For those embarking on the BSAC Ocean Diver course through Newbury Scuba Diving Club, there might seem to be a bewildering amount of new things that you have to learn. We’ve compiled some useful bits of information for Ocean Divers (and all new members) to help you quickly become familiar with the course and the club, so that you settle in more quickly and can concentrate on enjoying your diving and learning new skills.
What is the Ocean Diver course?
The Ocean Diver course is designed to take a new member who has never dived before, all the way through to being competent and confident to dive to a maximum of 20 metres in UK waters. The training includes at least five sessions in the pool to learn the basic skills, supported by six theory lessons taught in the classroom and then at least four open water dives at either an inland dive site or in the sea. For more info on the BSAC Ocean Diver course follow this link.
What will you get from Newbury Scuba Diving Club?
Typically the Ocean Diver course is run through the Winter and Spring terms so that you can start your open water diving as soon as possible once the diving season starts.
You will be loaned everything you need for the pool training element; this includes, mask, fins, snorkel, BCD, regulators and cylinder. For the first two sessions your kit will be collected for you and taken to the pool, but after this you will be expected to pick up all your pool kit from the boat shed each Thursday evening in time to make the 19.30 meeting at the school. You will be given the access code to the boatshed once you are a NSDC member. Try to be at the boat shed by 19.15 to give you time to park etc. See the Mary Hare School Facilities page for info on access etc.
You will need to bring your swimwear and a tee shirt to wear under the BCD to prevent it rubbing.
Top tip: If you already have a shortie wetsuit bring that along as that will keep you warmer for the 1.5 hour training session in the pool.
All the diver practical training is done either one-on-one with an instructor, or a maximum of two trainees with one instructor. The practical training is conducted at your learning speed so that you feel totally comfortable with your ability to master each skill. All the training is done by our BSAC qualified instructor members who are training future ‘dive buddies’ so they want to make sure that you are fully confident.
What is expected from you?
Newbury Scuba Diving Club is a ‘club’ not a ‘school’ so all our NSDC instructors are unpaid volunteers who willingly give up their time to help train new members and future buddies. In return, they expect you to commit to the training by being punctual for the lessons, being prepared for each lesson and to back up the training by reading the course manual as required. These simple steps will make the course much more effective and enjoyable for you. Please try to attend the published dates for each lesson so that you steadily progress through the course.
Top tip: You will find that the theory lessons are much more productive if all the trainees are there to participate and remember to bring your qualification book with you to each lesson so that it can be signed off at that time.
After each pool session you will need to drop off your kit back at the boat shed. Please drain the water out of your BCD before you hang it up. Simply invert the BCD and depress the dump valve on the flexible hose to allow the water to drain out (give it a shake and repeat).
Who are your main points of contact?
The main points of contact for Ocean Diver trainees are:
Your Mentor who is the instructor responsible for your training
The Training Officer for the dates/schedules etc,
The Secretary for all financial/admin issues
……..and of course any club member for an opinion (and oh boy there are a lot of opinions available, especially when it comes to kit!).
Top tip: Don’t be tempted to rush out and buy your kit straight away, try as many different club masks, BCDs as you can during the training to find out which you are most comfortable with.
How much is the Ocean Diver course?
Ocean Diver ‘How To’ tutorial videos
To help supplement your pool training Newbury Scuba Diving Club and BSAC have put together a collection of basic ‘How To’ video tutorial guides for many of the key pool training elements. These videos are designed to supplement the practical lessons in the pool, so please take a few minutes to familiarise yourself with the different skills that you will be learning.
How To -Assemble pool kit
How To – do a buddy check with pool equipment
How To – Mask Clearing
How to – Alternate Source + Ascent Rescue
BSAC Videos – Ocean Diver (OS) Pool Lessons
All BSAC videos are copyright British Sub-Aqua Club
SCUBA Diving Equipment
What to buy and where to buy it
If you are a new diver, consider the following outlets and products – but ask around the club before you buy! NB This is NOT intended to endorse any particular product or shop.
Mike’s Waterfront Warehouse Reading 0118 926 2288 www.divestyle.co.uk
Mike’s Dive Store Chiswick 020 8994 6006 www.mikesdivestore.com
Andark Southampton 01489 581755 www.andark.co.uk
Solent Divers Portsmouth 023 9281 4924
Underwater Explorers Portland 01305 824555 www.underwaterexplorers.co.uk
Kent Diving Kent 01322 277107 www.kentdiving.com
Simply Scuba Kent 0844 567 7070 www.simplyscuba.co.uk
SDS Watersports Sheffield 01142 488688 www.sdswatersports.co.uk
Divers Warehouse Bradford 01274 307555 www.scubasales.co.uk
Go-Dive Derby 01332 665353 http://godive.net
London International Dive Show ExCeL, London www.diveshows.co.uk
Dive 2012 NEC Birmingham www.diveshows.co.uk
What to buy?
This is a list of the manufacturers and suppliers that either tend to do well in independent reviews (e.g. tests by Diver and Dive magazines) or are popular within the club.
Look at Apeks, Mares and Scubapro. Poseidon has a faithful following. Buy the best you can afford, without necessarily going for the platinum plated one! Probably go for DIN rather than A clamp 1st stage – more secure.
Club members (and the UK diving fraternity) have tended to favour Buddy from AP Valves. They are indestructible, have a lifetime guarantee and good service back-up. However they are also bulky and heavy, so you might want to look at alternatives. Technical divers typically use wings for the extra buoyancy and streamlined profile. Speak to other club members about the pros and cons of the different brands (but be aware, ask three people and you will probably get three different opinions!).
Otter (www.drysuits.co.uk) – make good quality membrane and compressed neoprene suits, off the peg and made to measure (MTM), via their shop in Bradford or mail order.
Northern Diver (www.ndiver.com) – makes membrane and compressed neoprene suits, off the peg and MTM, via their shop in Lancashire, other dive shops and mail order.
O’Three (www.othree.co.uk) – make mainly MTM high quality but quite expensive compressed neoprene drysuits. Based in Portland.
DUI (www.dui-online.com) – makers of quality compressed neoprene suits, available from dive shops.
For membrane drysuit wearers, consider a Weezle or a thinsulate/synthulate suit by e.g. Otter, C-Bear or Sea and Sea, or a flectalon suit from Northern Diver. For compressed neoprene suit wearers, if you need extra warmth, look at close fitting stretch fleece suits or tops e.g. Northern Diver Thermalskin, Fourth Element or O’Three PBB.
The main manufacturer of steel cylinders is Faber. Then look for deals at the dive shows – or consider Solent Divers or Kent Diving for mail order. Ask around about what size to buy.
Although it is nice to buy shiny, new equipment, you can find a lot of second hand dive kit on the internet, a lot of which has been hardly used. If you go this route, check the new prices first, to make sure you do get a real bargain. Other Club members can give advice, if you are unsure.
Other Members’ Zone pages and links:
How Much Does it Cost? – Current NSDC price list
Mary Hare school facilities – information on access to the pool, classrooms, boat shed, and use of the compressor
Going Diving – how to book on a dive, what to expect, what to take, how to decipher the inshore weather forecast
Using the RIBs – how to prepare the boat, launch and recovery, towing
Dive/launching sites – popular coastal dive sites, inland sites, VHF marine radio use, kit advice
Who’s who on the committee – the roles and responsibilities of the different committee positions
Social – fun non-diving activities