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TANK-TESTING: TROUBLE AHEAD

BRITAINS BEST-SELLING DIVING MAGAZINE

AUGUST 2016

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FIRST IN
DIVERS WILL
GO UNDERGROUND
I DIDNT VOTE FOR BREXIT, so all I can do now is hope that the upheaval
might offer the odd benefit for divers facing the prospect, among other
things, of costlier budget flights and a pound that doesnt stretch far at all.
Could one consolation be the possibility of side-stepping the spectacularly
unpopular (see this months Big Question) new proposals for annual cylinder
testing? As IDEST (Inspectorate for Diving Equipment Servicing and Testing)
chairman Tony Marshall advises me: Dont hold your breath!
If you dive in the UK and keep one or more cylinders in the garage or broom
cupboard, youll be aware that every 30 months they need to be checked by
a qualified tester, or youll be refused refills when you go diving.
European and international standards committees decided a while back
that existing standards for cylinders of all sorts offer insufficient protection
against catastrophic failure.

WILL MORE
FREQUENT TESTS
REALLY MAKE
US SAFER?

So, backed by the Health &


Safety Executive (HSE)
among others, the British
Standards Institute decided
that your tanks should
henceforth be visually
checked once a year, with
a full hydrostatic test every
five years six inspections
in place of two. BS EN ISO 18119 could be in force by early next year.

So has all this been brought about by a spike in numbers of exploding


cylinders? Not really, said the HSE when I asked its simply neater to fall in
line with countries such as Australia and the USA that test annually. Only
thing is, those countries tend to use aluminium rather than steel cylinders
for diving, with stress fractures more of a risk than corrosion.
The HSE concedes that last years two-month consultation on the proposal
was missed by a lot of people. Thats probably because the dive trade,
including training agencies and even IDEST itself, wasnt told about it.
Im against annual testing because theres no evidence to support it, Tony
Marshall tells me. He calls the proposal a knee-jerk reaction to problems
with a few smaller, thin-walled cylinders and, having analysed all failure
statistics over the past three years, declares: The evidence doesnt show
a preponderance of 3-litre cylinders failing through internal corrosion.
This proposal is going to increase costs not only for our divers but for every
cylinder-user almost reaching the cost of a cylinder every five years.
The average 12-litre cylinder may set you back 200. Testing charges seem
to be a postcode lottery, but today you can pay anything up to 35 for a
visual and 25-40 for a hydrostatic test, plus the price of oxygen-cleaning for
nitrox-users and remedial work. Multiply if you own twin-sets, ponies etc.
Tony is blunt about the effect of such a move: Divers will go underground.
Pony cylinders may be carried but never used, so he reckons divers will
simply decant gas from their main cylinders to avoid presenting the pony
for test, creating a potentially riskier scenario. Or they might ditch the pony.
And will more frequent checks really make us safer, when the very process
of repeatedly removing cylinder-valves for inspection and replacing them
can invite thread wear?
International standards are not regulations, so will new, feisty independent
Britain now insist on local regulation and maintain the
status quo? I suspect that we will still be saddled with an
annual inspection, and its a real problem, says Tony.
Time for some escapism. Float away with us as we indulge in
an issue themed around liveaboards, with some spectacular
diving and where the cylinders are someone elses problem!

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AUGUST 2016 Volume 61 No 8

CONTENTS
FEATURES
20 My Great White Adventure
We head to Guadalupe in our first liveaboard feature
20

25 Valkyrie Goes to Shetland


and a UK dive-boat heads north in the second

28 Be the Champ!
Photo-composition rules are made to be broken

32 Le Polynesien
Best wreck in the Med? Rick Ayrton says its world-class
25

37 Fluo Diving

Easing into liveaboard life around the world

46 Show of Shows
Stand by for DIVE 2016 and the TekDeck!

49 1916

Tel: 020 8941 8152

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief


Nigel Eaton nigel@divermag.co.uk
Editor
Steve Weinman steve@divermag.co.uk
Publishing Consultant
Tony Weston tony@divermag.co.uk
Technical Editor
Nigel Wade divingnige@btinternet.com
Production Manager
George Lanham george@divermag.co.uk
Webmaster
Mike Busuttili webmaster@divernet.com

Advertisement Manager
Jenny Webb jenny@divermag.co.uk
Classified Advertisement Sales
Sara Duncan sara@divermag.co.uk
Senior Advertisement Executive
Alex Khachadourian alex@divermag.co.uk
Advertising Production
David Eaton david@divermag.co.uk

Diveable wrecks of WW1, and how they got there

55 Barren Erupts
Liveaboarding the Andamans with a smokin backdrop

59 Darkwater Freedom
Marcus Greatwater & friends freedive a mountain cave
55

Published monthly by Eaton Publications,


Suite B, 74 Oldfield Road, Hampton,
Middlesex, TW12 2HR

Beyond one-off guided night-dives why not DIY?

41 Nothing to Do but Dive

37

incorporating

62 Indescribable!

Subscriptions Manager
subscriptions@divermag.co.uk
Marketing, Sales & divEr Bookshop
Dorothy Eaton dorothy@divermag.co.uk
uwp-mailshop@divermag.co.uk
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Accounts Assistant
Julian Auty accounts@divermag.co.uk

Yet we do find words and pictures of Antarctica

73 Looking Out for Number 1


Simon Pridmore looks at independent dive sources

62

http://tiny.cc/b2uld

EDITORIAL CONSULTANTS
Archaeology Dave Parham
Biology Dr David Bellamy
Freediving Marcus Greatwood
Industry Dr John Bevan
Law Prof Mike Williams
Medicine Dr Ian Sibley-Calder
Photography Saeed Rashid, Brian Pitkin
Ships Richard Larn
Wrecks Rex Cowan

THE MAGAZINE THATS STRAIGHT DOWN THE LINE


HOW TO GET YOUR divEr:
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5

CONTENTS
REGULARS
3

First In
Editors view

News
Sharks get sanctuaries, personalities and no sleep

19

Beachcomber
The art of diving upside-down & other tittle-tattle

61

Trewavas
Shouldnt we all be in the Red Sea?

68

Review
Born survivor, jellyfish and the $300 yoga videos

70

Booking Liveaboards Now


Holiday news with the emphasis on sea cruises

76

Diver Tests
Knife, hood and reel its accessories month!

80

Just Surfaced
New but untested diving products

82

Dive Holiday Directory

84

Liveaboard Directory

86

Classified Ads

88

Dive Centre Directory

88

Advertisers Index

89

Subscribe Here

70

and get a free Apeks diving watch!

90

Deep Breath

76

Have we entered the age of the just-OK diver?

Cover shot:
Dolphins at Shaab
el Erg, Egypt
by Joss Woolf
The reproduction in whole or in part of any of the contents of divEr
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ensuing upon the use of, or reliance upon, any information contained

80

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8HH (tel: 01233 623131).

DIVER NEWS

Four new shark havens


for Caribbean
THE CARIBBEAN REGION is adding
four to its existing five shark
sanctuaries. The Cayman Islands and
St Maarten have both closed their
exclusive economic zones (EEZs),
a combined area of more than
46,000sq miles, to commercial sharkfishing, while Grenada and Curaao are
to set up legislation this year to
protect sharks in their waters.
The announcements were made
during a shark-conservation
symposium in St Maarten co-hosted
by the islands government, St Maarten
Nature Foundation, Bahamas National
Trust and US-based NGO the Pew
Charitable Trusts. Caribbean
government leaders discussed shark
conservation and shark-related
tourism with international experts
during the three-day event in June.
We applaud the steps taken by
Caribbean island governments to
conserve sharks in their waters, said

Sir Richard Branson, a keen diver and


present at the conference in his role as
ocean advocate.
To these governments, sharks are
worth far more alive than dead, he
said.Were delighted and encouraged
to see this bold action being taken to
protect Caribbean eco-systems and
bolster eco-tourism industries.
St Maarten and the Cayman Islands
have joined a progressive group of
leaders in global shark conservation by
choosing to fully protect the diverse
but vulnerable shark and ray species
found in their waters, said Luke
Warwick, director of Pews global
shark-conservation campaign.
Establishing sanctuaries to protect
all sharks makes clear that these top
predators warrant the same status as
other vulnerable marine wildlife that
help attract eco-tourism, such as
turtles and whales.
Pew says it has worked since 2009

Branson:
sharks
worth far
more alive.
with governments around the world
to establish shark sanctuaries in their
territorial waters. The latest additions
bring the worldwide total to 14,
covering 6 million sq miles an area
bigger than Canada.
The other Caribbean shark and
ray sanctuaries are in the Bahamas,
Bonaire, British Virgin Islands,
Honduras, Saba. Now the focus in the
Caribbean will be on implementing
sanctuaries in places such as Trinidad,
cited at the conference as one of the
biggest exporters of shark-fins, mainly
to Hong Kong. n

Not mindless
machines sharks have
personalities
SOME SHARKS ARE consistently
bolder than others, say researchers at
Australia's Macquarie University, who
report seeing individual personality
differences among the Port Jackson
sharks they have been studying.
The research, the first time
personality traits have been
established in sharks, is believed to be
significant for successful management
of populations in the future.
A team from the universitys
Department of Biological Sciences
found that individuals among the
east-coast sharks showed distinct and
consistent responses when exposed to
an unfamiliar environment and stress.
In humans, behavioural stability and
predictability define individual
personality, and this has also been
shown to apply to almost 200 animal
species.Personality is no longer
considered a strictly human
characteristic; rather it is a
divEr

Port Jackson shark: individual pers


onality.
EVAN BYRNES

characteristic deeply engrained in our


evolutionary past, said Evan Byrnes,
lead author of the research paper.
Each shark was placed in a
sheltered part of a tank, and the time it
took to emerge was measured, as were
recovery times after handling.
Responses remained consistent
over repeated trials, indicating
engrained behaviour. Individual levels
of boldness were said to indicate not
only likelihood of risk-taking but also
ability to cope with stress, which
influences health.
We are excited about these results
because they demonstrate that sharks
are not just mindless machines, said
Associate Professor Culum Brown.
Just like humans, each shark is an
individual with its unique preferences

and behaviours.
Our results raise a number of
questions about individual variation in
the behaviour of top predators and
the ecological and management
implications this may have. If each
shark is an individual and doing its
own thing, then clearly managing
shark populations is much more
complicated than we previously
thought, said Prof Brown.
Understanding how personality
influences variation in shark behaviour
such as prey choice, habitat use and
activity levels is critical to better
managing these top predators that
play important ecological roles in
marine ecosystems.
The findings are published in the
Journal of Fish Biology. n

Underwater
rodeo tracks
shark energy
FEEDING BY TOURISTS entices
sharks to waste valuable energy at a
time when they would normally be
resting, say scientists from James
Cook University (JCU) in Australia.
A study led by Dr Adam Barnett
has investigated activity patterns
and energy use of whitetip reef
sharks at Osprey Reef in the Coral
Sea. The team conducted an
underwater rodeo, roping sharks
by the tail as they approached
baited cages, and attaching a small
Fitbit-style computer to each ones
tail to measure activity patterns.
An increase in the sharks daily
energy expenditure was noted as a
result of elevated activity during the
day. This is the time when whitetips
would normally be resting.
They will swim around during
the day sometimes particularly if
divers are around, Dr Barnett told
divEr. Behaviours of animals can
vary between locations, but
whitetips mainly hunt at night.
If conducted responsibly, shark
tourism can have economic benefits
and contribute to conservation, said
Dr Barnett, but studies had shown
that feeding or attracting sharks
could cause behavioural changes.
Yet there is still little understanding
if the behavioural changes can have
consequences for the sharks health
and fitness, he said.
Co-investigator Richard
Fitzpatrick said that operators at
Osprey Reef did limit the amount of
feeding taking place, so the effects
there should be minimal and
outweighed by benefits. But he
warned that increasing the
frequency of feeding events could
have significant consequences to
health and fitness. n

Shark rodeo.
RICHARD FITZPATRICK / BIOPIXEL

www.divErNEt.com

DIVER NEWS

THE BIG QUESTION

What
have
I got
myself into?

Lead-balloon proposal

TIM SAMUEL - WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/TIMSAMUELPHOTOGRAPHY

This fish found itself in a bit


of a predicament when it
swam inside a small jellyfish
and could find no way out.
The pictures were taken by
photographer Tim Samuel
while freediving in Byron Bay,
New South Wales in Australia,
and gained wide currency
after he posted them on his
Instagram site. He wrote of
the fish: He was trapped in
there but controlled where
the jellyfish was moving.
We dont know how the
situation ended, but a happy
outcome seemed unlikely.

Tell us about your


strangest dive
DO YOU HAVE
A DIVE that
stands out in
your memory
for its sheer
weirdness?
Were not
necessarily
talking ghost or
horror stories here (though were
certainly open to offers), but perhaps a
dive that was carried out in unusual
circumstances or weather conditions,
or with unusual people.
Your story may well concern what
you saw under water, something that
went wrong or something totally
unexpected, but we reckon we all have
at least one dive that sticks out not so
much for its brilliance as for its bizarre
nature.
Dig back through your logbooks
and let us know about your most
peculiar dive in anything up to 250
words. Hi-res photos are welcome if
applicable. Your tale could be featured

in divEr and, if it is particularly


strange, you stand to win one of these
Seac R2 torches!
With a recommended retail price of
77, the R2 is a compact 100m depthrated dive-light in an aluminium
housing. It is 143 mm long, weighs
256g, has an electro-magnetic switch
and gives out 282 lumens. Four AAA
rechargeable alkaline batteries give it
a claimed 22-hour life.
The prize is supplied by Seacs UK
distributor NeverRest.
Please email your story to divEr
at steve@divermag.co.uk. We cant wait
to read it.

THE LUNDY ANNUAL SPLASH-IN underwater photographic competition is


going online only instead of on-the-day, in a bid to attract more entries.
Although Lundy is the largest island in the Bristol Channel it has a tiny
population, and being 12 miles off north Devon is accessible only by boat.
Deadline for entries is the end of September, when the judging takes
place. Find the rules at www.lundymcz.org.uk. n

www.divErNEt.com

A proposed new standard will make diving-cylinder testing inspections


annual. A good idea? Thats the question we put to you last month, not
really anticipating widespread enthusiasm for the idea, and boy, were
we right! It was difficult to find many divers in favour of the proposal,
you wont be surprised to learn 86% are against it.
Having said that, it wasnt exactly the biggest response weve ever
had, making us wonder: just how many divers still own cylinders?

NO
There is no research to show that there is a valid reason for increasing
inspections, and it will only have an unnecessary financial impact on
dive centres. James Matthews
In principle a good safety measure in practice, an additional cost to
deter newcomers. Kevin Jordan
Not unless there is actual proof that cylinders have been exploding
and causing injury or death. Also, cylinder testing is already slow and
expensive. This law will cause a log-jam and raise costs. Keith Waugh
The current standards in the UK have been successful, with minimum
accidents. Valves are inspected along with visual or full testing, and
imposing a one-year test will cause dive-clubs to go out of business as
costs increase. Robert Griffin
Its unnecessary, and my limited diving budget would be better spent
on kit maintenance or upgrades or further training. John Le Maistre
What's the problem? Show me some data, otherwise this is just a
money-spinner for the testers. Ken Ryder
This will increase costs for the diver, and put more work into the busy
test-houses, which is likely to cause delays with returning cylinders and
divers missing trips through lack of cylinders. Wilf T
Unless there has been an increase in the number of accidents using
diving cylinders, it cannot be justified. Mike McLaren
Prices need to be driven down if this standard comes in most divers
look after their kit very well, and its the ones that dont who ruin it for
the rest of us. A good well-maintained cylinder will last for years and not
need annual tests. Nicholas Ray
A pointless piece of bureaucracy. Checks are more than adequate now.
All this will lead to is a greater number of people avoiding the tests and
circumventing the rules. Common sense should prevail. Simon Read
Its just an excuse for some test centres to rip divers off. Chris Heywood
As a young diver Id rather not pay extra to have my tank inspected
once every year. If you want more young people to become scubadivers, make the sport less expensive, not more. Josh Weinberg
Just pricing us out again. DS Thew
200-mile round trip every time for me. Lewis Stainton
More money drained from the diver. Itll only push up compressor sales
to Joe Public so that they pump their own. Nick Ellerington

YES
Anything that makes diving safer has to be good, although its likely to
make it a bit more expensive and another thing to remember to do.
John Williams
Here in Ireland we did this from 1982 until we adopted the British
Standard in 95. John Hailes
Anything that makes diving safer has to be a good thing, hasnt it?
Jesse Swindale
Absolutely. Karen

Go to www.divernet.com to answer

THE NEXT BIG QUESTION Ever worried when


flying home that you should have left more time after diving?
Please answer yes or no, and feel free to comment

divEr

DIVER NEWS

BA drops Sharm
altogether
B

RITISH AIRWAYS HAS


dropped its plans to resume
flights to Sharm el Sheikh in
Egypt later this year.
The safety and security of our
customers will always be our top
priorities and we have suspended our
flights from Gatwick to Sharm elSheikh indefinitely, it has stated.
Customers who hold bookings on
any cancelled services for the coming
winter season can claim a full refund
or can use the money to cover a new
booking with us for an alternative
destination.
BA and other British airlines have
not flown to the Red Sea resort since
November 2015, following the British
governments suspension of flights
in response to the fatal crash of a
Russian airliner.
easyJet, Monarch and Thomson
were still hoping to resume flights
before the winter tourist season starts
at the end of October if the British
government is satisfied with airport
security arrangements and lifts its ban.
In late June, Egypt appointed a
British aviation security firm, Restrata,
to deliver a security programme for all
its airports, including Sharm. n
EGYPTS STATE COUNCIL has
quashed the governments recent
decision to return two Red Sea
islands in the Strait of Tiran to Saudi

Arabia (News, June).


Responding to a lawsuit brought
against the government by rights
activist Khaled Ali, a judge annulled
a maritime borders agreement and
stated that Tiran and Sanafir would
remain under Egyptian sovereignty.
However, his verdict will be
legally binding only if ratified by
Egypts High Administrative Court,
and this is thought to be unlikely.
When Egypts President al-Sisi
announced the return of the
uninhabited islands at the mouth of
the Gulf of Aqaba, which he said
were only leased from Saudi Arabia,
widespread protests were mounted.
Accessed by day-boats from
Sharm, Tiran and Sanafir are part of
Ras Mohammed National Marine
Park. Dive-sites such as Jackson,
Woodhouse, Thomas and Gordon
reefs lie off Tiran's western coast.
The overturned agreement had
set the stage for constructing a 10mile bridge across the Gulf of Aqaba
linking Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with
Tiran as its halfway point. Concerns
had been raised that denying divers
access to the Straits of Tiran would
further damage businesses already
under intense pressure. n

Deptherapys Cullen gets


award from Number 10
DR RICHARD CULLEN, a founder of
Deptherapy and Deptherapy
Education, has received a Points of
Light award from Prime Minister
David Cameron, for his work helping
to rehabilitate seriously injured
armed services personnel through
scuba-diving.
Each weekday the PM recognises
through Points of Light awards one or
more outstanding individual
volunteers, judged to be making
changes in their community.
The programme has been running
in the UK since 2014, and Cullen was
the 560th recipient.
The diver (pictured) is a retired
Metropolitan Police Commander and
was its Director of Training &
Development, at the time the worlds
largest police-training agency. Before
that he was a senior civil servant,
responsible for National Probation
Service human resources.
Cullen started diving in 2007 and
became involved with Deptherapy
three years later, going on to become
its chairman.
He qualified through PADI to teach
other scuba instructors in the UK and
abroad through the Deptherapy
Education arm of the charity.
Deptherapy takes small groups of
injured troops to overseas destinations
for tailored scuba-diving programmes,
and participants report great benefits
from the experience. Cullen received
his award shortly before departing on
the charitys latest trip to El Quseir in

Egypt, to be reported on in an
upcoming divEr by Louise Trewavas.
Our servicemen and women give
so much to our country we as a
nation have a duty to these people
who sacrifice so much to keep us safe,
stated the Prime Minister.
Richards commitment to giving
something back to so many of these
brave people is truly inspiring.
Working with UK armed services
personnel who have suffered lifechanging mental and/or physical
challenges is a privilege, said Cullen.
Seeing the difference scuba-diving
makes to their lives is truly amazing.
Some of our programme-members are
very clear that the charity has not just
changed their lives, but saved them.
I am humbled by the Prime
Ministers Points of Light award, which
I accept not just for myself but on
behalf of all our team who give so
freely of their time. For me as an
individual and for Deptherapy this is
a very proud day. n

SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER MCS


beach-litter is worsening.
Over the last decade, weve
recorded a huge hike in the amount of
litter found on our beaches up by
over 65%, says MCS Beachwatch
Manager Lauren Eyles.
Apart from being an eyesore and a
health hazard, litter can entangle or be
accidentally eaten by marine wildlife.
To find out more or to volunteer, go
to www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch n

MCS

THIS YEARS Great British Beach Clean


is set for the extended weekend of
16-19 September, and organiser the
Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is
looking for volunteers.
Last year the charity roped in more
than 6000 people, including divers.
They cleaned 340 beaches, recording
collection of 3298 pieces of litter per
kilometre the most yet recorded, and
an indication that the problem of

Last years clean at Porthtowan Beach.

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10

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DIVER DIES IN SHARK ATTACK IN AUSTRALIA


A 60-YEAR-OLD DIVER originally
from Britain died after encountering
what is thought to have been a great
white shark off Australia's west coast.
She was named as Doreen Collyer.
The incident occurred off Mindarie
Beach near Wanneroo north of Perth,
minutes after lifeguards had issued a
shark alert.
Collyer had been diving for crayfish
with her dive-buddy, a 43-year-old
man. He later reported that something
large had passed him while he was
submerged but that he couldnt make
it out. On ascending, he saw a
commotion in the water and found
Collyer to have suffered severe injuries.
Western Australian Police reported
that three fishermen nearby had seen
a shark they described as longer than

their 5.5m boat. They had taken the


two divers onboard and were met by
an ambulance and police ashore, but
Collyer was already dead.
The state Fisheries Department later
said that a great white shark bigger
than 3m had likely caused the fatality.
Beaches in the area were closed and
drum-lines set in a bid to catch it.
According to ABC News, Collyer had
emigrated from England five years ago
to be with her family and had become
an Australian citizen and an Advanced
Open Water Diver. She worked as a
lecturer at a nursing college.
Days earlier a surfer had died from
injuries sustained after being attacked
by what was also believed to be a
great white, 60 miles further north.
Ten people have died from shark

Brown trout scoops the pool


THE BROWN TROUT has been
named the UK's national fish, after
collecting 21% of the ballots in the
UK National Fish Vote, an online
poll that ran from January to June.
The results were announced on
the BBC TV nature programme
Springwatch.
In the final round of voting the
public were choosing from 10
species, narrowed down from an
original 40. Runners-up to the
brown trout were the stickleback
(16%), tench (13%), perch (12%)
and pike (11%).
In joint sixth place and covering
both ends of the size spectrum
came the roach and the basking
shark, while three sea fish bass,
cod and mackerel mopped up
the remaining votes.
Respondents were also asked
their views on the greatest threats
to Britain's fish. Pollution was their
main concern, closely followed by

www.divErNEt.com

commercial overfishing and then


habitat loss and non-native
species.
The poll was masterminded by
freshwater diver and divEr
contributor Jack Perks, who
wanted to find iconic species that
mean something to you and
embody Britishness.
From the way Springwatch was
plugging the stickleback I was
expecting that to win, and for a
long time the bass was in the lead
but then just fell back, he told
divEr.
Brown trout are a favourite of
fly anglers and a stunning fish to
look at. They have a huge
distribution, found from Shetland
to Cornwall and just about
everywhere in between, so
everyone can likely go to see one
locally. Personally Id have gone
for the grayling, but that didnt
even make the top 10!
When divEr asked the same
question of its readers, the cod
was a clear winner with barely
a trout in sight (Big Question,
April). n

attacks in Western Australia over the


past six years, although attacks on
divers are relatively infrequent (7% last
year). The state carried out a cull two
years ago, leading to protests by
conservationists.
According to the International Shark
Attack File (ISAF), Australia saw 593
shark attacks last year, 79 of them in
Western Australia.
2015 saw a record number of
attacks worldwide, which the ISAF has
put down partly to warmer seas.
Ocean temperatures that spike earlier
in the season and warm a larger range
of coastline draw both sharks and
humans to the same waters, says the
files curator George Burgess. We can
and should expect the number of
attacks to be higher each year. n

Airbus sunk
for divers
off Turkey
AN AIRBUS A300 airliner has been
deliberately sunk at a depth of 25m in
the Aegean Sea, in a bid to attract
more scuba divers to Turkey. It is
claimed to be the biggest plane ever
to be turned into an artificial reef.
The wreck, which is 54m long with a
wingspan of 44m, lies near Kuadasi in
Aydin province on Turkeys west coast,
halfway between Izmir and Bodrum.
The 36-year-old aircraft was reported
to have been bought from an aviation
company for 64,000.
It was cleaned and prepared in
Istanbul over two months before
being transported to its resting place
on a five-truck rig. Divers assisted with
the 150-minute sinking operation.
Our goal is to make Kuadasi
a centre of diving tourism, Aydin's
mayor Ozlem Cercioglu told local
press, adding that he hoped the
sinking would assist the recovery
of tourism in the region.
As with other tourist destinations
affected by terrorist attacks, Turkey has
seen a sharp decline in visitor
numbers recently, a process that
accelerated after a Russian military
aircraft was shot down and Moscow
imposed sweeping sanctions on
tourism.
Russian visitors to Turkey were
previously second only to Germans,
with those from the UK coming third
at around 2.5 million a year. n

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01273 844919
11

divEr

DIVER NEWS

Divers inspect small finds while


decompressing at 50m.

Tec divers make new finds


on Antikythera wreck
SIXTY NEW ARTEFACTS have been
discovered by an international marinearchaeological team revisiting the
world's largest-known ancient
shipwreck.
Dating from the 1st century BC and
lying 52m deep in the Aegean Sea, the
vessel is named after the nearby Greek
island of Antikythera.
According to Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution (WHOI),
which joined the Hellenic Ministry of
Culture & Sports to carry out the
project, the Return to Antikythera
team recovered gold jewellery,
glassware, a bronze spear from a
statue, marble sculpture fragments,
resin/incense, ceramic decanters and
a unique artefact that may have been
a defensive weapon to protect the
massive ship against attacks from
pirates.
The presence of remains of a
second ancient cargo ship lying
nearby was also confirmed.
The work of the mixed-gas
rebreather underwater team,
which included archaeologists and
professional technical divers, was
made easier after an autonomous

robot had mapped out a 10,500sq m


area around the wreck. A dedicated
laboratory was set up to analyse the
finds, a process that includes the
extraction of ancient DNA. 3D digital
models were made of the artefacts.
The Antikythera shipwreck, thought
to have been a grain-carrier, was
originally discovered and salvaged by
sponge-divers in 1900. They recovered
marble statues and thousands of other
artefacts including the Antikythera
Mechanism, which has been dubbed
the worlds first computer. In 1976
Jacques Cousteaus dive-team
recovered nearly 300 more objects,
including human bones.
WHOI is a US non-profit body
dedicated to marine research,
engineering and higher education.
Our new technologies extend
capabilities for marine science, said
WHOI marine archaeologist Brendan
Foley.Every new dive on the
Antikythera shipwreck delivers gifts
from the ancient past.
The wreck offers touchstones to
the full range of the human experience
from religion, music, and art, to travel,
trade, and even warfare. n

IT MUST HAVE SEEMED obvious


snorkellers off the Greek island of
Zakynthos who came across what
looked like the cylindrical bases of
pillars and stone paving slabs
thought they had found the remains
of a lost civilisation.
But experts from Greeces
Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities
found no signs of man-made
artefacts such as pottery, sculpture
or coins and further investigation
showed the mysterious structures
to have originated millions of years
before Hellenic antiquity.
They were in fact created by
microbes in a natural process that
often occurs way beyond scubadiving depths but has rarely been
documented in shallow water
before.
The discovery near Alikanas Bay
UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS

BRETT SEYMOUR, EUA/WHOI/ARGO

but lost cityof Zakynthos


was not what it seemed to be

Who or what built that?


was investigated by a scientific
research team set up by the
University of Athens and the
University of East Anglia (UEA),
which published its findings in the
journal Marine and Petroleum
Geology.
Using microscopy, X-ray and
stable isotope techniques, the
researchers concluded that the site
had been created as much as 5

million years ago, during the


Pliocene era, in a process familiar to
wreck-divers concretion.
We investigated the site, which is
between 2 and 5m under water, and
found that it is actually a natural
geologically occurring
phenomenon, said lead author
Professor Julian Andrews of the
UEAs School of Environmental
Sciences.
What had initially appeared as
perfectly circular column bases
were typical of mineralisation at
hydrocarbon seeps, he said.
The linear distribution of these
doughnut-shaped concretions is
likely the result of a sub-surface
fault which has not fully ruptured
the surface of the seabed. The fault
allowed gases, particularly
methane, to escape from depth.
Microbes in the sediment use
the carbon in methane as fuel.
Microbe-driven oxidation of the
methane then changes the
chemistry of the sediment, forming
a kind of natural cement, known to
geologists as concretion.
In this case the cement was the
mineral dolomite, which rarely
forms in sea water but can be found
in microbe-rich sediments. The
resulting seabed structures were
later exposed through erosion.
This kind of phenomenon is
quite rare in shallow waters,
said Prof Andrews.Most similar
discoveries tend to be many
hundreds and often thousands of
metres deep under water.
He added that the finding was
proof of natural methane seeping
out of rock from hydrocarbon
reservoirs.The same thing
happens in the North Sea, he said,
and it is also similar to the effects
of fracking, when humans
essentially speed up or enhance
the phenomena. n

WORLDS BIGGEST-KNOWN SPONGE LIES OFF HAWAII 2000M DEEP


THE BIGGEST-KNOWN SPONGE in the world has
been discovered at a depth of more than 2km in
Hawaii by the USA's National Oceanic & Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA).
Scientists aboard NOAAs research vessel Okeanos
Explorer were using an ROV to explore at depths
between 700 and 5000m when they came across the
giant sponge, on a ridge extending from a seamount
in Papahanaumokuakea Marine Park, the USAs
biggest conservation area. It measured 3.5 x 2m,
divEr

12

which NOAA compared to the size of a minivan.


Some species of large sponge found in shallow
waters have been estimated to live for more than
2300 years, so the find could be several millennia old.
NOAAs Offices of National Marine Sanctuaries and
Ocean Exploration & Research worked with
University of Hawaii to study the find. The expedition
was part of a three-year study of deepwater areas of
US marine protected areas in the central and
western Pacific. n

ROV approaches
the giant sponge.
NOAA OFFICE OF OCEAN EXPLORATION & RESEARCH

www.divErNEt.com

DIVER NEWS

MAT goes online to fund Stone Age dig


I

rapidly being lost to time and tide.


The Bouldnor Cliff lays claim to
being the worlds oldest boat-building
site underwater archaeologists have
found stone tools, wood-chippings,
the oldest piece of string and a
partially constructed boat there.
More than a quarter of all the
worked Mesolithic timber ever
recovered in the UK is said to have
come from the site.
The excavations have also provided
insights into prehistoric woodworking
techniques, says the MAT, as well as
pushing back by more than 2000 years
the date when wheat was introduced
to the UK, and providing important

Cargo ship damages


thresher-shark reef
in the Philippines

data on coastal
and sea-level
changes.
The
archaeologists
believe there is
more to be
discovered, but
as the cliff
erodes they say
they are racing
Working at the Bouldnor Cliff site.
against time to
excavations, in the hope of raising
record this unique and irreplaceable
funds needed to pay for another
source of knowledge .
season of diving and research at the
The MAT has partnered with Dig
Bouldnor Cliff. More at www.maritime
Ventures, which organises
archaeology rust.org n
crowdfunded archaeological

MAT

T WAS A FEISTY LOBSTER hurling


Stone Age hand-worked flints out
of its burrow that first alerted divers
that something interesting lay at the
site of the submerged Bouldnor Cliff
off the Isle of Wight.
That was in 1999, and excavations
have been carried out ever since
on the 8000-year-old Mesolithic
settlement that the cranky crustacean
called home.
Now the Maritime Archaeology
Trust (MAT) is launching a
crowdfunding campaign to continue
its work on the 11m-deep location,
which it describes as a heritage site of
international importance that is

QUANTUM
SLS weight system

A BULK-CARRIER RAN aground near Malapascua


island in the central Philippines in June, damaging
marine-protected coral reef at world-famous
thresher-shark scuba location Monad Shoal.
The 183m Belle Rose, owned and operated by
Japanese-owned Sun Ship Management, was
carrying 48,000 tons of clinker from Nantong in
China to Cebu.
According to the Maritime Herald, human error
led to the grounding, with the hull causing
significant damage as it scraped over almost half
a kilometre of shallow reef, affecting around 1% of
the 300-hectare shoal.
The vessel was partially flooded but remained
afloat, and there was no leakage of oil or other
pollutants. Cargo was later transferred to another
vessel so that the Belle Rose could be refloated.
This is a key, key reef and its about the only place
where you can see thresher sharks, David Doubilet
told National Geographic after the incident. The
underwater photographer happened to be on
assignment in Malapascua and photographed the
damage to both the coral and the vessels hull.
The thresher sharks, designated as vulnerable to
extinction, tend to stay deep for much of the time
but come up early in the morning at cleaning
stations at Monad Shoal, where divers regularly
encounter them.
The stations were close to the boat strike but not
directly hit, reported Doubilet.
The 20 Filipino crew were confined to the vessel
while the coastguard investigated the incident, and
the municipal government of nearby Daanbantayan
in northern Cebu is reported to be seeking damages
to fund rehabilitation of the reef.
The captain has claimed that he was taking
evasive action to avoid local fishermen.
Monad Shoal remained open to divers, other than
in the immediate vicinity of the vessel. n

www.divErNEt.com

Stretchy pocket

CENTER OF BALANCE.
EDGE OF PERFORMANCE.
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mares.com

13

divEr

DIVER NEWS

divEr

14

HEN SATURATION DIVER


Paolo Eduardo undertook a
minor underwater repair on
the seabed deep off the coast of Brazil,
what he wasnt expecting was a
swordfish to come up behind him and
impale itself on his bail-out rig.
Eduardo was working from a twoman bell, attached by an umbilical
supplying his gas and with a Divex SLS
rebreather bail-out set on his back.
The swordfish launched itself at him
but its bill became jammed in the SLS
and it thrashed about violently in an
attempt to free itself.
The divers gas supply was
undamaged but, unable to deal with
the situation behind his back, Eduardo
managed to get back to the bell. It was
only as he was preparing to enter it
that the swordfish managed to
extricate itself and swim away.
The diver was unharmed, although
his SLS was damaged, but the whole
incident had been captured on video
by an accompanying ROV that was
monitoring his safety.

Behind you!
The footage was subsequently
released and went viral on YouTube.
At around 1.5m the swordfish was
relatively small Atlantic swordfish
typically grow to around 3m. Tending
to be loners and rarely seen by divers,
they are among the oceans fastestmoving fish and an apex predator.
The extended bill that gives the fish
its name is used to attack prey with a
side-slashing movement.
Eduardo was working from the
diver-support vessel Wyatt Candies for
an arm of the Dutch multinational
Fugro when the incident occurred.
It was a very unusual operational

incident and we were relieved that


both the guy and the fish were
swimming around at the end of it,
Fugro Brasils Subsea Services Director
Andy Seymour told divEr.
We think the fish was attracted by
a combination of the lights because
at that depth it would of course
normally be pitch-black possibly in
conjunction with the shiny things.
Weve seen similar behaviour on our
ROVs from time to time in the past, but
its hard to say what goes through a
fishs head!
The diver reacted very properly;
thats where the training comes in. n

ANDREA DORIA SHOWING HER AGE AT 60


THE FIRST MANNED
submersible trip to the
Andrea Doria for more than
20 years has indicated that
the Italian liner wreck
beloved of US technical
divers is in worse shape
than previously thought.
The five-man crew of
Cyclops I set out to capture
sonar images of the wreck
as well as video and
photographs. US
submersible-operator
OceanGate had been
Sinking of the Andrea Doria in 1956.
contracted by Argus
made it difficult for scuba divers to
Expeditions to establish accurate
obtain an overview of the 212m-long
baseline data so that the wrecks
shipwreck in the past, so it was hoped
deterioration could be monitored
that identifying changing landmarks
more effectively.
would make it easier for divers to
The Andrea Doria sank 60 years
navigate around it in future. Sixteen
ago, east of New York and south of
divers are known to have died on the
Nantucket, a small island off
Andrea Doria over the years.
Massachusetts, on 25 July, 1956.
OceanGate obtained 17 sonar scans
The liner had collided with a
focused on the bow of the wreck and
Swedish passenger vessel, the
seabed scouring around it, but rough
Stockholm, resulting in 51 fatalities,
conditions cut short the intended
46 on the Andrea Doria.
week-long expedition, and only three
Poor visibility, strong Atlantic
dives for a total dive-time of four hours
currents and the 70m-plus depth have

took place.
It appears that the
wreck continues to
decay, possibly at an
increasing rate, although
this conclusion is
uncertain due to the
limited exploration of the
entire wreck, stated
OceanGate. Comparing
its results to previous
low-resolution sonar
scans obtained from the
surface, it said that pieces
of the wreck did seem to
have fallen away.
However, the report added that we
did not see any evidence that the bow
has nearly broken off of the wreck, as
reported in several publications.
Among the Cyclops crew was exastronaut Scott Parazynski, the only
person to have flown in space and
reached the top of Mount Everest.
I can say from experience that
being at the bottom of the ocean is
every bit as special, he said.The
expedition team was hampered by
difficult conditions, but thats a reality
you live with in any exploration. n
HARRY TRASK, BOSTON TRAVELER

THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT


has persuaded UNESCO to remove
from a major report on global
climate change all references to
diving destination the Great Barrier
Reef for fear that it would
damage tourism.
The effective censorship was
reported in May by the Guardian
Australia, which also published the
excised chapter of the report World
Heritage and Tourism in a Changing
Climate, covering the GBR as well as
two Australian forests.
Unusually warm water has caused
bleaching on 93% of GBR reefs this
year, as reported in divEr (News,
June). Australias Department of
Environment objected when it saw
a draft of the UNESCO report, and
all references to the country were
subsequently removed the only
country to be so treated, said the
Guardian.
Six months earlier, UNESCO
had left the GBR off its list of
endangered sites at the Australian
governments bidding.
The department was concerned
that the framing of the report
confused two issues the world
heritage status of the sites and
risks arising from climate change
and tourism, a DoE spokesman told
the Guardian.
Recent experience in Australia
had shown that negative
commentary about the status of
world heritage properties impacted
on tourism.
Prof Will Steffen, head of
Australias Climate Council and a
scientific reviewer of the report,
commented: Perhaps in the old
Soviet Union you would see this sort
of thing happening but not in
Western democracies. I havent seen
it happen before.
The excised chapter mentions
that tourism, including diving,
contributed Aus $5.2bn to the
Australian economy in 2012
and supported 64,000 jobs,
representing 90% of the economic
activity in the region.
Some 500 commercial boats took
divers and snorkellers out on the
Great Barrier Reef and the report
mentions that this and general
tourist infrastructure can in itself
bring negative impacts to fragile
corals. n

Swordfish gets stuck on diver


at 222m
W

www.divErNEt.com

FUGRO BRASIL

Australia leaned
on UNESCO to
pull reef report

DIVER NEWS

COUPLES DIVING HELMET COLLECTION NETS 570,000


A DEVON COUPLES COLLECTION
of more than 500 items of
standard-dress diving equipment
has yielded 570,000 at an auction
held in Exeter.
Tony and Yvonne Pardoe were
selling their entire collection of
more than 150 diving helmets as
well as pumps, suits, knives, lamps,
boots, weights and other
accessories from famous makers
such as Siebe Gorman, Heinke,
Draeger, Morse and Schrader.
Their collection was already well-

known because Tony Pardoe had


published his own two-volume,
300 catalogue four years ago.
One of the helmets sold had
been fashioned from a steel drum,
another from metal scraps by a
Swedish farmer who needed to
retrieve his tractor from a lake. His
home-made boots, weights, knife,
lamp and telephone were also
included, fetching 1100.
The oldest lots dated back to the
1850s but items made as late as the
1970s were also included.

The live auction aroused


considerable interest from
overseas collectors, and the
original estimate of 3-500,000
was surpassed.
The highest price for an
individual helmet was 8000,
paid for a US Navy MK V Helium
MOD-1 made by Morse Diving
Equipment Co, Boston in 1905.
Christopher Hampton, of the
auction house Bearnes Hampton &
Littlewood, described the outcome
of the sale as like a lottery win. n
From left: US Navy MK V
Helium MOD-1 helmet fetched
8000; an Italian Galeazzi 12bolt mixed-gas helmet sold for
7200; a Swedish farmer may
have been pleased with the
1100 raised by his homemade set-up.

BEARNES HAMPTON & LITTLEWOOD

but is Ironman HUD technology the future?

www.divErNEt.com

of interest, it is designed to make Navy


divers more effective and secure.
Forget briefings the DAVD can
determine on the move what the
divers are looking for, how items
should look and where they might be
located. Divers can turn the display on
and off, and move it around.
By building this HUD directly
inside the dive helmet instead of
attaching a display on the outside, it
can provide a capability similar to
something from an Ironman movie,

US NAVY PHOTO BY RICHARD MANLEY

IMAGINE BEING ON A DIVE and


seeing a real-time topside view of your
dive-site, text messages, diagrams,
photographs and even augmentedreality videos, all displayed inside your
full-face mask or diving helmet.
More information than you might
want, perhaps, but the US Navy has
revealed its latest advances in HUD
(Head-Up Display) diving technology
and they may point the way to what
all scuba-divers will be able to see in
the future.
The Divers Augmented Vision
Display (DAVD), a high-resolution, seethrough HUD embedded directly
inside a diving helmet, has been
developed at the Naval Surface
Warfare Centre based in Panama City.
The system places the data before
the divers eyes with the look and feel
of a point-of-view video-game display.
By expanding situational awareness
and increasing accuracy when
navigating towards a target such as a
ship, downed aircraft or other object

Diving helmet
incorporating
DAVD HUD
technology,
and the sort of
view to expect.
said Underwater Systems
Development Project Engineer
Dennis Gallagher.You have
everything you visually need right
there within the helmet.
The DAVD is part of a 14-year US
Navy strategy to develop state-of-the-

art diving equipment. Also under


development are miniaturised sonar
and enhanced underwater video
systems to enable divers to see in
higher resolution up close even in
near-zero visibility. These could also
feed directly into the DAVD. n

15

divEr

DIVER NEWS

VIRTUAL
WRECK
discovery
trail has been set up
for the protected
historic wreck HMS
Colossus, which sank
off the Scilly Isles in
1798. The idea is to
enhance diver
interactivity and to
show non-divers
what they're missing.
Commissioned by
Historic England (HE)
and created by archaeologists Kevin
Camidge and Tom Goskar, the virtual
trail mirrors the underwater trail
created for divers seven years ago.
More than 2300 divers are said to
have explored the wreck under licence
since 2009, following a map that
shows 12 numbered dive-stations.
The interactive dive trail includes
a 3D site plan, video of the trail, and
plans and photographs of the site.
Divers are encouraged to leave
comments, photographs and video
of their visits so that these can be
incorporated into the virtual trail,
which works on smartphones as well
as computers.

KEVIN CAMIDGE / TOM GOSKAR / HISTORIC ENGLAND

VR adds new dimension to Colossus dive


A

The 74-gun warship Colossus was


built at Gravesend and launched in
1787. Eleven years later she was
returning to England with a cargo
that included eight crates of Greek
antiquities and wounded sailors from
Admiral Nelsons victory at the Battle
of the Nile when she was driven
aground south of Samson in a storm.
All but one crew-member were
rescued before the ship broke up
and sank.
Features include a row of 18pounder guns still within the hull gunports, and unusually well-preserved
timbers.The new virtual dive trail
brings the site alive and includes a

A diver follows the real trail and,


inset, the interactive virtual trail.
divers-eye view video of the whole
dive trail, which gives the non-diver a
pretty good idea of what its like to
dive the site, said Project Manager
Kevin Camidge.
Diving the Colossus can be arranged

100 years down: HMS Hampshire surveyed


The survey confirmed
THE FIRST IMAGES
that HMS Hampshire had
from an ROV scan of
capsized and lay with its
the WW1 warship HMS
hull inverted, reported
Hampshire have been
the institute.
released by the
The compressed
University of the
superstructure was
Highlands & Islands
buried in soft silt, and
Archaeology Institute.
hull damage was noted
The 11,000-tonne,
the length of the vessel,
144m armoured
exposing internal
cruiser had taken part
elements including
in the Battle of Jutland
torpedo-tubes and
shortly before her
machinery.
sinking 100 years ago.
Breech-loading 6in Mk
She was heading for
VII guns were noted up to
Archangel when she
30m from the main body
hit a mine laid by the
The stern of HMS Hampshire.
ROVING EYE ENTERPRISES
of the wreck these
German U-boat U75
could have been dispersed during the
Orkneys west coast, and the first
and sank on 5 June, 1916.
sinking or during salvaging.
archaeological assessment was carried
Only 12 of the 655 crew survived.
In mid-June an Explorers Club dive
out in late May by the Archaeology
Among the seven passengers lost was
expedition to survey the wreck
Institute in partnership with
Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, the
photographically and with 3D
Seatronics, Teledyne RESON, Roving
Secretary of State for War, who was
photogrammetry equipment was
Eye Enterprises and Triscom Marine.
being taken with his staff to a meeting
carried out from Orkney dive-boat
The institute said that the survey,
with the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II.
Huskyan, under a special MoD licence.
the start of a continuing programme,
Hampshire is a Controlled Wreck
Led by wreck-diver Rod Macdonald,
had provided new data and insights
under the Protection of Military
12 technical divers carried out a total
into the mine damage at the bow and
Remains Act, but illegal salvage work
of 250 hours of diving over a twothe impact of salvage activity and
was carried out in the early 1980s.
week period. n
natural deterioration.
It lies around 60m deep off
divEr

16

through the operators of local diveboats Tiburon (www.divescilly.com)


and Moonshadow and Morvoron
(www.scillydiving.com).
Visit the virtual wreck discovery trail
at hmscolossus.cismas.org.uk n

Malta pitches for


safety excellence
MALTA IS AIMING to become a
global destination for scuba-diving
excellence by establishing its own
International Institute of Diving
Medicine & Safety.
The academic programme is a
government-backed joint venture
between the countrys Institute of
Tourism Studies (ITS) and diver
safety and research foundation DAN
Europe, which was set up in Malta
20 years ago. A memorandum of
understanding between the ITS and
DAN was signed in June.
Courses are being designed to
cater for basic to advanced levels of
competence, including Masters
programmes in diving and
hyperbaric medicine, with lectures
delivered at the ITS branch in Gozo.
Our courses focus on the safety
of diving from various perspectives,
including medical, operational and
preventive, said Prof Alessandro
Marroni, DAN Europes CEO. All
curricula will be designed according
to already-existing courses and
partnering with faculties abroad. n

www.divErNEt.com

DIVER NEWS

Chagos coral reefs take a big hit


CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO in the
northern Indian Ocean, a British
Overseas Territory and the world's
biggest no-take marine reserve, has
been hit hard by coral-bleaching,
leading marine biologists have
revealed.
The researchers say they saw the
devastation at first-hand during a
Bertarelli Foundation research
expedition in April, but the Chagos
Conservation Trust (CCT) chose 8 June
World Oceans Day to release their
findings.
Up to 85% of the corals are
believed to have been affected by the
worst bleaching event since 1998,
said Dr Ronan Roche of Bangor
University, one of the team.
Bleaching is caused by oceanwarming, and the researchers
recorded temperatures of 31C even at
a depth of 20m.
The 55 islands of the Chagos
archipelago stretch over 210,000sq

Divers surveying Chagos reef.


miles, twice the size of the UK, with
Diego Garcia the biggest. According to
the CCT, the worlds largest living coral
atoll is surrounded by the cleanest sea
water ever tested. It hosts at least 220
species of coral, 50 species of sharks
and rays and 800 species of fish.
Our concern is the duration of the

DAN BAYLEY

high temperatures in the Indian Ocean


that started in 2015 and continue to
rise, with predictions showing the
highest temps are hitting right now,
said Prof Heather Koldewey, Head of
Marine & Freshwater, Zoological
Society of London.
Underlining the importance of reef

protection, CCT Chair Prof Charles


Sheppard said that more than 90% of
Chagos coral had died in the 1998 El
Nio event but that as a fully
protected marine reserve it is more
resilient, and our long-term data
shows that recovery rates are faster
than on other reefs.
Only 1% of marine reserves
worldwide are fully protected, and
according to the CCT scientists agree
that if the ocean is to survive, 30%
protection is required.
Currently all 196 parties and 168
signatories to the Convention on
Biological Diversity have committed to
10% marine protection by 2020.
I know this reef has the best
chance of any in the world, and we saw
hopeful signs during the expedition,
with some juvenile coral recruitment the next generation and healthy live
corals at depths over 25m, said Prof
Koldewey.But we must do more in
the end there is only one ocean. n

FLYING AFTER DIVING DDRC HEALTHCARE NEEDS YOUR HELP


FLYING AFTER DIVING is the latest topic in
DDRC Healthcares rolling Health of Divers
research project and the charity, which
specialises in diving and hyperbaric medicine, is
seeking feedback from UK recreational divers via
an online questionnaire.
The research programme has been running
for eight years, gathering data on such issues as
illicit drug use, alcohol and cardiac and mental
health among divers.
Since the 1980s there has been much debate

about flying after diving, says DDRC, with case


reports discussed and recommended times to fly
debated. In 2015 the results of the first in-flight
study of real-life dive exposures was published.
Hyperbaric chambers often treat divers back
from a diving holiday with possible
decompression-illness problems, according to
DDRC. It wants to find out more about aspects
such as the type of diving carried out, the actual
surface interval between the last dive and the
flight, signs and symptoms of possible DCI

experienced during the flight, whether the diver


sought help, whether the problems passed, and
what was suspected to be the cause.
Divers do not need to have experienced any
problems before, during or after a flight to
participate, stresses DDRC. The organisation
says it needs to hear from as many UK divers as
possible, and the questionnaire is anonymous.
If you have dived and then caught a flight,
have your log-book to hand and take part in the
survey at www.ddrc.org/research n

SCUBA-DIVING IS ONE WAY to see


whats happening to the world's
reefs another is to head skywards for
a bird's-eye view. And the USAs space
agency reckons there's no contest.
NASA is launching a three-year
Earth science expedition that it says
will survey more of the worlds coral
reefs than ever before and in far
greater detail.
The mission of the Coral Reef
Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) is to
measure the condition of these
threatened eco-systems and create
a unique database of uniform scale
and quality.
Very little of the worlds reefs has
been studied scientifically, says NASA,
because measurements have been
largely confined to expensive, labourintensive diving expeditions.
The state of the art for collecting
divEr

18

coral-reef data is scuba-diving with a


tape measure, says CORAL principal
investigator Eric Hochberg, a scientist
at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean
Sciences.Its analogous to looking at
a few trees and then trying to say what
the forest is doing.
Hochbergs team is set to survey the
condition of entire reef systems in
Australia, Florida, Hawaii, Palau and the
Mariana Islands, using the Portable
Remote Imaging Spectrometer
(PRISM) developed by NASA in its Jet
Propulsion Laboratory.
The airborne instrument records
light reflected up from the ocean,
allowing researchers to pick out the
unique spectral signatures of living
corals and algae. Coral-to-algae ratio is
an indicator of reef health.
The data will, however, still need to
be validated using in-water

NOAA / DAVID BURDICK

Eye in the sky beats scuba NASA

Coral reef in the


Mariana Islands.
measurements. Reef condition will be
analysed in the context of prevailing
physical, chemical and human factors
to reveal how the environment shapes
reef eco-systems.
The current project will cover only
3-4% of the worlds reefs, but NASA

expects CORAL to vastly increase


available reef-health data, and allow
predictions based on numbers, rather
than just ideas Ideally, in a decade or
so well have a satellite that can
frequently and accurately observe all
of the worlds reefs, says Hochberg. n

www.divErNEt.com

BEACHCOMBER

Have you seen any of those pictures of divers


doing what looks like ordinary stuff but that turn
out to be shot upside-down under ice on
a lake in winter?
My favourite was the gardening spoof that
came along a few years ago, and climaxed with a
gardener emptying a wheelbarrow into a hole,
except that the contents of the wheelbarrow
were air and he was pouring it upward through a
hole in the ice. The giveaway was when the
barrow fell upward as it lost buoyancy.
Well, Alison Fetherstonhaugh reports on the
Seeker website that some Finnish scuba-divers
dont wear ankle-weights so that they can walk
upside down on ice-covered lakes.
Dash it, Alison, I wish Id known years ago that
was the secret, and it wasnt about adjusting your
buoyancy so that you were sufficiently positive to
be able to go feet-up and stand on the ice.
Just not bothering with ankle-weights sounds
much simpler.

Underlined
Note for Daily Mirror sub-editors: The
headline about using an underwater
submarine drone wasnt your finest
hour. It cant be submarine without
being under water, and it cant be
under water without being
submarine. See how it works?

Frogs raise bar


Back when I learned to dive, I was taught
to fin by swinging my legs in big, powerful
up and down strokes from the hip, keeping
the legs more or less straight and toes
pretty much pointed.
That was great, and still is, for maximum
thrust through the water, but these days
I mostly meander rather than sprint, so
I frog-kick.
Or I thought I did, until the Weather
Channel published some pictures of real
frogs swimming under water.
All I can say is that my fins have never
touched the back of my head when Ive
done what I thought was a frog-kick.
Cheez, but those slimy little guys are
flexible. Just dont tell the GUE lot, or theyll
raise their bar even higher.

Optimistic view

www.divErNEt.com

Photo nightmares
Underwater photographers are a stouthearted lot, they have to be. Water and
advanced electronics do not mix with
happy results, and sooner or later the worst
may happen and they need to fork out
anything from a few hundred to a few
thousand quid.
Its a feeling the US National Oceanic &
Atmospheric Administration knows only
too well. It recently lost a camera worth
almost half a million bucks while surveying
scallop-beds in Delaware Bay. Oops.
So, next time you flood a housing,
remembering NOAAs little problem might
help cheer you up.

Seakill
A diver does that upside-down trick in a Swiss lake.

Moving home
I likes octopuses. Theyre my favourite
marine critters, and much more
entertaining to watch than zippier
stuff like seals or dolphins.
They can change their colour and
surface texture to match their
background, squeeze through tiny
holes and vanish, and I can watch

Roadkill is an unfortunate side-effect


of modern transport, especially in
country areas, where the slaughter
can reach industrial proportions when
its breeding season for rabbits.
Its different at sea, of course. There
are fewer ships than cars, the seas are
bigger than the land and the wildlife
is mostly bright enough to get out of
the way whats left of it after the
fishing-fleets have been through.
So when Holland Americas
Zaandam made port in Alaska
with a dead whale draped
across her bow just below the
waterline, it made headlines.
The ship is thought to have
struck the whale as she came
into port. What a shame.

Reality check

them for hours without getting bored.


And now theres a video on
YouTube, posted by the Jetlagged,
which shows a small veined octopus
(Amphioctopus marginatus) using a
flip-flop for shelter but only after
examining and rejecting a spoon.

The US Navy has developed


a new diving helmet loaded with
hi-tec to make it easier for their
guys to work under water.
The helmet is so good theyre calling the
tec Augmented Reality.
Sorry boys, youre years too late. Lots
of people already have them. Every dive,
without fail, they see so much more
stuff than I ever do, and AR is the only
explanation I can think of.

Gill demolition

US NAVY PHOTO BY RICHARD MANLEY

Croatia is one of those places that you


may need to use a map to locate, but
as a diving destination its hotting up.
A retired warship has just been
sunk for divers in Polje Bay in the
southern part of Istria, along the
western coast of Kamenjak in
Premantura. See what I mean about
a map being handy?

Anyhow, back to the warship. Her


owner, Arsen Brajkovic, had bought
the 85m vessel with the intention of
converting her into a super-yacht,
but deteriorating conditions in the
Croatian economy and troubles in the
financial markets eventually forced
him to give up the plan and sink her
for divers.
She went down for the
final time towards the end
of May, and now lies 250m
out to sea at a depth of
32m perfect diving depth
and placement.
The best part is the
name the Vis. Presumably
named after the small
Adriatic island but still, if
theres a better one for a
shipwreck I dont know
what is. Lets hope for good vis
all the way.

ALLY MCDOWELL

TOPSY-TURVY

you eat gillyweed, you magically produce


fully functioning gills. Fish have gills and
breathe under water, so if you sprout gills
you too can breathe under water, right?
Wrong. Assuming that Potter was the
standard size for a 14-year-old boy and the
lake in which he swam had average levels
of oxygen dissolved in the water, Reynolds
and Ringrose calculated that his new gills
would need to process 443 litres of water
per minute at 100% efficiency in order to
get enough gas to survive.
And allowing for the surface area of his
gills, he would need to achieve a water
flow rate of 2.46m per second, which
means a higher flow rate for water than
air, which isnt physically possible.
So now I can cross gills off my wish-list
and move on. Which is disappointing, if not
very surprising.

Science and the movies are rarely happy


bedfellows. University of Leicester students
Rowan Reynolds and Chris Ringrose
decided to examine scientifically whether
gillyweed, as used in The Goblet of Fire to
allow Harry Potter to breathe under water
and save the girl, could work in real life.
Some background for non-fans. When

19

divEr

something I was not alone. I looked


around frantically again but could see
nothing. Then I looked down.
Passing below me, almost skimming
the bottom of the cage, was a huge tail-fin.
Holy s--t! Was that scary or what? Where
had the shark come from?
I couldnt believe it had crept up on me so
stealthily.
I waited as long as my chattering teeth
would allow to see if I could spot the
shark again, but after another 10 minutes
I gave in to the thought of a quick dunk in
the lovely warm hot tub on the back deck
of the boat, and a couple of hot drinks.
Through the day, as the sea gradually
calmed, I entered the cage on three more
occasions, each time for nearly an hour.
By the end of the day I felt both frozen
to the core and a little disheartened.
I knew that the sharks had probably been
just beyond the limit of my vision, as

Above left: A Guadaloupe


fur-seal and great white.
Right: A big female
approaching a diver.

Left: Sunrise over Isla


Guadaloupe.
Right: Great white shark
approaching a cage through
a school of fish.

divEr

22

other guests had enjoyed brief sightings.


The next day dawned spectacularly
over the rocky cliffs of the barren volcanic
island. A bright orange sunrise gave way
to a vivid blue as I stumbled out of my
cabin to check the sea conditions.
Millpond calmness greeted me. The
crew were already preparing the sub
cages. Yes! We would be diving into the
sharks realm that day.
After a hearty hot breakfast to help
combat cool water temperatures, our
time-slots were announced. There would
be a slight possibility of second dives but if
there were good sightings the cage would
remain down a little longer. Sven, our
Swedish safety-diver, explained that each
dive would last 40-60 minutes.
The time-slots had apparently been
chosen by lottery, and the lucky ones with
the early slots would have the best chance
of a second dive in the afternoon.
I noticed that everyone who got early
slots was a repeater guest perhaps not
such a lottery after all.
I waited. The first two dives produced
no viewings, but by the third a large
female great white had turned up and had

started to swim lazily around the cages at


a distance.

T WAS MY TURN. Sven helped me into


the cage and passed me my camera, and
another guest followed me in. We were
lucky that there were only two of us
rather than three.
We took our positions at either end of
the cage, with Sven in the middle. Slowly
the cage was lowered. As I looked up,
irrational thoughts struck me. The chain
looked too flimsy and our hookah airsupply line looked to be easy to slice
through with sharp teeth.
I imagined us plummeting to the
depths, having to use the escape hatch and
swim back up through a frenzy of sharks
while out of breath.
As I watched the second cage being
lowered, I noticed something just the
other side of it. A massive female great
white swam gently towards the other cage
before heading towards us. Performing
slow figures of eight around the two
cages, she gradually got closer.
I was filled with awe. I didnt feel

LIVEABOARD DIVER
threatened this was a magnificent
creature and probably one of the most
beautiful I have seen under water.
Making eye contact with such a fabled
species of shark was unbelievable. Her
body language showed no sign of
aggression, her fins pointing straight out
rather than downwards and her body
relaxed, not arched.
Sven had raised himself up and out of
the escape hatch and was sitting on the
top of the cage to watch her. I tugged on
his foot and asked if I could do the same.
He pulled me up and signalled for me to
stand up, holding onto the chain.
Wow! What a feeling to watch that
shark as she swam around me, curious,
checking me out as I took photographs.
I felt privileged, humbled and very calm.
After around 20 minutes, Sven pointed
to his wrist, then up to the surface.
I slipped back down into the cage as it was
smoothly winched up.
Breaking the surface, I realised how
cold I was. The excitement and adrenalin
had kept me warm until that moment.
I prayed that I would be able to do a
second dive, but the swells started to pick
up again at around 3pm. No more deepdiving would be done that day.
Very early the next morning, with
beautiful flat-calm seas again, I watched
an unusual phenomenon a bank of mist
seemingly rolling backwards over the top
of the cliffs.

HE CREW WERE ABOUT TO lower


the sub-cages to give the guests
maximum time in the water before our
scheduled departure early that evening.
They wanted to ensure that everyone had
at least one dive in the sub-cages, because
several guests had missed their
opportunity the previous day.
I watched the first two groups descend
before heading for breakfast. I returned to
the dive-deck afterwards, as the cages
were being pulled back up. A small female
shark was down there, tentative and not
coming too close.
While the next two groups went down,
I went out in the RIB to see the coastline.

The rocky shore and


small volcanic beaches
are part of the marine
reserve around Isla
Guadalupe. It is illegal to
go ashore without
permission.
Skimming close to
the rocks we saw many
Guadalupe fur seals and
a couple of northern
elephant seals, thought
to have become extinct
in 1884 after being
ruthlessly hunted for their blubber. A few
survived and have been protected by the
Mexican government since 1922.
Back on Nautilus we were entertained
by one of the seals somersaulting and
swimming back and forth under the hull.
At 2pm it was my turn for the deep
cage. I had spent more than an hour in the
surface cages that day without a sighting,
so hoped to see the small female that had
been hanging around the deeper cages.
I was much more relaxed on the
descent this time, and took in the beauty
of the sun-rays slicing through the vivid
blue sea as schools of fish swam around
us. We could also see the fur seal that had
been entertaining us at the surface it
followed us down and swam around the
cages with curiosity.
Suddenly the school of fish separated.
The female great white was swimming
through them near the surface. Keeping
her distance, she would check us out then
swim off into the blue, returning a few
minutes later.
The fur seal seemed to want to play
with her, acting kamikaze-like by biting
on her fins, then swimming away quickly.

FTER 15 MINUTES, something


changed. There was a sudden
tension, an almost-tangible feeling of
electricity in the water. The small female
came back, but this time she was
accompanied by the huge female from the
day before, recognisable by her markings.
With a much more aggressive stance
they were both swimming erratically,
coming in fast from different directions,

Above: A great white


bursting through a school of
fish just under the surface.

vanishing only to reappear suddenly from


somewhere unexpected.
Sven dropped back into the cage from
his position halfway through the escape
hatch. This wasnt the time to be outside.
As I wondered why the atmosphere felt
charged and the sharks were acting so
differently, another one caught my eye
a male. He was obviously making the
females uncomfortable.
We watched this interaction for several
minutes before all three swam off into the
blue, not to return. Sven signalled the
Nautilus to winch us up. I had been lucky
there were no further sightings on the
remaining dives.
At 5pm the last cages were winched
onto the deck along with the RIB and we
started our long journey home.
Dosed up on sea-sickness tablets and
having only a light dinner, I slept through
a third of the journey and didnt have the
slightest feeling of queasiness.
The day at sea was beautiful and very
relaxing, with calm seas and blue skies.
I prayed for another whale sighting, but
they steered clear of us.
Back in Ensenada by mid-afternoon,
I reflected on what had been one of the
most exciting, emotional, nauseating and
incredible dive-trips of my life.

FACTFILE

GETTING THERE8Nautilus now runs trips leaving from San


Diego in California. Fly from the UK with BA via Los Angeles
or Virgin, American or United Airlines via San Francisco.
DIVING & ACCOMMODATION8A number of boats visit Isla
Guadalupe including Nautilus Explorer and Nautilus Belle
Amie, which both leave from San Diego, www.nautilus
explorer.com. Solmar V runs trips from San Diego by bus to
Ensenada, from where the boat departs, www.solmarv.com
WHEN TO GO8 Nautilus runs trips to Isla Guadalupe from the
end of July to the end of October. Younger male great whites
are seen in July and August and there is more chance of
larger females September and October. Water temperatures
from 18 to 24C, 5-7mm wetsuit is recommended. Vis 15-50m.
PRICES8 Tour operators including Dive Quest, Dive
Worldwide, Scuba Travel and The Scuba Place can arrange
packages. For individual bookings, flights cost around 750
direct and 695 with one stop. Six-day trips aboard a
Nautilus liveaboard cost from US $2995pp (two sharing).

www.divErNEt.com

23

divEr

SOCORRO AND
THE SEA OF CORTEZ
10 night liveaboard diving one of
the most amazing dive itineraries
there is! Flights, transfers, hotel
accommodation at either end of the
sailing it is ALL included!

Want the big stuff?


Here it is!
From 3999pp.

reservations@thescubaplace.co.uk

Te l e p h o n e
0207 644 8252
Where diving dreams are delivered
AND EASY INTEREST FREE PAYMENT PLANS
DEPOSIT AND FROM AS LITTLE AS 150 PER MONTH!

GREAT WHITE SHARK DIVING


GUADALUPE ISLAND
The ultimate predator, and an ultimate dive trip!
Over 110 known Great White Sharks frequent the dive
sites! Cages at 3 depths without chum being used.
1 night San Diego, 6 day liveaboard, 1 final night back
in San Diego, and home!

As natural as cage diving gets!


From 2999pp.

SOCORRO ISLANDS
1 night in ultra all-inclusive suiteonly hotel, 9 nights liveaboard and
2 nights back in Cabo dive with
hundreds of sharks, humpback
whales, giant Pacific mantas, and
much, much more.

This is Scuba Heaven!!


From 3499pp.

LIVEABOARD DIVER

VALKYRIE
GOES TO
SHETLAND
O

NCE AGAIN WE WERE TO JOIN


Hazel Weaver, Helen Hadley and
crew onboard Valkyrie. Their
home port is Stromness on Orkney, but
they make an annual pilgrimage to the
remote Shetland Islands between June
and the end of August.
While diving Scapa Flow with them
they had told me how wonderful and
more varied than the Flow they found
Shetlands diving, so it was time to find
out for myself.
The easiest way to travel to the
Shetlands is by air. On my previous
attempt to fly to Orkney via Aberdeen,
British Airways had made an error with
the check-in procedure, resulting in a
missed flight and a ferry trip. So this
time we checked in for both legs of the
flight from the word go.
The Logan Air representative at
Aberdeen airport remembered us from
the previous year, and kindly ensured
that there would be no repetition of the
previous problems. Sure enough, a couple
of hours later we landed at Sumburgh,
albeit slightly behind schedule.
We had made it unfortunately my

www.divErNEt.com

dive-kit and that of others in our group


had not. And there was I thinking it was
all going so well!
It was the last flight of the day, and no
luggage would arrive until the following
day at the earliest, so there was little to
do but head for Lerwick and get installed
on Valkyrie. The missing luggage was
delivered next morning.
Being so far north, the temperature
change from the warmer climes of
south-east England is very noticeable,
as are the longer hours of daylight.
In mid-June it has hardly got dark
before the sun rises again. Lerwick is
actually nearer to the Arctic Circle than
it is to Edinburgh.

There arent too


many British
liveaboards
around but one
that seems to be
thriving is Orkney-based
Valkyrie. Now and then she
heads further north into
Shetland waters with their
own array of wrecks BRUCE
MILANI GALLIENI reports

Valkyries spacious foredeck is where


all the dive-kit is set up and kept. The
crew make sure that guests gas
requirements are met, so theres not
much else to do but listen to Hazels very
detailed and informative dive-briefings.
I always find the first dive of a trip in
the north Atlantic a bit disconcerting.
Im not sure why, except that the dark,
sometimes rough, waters take some
getting used to.
The first dive was on a littleknown wreck called the Fraoh Ban,
a 16m eel-trawler that reportedly
sank in about three minutes in
1998. Despite the rapid sinking
the crew all escaped, as did the

25

divEr

captain who, according to sources, was


not a small man but managed to get
through one of the small wheelhouse
windows. Amazing what adrenaline can
make you do.
The sandy seabed makes the ambient
light better than expected. The wreck lies
on its port side totally intact at 31m as
she sank so quickly all her equipment,
particularly in the wheelhouse remains
untouched.
One curiosity of the dive were the
worshipping flatfish. If you pat the
seabed gently, lots of flatfish suddenly
appear with their backs arched, looking
up at you as if worshipping a deity. Most
skippers ignore this wreck as it is rather
small. More fool them, its a great dive.

AM FOND OF CAVERNS, and one


called Fugla Hull (Bird Hole) just off
Bressay would be, we were briefed, both
picturesque and exciting.
Unusually, the entry and exit points
were not the same. The L-shaped
entrance is at about 12m and leads into
a large chamber with colourful walls.
Lots of dahlia anemones and blennies
were in evidence.
After exploring the chamber, you pass
back along the passageway through
which you entered, keeping the wall to

divEr

26

Above, from left:


Nudibranch; octopus on
Boulder reef; boiler on the
Gwladmena; steam capstan
on the Glenisla.
Below, from left: The
Vikings have landed
fishermans house with
Viking ship moored nearby;
remains of a steam pump on
the Gwladmena.

your right, until you can go no further.


At this point you slowly make your
ascent to the exit.
The waves, seen from below, were
smashing through what looked like an
impossibly narrow and shallow gap. As
you get closer, however, it becomes
apparent that the gap is more than wide
enough to get through.
Now at about 2m depth, you commit
and are energetically ushered into the
exit channel, which is a few metres long,
and blasted out into calmer waters and a
very pretty sea garden teeming with life.
This dive had a bit of everything.
Unfortunately the weather was not
being very kind, and the skipper decided
that it would be better to stay moored in
Lerwick than steam north of the islands.
There are interesting wrecks and dives
there, but it could have been an
uncomfortable journey.
This, as all UK divers know, is a fact of
life, even more so this far north. I cant
say I was disappointed, as Im not
particularly fond of rough seas. And
having a crew with great local
knowledge, we didnt feel we would be

missing out. They told us there was


plenty to see and do down south.
So a boulder reef called Score Wall
was followed by a search dive for an
uncharted wreck. Score Wall I found
a little boring, with little to see but a few
crabs and lobsters.
The search for the wreck was more
fun, but had I come all this way to dive
through kelp? I prayed that the next
dives would be more entertaining.

OORING IN LERWICK HARBOUR


allowed for very comfortable
nights sleep and time to explore. The
town was much larger than I had
imagined, with an eclectic variety of
shops, restaurants and bars.
After a very good breakfast on board,
on day four we headed out to dive the
Gwladmena, a 67m steamship built in
1878 and weighing in at 938 tonnes.
Transporting coal, she was struck
while at anchor by the ss Flora and put
under tow, but sank in around 15
minutes. The crew made it ashore.
Gwladmena lies upright at about 38m
on a silty bottom. The upper structure

www.divErNEt.com

LIVEABOARD DIVER

was wire-swept so is no more, and the


wooden decks have long since rotted
away, though the hull is relatively intact.
We dropped down the shotline
amidships and made our way to the bow.
The intact foredeck has a large opening
allowing access inside the bow. Seen
from the outside, because some of the
steel plating has fallen off the visible bow
structure looks rather sinister.
Heading sternward, the steam-engine
appears, followed by two large boilers of
an unusual design, which makes the
wreck even more interesting.
Steam-engines are fascinating, and
this two-cylinder compound design
doesnt disappoint. There is also a deckgun to be seen, just off the stern.
The waters may be dark at this depth
but visibility was excellent. The
Gwladmena had laid to rest my earlier
concerns, and a lot more wrecks were
dived over the week, but most
memorable for me was the Glenisla.
Because of its location in a busy
shipping lane, permission has to be
obtained from the port authority,
which allocates a time-slot for diving
and this only goes to emphasise the
mystique of the wreck.

HE GLENISLA LIES upright at 45m


and is remarkably well-reserved.
Some of the hull-plates are missing and
this allows good views into the bow
section, where the anchor-chains are
still neatly stowed.
As with Gwladmena the wooden
decks have deteriorated to such an
extent that the lower decks can be easily
accessed. The wreck has one very
distinctive feature a steam storage tank
called a steam boob. No prizes for
guessing what it looks like.
This reserve of steam was used to
power the steam-winches when Glenisla
was moored with the main engine
running. Just behind it are the massive

www.divErNEt.com

twin boilers, with the engine located just


behind them.
Deeper inside the hull, the workshop
can be explored. Its quite tight and care
must be taken not to kick up the silt.
Remarkably, all the tools still hang in
their holders. There is even a vice, still
screwed to the workbench.
Because of the depth, one dive is not
enough to take in everything. Luckily we
were allowed a second visit, which
proved even more interesting.
Part of the cargo was phosphorus,
kept under oil in tins to stop it reacting
with air. The tins have deteriorated,
leaving cheese-like forms of this highly
dangerous material lying all over the
place. Even at this depth, the Brie-like
wedges glow white.
Under no circumstances should one
attempt to touch these, and it is stressed
during the briefing that if any is brought
to the surface your kit will be thrown
back overboard. Phosphorus may be
innocuous at depth but it ignites in
contact with air, so would pose a serious
threat to all onboard.
Some might argue that you could dive
in far more exotic locations than the
remote Shetlands for less money. Maybe
so, but theres something very special
about diving this far north. For me, it
was worth every penny.

Above: Feeding time on


Glenisla.
Right: Sauce-boat in the
bow of the wreck.

FACTFILE
GETTING THERE8Flights from
London to Aberdeen with BA and on
to Sumburgh with Logan Air.
DIVING & ACCOMMODATION8
The 22m timber-built Valkyrie
started life as a fishing-boat in 1967
and has travelled all over the world. It
was converted for diving in 2003. It
caters for mixed-gas and CCR divers,
www.mv-valkyrie.co.uk
WHEN TO GO8 Between June and
the end of August.
PRICES8 Flights cost around
250pp. One weeks B&B on Valkyrie
including diving costs around 750
gas mixes extra.
VISITOR INFORMATION8
www.shetland.org

27

divEr

BE THE
CHAMP!

Rules is rules but dont be


ruled by them. Thats ALEX
MUSTARDs message this
month, because ultimately even
if your photograph breaks with
compositional convention, the
acid test is whether it looks right

Perhaps the greatest benefit of any of the guides is


that they help us develop our photographic eye

E CANT COVER the topic of


composition without
discussing the classic rules that
appear in every photography or painting
textbook. If you remember only one
thing from this article, it should be that
these are tools, not rules.
On more than one occasion when
teaching underwater photography
workshops, Ive had photographers show
me fantastic images only for them to
express disappointment with them
because they dont adhere to the letter
of the law the so-called rules. This is
totally wrong.
The main reason I have left these
classic rules of composition until the
final instalment of this mini-series is to
ensure that you dont think them the beall and end-all of framing up images.
That said, many photographers find
these guides a very significant help when
trying to make sense of a scene or a
subject in the viewfinder or on their
LCD screen.
They are often just as helpful when
selecting and cropping images after
shooting. If youre struggling to find the
image, they really can be the key to
unlocking the potential subject.
But the goal of these rules is simply
to help you make better-looking pictures.
Many photographers never consider
these guides at all, instead simply
arranging the subject matter in a way
that pleases their aesthetic tastes.
Thats fine, and this intuitive approach
regularly yields pictures that adhere
perfectly to the laws.

STARTER TIP
Careful composition can transform
ordinary to interesting, but keep it
simple. The rules are tools just to
help you produce pleasing images.
Once you have found a subject it is
time to experiment and frame it in
different ways until you find the
most pleasing composition.
Remember: if it looks right, then it
is right.

divEr

28

Above: Placing a subject


off-centre, particular on the
right, gives an image more
balance and interest.
Taken with a Nikon D4 and
Sigma 150mm. Subal
housing. Two INON Z240
strobes. ISO 250, 1/250th
@ f/29.

Compositional awareness, however, is


definitely a skill that can be learned and
continually refined. Perhaps the
greatest benefit of any of the guides to
composition is that they help us develop
our photographic eye, making the
process much more intuitive.
And the good news is that you dont
even need to be under water. Im sure
everyone has played at being a movie
director by making a frame from our
thumbs and index fingers to compose
a scene.
These days we can even use the camera
in our phone. The message is that the
more we practise composition, the more
pleasing our pictures will be.
I AM GOING to cover only the three
most useable rules in this column:
Thirds, Diagonals and Lines. These
classic rules of composition date back
millennia. The ancient Greeks famously
recognised the inherent attractiveness of
specific proportions and used them in
their architecture and art.
And most of the great art from the
past 500 years is also based around these
principles, so youre in good company!

Most images have a main point of


interest, such as an attractive red soft
coral, the eyes of a fish or the face of your
buddy. This is where the viewers eyes
will be drawn first.
Where and how this is positioned in
the frame affects the aesthetic balance
and even the mood of the photograph.
This is where the rules come in.
The best known is the Rule of Thirds,
which is widely used in paintings to give
a pleasing harmony to the composition
and is generally more interesting than
sticking the subject in the centre of the
frame. Google JMW Turners famous
Fighting Temeraire for a classic example.
To visualise the thirds, we should
divide our frame with two vertical lines
and two horizontal lines (all equally
spaced), so that the original frame is now
a grid of nine identical rectangles with the
same proportions as the whole frame.
Many cameras will do this for you,
overlaying this grid onto your LCD
screen or viewfinder.
Placing subjects in-line with these lines
and particularly with key features on the
intersections (sometimes called power
points) will give your composition

www.divErNEt.com

PHOTO TECHNIQUE

A careful composition
helps this image work.
The diver is placed on
the lower third, while the
canyon creates leading
lines to give the image
depth.
Taken with a Nikon D4 and
Nikon 16-35mm @ 16mm.
Nauticam housing. No flash.
ISO 1000, 1/50th @ f/13.

29

divEr

PHOTO TECHNIQUE
balance and strength. Because we read
from left to right, the intersection points
on the right of the frame are considered
to give the most harmonious
composition. However, if our subject is
orientated or moving in a direction, it is
far more important for balance that it is
facing into the frame, with more space
ahead than behind.
The good news is that underwater
images (without divers) can easily be
flipped. Because there is no writing etc to
confuse matters, we can try a subject on
the left or right.
On slide film this simply meant
turning the slide over; in digital it means
clicking a switch in the software.
When flipping an image we should
look away from the screen or close our
eyes, because when we watch it change
we are less likely to prefer the result.
Looking away for a moment lets you
choose objectively.
Photographers can get obsessive about
exactly hitting their thirds, but this

Below: Compositional rules


can be combined. Here,
a diagonal shark meets
a diver on the third.
Taken with a Nikon D4 and
Nikon 20mm. Subal housing.
Two Seacam 150. ISO 500,
1/20th @ f/20.

MID-WATER TIP
Try to avoid repeating the same compositions again and
again. At times the best position for a subject is in the
middle of the frame, sometimes on a third, sometimes on
a power point. But if you are showing a series of images in
a gallery or slide-show, you dont want them all the same.

divEr

30

doesnt matter. The important lesson is


to get the subject away from the centre of
the frame. We can easily fall into the trap
of shooting everything in the middle,
because this is where the camera
autofocus works best.
Finally, dont forget that we can
always crop an image after shooting,
to position the subject in a more
interesting location.
DIAGONALS are highly suited to
underwater photography and give
images interest and energy. Often we
create them by simply tilting the camera
by 45, to turn a standard scene into
something more interesting.
They work well with stickies
critters such as gobies, shrimps and crabs
living on stick-like whip corals or kelp
stipes. Diagonals also suit moving
subjects, such as schools of fish or sharks,
giving the image more dynamism.
The other use of diagonals is when
shooting standard, vertical wide-angle
scenery. These shots often have the main
subject in the lower half of the frame
(sponge, soft coral etc.) and a secondary
subject in the top half (silhouetted diver,
sunburst). It is usually stronger to
position these on a diagonal, rather than
straight up and down.
Straight lines are rare under water,
but that doesnt stop us using leading

ADVANCED TIP
Compositional rules dont have to
be used in isolation - they can be
combined for eye-catching images.
Diagonals and thirds are
regularly best buddies. Some of the
most attractive compositions bring
curves and spirals into the mix.

lines to give images depth and


compositions energy.
They take the viewers eyes through
the frame and give a feeling of
perspective. A classic use under water
is a photo revealing an anchor line
leading up to a boat on the surface.
Converging lines are often used in
paintings. Look at Leonardo da Vincis
Last Supper, and see how the lines of
the room draw your attention to the
chap in the middle!
Leonardo boosts Jesuss contrast
further still using classic techniques we
covered in last months column. First
Jesus is placed against a bright window,
then he is dressed in eye-catching and
opposite colours of red and blue. There
is no doubt who is the boss here!
Such lines may be infrequently found
under water but wreck internals give us
the chance to use them, as does some
shallow scenery, and they can greatly
add to compositions.

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20

LE POLYNESIEN:

BEST IN THE MED?


Its at 65m and each years storms leave it a
little more ravaged, but this French liner,
sunk by a U-boat towards the end of WW1,
is one of the worlds great underwater
experiences, says RICK AYRTON

Pictured: Diver over the


stern gun.
Left: A souvenir postcard
of Le Polynesien.

divEr

32

WRECK DIVER

EN PEOPLE DIED WHEN


Le Polynesien was torpedoed by
a German U-boat on 10 August,
1918. But the French Risbec-class ocean
liner had enjoyed an illustrious start.
Built by Messageries Maritime, La
Ciotat, she had been launched on 18
April, 1890, by Frances president Marie
Francois Sadi Carnot.
Le Polynesien was built for hot
climes. She had limited superstructure
that carried canvas shades covering the
decks to give some relief from tropical
sun. The 6659-ton ship was 152m long
and had a single triple-expansion
engine powered by 12 coal-fed boilers.
This generated 7500hp, her four-bladed
propeller pushing her along at a top
speed of 17.5 knots.
The liner worked the FranceAustralia route and later Far East and
French colony destinations. At the start
of WW1 she was requisitioned and
armed by the French authorities
as a troop transport.
Her final voyage, so close
to the end of the war, was

from Marseilles to Salonica. She was


torpedoed some seven miles outside the
Grand Harbour, Valletta in Malta by
UC22, commanded by Eberhard
Weichold.
Le Polynesien now lies upright with
a lean to port in 65m of clear
Mediterranean water and makes for a
magnificent dive preferably more than
one. I have dived this wreck several
times, and am sad to see its gradual
deterioration as the elements claim it.
The depth keeps most tourist-divers
away but those trained to make the
most of a 60m dive can say that,
whatever the deterioration, they have
been on one of the worlds most
spectacular shipwrecks.
Certainly it is one of the most
complete, but with enough breaks to
give a decent glimpse beneath the
exterior. As a big seabed obstruction
it also plays host to shoals of fish and
some larger predatory species such as
barracuda and tuna. Smaller fish
somehow find divers less of a problem
when the predators are cruising, and
you can find your visibility obstructed
by fish-soup on occasion.
A dive will start at about 50m, when
you arrive at one of the higher points on
the starboard rail. A quick check of your
surroundings at this point will help

with your eventual return to the


shotline. Looking around, you will be
impressed by the framework of the
superstructure still standing.
If you are aft of the engine, this
structure sits above the still mainly
intact wooden decking, and would have
supported those canvas sun-shades for
passengers promenading on deck.
Moving aft on the port side, a steering
position with the remains of the
wooden ships wheel is present. The
spokes have gone but the central boss
and rim remain a second rim lies on
the seabed below this point.

LITTLE FURTHER ON you come


to the main armament, a large
encrusted gun, probably 155mm, with
hand-wheels to operate elevation and
traverse. It sits impotently on top of the
classic stern, which is above the rudder
and, lower down, the prop.
The seabed here is at 65m so it takes
a tremendous 10m-plus freefall off the
stern to take in these structures.
The prop has an unusual shape and
there is space to swim between it and
the rest of the ship.
After exploring the stern, return on
the port side, where there is more
debris. Pass the wheel on the seabed,
then follow the remains of one of

33

divEr

WRECK DIVER
the masts back to the deck. Move
forward here. Above the engine-room,
the massive engine-block and several
boilers (or parts of them) are visible.
There seems to be a break or twist in
the wreck in front of the boilers, and a
dark cavern presents a very tempting
entrance into the wrecks interior.

INCE I FIRST DIVED THIS WRECK


in 2003 the deck levels have been
slowly collapsing. There is less space
now, although it remains perfectly
diveable with care.
Each years winter storms are likely to
bring more deterioration to this grand
125-year-old lady.
The inner spaces are an overhead
environment, so extra care needs to be
taken. The interior is a bit silty, and rust
debris can be dislodged from the roof,
but I have always been aware of blue
exterior light penetrating, and that
exiting has been straightforward.
If at all concerned do not enter or,
alternatively, lay a line.
Square structures that drop between
the decks allow access or egress. More
than one deck level can be entered and
fascinating artefacts can be seen,
including plates, patent fuel, remains of
beds, seating fixed in rows, rubber tyres,
wine bottles and, if youre lucky enough
to find them, cut-glass bottles of
perfume, some still containing dark
amber liquid.
Malta operates a strict no-take policy,
and I would urge divers to respect this to
allow others the pleasure of discovering
these artefacts for themselves.
After rummaging around inside for
a while, the outside beckons again.
Squeezing between the bars of the
square structure (actually fairly
straightforward) provides a clear exit
that brings you onto the foredeck area.
Move forward to the small bow gun,
which looks like a toy compared to the
aft weapon.
If you can, get in front of the ship to
check out its knife-edge bow, designed

to cut effortlessly through the waves, but


because the currents can be quite fierce
take care not to be swept off the wreck as
you move off it. The two massive
anchors are still stowed either side of the
bow, just as they were in 1918.
Time and deco do not wait, so start
working your way back to the shotline.
Over the break in front of the engine,
drop to get a better view, and spend a bit
of time looking around this area.
Oil-boxes can be seen, with small-bore
pipework that would have carried oil to
the engine bearings.
Walkway gratings can be seen, and it
isnt difficult to imagine the engineers
with their rags and oil-pots moving
around to keep the immense steam
engine working as efficiently as possible.
Soon after leaving the engine area
familiar landmarks come into view,
followed by the shotline. A quick
farewell, then its off up to the surface
with a fair bit of decompression first.

HE DEPTH OF THIS WRECK makes


it a technical dive, and narcosis-risk
apart, any diver attempting it on a single
cylinder of air would be very unwise.
On my most recent trip the group was
a mixture of rebreather and open-circuit
trimix divers, but I think the depth
makes this wreck a perfect rebreather
dive. It can be completed within
duration parameters set by the dive
manager, yet gives enough time to fully
appreciate the spectacle.
On my last dive, which gave me 50
minutes of bottom time, I needed 105
minutes of decompression, and so
enjoyable was the dive that the time
passed remarkably quickly.
The rewards are big for wreck
aficionados, so if youre not already,
get trained and dived up, and go and see
for yourself!

l Ricks dive was organised by Jack Ingle


Technical Diving, jackingle.co.uk, with
support from Maltaqua and based at its
centre in St Pauls Bay, maltaqua.com

Pictured: Diver over


the bow.
Right, top to bottom:
Bow gun; patent fuel
briquettes; diver
above the anchorwinches; diver over
the engine-room; a
set of plates

divEr

34

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FLUO DIVER

NIGHT & DAY


STUART WESTMORELAND wrote PADIs
Fluorescence Night Diver distinctive
speciality course, and he reckons theres far
more to fluo-diving than wow-factor nightdives and unusual photos though those
taken here by the author and LYNN MINER do look pretty good!

LYNN MINER

Pictured: Small red scorpionfish (Scorpaena notata)


taken at dusk in the Red Sea, using a Canon EOS Rebel
T4i in a Sea & Sea housing, ISO 400, 1/60th, f4, Canon
EF-S18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II lens at 20mm setting with
Firedivegear yellow filter and excitation filters on two
Sea & Sea strobes, and Firedivegear custom mask filter.

LUORESCENCE- OR FLUO-DIVING
has gained in popularity around
the world in the past few years, yet
its still considered new because so many
divers and even instructors have never
been exposed to it.
Fluo-diving means using a blue-light
torch and mask barrier filter for viewing
bio-fluorescence. Certain marine life
emits light with a longer wavelength
(of visible light) when illuminated with
shorter-wavelength blue or excitation
light, and the effect can be very dramatic,
a bit like finding yourself in an
underwater version of Avatar.
Many species of shelled animals, soft
and hard coral structures, coral polyps,
some fish and anemones emit this light,
and the word emit is important.
This is not the sort of light you get on a
night-dive when your white-light torchbeam is reflected off the reef and bounces
back to your eyes. Emitted light is created
by the organism and sent to you.
This is not bio-luminescence, which is
a completely different process whereby
the organism creates its own light
through a process called chemoluminescence. Bio-luminescence needs
no excitation light its all done
internally through chemical reaction, as
fire-flies do it on land.
The visible spectrum of light is the
incredibly thin slice of the electromagnetic spectrum that we can see.
It lies between the low-energy, lowfrequency, extremely long-wavelength
radio waves and the high-energy, highfrequency, extremely short-wavelength
(and deadly) gamma rays.
The bandwidth of light wavelengths
that the average person can see covers
from approximately 400nm
(nanometres) or 400 billionths of a
metre, which is deep purple (almost

37

divEr

Top, from left: Giant


staghorn corals, Palau,
Micronesia; burrowing
tube anemone at night,
Puerto Galera,
Phillippines; encrusting
sponges and hard corals
by day, Palau; corals at
dusk/night, Palau.

divEr

38

black), to about
750nm dark red
(again, almost
black).
The schematic
illustrates the
fluorescence
effect. When a
high-energy,
short-wavelength
photon of light
(blue in our case)
strikes a protein
(referred to
generically as a
Green Fluorescent Protein, or GFP), it
absorbs that light energy.
This causes the electrons of its
constituent atoms to make a quantum
jump from one valence electron shell to a
higher shell. Then this change of energy
state decays, effectively instantly, back
to its resting state or shell.
When this decay occurs, the electron
gives up or emits a photon of light, but
at a lower energy and longer wavelength.
The colours emitted are determined by
how many jumps the electron makes,
and decays back down. This is where
diving and quantum physics collide.
The wavelength of light used in most
fluo torches is a narrow band in the blue,
somewhere between 440 and 480nm, so it

is not ultra-violet (UV) or black-light


diving, as many people refer to it.
There are companies that produce UV
torches for underwater use, but blue light
is far more efficient at stimulating
fluorescence of GFP and its mutations
than UV light.
Thats because the only light available
deeper than about 10m of water is blue,
and its in this light that organisms such
as coral have evolved over the eons.
Most UV light from the Sun bounces
off the surface of the water and that
which does penetrate gets no further
than a few centimetres. UV light is a very
inefficient light source for fluo-diving.

T IS NOT WELL UNDERSTOOD why


some corals and other sea creatures
evolved to fluoresce, though there are
many theories. It might serve as a form of
sun-block, protecting coral in shallow
water from UV energy from the Sun, or it
might be a form of communication
between species.
Many people think that only hard
corals fluoresce, but the terms hard
and soft as applied to coral can be
misleading. For example, brain coral is
usually considered a hard coral but is in
fact part of the LPS (Long Polyp Stony)
family of soft coral, because the live coral
consists of tiny soft creatures that live

and die, building up a large stony


structure over the decades. The same
applies to SPS (Small Polyp Stony) corals.
These are the coral subjects that give
the most fluo effects, whereas soft corals
such as those in the Alcyonacea family
rarely fluoresce. As in all families there
are exceptions to the rule, but the
message is that many types of coral
fluoresce and many do not.
That is part of the allure of fluo-diving
its still possible to make your own
discoveries as a citizen-scientist.
Along with the blue-light torch, you
need a barrier filter for your mask, and
for your camera if you plan to take
photos. This blocks the blue light that
is reflected back to you from everything
on which you shine it without it, all you
will see is very bright blue.
Barrier filters are designed to cut off
all or most of the wavelengths in the blue
part of the spectrum. Emitted light from
the organism is usually so dim as to be
overwhelmed by the blue light, but block
the blue and all you see are the emission
colours.
Fluo-dives introduce safety
considerations above those on a normal
night dive. With white light, all the
colours of the spectrum are available to
see, but in fluo-diving the only light
you are using is a very narrow band of

www.divErNEt.com

FLUO DIVER

blue. Put on your blue barrier filter and


whats left? Almost nothing you just
eliminated your light source.
The emission light is dim and does not
light up the entire reef, so you need to
exercise excellent buoyancy control, be
constantly aware of your surroundings
and be situationally aware. If a coral head
doesnt fluoresce or light up, you could
crash into it.
Always approach and leave a site using
your back-up white-light torch, and have
it handy when you enter an area in which
there is little fluo activity. Alternatively
you can always remove your mask-filter
and you will see fine, although in blue.

URING A RECENT TRIP TO Palau


where it was dark and stormy, we
decided to try fluo-diving and
photography in daylight. We found that
both are possible with strong excitation
lights and the proper ambient lighting
conditions. In daylight there are no
additional safety concerns fluo-diving
in daylight is much easier, and you can
still get spectacular photographic results.
Its best to have cloudy skies, though
not required. Next, look for walls or
structures in the shadows. While its best
to have the sun on the back side of the
structure so that it is not illuminating it
directly, you can work around this if the

www.divErNEt.com

target is in a hollow or cavity in a wall, or


under an overhang.
Using a strong excitation/focus light
allows you to find subjects that fluoresce
nicely and allow for plenty of light for
viewing or camera focus. If it is powerful
enough you can get great shots using that
alone, but strobes with the appropriate
excitation filters will do very well.
Many people think that fluo-diving is
done simply for the wow-factor of the
radiant colours, or for a different take on
underwater photography, though Ive
also seen students surface after their first
fluo-dive reduced to tears by the beauty
of this further hidden world within the
hidden underwater world.
But it is far more than that. Fluodiving has become an indispensable tool
in coral-health research and coralpropagation census (polyp bail-out)
analysis. Individual almost-microscopic
organisms shine in the sand like sparkles
in the snow on a moonlit night.
Coral reefs are considered the rainforests of the ocean, and many marine
institutes and universities are using fluo
equipment to assess the effects of ocean
temperature rise, acidification and
studies of coral in general.
There have even been discoveries of
species that had been too small to see
with white light but shine like beacons in

the dark in blue light.


As global water temperatures rise,
coral-bleaching occurs. Corals have a
symbiosis with zooxanthellae single-cell
algae, which use photosynthesis to
provide food and energy to the coral.
Temperature rises cause these
zooxanthellae to be ejected, giving the
coral a colourless, bleached appearance
and removing those nutrients the coral
needs to survive. This makes them
vulnerable to additional stresses that
can ultimately destroy an entire reef.

CEAN ACIDIFICATION reacts with


the corals calcium carbonate
skeleton, causing it to break down and
dissolve, and while this can be seen
under white-light conditions it is even
more dramatic using fluorescent
technologies, which are enhancing this
field of marine research.
You can hire the equipment you need
to fluo-dive at those dive-centres that
provide it, or buy your own if you intend
to pursue this style of diving.
Web-search fluo dive gear to find
equipment-sellers as well as blogs,
images and forum discussions on the
subject. Or go to www.firedivegear.com
for much greater detail on the science
and photographic techniques used in
fluo-diving both day and night.

Below, from left: Red


scorpionfish surrounded
by green hard corals, Raja
Ampat, Indonesia;
bearded fireworm,
Florida, USA; tube sea
anemone, Alor, Indonesia;
green open brain coral by
day, Palau.

39

divEr

LIVEABOARD DIVER

NOTHING
TO DO BUT
DIVE
chat, eat and sleep. You have
to love liveaboards floating
hotels and dive-centres all
rolled into one. BETH &
SHAUN TIERNEY provide
their recipe for ensuring
that every liveaboard
break you take goes
swimmingly

HERES NOTHING, REALLY nothing,


that makes the day as much as waking
pre-dawn, clambering into
a swimming costume and heading up to
the deck (via the coffee pot). Up top
its silent, everything is still.
Before the coffee is done,
a gentle sun-ray eases over the
horizon. As the light increases
slowly, all you can see is sea.
No land, no crowds and,
best of all, no other diveboats. Just how we like it.
The temperature is rising, the breeze is
gentle and life seems very good indeed.
Then the pace changes, the ships engine
coughs into life, the crew start moving and we
hear dive time, dive time. A smile peeks
above the deck. Hey, are you guys doing the

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pre-breakfast
dive? Is the Pope
Catholic? Does a bear
anyway, its time to get going.
After many years of diving
from day-boats, waddling off
the beach or leaping in from
a jetty, we
finally
managed
to get on a
liveaboard. A
friend had invited us,
and that single moment
changed our diving lives.
Yes, of course we were
unsure at the start we
worried about the cost,
the other people we might

be stuck with and all sorts of issues. But once


onboard, it didnt take long before we realised
the benefits.
You unpack your bags in the cabin, change
from your real-life clothes to your swimming
costume and thats about it until the end of
the cruise. You unpack your dive-bag and set
up your kit and, yes, thats about it until the
end of your cruise.
You get to dive, dive, and, when youve had
enough diving if such a thing is possible
you can watch others dive.
Or hit the deck for a spot of sun, a quiet
read or a gossip with your new pals. And
whatever it is you decide to do, you need only
go a few metres to do it, so theres no rushing,
no hassles and almost no stress.
Meanwhile, the crew look after everything,
and I mean everything. They fill your tanks,

41

divEr

look after your kit, help with your


cameras, feed you and entertain you.
The boat takes you to places you
would otherwise never reach, because it
doesnt have to return to shore at night.
You get to visit remote locations with
untouched dive-sites and you hardly
notice the transition, as you are asleep at
the time.
However, for all the positive
comments we can make here, liveaboard
virgins have concerns and these do need
to be addressed.

SELECTING A LIVEABOARD
While the upside of liveaboard diving is
obvious, the downside is that once youre
on, youre stuck, so you should choose
your floating palace carefully. This type
of scenario wont suit everyone, yet some
of our best holidays have been on
liveaboards, where the scenery was
beautiful, every dive perfect, and we
loved everything about everything. Ask
the right questions to ensure that the
trip you get is the trip you want.
Consider exactly what you do want.

divEr

42

Dont be over-influenced by what


someone else says, because their version
of perfect might not be yours.
Pick the destination first, by the type
of marine life you want to see, the style
of diving (wrecks, reefs, caves) and the
time of year you can go. This gives you a
choice of warm water or cool, dry days
or rainy.
Weather is all-important if budget is a
restriction. Going in low season means
that it might be cheaper, but remember
thats because conditions might not be at
their best.
Finding the right destination is the
easy part, however, with so many from
which to choose. Picking the right boat
can be a little harder so list your queries,
then ask the operator or an agent for
answers. Use the checklist here to help
you along the way.

Above: Recovery then


its time to go again,
whether from the dive-deck
or a tender.
Below: Kit neatly set up,
waiting for the next round.

than it seems. Increasingly boats are


including more elements too, such as full
diving equipment (saving on those
baggage charges), nitrox and tours to
local islands or landmarks.
We always work out a comparison
based on a rough cost per dive to see if
we think the overall price is value for
money. Choose your destination, then
add up the price of your flights, the boat
and any extras such as marine-park fees
or visas. Divide the total by the number
of dives you expect to have, often four

WHAT ITS WORTH


If a liveaboard seems prohibitively
expensive at first glance, consider what it
covers. With more dives per day and
extras such as drinking water and soft
drinks, the cost in real terms may lower
www.divErNEt.com

LIVEABOARD DIVER

per day, for your cost per dive.


Repeat the exercise with a land-based
package in the same place that includes
flight, hotel and a dive-package. Again,
divide by the number of dives and
compare. Its not certain which option
will be cheaper, but remember that the
liveaboard includes all meals, snacks,
drinks and often nitrox.
Some throw in wine with dinner, some
will take you on shore trips between
dives or even arrange a bit of extra
training. Its all about value for money.

DESTINATIONS

Below: A comfortable
twin cabin.

For many of us, the real draw of diving


from a liveaboard is access to your alltime dream destination, because a boat
is able to take you further into the blue.
Are you after wrecks, big stuff, things to
photograph, somewhere with beautiful
scenery or a place where you can get off
and see the land-sites?
Here is an overview of liveaboards in
some easily reached parts of the world,
and a few that are a bit more aspirational.

Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is an all-year
destination and can be great value,
important after such a long flight. Most
trips last 3-4 days and longer ones are
just two pushed together, so involve
returning to port. There are only a few
boats, and rates vary. In winter you can
dive and snorkel with minke whales.

Belize
With only two boats currently, cruises
travel from the coast to the famed
Lighthouse Reef, location of the iconic
Blue Hole. Trips last seven days. Weather
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tends to be very unsettled in September.

Caribbean
Again there are only a few boats, with
routes such as Saba-St Kitts, around the
Turks & Caicos or the Cayman Islands.
These are particularly good value and
dives are easy and pleasant. Hurricane
season is the last half of the year.

Egypt
There are countless liveaboards in Egypt,
which means competition is high and
costs can be low. Be careful, however,
because as with all things, you get what
you pay for. Trips tend to last seven days
to coincide with European charter
flights. The far south is least busy, while
the north has a greater variety of sites.

Fiji
Currently, there are only two liveaboards
here as well, one new, one of very long
standing, so they have quite different
price bands. The water temperature is
a gnats crotchet cooler than some
destinations, so the corals are regarded
as among the best in the world.

43

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LIVEABOARD DIVER

LIVEABOARD CHECKLIST
Youve heard the saying that
a boat is a hole in the ocean into
which you throw money?
Theres a lot of truth in that, so
boat-owners have to be dedicated
to their investment and keep it in
tip-top condition. There is rarely
any reason to worry about seaworthiness, but again, you do get
what you pay for.
These questions are the sort
worth asking to ensure that you
get the type of trip you want. Dont
feel that you cant ask operators
worth their salt will know that
youre asking for the right reasons.

Galapagos
The appeal of seeing big marine
creatures makes this the ultimate diving
destination for many. The land creatures
are pretty spectacular too and
liveaboard prices are high. Only a
handful of boats are issued with diving
licences (make sure you check that the
one you fancy has one). Conditions can
be harsh, but rewards are high.

Indonesia
Probably the most targeted liveaboard
destination, as there are a wealth of
boats at all budgets in what is regarded
as the worlds most prolific marine
environment. Plus, the size of the
country means that no one location is
over-run you can still feel as if you are
the only person on the planet.

Malaysia
A lone liveaboard is stationed off the
coast near famous Sipadan, but this
budget boat is really a floating hotel that
shuttles between Sipadan, Mabul and
Kapalai, dropping people back to shore
every day or so.

Maldives
As in Egypt, liveaboards have burgeoned
to the point at which its almost too
busy. There is little chance of being the
only boat on the horizon here. Costs
are higher than in Egypt but standards
are very good. Trips tend to last seven
or 10 days, and the larger marine life can
be spectacular.

Mexico
The only liveaboards in this country
depart from the Pacific Coast heading

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44

THE BOAT

for Guadalupe
(great white
sharks), Socorro
(sharks and
mantas) and the
Sea of Cortez (seals
and whales). These
are unique trips,
often with long
crossings but well
worth the money
(see Lisa Collins
article in this issue).

Maximum number of passengers

on board?
Are children allowed?
Facilities for non-diving partners?
Non-smoking policy?
Cabin layout bunks or ground

Micronesia
Palau and Truk both have a few
liveaboards, with more in Palau. These
two destinations are a long haul from the
UK, but the diving is well worth it and
Palau is particularly good value for
sharks, mantas, turtles and caves. Truk
is all about the wrecks, with a lot of
impressive but deep dives.

Philippines
For a long time this was a land-based
dive holiday destination, but the number
of liveaboards has slowly risen. A range
of routes allow a whole region to be
dived rather than a single island, and the
variety of sites from critter to wreck to
reef makes this superb value.

Thailand
With weather conditions dictating that
dive trips in the Indian Ocean are
limited to half the year, along with
natural disasters and some economic
pressure, the number of liveaboards here
has dropped dramatically and schedules
have been shortened. However, the
diving can be brilliant.

Top: Home sweet home,


seen from below.
Above: You never know
what might turn up when
youre living at sea.

level, single or double beds?


which deck and location is near
the engine-room?
Cabins for single people?
Air-conditioning?
En-suite cabins or number of
shared bathrooms?
Deck/beach towels?
Camera and computer facilities?
Free (or back-up) diving
equipment?

THE DIVING
Number of divemasters?
Number of dives in a day, or total

in the trip?
Schedule of dives time of first

and last, night dives?


Nitrox?
Solo, buddy or group dive policy?
RIB, tender or liveaboard diving?
Ladders on tenders/RIB?
Best season for special events?

FOOD & DRINK


Can the cook cater for

vegetarians, any medical or


allergy restrictions?
Included soft beverages?
Included hard beverages?

EXTRAS
Are airport transfers included?
Marine park or port fees?
Any additional taxes?

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SHOW PREVIEW
The doors of the NEC
swing open on DIVE
2016 on 22/23 October.
You should go!

SHOW OF SHOWS

A HOST OF NEW NAMES and features


along with some past favourites are
already being lined up to bring a
sparkle to the Dive Show of the Year.
DIVE 2016 takes place over the
weekend of the 22/23 October at the
National Exhibition Centre in
Birmingham, and it promises to be
another must-attend event.
And as if the Show attractions
werent enough, this years Grand Prize
Draw is offering a holiday extravagant
even by Dive Show standards
a fortnights two-centre dive-fest in
that hotspot of biodiversity the
Philippines (see opposite page).

TEKDECK/TEKPOOL
One new feature that promises to
ramp up the interest is the TekDeck,
designed to appeal not only to the
growing body of existing technical
divers but to all those qualified divers
wondering about the next step in
their evolution.
TekDeck co-ordinator Mark Powell
has lined up an array of expert
divers keen to share their knowledge
and experience names already
confirmed beside Powell himself
include Tim Baker, Tim Clements,
Mark Culwick, Kieren Hatton,
Jack Ingle, Matt Jevon, Greg Parker,
Simon Taylor-Watson, Michael
Thomas and Dave Thompson.
Subjects range from equipment
configuration, line-laying, rebreathers
and sidemounts to shutdowns,
gradient factors, fitness, stress
management and much more.
The TekDeck is located right beside

Mark Powell: co-ordinating TekDeck.

divEr

46

the TekPool, handy for trying out the


latest rebreathers among other new
items of equipment.
For everyone interested in new
products, they will be found all over
the hall on the stands of makers and
distributors, with the New Products
Showcase providing a handy point
of focus.
The TekPool isnt the only body of
water, either - the Try-Dive Pool will
be a magnet for would-be divers keen
to get their first taste of bottled air,
with children particularly welcome.

PHOTOZONE
Perennially popular at the Show is the
PhotoZone, located near the Centre
Stage where most of the underwater
photo- and video-related
presentations will take place.
PhotoZone organiser Saeed Rashid

Dawn Kernagis: NEEMO 21 diver.

will be appearing with divErs own


Nigel Wade in what they insist will not
be their usual Digital Clinic, and other
experts preparing spectacular audiovisual shows include Richard Smith
(Pygmy Seahorses the Big Picture);
Steve Jones (Wings, Fins, Teeth & Tails,
about big animals) and Alex Tattersall
(No More Fiddlesticks, concerned with
minimising our impact on marine life).
And not to be missed will be noted
film-maker John Boyle, returning to
the Show with his latest documentary
Castros Secret Reef, shot in Cubas
incredible Jardines de la Reina.
The PhotoZone also offers the
chance to obtain goodies and advice
in equal measure, and dont forget to
contribute to the judging of the
British Society of Underwater
Photographers Print Competition
the more votes the better.

Andy Torbet: Diving Britannic.

Andrea Zaferes: non-silent witness.

divEr STAGE
On the divEr Stage, meanwhile,
a selection of big-hitters awaits.
Look out for TV favourites Andy
Torbet talking about this summers
centenary expedition to dive the
Britannic 120m deep off Greece and
Paul Rose, on Wild Dives to Save our
Pristine Seas. Meet Women Divers Hall
of Famer Dawn Kernagis, crew on
NASAs NEEMO 21 mission, which
involves living in a habitat 20m under
the Atlantic for eight days; and fellowUS diver Andrea Zaferes, a forensic
investigator into underwater deaths.
Meanwhile Mark Powell will be
posing a typically challenging
question Are You Fit To Dive?
Many more names are likely to
be confirmed in Septembers divEr,
when well also bring news of some of
the presenters in the Ocean Theatre.
Wandering the hall will lead you
at various points into micocosms of
the diving world the Asia-Pacific
Showcase, the Caribbean Village, the
PADI Village and the British isles
Experience, complete with the British
Bar and Suunto computer giveaways.
Youll meet new people and greet
old dive-buddies. There is something
for everyone at DIVE 2016, including
non-divers, so save the dates and book
now at www.diveshows.co.uk!
Admission costs 14.50 on the day
but only 9.50 if you book ahead online.
Children under 14 with an adult go free.

www.divErNEt.com

SHOW PREVIEW

DIVE 2016 GRAND PRIZE DRAW

TWO weeks
to spare
for some
luxury diving?

WIN 8000 PRIZE TRIP FOR


TWO IN THE PHILIPPINES!
VISIT DIVE 2016 and you have taken the first step to
winning a diving holiday youll never forget. Youll be
entered into the Grand Prize Draw, and one lucky
winner and a companion will be set to experience
the very best of the Philippines with two full weeks
of high-quality diving built in.
The Philippines offers divers phenomenal
diversity, kaleidoscopic reefs and exceptional diving.
Our winners will spend a week at the famed Atlantis
Puerto Galera, ideally located on Sabang Beach. It is
set in a marine park with sheltered bays, attractive
beaches and coral reefs teeming with marine life.
After a week diving there youll fly south for a

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further week at Atlantis Dumaguete, a boutique


resort set in tropical gardens on the doorstep of the
Dauin Marine Sanctuary.
The Atlantis house reef there is one of many
exciting dive-sites to explore, with seagrass beds that
host razorfish and turtles, while critters abound on
the sandy slopes.
Bahura is the place to see mandarinfish, and if
youre after some larger marine life, Coconut Point
on Apo Island is a thrilling drift dive with schools
of bigeye trevally and turtles.
This holiday of a lifetime includes international
flights between London and Manila and domestic
flights between Manila and Dumaguete, including
airport taxes.
Youll spend seven nights at each of the resorts
including all meals, plus an overnight in a luxury
Manila hotel and all transfers. With travelling youll be

away for 18 days the boss wont mind!


Most importantly the diving is unlimited in both
Puerto Galera and Dumaguete typically five dives
per day including night-diving.
The prize is sponsored by UK tour operator Dive
Worldwide in partnership with Atlantis Dive Resorts
and Philippines Tourism.

47

divEr

YOUR
DIVING HOLIDAY
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WRECK DIVER

1916

Continuing our annual review of the Great War centenary, 1916


is highlighted by the battle of Jutland. We also have a new wave
of merchant raiders and a distribution of merchant losses
arising from changes in the U-boat rules of engagement.
JOHN LIDDIARD looks at wrecks that originated 100 years ago

EVENTS
AT SEA

ITH THE INITIAL BATCH OF CRUISERS and


merchant raiders now captured, sunk or returned
to Germany, 1916 saw a new batch of converted
merchant raiders attempting to sneak out into the Atlantic
and intercept British shipping.

SMS Mwe
most successful
raider
The merchant raider SMS Mwe began its
life as the banana boat Pungo, a fast
freighter ideal for conversion to a
merchant cruiser.
Requisitioned by the Imperial Navy,
the Mwe left Wilhelmshaven disguised
as a neutral Norwegian ship on 29
December, 1915, and began its campaign
on 1 January, 1916, by laying a minefield
off the north of Scotland.
The first casualty was the preDreadnought battleship HMS King

www.divErNEt.com

Edward VII, which struck a mine on 6


January. The wreck was first dived on an
expedition led by Leigh Bishop in 1997.
In divEr that year Leigh said: The
wreck is upside-down in 115m, listing to
starboard but at an angle that still shows
her superstructure and a row of 6in guns.
Over the first two months of 1916, such
was the success of the Mwe sinking and
capturing steamships that the number of
prisoners was becoming a problem. The
captured Westburn was used to land them
in Tenerife, neutral Spanish territory.
Prisoners ashore, on 24 February the
Westburn raised anchor for the last time.
Waiting at sea was the British armoured
cruiser HMS Sutlej. Rather than lose the
prize back to the British, the Westburn
was scuttled with explosives.
The wreck of the Westburn is now
easily accessible by RIB from Santa Cruz
de Tenerife, largely broken and salvaged
in 30m, but a magnet for fish on an
otherwise flat sand seabed.
The Mwe returned to Germany on
4 April, 1916, having captured or sunk 20
ships. Mwe was refitted for a second
cruise, from 23 November, 1916, to 22

March, 1917, capturing or sinking a


further 25 ships.
On 6 December the Mount Temple was
sunk with a cargo of 700 horses destined
for the western front and crates of
dinosaur fossils on the way from Canada
to the British Museum. On 11 December
the Yarrowdale was captured and
returned to Germany with 400 prisoners,
subsequently being converted to the
merchant cruiser SMS Leopard.
On 12 December the Georgic was sunk
with a cargo of another 1200 horses.
The Mwe survived the war and ended
up in British hands
carrying bananas
for Fyffes, renamed
Greenbrier.
In 1933 she
was sold back to
Germany,
subsequently
serving as the
Oldenburg in
World War Two
to carry supplies
between Germany
and Norway.
On 7 April, 1945, Bristol Beaufighters
of 114, 455 and 489 Squadrons attacked
with rockets, sinking the Oldenburg off
Vadheim in Sognefjord.
Bergen-based Dean Coote informs me:
This is the best wreck-dive in Norway.
Access is easy via a set of stone steps
and a swim out to a buoy I put on the

6 January
Battleship King Edward
VII becomes first victim
of the Mwe.

THE WORLD
AT WAR
8 January
Evacuation of Gallipoli
completed.
24 January
Military Service Act
1916 passed.
Introduces
conscription of males
aged 18 to 41.

Top: Anemone beneath


rotted deck planking of the
minelayer U74E.
Above: The first victim of
the Mwe - HMS King
Edward VII.
Left: The merchant raider
SMS Mwe.

49

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EVENTS AT SEA
9 February
German gunboat Hedwig von
Wissman sunk in Lake
Tanganyika by gunboats Mimi
and Fifi. The events on Lake
Tanganika loosely inspired
the fictional story of the
African Queen.
21 February
Germany notifies USA that
defensively armed
merchantmen will be treated
as cruisers from 1 March.
27 February
Raider Greif departs from
Cruxhaven.
29 February
Greif and RN armed merchant
cruiser Alcantra sink each
other in an exchange of
torpedoes and gunfire north
of the Shetland Isles.
1 March
U-boat rules of engagement
change defensively armed
merchantmen are now
regarded as cruisers.
24 March
Cross-channel ferry ss Sussex
torpedoed by UB29 in the
English Channel. The bow of
the ship was blown off, but
the ship didnt sink and was
towed backwards to
Boulogne. US citizens were
injured and, fearful of further
American reaction, U-boat
rules of engagement were
restricted from 4 May.

bow. The bow is in 24m, bridge at 45m,


and stern at 79m. Visibility is often 30mplus in winter, but mixing salt and fresh
water creates slush and the cold takes
out electronic kit on the swim to the
buoy. Theres a river that runs onto the
wreck. When full it creates whirlpools
and can drag you out into the fjord.
Kieron Hatton adds: Its impressive
for its size and ship-shapedness. The
wreck is blessed with detail; door catches
still in place, a bathroom complete with
floor tiles and even a mirror! It can take
a few dives to see it all. Gun positions
have fallen from the deck and lie on the
seabed.
Looking up Vadheim on a map, I am
traumatised to learn that I have driven
past such a significant wreck a few times,
with dive-kit in my car, without even
knowing it was there!

The rest of
the raiders
Following on the heels of the Mwe, the
converted steamship Grief departed
Cuxhaven on 27 February 1916,
disguised as the Norwegian ship Rena,
only to be intercepted by the converted
British liner Alcantara between Norway
and the Shetlands. In the ensuing battle,
both ships were sunk in deep water.
An unusual raider was the Wolf,
equipped with a seaplane for
reconnaissance. Wolf departed Kiel on
30 November and used captured fuel to

Fomenting
rebellion
Sailing under the disguise of a neutral
Norwegian ship had become a common
practice for German raiders and
blockade-runners to get through the
Royal Navy patrols and into the Atlantic.
Unlike merchant cruisers that were
typically selected for speed and capacity
to carry a large crew, the impounded
steamship Castro was chosen because it
was similar in appearance to the
Norwegian steamship Aud small, slow
and innocuous.
Disguised as the Aud and renamed
Libau by the Germans, the ship was
loaded with a cargo of rifles and machine
guns destined to arm Irish rebels.
After sneaking through the blockade
and various adventures along the way,
the Aud was intercepted by a Royal Navy
patrol and directed into Cork to be
searched. Rather than let the supplies fall
into the hands of the British, the crew
scuttled her in the approaches to Cork
on 22 April, 1916.
The wreck with its cargo of rifles and
ammunition is now an easily accessible
dive in 34m. A detailed report appeared
in divEr earlier this year (Gun Runner,
April).
The real Norwegian Aud was
torpedoed by U18 on 30 November,
1916, 16 miles north of St Ives. The
depth to the seabed is 62m and the
wreck was identified by divers
recovering the bell in 1983.

Germany on 24 August with a cargo of


341 tons of nickel, 93 tons of tin, and 348
tons of rubber.
Bremen departed for the USA on 21
September, never to be seen again. The
most likely cause of the loss was the
British mine barrage.
In November 1916 Deutschland made
another round trip to the USA, but that
was her last. She was subsequently
armed with guns and torpedo tubes and
transferred to military service as U155.
Deutschland survived the war to be
impounded in Britain, and was finally
broken up for scrap in 1921.

Supplying Germany Jutland the last


big battleship
As well as harassing enemy shipping, the
other purpose of running the Royal
contest
Navy blockade was to bring essential

Above: The Friedrichshafen FF.33


seaplane Wlfchen (Little Wolf)
aboard SMS Wolf.
Right: HMS Defence lost at the
Battle of Jutland.
4 April
Mwe returns to Germany
after sinking 20 ships.
22 April
Aud scuttled off Cork, carrying
supplies for the Irish uprising.
25 April
Lowestoft and Great
Yarmouth raided by German
battlecruisers.

divEr

50

make a cruise that lasted through 1917


to return on 24 February 1918.
Another unusual raider was the
sailing ship Seeadler, converted from the
US ship Pass of Balmaha, captured by
U36 on 24 July, 1915.
Later on that day U36 became the first
Q-ship victim. Seeadler sailed on 21
December, 1916. Without the fuel needs
of steam-powered raiders, Seeadler
captured or sank 16 ships on a cruise of
225 days before striking a reef in Tahiti.
The wreck is now well-broken and
dispersed by the sea in water just a few
metres deep, so it can be snorkelled as
well as dived.

supplies back to Germany.


When a raider captured a ship with
a valuable cargo, rather than scuttling it
a prize crew would be placed on board to
bring the cargo home.
Some of these prizes made it back
and, as we have seen, some ships went
back out as raiders themselves.
Nevertheless, the Royal Navy closure
of the way out to the Atlantic was almost
absolute. By 1916 very few merchant
ships could get through without being
inspected, and another means of
obtaining critical materials for the
German war machine was needed.
In an attempt to overcome the Allied
blockade, the unarmed German
submarine merchant vessels
Deutschland and Bremen were built as a
private venture and given merchant
crews.
On 23 June, 1916, Deutschland
departed for the USA with a high value
cargo worth $1.5 million, returning to

Meeting the German fleet at Jutland was


the opportunity the Royal Navy had
been seeking since the start of the war.
It was an opportunity in one decisive
battle to prove that the Royal Navy ruled
the seas and to eliminate the German
High Seas Fleet in a big-gun duel.
The Germans, thinking much the
same, set to sea with a plan to coordinate with U-boats to split the British
Grand Fleet so that the smaller German
fleet could defeat it in detail. However,

www.divErNEt.com

WRECK DIVER

signal intercepts had revealed the plan to


the British and the Grand Fleet put to
sea on 30 May, avoiding the U-boats and
surprising the German fleet by meeting
it early on 31 May.
Despite wrecking the German plan,
it was the Royal Navy that came off
numerically worst, losing 113,300 tons
to the German
62,300 tons.
Both sides
claimed a victory,
the Germans by
numbers and the
British by virtue
of proportions
of the fleet, and
forcing the
Germans to retreat
to port where they
stayed bottled up for the rest of the war.
At that rate of attrition, the German fleet
would be eliminated long before the
British fleet.
Jutland was the first, only and last
direct engagement of big Dreadnought
battleship fleets. In the Royal Navy
lessons were learned in terms of gunnery
control, the quality of shells and
preparation of the ships for battle.
Behind all the immediate lessons,
the underlying issue was that the
communications needed to manage
a big-ship action had not advanced at
the same pace as the technology of the
actual ships.
As far as I know, the first UK skipper
to visit the Jutland wrecks was Gordon
Wadsworth when he was based in
Scarborough in the early 1980s.
He now hosts divers in Narvik and
remembers: I was surprised to see
evidence of extensive old salvage work
on Ltzow which could not have gone
un-noticed, yet found no reference from
any official source. Scrap was extremely

www.divErNEt.com

valuable back in the 60s.


Innes McCartney reported in divEr
on the 2000 Starfish Enterprise
expedition. He commented on a period
photograph of the battlecruiser HMS
Invincible the bow and stern sections
pointing skyward as the broken
midships section rested on the seabed.
This became a
defining
photograph of the
Battle of Jutland.
On diving the
wreck he wrote:
What we found
provided an
incredible
spectacle, an entire
gun turret, still
sporting two 12in
guns, lying upside-down on the sand
and surrounded by debris.
Through Periscope Publishing, Innes
has produced two DVDs I would
recommend to anyone thinking of
visiting these wrecks.
A recent report has highlighted
systematic looting of Jutland warships
(Jutland Wrecks Plunder Alleged
Culprit Named, News, April).

U-boats and rules


of engagement

American lives were lost, US citizens


THE WORLD AT WAR
were among those injured. Public
21 February
opinion was inflamed, and President
German offensive on Verdun
Woodrow Wilson threatened to break
begins.
off diplomatic relations with Germany.
Fearful of further American reaction,
U-boat rules of engagement were again
restricted from 4 May. The changes in
Left: Wreckage of the Westburn,
rules can be seen as a peak in shipping
a victim of the raider Mwe.
losses for the months of March and
April, then a further rise in shipping
losses later in the year after Jutland, as
the German strategy shifted almost
completely to U-boats.
Apart from March and April, rules of
engagement still prevented sinking of
2 March
merchant ships without warning, or not
Military Service Act comes
allowing crew to escape. Nevertheless,
into force.
many merchant ships were sunk by lone
9 March
U-boats halting them on the surface,
Germany declares war on
often close to shore. U-boats also
Portugal.
continued to sow minefields.
31 March
Off Orkney, on 5 June, 1916, the
German airship L15 brought
armoured cruiser HMS Hampshire
down over the Thames by
struck a mine laid by U75 while carrying
anti-aircraft fire.
Lord Kitchener on a diplomatic mission
to Russia. In gale-force winds, only 12
11 April
survived.
Kionga in German East Africa
occupied by Portuguese
Many conspiracy theories are voiced
forces.
about spies guiding submarines in to lay
the minefield, Kitchener being
17 April
Italy prohibits trade with
deliberately sacrificed by rivals in the
Germany.
British government, lost gold and official
20 April
cover-ups hampering rescuers and the
Sir Roger Casement lands on
subsequent investigation. Nevertheless,
the west coast of Ireland and
Admiralty investigations at the time
is arrested.
suggest that it was pure chance. U75 had
24 April
laid the minefield a week earlier as part
Irish uprising begins.
of Germanys complicated operations
26 April
surrounding the Battle of Jutland.
Agreement signed for
Diving the wreck of HMS Hampshire
exchange of sick prisoners
has been prohibited since 1986. Reports
via Switzerland.
from divers before then suggest mine
27 April
damage along one side of the ship, and
Martial law declared in
other indications that it went down fast.
Ireland.
Mines know no rules of engagement.
On 21 November, 1916, off Greece, the
48,158-ton White Star liner Britannic,
converted to a hospital ship, struck a
mine sown by U73 to become the largest
casualty of the war.
The wreck was first dived by Jacques
Above left: SMS Seydlitz, badly
Cousteau in 1974. The first sport/
damaged in the Battle of Jutland.
technical diving expeditions to the wreck
were led by Kevin Gurr in 1997.
Below: HMHS Britannic WWIs
We had a nightmare with unreliable largest casualty.

The first change in U-boat operations


came at the start of March, with a
German declaration that defensively
armed merchant ships would be
regarded as cruisers.
On 24 March the cross-Channel ferry
ss Sussex was torpedoed without
warning by UB29. The bow was blown
off, but the ship didnt sink and was
towed back to Boulogne. 50 passengers
and crew were killed and, while no

51

divEr

EVENTS AT SEA

THE WORLD AT WAR

31 May - 1 June
Battle of Jutland.

1 May
Irish rebellion ends with surrender
of leaders.
3 May
Irish rebel leaders executed.
21 May
German attack on Vimy ridge.

5 June
HMS Hampshire sunk by mine off
Orkney. Kitchener and his staff are
lost.
23 June
In an attempt to overcome the
British blockade, German submarine
merchant vessel Deutschland departs
for the USA with a high-value cargo
worth $1.5 million, returning to
Germany on 24 August with a cargo of
341 tons of nickel, 93 tons of tin, and
348 tons of rubber.
19 August
Cruisers HMS Falmouth and
Nottingham torpedoed off east coast
of England.
21 September
Merchant submarine Bremen leaves
Kiel and is lost somewhere on the way
to the USA. Most likely cause of loss is
to the British mine barrage.

Above: Engine connecting rods on the


Enrico Parodi.
Below: Cunard liner Alaunia.

echo-sounding gear and local bureaucracy


which stopped us bringing in more
extensive search equipment, Kevin told
divEr at the time. On diving the wreck
our line had caught on the
superstructure, close to the second pair of
lifeboat davits. I touched down at 88m,
just inside my operating depth [90m].
Closer to home, the 13,405-ton Cunard
liner Alaunia struck a mine laid by UC16
south of Royal Sovereign on 19 October,
1916. This is the biggest wreck in Sussex
and after more than 100 dives on it
I still have a great time. For those new to
the area the Alaunia is an absolute

CUNARD

SHIPPING LOSSES
BY MONTH (tons)
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
TOTAL

divEr

52

81,259
117,547
167,097
191,667
129,175
108,851
118,215
162,744
230,460
353,660
311,508
355,139

2,327,326

must, says Dave Ronnan, of


Eastbournes Dive-125.
While the UC-class of boat carrying
mines wet in vertical tubes through the
forward hull remained the mainstay of
U-boat minelayers, a new UE-1 design
with longitudinal dry/wettubes running
along an elongated aft hull came into
service. It proved to be a dead end
development, with U74E sinking in a
minelaying accident in the Firth of Forth
and U77E sunk by gunfire off Peterhead.
The development of mines that could
be laid through standard torpedo tubes
put an end to the idea.
The wreck of U74E makes a tidy little
dive in 45m, with the forward hull intact
and the aft hull disappearing into a silt
bank just aft of the 88mm gun (Wreck
Tour 142, October 2010).

If you look at charts of where and when


ships were sunk by specific U-boats, you
will see that wrecks are often in clusters by
location and date. Particular captains had
favoured hunting grounds within which
they gained experience.
Admirals directed patrols to locations
by numbers, so even with a change of
captain, the same U-boat could be
directed to patrol the same area again.
Captains had lucky nights and even
days, where an area of shipping was left in
a gap between patrolling Royal Navy
destroyers and trawlers.
UB29, already notable for blowing the
bow of the ferry Sussex, was responsible
for two clusters of wrecks off the south
coast before falling victim to depth
charges from HMS Landrail off the
Goodwin Sands on 13 December, 1916.
The 4575-ton Braunton was torpedoed
by UB29 on 7 April, 1916. Jamie Smith of
Tunbridge Wells BSAC describes the
wreck as: A good-sized wreck with holds
full of shell-heads. The engine is well
worth a look as it is very accessible, and
quite a sight.
Dave Ronnan recommends the
Braunton as one of our best club lowwater dives. Upright and less than 30m.
UB18, already noted for sinking the
real Aud, was also responsible for a cluster
of wrecks over 3 and 4 August from the
Isle of Wight to Portland.
Later in the year, something of an
anomaly for UB18 was the 1998-ton
Oifjeld, sunk off Dieppe on 24 November
1916 while the U-boat was on its way to
north Cornwall to sink the Aud.
For those on the opposite side of the
country, on 19 December, 1916, the 686ton steamship Liverpool struck a mine
laid by U80 in Liverpool bay.
This is a beautiful wreck in the right
conditions, and accessible from Anglesey
or the Isle of Man. A month later it was
mines from U80 that sank the liner
Laurentic in the entrance to Lough Swilly.

2 June
Germans storm Fort Vaux in Verdun.
5 June
Mecca revolts against Turkish rule.
8 June
Second Military Service Bill extends
conscription to married men.
10 June
Conscription bill enacted in New
Zealand.
23 June
Storming of Fort Thiaumont marks
the extent of the German Verdun
offensive.
30 June
Fort Thiaumont retaken by French.
Verdun offensive is effectively over.
1 July
Somme offensive begins. Initial
success comes with the worst losses
in history for the British army
57,470 casualties.
7 July
Lloyd George succeeds Kitchener as
Secretary of State for War.
27 July
Medina surrenders to Arab forces.
3 August
Sir Roger Casement executed.
27 August
Roumania declares war on AustriaHungary.
28 August
Germany declares war on Roumania.
Italy declares war on Germany.
31 August
Battle of Verdun ends.
2 September
Largest German airship raid on
London with 14 airships. L11 shot
down by British aircraft.
4 September
Dar-es-Salaam surrenders to British
forces in German East Africa.
15 September
First British tanks enter the Battle of
the Somme.

www.divErNEt.com

WRECK
MARINEDIVER
LIFE
EVENTS AT SEA
8 October
U53 sinks five ships just outside US
waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
American public opinion is inflamed.
21 November
Hospital ship Britannic sunk by mine
off Greece. At 48,158 tons, Britannic
was the largest ship sunk in the war.
26 November
Mwe leaves Kiel on second cruise.
29 November
Admiral Sir David Beatty succeeds
Admiral Sir John Jellicoe as
Commander of the Grand Fleet.
30 November
Raider Wolf leaves Kiel.
4 December
Admiral Sir John Jellicoe appointed
First Sea Lord.
21 December
Raider Seeadler sets sail.
22 December
British Ministry of Shipping formed.

Navigational
mishaps
All the usual navigational mishaps
continue through times of war. With
lighthouses and navigation lights
extinguished and warships patrolling, the
risk of navigational accidents is actually
greater, so our review finishes with a
couple of navigational mishaps.
On 23 July 1916 the 3818-ton
steamship Enrico Parodi ran aground on
Gurnards Head. The ship came off with
the next tide and was under tow to St Ives
when she sank in 30m. The wreck is
upright but mostly broken level with the
seabed, and makes a great club dive in
the typically good visibility of the area
(Wreck Tour 67).
On the Dieppe
side of the Channel,
the French destroyer
Yatagan sank on 3
November, 1916
after a collision with
the steamship
Teviot. The wreck
was charted only
recently. Shallower
than 30m, almost
entirely non-ferrous,
a steam turbine

destroyer of 319 tonnes and 5200hp, says


Dave Ronnan. The bell is in the Dieppe
Chateau museum.

THE WORLD AT WAR

Get ready for 1917

7 November
Woodrow Wilson re-elected as US
president.
18 November
Battle of the Somme ends with more
than 1 million killed or wounded.

The nature of submarine warfare


changed irreversibly on 22 December,
1916, with Admiral von Holtzendorffs
memo on the shipping losses needed to
effectively blockade the allies.
Six-hundred thousand tons per
month was proposed as the target for
1917 and completely unrestricted
submarine warfare resulted in a year
with almost as much sunk as all other
years in the Great War combined. Get
ready for 1917.

24 October
French offensive begins at Verdun.

7 December
Lloyd George succeeds Asquith as
Prime Minister.
12 December
Austro-Hungarian, Bulgarian, German
and Turkish governments pass
identical proposals for peace to US
ambassadors.
30 December
Britain, France and Russia reject
German proposal for peace.

Left: Cargo-winch on the steamship


Liverpool.

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SEASON OPENING
CROATIA AND SPAIN!

Get your best offers:


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53

divEr

Aggressor Fleet

I have never worked with a


group of employees who love
their jobs as much as our staff at
Aggressor Fleet. As Chairman &
CEO, I am so proud to be a part of this amazing team.
We strive to make every aspect of your liveaboard vacation perfecta masterpiece! I am an avid photographer,
and scuba diving has allowed me to bring my passion
for photography under the sea to capture a world that
amazes me on every dive. I invite you to come aboard
one of our 20 worldwide yachts and explore what the
underwater world has to offer the adventurer inside of
you! Dive with me or President Wayne Hasson during
a Dive with the Owners
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+1-706-993-2531 info@aggressor.com

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LIVEABOARD DIVER

How often do you dive to the backdrop of an


erupting volcano? It can happen when exploring
pristine Andaman reefs from Indias only diving
liveaboard MARK B HATTER reports

IVE BRIEFING IN 15 MINUTES!


I glance at my watch; lead
divemaster Ro is right on
schedule. It is 6am and several divers are
already up, fixing a bite to eat or fussing
with camera gear, readying themselves
for the first dive before breakfast.
Im multi-tasking between bites of
toast, swigs of coffee and changing my
camera port to wide-angle while trying
not to corrupt the O-rings with
breadcrumbs. I have precious few
minutes in which to finish before the
briefing begins well be loading into
the RIBs by 6.30 sharp.
Ro and his divemaster crew run a tight
ship, which is exactly the way our diveteam likes it. We can comfortably
complete four dives a day and squeeze in
three square meals and even a daily
instruction session with our tripleader and photo pro,

Mark Strickland, on our regimen.


My multi-tasking exercise is selfinduced. I was bone-tired after the
previous evenings night dive, our last
of two epic days diving at remote
Narcondam Island, and went straight
to bed, so the requisite system changes
were left until now.
No worries it seems Im not the only
procrastinator. Two of my diving mates
are similarly engaged at the camera
table.
We are now moored at fabled Barren
Island. Infiniti, our comfortable and
spacious Indian Ocean liveaboard
home for the past week, had made the
overnight crossing. Barren is known for
its sometimes active volcano, spectacular
black sands and soft corals in hues
ranging from pink to red.
Our anticipation is
palpable; our

Pictured: The volcano


erupts, emitting ash at
Manta Point, Barren Island.

55

divEr

final three days will be packed with nonstop diving at sites Strickland identifies
as some of the best in the world.
The Infiniti is a relatively new
liveaboard-diving operation with a
unique distinction; its home-base is the
Andaman Islands, a remote archipelago
closer to Thailand to the east than to
India to the west.

HE ANDAMANS BELONG to India


and, until now, have been difficult to
access because trips to the islands have
largely been from vessels operating from
Thailand, nearly 500 miles and four
days sailing away. The logistics required
to get a foreign boat into Indian waters
were difficult at best, and most divers
were hard-pressed to find more than the
occasional trip reaching the Andamans
on a regular basis until now.
Infiniti is the first Indian-owned/
operated diving liveaboard and is
centrally located in Port Blair, in the
heart of the Andaman archipelago.
Now its in its third season. Our divegroup was the first American contingent
to grace its decks, with a programme
developed by Bluewater Dive Travel out
of Los Angeles, California.
Bluewater chose Strickland to head up
the all-American maiden voyage based
on his regional expertise. In a former
life, Strickland was cruise director on
a Thai liveaboard that made the
occasional long journey from
Thailand.
Strickland will lead future
briefings on his favourite Barren
dive-sites, but for now Ro has the
floor. He and his divemaster crew
have a few recently discovered
walls, coves and stony reefs up their
sleeves, based on the previous years
exploration.
At 6.15, Ro rings a small handbell to assemble us in the dining
salon. Our group of 12 is broken

divEr

56

into three groups of four, each with a


pair of divemasters. As we have proven
to be a competent group of underwater
photographers we have been given wide
latitude on every dive, another virtue of
Ro and the Infiniti crew.
As my three dive-buddies assemble,
Shyam and Sid, our divemasters, join
our table. We fist-bump, sit and turn our
attention to Ro and his magic-pen
board, with its elaborate depiction of
our dive-site profile.
Were diving Manta Point, he
begins. Well enter here, follow the sand
slope to 15m where the vertical wall
begins and dive the wall to there, where
well make our way up to our safety stop
at the end of Manta Point.
His hand moves over the board, a
finger stopping on key co-ordinates he
wants us to remember.
The wall has large seafans beginning
at 20m, great for wide-angle silhouettes,
but dont forget to look up and out the
mantas will likely be in the blue water.
Ro asks for questions but we have none,
all too eager to hit the water. Minutes
later, were on our way.
As Bujji, our RIB driver, zooms us
towards Manta Point, a 10-minute run,
he suddenly slows and points excitedly
to the mountain. Barrens volcano has
awakened! A cloud of black ash belches

Above left: Deep seafan


with crinoids at Manta Point,
Barren Island.
Above right: Giant clam at
Coral Paradise.

from the mouth of the cinder cone,


shooting a dark plume skyward as we
gape in awe.
The eruption is short-lived but the
winds aloft are steering our way and,
minutes later, we have to mask up and
contemplate breathing from our
regulators as gritty black ash briefly
rains down on us.
Like kids were giddy about this cool
development as we complete final gear
checks and roll into 40m visibility.
I follow Sid to 30m and level out along
the wall, stupefied at the size of the
seafans. They prove exceedingly difficult
to shoot, just too big to fit on the image
sensor, even with my fisheye lens.
Everything gets bigger the deeper
you dive, I recall Strickland telling us
early in the trip. I shake my head in
disbelief. And now Im thinking of a
corollary: Everything gets better with
each successive dive.

F
Below: Manta Ray at Manta
Point.

OR THE PAST TWO DAYS we had


been blown away diving among
massive barrel sponges nestled between
carpets of pink soft corals at
Narcondams HQ Pinnacle and Ooh La
La. Today, Im blown away by seafans too
big to shoot at Barrens Manta Point.
Indeed, the images on the spectacular
deep wall dont come easy and too soon
my computer is nagging me to move to
the shallows. Im grateful for its
persistence, because at 5m I find a
crown-of-thorns seastar offering an
opportunity to practise my close-focus
wide-angle perspective skills.
I work the angles but notice a strange
filtering effect in the water column. The
visibility, excellent moments before, is
now reduced by this weird phenomenon.
Then it dawns on me volcanic ash is
settling! Barrens volcano has again
become restless.
Had I not noticed the diminishing
visibility and looked around, I would
www.divErNEt.com

LIVEABOARD DIVER
have missed the manta ray fly-by.
In no small part thanks to Stricklands
instruction, I make the correct aperture
and shutter-speed adjustments on the fly
as the fish completes its single pass, and
manage to fire off a couple of images
that work.
Later in the morning we move to
Coral Gardens, said to have spectacular
stands of Acropora and Montipora hard
corals. From our perspective the stands
are certainly impressive, yet Shyam notes
that nothing looks the same. Last year
this area had 100% coverage, he says.
Now there is a lot of black sand where
corals used to be.
On closer inspection the race between
survival and naturally occurring and
apparently frequent upheaval is evident.
Plating coral species such as Montipora
demonstrate this race through the black
sand collecting atop their bowl-like
skeletons.
Yet somehow, the dynamics of this
actively volcanic island seem to balance.
The stony corals and accompanying reef
creatures appear to remain one step
ahead of the islands pyroclastic
tendencies.
For the afternoon, Ro has one final
treat before Infiniti moves to the
opposite side of Barren for the main
diving event. In a sheltered cove that has
apparently avoided ash fall-out for some
time, we find the 100% coral stands
expected at Coral Gardens.
And, as a bonus, minus scuba gear, we
bask in a hot spring emerging from the
rocks against the shore, hoping the RIBs
linger a bit longer shuttling other teams
back to Infiniti before returning for us.
The following morning belongs to
Strickland. At 6.15 he briefs us on two
sites we will explore for the remainder of
the trip: Purple Haze and Black Magic.
These are among the best dive-sites
in the world in my opinion. he begins.
Purple Haze is named after the pink
and red soft corals that appear purple at
depth. Beginning at around 20m the soft
corals dominate and get larger the
deeper you dive. Ive been here many
times and there are still parts of this reef
Ive yet to explore.
In stark contrast to Manta Points
seafans and Coral Gardens stony stands
on the opposite side of Barren, Purple
Haze is carpeted with luxurious soft
corals that are indeed purple until
illuminated by a torch or strobe.
The reef is a pair of ridges that extend
from shore down to well beyond sportdiving depths. They run perpendicular
to the currents, so shooters can find
numerous outcroppings behind which
to tuck to frame kaleidoscopic vistas
comfortably.
Current is our friend, Strickland
www.divErNEt.com

Right, top to bottom:


Healthy acropora corals at
Coral Paradise; flagtail
shrimp goby with Randalls
pistol shrimp at Black Majic
Sand; decora dartfish; corals
at Purple Haze.

reminds us. Soft corals perk up nicely


when the water is moving and planktonfeeders like anthias and bannerfish
assemble in the water column, making
for some great photography.
Despite the neap-tide moon phase,
there is enough current to do as
Strickland predicts.
The softies are in full bloom, and
we patiently wait for the omnipresent
bannerfish to school in silhouette
against a backdrop of Monet-like pastels.

IND-BLOWING AS Purple Hazes


aquascapes may be, I cant help but
think of the macro possibilities in the
black sands between the ridges. Wait for
Black Magic, Strickland recommends.
Shoot it once with wide-angle, then go
to macro.
His reasoning dawns on me during
my slow, methodical ascent up the broad
slope of black sand. Going wide gives me
the chance to shoot similar but different
panoramic scenes, but now I can mark
the colonies of flagtail shrimp gobies
hosting Randalls pistol shrimp I long to
photograph. I can now go straight to my
macro targets on the next dive, which is
what I do.
Larger populations of grouper,

57

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LIVEABOARD DIVER

snapper, sweetlips or other fish dont


seem to be a feature at Narcondam or
Barren, despite the islands remoteness.
Strickland tells me that big fish such
as Napoleon wrasse and giant grouper
are occasionally encountered but are
more likely to be seen at inshore sites
within the main Andamans chain.
I hope that this is the natural order
and not the result of the pirate fishing
prevalent in so many remote, unpoliced
parts of the world.
In fact, early in the trip Infinitis
itinerary involves sailing south near
North Cinque Island to a reef called Fish
Rock, where we expected to find such
large fish gatherings.
Unfortunately, as we left Port Blair the
winds picked up to storm force and the

Above left: Johnnys Reef,


Havelock Island.
Above right: Deep sponge
and soft corals at Ooh La La,
Narcondam.

FACTFILE
GETTING THERE8Several airlines fly daily from Heathrow to
Chennai, India, from where there are daily non-stop flights to
Port Blair. Excess weight is an issue with the Indian airlines
paying cash in rupees is recommended.

vessel was thwarted twice from reaching


the site. We were left having to dive
protected patch reefs, bommies and
wrecks between North Cinque and the
Havelock Islands for the first three days.
Fortunately, on day four the weather
improved and we were able to do two
dives at an offshore location named
Johnnys Reef on the way to Narcondam.
This provided a glimpse of what Fish
Rock may have been like, with its
teeming schools of snapper, sweetlips
and one giant grouper that was easily
over 1.5m. The visibility was astonishing
too at least 40m!

TS BEEN FIVE YEARS since a major


El Nio event caused extensive
bleaching of stony corals in the
Andaman Sea. At the protected sites we
dived early on there was still some
evidence of the impact. Happily, some
places seemed little affected, with strong
stands of stony corals, yet other sites
were mostly void of the branching corals
most often affected by higher water
temperatures.

Amazingly, on Barren at least, if the


island had been affected by El Nio I
could see no evidence of coral loss.
Indeed, the corals biggest survival
risk comes from failing to outgrow the
smothering effects of constantly settling
volcanic ash, a race it seems to be
winning.
Finally, soft corals are not affected by
coral bleaching, as they lack the
symbiotic zooxanthella found in stony
corals that bleach in sustained periods of
abnormally high water temperatures.
At the end of the day, in my personal
quest to dive remote locations rarely
visited by others, I hark back to Mark
Stricklands eloquent summary of the
subject: Many of us want to travel to
destinations we would like to deem as
pristine. In the current environment,
Im not sure such a place exists any
more. We have impacted the oceans to
an extent where pristine may no longer
be a possibility.
That said, we still have remote places
like here in the Andaman Islands where
we can still enjoy near-pristine
environments, at least for now

DIVING & ACCOMMODATION8Infiniti is a 39m all-steel fourdeck vessel with two 5m RIBs. It carries 12 guests and is the
only liveaboard operating in the Andaman islands area,
www.infinitiliveaboard.com, www.bluewaterdivetravel.com
WHEN TO GO8 The prime part of the dry season, when seas
are generally calmest, is from February through April.
HEALTH8 Nearest chamber is on the naval base at Port Blair.
PRICES8 Round-trip flights from Heathrow to Chennai cost
about 700, plus around 200 from Chennai to Port Blair.
Infiniti offers eight-night itineraries taking in Barren and
Narcondam in March from US $3699, but also various fiveday Andaman Islands trips from $1749. UK tour operator
Scuba Travel can arrange packages, www,scubatravel.com
VISITOR INFORMATION8www.andamans.gov.in

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58

www.divErNEt.com

FREE DIVER

DARKWATER

FREEDOM
Continuing his ground-breaking phreatic
adventures freediving in underground
environments MARCUS GREATWOOD and
his NTX Dark Water team visit a slate quarry
high up a mountainside in North Wales

N WHAT WOULD BE pitch black if


not for our cave-helmets and divetorches, Paul fixes Petzl climbing
anchors to a ceiling at the end of a
tunnel. It looks out onto the skeletal
remains of a long-collapsed bridge
some 20m above a massive flooded
chamber.
The anchor and resin have been
selected for their suitability for
attaching overhead and coping with the
peculiarities of fixing into slate, but
there is always some trepidation when
youre the first person to hang off these
bolts. Still, there is no shortage of
volunteers to give it a go.
Were setting the anchors away from
the ledge and above the lake so that we
can abseil directly down into the water.
To do this, Paul has to be suspended
from the ceiling above the lake while
drilling and fixing. Watching him work
helps to highlight how difficult life must
have been for the slate-miners who
worked this quarry in a bygone era.
In fact many aspects of our

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expedition serve to bring the past into


sharp contrast. Every day to get to work
the men would have had to trek for
several hours from the village up the
mountainside, come rain or shine.
At some quarrying locations they
would stay on site for the entire week,
descending only to be with their
families briefly for one day at weekends.

UR OWN ACCESS to the quarry


had started with a good hike up the
mountain, but we had considerable
assistance from Land Rover with
transporting equipment and some
divers up the mountain, and from
a kind sheep-farmer who gave us
permission to cross his land.
Neither Land Rover, the farmer nor,
indeed, his sheep could help us to get
our equipment deep underground. This
had to be done manually.
The bolting done, equipment carried
into the quarry and the team prepared,
its time to execute the plan. The dive is,
as expected, exceptional. Anyone who

has done a night-dive will begin to


understand the ethereal gliding,
floating feeling but only those who
have dived in absolute darkness fully
understand the isolation and complete
freedom of this unique enveloping
experience.
The clear waters absorb you,
removing the concept of up or down.
Your buddys light is the only link to
the surface. As you sink that light
becomes distant a star to follow when
the dive is complete.
The darkness encircles you, your
senses piqued as your focus becomes
dominated by the circle of light from
your torch. This circle narrows and
becomes sharp-edged as you approach
a wall of crisp, untainted rock. There is
no moss or earth to soften its edges.
Flying over such a landscape has been
likened to space-walks so far from
other humans, connected only by that
umbilical of light from your buddys
torch, rippled by the surface on which
it is trained.

59

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FREE DIVER

Time is precious; relaxation and


efficient techniques practised in a pool
for months allow dives that seem to last
an eternity, but our time is always
limited. Buoyancy takes hold as we
ascend the last few metres, gently lifting
us towards the surface, our buddy and
our next breath.
At the surface silence reigns, because
communication within such a huge
stone void is useless unless the other
person is right beside you. But there is
nothing to say the other freediver has
experienced what you have, and smiles
knowingly, waiting to dive again.

HE TRANQUILITY IS BROKEN only


by the last forced breaths before a
dive, or the hushed tones of a departing
diver exiting the water. The darkness is
so complete that even this simple task
must be acknowledged, both by those left
in the water and by the support team
receiving the diver at its edge.
Exits to all phreatic dive-sites are
continually lit it could take hours to
find the way out if a black-out situation
occurred, hours that we dont have in
this freezing water.
After all the divers have been
accounted for, we exit the subterranean
world to bright daylight and fresh
espresso coffee thanks to the

divEr

60

ingenious Handpresso machine. For at


least half an hour we hardly talk. The
experience has been too overwhelming,
and information-overloaded minds lose
themselves in contemplation of it.
Anyone who has tried any caving will
understand that the environment is
challenging, both physically and in
terms of safety. Even a relatively simple
task can call for significant manpower
and time. Such a trip requires specialist
equipment, a back-up team and
adequate resources.
To attempt a dive in this environment
pushes the boundaries of diving,
caving and the human experience.
We look forward to the next
unique experience and
amazing adventure!

Phreatic Diving
CAVING IS A NICHE SUBSET of sport-climbing,
using simplified and specialist equipment, and
techniques unique to the underground
environment.
Freediving is a niche subset of diving, using
simplified and specialist equipment to enable
people to dive effortlessly on a single breath
of air.
Combining these two sports has given rise to
a new discipline that uses specialised equipment
and new techniques, some modified from the
two sports and some developed from scratch.
Phreatic diving provides an opportunity to step
into the uncharted world of subterranean lakes.
The core team of Julian, Kiri, Paul and I have
dedicated hundreds of hours to developing the
necessary skills over the past two years.
Many of those hours were spent underground
with our caving instructors at Dolomite Training
in Derbyshire.
Personal Specialist Equipment: Darkwater
freedive kit (two-part long fins, 5mm opencell suit). Standard & vertical caving kit (two
dry and two wet light sources each).
NoTanx uses Anchor Dive lights.
Individual Skill-Set: Freediving, vertical
caving, climbing, high fitness level, hiking,
teamwork, body and spatial awareness,
exceptional communication skills.
Group Skill-Set: Expedition-planning,
dive-planning & supervision, climbing,
anchor-bolting & rope-rigging.
www.divErNEt.com

TREWAVAS
YOUR DISCO
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MILLIONS OF VIBRANT ORANGE GOLDFISH with sultry, indigo-rimmed


eyes are dancing just above the coral. Their bodies are lit up like neon as
they shimmy in the sunshine, offset to perfection by a dreamy blue
backdrop of warm water. The reef pulsates with life. Its a huge marinestyle party. What is it thats missing?
Its you!
The Red Sea is one of the most stunningly gorgeous places on Earth to
dive. Its within easy reach and within everyones budget. But youre not
there. Divers: your disco needs you.
Believe me, they miss you like the deserts miss the rain. This town is
coming like a ghost town. All the dive shops are being closed down.
Multi-coloured fins hang idly from their hooks. Neoprene suits have
dried into a stiff, dusty mockery of the human form. The rinse tanks are
running on, empty. The counter chicks have taken themselves off on a
permanent manicure break.
From Sharm to Dahab and Hurghada to Marsa, the bones of an
industry are starting to poke through the fabric. In the past, these places
have always been buzzing at night. But now even the hawkers have
given up calling out their offers, fearful that the echo might dislodge
their stockpile of unsold souvenirs.
Who would want to be
crushed by a cascade of
alabaster cat statues or
impaled by a landslide of
pointy, gold-trimmed
slippers? Yet these
possibilities now pose a
more credible threat to life
and limb than terrorism.
In reality youre infinitely
more likely to come to
harm by your own actions
dehydration, mask squeeze or a sore ear because you couldnt equalise.
So whats stopping you? If you wanted to live a risk-free (adventurefree) existence, then you would never have put your head below the
waves and become a diver. Remember who you are.
The people from all countries who work in the Red Sea need you to
keep calm and carry on diving. No divers, no income, no fun! Will you
forgive yourself for missing this opportunity?
That there is no better time to visit is partly because the Russians have
disappeared. I appreciate that this takes much of the comedy value out
of the dive scene, but consider the upsides.
You wont have to hide behind your coffee to avoid the sight of
women queuing for the breakfast buffet sporting flaccid string bikini
tops, fishnet body stockings or fake diamante thongs. Theres now
nothing on display that might put you off your poached eggs.
When you reach your dive-site, its pleasantly devoid of divers
descending from boats and crashing headlong into the sand like a bag of
spanners. Theres no one using an over-sized dive-knife to stab and haul
their way across the reef because they cant be arsed to fin. Or sitting on
the coral to pose for a selfie. Or using a bottle of vodka as a travel gas.
Or mistakenly feeding their own fat fingers to the moray eels.
In fact, none of these shenanigans will enter your mind not even as
a nostalgic memory. Go now and youll find the Red Sea reefs brimming
with life that has flourished in the peaceful neglect of the past few years.
Your awe will be totally struck.
Get over yourself and get yourself over there.

NO BETTER TIME
TO VISIT PARTLY
BECAUSE THE
RUSSIANS HAVE
DISAPPEARED

LOUISE TREWAVAS
61

INDESCRIBABLE!
but PETER DE MAAGT,
back from Antarctica,
will have a go anyway

IVERS TO SHIP, divers to ship, do


you have eyes on the wreck?
How difficult could it be to find
a 60m wreck with its bow sticking out
above the water?
Captain to divers, it is at 2 oclock
from the ship.
It is hard to believe that simply passing
one particular iceberg on the wrong side
can send you on a quest. But to be honest,
a search between majestic icebergs feels
more like a bonus than a penalty. It also
shows that you must show full respect for
this potentially hostile environment.
Just a few days before, we had still
been in Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego.
Land of Fire is the somewhat sinistersounding name for this beautiful part of
Argentina. Ushuaia has its charms, and
the dramatic backdrop of the Andes is
an amazing sight, but most people use it
as the gateway to the ultimate travel
dream Antarctica.
We had ensured our spot on the mv
Plancius well in advance, because the
number of expedition ships that offer
diving possibilities is not that great.
Plancius is a Dutch oceanographic
research vessel decommissioned from
the Royal Dutch Navy, and has an icehardened hull. The ship is manned by
an international crew of about 40
half to keep the ship running and half
as hotel staff.
There are eight expedition staff,

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62

including our divemaster Kelvin and the


two dive-guides, Peter and Frode.
But before arriving at the white
wilderness of Antarctica, we have to
overcome one more little hurdle by
passing the Drake.
For centuries the name has struck fear
into the hearts of sailors. There, the
otherwise unobstructed waves of the
Southern Ocean squeeze through the
narrow and shallow Drake Passage and,
in the process, generate unpredictable
and sometimes very bad sea conditions.
The crew assures us that the Drake is
unusually calm and we experience it as
manageable, but the ship is still clearly
rolling. Occasionally the surge is enough
to knock over cups and chairs.
As a result, more than half of the

passengers have the characteristic white


dot of motion sickness medication
behind their ears.
Had she wanted, the ships doctor
could make a very decent living from
sales of these patches.
In the morning the voice of Sebastian,
our expedition trip leader, sounds
intermittently over the intercom,
accompanied by the usual crackling
sound. Good morgggggg, good
morningggggggit isgggggg.to
wake up, breakfast isgggggserved at
ggggthirtggggg. The sun isgggggg
and theggggggg is -1 degrees. Today
we will startggggggat 9gggggg
with a Zodiacgggggg. I am not
convinced that there is any transfer of

Pictured: Ice-diving on
a sunny day creates a
surreal atmosphere.
Below left: The wreck
of the Governren, or
whats left of it.

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LIVEABOARD DIVER

information, but we all woke up to get


ready for breakfast.
Our first dive of the trip is used as a
check-out to ensure that all equipment is
functional and we are properly weighted.
Luckily it is not on a boring stretch of
coastline, but on the wreck of the
Governren, a large whaling factory ship.
On a 1915 whaling expedition the
ship caught fire and the captain ran the
ship aground when the fire grew out of
control. The wreck still sits in the same
location with its bow well above the
waterline.
Because of the constantly floating ice,
the upper parts are mainly devoid of life.

Right: Because of the ice


moving through the area,
the wreck of the
Governren is sparsely
populated. However, large
metal parts of the wreck
lying at the bottom still
have some life.

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However at several metres depth,


encrusting life has colonised some
areas of the ship. Sea-squirts and
anemones can be found at the bottom
surrounding it.

N SEVERAL PLACES you can still find


portholes in the hull. The middle of the
wreck, which seems badly broken up,
offers the possibility of viewing the
hold or whats left of it.
While cold water does well in
preserving most wrecks, the salinity
of Antarctic waters tends to negate
preservation. A large algae bloom has
made the water relatively green, and

visibility is quite poor.


We are very fortunate with our second
dive because it means that the first real
iceberg dive of the trip has come quickly.
Unfortunately, the algae bloom also
present in Neko Harbour has coloured
the water greenish and reduced the
penetration of light in the usually
clear waters.
The iceberg is relatively small, and we
get to see a lot of it. Out of the blue, or
should I say green, two curious crabeater
seals come to visit us.
They seem to be trained in aerial
dogfighting, because they constantly
come diving in from behind us and out
of the sun. They show their smiling faces
briefly before they disappear again.
Relatively large ice-chunks are flowing
towards the surface. Apparently the
iceberg got stuck at the bottom and bits
had broken off.
After the dive we are allowed to make
a landing on the continent of Antarctica,
greeted by (the smell of) hundreds of
Gentoo penguins. It is a real treat to step
in between all these members of Monty
Pythons Ministry of Silly Walks.
The intercom comes back to life again:
Kelvin with a message for the divers,
this is your usual 25-minute warning, we
will leave in 15 minutes. Is this typical
British dive humour?
Anyhow, its another day of diving, and
by now everybody has lost track of time.

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The clock is not important here the


schedule of events is driven by the
weather.
As we kit up, we enjoy the majestic view
of the scenic Lemaire Channel, also
known as the Kodak Gap. Steep rocky
cliffs covered in snow rise almost
vertically out of the water.
Because it is about 10km long and
between 500m and 1km wide, it creates a
narrow channel. Perhaps the easiest way
to visualise it is as the Antarctic version of
the Grand Canyon. There are worse
locations in which to kit up.

Above: The giant Antarctic


seastar can grow up to 40cm
and can have 20 to 40 arms.
Right: Diving between
natural ice sculptures.

E DIVE AT PLENEAU ISLAND,


which sits at the southern entrance
of Lemaire Channel. This area is known
for leopard seals, but despite seeing an
injured crabeater hauled out on ice, none
of these large predators appear.
On the other hand, we do spot a giant
Antarctic isopod. It is an alien-looking
creature that resembles a huge
woodlouse. Although giant might be
considered an overstatement, they are
easily the size of a small hand. They have
four antennae, two pairs of jaws, plates on
their back and several pairs of spiny legs.
They are an intimidating sight, but giant
Antarctic isopods are harmless animals.
Overall its a rocky bottom, with
chunks of granite and boulders of basalt.

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64

Below: A Gentoo penguin


makes a sharp turn in the
shallows.
Bottom: A colony of Gentoo
penguins.

If you look closely, these are covered with


small critters such as limpets, amphipods
and a large variety of seastars.
In the afternoon we try once again to
find a leopard seal, this time at Petermann
Island. This rocky shore is scoured by ice
passing through the Penola Strait, and life
takes shelter at depth or in cracks.
Once again, even though this
is a regular haunt of leopard seals,
none appears.
But the Antarctic sunstar is
a real find. It is a weird sensation
on Googling this animal to
realise that the number of
registered sightings falls
somewhere between 99 and
1000. How bizarre!
This one is at arms length

from us. It has 20-40 arms, depending on


its age, and can easily reach 40cm in size.
Again we see plenty of Antarctic
limpets. Some of them are moving and
showing their rudimentary eyes, which
detect the movement of nearby objects.
An instant later, three Gentoo penguins
fly by. The moment is over in a split
second. Wow, these black-and-white
dudes are fast!
We also dive near the Ukrainian base
of Vernadsky. A shallow shelf drops off to
form a steep wall that is covered in life.
Large bergs cannot drift into this area,
so the steep walls are protected from the
scouring effects of glacial ice.
We go ashore to visit the station and
meet the personnel. The Ukrainians give
us a warm welcome and Sacha, one of the

LIVEABOARD DIVER

Above left: A large


whalebone provides an eerie
atmosphere and is a sad clue
to the regions past.
Above: Limpets are among
the most common
invertebrate in the Antarctic.
Left: Seastars, large
tunicates, brittlestars and
sponges try to find shelter
from the scouring ice.

Unfortunately the seabed consists of


very soft sediment, some sort of volcanic
ash. You only need to near the bottom to
stir up the silt as fine as dust, and it hangs
for a very long time. One fin-kick can
reduce the photographic potential.
Paradise Harbour lives up to its name,
and the astonishing weather that greets us
is a gift from heaven. Ideal conditions for
diving on an iceberg!

staff, has a lot of Antarctic history, science


and culture to share. For the token sum of
one pound sterling, the UK sold the
station to the Ukrainians, who gave it its
current name. Most likely they conduct
amazing science, but their real reputation
comes from the home-made Vernadsky
vodka and the bar thats open 24/7.

URING THE NIGHT, Plancius heads


further south than usual, and in the
early hours we cross the Polar Circle,
going towards Detaille Island.
Not only do very few people dive this
far south, but we also have fantastic
weather. Can you imagine clear blue skies,
sunshine and diving against the incredible
scenery of the Antarctic Peninsula?
After a quick briefing on-site, we take

to the water along the eastern shore of the


island, which drops off quickly to form a
steep wall. Again, the ever-dominant ice
scours the landscape, and more sedentary
life is found deeper along the wall. Some
yellow sponges and big tunicates adorn
the walls, with hydroids and anemones
waving their tentacles in the current.
At Port Lockroy, an old British station,
we dive at Jougla Point on Wiencke
Island. This location was once a shorebased whaling station, and the carcasses
were dumped on the spot.
The same holds for under water, and as
soon as we reach the bottom we see a pile
of whale-bones. The oil remaining in
them makes them an excellent base for
anemones to thrive. The scene makes for a
ghostly dive in the green, gloomy waters.

Below: Crab-eater seals


relax in the sun.

OOKED AT FROM ABOVE, you might


be impressed by an icebergs size.
However, it is literally the tip of the
iceberg. Once below you get a good
impression of its real dimensions. The
wall keeps dropping and dropping until it
plummets into the dark abyss.
Where the sun illuminates the iceberg
you see all shades of blue and at least 50
shades of white. Its a dynamic play of
light and shadow sunlight mingled with
the shapes and forms of the ice. Its magic!
Close up, you see a shimmering and
blurring glow caused by the mixing of
seawater with freshwater from the iceberg,
and notice the difference in buoyancy.
On the way back north, the ship
anchors at Deception Island. Deception
is unique in the world, in that it is the top
of an active volcano. The caldera has a
diameter of about 15km and a narrow
500m entrance on one side called

65

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LIVEABOARD DIVER
Neptunes Bellows, through which the
ships can sail into the flooded crater.
So we find ourselves in the Antarctic
diving an active volcano, not an everyday
occurrence! The jagged cliffs of Whalers
Bay tower above us and some snow falls
as we prepare to dive.
In Whalers Bay the whalebones, timber
barrels and other artefacts from 20thcentury hunters are visible beside derelict
buildings from a British scientific station
evacuated after the 1969 eruption.
Again, reminders of the whaling
abound, but the icing on the cake is the
visit of a young leopard seal. Some of
the divers are lucky enough to see it

swimming acrobatically around them.


During dinner, the question of how to
describe Antarctica back home sparks a
lively discussion.
For example, how can you describe
the effect of a chunk of iceberg breaking
off while diving? The crack sounds like
a dynamite explosion under water, and
you can feel the pressure wave in your
stomach.

OW DO YOU DESCRIBE the


camaraderie and spirit that develops
on such an expedition? We all come to the
same conclusion, that words cant
describe Antarcticas beauty, nor can

pictures do it justice. There are too few


superlatives to describe it and you cant
capture the essence of the experience.
You just have to live the dream yourself.
A phenomenal diving adventure
comes to an end, but we head back with
incredible experiences noted in our
logbooks, and indelible memories.

FACTFILE
GETTING THERE8Fly to Ushaia.
LIVEABOARD8The 89m ice-strengthened Plancius takes 116
passengers in 53 cabins, has 10 Zodiacs and 47 crew/staff. It
is operated by Oceanwide Expeditions.
WHEN TO GO8 Visibility is best in the Antarctic winter (our
summer). Most tourism takes place November-March, when
plankton blooms limit visibility. The groups dive-computers
indicated on all but one dive a consistent water temperature
of -1C. Above water, windy conditions and temperature
drops are common, and wind-chill is a factor.
PRICES8 The next 11-night Plancius trip to the Polar Circle is
in March 2018 and costs 6150 euros pp, but another vessel
Ortelius travels there in March 2017 for 5950 euros with
Oceanwide, www.oceanwide-expeditions.com. Wildfoot
Travel also offers 11-day trips on Plancius from 4426 with
free spaces for groups of 10, www.wildfoottravel.com
VISITOR INFORMATION8www.bas.ac.uk

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BOOK & VIDEO REVIEW

Born
survivor
A Lifetime Of Diving Adventures
by George Bell

divEr

68

Black sea nettle.

GARRY FLORIN

GEORGE BELL HAS NO RIGHT still to


be alive and well in Spain at the age
of 81, if even a quarter of the tales in
this book are true. I have no reason to
doubt them, however, because you
couldnt make this stuff up.
For everyone whose diving consists
of admiring pretty corals in warm
water and keeping a strict eye out for
animal-rights infringements, this book
is at the opposing end of the
spectrum, as rufty-tufty as it gets.
But in mitigation for what might
often seem politically questionable,
it is set mainly in 1950s, 60s and 70s
apartheid South Africa with a spell in
Kenya, and its about diving not so
much for joy as for hard cash.
Deaths, injuries and nearmisses abound in these tales of
George Bells career. He made
a good living diving for abalone
and crayfish before moving into
marine salvage, and the 112 tales
here are littered with petty
criminality, casual violence and
potentially lethal pranks mingled
with many epic achievements.
Its only in the 111th chapter
that we learn that Bell was born in
pre-war London of Scottish parents
who emigrated to South Africa with
a spell in Australia.
The sea played a big part in
young Georges upbringing, and as
much as a diver he was a champion
surfer, a Hobie Cat sailor and a
fisherman for him the Sardine Run
was not about photographing
sharks but catching sardines.
He was clearly a natural leader who,
despite many desperate experiences,
retained an instinct for survival and
the luck of the gods.
He has been attacked or pursued
by sea creatures of all sorts, involved
in multiple car, truck and motorbike
crashes and hit twice by trains. He has
self-treated for the bends, suffered
from falls, bad air-fills, imbibed
detergent, survived a tsunami and
almost been suffocated by a wetsuit.
He holds world fishing records,
invented a precursor of the modern
surfboard in 1950, uncovered coins on
a Spanish treasure ship and has carried
out many impressive rescues.
With all this to share, his selfpublished book could have been so
much better. The short, tersely related
adventures are not in chronological

JELLY ART
Jellyfish: A Natural History
by Lisa-Ann Gershwin

order but they do overlap a lot.


You soon start thinking: Havent I
read that before? Sometimes the
duplication is recognised with a crossreference but usually not.
In the last third of the book the
problem becomes more pronounced,
getting into triplication and more.
You start to feel like the last person
left at the bar buying drinks for the
old-timer who cant remember how
often hes told the same stories.
Grouping these tales thematically
could have been a more rewarding
idea, because in the end the books
scattershot approach doesnt give
George Bell the kudos he deserves.
But for all that, its still worth a read.

Steve Weinman
ShieldCrest
ISBN: 9781910176665
Softback, 314pp, 16.50

HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW OFTEN


jellyfish shots do well in underwater
photo competitions? Put one of these
alien-looking creatures against a black
background and what have you got?
A photo you cant help but look at.
I remember one particular national
wildlife-photography contest where
I attended the awards ceremony. There
had been relatively few underwater
entries that year, but it was a UK
jellyfish image that won.
More than a few of the topside
photographers were muttering darkly
to the effect that any fool could get
close to a drifting blob of jelly, with
plenty of time to get the settings right
and squeeze off a shedload of shots.
You could see their point, even if
they didnt necessarily appreciate that
taking pictures under water brings
more than a few of its own difficulties,
but the winner certainly wasnt
bothered about any of that.
Lisa-Ann Gershwins new book
about jellyfish is a winner too, another
great contribution to marine-life
literature from Ivy Press, coming hot
on the heels of its excellent Seahorses
(Review, May).
Like Sara Lourie, the author of that
smaller-format book, Gershwin has
a very easy style that makes reading
what might in other hands be dry and

academic a real pleasure.


Every line reveals the depth of
her knowledge and especially her
infectious enthusiasm. And she has a
nice way of putting things Ocyropsis
looks like a cross between the Batman
logo and what could be a Klingon attack
vessel is a typical description, in this
case of a clapper jelly.
Jellyfish are not endangered,
because they tend to thrive where
other creatures fail. Apparently some
4000 species have already been
recorded, and Australian marinebiologist Gershwin has discovered
200 of these herself.
She is Director of the Australian
Marine Stinger Advisory Services so
has plenty of hands-on experience,
if thats an appropriate term to use in
connection with jellies.
It would be worth having this book
for the fine selection of photos alone,
and for the line illustrations and classy
design. Its interesting to learn more
about jellyfish generally but the
author goes into greater depth with
50 of the most notable species.
Purple People Eaters, Venuss
Girdles, Gorgons of the Pond, Sailors
on the Wind and Bazinga! (one for
Big Bang Theory fans) the section
headings have their own poetry.
I would use this book for a solid
grounding in the subject and for
reference, but with its 150 colour shots
you can also enjoy it as an art book.

Steve Weinman
Ivy Press
ISBN: 9781782403227
Hardback, 224pp, 19.99

40 DAYS OF
MEDITATION
Yoga For Freediving: Extreme
Relaxation (video set)
by Sara Campbell
FREEDIVING IS FOR ME the other
side of the scuba-diving coin. If you
enjoy being under the water you tend
to try out different methods of
exploring that world. However, without

www.divErNEt.com

BOOK & VIDEO REVIEW


the appropriate training, the freediving
experience is likely to be an extremely
short and shallow submersion when
compared to dives on scuba.
Sara Campbell has broken four
freediving world records in various
disciplines in her time, yet first and
foremost she is a yoga instructor.
Freediving was not even a sport she
would have considered had not one
of her students observed her breathholding ability, and suggested she try
it. Remarkably, only nine months after
starting out she broke three world
records in one 48-hour period!
Yoga for Freediving: Deep Relaxation
is her first packaged course, and its
accessible online. It is easy to navigate,
has good reproduction and playback
quality and contains plenty of material
of varying lengths (videos range from
3-40 minutes).
Included are four introductory,
six relaxation and 18 how to videos
designed to further explain specific
practices with which you may be
unfamiliar, and covering everything
from how to sit (not as simple as you
might think) and how to chant
mantras to specific physical exercises
for freediving such as reverse packing.
Initially I found the switching of
camera angles in the videos
distracting, but I soon got used to this,
and for some of the exercises in any

MAN ON
MISSIONS
Extreme Adventures
by Andy Torbet

case you need to have your eyes


closed, with the audio providing the
main point of reference.
Some of the audio lectures are also
available to download as mp3s, which
can then be listened to in the car
before training etc.
All the lectures and meditations
were well explained and placed into
context, and even as a freediver who is
familiar with yoga I found them useful.
As well as the video and audio
tutorials the course is designed so that
the user undertakes 40 consecutive
days of meditation. This is not as
demanding as you might think, and
the PDF guide describes how to
undertake this programme, along with
useful tips to keep you on track.
The course retails for US $300, but

for that you are effectively getting


one-on-one tuition.
Being able to return to the course
and re-watch or re-listen to parts is
also advantageous, unlike a taught
course on which, if your attention
lapses, youre unable to hit the rewind.
Despite some specific techniques
being described for the sport, this
product is not designed to be a basic
introduction to freediving. The course
would suit those already familiar with
the sport and seeking to improve on
their current expertise.
Available to buy separately are the
six relaxation videos for $50, which
would be ideal for those with a
good understanding of yoga and
freediving alike.
Sara has a unique style and
approach that I have not experienced
before on apnea courses. Becoming
a freediver through yoga appears to
have led her to adopt an allencompassing approach to the sport,
as opposed to the predominantly
physical training on which some
courses focus primarily.
While I cant see myself smashing
world records any time soon, my
training focus has shifted more
towards the mind as a result of this
video package.
This has already allowed for more
relaxed dives and further enjoyment
of my time below the surface.

IF YOUVE SEEN Andy Torbet on stage


at the Dive Shows or on TV, youll know
that this professional adventurer has a
dynamic delivery coupled with a nice
line in self-deprecation that makes
hearing about his exploits a pleasant
pastime. Dont miss him at DIVE 2016
in October, when he moves into the
realm of very deep wrecks.
We reviewed the hardback edition
of this book about a year ago. In a
series of chapters set above and below
the waterline, Torbet sets himself some
tough challenges in the British Isles.
These are designed to stretch his
impressive skill-set, and take him from
deep beneath the waves to high on
mountain ranges, with some kayaking
at the interface for good measure.
Its well-written, straightforward
and humorous, and with plenty to go
wrong along the way, despite the
painstaking planning, there are lessons
to be learnt. If you havent yet read it,
this entertaining paperback is well
worth investigating.

Steve Weinman
Bantam Press
ISBN: 9780552169110
Softback, 336pp, 9.99

EMBAH SAFARI

Lauren Smith
Discover Your Depths
www.discoveryourdepths.com
Premium video set US $300

TOP 10 BEST-SELLING DIVING BOOKS

TOP 10 MOST WISHED-FOR DIVING BOOKS

as listed by www.amazon.co.uk (22 June, 2016)

as listed by www.amazon.co.uk (22 June, 2016)

1. Fifty Places to Dive Before You Die, by Chris Santella


2. Dive Truk Lagoon: The Japanese WWII Pacific Shipwrecks, by Rod Macdonald
3. Diving & Snorkelling British Virgin Islands, by Linda Sorensen
4. Introduction to Technical Diving, by Rob Palmer
5. The Diving Manual, by Deric Ellerby
6. Reef Fish Identification Tropical Pacific, by Gerald Allen, Roger Steene & Paul Humann
7. The Silent World, by Jacques Cousteau
8. Ultimate Diving Adventures: 100 Extraordinary Experiences Under Water, by Len Deeley
9. The Wreck Diving Manual, by Lizzie Bird
10. Neutral Buoyancy: Adventures in a Liquid World, by Tim Ecott

1. Dive Truk Lagoon: The Japanese WWII Pacific Shipwrecks, by Rod Macdonald
2. The Darkness Below (Kindle edition), by Rod Macdonald
3. Scuba Professional: Insights into Sport Diver Training & Operations, by Simon Pridmore
4. Fifty Places to Dive Before You Die, by Chris Santella
5. Discover UK Diving: An Introduction & Personal Guide to UK Scuba Diving, by Will Appleyard
6. Neutral Buoyancy: Adventures in a Liquid World, by Tim Ecott
7. The Darkness Below (paperback edition), by Rod Macdonald
8. The Heroic Age of Diving: America's Underwater Pioneers, by Jerry Kuntz
9. Diving the World, by Beth & Shaun Tierney
10. The Scuba Diving Handbook, by John Bantin

www.divErNEt.com

69

divEr

LIVEABOARD
HOLIDAY NEWSDIVER

BOOKING NOW

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

British divers had the chance to enjoy Cuban


diving with a degree of seclusion for years (well,
apart from the Cuban and Canadian divers) but
now that President Obama has said be my guest!
to the American people, they seem to be liking
what they find. If you cant beat them, you could
always join one of their voyages of discovery.
Highly experienced diver-guides Amos
Nachoum and Amanda Cotton are leading a
10-day trip to the marine protected area Jardines
de la Reina, famed for its shark-diving, from 28
December aboard the 30m liveaboard Avalon II.
This is a year-old vessel with a large diving deck,
nitrox and a Jacuzzi. It also has three diving skis
to serve the 16 guests who can be accommodated
in its eight en-suite double cabins.
The trip costs US $7200pp (two sharing),
which includes three nights in Havana with a
programme of urban activities, six nights on
Avalon II, 15 dives and transfers.

8 www.biganimals.com

THREE WAYS TO GO
IN SRI LANKA
Dive Worldwide is taking bookings
for the Sri Lanka Aggressor, which
launches in September offering
three seven-night itineraries.
The 44m liveaboard has 13 airconditioned staterooms for up to 26
passengers, a partially covered sundeck, lounge, wet-bar, barbecue area
and swim-deck, and two skiffs.
Whale and dolphin trips led by
naturalist Howard Martenstyn begin
from Trincomalee on the east coast.
Blue, sperm, humpback, beaked,
melonhead, pilot and false killer
whales are all in the frame.
Recreational reef and wreck trips

depart from Colombo, with wrecks


such as the Thermopylae Sierra,
Chief Dragon, Taprobane and Trug on
the diving list.
On the third itinerary, technical
wreck enthusiasts will get to dive
wrecks such as HMS Hermes, the
first British-built aircraft-carrier, 54m
down off the Batticaloa coast.
Sri Lanka Aggressor is fully
equipped for trimix and rebreather
diving. Prices start from 2685pp,
including seven nights full-board
accommodation, flights, transfers
and diving.

8 www.diveworldwide.com

Drawn to Raja Ampat


Raja Ampat, the group of four remote
Indonesian islands, is at the very heart
of the Coral Triangle, says Dive
Worldwide. Sharks and manta rays
apart, the region boasts more than
500 coral, 1500 fish and 700 mollusc
species true marine biodiversity.
Marine biologist, underwater
photographer and expert on the
region Dr Richard Smith is leading a
group of 15 on a 15-day expedition
aboard Indo Siren from 28 February
next year. Prices start from 3185pp
(or 4350pp if you add in flights).
Included are two nights in Manado
with meals, 10 nights afloat with up to
four dives a day, free nitrox and kit
rental and transfers.

8 www.diveworldwide.com
Another Raja Ampat cruise, covering
both the north and south of the area,
is being organised by IndonesiadivEr

70

TrukTec with
Ahmed Fadel
A new Micronesia itinerary called
TrukTec with Ahmed Fadel has
been launched by blue o two. Its a
10-night technical-diving package
to be held on Truk Master next
year. Guests can dive a variety of
wrecks and reefs and attend
practical workshops and talks led
by the instructor.
The wrecks, closely packed into
a coral lagoon, resulted from the
USAs Operation Hailstorm strikes
in 1944, which sank 61 anchored
Japanese vessels. Many are within
recreational-diving depth limits.
blue o two says the trip would
suit both sport divers looking to
embark on technical training or
technical divers wanting to
progress, with Fadel available to
teach pre-booked courses.

It all happens in November


2017, with a price tag of 5699pp.
Included are return flights with
two nights B&B stopovers each in
Manila and in Guam, transfers, 10
nights aboard (two sharing), up to
four dives a day and land
excursions.

8 www.blueotwo.com

CLASSIC SUDAN

based Alor Divers aboard the Ambai


later next year, from 24 November.
The 32m liveaboard carries 16 divers
in eight en-suite double cabins.
The 11-night trip costs 3990 euros
with 5% off for full charters you get
nitrox but airfares are not included.
Alor suggests tagging on 3-5 days
resort-based muck-diving in Maluku
or Lembeh if you want to make the
most of your time in Indonesia.

8 www.alor-divers.com

Next year Diverse Travel is


offering divers the
chance to visit
well-known
sites of the
Sudanese
Red Sea
aboard the
spacious
39m Oceanos.
The trip will take in
Cousteaus Conshelf II underwater
habitat (pictured); Shaab Rumi
with its sharks and drop-offs;
Sanganebs teeming reef and
pelagic fish; the Umbria wreck;

and shark-diving south


of Port Sudan.
The trip,
from
5-13
March,
costs
from
1399pp
(two
sharing)
including flights, transfers, seven
nights full-board and diving.
Oceanos, designed as much as a
hotel as a boat takes 28 guests.

8 www.diversetravel.co.uk

www.divErNEt.com

LIVEABOARD DIVER

LIVEABOARD SPECIAL

Ex-Hunter moves north

Undersea Hunter, formerly CostaRica-based and associated with


dive-trips to remote Cocos island,
has changed hands.
The vessel will now be covering
equally remote eastern Pacific divemagnets Socorro and Guadalupe
as well as new Sea of Cortes
itineraries, as part of the Nautilus

fleet out of Cabo San Lucas.


Renamed Nautilus Under Sea, the
vessel was the first to visit Cocos
24 years ago. At 27m it will be the
smallest liveaboard in the fleet of
three, and goes into service in
October accommodating 17 divers.
A nine-day trip to Socorro to see
the giant mantas, sharks, dolphins

and humpbacks this November


would cost from US $3195 (two
sharing), while a six-day Guadalupe
trip to cage-dive with the great
white sharks from October would
cost $3095 on the same basis
(cheaper triple staterooms are
available).

8 www.nautilusliveaboards.com

YOUR TIME FOR THE GALAPAGOS?


If youre planning your trip of a
lifetime to the Galapagos but are not
sure when is best to go, Explorer
Ventures suggests starting by
checking out its Year of Savings
Specials, which it has now extended
to include 2017 dates, booking a flight
to Ecuador and letting it do the rest.

Maldives right
about now
August and September are in the
middle of the Maldives south-west
season, when the weather tends to be
settled and the diving is great, says
Scuba Tours Worldwide. It cites good
chances of sharks (including
hammerheads), eagle rays and tuna
on the west side of the atolls and
manta rays and whale sharks to the
murkier east, which cant be bad.
Seven-night trips around the
central atolls are available aboard Sea
Spirit from 1999pp, and 12 nights to
those same atolls and beyond from
2949pp, including flights, transfers,
full board, diving (including by night)
and green tax.

8www.scubascuba.com
www.divErNEt.com

Humboldt Explorer leaves San


Cristobal port on Mondays on sevennight trips. The itinerary takes in 18
or 19 big-animal dives in locations
including Darwin and Wolf islands
and Cousins Rock as well as two land
tours to see giant tortoises, sea-lions,
marine iguanas and more.

Prices start at US $4795pp, $200


more next year and $5095 in 2018, for
two sharing an en-suite stateroom.
The package includes eight days
with up to four dives daily (weather
permitting); meals and drinks and
transfers.

8 www.explorerventures.com

Regaldive has introduced French


Polynesia, with its spectacular big-animal
diving, to its liveaboard programme. The
South Pacific destination is made up of
118 volcanic and coral islands and atolls
stretching for more than 1250 miles, so is
well-suited to liveaboard diving.
French Polynesia Master is
a new steel-hulled vessel
that takes up to 25
guests on seven- and
10-night dive safaris
around Fakarava,
the Unesco
Biosphere Reserve, the
Marquesas Islands and
Tuamotu Archipelago.
Divers can expect to see
blacktip, silky, tiger, grey reef,
hammerhead and silvertip sharks,
schools of snapper and fusiliers, huge
Napoleon wrasse and marbled grouper,
says the tour operator.
The shorter trips start from 2599pp in
a twin lower-deck cabin, including 18-20
dives (weather permitting), transfers and
full board. Regaldive can arrange flights.

Fiji Siren:
business
as usual
Siren Fleet has had more than its
share of setbacks, most recently
damage to Fiji Siren sustained during
Fijis biggest-ever storm, Cyclone
Winston, in February.
However the liveaboard was soon
back in action, and by mid-April its
crew were reporting manta rays on
almost every dive, plenty of sharks,
beautiful corals with plenty of macro
life and schooling fish.
Seven-night Beyond the Bligh
trips leave from Volivoli Beach Resort
on Viti Levu and take divers through
Bligh Waters to Namena Marine
Reserve and south to the Lomaiviti
island group.
Ten-night cruises continue northeast to Taveuni Island and Rainbow
Reef. The shorter trips start from 2995
euros pp, and 10 nights cost from
4150 euros. Prices include free
essential dive gear, nitrox and beer.
Incidentally, all divers on Siren Fleet
or Master Liveaboards can rent
Nautilus Lifeline location devices, with
funds raised going to a foundation
that has most recently been helping
Cyclone Winston as well as Ecuador
earthquake victims.

8 www.worldwide
diveandsail.com

French Polynesia
with the Master

8 www.regal-diving.co.uk

71

divEr

HOLIDAY NEWS

MORE BOOKING NOW BRIEFLY

Snowrise
in St Lucia

of its scuba-diving coral-reef


conservation expeditions to
Musandam in Oman, the Maldives or
Malaysias Tioman Island for free.
There are also other prizes from
sponsors Reef Check and the Marine
Conservation Society to be won. You
just need to be a qualified diver and
be prepared to put in a shift what,
did you think it was a holiday?
Closing date for applications is the
end of November.

See the seas turn


yellow and pink
with upward
snowfall Anse
Chastanet resort
and its dive centre
Scuba St Lucia say
the expected dates
for this years
annual coral nightspawning are
24-26 August.
One of natures
most spectacular
and rare
performances is how they describe
the event, which occurs close to the
beach. Seven night dive packages
start at US $2389pp (two divers
sharing) including full-board,
transfers, 12 beach or boat dives, dive
gear and other water sports.

8 www.biosphere-

Milaidhoo moments
A new Maldivian-owned resort opens
in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of
Baa Atoll in November, with 50 villas
serviced by private butlers, all with
freshwater pools. Milaidhoo Island
Maldives is described as a subtly
luxurious boutique resort primarily
for couples and offers access to
Hanifaru Bay, known for manta and
whale sharks gatherings. Half-board
room rates are from 1027 per night.

8 www.milaidhoo.com

expeditions.org

Saeed In Focus
divers to join it to dive German
survivors of the battle, including
the Markgraf, Knig, Kronprinz
Wilhelm, Seydlitz and other vessels.
The recently refitted day-boat is
boasting new features such as
protective bench strips to prevent
tank damage, bright reading lights
and fresh coffee at all times!

8 www.scubastlucia.com

8 www.scapa-flow.co.uk

Jutland survivors
Its the 100th anniversary of the
WW1 Battle of Jutland this year and
the operator of mv Invincible, Scapa
Flow Diving Holidays, is inviting

Free if you muck in


Biosphere Expeditions is offering one
fortunate diver the chance to join one

Intro to filming

Is it our imagination or are there


fewer photo workshops going on
these days? Certainly Saeed Rashid
still seems to be in demand with his
In Focus trips with blue o two. The
Lightroom-meister is focusing on
the Philippines for the first time as
he runs a workshop at the Ocean
Vida Beach & Dive Resort on
Malapascua from 3-14 September.
Flights and transfers, full-board, 24
boat dives including four at night
and six thresher-shark dives at
Monad Shoal will cost 3095pp.

Oonasdivers is arranging a weeklong Underwater Film-Making


workshop at the Red Sea tent
resort of Marsa Shagra from 18
January. Its mainly for beginners
and intermediate level with the
emphasis on getting the best from
GoPros or DSLR cameras as
opposed to costly video gear.
Running it is David Diley, who made
an as-yet unreleased film about
shark-diving in Fiji some years ago.
You pay from 1195 for seven
nights full-board and unlimited
house reef diving.

8 www.blueotwo.com

8 www.oonasdivers.com

NEW
!

Find hundreds of items of


essential dive gear, accessories
and courses from leading retailers

Visit: partners.divernet.com
divEr

72

www.divErNEt.com

TECHNIQUE

LOOKING
OUT FOR
NUMBER 1
JANES STORY

RECENTLY RECEIVED the following


email from Jane, a friend and an
experienced diver.
Pete and I were diving on a site south
of Phuket in Thailand. It was the third
day of our trip and the first dive of the
day. I slipped my gear on in the boat, did
my usual checks and back-rolled into the
water. I had a problem descending at first
so I exhaled fully then flipped forward
and pulled myself down for the first few
metres.
As I descended my tank-valve was
banging into my head, which was a bit
annoying. So when I got to the bottom at
30m, I took my gear off, adjusted my tank
strap, pulled it higher and slipped back
into my BC.
I was finding it hard to breathe from
the regulator but thought: Its OK, not a
problem, I can manage. I tried switching
to my octopus but it was just the same, so
I switched back to my primary.
Then I checked my gauge, not
thinking that there might be a problem,
just making one of my normal occasional
checks. The needle was at zero. I thought:

www.divErNEt.com

SIMON
PRIDMORE
discusses
when and how
to carry an
independent
air source

Above: A diver equipped


with a pony cylinder.

Hmm, wheres Pete?


I swam over, tapped him on the
shoulder and indicated that I was out of
air. He looked surprised but took out his
octopus, gave it to me, then doublechecked my gauge and valve. Yup, I
thought, I told you I was out of air.
We exchanged lets go up signals. Like
me, Pete has an extra-long (about 1.5m)
hose on his octopus, so we could ascend
comfortably together side-by-side,
without getting in each others way.
We both felt relaxed, so there was
plenty of air for us to make a slow ascent
and do an extended stop at 5m before
surfacing: no drama.
I later found out that I had gone in
using the almost empty cylinder from my
last dive of the previous day. It had not
been changed out. I thought I always
checked my air before going in the water,
and then again at frequent intervals
during the dive. I obviously dont!
Nor did I pick up on a couple of
obvious signs that I was low on air. What
Pete calls my legendarily low air
consumption seems to have blinded me
to the possibility that I could ever have an
air-supply problem early on in a dive.
A couple of months later, we were

diving Cannibal Rock in South Komodo


when Pete heard and felt a massive
explosion behind his head.
At first he thought he had been fishbombed, but when the thunderous noise
didnt stop, he realised that a catastrophic
air supply failure must have just taken
place somewhere behind his head.
He looked at his pressure gauge,
which was down to 100 bar and falling
fast. He could actually see the needle
moving. His first thought was to head up,
as he was not in deco, still had some air
left, at least temporarily, and was not too
far from the surface. But then he decided
that an air-sharing ascent would be the
most relaxed and therefore the safest
option and turned to look for me.
The first diver he came across was
Martin, but he was burdened by a
monster video system and Pete recalled
that his octopus was an inflator-hose
regulator no good going to him.
Then he spotted me, swam over, asked
very politely if he might share my air and,
when I graciously agreed, we ascended
comfortably together and survived to tell
the tale.

LOOKING OUT FOR


NUMBER ONE
After these two incidents, we have
decided to make a significant change in
how we dive. We both realise that the
outcome of both events could have been
very different if we had not been diving
together. What if I had been solo? What if
Martin had been Petes only option?
So now, whenever we are diving below
20m on our own or with divers we do not
know well and trust, we will always take
an independent air source with us.

PONY UP
Jane asked me what I recommended and
this, in a nutshell, is what I told her.
The best option is a pony cylinder. This
is usually attached by brackets to one side
of the main cylinder and has its own
regulator and contents gauge, so you no
longer need to have an octopus second
stage on your primary regulator. Your
pony regulator is now the one you pass to
an out-of-air diver in an emergency.
The pony regulator should have a long
brightly coloured hose and be attached
in the same way you used to attach your
octopus.
The ponys contents gauge should also
be clearly marked, perhaps with tape the
same colour as the ponys regulator hose,
and clipped off to your BC/harness in a
place other than where you keep your
main cylinders contents gauge. Its very
important that you make it impossible
to get the two confused, even when at

73

divEr

TECHNIQUE

WHICH TO CHOOSE &


WHICH IS RIGHT?

depth and narcotically challenged.


When configuring your pony regulator,
put both hoses on the same side of the
first stage, then turn the first stage on its
side when you attach it to the valve so that
the hoses point tidily downwards rather
than looping out to the side, where they
might snag on a reef or rock.
You can mount the pony cylinder
valve-up or valve-down, fireman-style.
Ensure that the valve handle is positioned
so that you can easily reach it. This is so
that you can turn the valve off in case the
pony regulator starts to free-flow
in mid-dive. Normally the pony
valve should be turned on at the
same time you turn your main
cylinder-valve on, and left open
throughout the dive.
You do this so that, if you need to
use the pony, all you have to do is
pop the regulator in, purge and
breathe. You dont have to hunt for
the valve or worry about grabbing
the regulator and taking a mouthful
of water, having forgotten that the
valve is off. This is something that,
in an emergency, could turn minor
anxiety into full-blown panic.
You may see what seems like
contrary advice elsewhere,
suggesting that you should keep a
pony cylinder switched off until you
need it.
This is the normal procedure
followed by technical divers with
decompression gases, but their
situation is different. Their deco gas
is useless to them at depth. In fact, to
breathe it accidentally at depth
could be fatal for them the main
reason for keeping it switched off
until needed.
The gas in your pony cylinder is
the same as in your main cylinder
and, if you ever need it, you will want
it to be available immediately.

divEr

74

Good choices are slim, long cylinders like


Luxfers S019 or S030. The S019 contains
560 litres of air at 207 bar. The S030
contains 850 litres. Both are about 0.5kg
negatively buoyant when full. The S019 is
neutrally buoyant at 50bar, the S030
slightly positive.
Decide which one is for you based on
the amount of air you calculate you may
need to make a slow 10m per minute
ascent from the deepest depth you usually
dive to, allowing for a safety stop, and
adding 50% extra to allow for the fact that
you are likely to be breathing significantly
more quickly than usual following an airsupply emergency.
Use the formula I described in my
technique article in February (5 Things
Tec Divers Do) to work out how much you
will need.
Practise using your new configuration
in the pool, then on easy dives first to get
used to it. You may find it difficult to keep
your balance with the extra bulk on your
back, but a little practice and shifting your
weights around a bit usually cures that.
You may even find that you can lose a
little lead with the pony on board.
Some divers prefer to clip
their pony cylinder onto
BC or harness D-rings and
carry it side-slung under
their arm with the
regulator and SPG hoses
strapped under lengths
of inner tubing in the
same way that
technical divers
configure
decompression
cylinders. If you
really cant get
used to a backmounted pony
cylinder, try this
instead.

Above left: Hoses tidily


pointing downwards.
Above: Photographer with
primary regulator on a short
hose and an inflator hose
octopus not a promising
option to which to turn if
youre an out-of-air diver.
Left: Reg configuration for a
side-slung cylinder.
Below: SpareAir - limited.

3 FINAL KEY POINTS


Remember that your pony is a reserve
supply. Never plan to use it to stay down
longer. Always plan to bring it up full and
untouched. It is only there for you or for
another diver to use in the event of an airsupply emergency.
Never fill a pony cylinder with any gas
other than the gas you are using in your
main cylinder. Keep it simple.
You may consider a SpareAir instead of
a pony cylinder. Having a SpareAir is
definitely better than having no reserve at
all and it is small and easy to carry, but it
is not really a viable alternative.
It contains only 85 litres at 207 bar
too little air to guarantee a safe ascent
from any significant depth.

Read more from Simon Pridmore in:


Scuba Confidential An Insiders Guide to
Becoming a Better Diver
Scuba Professional Insights into Sport Diver
Training & Operations
Scuba Fundamentals Start Diving the
Right Way
All are available on Amazon in a variety
of formats.

www.divErNEt.com

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WELL AND TRULY

TESTED

A knife and a hood this month


its the accessories that come under
NIGEL WADEs gimlet eye, and in the
case of a dive-reel, he even has a go
at refining it!

KNIFE

TUSA
FK-14 TITANIUM
MINI-KNIFE
WHEN I FIRST WENT DIVING, knives were an
integral part of my dive-kit, so much so that if
I didnt have one strapped to my leg I felt
under-dressed, exposed and vulnerable.
In those days the bigger the better was the
buzz-phrase, which led to divers buying and
wearing a blade of which Zorro or Crocodile
Dundee would have been proud.
These monster knives were employed
for various tasks such as hammering and
prying spidge (brass artefacts) from previously
untouched wrecks, dispatching a fish or two to
be taken for dinner, tightening screws and
even cutting lines or nets.
Oh, how times have changed! Increasing
knife-crime on our streets has placed this
humble but useful tool at the top of the
modern list of items not to have in our
possession.
Air travel with a knife is rightly impossible,
unless its tucked away in hold baggage, but in
any case most overseas resorts scowl at their
use, or outright ban them on their dives.
In my humble opinion, a dive-knife used
responsibly is an essential safety tool.
Both rod-and-line sport-fishing and ghostnet-fishing are leaving our dive-sites
festooned with virtually invisible discarded
monofilament or braided lines, and
entanglement is a real possibility.
Without an effective means of cutting these
lines or netting, they can be life-threatening for
divers and marine animals.
In a first for me, I took TUSAs latest mini
cutting tool on test to see if its compact size
would measure up to the mammoth task of
keeping me safe.

The knife and sheath


combined weigh 60g and
measure 17cm in length. There
are two colour options: metallic dark
red or metallic silver.

with a hard rubberised insert to aid grip, and is


ergonomically curved to better fit the hand.
The FK-14 is supplied in an ABS sheath with
a simple locking/release mechanism to keep
the knife secured until needed.
A sprung stainless-steel belt-clip is fitted to
the back of the sheath, with the option of
replacing this with an ABS mounting-plate for
high- or medium-pressure hoses; there is also
an eyelet at the sheaths tip for lanyard or
piston-clip attachment.

The Design
The FK-14 Titanium Mini-Knife has a 70mm 64TI drop-point titanium blade. The lightweight
corrosion-proof alloy used is durable and wellsuited to the marine environment.
The short blade has a ground serrated edge
on the back and a finely honed edge at the
front, providing two cutting options.
The handle is moulded from ABS polymers,
divEr

76

Modern Line
I went into shock when my fishing-tackle sales
friend produced a spool of 80lb breakingstrain Spider Wire braided line for me to use
on this test.
This is the ultimate evil for unsuspecting
fish and divers, I thought, as I tried to break
the super-fine line with my bare hands.
My panicked chum quickly stopped me
before I severed all my fingers. The limp green
line is like cheese-wire, but cheese-wire you
could use to tow a London bus.
The worry is that its becoming very popular
in the sport-fishing world, and when anglers
get hooked up on wreckage or a reef, pulling
for a break is nigh on impossible.
Theyre left to decide whether to cut the
braid at the rod-end, leaving up to 100m of this
almost invisible, loathsome product waiting to
snare an unsuspecting diver in its potentially
lethal trap.
The more widely used monofilament nylon
fishing-line is much thicker and stiffer than the
corresponding breaking strain of braided lines,
but is just as malevolent for divers. It is also
used to make commercial fishing-nets, and
being almost invisible under water has been
aptly named ghost-netting.
Getting entangled in any of these products
is a seriously dangerous prospect, especially if
you have no cutting tools to hand.

The Tests

The Mini-Knife mounted on the BC mp inflator hose.

I put together a collection of sample lines that


divers might encounter while going about
their underwater business.
Ive mentioned braid and mono fishing-lines
but there are also traditional lines made from
www.divErNEt.com

DIVER TESTS
hands, and I struggled with dexterity when
attempting to cut the sample lines. I even
dropped the knife a few times as I pulled it
from its sheath, which is obviously not a
problem in the lab but could be costly in a
real-world underwater environment.

The FK-14 belt-clip and hose-mounting plate options.

Nylon, polypropylene and polyester, or natural


fibres such as sisal and hemp that are all
twisted and braided to create ropes.
Ive also included some low-diameter
stainless-steel cable and hi-tec climbing line.
This was by no means a scientific set of tests.
I simply sliced or sawed my way through all the
sample products, taking note of how easy or
difficult it was and how long it took using both
the honed blade and the serrated back spine.
I wore a pair of 5mm neoprene gloves to
find out how easy the TUSA Mini-Knife was to
use wearing coldwater garb, then repeated the
same operations with bare hands.
I also placed the knife and sheath in various
positions on either my BC or weight-belt, to
see if this affected access and deployment.

The Results
The honed titanium blade made short work of
all the lower-diameter lines, slicing through
them instantly with very little effort, and what
pleased me the most was the ease with which
it cut through the braided Spider Wire.
This, incidentally, proved very difficult to cut
with scissors and, to my dismay when using my
much-loved trauma shears, the fine, limp line
simply folded between the cutting blades and
remained intact.
The thicker lines needed a sawing action,
and took between 5 and 10 seconds to cut.
The serrated back spine made short work of
the mono and braid, but the serrations caught
in the fibres of the thicker lines and ropes and
slowed down the cutting process, with the
climbing line taking 20 seconds to sever.
The one thing with which this cutting tool
couldnt cope was the 4mm stainless-steel
cable, and Im sure I took the fine edge off the
blade while attempting to saw it apart.
The most accessible position (for me) was
with the FK-14 mounted directly to the
medium-pressure hose supplying my BC
inflator. Im right-handed, and with the knifehandle pointing downwards I found it easy
to deploy.
The safety locking clip needs to be pushed
forward to release the knife, so this is a twohanded operation easily done on the BC
hose but trickier when it was mounted to the
side of my waist-belt.
The handle felt tiny in my palm with gloved
www.divErNEt.com

Conclusion
Im sure this Mini-Knifes small stature would
have been the subject of much micky-taking
and ribbing in my early diving days, with my
buddies telling me thats not a knife, this is a
Knife! as they pulled their rusted, blunt 15in
Bowie hunting blade from the side of their calf.
The truth is, this unobtrusive, lowmaintenance corrosion-proof tool has proved
that it can cut the mustard (pun intended)
when the chips are down, and sliced its way
through everything I threw at it, except for the
tough call of the steel cable.

Its also light enough for travelling, should


some dive-operator actually allow it to be
worn under water on overseas dive trips.
Entanglement is rare but it does happen,
and if it does, this sharp little titanium blade
could prove to be a lifesaver.

SPECS
PRICE8 59.95
BLADE8 Drop point 70mm 6-4TI titanium
alloy

HANDLE8 90mm ABS


SHEATH8 ABS with locking mechanism
MOUNTING8 Belt-clip, hose-mount with FK10HA adaptor (included)

WEIGHT8 60g
COLOURS8 Metallic dark red or metallic silver
CONTACT8 www.cpspartnership.co.uk
DIVER GUIDE

HOOD

WATERPROOF
H1 5/10MM
HI-VIS
POLAR EVO
ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO WEAR THAT
HOOD TODAY? You lightweight! My buddys
disparaging remark came as we kitted up for
our first dive of the day. I didnt have the
bottle to tell him that it was a really thick,
coldwater model, because the sea temperature
was a balmy 18C, and I didnt want to take any
more stick.
The H1 hood is clearly designed and built
for more frigid conditions by that Swedish
exposure-suit master Waterproof but,
undaunted, I wore it on more than a few of our
temperate-water dives to check it out.

The Design
The H1 hood has a bright orange I-Span
superstretch Nylon outer surface with
reflective patches. The colour scheme has been
selected for its visibility at the surface in
choppy sea conditions.
The hood uses the makers 10mm twinlayered neoprene in critical heat-loss areas,
with strategic panels such as the throat section
made from flexible 5mm neoprene. Smooth
Glideskin is used for the internal seals around
the neck and face.
It also features 3D Shaped Anatomical
Sculpting, with a generous yoke and
Waterproofs Hood Air Venting System (HAVS).
The latter employs one-way valves to stop air

building up annoyingly in the hood, and giving


the wearer that familiar 1960s beehivehairstyle look.
All the seams are bonded and blind-stitched
with high-quality Nylon thread.

Exposure Protection
Im reliably informed that divers tend to underestimate their exposure protection
requirements. For divers read Nigel Wade, as
my personal learning curve in this area has
been steep, embarrassing and vividly shared
on these pages of divEr.
What Ive learned so far is that in general

77

divEr

eight?
Youre not going to wear that hood, you lightw

thicknesses 3 and 5mm, although last year


I started to experiment with a wonderful 7mm
version from Dorset neoprene whizz-kids
OThree.
I hadnt heard of 10mm hoods for anything
but commercial diving in sub-Arctic conditions
until this Waterproof number arrived at the
office. Why would we ever need such an item?
The answer was found on Waterproofs
website: During our numerous Polar trips with
Waterproof Expeditions, we learned that new
technology such as rebreathers enable divers to
make longer, deeper dives, and with this the
hypothermia factor enters the equation.
Those clever Swedes accordingly created
a series of accessories tagged as Polar
Evoluted, including the H1 5/10mm HAVS
hood.

In use
layering is the key to a comfortable outcome,
especially when wearing drysuits, and
fortunately there are a lot of available
solutions to consider.
A dive-hood is a different proposition,
because there are few variants from which to
choose, and its difficult to layer. So we need to
get our hood requirements right from the
outset.
Scientists tell us that, contrary to popular
belief, the head area transfers no more heat
than any other part of our bodies. Still, theres
nothing scientific about freezing ice-cream
headaches when first entering the water,
followed by a cold, miserable dive that needs
to be cut short.
Neoprene dive-hoods seem to have been
around forever, with the most-used

I had expected to feel as if I was wearing a


full-face steel helmet, restricting my jaw
movement and crushing my head, but the first
thing I noticed was how flexible the neoprene
used in the H1 hood was. I found it very
comfortable, and the 3D anatomical sculpting
seemed custom-made for my own cranium.
Under water, the hood felt a little positive in
the buoyancy department at shallow depths,
but this feeling soon disappeared as I
descended and the increase in ambient
pressure crushed it down a little.
Any air that found its way inside the hood
from mask-clearing or equalisation was released
instantly by the one-way valves in the HAV
system. These gave the added advantage of
making water-exchange inside the hood nonexistent, and assisting thermal retention.

REEL

MGE
TEC 100

IVE BEEN BUMPING MY GUMS ABOUT the


need for divers to carry and use rightly
coloured delayed surface marker buoys on all
open-water dives; in fact its becoming
something of a crusade. I believe this is the
most effective gear for being located quickly at
the surface.
However, Ive played only lipservice to the other pieces
in the jigsaw, those that
aid efficient stowage
and deployment. For
that we need a spool
or reel full of line,
plus a method of
attachment.

Was it warm? Obviously yes, and in


temperate waters the 10mm of neoprene was
overkill, but it didnt bake my bonce as my
buddy had expected. Instead it kept it at a
comfortable temperature toasty, but not
once did I feel I had to remove it to cool down.
Our boat crew easily spotted my brightorange-clad head at the surface. Im sure the
colour scheme is an advantage, but I wouldnt
rely solely on it to be conspicuous at the
surface, and will always have a deployed DSMB
as my first choice for that purpose.

Conclusion
Extreme coldwater diving is becoming more
mainstream, embracing destinations such as
Iceland, exploring the Polar regions or diving
with orcas in the Norwegian fjords. In these
conditions a 3, 5 or even 7mm hood may not
be enough.
Technical divers in particular, with their
extended decompression stops, may have to
deal with the problems associated with
hypothermia, and this is the domain of
Waterproofs H1 10mm hood.
With the choices available, theres no longer
any excuse for choosing the wrong hood and
freezing our noggins off.

SPECS
COST8 60
MATERIALS8 10mm twin-layered neoprene,
5mm neoprene, Glideskin

VENT SYSTEM8 Yes, one-way valves


COLOURS8 Orange/black only
SEAMS8 Bonded, blind-stitched
SIZES8 S, M, L, XL and XXL
CONTACT8 www.cpspartnership.co.uk
DIVER GUIDE

After trying out various types of reel and


attachment methods, I settled on a simple
plastic model that ticked all the boxes, and
have stuck with it for my own use for 12 years.
This blue-and-yellow MGE ratchet-reel has
never let me down.
The original MGE reels are robust, efficient
and fit for every purpose except one deep
technical diving.
This has now been addressed with the latest
all-black MGE Tec 100 model. However, like its
siblings it needs a little work to make it into
the perfect tool for the job, so, in the best Blue
Peter tradition, have your scissors ready.

The Design
The all-black MGE Tec 100 reel is loaded with
100m of fluorescent yellow 1.4mm diameter
polyester line with a 40kg breaking strain. The
reel body and line-spool is made from durable
plastics, with stainless-steel components for
the axle, line-guide and release trigger.
The Tec 100s design is a mirror of MGEs

divEr

78

www.divErNEt.com

DIVER TESTS

The components needed for the Blue Peter DIY project.

original reel models (if it isnt broken, why


bother to fix it?) with a simple lock-on, lock-off
ambidextrous line-release trigger, and also
features a chunky winding handle. The reel is
self-lubricating under water.

A figure-of-eight stopknot.

The MGE Tec 100 reel with


rolled DSMB stowed and
ready to go.

In Use
The new MGE Tec 100 reel behaved exactly the
same as my tried, tested and much-loved older
models. It was easy to grip with either hand,
and the trigger mechanism was smooth and
easy to operate, with the T-bar nestling nicely
between my middle and index fingers even
www.divErNEt.com

each dive to keep it in tip-top shape. If my


old reels are any guide, it should give
year after year of trouble-free service.

Conclusion
With the addition of the
bungee-strap

Improving the Design


Youll need some 5mm-diameter shock-cord
(bungee), a stainless-steel split ring and
a standard piston-clip, plus those scissors and
a cigarette-lighter to make this reel into the
perfect tool for DSMB stowage and
deployment.
Cut a 90cm length of the shock-cord and tie
a small overhand loop in the middle. Thread
the ends through the two holes either side of
the reel-handle and, after tensioning the cord
to ascertain the correct length, tie a figure-ofeight knot at each of the ends to lock it in
position.
Trim the excess with the scissors and burn
the tips with the lighter-flame to stop them
fraying. Attach the split-ring and piston-clip to
the reel-handle using either of the holes, and
the jobs done.
The DSMB can be rolled up, attached to the
line clip and laid over the top of the line-spool.
The shockcord is then pulled over the buoy
and rests neatly under the spool to hold
everything in place.
The small loop aids in releasing the buoy
prior to deployment. The piston-clip can be
used to attach the whole package to a suitably
positioned D-ring on your BC and, voila, were
good to go.

The completed project.

when wearing
thick neoprene gloves.
The line-guard, positioned centrally, kept the
line from spilling off the edge of the spool, as it
has with some other reels Ive tried.
The winding-handle was chunky enough to
be gripped firmly, and the diameter of the
spool the perfect size for fast, resistance-free
restowing of the line on ascent.
The supplied plastic spring-clip attached
securely to the webbing strap on my DSMB. It
looks up to the task, but Id be inclined to go all
belt-and-braces and tie the line directly to the
buoy for total piece of mind.
The reel is virtually maintenance-free,
needing only a dunk in the rinse-tank after

and piston-clip,
this reel proved perfect
for the job in hand. The
modifications arent rocket
science theyre cheap as chips and
easy to perform, which only leaves me
wondering why MGE doesnt do this to each of
its reels before they leave the factory.
Either way, once youve modified these reels
theres nothing to dislike, theyre lo-tec, robust,
and work like a charm. With
the Tec 100 reel the
range now covers
all the bases.

SPECS
COST8 52
LINE8 100m of yellow 1.4mm polyester
COLOURS8 Black
SIZE8 Body 19 x 15cm. Line spool, 6 x 11cm
diameter
WEIGHT8 592g
RACHET8 No, locks in both directions and
free spool
ORIENTATION8 Ambidextrous
CONTACT8 www.cpspartnership.co.uk

DIVER GUIDE

The MGE Tec 100 after the DSMBs been deployed.

79

divEr

NEW BUT

UNTESTED
The latest kit to hit the dive shops

Versace Mens V-Race


Diver Watches 5555

Mares DR Regulator Second-Stage

5555

V-Race diver timepieces from


Versace feature a Swiss quartz movement
and three luminous hands with a lens on the date window, set
in a 46mm stainless-steel case. They come in black and blue
colour schemes with a Medusa logo at the 12-hour mark and
on the screw-down crown. The watches are depth-rated to
200m and come with either a metal or soft rubber strap. Expect
to pay 1200 for each model.
8 www.watchshop.com

The new XR regulator range includes Mares all-metal-bodied DR second


stage, designed for improved coldwater performance. Made from nickel- and
chrome-plated brass and with a standard downstream valve, it is designed
for use with 25X first stages with both standard and long hoses in a DIR-style
configuration. The full tec set includes two second and two first stages, two
56 and 210cm hoses and a neck bungee and deadbolt snap, and costs 730.
8 www.mares.com

IST Dive Beacon


4444

Visibility a concern? New to the


IST line-up are these batterypowered mini-beacons,
available in a range of colours
and supplied with batteries and
a lanyard. Measuring 45 x
22mm, they weigh 17g and are
claimed to have
burntimes of more than
72 hours. The beacons
come in blue, green,
yellow or red and cost
just under 5 each.
8 www.sea-sea.com

Scubapro Chromis Dive


Computer 4444

TUSA Tri-Quest Freedom Mask

5555

The M3001 Tri-Quest mask from TUSA embodies the makers Freedom
Technology, with a skirt thats dimpled in key areas around the forehead
and cheekbones to increase its softness, flexibility and skin surface contact
area. It has a new design of domed side-window and a single front lens
intended to enhance the panoramic view. The frame structure has been
reduced and a 3D strap is provided. The price is a little under 70.
8 www.cpspartnership.co.uk

This wristwatch-style computer


isnt new but the colour options
are. They are black, white,
black/orange and black/lime,
priced at 279, or push the
boat out for white/blue plus
full black for 319. Separate
coloured wristbands are
available to brighten up existing
Chromis instruments at a price
of 12.50.
8 www.scubapro.com
divEr

80

www.divErNEt.com

JUST SURFACED

Stahlsac Steel Bags

6666

Stahlsacs latest dive-bags are made from


630D and 420D heavy-duty fabrics reinforced
with Hypalon and tarpaulin at stress points.
Compartments are said to be either 100%
waterproof or breathable to allow damp divewear to air out. Other features include waterresistant zips, grab-handles and replaceable
frame components and wheels. Prices range
from 199 for the Steel 34 (pictured below left)
to 66 each for the Steel Duffel and Steel
Backpack (below right).
8 www.stahlsac.com

Luxfer 7ltr Aluminium Cylinder

5555

These well-established 7ltr aluminium cylinders are now


available in two finishes a brushed alloy (as on Luxfers
current 11ltr cylinders) and natural. Working pressure is
232bar. Expect to pay just under 170.
8 www.sea-sea.com

Scubapro Seawing Nova


Fins 5555
As with Scubapros Nova computer,
whats new about its Seawing Nova
full-foot fins are the colours in fact
now the range has some, because
in come pink and yellow to join the
existing black versions. They come in
XS, S, M, L and XL sizes and cost 80.
8 www.scubapro.com

ALL PRESENT
& CORRECT

NEXT ISSUE
ITS STILL GOT IT
No easy option, but Sipadan is a hard act to follow

CALLING ELVIS
Decorator crabs are all-round entertainers

UNFORGETTABLE
We go iceberg-diving in Greenland

DONT GET STRESSED


Simon Pridmores cool-head techniques

www.divErNEt.com

RICHARD ASPINALL

In glorious isolation on
the Red Sea Riviera

ON SALE
18 AUG

81

divEr

HOLIDAY DIRECTORY
FACILITIES
INCLUDE:

Hotel or guesthouse

Self-catering

Equipment for hire

Dive boat charter arranged

Suitable for families

Packages from UK

Compressed Air

Nitrox

Technical Gases

BSAC School

PADI Training

NAUI Training

TDI Training

SSI Training

DAN Training

Disability Diving

AUSTRALIA

CYPRUS

GREAT BARRIER REEF CORAL SEA

LARNACA

MIKE BALL DIVE EXPEDITIONS

RECOMPRESSION CHAMBER

143 Lake Street, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia.


Tel: (00 61) 7 4053 0500. Fax: (00 61) 7 4031 5470.
E-mail: mike@mikeball.com www.mikeball.com
UK Agent: Divequest divers@divequest.co.uk

24/7 professionally manned and fully computerised,


privately owned and operated 14-man recompression
chamber, internationally approved and the DAN
Preferred Provider for the island. If in doubt SHOUT!
Poseidonia Medical Centre, 47a Eleftherias Avenue,
Aradippou, Larnaca 7102, Cyprus.
24hr Emergency Dive Line: +357 99 518837.
E-mail: info@hbocyprus.com www.hbocyprus.com

LIVEABOARDS
SEA QUEEN FLEET
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Tel: (00 20) 12 218 6669 or (00 20) 12 100 3941.
E-mail: seaqueen@link.net or karen@seaqueens.com
www.seaqueens.com Red Sea liveaboards. Dive Centre.

INDONESIA
ALOR
ALOR DIVERS
Jl. Tengiri N. 1 Kalabahi, Alor Island, NTT, Indonesia.
Tel: (00 62) 813 1780 4133.
E-mail: info@alor-divers.com www.alor-divers.com
Pristine. Diving. Exclusive. Covert. Destination.

CANARY ISLANDS
FUERTEVENTURA
DEEP BLUE
P.O. Box 33, Caleta de Fuste, Antigua E-35610,
Fuerteventura. Tel: (00 34) 606 275468.
Fax: (00 34) 928 163983. www.deep-blue-diving.com
E-mail: info@deep-blue-diving.com
CMAS, IAHD. Harbour location. Special group rates.

SHARM EL SHEIKH
EAGLE DIVERS
Based in Ocean Club Hotel, 23 City Council Street,
Hadaba. Tel: (+2) 012 0000 1596. www.eagle-divers.com
E-mail: info@eagle-divers.com PADI 5* + TecRec Centre.

PAPHOS
CYDIVE LTD

THE REEF DIVE RESORT

Myrra Complex, 1 Poseidonos Avenue, Marina Court 44-46,


Kato Paphos. www.cydive.com Tel: (00 357) 26 934271.
Fax: (00 357) 26 939680. E-mail: info@cydive.com
PADI 5* CDC. First Career Development Centre in Cyprus
and Eastern Mediterranean.

LANZAROTE

(Mataking Island), TB212, Jalan Bunga, Fajar Complex,


91000 Tawau, Sabah. Tel: (00 60) 89 786045. Fax: (00 60)
89 770023. E-mail: sales@mataking.com
www.mataking.com PADI 5* Dive Resort.

ELITE DIVING

SAFARI DIVING LANZAROTE

Divers United Dive Centre, Karma Hotel,


Hadaba, Sharm El Sheikh, Red Sea, Egypt.
Tel: (00 20) 1224 308 780. E-mail: info@elite-diving.com
www.elite-diving.com British owner managers.

Playa Chica, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote.


Tel: (00 34) 625 059713, (00 34) 928 511992.
www.safaridiving.com E-mail: enquiry@safaridiving.com
English owned, award-winning BSAC School and
Seamanship centre, SSI Instructor trainer facility and
PADI dive centre. Open every day of the year. Daily shore
and boat dives, night dives too all same price. Great
deals for groups, universities and the solo diver.

MALAYSIA
BORNEO, SABAH

MALTA (inc. GOZO & COMINO


GOZO
GOZO AQUA SPORTS
Rabat Road, Marsalforn, MFN9014, Gozo, Malta.
Tel: (00 356) 2156 3037. www.gozoaquasports.com
E-mail: dive@gozoaquasports.com
PADI 5* IDC & DSAT Tec Rec Centre, BSAC Dive Resort.
Premier Technical Diving Support Service.

GREECE
DIVE POINT
Parmenionos St. No4, Tombs of the Kings Rd, Kato
Paphos, Cyprus 8045. Tel/fax: (00 357) 26 938730.
E-mail: divepointcyprus@hotmail.com
www.divepointcyprus.co.uk
British BSAC/PADI instructors.

CRETE
CRETE UNDERWATER CENTER
Mirabello Hotel, Agios Nikolaos, P.O. Box 100,
P.C. 72 100. Tel/fax: (00 30) 28410 22406.
Mob: (00 30) 6945 244434, (00 30) 6944 126846.
www.creteunderwatercenter.com
E-mail: info@creteunderwatercenter.com IANTD Nitrox
training. Groups, individuals & dive clubs welcome.

CROATIA

MALTA
MALTAQUA

RAB ISLAND

Mosta Road, St. Pauls Bay. Tel: (00 356) 2157 1111.
Fax: (00 356) 21 580064. E-mail: dive@maltaqua.com
www.maltaqua.com On-line booking service.
BSAC Centre of Excellence 007, PADI 5* IDC. ANDI

KRON DIVING CENTER


Kampor 413a, Rab 51280. Tel: (00 385) 51776 620.
Fax: (00 385) 51776 630 Email: office@kron-diving.com
www.kron-diving.com
SSI Diamond Training Center.

EGYPT
HURGHADA
ILIOS DIVE CLUB
Steigenberger Al dau Resort, Yussif Affifi Road,
Hurghada. Tel: (00 20) 65 346 5442.
E-mail: info@iliosdiveclub.com
www.iliosdiveclub.com PADI Dive Centre, border free.

82

GRENADA
ST. GEORGES

AQUAVENTURE LTD

SCUBATECH DIVE CENTRE

The Waters Edge, Mellieha Bay Hotel,


Mellieha MLH 02. www.aquaventuremalta.com
Tel: (00 356) 2152 2141 Fax: (00 356) 2152 1053
e-mail:info@aquaventuremalta.com
PADI 5* Gold Palm. Watersports available.

Calabash Hotel, LAnse Aux Epines.


Tel: +1 (473) 439 4346. Fax: +1 (473) 444 5050.
E-mail: info@scubatech-grenada.com
www.scubatech-grenada.com Discover The Difference!

To advertise in the divEr Holiday Directory contact Alex on 020 8941 8152 e-mail: alex@divermag.co.uk

HOLIDAY DIRECTORY
PALAU

SRI LANKA
NORTH EAST COAST

KOROR
FISH N FINS DIVE CENTER / OCEAN
HUNTER I & III LIVEABOARDS
PADI 5* IDC & TDI. Technical diving. 6 & 16 pax
luxurious liveaboards. 30+ WWII Japanese wrecks to
explore. Check our special events!
www.fishnfins.com www.oceanhunter.com

NILAVELI DIVING CENTRE


Ward 1, 9th Mile Post, Nilaveli, Trincomalee, at the High
Park Beach Hotel. Tel: 0094 (0)77 44 36 173.
E-mail: info@nilavelidiving.com
www.nilavelidiving.com PADI 5* Dive Resort, S-23912.
Open 1 April to 30 September daily, 8am-6.30pm.

L
SPECIA !
R
E
OFF

ALSO AVAILABLE:
1-year subscription +
FREE Apeks Diving Watch
see page 89
1-year subscription +
FREE Dive Torch
see page 85
2-year subscription +
FREE Rucksack
see page 85

SOUTH COAST
UNAWATUNA DIVING CENTRE
No. 296 Matura Road, Pellagoda/Unawatuna, Galle.
Tel: 0094 (0)77 44 36 173.
E-mail: info@unawatunadiving.com
www.unawatunadiving.com PADI 5* Dive Resort, S36133. Open 15 October to 10 April daily, 8am-6.30pm.

PHILIPPINES
THRESHER SHARK DIVERS
Malapascua Island, Daanbantayan, Cebu 6013.
Tel: (00 63) 927 612 3359. www.thresherdivers.com
E-mail: dive@thresherdivers.com
British, PADI 5* IDC, IANTD.

SUBSCRIBE
TO divEr MAGAZINE
AND SAVE 43%

THAILAND
PHUKET/SIMILANS
SHARKEY SCUBA
363/10 Patak Road, Karon, Muang, Phuket 83100.
Tel: (00 66) (0)89 725 1935, (00 66) (0)86 892 2966.
E-mail: info@sharkeyscuba.com
www.sharkeyscuba.com Fun and smiles with Sharkey, the
British company with the personal touch.

SPAIN
BALEARIC ISLANDS MALLORCA
SCUBA MALLORCA
C/del Cano 23, 07470 Port de Pollena, Mallorca.
Tel: (00 34) 971 868087. Mobile: (00 34) 615 875609.
E-mail: info@scubamallorca.com
www.scubamallorca.com PADI 5* IDC.

BALEARIC ISLANDS MENORCA


BLUEWATER SCUBA
Calle Llevant, Centro Civico Local 3, Cap DArtrutx,
07769 Ciutadella de Menorca.
Tel/fax: (00 34) 971 387183. www.bluewaterscuba.co.uk
E-mail: sales@bluewaterscuba.co.uk
Dive the famous Pont Den Gil cavern!

SURAT THANI/KOH TAO


DAVY JONES LOCKER (DJL DIVING)
9/21 Moo 2, Mae Haad, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Surat
Thani, Thailand 84280. Tel: (00 66) 77 456126.
Mob: (00 66) 79 700913. www.techdivethailand.com
E-mail: djl_kohtao@hotmail.com
Recreational, reef, tech, deep, wreck.

Take out a ONE-YEAR subscription to Britains


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YES, please send me 12 issues of divEr for 29.95*


starting with the __________________________ issue
SALGAR DIVING
Paseo Maritimo, SAlgar, Menorca.
Tel: (00 34) 971 150601. www.salgardiving.com
E-mail: info@salgardiving.com
Facebook: menorcasalgardiving PADI 5*, BSAC Resort
families, groups, fun & tec = all welcome!

TURKS & CAICOS IS.


DIVE PROVO
Tel: 001 (649) 946 5040. Fax: 001 (649) 946 5936.
E-mail: diving@diveprovo.com www.diveprovo.com
1990-2010, 20 years of Diving As It Should Be!

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08/16

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83

LIVEABOARD DIRECTORY
AF

Aqua-Firma

bo2 blue o two


CT

DWw Dive Worldwide

HD

Holiday Designers

RD

Divequest

Oonasdivers

STW Scuba Tours Worldwide

OD

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DQ

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CT DWw
STW UD

AUSTRALIA Cairns
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Y
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240V
Y
Y
Y
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CT DWw

AUSTRALIA Cairns
Spoilsport

ST

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Pax
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Lth
Hull

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Y
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This advert will cost you only 330 for 12 issues (one year).

To advertise in the divEr Liveaboard Directory,


call Alex on 020 8941 4568 or email: alex@divermag.co.uk

Please remember to mention divEr Magazine when replying to any of these advertisements

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TURKS & CAICOS


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84

Regaldive

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CLASSIFIED ADS
CHARTER BOATS

Scotland

South
www.channeldiving.com Midweek diving for
individuals. Tel: 07970 674799.
(57724)
www.sussexshipwrecks.co.uk Sussex Eastbourne. Fast
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Diver/skipper Mike mobile: 07840 219585, e-mail:
dive@sussexshipwrecks.co.uk
(66188)

South West
Dive or snorkel with friendly seals at Lundy Island
aboard the Jessica Hettie with Clive Pearson, one of the
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exquisite sites around Lundy. 2016, my 33rd season, will
be my last as a charter skipper. For details of bookings
go to: www.clovellycharters.com or phone between 67pm for up to date availability. Tel: (01237) 431405.
(67483)

ACCESSORIES
Your diving memories deserve
the best dive log

DIVE BRIGHTON
www.brightondiver.com
10m cat with dive lift.
Individuals and groups. All levels,
novice to technical. BSAC
Advanced and trimix skipper.
Call Paul: 07901 822375 or 01273 301367

Dive Littlehampton Final Answer. Shallow to deep,


we cater for all. Skipper and crew on board, availability
7 days a week. Maximum 10. Tel: (01243) 553977 or
07850 312068. Email: ourjoyboat@gmail.com
www.ourjoy.co.uk
(67682)

Scotland (Scapa Flow)

Wales

FARNE ISLAND DIVING CHARTERS

Call Graeme on: 0191 297 0914, Eve: 0191 297 0484
Mob: 07802 785752, farnesdiving@yahoo.co.uk

www.farne-islands-diving.co.uk

REIGN
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DIVING

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Dive the Farne Islands aboard Sovereign II & III


Seals, scenic and wrecks. Own quality B&B. Fully stocked
dive shop and air station. Air to 300bar and nitrox available.
Tank hire also available. Ailsa, Toby & Andrew Douglas.

Tel/fax: (01665) 720760 or www.sovereigndiving.co.uk

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E-mail: dougie@sunrisecharters.co.uk

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with full electrics including GPS. Diver/skipper. O2 Nitrox. Catering for
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Dorset, English Channel. Beginners to technical and small
groups. Electric lift. Easy access, easy parking.
Owner/skipper Dave Wendes. Tel/Fax: (023) 8027 0390,
e-mail: wightspirit@btinternet.com www.wight
spirit.co.uk
(66336)

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Anglesey. Hard boat diving aboard Julie Anne and


Empress. Diver lift. Visit: www.julie-anne.co.uk or tel:
(01407) 831210, mobile: 07768 863355.
(68762)
Quest Diving. Hardboat with lift. Diving Anglesey and
North Wales.
Tel: 07974 249005. Visit:
www.questdiving.co.uk
(59592)

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holiday park, 2.5 miles from Mountbatten Diving Centre.
Range of quality accommodations. Free parking for RIBs.
Indoor heated pool. Weekend and part week bookings
available. Tel: (01752) 403554. www.bovisand.com
(66775)
Plymouth, Discovery Divers, Fort Bovisand. Boat
charter, air, nitrox, trimix, from 25pp. Groups +
individuals. Contact Danny 07739 567 752.
(66930)
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Plymouth, visit: www.venturecharters.co.uk or Tel: 07948
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Diving Medicals - Midlands (Rugby) - HSE, Sports


Medicals and advice at Midlands Diving Chamber. Tel:
(01788) 579 555, www.midlandsdivingchamber.co.uk
(67943)
Diving Medicals - Nottingham. Sport Diving medicals:
50. HSE Commercial Diving medicals: 110. OGUK
Offshore medicals: 100. Student and Group discounts.
Combine with an HGV/taxi medical for an extra 5. Tel:
07802 850084 for appointment. Email: mclamp@
doctors.org.uk
(66043)
Diving medicals: London. HSE, Sport and phone advice.
Tel: (020) 7806 4028 www.londondivingchamber.co.uk
(66527)
Dr Gerry Roberts and Dr Mark Bettley-Smith. HSE
Medicals and phone advice. Tel: (01202) 741345.
(68187)

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CLUB NOTICES

FREE OF CHARGE. (Max 25 words).


Non-commercial clubs, no sales.
Active and friendly BSAC club. All year diving in local
lake. New and qualified divers of all agencies welcome.
Own club house with 7m RIB and compressor. For further
information visit www.mksac.co.uk
(64399)
Alfreton (Derbys) BSAC 302. Welcomes new members
and qualified divers. A small but active club with own RIB,
wreck diving a speciality. Contact Charlie on (01246)
236328.
(61125)
Banbury SAC. Friendly, active club with weekly meetings
and training sessions, own boat, compressor and
equipment. Welcome divers/non divers. www.bansac.org
or call 07787 097 289.
(60106)
Bracknell Sub Aqua Club welcomes new and experienced
divers from all agencies. Meets poolside at Bracknell Sports
Centre, Thursdays from 8.30pm. Diving, training and social
calendar: www.bracknellscuba.org.uk or tel: 07951 855
725.
(65788)
Braintree Riverside Sub Aqua Club based in Braintree,
Essex. A friendly club, we welcome divers of all abilities
and have an active diving and social programme. Come
and join us! email: denise.f.wright2@btinternet.com
www.braintreeriversidesac.co.uk
(58773)
Bristol Scuba Club meets at Kingswood Leisure Centre,
BS16 4HR, every Friday, 8pm - 10pm. Diver access to a
large pool. www.bristol-scuba-club.co.uk or call: 07811
374944.
(63808)
Brixham Divers (BSAC) Torbay. East Devon reefs/wrecks.
Novices/experienced/visitors/groups all welcome to join
us. 7mtr RIB, new 150hp Evinrude electronics. Cruises 30
knots. Takes 10 divers. Club/social nights. Tel: Gary: 07740
288 670.
(62561)
Bromley/Lewisham. Active divers required. Full
programme of hardboat diving throughout the year. Check
out Nekton SAC www.nekton.org.uk or contact Jackie
(01689) 850130.
(54510)
Buckingham Dive Centre. A small friendly club
welcoming all divers and those wanting to learn. We dive
throughout the year and run trips in the UK and abroad.
www.stowesubaqua.co.uk Tel: Roger 07802 765 366.
(62381)
Buntingford Horizon Divers (East Herts). All welcome.
Pool meetings. Dive trips UK and abroad. 5.8m RIB. Social
calendar. Tel: 07971 491702 or visit: www.horizondivers.org
(54040)
Chelmsford and District SAC meet at 8pm every Friday
at Riverside Pool. New and qualified divers are welcome.
See our website for details: www.chelmsforddiveclub.co.uk
(54152)
Cheshire. Icicle Divers SAA club. Meet every Monday
evening 9pm at Crewe Pool, Flag Lane. New and
experienced divers welcome. Try Dives available.
www.icicledivers.com
(63067)
Chingford, London BSAC 365. Friendly and active club
welcomes divers from all agencies and trainees. Meet
Wednesday 8pm, Larkswood Leisure Centre E4 9EY. Info:
www.dive365.co.uk Email: loughtondivers365@gmail.com
(60865)
Cockleshell Divers, Portsmouth, Hants. Small, friendly
club welcomes new and experienced divers from all
agencies. Meets at Cockleshell Community Centre, Fridays
at 8pm. Email: cockleshell.divers@aol.co.uk
(64758)
East Cheshire Sub Aqua. Macclesfield based BSAC club.
Purpose-built clubhouse, bar, two RIBs, minibus, nitrox,
compressor. Lower Bank Street, Macclesfield, SK11 7HL.
Tel: (01625) 502367. www.scubadivingmacclesfield.com
(65605)

Colchester Sub-Aqua Club welcomes experienced divers


and beginners. Sub-Aqua Association training. Diving at
home and abroad. Meets at Leisure World, Friday evenings.
Contact Tony (01787) 475803.
(60379)
Cotswold BSAC, a friendly club based at Brockworth Pool,
Nr Cheltenham, Fridays 8pm. Regular inland diving and
coast trips. Tel: 07711 312078. www.cotswoldbsac332.co.uk
(54284)
Darwen SAC, in Lancashire, with an active diving
programme. Own RIB. new members welcome regardless
of agency/training. We provide BSAC training. Weekly
pool sessions. www.darwensac.org.uk
(58200)
Dream Divers. Very friendly dive club in Rotherham
welcomes divers of any level/club. Meet at the Ring O Bells,
Swinton, last Thursday of the month at 19.30. Email:
info@dreamdiversltd.co.uk
(58278)
Ealing SAC, BSAC 514. Friendly, active club, own RIBs;
welcomes new and experienced divers. Meets Highgrove
Pool, Eastcote, Tuesday nights 8.30pm. www.esac.org.uk
(61199)
East Durham Divers SAA welcome new/experienced
divers of any agency. Comprehensive facilities with own
premises half a mile from the sea. Contact: John: 07857
174125.
(53930)
East Lancs Diving Club based in Blackburn. Friendly and
active club welcomes new members at all levels of diving
from all organisations. Tel: 07784 828961 or email:
ELDC@hotmail.co.uk www.eastlancsdivers.co.uk
(62456)
Eastbourne BSAC; RIB, Banked air (free) to 300bar,
Nitrox, Trimix. Enjoy some of the best diving on the South
Coast, all qualifications welcome. www.sovereign
divers.co.uk
(65691)
Eastern Sub Aqua Club SAA 1073. We are a small friendly
dive club and welcome new and experienced divers alike.
We are situated north of Norwich for training. For more
information go to: www.esacdivers.co.uk
(65875)
Eastleigh (Southampton) Sub Aqua Club (BSAC).
Whether you want to learn or are an experienced diver,
interested in a course or a try dive. We meet every Tuesday
at 10pm in the Fleming Park Leisure Centre bar. Email:
eastleighsubaquaclub@gmail.com www.eastleigh
subaquaclub.co.uk
(62113)
Ellon Sub Aqua Club, Aberdeenshire, welcomes
newcomers and experienced divers. We dive year round
and meet on Thursday evenings. Contact
www.ellonsubaquaclub.co.uk
(65519)
Flintshire Sub Aqua Club based in Holywell, Flintshire,
welcomes new and experienced divers from all agencies.
Full dive programme. Meet Wednesdays. See us at
www.flintsac.co.uk or call (01352) 731425.
(64289)
Hartford Scuba BSAC 0522, based in Northwich, Cheshire.
A friendly, active diving club. Compressor for air and
Nitrox
fills.
RIB
stored
in
Anglesey.
www.hartfordscuba.co.uk
(67283)
Haslemere Sub Aqua Club based at Haslemere, Surrey,
friendly active club welcomes new and experienced divers,
offers full training. Meets Thursday nights. Contact Mike
07754 968297.
(63400)
Hastings SAC 58 years old SAA club (0044) welcomes new
and experienced divers. Two hard boats. Meets 8.45pm
Tuesdays at Summerfields, Hastings. See
www.hastingssubaqua.co.uk
(62803)
Hereford Sub Aqua Club, is looking for new members.
Regular diving off the Pembrokeshire coast on own RIBs.
Training
and
social
nights.
Contact:
rusaqua@googlemail.com
(58485)
HGSAC. South Manchester based, friendly, non-political
club welcomes newcomers and qualified divers. Lots of
diving and social events. Family. Three RIBs and
compressor. www.hgsac.com
(54697)
High Wycombe SAC. Come and dive with us - all welcome.
Active club with RIB on South coast. Contact Len: 07867
544 738. www.wycombesubaqua.com
(59052)
HUGSAC - BSAC 380. Experienced club, based around
Hertfordshire, with RIB on the South coast. Members dive
with passion for all underwater exploration. All agencies
welcome. www.hugsac.co.uk
(63271)
Ifield Divers. Crawley-based club. Twin-engine dive boat
with stern lift in Brighton Marina. Training for novices,
diving for the experienced - all qualifications welcome.
www.ifield-divers.org.uk Email: info@ifield-divers.org.uk
or tel: (01883) 345146.
(64511)
Ilkeston & Kimberley SAA 945, between Nottingham and
Derby, welcomes beginners and experienced divers. We
meet every Friday night at Kimberley Leisure Centre at
8.30pm. Contact through www.iksac.co.uk
(54418)
K2 Divers, covering West Sussex/Surrey. A friendly BSAC
club, but all qualifications welcome. Training in Crawley,
boat at Littlehampton. Email: k2divers@yahoo.co.uk or
tel: (01293) 612989.
(60957)
Kingston BSAC, Surrey. Two RIBs , clubhouse and bar,
active dive programme, 2 compressors, Nitrox, Trimix, full
training offered at all levels. All very welcome.
www.kingstonsac.org or tel: 07842 622193.
(58868)
Leeds based Rothwell & Stanley SAC welcomes new and
experienced divers, full SAA training given. Purpose-built
clubhouse with bar, RIB, compressor. Meet Tuesday
evenings: 07738 060567 kevin.oddy@talktalk.net (58583)
Lincoln - Imp Divers. Small, friendly, non-political diving
club with our own RIB are looking to welcome new and
experienced divers. Contact Richard: 07931 170205.
(58678)
Lincoln and District BSAC. Active club with own RIB,
compressor and other facilities. Regular trips and training.
www.lincolndivingclub.co.uk
(58958)

Lincs Divers BSAC 1940. Friendly, active dive club offering


dive trips and training for new/experienced divers, Lincoln
based. www.lincsdivers.co.uk
(61937)
Liverpool WAPSAC. Friendly, active training club based
at Knowsley Leisure Park, L34. Welcomes new and
experienced divers. Weekly meetings.Contact John: 07833
647 134 or @WAPSAC
(56341)
Llantrisant SAC, two RIBs, towing vehicle, welcomes new
and experienced divers. Meet at Llantrisant Leisure Centre
8pm Mondays. Contact Phil: (01443) 227667.
www.llantrisantdivers.com
(54604)
London No. 1 Diving Club encourages divers of all levels,
from all agencies. Based in Central London with 7m RIB,
compressor, hire kit etc. www.londondiver.com (62891)
Mansfield & District Scuba Diving Club, SAA942,
Mansfield. Family dive club, diving and social members
welcome. Own clubhouse with licenced bar. Regular dive
trips and holidays. www.scubamad.co.uk Tel: (01623)
622130. Facebook.
(65215)
Manta Divers. Norfolk wreck & reef diving. Small, friendly,
experienced club. All agencies welcome. SAA training.
www.mantadivers.org
(64084)
Mercian Divers (BSAC 2463) Active & friendly club. New,
experienced & junior divers welcome. Own RIB. Based in
Bromsgrove, West Midlands. Tel: (01905) 773406,
www.mercian-divers.org.uk
(65387)
Millennium Divers. Active friendly club for all levels and
certifications of diver, based in Portland, Dorset. UK diving
and holidays. Club social nights www.millenniumdivers.org
(61046)
Mole Valley Sub Aqua Club. Surrey based SDI club, own
RIB, active diving UK & Abroad, training and social events.
Trainees/crossovers welcome. Contact: 07552 498558 or
email: committee@mvsac.org.uk
(53812)
Monastery Dive Club (Dunkerton Branch). New divers
welcome to join our club. Trips to Plymouth and NDAC.
GSOH is a must. South Wales area (Crosskeys, Risca.)
Please text me: Flinty 07971 432803 or email:
welshflinty@hotmail.com
(65301)
Nekton SAC. Based in Bromley, we are a friendly and active
SAA club that welcomes experienced and new divers alike.
Info@nekton.org.uk or call Steve: 020 8467 4599.(68383)
Nemo Diving Club. Small, friendly dive club offering dive
trips and training for non/experienced divers in Retford
and surrounding areas. Contact: www.nemo
divertraining.co.uk
(58115)
North Glos BSAC 80. Friendly, active club welcomes new
and experienced divers. Own boat and equipment with
weekly pool sessions, Thursdays, 8.30pm at GL1 Gloucester,
(Gloucester Leisure Centre). www.nglos.co.uk (54790)
Nuneaton. Marlin BSAC welcomes experienced divers to
Pingles pool every Thursday. Active training, diving, social
programme in a flourishing club with no politics allowed.
www.marlinsac.com
(59146)
Orkney SAC. Small, friendly active dive club, based in
Kirkwall, welcomes divers of any level or club. Own RIB
and compressor. Contact Craig: 07888 690 986 or email:
craigbarclay31@hotmail.com
(63156)
Preston Divers SAA 30. The friendliest dive club. Come
and meet us at Fulwood Leisure Centre, Preston on
Monday nights between 8.00pm - 9.00pm.
www.prestondivers.co.uk
(64194)
Reading BSAC/TVSAC. Active, friendly dive club, based
in Palmer Park, Reading, with a bar. Own RIBs and
compressor with trips in the UK and abroad. All welcome.
Contact: rbsacinfo@gmail.com Come and join us!
(56196)
Reading Diving Club. Experience the best of UK diving
with a friendly and active club. All welcome. Tel: 01183
216310 or email: info@thedivingclub.co.uk
www.thedivingclub.co.uk
(62276)
Ruislip & Northwood BSAC. Friendly, active club, RIB,
welcomes new and qualified divers. Meets Highgrove Pool
Thursday nights 8.30pm. www.rnbsac.co.uk Tel: 07843 738
646 for details.
(62201)
Selby Aquanauts SAA 1117. Family friendly club,
welcomes new and qualified divers. Regular trips UK &
abroad. Meet every Thursday, Albion Vaults, Selby at 9pm.
Contact Mark: 07831 295 655.
(60250)
Sheffield BSAC36. Friendly, social and active dive club
welcomes newcomers or qualified divers. Trips, socials,
weekly pool and club/pub meetings, club RIB. See
www.bsac36.org.uk
(60775)

Richmond (Surrey) SAC welcomes new and experienced


divers to join our active diving, training and social calendar.
Meet Mondays 8.30pm at Pools on the Park, Richmond.
Tel: 07825
166450 (Gemma) or email:
clubmembership@rsac1489.com
(67099)
Robin Hood Dive Club. Yorkshire based. Very active, with
a full 2016 calendar of trips. All agencies and grades
welcome. No training or pool, just a growing bunch of
regular divers. www.robinhooddiveclub.com or find us on
Facebook.
(59241)
Rochdale Sub-Aqua Club. Beginners and experienced
divers welcome. Full training provided. Pool session every
Wednesday. Club has two boats. More info at
www.RochdaleDivers.co.uk or call Mick 07951 834 903.
(65099)
Scotland Plug Divers. Small, friendly dive club welcomes
newly qualified and experienced divers to join us. Regular
hardboat diving around Bass Rock/Firth of Forth/
Eyemouth and trips abroad. Tel George: 07793 018 540.
Email: plugdivers@btinternet.com
(64634)
Slough 491 BSAC; small, friendly club welcomes divers
at all levels. Meet at Beechwood School Fridays 19.30.
Diving holidays and South Coast. Email: malcolm@uv.net
or tel: Tony (01344) 884 596.
(58387)
SOS Divers (SAA 263), Stourport, Worcestershire. Founded
1979. Friendly family club welcomes qualified and trainee
divers. Own RIB. Contact Althea by email:
arannie123@outlook.com
(57538)
South Coast Divers (SAA 1150) Portsmouth. A friendly
and active club welcomes new and experienced divers from
all agencies. Email: southcoastdivers@hotmail.co.uk or call
Darren: 07449 794 804.
(60578)
South Queensferry SAC, near Edinburgh. Two RIBs, gear
for hire. Pool training during the Winter; trips &
expeditions in the Summer. Pub meeting at Hawes Inn.
Call Warren: 07980 981 380. www.sqsac.co.uk (64857)
Steyning Scuba Club, West Sussex. All divers welcome.
Steyning Pool , Monday evenings at 8.30pm. Contact Andy
Willett on 07786 243 763. www.seaurchindivers@
hotmail.co.uk
(63952)
Sutton Coldfield SAC, friendly BSAC club, welcomes all
divers from trainee to advanced. All agencies. Own RIBs
and compressor. Meet every Wednesday, 8.15pm at
Wyndley (3.4m pool). For free try dive call Alan: 07970
573638 or Mark: 07787 106191.
(64970)
Swanley Sub-Aqua Club: Friendly, active dive club with
club RIB. Pool sessions Monday 9pm at White Oaks Leisure
Centre, Swanley. PADI training, Open Water to Rescue
Diver
for
members.
Contact
Karl:
training@swanleysubaqua.co.uk
(55107)
Teddington SAC at Teddington Pool, Wednesdays 21.00.
Training and good social side. Diving near and far. Tel:
07951 064448 or email: deepexplorer@blueyonder.co.uk
(63499)
The Bath Bubble Club SAA777 seeks new members. New
and qualified divers of all agencies welcome. Weekly pool
training, every Wednesday at 9pm, Culverhay Sport Centre,
Rush Hill, Bath. Regular diving programme from club RIB.
www.bathbubbleclubuk.co.uk
(53668)
Totnes SAC (Devon). We are an active multi-agency club
and welcome new members and qualified divers from all
organisations. Two RIBs and own compressor/nitrox, plus
club 4WD. We dive all round South Devon and Cornwall.
Visit www.totnes-bsac.co.uk for details.
(60698)
Watford Underwater Club BSAC. Family friendly,
approachable, established and fun club. Portland based
7m RIB. Development & training all levels.
www.wuc.org.uk email: info@wuc.org.uk
(62025)
Wells Dive Group, Somerset, welcomes new or experienced
divers. Meeting/training at The Little Theatre or the pool
on Thursdays, try dives available. Regular RIB diving, trips
around the UK and abroad. Visit: www.wellsdivers.co.uk
or Tel: Rob, 07832 141250.
(57983)
West Wickham, Kent. BSAC 0533. Welcomes new and
qualified divers. Active training and diving. Club RIB at
Brighton Marina. All agencies welcome. Thursday 20.30 22.00. Dave 07906 837 744. www.wickhamdiver.co.uk
(62979)
Wiltshires premier Scuba Diving Club - the Seahorses.
Friendly active dive club, all affiliations welcome, weekly
pool sessions, trips UK and abroad, RIBs, socials. Training
partner JC Scuba, Swindon, beginners to advanced.
www.seahorsediveclub.co.uk
(60456)

WEBSITES
www.lumb-bros-das.co.uk

www.otterboxes.co.uk

Quality Diving Products


Rugged waterproof cases for
every environment

www.tek-tite.co.uk

Torches, strobes, marker lights


for diving and outdoor pursuits

www.unidive.co.uk

A quality range of masks, snorkels,


fins and knives

DIVE CENTRE DIRECTORY


IANTD

FACILITIES
INCLUDE:

DAN

DAN

BSAC School

PADI Training

SSI Training

TDI Training

IANTD Training

Member of SITA

IDEST approved

DAN Training

Cylinder testing

Regulator servicing

Equipment for hire

Dive boat charter arranged

Compressed Air

Nitrox

Technical Gases

Disability Diving

KENT

ENGLAND

MIDDLESEX

DIVE MACHINE

CORNWALL
PORTHKERRIS DIVERS
PADI 5* IDC Centre. Porthkerris, St. Keverne, Nr Helston
TR12 6QJ. Tel: (01326) 280620. www.porthkerris.com
E-mail: info@porthkerris.com 7 days a week, tuition
from novice to instructor, hardboat/RIB charters, escorted
dives, dive shop, beach caf, basking shark trips, camping,
shore dive.

NORTHERN IRELAND

G&H DIVING SERVICES

Unit 11 Orchard Business Centre, Sanderson Way,


Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1QF. Tel: (01732) 773553.
Fax: (01732) 773663. E-mail: robert@divemachine.com
www.divemachine.com Mon-Sat 0930-1730, closed
Sunday. Friendly, helpful, huge stocks. PADI CDC Centre.

Unit 1 Willow House, River Gardens, North Feltham


Trading Estate, Feltham TW14 0RD. Tel: (020) 8751 3771.
Fax: (020) 8751 2591. E-mail: Ghdiving@aol.com
Mon-Fri 0900-1800; Sat 0900-1230. ANDI Training.

IANTD
DAN

DAN

AQUAHOLICS DIVE CENTRE


14 Portmore Road, Portstewart BT55 7BE.
Tel: (028 70) 832584. E-mail: dive@aquaholics.org
www.aquaholics.org Open 0900-1730.
Diving Malin Head to Rathlin Island.

WEST YORKSHIRE
LEICESTERSHIRE

THE DIVERS WAREHOUSE

STONEY COVE
THE NATIONAL DIVE CENTRE
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www.underwaterworld.co.uk Sales & service: (01455)
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E-mail: sales@diverswarehouse.co.uk
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PADI 5* Centre. PSAI.

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DEEP BREATH

It isnt the agency, its the


individual that counts
Where are the iconic diving
instructors, the sort students would
be proud to say had trained them?
Perhaps diving isnt that sort of
sport, but if so are we now in the
age of the just-OK diver? asks
STEVE WARREN

RE YOU A SANTOS DIVER?,

I demanded of Nicky Martinez. Yes, replied


the 18-year-old Gibraltarian unhesitatingly.
It was a question posed partly in jest, a tongue-incheek sideswipe at Dennis Santos, the instructor
who has done most to mentor me through my
diving career. But I also wanted reassurance that
Martinez could actually dive, that I
could trust him under water. If Santos
had helped train him, I could.
Waiting to film a rescue exercise
involving a hatchback that had
supposedly crashed into the sea from
a dock, I had chatted with Alfred
Rovegno, one of the emergencyresponse divers from the Gibraltar
Fire Brigade. Dennis Santos oh
yes, hes a very good instructor,
asserted Alfred.
Dennis has been involved in local
diving for more than 40 years.
Gibraltar is a small place and, in the
close-knit diving community, Dennis
is hugely respected. A self-taught
diver, he has worked in salvage
diving, was an Army Sub Aqua Diving
Supervisor and a Royal Navy Reserve
diver who also holds BSAC instructor
qualifications.
If his training methods have sometimes been
unorthodox, such as during his Navy days, when,
as diving officer of the local club, he made the
members run up and down hills to keep them divefit, those of us who trained under Dennis look back
at what he taught us with gratitude.
Today, legislation, liability and training agency
dogma has forced many instructors down a narrow
training corridor. It may keep them legal and within
standards, but it can also produce divers
dangerously dependent on nothing going wrong
and overly reliant on professional supervision, rather
than forging the rough-and-ready Santos divers
who can look after themselves.

SCUBA-DIVING HAS A STRANGE and, I think, selfdestructive culture. We dont attach much value to
dive training, nor prestige to being a competent
divEr

90

diver. In underwater photography circles, we have


superstars such as Alex Mustard, whose following
spans the globe. But there are few diving instructors
out there whose names are invoked in hushed tones,
whose articles are mantra, with long waiting-lists of
people yearning to join their courses.
Excellent instructors do exist, of course, but only
in a vacuum, little known or celebrated by the wider
diving community. There is no equivalent to the
celebrity tennis or golf pro.
Divers rarely admire their better peers and aspire
to be as good as them. They arent embarrassed
when their weak skills are paraded for all to see. In
scuba diving, getting by or even nearly getting by is
OK. We desperately need to make scraping through
socially unacceptable.
But whose duty is it to confront the poorly skilled

and increase their safety. But many divers seem


unable or unwilling to recognise that they have
weak skills, or are simply indifferent to them.
It would be very easy to make these divers face
their shortcomings. The results of a basic skills
assessment would be unambiguous. But I have
never been asked to demonstrate my competence
on a dive-trip. And Ive never assessed anyones skills
when they come on a photography course with me.
Why not? Because diving professionals know
what troubles such an assessment invites. And
what are you really going to do about a problem
diver anyway?
The long-running sore of poor buoyancy skills
provides a great example. When I tactfully
suggested a buoyancy course, one instructor
told me ruefully, the diver said that he had already
done one.
In reality, when ropey divers
arrive on your continuingeducation course or buy a holiday
dive-package, there is no time built
in to retrain them properly, which is
really what were talking about
having to do.
So the culture is: dont ask,
dont tell and turn a blind eye.
Besides, diving pros are wary of
telling it like it is to a customer who
might walk off.
The problem isnt new. Thirty
years ago, Dennis told me never
judge divers by their qualifications.
They mean nothing. Its still the
same. A cowboy instructor element
still signs off the inadequate.

Nicky wears Doeg's 50- year-old reg 50


years also separates Nicky and Dennis.
diver? Certainly there is collusion between
divemasters and instructors and the divers
themselves in perpetuating the malaise.
When I ran buoyancy courses, I was surprised
to find that instead of newbies, I got divers with
advanced qualifications and 100-plus dives
signing up.
On reflection, I should have expected this. I was at
my most complacent after around 50 dives. By then,
I had dispensed with buddy-checks, because such
drills were for beginners.
A crash-dive into the sand at 40m put me right. A
buddy-check would have caught my unconnected
direct feed.
It takes some of us a lot of dives to realise that
were still novices. So it was experienced divers who
identified that they had buoyancy-control difficulties
and chose to do something to improve their skills

NICKY IS A GOOD Santos diver. I


did trust him under water. I had
dragged out a beat-up twin-hose regulator, a halfcentury old. Once it belonged to the underwater
photography pioneer and British Society of
Underwater Photographers co-founder Colin Doeg,
and Nicky wanted to dive it.
Nick Balban, himself a Santos graduate, who has
succeeded Dennis as DO, agreed. We asked Dennis,
who had learned on such beasts, to instruct Nicky
in its use.
Nick and I watched our mentor share his
knowledge and enthusiasm with Martinez. If the
young diver reminded me of Balban and myself back
in the day, it also reminded me of how much diving
needs instructors like Dennis.
It is not the brand of the certification agency
on your C-card that matters, but the signature
of your instructor that counts. Im proud to be a
Santos diver.

www.divErNEt.com

K W k
O NO o . u
BO NE s.c
I w
NL o
O esh
v

di

NEC Birmingham
Saturday 22/Sunday 23 October
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