Important information for prospective new divers
Thinking of signing up for the Ocean Diver course? Firstly there is some important information that you need to consider. Newbury Scuba Diving Club is a ‘dive club’ not a ‘dive school or a ‘dive centre’. This is an important distinction as our club environment is designed around the needs of divers who are passionate about diving and want to dive more than just occasional holiday diving. If you are new to scuba diving and are looking for a quick way to become qualified before going on holiday or off to university, then honestly our club is probably not the right fit for you. There are many excellent BSAC dive schools in the UK and abroad who are better equipped to help you qualify. You can find out more information at BSAC.com. Even if dive centre training is a better fit for you we can still offer you a taster session for Scuba diving through our Try Dive programme, so if you fancy just having a go at experiencing the magic of being weightless underwater then contact NSDC to arrange a Try Dive.
However, if you are committed to taking up scuba diving as a hobby and are willing to invest the time and money in the training and the kit (which is not cheap) then we would love to talk to you. The training you will receive at Newbury Scuba Diving Club is tailored to diving in UK waters which can be somewhat more demanding than warm water diving abroad. All our training is given by club instructors who are training their future dive buddies, so every step is geared to your needs to ensure that you are comfortable and safely capable to move onto the next skill level.
Ocean Diver Information
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 19.00 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 18.45 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 NSDC expects from you?
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 all your kit straight away, try as many different club masks, BCDs as you can during the first weeks of your training to find out which you are most comfortable with. However the club would expect all trainees to have purchased their own mask and fins by the end of their pool training.
How much is the Ocean Diver course?
BSAC Advanced Ocean Diver
After completing Ocean Diver there is the option to train for the Advanced Ocean Diver qualification which sits between Ocean Diver and Sports Diver and is open to qualified BSAC Ocean Divers (or an equivalent other agency grade) who would like to progress their maximum diving depth to 30m. You will develop your existing Ocean Diver knowledge to support deeper diving.
To enrol on the Advanced Ocean Diver, you must have successfully completed the BSAC Ocean Diver course. It is also open to those who have an equivalent certification from another recognised diver training agency and have completed Nitrox training. You must also be aged 14 or over to be able to progress to depths up to 30m.
Advanced Ocean Diver is not a mandatory course, but it can be a thoroughly enjoyable next step on your diving adventure. Advanced Ocean Diver means you can safely progress your maximum diving depth, post-Ocean Diver, and can also be used to build your skills and experience as you work your way to Sports Diver.
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
- OS1 – Gas Check
- OS1 – Buoyancy Control BCD
- OS1 – Fin Pivots
- OS1 – Descent Procedures
- OS2 – Mask Clearing (NSDC Mask Clearing video)
- OS2 – Mask Removal
- OS2 – Regulator Clearing – Purge
- OS2 – Regulator clearing – Cough
- OS2 – Alternative Source
- OS3 – Ascent Procedures
- OS3 – Giant Stride Entry
- OS3 – Regulator Recovery
- OS3 – Breathing Through A Free Flowing regulator
- OS5 – Forward Entry Roll
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 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