Going Diving

What type of diving do you want to do?

Diving within the club can be split into two main types; scenic diving and technical diving. Although there are many different approaches within these two basic definitions, in simplistic terms scenic divers tend to have minimal kit i.e a single cylinder and most of the diving is 30m or less, whereas technical divers use either twin cylinders or a rebreather as most of the diving is deeper and longer. The yearly dive plan tries to accommodate all club member’s interests and often there are both RIB and hard boat dives planned for the same weekend.
Hard boat diving

The Dive Plan

The annual dive plan is published online in Google Sheets by the Diving Officer (see link in side bar and contact the DO if you do not already have access). This plan is a guide to what we would like to achieve this year based on the requests received and the number of Dive Managers available. It is not set in stone and there will be changes as the year progresses, so it is important to keep an eye on the online Dive Plan and the club emails from the Dive Managers.
It is your responsibility to make sure you are ‘fit/qualified/dived up’ for the dives you want to book on. If in doubt, talk to the designated Dive Manager for that dive. However, we can be flexible and if you want to dive on a particular day, but the stated target is not suitable for your qualification or experience, please discuss this with the Dive Manager and the Diving Officer.
Although the targets stated are generally wreck dives, please remember that second dives each day tend to be more scenic. We can dive more than this, such as more Sundays and mid-week dives. If there is anything that you would like to see on the plan, discuss this with the Diving Officer.

Booking on dives

Once the year’s dives are opened, a dive sheet for every weekend is set up online in a spreadsheet called ‘NSDC Dive Booking Sheet’. All members need to do to signup is to complete the details on the sheet. Members can access this sign up sheet from the link in the sidebar.
We try to keep the rules to a minimum:
  • Signing up is your commitment to be on that dive.
  • Dives are open to NSDC members only (unless by prior approval from the DO).
  • Dive sites may change due to weather etc, but you will be advised. Remember the weather is out of our control!
  • It’s up to you to ensure you are on the dives you want.
  • Dive Managers will have to check who is signed up for “their” dive.
  • Spaces on dives may be opened to other BSAC branches 3 weeks before a trip if appropriate.
  • Full payment for Hardboat dives will be needed about four weeks before the date of the dive.
IMPORTANT: You should contact the Dive Manager the night beforehand to check there have been no changes of plan (unless you have specifically arranged not to).
And finally… please arrive at the dive site in plenty of time to help the Dive Manager/Cox prepare the boat for launching. Remember, if you need to borrow club equipment, speak to the Dive Manager well in advance.

What to take diving

Whether you are RIB diving or hard boat diving, you need to think about what to take. Dehydration can lead to decompression illness so take plenty of WATER to drink. On RIBs and some hard boats there is no protection from the sun and wind, so you may need either a woolly hat or sun hat. You use a lot of energy diving and staying warm, so a high calorie snack might be useful for between dives. At the start and end of the season a flask with a hot drink can be essential, However, particularly on a RIB where there is limited storage space, check with the Dive Manager/Cox if you are unsure of what to take. Try to share dry bags wherever possible.
Teamwork is very important
If you are diving in a wetsuit or semi-dry take a windproof jacket with you on the boat to reduce the effects of wind chill and prevent lowering your core temperature during transits or the surface interval.
If you are prone to seasickness, make sure you have taken seasickness tablets in good time before you travel (always read the instructions before taking). Eating ginger biscuits or sucking on boiled sweets also seems to help, but this is not scientifically proven!
Check with the Dive Manager whether or not you need a packed lunch, since you might be out all day or there may not be a café available at lunch time. On some RIB dives you might not be going back to the car at lunch time, so you might need money for lunch and an air fill. Checklist for what to bring.

The role of the Dive Manager

Newbury Scuba Diving Club has a very good diving safety record. The key to this is the role that Dive Managers play in planning and organising dives.
If Dive Managers can’t do their nominated date, would they please try and arrange a swap, so that diving can still go ahead. Don’t leave it to the last minute, or to the Diving Officer to try and rearrange if you cannot make it.
Dive managers start to organise dives several weeks before the event. They will choose sites, considering tides, launch and recovery windows, and the weather. They will arrange towing (if required); they may also arrange accommodation or camp sites if appropriate. They have to run the dives on the day, ensure all equipment is available, collect money, and maintain log sheets and paperwork. The Dive Manager should not take on the burden of this role all on their own. The key to being a good dive manager and having a stress-free day is DELEGATION!
Dive managers should appoint assistants wherever possible. For example, assistants can help with the following:-
  • Managing the boat – organising the launch and recovery, taking care of the boat checks, re-fuelling, communicating with the coastguard, etc. The Boat Manager may in turn delegate some of these roles.
  • Booking accommodation
  • Treasurer for the day
  • Recorder of dive details – for log sheets (and could include updating the club records of dives)
  • Equipment checker – Oxygen kit, First Aid Kit
However, the final responsibility for the diving always remains with the Dive Manager.
Before each day’s diving, the risk assessment should be completed, along with any voyage planning sheet, which must be kept on the RIB and a copy left with shore cover. After each days diving, dive logs must be updated on the online dive log by the Dive Manager, or a member who has been delegated with the task. The Treasurer must have the Account sheet and the cash! These standard documents are available on the Club website.


Voyage plan

The Dive Manager should ensure that a Voyage Plan is carried out for each trip using the Branch RIBs. The voyage plan sheet includes consideration of weather, navigation hazards and waypoints, tidal conditions/direction during dives, contingency plans in case of a problem, and a list of emergency and useful phone numbers. It is a legal requirement that the voyage plan is carried on the boat, and a copy left with the designated Shore Cover. Link to NSDC Voyage Planning Sheet

Shore cover/information left ashore

The Dive Manager should leave information with the designated Shore Cover. Shore Cover may be provided by a member of the party remaining on shore, or through contact with the Diving Officer (or nominated alternative).
This should include an outline of the plan, a copy of the Voyage Plan, a list of people on the trip, and an expected finishing time. Any last minute changes to the plan should be reported to the DO (or shore cover). At the end of the diving day a phone call or text message should be sent to the shore cover to confirm safe return.
The branch shore cover will raise the alarm if you fail to confirm your safe return.

Dive day briefings

Please make time for a dive briefing at the start of the day. The dive brief allows all divers to be made aware of the day’s plan and any emergency procedures or equipment. It also allows the dive manager to check that all divers are ready and fit to dive and that all preparation has been completed before the dive day starts. Link to NSDC Dive Manger’s Briefing

For information on how to use the club’s VHF radios follow this link to the ‘Using the RIB’ page

Knowing how to use the VHF radios properly is very important.

The Weather Forecast

Our trips are weather dependent. The Dive Manager will monitor the weather and forecasts during the week before the dive trip. The Dive Manger will normally send out an email or WhatsApp message the day before the planned trip confirming the dive is still going ahead.
Diving is generally cancelled if winds are force 5 or above (17 knots +), and the site is not protected by land. However, forecasts do have a tendency to be pessimistic, so some judgement is called for with forecast winds at around force 5. A force 5 wind creates lots of “white horses” on the sea.
Usually there is somewhere in Portland Harbour that can be dived when most other sites are blown out
Online inshore weather forecasts are now updated almost constantly and are the primary source of weather forecast information. See the links in the sidebar for more information:
Terms used in the weather forecast are standard:
Wind speed is expressed as a “force” per the Beaufort scale. Wind speed for scales 1 to 4 changes by about 3 knots per scale (force 4 is up to 16 knots). For scales 5 to 10, the speed increases by 5 knots per scale.
Wind direction is the direction from which the wind is blowing. Veering means that the wind will change in a clockwise direction (e.g. SW to W). Backing means the wind change is in an anticlockwise direction (e.g. SE to NE). Becoming cyclonic indicates a significant change in wind direction.
Sea state has 8 categories which define the wave height. Smooth is up to 0.5m, Slight is 0.5 to 1.25m, Moderate is 1.25m to 2.5m, and beyond that we will not be diving! (Rough, Very Rough, High, Very High and Phenomenal)
Visibility has four categories. Fog is less than 1,000 metres; Poor is 1,000 metres to 2 miles; Moderate is between 2 and 5 miles, and Good is more than 5 miles.
A full glossary of weather forecast terms is given on the Met Office web site.

Other Members’ Zone pages and links: