Members’ Dive Blog


Two new ADI’s share their views

Assistant Diving Instructors, a Year on

We are excited to have two new active Assistant Diving Instructors (ADIs) in our club following Sylvie and Simon’s completion of the BSAC Instructor Foundation Course (IFC) last year.  The ability to provide instruction within the club is critical, as the future of our club (and ability to dive self-sufficiently) depends on our experienced members passing on their knowledge and skills to newer members.  I got together with Sylvie and Simon to find out what they think of it all.

What was the Instructor Foundation Course like?

“Straight away, it felt welcoming and we were relaxed. On the first day we learned the structure and steps to building lessons, then for our homework we had to prepare theory and practical lessons following the processes that we had been taught that day. On the second day we had to deliver the lessons, which meant spending time in the pool demonstrating skills underwater and teaching our colleagues a theory lesson in the classroom. It was challenging and we learned a lot in a short time, but it was  a really rewarding and enjoyable weekend. And as a bonus, the teaching and presentation skills taught in the course are also eminently transferable to the workplace to help in passing on ideas and skills to work colleagues.”

What made you want to do it?

“We both felt that one of the best ways to learn and remember skills is to teach them regularly.  Teaching demands that you know theory and skills well enough that you can be challenged and answer questions about how and why we do them.

We have benefited from our club instructors giving a lot of time and effort and excellent quality teaching from them.  Not only do we want to give back to the club in the same way we have benefited, we also want to achieve the same high standards that our instructors have. We are very aware that as a self-sufficient club, our future depends on more experienced people being able to pass on their experience to newer members”.

What have you been doing since you qualified?

“Within a few weeks of doing the course we were in the classroom training new Ocean Divers.  We quickly realised how much preparation and attention to detail goes into making a good lesson. One thing we have done a lot of is Try-Dives for younger people such as Scouts and Girl Guides.  This is a unique experience for them and they really enjoy it.  It has been very rewarding seeing how excited they are and how much they enjoy themselves.

In September the club organised a Sport Diver rescue skills day.  It was a great opportunity to practice critical skills that could save a life.  As new Assistant Diving Instructors we were given the opportunity to lead our own group of trainees.  Whilst on the one hand we were allowed to teach independently, we also had close support from our senior instructors”.

What next?

“Before we can go on to become full instructors, we need to pass our Dive Leader, which is a natural progression from Sport Diver.  We started in February this year and are well into it now, hoping to complete it this dive season. We both want to build our personal experience and skills as divers, as well as teaching skills as instructors.  Simon would also like to complete his cave diver course this year”.



Dive Report

Diving Bikini by Cathy and Johno

After hitting a rather large birthday milestone we decided it was time to go on an equally large dive trip, so off to Bikini we went (eventually after a cancellation but that’s another story).
Bikini is one of the remotest places you can dive, our 3 day journey took us to Hawaii via San Francisco, then on to the American military base at Kwajelan where we were escorted to the Ferry to Ebye. On Ebye we boarded Truk Master, our home for the next 10 days. The voyage to Bikini took 30 hours, during that time all we saw was sea and sky, no land, ships, planes or airplane trails.
We were here to dive the ships wrecked by the Americans nuclear bomb testing in the 1940’s and 50’s.
The shake down dive was the USS Saratoga, a 268m aircraft carrier, not bad as shakedown dives go! There is just one word to describe the Saratoga, BIG (or maybe HUGE) We did 6 dives on the Saratoga, and we still only just scratched the surface. Armed with the plans of the ship we went exploring and discovered the emergency radio room and the airplane catapult mechanism, oh and an old brass divers helmet.

Another of the big wrecks was the Japanese battleship the HIJMS Nagato, the Japanese flagship during the attack on Pearl Harbour. Like all battleship wrecks she is upside down, so if you want to see the big guns you have to go under the ship, but they are well worth it, at 16 inches the biggest guns I have ever seen. The stern is pretty impressive too with 2 rudders and 4 propellers, my challenge was to get it all in 1 photo (you can see the results for yourselves).

The USS Lamson was one of my favourites, totally intact down one side, on the other the damage caused by the explosion was obvious with ripples in the hull. On the deck we saw both torpedoes in their launcher and a white tip reef shark asleep on the deck (he wasn’t impressed at being disturbed!).

Despite Johns dislike of diving submarines, he didn’t object to diving the USS Apogon, she is again upright and intact, and we were able to sit on the seabed under the props and peer out through the masses of tiny glass fish that were everywhere on all the wrecks (there were so many it was really hard at times to take photos!) on the top of the sub is a gun, some shells and also rather randomly, a jug!!
Another battleship (and again upside down with huuuuge guns) is the USS Arkansas. Sitting under the immense bow looking up to the surface is really impressive, less impressive was the little school of pilot fish that insisted on following John on the deco stop.

The USS Anderson is a destroyer lying on her side with more guns, torpedo launchers and depth charges. The bow was beautiful, and much narrower than expected, there was also a telegraph just lying on the deck, something you would NEVER see on a British wreck!
The final wreck is the USS Carlisle, not a warship but an armed merchantman and she suffered a lot more damage than the other wrecks, especially on the side closest to the bomb blast. The ships wheel looks like someone had tried to fold it up.

The wrecks are all covered in long whip corals and masses of tiny glass fish. We didn’t see many of the larger reef fish which was surprising as there is a healthy population of White tip, Grey reef, Black tip and young Tiger sharks, including Scratchy who put in an appearance on most of the dives. We also saw Manta rays and Turtles.

There are only 7 people living on Bikini, they are caretakers and are swapped every few months, it’s safe to visit but just not safe to live here permanently and eat food grown on the island, although we did risk a coconut! Midway through the trip we had a tour (including one of the bunkers) and BBQ on the island. Despite the general decay of the buildings and vehicles the only really sad sight was the amount of plastic litter washed up on the beautiful beaches, fishing buoys and plastic containers, this is not from the locals but has been washed up from the Pacific ocean. One of the most remote places on Earth and there is plastic waste, heartbreaking.



Dive Report

St Lucia 2019 by Richard & Sarah

We did 7 dives in St Lucia, over 4 days. Diving was all inclusive so a huge saving. The boat is modern and all the kit in great condition, and the whole thing well run and managed. Sea temperatures were 26 but quickly cooled at depth, so a 3 mm shorty needed, but no gloves allowed, to protect the coral.

The first dive was on a wreck, and having lost some 50% of their coral the Government are trying to reverse this with a number of shallow wrecks, and they seem to be well populated and at 25m max depth, easily reached. The dive was split between expert, intermediate and beginners, for some reason BSAC divers are seen as expert, but after all the excellent training we have had we were not fazed in any sense, even when the boat was pitching 5ft and, on one occasion, the current was so strong they could only get us back on the boat by a rope.

We saw sea snake, lobsters, a sea horse (pic below but you will need expert eyes to see it!) masses of fish and flora, all in pristine conditions. We did a drift dive past the Pitons, a famous volcanic twin mountain, and this was a wall dive and one of the big ticket dives.

Each day was a great boat trip, the morning dives being the more serious one, the afternoon for learners and snorkelers. We were out by 9.00 and back by 12.30, the morning  dive being two tank. The tank are aluminium so a weighting challenge there, + the shorty + all measurements are in imperial not metric, so we had to take a while to work out what we needed! Overall I ended up with about 6kg so a bit lighter than the UK.

One final unexpected bonus, England played the West Indies in St Lucia so we went to see the 20:20 cricket match and that was quite an experience! All in all a fabulous holiday. Enjoy the video.

Dive Report

Galapagos October 2018 by Hilda Crockett

Galapagos October 2018 MY Galapagos Sky

Air Temperature 70’s, Water Temperature 19-26 degrees

We selected this boat after interrogating many companies at the Birmingham dive show 2016 (Richard Blake can testify, some companies were less than helpful). I asked all companies the same question “Can you give me three reasons I should choose your boat?” EcoVentura who own Galapagos Sky were the only company who rattled off three good reasons with no hesitation:

  1. Owned and run by a local Ecuadorian family, and have all the contacts and permits required to plan and execute both diving and land based tourist excursions. Basically one of the dive guides has to be a Galapagos National Park Guide, so allowed to conduct land based excursions.
  2. Their itinerary allows for more time at Darwin and Wolf Island, big plus point
  3. They are one of only 3 boats that operate in Galapagos that had a license to dive with Iguanas

Okay convinced so we booked. Two years to save up, pay and organise flights. We opted to travel via Madrid with BA/ Iberia which avoided the hassle of US Immigration and worked well. Had one night in Quito and then flew to San Cristobal the next day.

Want to get wet now…. joined the boat and was delighted to find there were only 11 divers, should have been 16 so, plenty of room. Due to the late arrival of some guest’s flights, the first day got a bit screwed up as we basically sat in port. This meant day two started with a walk up a hill on Bartolome Island. Over a 300 step yomp to the top, before the 3 dives, very bazar. The checkout dive was La Punta, water 21-23, some nippy thermoclines, but plenty of sharks and turtles action. No inexperienced divers on the boat, so were able to progress quickly to the better sites. As we got closer and closer to Wolf and Darwin it just got better and better. Every documentary you see on Galapagos has Darwin Balcony as the big ticket event, they are not wrong. Schooling hammerheads, whale sharks, big schools of jacks with massive tuna and you still had time for the turtles, eel gardens and the very impressive beds of massive star fish clustering together like a carpet. It’s not easy diving due to the changing currents but well work it, the life is amazing.

So how are going to top that as we head south?
The marine iguanas, diving with them was like an episode of Jurassic Park, wonderfully agile algae eating creatures, with diving cormorants and the occasion fly past by families of penguins. For me I have to say I lost my heart to the sea-lions. There are two types of sea-lions, the Fur Sea-lions from Chile which are big brutes and can be aggressive, and the Galapagos sea-lions which are related to the California sea-lions, they are ridiculously playful. Just like sea Labradors, they came and played with us on many dives, although being dive bombed at 30m by a sea-lion did give me a moment.

So was it worth all the effort?

Yes it’s a once in a lifetime trip you will always remember. Thanks to the boat crew, the well planned dives, the round the island RIB trips to see the wildlife post diving and the final land-based excursion to the lava tunnels and the Giant Tortoise reserve. A well planned itinerary and an enthusiastic boat-crew make all the difference

Thanks for the memories……

Dive Report

Night Dive At Vobster

Night dives are magical experiences and so in late October six Newbury Scuba Diving Club members went to Vobster Quay for a great way to finish off the summer.

The weather was fine, water temp was 14°C and vis was nearly 10m which all added up to a great dive. It is really quit weird to see all the perch asleep on the lake bed, only moving when you got too close and woke them. A good torch (and back up) are a must and even though we all knew the site very well it is transformed at night. 

So there were smiles all round when we surfaced for a bacon bap and cup of tea.

Click here to watch the night dive video on YouTube  

Thanks to Bernadette for supplying the video.

Sports Diver Training

Rescue Training Day at Cromhall by David Parker

Members from Newbury Scuba Diving Club had a great day at Cromhall Dive Centre on Sunday 2nd Sept practicing diver rescue techniques. We had seven trainees (six Sports Diver and one Dive Leader) and seven instructors to run the exercises in the water. Sarah was also on hand to demonstrate the best CPR and Oxygen administration techniques during the lunch break.

Conditions were excellent and the sun shone all day, the water temperature was a balmy 20 degrees C and even the vis was good (well to start with anyway!).

The shallow shelving beach at Cromhall is excellent for rescue exercises and everyone had many goes at rescue and recovery.

Matt explaining to Billy and Mike the exercise. Somehow Roger (left) managed to pick up what looks like a 20 litre cylinder and Mike won first prize for the oldest wetsuit on the beach!

Cathy working with Simon showing Roger and Richard her BCD controls

Four go off in search of the legendary ‘Agnosphitys cromhallensis’ dinosaur remains that were discovered at the quarry

All smiles before the rescue breaths commence!

Roger’s turn to get his own back on Richard

The day was rounded off by a BBQ courtesy of Johno, Cathy and Sarah

A great way to finish off a very productive training day.

Many thanks to; Richard, Sarah, Roger, Billy, Johno, Cathy, Matt, Simon, Sylvie, Mike, Ben, Aimee, Doug and Andrew for making it a really fun day.




Club Focus article in SCUBA magazine

It was a great testament to the hard work put in by all the members of Newbury Scuba Diving Club when SCUBA magazine wanted to run a feature on the relaunch of the club. Starting on page 38 of issue 82 (September 2018) the article ran for four pages and outlined the steps taken by the club to help raise the membership from 40 to 53 in just 18 months. Click on this link to download a PDF of the article. SCUBA magazine relaunch article

Dive Report

Diving in Sardinia by Richard and Sarah

For those who have not dived this Mediterranean island before, it offers some beautiful scenery both above and below the water (and coincidentally SCUBA magazine had only just run an article on diving in Sardinia).  We managed to squeeze in a couple of dives on our recent holiday to Sardinia.

I had hoped to complete my BSAC course when out in Alghero, a large town on the north west part of the island, in the Sassari region. However, despite there being 5 dive centres none were BSAC. Sarah and I went out with one company and we told them in advance what we had done and we went off as a group of 5 with two complete novices; Sarah and I went off with the instructor as a three, and the first dive was to 15m and was very colourful with barracuda, a moray eel, as well as a lone Grouper. It was ‘follow my leader’ with us following the instructor, and whilst a good experience it was without any spoken plan, and we did not have a safety stop on the return. The ‘plan’ seemed to be in the leaders head. We did experience putting on the BCD in the water, which was a lot cooler (it was 30dgs) but not too easy to see what went where, and a buddy check proved impossible. We later enjoyed snorkelling whist the novices went off – with what seemed minimal advice!

I went out again with the same centre but without Sarah. We had 8 divers, three ‘home team’ and the rest were experienced divers, apart from me. The instructor was used to varying levels of skills and people had to demonstrate they knew what they were doing. He liked BSAC and knew what I had done, so that was encouraging, but it rather went the other way as he assumed I knew it all and left me to it!

We did two dives, the first we saw an octopus, about the size of a child’s football, and our guide handled the creature and it seemed unstressed, and we all felt it’s tentacles wrap around out fingers, so much for look don’t touch. Later he said if it was stressed it would have fired off some ink, perhaps he knows the creature and they on first name terms! We saw barracuda, a multiplicity of fish, and did a wall descent to 19m and with torches saw spectacular colours including red and white coral.  The second dive, much to my surprise since, again, the plan was in the leaders head alone, we went through a cave entrance which was about the size of a tractor tyre and came out into a grotto full of colour with ferns and fish a gogo, and then popped out at the top of the grotto to continue our dive in more sedate fashion, varying from 7 to 18m. Use of my computer for the first time was very good.

I spoke at length to the guys running this centre about BSAC as they were interested in getting BSAC divers out there, if they achieve accreditation. I will send a link as members might like to go there. It is a very beautiful area and the diving centred around a marine reserve within a national park, so I did not see a single bit of plastic. It was like diving in a 3 dimensional aquarium.

Here is a view from the marina just before we headed off, and the red RIB is my ride! Sea like a millpond.

Dive Report

Red Sea Diversity – surprised even after 18 years…

M/Y Blue Fin ‘Simply the Best’ itineraries live aboard to the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone – so the more remote sites, best enjoyed when you have a good few dives under your belt. So more chances of seeing the big Pelagic’s: hammerheads, grey reefs and oceanic sharks and a manta (the one I didn’t actually see!). But it is the photographs that really tell my story of the diversity that you can experience. Such as beautiful aquarium style dives with tons of schooling antheas and snappers.

My favourite: soft corals, Giant barracuda being cleaned by wrasse, cute Napoleon wrasse, and fearless turtles.

The highlight, or heart rising moment was the 3 dives we did with Oceanic White Tip Sharks on Big Brother. One of our dive guides Elke is a researcher with the Red Sea Shark Trust, you could call her a shark magnet and in all my years I have never seen these sharks so close for so long. When you jumped off the boat they arrived, when they heard the RIB they swam alongside, when you got back under the boat for your safety stop they were there.

Wonderful experiences to discuss with fellow divers over a G&T or a beer on deck on a hot summer evening. Did I mention the water was 28/29 degrees? Did I mention the oldest diver Dick was 69 and still going strong, fantastic achievement, we never skipped a dive. I recommend the Red Sea for all year round good diving, just remember to dress appropriately for the weather.

Dive Report

‘This brings back memories’ by Mike Beherrall

Diving on the Black Hawk on Saturday, August 4, was a pleasure in two senses. Firstly because it was such a good dive in itself and secondly because it was a nostalgic return to a dive site of many years ago. When I first joined Newbury Sub Aqua Club in the early 1980s the Black Hawk  was the first open water dive I did, diving with Dave Guardhouse and a couple of others. Then, all I remember was feeling very nervous and not really taking in what I saw, let alone appreciating and enjoying it. But this time the dive was fabulous.

The weather was good, the company was good, the vis was surprisingly good and the wreck was so much bigger and better than I remember. Massive iron ribs sticking up from the seabed 8-10 feet or more, plus lots of shoals of various fish ( I’m not going to pretend I knew what they were!).

Plus two big surprises. First a massive, and I mean really big edible crab, probably 6-7 inches across the shell and best of all, catching sight of a conger eel in the wreckage. Surprisingly, It came right out of its hole and moved off to another, so we were probably annoying  it. It was huge, probably 5-6 feet long, the thickness of an arm and steel-blue in colour. I’ve never seen anything like it and it was very, very impressive. Click here for video link 

Many thanks to Hilda and the crew for making it such a great day.