Members’ Dive Blog

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. 


Dive Report

Alex van Opstal and a drift on the Lulworth…

Conditions on Saturday 7th of July were perfect for diving out of Portland, wall to wall blue sky, a F1 northerly breeze, neap tides and slack at 11.00. After leaving Ferrybridge Marina, Newbury Diver flew across the flat calm sea with just the four passengers; David, Ian, Simon and Mike and made short work of the transit to the wreck of the Alex van Opstal which is located approximately five miles south of Lulworth Cove. There was already one other dive RIB on the Alex waiting for slack, so putting a second shot in was easy and then Ian and Simon only had a short wait until slack started. Although we were on neaps, diving on slack is essential on the Alex and there is a 40 min window before the tide starts to pick up again. Ian and Simon had a 50 min dive on the 28m deep wreck and reported excellent (8-10m) viz and lots of life on the wreck.

Once back on board we picked up the shot and headed north for lunch in Lulworth. As expected the beach at Lulworth was pretty well packed given the amazing weather, but we found a space for a picnic and then an hour later were heading back out for the second dive. With Ian coxing, Simon and I had a great drift on the banks and sorted out a few scallops for the team to take home for dinner.

When conditions are right it is hard to find a better place than to spend a day out on a RIB diving in Weymouth bay.


Dive Report

Swanage Pier – Newbury beginners take the stage

Swanage Pier – Newbury beginners take the stage by Owen Price

Matt, our newly qualified Dive Leader (dive manager) and Roger and me (Owen), recently qualified Ocean Divers hit Swanage Pier this weekend. An early start found us at Swanage a little before 0800, with plenty of parking still available at the pier car park. The attendants were apologetic that they were not charging (!) for diving as the pier was still under maintenance. Nine pounds sterling is a pretty good rate for two (or three) dives (split between car passengers).

High water was not until 1130, so we made a beeline for the local café. I ordered a ‘regular’ English breakfast and half wished that I had ordered something lighter – 2 eggs, 2 sausage, 2 rashers of bacon, 2 large hash brown, a pile of toast, and beans – but it set me up for the day. I did ask the dive manager not to rush us to the first dive.

When we got back to the the car park it was busy with many cars disgorging divers to hard boats to visit the Fleur de Lys and the Kyarra, Old Harry and Peveril Ledges. Portsmouth University SCUBA club was kitting up to dive the pier, so we were not short of company.

A short walk in full kit and a precarious shuffle down the steps set us up for our first dive on the ‘new’ pier. I performed my usual, uncomfortable routine to don my fins on the bottom step – thank God for dive buddies.

This was Roger’s and my first shallow sea dive. I chose thinner under-socks to help with my weighting and it paid off. Roger, bravely tried his new dry suit in open water for the first time. It was also his first dive since qualifying. We were both surprised at how tricky it is to maintain neutral buoyancy in ~4m depth.

Nonetheless, we had fun watching plenty of wildlife; crabs never get tiring. The shallow depth also allowed us the advantage of a warm, lengthy dive with no ‘range’ anxiety. (I drive a hybrid car, but I already worry about it in anticipation of going all electric).

Storm Hector, fortunately stayed north of us. The weather stayed mild and dry after our first dive. I would have ordinarily said, ‘over lunch,’ but was still digesting that large (second) breakfast and drank tea as a prudent alternative. The Divers Down shop kindly allowed us to use their pontoon for our second dive to access the old pier, as long as we kept clear of the midday hard boat departure, used an SMB, kitted up well before the pontoon to minimise our time on it and returned via the new pier to avoid boat hazards.

The old pier was a very different experience for us. It remained technically tricky to maintain neutral buoyancy, but we had our ‘eyes in.’ The main difference was the greenery. Unlike the new pier, which was largely covered and in shadow, the old pier was open to the sunshine. It was a great, green nursery for the forna of both piers; and pretty too.

The visibility was just sufficient for out pile-to-pile navigation outbound and just insufficient for out pile-to-open water navigation back. We had no less than three surface trips to ‘eyeball’ the next pile on the way back, having all previously agreed that there was no need to wear a compass! (And I had recently been signed off on my Sports Diver compass training).

However, in summary this is a truly great British dive site – lots to see; shallow depth and thus safe; well supported by a dive store and many other local amenities; and it is pretty with sandy beaches and an unusually well-kept seaside town.

If you have not been; give it a try!

Dive Report

Diving on the British Inventor – June 9th by…

Conditions were perfect for a day’s RIB diving on Sat 9th June out of Portland with light winds, neaps and broken sunshine. Phil was Dive Manager as part of his Dive Leader training and had arranged a great day for the six divers; Hilda, Lucy, Hannah, Richard, Owen and David. First dive was a drift in Worbarrow Bay as slack wasn’t until 13.00. Viz was above average at 8m but there were quite a lot of white particulates (most commonly referred to as ‘snot’) in the water which was a shame given the 15m viz enjoyed a couple of weeks before. 

After a quick lunch and coffee at Lullworth Cove we headed out for the British Inventor and enjoyed perfect slack. As usual there was loads of life to see on the BI and Hilda took some great pics.

An enjoyable day as reflected in this ‘Father & Daughter’ moment, aah.