My First Sea Dive

Yesterday, I left home at 6am and headed off to Wales.

The weather on the way was not forgiving, fog at Rushworth Moor and drizzle all the way round the M60. As we crossed the border the sun shone and it looked really promising. Closing in on our destination we drove through Caemarfon the sky changed from blue to grey and as we headed to the beach at Trefor the clouds descended hiding the mountains and the rain started!

Standing in the entrance of the toilet block waiting for the others to arrived while the rain sheeted down was a little surreal. Slowly the rain eased and the clouds began to lift leaving leaden sky’s.

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There were fourteen of us diving today and there were about twenty other divers there. We started to get ready assembling kit and squeezing into dry suites. There was some debate as to whether gloves and hoods were needed. I decided they were. We planned to entre the water via the steps drop and swim to the end of the wall and turn left and swim to the end of the pier turning and reversing the route. Being aware that the tide will turn and this will likely effect the current we experience. Ending the dive with 50 bar left in the tanks.

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After the buddy checks we went to the water and went down the steps to put our fins on. Just as we entered the water my buddy’s low pressure hose jammed open and her BCD inflated and kept inflating. Disconnecting and blowing on it and then reconnecting sorted the problem and off we went. Descending to about 1.3 meters we started to swim along the wall towards the pier. There was a carpet of crabs scuttling along on the sand. I saw one velvet crab with two legs on one side and only one leg on the other. Despite this he was bombing around. At the base of one of the pier legs were found an edible crab that that was the size of a 7” single. I looked up and caught sight of a large dogfish swimming past. There were loads of other fish around most of which I have not idea what they were! I am sure that some were Ballan Wrasse, but who knows.

Very soon we were turning around and headed back. As this was my first sea dive this was also my first time swimming in a current and as the tide began to change I found that was swimming at and angle into the current. This was very different after swimming in quarries and swimming pools.

We pootled back and looked into crevices and holes as we had been told it was possible to see octopus, but not today. As we turned away from the pier and headed back down the sea wall my feet started there floating impression, I have no idea why as I had not added any air to the dry suit. We had only dived to seven meters and I had just used the BCD to control my buoyancy. After getting my feet back under control we turned round and went beneath the pier again and then swam the opposite side of the sea wall for a while before turning and having another try. This time I managed to swim to the steps which were at 1.1 meters without any problems. As we left the water Colin who had been leading the dive asked what my air was. On my computer it showed 49 bar. Well-done Colin 10 out of 10 for that. Fifty-six minutes, seven meters, 15 degrees, and as we left the water the sun was shining and the sky was blue! And that was my first sea dive done.

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Floaty Feet and no Certificate Cards

Since qualifying as a diver I have undertaken two battles. The first with PADI who have not managed to get me my certification cards and the second a personal battle with my buoyancy.

To PADI first, I have been in regular contact with them to arrange for my certification cards to be sent to me. For what ever reason the first ones sent out were not received. After chatting with them and arranging for some replacements to be sent out I was still without these.

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PADI suggested that I have the sent to work, good idea I work from home we have tried twice to get them sent here. Our last attempt last week was by recorded delivery so we would be able to trace them! Still the postman has not managed to get the delivery through. So I am now waiting for PADI to find out where they were sent to and who now has six of my certification cards!

I had not dived since qualifying so I thought I would continue with the learning by completing the advanced open water certificate. This is a mix of five adventure dives and knowledge reviews. I had decided that I would complete the Peak performance buoyancy, multi level diving, wreck, navigation and deep dives.

I studied the book and completed the tests before setting off to Capernwray for the first of the three dives. PPB, navigation and wreck dives. Ironically the first dive went very well and all of the tasks for the peak performance buoyancy dive.

We checked our buoyancy at the start of the dive and adjusted the ballast weight accordingly before we set off. We swam around and using only inhalation or exhalation swam up and over and under the wing of the Cessna before returning to five meters for a safety stop. At this point it went tits or rather feet up. I could not hover I felt as if I was being pulled over on to my back. I spent the whole of the safety stop fighting to stay level and not turn turtle. Back on the surface we debriefed and the instructor advised that I move the weights around to the front.

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The second dive was the navigation dive I really enjoyed this and with the weights to the front I was much more stable in the water. We practiced measuring distances under water using timing, fin kicks, and air consumption. Then navigated a square clockwise and anticlockwise in both directions we managed to get right back to the start position in very limited visibility. We then navigated from Shergar to the Dreamer then to Lord Lucan before heading back to Shergar. Job done, then after a swim around I attempted a safety stop in open water and was again all over the place. Not able to stay level at all. I moved to the ledge and was fine as long as I kept over the surface.

My third dive was the wreck dive and for this we went to the big plane at 17 meters. We drew pictures on a slate and marked the entry and exit points and any areas to avoid. We swam around and over and under the wings avoiding the areas that were risky. The safety stop this time was the worst of the lot I am not sure if this was the hassle and pressure of the previous attempts but this time I spent all of the stop swimming back down as I floated up towards the surface.

After a chat I decided to defer the final two dives of the AOW until I spent some more time practicing my buoyancy, I did not want to fly to the surface after being down at 30 meters.

This weekend I went to Stoney Cove and buddied an experienced diver who was completing her dry suit qualification whilst practicing my buoyancy control. This time I again checked my weight at the surface and was weighted so that I descended on an exhalation and rose on an inhalation.

We set off behind a group completing their OW dives. As they were completing their drills we practiced swimming under the café swimming in and out of the opening and around Nessie just by breath control. While this was fun I did feel that I was swimming down hill a bit. We moved out and practiced hovering this was fine at first but soon I found I was not able to keep my feet down. I could swim around and this brought them down but as I hovered this became more of a challenge. To help the instructor added two more kg to my BCD.

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The group finished their drills and went for a swim round we followed them and went to the Wessex helicopter. At the briefing we were told that the front of the helicopter was deeper than we should go and to be careful of out depth. I found that I was dropping due to my negative buoyancy and on checking my computer this showed that I was just below 18 meters. We swam up to five metres and attempted to safety stop. This was impossible for me in the level position. The instructor signed that I should try and hover whilst holding on to an anchor. This was so funny as my feet shot towards the surface. The instructor indicated I should empty the air from my suit, I tried this but the suit was empty as was the BCD. Patting down of the suit showed that there was no air trapped in the suit. The instructor indicated that I should move to the anchor line and hover in the vertical position once my feet were down I was able to hover without a problem. Once the three minutes were ticked off we swam back to the shore without incident.

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Back at the shore we chatted about the dive and it was decided that I had “floaty feet” and was clearly overweighed. This felt so counter intuitive as when hovering it felt like my body was headed or footed to the surface completely uncontrolled. It was decided that heavier fins should be tried, after a hunt around and trying a few it was clear that there was only one person with size eleven feet so we stuffed 0.5kg of shot in each boot. Moving some weight from the integrated pockets we planned a further buoyancy check at the start of the next dive and also to check this with an empty cylinder at the end of the dive.

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For the next dive we checked our buoyancy with the lead in my boots I was able to take 4kgs of weight off and still descend. We took a further 2kg out and I was still able to descend.

We set off and tagged along with the group, as they completed their drills we hovered like ninjas. The instructor drew a line on the nose of the aeroplane and indicated that we should hover in line, not a problem! We moved slightly deeper and hovered in open water at the top of a ledge, not a problem! We swam down and hovered watching a crayfish walk along the wall, not a problem. After a swim round for about 20 minutes we started to move to shallower water making small changes to the air in my BCD as we moved to shallower water. We swam up and stopped for three minutes to complete a safety stop, not a problem. At the end of the dive and on an nearly empty tank we checked our buoyancy again and made a small change, so I now am clear of the weight I need when in a dry suit with think under suit, and fins that weigh 2kgs!

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My fins at 2.02kgs

As we walked back to the dive van both me and the instructor were buzzing at getting the buoyancy sorted out, so that I can now move on to the multi level and deep adventure dives.

I have checked out heavier fins and at £140 I have opted for two 0.5kg ankle weights for £15!!!

hollis finsiu

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IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION – Clarification of my position at Leeds United #LUFC – @nicholassm1th

Due to the rumours on social media I have decided to go public with regards my position at Leeds United.

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As many people will know I have not been Leeds United all of my life but the club have wormed their way into my heart. The past few seasons have been very difficult and I have at times doubted this commitment to a club that I have grown to love and am honoured to represent. There have been some significant coming and goings during my period with the club and it has been a test of mine and everyone’s commitment.

I can confirm that after listening to the new boss I have decided to take my annual extension to my contract and I can confirm that despite the rumour on social media I will NOT be joining Huddersfield Town on loan next season. Obviously this has an impact on @colsonsmith who I subsidise in his position with the club.

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My advisors have reminded me that had I committed to the club when offered the chance by Ridsdale I would not be having to clarify my position at this time. My concerns about his leadership style and personality characteristics at the time I feel have played out for all to see.

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RIDSDALE

I have been public about all of the leaders that have come since Ridsdale and to date these concerns have been unfortunately proven.

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KB                                              SP                                                       MC

I have identified that I may in fact have a limited future at Leeds United, I felt it was only fair to inform the club and the supporters of the club of my plans and intentions. The club under it’s current stewardship has until the 2019 season (our centenary season) to get the team in to the top tier of English football. If we are not there by this time, I will, at that time not take up any further extensions to my contract. My disappointment with the progress of the club has seen me terminate my current contact with @skyfootball as I see this as throwing good money after the Barclays Premiership and of no benefit to me or Leeds United.

iur sky

In summary for the coming season and until 2019 I am Leeds United and I will be marching on together.

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Leeds Bloody UNITED or Not as the Case May Be

Well well well…

What the feck is going on at Leeds United?

To be honest I am that sick of it all I can’t be arsed any more, Ridsdale started the rot, then years of uncertainty followed only for the club to be “saved” by Uncle Ken, then GFH the charlatan entrappers from the middle east who are skint. But continue to grip on to 25% like it’s a life vest left after the super yacht has sunk. Than talking of yachts, sailed up Cellino.

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Cellino is not what I want for the owner of my or any football club.

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Proven to be dishonest. An Italian court found that he failed to pay the tax on a yacht that he brought.

Proven to be not fit to run a football club. The Football League after much prevaricating identified that the Italian court case was sufficient for he to be expelled from his own club.

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Proven that English is not his first language. I may be doing him an injustice but if you listen to his press conference it is clear that his ramblings make no sense.

Proven to be reactionary. Sacking staff on an apparent whim.

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Proven to change his mind. Re employing the staff he has sacked

Proven not to care. Or perhaps this is just the outcome of all of the above

I have never been less in love with football and what is happening at Leeds, I really am not comfortable in hoping that the court find that Cellino did fiddle the tax on his Range Rover and then when he Is due to come back I hope that the second yacht case comes to court and he is found guilty again. Just think if this was America it would prove he was a prior and persistent offender and with three strikes he’d have got life!!!!!

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I have little time for the LMA or the FL but if this man if fit and proper to run a football club it rule almost anyone out, next you’ll find they have convicted rapists running clubs, oh wait a minute!

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I’m a PADI diver – @nicholassm1th

I am now a PADI scuba diver. I have completed my knowledge, confined and open water sessions and now I can go out and dive without an instructor, bit like passing your driving test. A bit like your driving teat the learning really begins now, I am allowed to dive to 18 metres in the ocean bit like learning around town and then being allowed on the motorway!

I spent the weekend at Capernwray on the edge of the Lake District a diving adventure playground. This was the site for the open water dive part of the course, practicing and demonstrating the drills you have to complete to gain certification.

In the week before that trip I went to the dive centre to try on and swim in dry suits as I was also completing the dry suit course. After trying on the under suit the dry suit came next, after a bit of a faff I was in it and zipped up. I had been standing in the clobber for about two minutes it looked like I had been in the water the sweat was pouring out of me. Standing in a pool of my body fluids the instructor suggested that I may not need the under suit in the pool, no shit Sherlock! I went to the changing room and struggled out of the wetsuit to remove the under suit before I went into the pool

I buddied up with a chap that I completed the pool session a couple of weeks before. This guy was a big chap, now I’m not small but he is BIG. His face was bright red as the blood was constricted in his head by the seal on the dry suit. He instilled confidence at every point, during our buddy checks he had not turned his air on! After I enabled his breathing, it was clear that he also had not tightened his cylinder strap. He was told to take his BCD off and tighten his cylinder by the instructor. To do this he decided to undo his gear and start from scratch, while I stood there fully kitted up, loosing weight!

Once he was ready again I was stood in another pool of my own sweat, as I completed his buddy check for the second time again he had failed to turn his air on. The instructor decided that I should go in the pool before I melted, while some more theory was being delivered.

I giant stepped into the pool and completed a buoyancy check I had 2.5kg on and was floating at eye level! Funny I thought, as I needed that and an additional 2kg when in trunks and t-shirt.

Under I went and completed the pool drills, I completed the fin pivot with few problems and was then sent to swim around while the others completed their drills I was able to watch my buddy slam into the pool bottom, and then add air to his dry suit and float to the top, to return to the bottom crashing his cylinder on the pool floor. After a lot of gesticulating and signals that indicate small changes in the amount of air to be added and released he managed to gain some neutral buoyancy!

We then had to do a hand stand on the pool floor to move the air to the legs, once in the feet up position I had to fin hard and complete a summersault to move the air back in to the top of the dry suit. Pool drills complete there was some more swimming around watching my buddy try and do a handstand and then getting rolled over by the instructors. I left the pool and left my buddy in the water completing his drills.

We took all of the kit home and on unloading the car I realised that the BCD was sloshing turning it up I emptied another 4kgs of water, that explained the weights then

On Saturday I drove across to Capernwray stopping for breakfast at Truck Heaven and a meet up with the rest of the group we chatted excitedly about what we were going to be doing. My buddy had been spending money he had brought a pair of very smart fins, gloves and a hood and was very excited.

After breakfast we drove the short hop to Capernwray and two things immediately struck me; firstly how busy it was. We joined a queue of about 30 cars; secondly the lake looked a lot smaller than in the picture on the web site.

The weather was not great grey clouds and light drizzle. We completed a dive briefing for the weekend and the first specific dive. The plan was three dives on Saturday followed by two dives on the Sunday. The first dive was to be a walk in and swim to the two meter platform where we would complete our drills followed by a swim around on the air remaining.

Our first open water dive was a 34 minute swim to 9 meters and during the swim we completed our hand signals, completed a partial mask flood, recovery of a lost regulator and were reminded to keep an clear check of the amount of air being used. Once the swim was over we completed a controlled ascent and headed back to the car park.

During the swim it was very difficult to stay with my buddy who was impersonating a yoyo and some of this impression was done on his side as he rolled down the edge of the quarry! At the end of the dive he was clearly struggling, and unexpectedly I completed both the cramp removal and tired diver tow!!! I left the water with 110 bar of air left he left with 40 bar!

Back on the shore I could see he was struggling to walk with all of his gear on. I helped him off with his BCD and could hardly lift it. He was loaded with 18kgs of lead that’s nearly three stone. When I looked at this for him he had also muddled his weights and had 11kgs on his left side and only 7kg on his right. He had not realised that there were 5, 3, 2 and 1kg weights. We balanced his sides and move some weights to the trim pouches and headed for a warm up.

After a coffee and debrief we reset our gear and completed the briefing for the second dive. This time we were giant stepping in and then swimming on the surface while following a compass then dropping on to the 6 meter platform for the drills followed by a swim to the Cessna. Turning the dive when the first of us got to 100 bar and completing a safety stop before returning to the surface.

We all stepped in and this time we had to surface swim on our own to the platform following the compass, I swam out and missed the platform but was able to see it from a long way out and could adjust and hit the line marking the platform (cheat). We waited on the surface for a while my bubby and another diver made their way across to us. Once we were all together we completed a controlled decent on to the platform as a buddy pair. This was not that easy as I was descending at a very different rate to my buddy who was going too fast. I decided that as a pair we would split up for a while. That was until I arrived at the platform at a speed I was comfortable with. We lined up on the platform slowly raising with each breath in and descending with every exhale. That was fine until my buddy crashed down on the platform again, and this time his flailing arm knocking my regulator out of my mouth. Good job we’d done the regulator recovery on the last dive, Prat!!!

Once we were all on the platform we had to complete the mask flood, simple or not as the case may be. My buddy struggled with this and the dive master was telling him that his mask strap was too tight and this was folding the skirt over and causing a leak. Once he was settled it was my turn to be out of air, we undertook an alternate air source ascent and oral inflation of BCD on the surface, this went fairly smoothly and I manage to complete the drill. Then it was swap time.

We descended to the platform as we arrived his mask was full of water again! He signalled out of air, I responded by giving him access to my octo, and after taking hold of his BCD he signalled and made for the surface I could feel the instructor holding my fins trying to slow us down, when he managed to kick or knee me in the tenders. On the surface I tried to pull him towards me as I inflated both my BCD and dry suit after all he must have weighed 25 stone with the lead he needed! He spat out the octo before I had a good hold and started to try and inflate his BCD but in doing this he pulled away from me and could not stay on the surface, I pulled him towards me again and he spluttered and splashed and managed to inflate enough to end the drill. His mask was off his face and he was lying on his back signalling to me that he had a cramp. Strange I did not remember that being a drill discussed in the briefing, so I duly extended his fin and stretched out his calf. The instructor suggested that this was a good time to practice a tied diver tow, so I set off tugging him to the edge of the quarry. Two more drills ticked off.

This second dive was for 35 minutes and we went to a depth of 12 meters.

I left the water with 110 bar in my cylinder.

I had a period of reflection and could remember reading an article about how to choose a dive buddy and realised that there were some good pointers in the article! “All the gear and no idea” springs to mind.

After the debrief my buddy told me that they were finished and would not be diving again. While I was a bit surprised that they were giving up I knew how important to them diving was to them and I thought that they would have persevered after all this was only the second time they had dived outside of the pool. I also had a small amount of relief as I would be able to concentrate on my diving and not them. Selfish yes but I am learning to dive.

For the final dive of the day and the two dives on the final day I had a different dive buddy as these also had been broken. There was a bit of ribbing for the instructor who had lost two trainees!

The final dive of the day was brilliant I was buddied with someone who was calm and relaxed and this rubbed off on me. I felt so much more comfortable under the water. His buddy had been persuaded in to diving again and was buddied with one of the dive masters. We this time swam out to the 6 meter platform, time for the drill I was dreading the Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent or CESA. Swimming at a speed no faster than one foot a second from 30 feet down whilst breathing out all the time. Now I have been practicing on land and I cant breath out for that long, so how was I going to manage this drill?

It was my instructor who said something that was so logical it made complete sense and I realised it would be possible. He said “you will be amazed who much air you have left and will realise that you could have done this from significantly deeper”. I looked at him quizzically and he asked “what happens to the air you breath as you go deeper?” Bingo, I will be at almost 10 meters so the air in my lungs will be twice a dense as on the surface I will effectively, sort of, have twice as much air in my lungs as I do on the surface. If I did not breath out during the exercise this would expand and cause lung trauma.

The instructor signalled for me to go when ready I returned OK and set off aaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhh! And at the surface I had plenty of air left, thank god for physics! The dreaded drill was completed really easily.

We swam around for a while and were taken to a sunken boat, the African Queen and after a while the instructor signalled it was time to ascend, and as this was happening to think about how our buoyancy will change. We went up to 3 metres and completed a safety stop before heading to the surface. On the surface we had to remove and replace our weights. Once this was completed we had to remove and replace our BCD’s. Drills done it was time to get warm again.

This dive was for 40 minutes to a depth of 12 metres.

The final drive of the open water training was planned for the next day, so it was time to strip and clean kit before heading back to the hotel for dinner and a pint.

We got in to the water on the Sunday morning at 09:52 for the final dive. We had a great dive with no real drills to complete other than to deploy the signalling device, (delayed surface marker buoy) which was a demonstration rather than a practical. I made a bit of a pigs ear of the safety stop and ended leaving the water feet first! After a bit of a telling off we had completed all of the parts of the training and qualified as a PADI open water diver.

There was one more dive to complete to get the dry suit qualification but as one of the groups had only just got into the water we should have a long break before this as we were diving as a big group.

Before we began the final dive we worked through the knowledge section of the dry suit course and then had a dive briefing. We were to entre the water for a photo, and then swim to the buoy over the Hawker Sidderley descend onto the wing where we were to complete the two drills. Firstly we removed the low pressure hose to the suit and replaced this. Following this we had to fin pivot on the wing of the plane. Nine new divers in a row on the wing of a plane at 18 meters what could go wrong?

Once we completed our drills we set off in dive pairs for a swim we headed out towards Podsnap and after swimming around this we headed in a loop towards the edge of the quarry where we were to safety stop at the ledge. I was a little nervous after the last dive but this time it was fine I just floated up and down as I breathed in and out. The dive just keep getting better and better. We only spent 40 minutes under the water but this was a great dive.

Job done Open water and Dry suit passed.

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My Role in the Jeremy Clarkson Incident – @nicholassm1th

Om my oh my oh my!

I think I am to blame for Clarksongate.

If you have followed my blog you will recall Buttertubs in the Snow, published last week. In this blog I described how whilst riding my bike I spoilt a shot of a car programme being filmed by chasing the Rolls Royce down Buttertubs and keeping up with it to the bottom of the hill.

I have just watched the news and the incident that has led to Jezza being suspended happened at the hotel on the bottom of Buttertubs, the Simonstone Hall later that day. I know how much he detests and hates cyclists so I can only assume it was my intervention that caused his upset and distress that led to the alleged altercation with a producer.

I am so deeply sorry for this intervention and to the 500,000 people who have signed the petition to have him reinstated you are right it was not Jeremy’s fault it was all mine.

To the BBC please consider this statement as part of his disciplinary hearing as mitigation for Mr Clarkson’s out of character (sort of) behaviour.

To Jezza, he who laughs at cyclists pulling rivets as they climb up hill at 3mph might not laugh last!!!!

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Next Stop the Open Water – @nicholassm1th

I am starving! I have completed my second day of learning on the PADI open water training. This includes the last two modules and the exam and was followed by four dives in the pool.

We completed our learning this morning, some of us were better than the others as you would expect. The classroom section was brought together with an exam at the end. Fifty questions that tested our learning over the two days and the previous weeks studying the book and watching the DVD. I was gutted when I realised I had rushed the last but one question and answered this incorrectly meaning I only scored 98%. I did complete the second exam in the book (exam B) and scored 100%. I know does not count but morally I have decided that I am a 99 out of 100.

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We then had dinner, some Morrocan Cuscus for me today not stodgy buoyancy affecting brown bread, lesson learnt.

The first dive of the day was a skin dive, swimming under water with just a snorkel then coming to the surface and clearing it without taking your face out of the water. This was great fun and I am amazed how long you can stay under and how deep you can swim with only and mask, snorkel and fins (I always thought they were called flippers!).

We then got out and set up our scuba kit ready for the next skills tests. The first skill was a tow around the pool with no mask. With our buddy we removed our masks and then swam around the outside of the pool being guided by our buddy. Once we were back we had to replace our masks and clear them. I managed this and completed it with contact lenses still in situ at the end!

Next skill was to complete and emergency weight removal. We practiced our buoyancy some more completing fin pivots. This was followed by removing weights at the surface. Returning to the bottom of the pool we then took off our scuba gear so as to be able to complete a check. This was difficult, two of the group shot to the surface like corks out of a champagne bottle.  One of the group could not complete this task at this time. We then simulated using a free flowing regulator a task I was dreading. This was no where near as difficult as I thought it would be, I was surprised how cold my teeth got breathing like this for a minute. Once these were completed we removed our scuba gear whilst in the water and passed it up to our buddy who was on the side and climbed from the water with using the ladder.

After recharging our cylinders we put our gear. We sat on the bottom gradually adding small amounts of air until we could float in the seated position moving up and down in the water as we breathed in and out. This was great fun and I really enjoyed this.

We also took off and put back on our scuba gear at the surface, again one of the group really struggled with this and could not complete the task at this time. We then practiced towing and being towed around the pool by our buddy. First we towed using the cylinder valve, then we pushed each other with their fins on our shoulders and finally we used their arms to steer them while pushing them around the pool. After this we disconnected the low pressure feed and had to orally inflate the BCD whilst under water.

The final dive in the pool was a free dive time where we had to plan the time and air supply we were to use. Whilst we were completing a simulated marine survey during this time the instructor tested our learning by telling us to simulate the prior learning, air run out, cramp, fin lost, loose cylinder strap, and lost mask to name a few. Once the first of us reached their turn round point the exercise was completed. After almost four hours in the pool this signalled the return and breakdown of the kit after this was all rinsed off we changed and received our completed logbooks.

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Pool done open water next, I am not able to do this until net month and have a dry suit session before completing this final part of the training. So I will be ready for my holiday to MoBay.

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