins, in two feet of water? Blood hard!

Then once you are finless and upright I surprised my self with all my gear on I set off up the cliff to the promise of cake and the toilet.

Half way up the cliff I had to step over the weight belt of one of my fellow divers who had completed an emergency weight drop! They could stay there I’ll go back for them I thought!

Back at the van in one go! Three to get down and only one to get up most impressive!

Thornwick bay shore dive ticked off done! The dive is not for the faint hearted its one heck of a climb down and then back up. But the cake in the café was very good.

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#PADI Advanced Open Water Done – @nicholassm1th

I have now got 15 dives under my belt and have now completed my Advanced Open Water certification.

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I completed the final two dives at Capenwray yesterday with @ScubaLeeds. I was diving with an instructor, dive master and fellow student. The deep dive caused a bit of excitement and reminded me that problems can happen to anyone at anytime. We entered the water and surface swam to the Duck! The duck marks the descent line to the sump! After the surface swim we caught our breaths on the surface. A quick reminder of the plan and final checks we began our descent. At about 12m my instructor signalled that he had a problem and pointed to his ears. He indicated that we should stick together whilst he went back up to clear his ears. As we hovered at 20 meters all looking up to see if he was returning we confirmed to each other that we were all okay. Whilst waiting we were joined by loads of perch who wondered what we were doing just hanging there. Then my buddy indicated that I had a small leek from my BCD inflator. I disconnected and then fumbled around trying to reconnect it. I had to remove my glove to reconnect the hose. The water was noticeably colder without the glove so it was quite nice to be reconnected and re-gloved. Not a major panic but a good demonstration that the training had sunk in and even at the deepest depth I had ever been to, without an instructor who was having problems, by remaining calm your training just kicks in.

The visibility was also great early in the day and from the sump we could see the outline of the flying saucer.

After ten minutes the DM signalled that we should return to the surface. We started our ascent and at 15 metres we were joined by the instructor who was now on his way back down with his ear sorted.

Back at 20 metres we completed the required drills, we compared our computers to Mares and to Sunnto these showed that there was point one of a meter difference between them at the same depth the Mares reading the same and deeper than the Sunnto which were also reading the same. We compared the colours on the dive slate and both the red and orange had become grey. The water bottle we had brought with us had compressed. We took the lid off of the bottle and filled it with air replacing the lid. As my buddy was completing his dry suit dive and had to remove and replace his inflator, second inflator hose of the dive reconnected with no problems.

We than swam towards HMS Podsnap a wooden minesweeper that lies on its side at 18m. The Podsnap was built in 1944 to clear mines in around harbour entrances during WWII. At 50’ long, with 14’ beam it has rested at Capernwray since December 1995.

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From the Podsnap we headed off to the cave below the oil-rig and Wessex. We passed through the cave which is a container that has been adapted for training purposes and headed to the plane and back to the training area below the entry point.

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As we were just about to stand up the biggest trout I had ever seen at Capenwray faced up to me this fish looked as long as my fore arm and had a head bigger than my hand.

Deep dive done, knowledge review done, one more dive to go.

The next dive was the multi level dive and was mine to plan. The plan was to Giant stride from the right hand platform. Descend down the cliff to the Hawker Siddeley. Swim around here for 10 minutes. Then swim to the Oilrig and Wessex swim around here for 10 minutes before heading back via the Cessna to exit from the beach on the left hand side.

While on the surface we also ran through the knowledge check and then I briefed the group of the plan.

As my buddy was completing their nitrox adventure dive, the instructor covered their knowledge review and tested the cylinders. Nitrox settings changed to 33% we clarified that 32m is the MOD. This meant that we would be safe on the plan as we would be going no deeper than 16m.

We entered the water and dived the plan. The Hawker Siddeley is a 748-passenger plane. It has a 30m wing span and was designed to carry 48 passengers during the 1980’s. The plane was last flown in 2006 and at one time it crashed from the runway at Guernsey airport!

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The fuselage was cleared out to allow divers access and then sunk in the quarry in 2010. We had a good look around before headed off the nose slightly left to the rig. After about a minute of swimming an a bit of a prompt I saw the oilrig off further to my left than I had planned but with a bit of a change in direction we arrived as planed. I had never looked around what was left of the Wessex before. The Wessex Dragonfly Helicopter was commissioned in 1943 and was flown from the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle. The last flight of the helicopter was in 1962 before I was born! Scrapped in 1991, she was bought by Capernwray in 1996 it now sits at 14m.

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From the rig we turned left and swam to the Cessna. We hit the Cessna front on and right where I thought is would be!

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After a few minutes we headed off towards the training platforms to hover for our safety stop. This was exciting and possibly not the right place. As we hovered new divers plummeted down between and on top of us. Some of them were on their knees others on their hands and knees. Was I ever that bad? With the safety stop done we headed out of the water to high fives and hand shakes both of us had completed our AOW dives.

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Thanks to Steve and Clare from Scuba Leeds who were the instructor and DM and congratulations to Kirk who also completed his AOW.

Now to get some more fun diving in.

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Moving into the digital age – @nicholassm1th

Well life really is a whole bunch of firsts for me just recently.

I have been on that Facechat thing for a few months, and I have just started to be added as a friend. This still feels bloody weird if you ask me. Someone last week asked me how many friends I had when I relied “one Des” they said you Leeds boy stick together, “not that Des!” I replied. Ha I know two people called Des!

I have been using in to stay in touch with the cycling event I have completed; they post the routes and last minute change on it so it is very useful. I am a snooper, I’d rather peak between the posts than join in. My mate Des (the Leeds one not the other one) follows me on twitter my social media of choice he cracks me up as he always replies in a text message. I think us 50 something’s are still not used to not having to check we have a 2p bit in our pockets in case we need to use the phone

So what other firsts, I have been to a gig at Wembley Stadium, in bit of a drunk daze 6 months ago I brought some over the odds Club Wembley tickets to see Ed Sheeran and Saturday was gig night. I am not an Ed fan, But I have to say he s a great musician and how he can sound like a band with just his guitar and voice is gob smacking. Now he’s not a great singer but you have to give him credit. Last time me and CJ went to a gig he kicked off as I was the only (drunk) who was dancing and singing to all the songs. So this time I sat there and he kicked off again ‘couse I didn’t join in (I had no idea what he was singing and when he rapped well….). I only know two of his songs and he did them both right at the very end of the gig so it was a bit of a long night listening to the woman on one side of me singing to her partner when you have paid and arm and a leg to hear a singer she was a poor second!

SO after getting home at 2am I sent the alarm for 5am as I had to get up and go diving. This is another of my firsts. On Friday I completed my enriched air qualification ready for my diving holiday. After last weekends first time swimming in the sea, this weekend I for the first time swam in the sea. Oh off of a boat! After last weekend swimming with crabs, a dogfish and some wrasse this weekend is was the big boys seals! Seals are like Labradors, they sort of want to play with you but when you go near them they bugger off out of reach and look at you as if to say “knob, you’re never gonna catch me with all that crap on your back!” I was ably guided by Josh who at the end said “I’ll find you on Facechat and share the dive details for your logbook.” ‘bet you don’t’ I thought I only have one friend and he will not know you unless you’ve been to Ireland to buy a dog!”

So I have bitten the bullet or clicked the prod button and joined a group that Josh is also a one of the click so we can share details. I have already sent him a DM (I thought they were what I wore on my feet!) to thank him for looking after me today.

I have to say (I don’t think it is lack of sleep euphoria) but diving with them seals is a bit special and something I am definitely going to do again. Soon and maybe with one of my new friends!

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They have arrived!!

After much booing and frowning I finally have proof I am a PADI open water diver.

I am also trained to dive in a dry suit making me a proper British diver not just one of these holiday divers.

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I am also halfway through my advanced open water. Also on Friday I am completing my Enriched air training which will allow me to dive with more oxygen and less nitrogen this will allow me to dive deeper for longer.

Next Sunday I am diving in the Farne Isles and am hoping to have some seal encounters. This time I will take the GoPro with me and see if I can make a video!

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