If this is your first time diving from Newbury Scuba Diving Club’s RIB ‘Newbury Diver’ this first section is for you. Following these simple guidelines will make sure that you have a safe and pleasurable first experience out on the RIB.
Preparation and launching
Assemble your kit the night before so that it is ready to go straight onboard. If you are prone to seasickness take the appropriate medication in good time for it to take effect.
Arrive early at the boatyard so that you are not in a rush and can help in preparing the boat – removing the cover, starting the engines, fitting the navigation equipment, prepping the shot line etc.
Listen carefully to the Dive Manager’s briefing and fill in your emergency contact details on the sheet if you haven’t already done so on the online dive sign up sheet.
Find out who your buddy is and what order you will be diving in (i.e. the first pair in sits nearest the stern etc).
Secure your kit opposite your buddy’s as it is safer to enter the water opposing each other. Make sure that your regs and gauges are tucked up out of the way so they cannot be trodden on. See Kit Tip #5
Put your gloves and mask in your fin pockets and then pull your hood down over one of the fins. Place these in the fin rack above your kit along with your water bottle. Your DSMB, Torch, Camera, lube etc should be in a mesh ‘goody’ bag or in your BCD pockets. Stow your second cylinder onboard if instructed.
Stow your weight belt in the boat on your side, just forward of the console.
Stow your small(!) dry bag containing your lunch, keys, money etc in the bow area trying not to get in the way of the shot line. N.B NO KIT BOXES/BAGS ALLOWED ON THE RIB
Pay for a car park ticket in the office – cash only, but much cheaper than the machine. Parking is opposite the boatyard gates.
It is also a good idea to go to the loo before you put your dry-suit on!
Get suited and zipped up, make sure you hydrate. Don’t forget your computer, compass, hat, sunglasses etc.
The boatyard typically launches the RIB with all passengers onboard, so sit near your kit and hold on tight.
Transit, kitting up and entry
Always follow the cox’s instructions whilst onboard, hold on tight and be prepared to move forward along the tubes to help the boat stay on the plane when travelling at speed.
If you are prone to seasickness, look out at the horizon not down into the boat, especially when the boat is manoeuvring slowly whilst finding the dive target/waiting for the slack window.
Agree your dive plan with your buddy.
Kit up when told. Remember weight-belt first. Accept all offers of help such as holding your cylinder steady, routing hoses etc.
Once kitted up, do a buddy check and then move as far to the stern as possible when it is your turn.
Your dive leader will tell the cox once you are both ready to enter the water.
Inflate your BCD fully as this will help your self-rightening in the water.
Hold tight to any loose equipment such as torch, DSMB etc so that it cannot get caught.
When the boat is in position for you to enter, the cox will shout “In neutral” and then count down “Three, two, one, GO”. Roll backwards and on surfacing, immediately swim to the shot line. If the tide is running, please do not faff about as if you miss the shot line it is nearly impossible to swim back to it and it could ruin your and your buddy’s dive!
Hold onto the shot line, signal OK to your buddy and then keeping a light hold on the shot line descend. DO NOT pull yourself down the shot line as this could pull it off the wreck. Have a fabulous dive.
Diver retrieval and return
Once back on the surface, keep your reg in and stay close to your buddy. Resist the urge to say what a brilliant dive it was etc..
As the boat approaches, look at the cox who will give you instructions to separate, or stay together.
Swim to the boat when instructed and hold onto the ropes. Keep you reg in.
When the cox is ready to help you in, pass up your loose equipment such as DSMB, torch or camera. Fully inflate your BCD.
Pass up your weight belt. DO NOT let go until the cox says that they have it.
Release your BCD clips and your dry-suit feed whilst keeping your reg in your mouth.
Help the cox lift your dive kit back into the boat.
Wait for the cox to give the OK and then by finning very hard, simultaneously pulling down on the rope (and probably with a helping hand from the cox), get back into the boat.
Stow away all your dive kit and then tell your buddy/cox/other divers about the amazing dive you just had.
Once back at the slip, help retrieve the boat back onto the trailer, rinse it down and prep it for storage. Don’t forget to write up your dive details in the log and put your name down for the next fabulous RIB dive.
Dive Manager’s guide for the use of ‘Newbury Diver’ the club’s RIB
The RIB is usually stored down at Ferrybridge Marina in Portland for the diving season. This negates the need for a towing vehicle to be available as the boatyard offers a launching service for a small fee. The boatyard is open only at the weekends for launching and make sure that you check the opening times as they do differ slightly for Spring and Autumn when there is less demand. The Diving Officer must be informed before the boat is taken out and you must always have a qualified BSAC Boat handler on board whilst at sea.
If you are using the RIB when it is stored down at the coast, before you leave, go to our boatshed and…..
Pick up the boat keys, kill cords, isolators, GPS plotter/sounder, the Oxygen kit (assemble the kit and check it is full), a hand-held radio (make sure it is charged?) and the two boat boxes containing the flares and the tools.
When you get to the coast
Check in at reception and pay the launching fees
Remove the boat cover, fold it and stow it just in case the wind picks up whilst you are out.
Check the engine oil levels and top-up if necessary
Pump up the tubes if necessary – DO NOT OVER INFLATE. The pump is under the seat.
Check “A” flag, fire extinguisher, paddles, buoys, ropes, anchor, lifting bag and shots are still present.
Put the boat boxes in the cradles
Switch on the fuel lines in the front console. Vertical position is ON.
Insert the electrical isolator switches and switch ON. Insert keys and kill cords. Check that the radio works.
Fit the plotter-sounder and hand-held radio.
Load O2 kit
Load dive kit according to buddy pairs and entry sequence (pairs opposite each other and first pair in stored nearest to the stern).
Position the water tank under the prop and fill with water, prime the fuel lines and start the engine, check the tell-tale and then let it run for a couple of minutes to warm up. NB all three cooling inlets must be underwater for the tell-tale to work. Take care not to damage the sounder sender unit when positioning water tank under the starboard engine.
If one battery is flat, they can be interconnected using the isolator under the console. This allows you to start or run both engines from the other battery. REMEMBER to switch off the isolator once started.
Follow the boatyard staff’s instructions/advice on how to launch the boat.
The 100 litre tank holds approximately 80 usable litres of unleaded petrol. As a rough guide 20NM sailing at high throttle plus 3 hours slow idle in slight seas uses about 40 litres. It would be incredibly embarrassing for the Dive Manager if the boat ran out of fuel, so to make it easy there is an account set up with the refuelling barge company at the Portland marina which is under the name ‘Newbury Diver’. It is a great courtesy to the next Dive Manager if you leave the boat refuelled ready for the next trip.
We also have a 25 litre spare tank onboard that can be used in emergencies which can be tied upright next to the port side A frame when at sea. The fuel line is stored separately under the seat and can be connected using the in-line connector. When in use, the tank should be laid flat next to an engine, make sure the cap breather is loosened otherwise the engine will cut out after a few minutes. When the boat is back in the boatyard, the tank should be stored flat on the deck and the cap breather loosened to vent any excess vapour pressure.
Under normal circumstances both engines should be kept running (though dive plan and fuel consumption considerations may dictate otherwise). If one engine is shut down, turn off the ignition. Note: the Newbury electronics are powered from the starboard battery; hence it is best to keep this running. If the boat is grounded, the sender may get damaged.
Using the VHF marine radios
Newbury Diver has 1 permanent VHF radio with DSC function and the club has 2 hand held VHF radios which are to be used as back up and are waterproof. Legally, these radios may only be operated by a person with a marine SRC (short range certificate) Licence, or under the direct supervision of such a person. However, this should not practically prevent the use of the radios for the purpose of ensuring safety, so do not feel that you cannot use one in an emergency.
Digital selective calling (DSC) allows one station to selectively call other stations or groups, a bit like sending a text to your friends asking them to call you on a certain channel. This is done through a menu function and a person with a VHF licence should know how to operate this.
Guide to channels in use in the Portland area:
16 – Solent coast guard, this should only be used for distress transmissions or security
6, 8, 72, 77 – these are ‘working channels’ and are used for ship to ship communications.
12, 14 – Port Operations
65 – National Coastwatch
67 – Small vessel traffic
74 – Portland Harbour
We now ask that every time the boat is taken out that shore cover is in place and a radio check is conducted. Shore cover is in place so that if something does happen at sea they can initiate emergency protocols. This person does not need to be sat around at Billy Winters but can be at home however, they need to have certain information including the voyage plan and an expected time of return. If the Coastguard get a report from a shore contact that a party has not returned as planned, they will use the dive information that you gave the shore cover to plan a search. It is therefore essential that you leave a shore contact(s) with your plans and estimated time of return. You must also let the shore contact know when you return.
Now that Portland Coastguard has ceased operations, Solent Coastguard have requested that routine radio checks are carried out with the National Coastwatch station at Portland Bill. Their call sign is: Portland Bill NCI and can be contacted on channel 65. Please note that this is for radio checks only. You can also conduct a radio check using the hand held radio to call the onboard radio on one of the ship-to-ship channels.
Making a distress call
An emergency situation is defined as when persons or the vehicle is in grave and imminent danger. If you are unsure it is OK to make a distress call as the Coast guard can always downgrade you. A good way to think about it is do we need help now or can we wait.
If you are in an emergency and need to make a distress call you should follow this routine.
First – Press the distress button (circled in red), to do this lift up the cover marked distress and press and hold the button for 5 seconds. Hold until 5 short beeps change to 1 long beep. This sends a ‘text’ to all stations in the area that can receive DSC, the ‘text’ will include important information at a minimum it will include the ship’s MMSI number. It will also include the boat’s coordinates as the radio is connected to GPS system. As soon as you have pressed this button the radio will switch to channel 16 (if it has not or you are using the handheld radio move to channel 16 circled in blue).
The following should then be read out whilst you continuously hold down the press to talk button on the mic (this is found on the left hand side of both the hand held radio and the small mic on the fixed radio). Holding the button down continuously avoids anyone from interrupting your distress call. Speak clearly and try to not panic if you miss something or get it in the wrong order it is OK. Don’t worry about memorising the order or information as it is displayed on the main console (circled in yellow).
MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY
This is Newbury Diver, Newbury Diver, Newbury Diver.
Call sign Mike Juliet November Delta 4 (repeat 3 times)
M.M.S.I number 235067797 (repeat number 3 times)
Pause (for a second or 2)
This is Newbury Diver
Call sign Mike Juliet November Delta 4
M.M.S.I number 235067797
Our position is …… (read the latest and long numbers on the screen, remember to state the North and West parts. If GPS is not working you can use landmarks and other reference points)
WE NEED IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE
There are …… souls on board
You will then need to state the problem and your intentions, such as the engine is on fire and we are abandoning the vessel.
OVER (Let go of the press to talk button)
You will then receive information from the coastguard as to what they are going to do to help you.
Memory jogger for the boat name (the Coastguard might ask you!):
Newbury Diver – November Echo Whiskey Bravo Uniform Romeo Yankee – Delta India Victor Echo Romeo
Return boat to Boatyard and help the staff by holding the boat and winching it back onto the trailer
Wash down the boat, don’t forget to attach the hose to the hub rinsing system and let it flush for at least 3 mins
Flush engines using the tub filled with fresh water until the tell-tales run warm. Take care not to damage the sounder sender unit when positioning tub under the starboard engine.
Remove the plotter-sounder, isolators, kill cords, keys and boat boxes
Lay out the ropes, flag etc. on the cylinder rack to dry out
Remove litter and loose items and take these home with you
Replace the boat cover and tie it down securely (not with a granny knot please!)
Is more engine oil required for next trip? If so, please let Equipment Officer know
Top Tip: Before you leave the boatyard, double check that you haven’t left anything behind!
The Dive Manager or other nominated person must report any problems or defects by email to the Equipment Officer, and note them on the board in the shed. Please report status, even if there are no problems, by the end of Monday.
Boat Preparation for towing
Check hatches are closed; all contents including buoys are secure; boat straps are tight; trailer board connected and all the lights are working. The wheel clamp must be used if the boat/trailer is parked at any time without being hitched to a vehicle (insurance requirement). Trailer tyres should be at 35-40 psi when cold.
Returning the RIB to our boatshed
After reversing, move the boat forward 5 cms to release the brakes before unhitching. Make any final movements by hand. Chock the wheels but DO NOT put on the hand brake
Remove the seats and open the hatches to allow for ventilation
Remove engine covers
Leave ropes, flag, jack and other equipment in a position to dry e.g. on the tubes or cylinder rack
Store the oxygen kits with lids released but closed, on the O2 kit shelf in the boatshed
Return the keys and hand radios to the key box
Boats and trailers, including controls, electronics and engines must be washed after diving or when returned to the boatshed
The Law On Towing… is a bit of a minefield, but you need to check;
– That your licence covers you for towing. That your car is suitable for towing the club boat/trailer combination (circa 1.8 tonnes), plus the weight of your diving kit in the car. Drivers who passed a driving test on or after 1 January 1997 are required to pass an additional driving test in order to tow trailers with a maximum authorised mass (MAM, alternatively known as the gross vehicle weight) greater than 750kg. All drivers who passed a car test before 1 January 1997 retain their entitlement to tow trailers until their licence expires. This means they are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM. That’s OK for the club boats.
The Highway Code on Towing
You MUST NOT overload your vehicle or trailer. You should not tow a weight greater than that recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle – so look in the handbook.
You MUST secure your load and it MUST NOT stick out dangerously
You should properly distribute the weight in your trailer with heavy items mainly over the axle(s) and ensure a downward load on the tow ball. Manufacturer’s recommended weight and tow ball load (50-100 kg is recommended by Indespension, but check this against tow vehicle recommendation) should not be exceeded. This should minimise the possibility of swerving or snaking and going out of control. If this does happen, ease off the accelerator and reduce speed gently to regain control.
…..and finally remember that the maximum towing speeds are 50 mph for single carriageways and 60 mph for dual carriageways and motorways.