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Considering learning to dive?

May 18th, 2008

From my own experience scuba diving seems to be one of those sports that you always think you’ll get around to doing at some point. Personally I was talked into doing a try dive, but after that I was hooked, I couldn’t get enough and wanted to get my certification as soon as possible, to allow me to explore this whole new underwater world. I have a real passion for travel as well, which goes hand in hand with scuba diving, the sport has become so popular that it’s hard to find resorts without a local dive centre.

It is critical to ensure that  dive stores have the necessary certifications, from organisations such as PADI, SSI and BSAC .This is to ensure dive instructors have the necessary qualifications, but equally that the centres are run in a professional and safety conscious way, and equipment is serviced regularly and well looked after. This brings me on the next point that deters many people from trying this fantastic sport…

How dangerous is it? Well yes, scuba diving is an extreme sport, and there are serious safety implications to consider, and also health issues that could mean that diving is not advisable for you. However like many things, if you follow instructions and procedures properly then diving should be relatively safe sport. Firstly if you are not certified, then you are only allowed to complete try dives, with a scuba instructor, to a maximum of 12M (as per the PADI regulations). There are dive centres that may be quite relaxed with these rules, but these rules are there for your safety, and if not followed then you are putting yourself at much higher risk. My advice would be if a dive centre is too casual about rules, then find another centre to dive with.  When certified as an open water diver, the depth limit is 18M, and again the reason for not exceeding this limit is that there are more implications involved with diving deeper, and additional training is required. The problem is that there is always a temptation to push the limits, but my advice would be; seek additional training should you wish to dive beyond the set limits.

Will my ears hurt? Not if you equalise which involves pinching your nose and blowing gently against your nostrils. If your ears do start to hurt on descent then you have not equalised enough, and the important thing is not to descend further, attempt to equalise if you cannot do this, ascend until the pressure is reduced and try again. If you cannot equalise and continue to feel pain, then the dive should be aborted. This is a key reason why diving should be avoided if you have a cold or an ear infection.

Do I need to be able to swim? The simple and obvious answer is yes, however you do not have to be an olympic swimmer in order to enjoy this sport. There is a basic swimming test required in order to complete your certification, this involves swimming a short distance and then being able to tread water for a short period of time. In reality if you can swim, then you should be able to pass this test.

What about danger from sharks and other marine life? Again, yes there is a potential danger when encountering any wildlife either on land or underwater; however the risks are relatively low if you respect the environment and anything you encounter. One of the key messages that PADI put across is to ‘look but don’t touch’, but the temptation is too much for some divers, who feel the need to touch any creature they come into contact with. It’s important to remember that as divers we are intruders in an environment where we do not belong, many attacks from marine life are actually out of fear or self defence. Most marine life is actually more scared of us than we are of it, and will swim away from divers rather than attacking. Looking at sharks specifically, most shark attacks are actually a case of mistaken identity rather than intentional attacks on humans, and I believe that more surfers are victims of shark attacks than divers. When you get into diving, you’ll soon realise than many divers are actually excited about the prospect of seeing a shark rather than scared, and to be honest a typical shark you are likely to see such as a reef shark is very unlikely to attack a human, but again it is important to pay them the proper respect.

Do I need to purchase lots of diving equipment? The simple answer is no you don’t, when doing a try dive or your certification many dive centres will actually loan you all of the required equipment as part of course. Should you decide to take up the sport afterwards then you may which to consider purchasing your own diving equipment, however virtually all dive centres will offer rental equipment so it is not essential.

Hopefully I have answered some of the concerns that might be stopping you from enjoying the amazing experience of scuba diving. The whole experience is fantastic, and as stressed earlier a relatively safe sport, if you follow the correct guidelines and dive within your limits. So what’s stopping you, take the plunge and start exploring the other 70% of our planet!

For further information or to receive a monthly e-magazine full of articles and scuba advice, please visit our online dive store. We also supply a vast range of scuba diving equipment as well as overseas property & dive holidays

Kit Scuba is one of the UK’s leading online scuba stores, we are dive enthusiasts and love to share dive experiences with others. We supply all diving equipment from dive masks, snorkels, fins, wetsuits, drysuits, bcd’s, regulators, dive computers, underwater cameras, to dive bags, dive jewellery, scuba diving flippers, and a vast range of dive accessories. We stock leading brands such as Body glove, Ralf tech, AP Valves, Northern Diver (ndiver), Tilos, Coltri sub, Sola, Faber, IQ, Aquamarine Jewellery with more manufacturers being added to the range all the time.

Diving the Thistlegorm

March 24th, 2008

Often referred to as one of the worlds top 10 dives, I feel very privileged to have experienced this unique piece of history which has resided at the bottom of the ocean for over 60 years. The Thistlegorm was sunk by German bombers during the Second World War in the Red Sea whilst on route to deliver supplies to the 8th Army.

The supplies carried by the Thistlegorm range from land mines, shells, Weapons, Bedford Trucks, to BSA Motorcycles and even rubber boots. Exploring the wreck is quite amazing as you see many of these items still perfectly intact, you notice that even the tyres on the motorcycles are still fully inflated, which is quite amazing.

A word of caution though, there is also a large amount of live ammunition on-board, and I must admit, it was rather worrying to see less experienced divers clambering around the wreck, without regard for what they were touching or bumping into. It isn’t the easiest dive and therefore I feel dive masters or instructors need to assess the skills of their group before letting them loose in what could be a very hazardous environment. As a matter of fact the only real negative about this dive was the dive master, we were rushed and encouraged to forego our buddy checks, which we of course protested to, and completed our checks thoroughly. Amusingly, but also worryingly the dive master himself had forgotten to turn his own air on.

What makes the Thistlegorm such an amazing experience is more than just the wreck itself, it’s the way in which it was sunk and the history. Exploring the cargo holds, and finding the cargo is a real reminder of her purpose and the point in time when the world was a very different place. I would thoroughly recommend diving the Thistlegorm and will certainly remember this as one of my best dives.

For further information or to receive a monthly e-magazine full of articles and scuba advice, please visit our online dive store. We also supply a vast range of scuba diving equipment as well as overseas dive property & dive holidays

We supply all scuba equipment from dive masks, snorkels, fins, wetsuits, drysuits, bcd’s, regulators, dive computers, underwater cameras, to dive luggage, dive jewellery, scuba diving flippers, and a vast range of dive accessories. We stock leading brands such as Body glove, Ralf tech, AP Valves, Northern Diver, Tilos, Coltri sub, Sola, Faber, Funky Fins & Aquamarine Jewellery with more manufacturers being added to the range all the time.

Diving in the Maldives - The Victory

March 24th, 2008

Some of the best dives I have ever experienced have been in the Maldives, and the Victory wreck was a fantastic dive. Whilst not quite as famous or grand as the Thistlegorm, the Victory is still a beautiful wreck, lots of marine life, with hard and soft corals now well established on it.

The Victory sank in 1981 and was a cargo ship, now located on the Western side of the Airport Island in the North Male Atoll at around 30 metres.

What makes my experience more memorable however were the diving conditions on the day, I’ve done my fair share of drift dives, so am quite accustomed to strong currents, but the conditions on this day were something else. It was like a gale force wind, entering the water we had to grab the shot line immediately otherwise we would have been a mile out to sea within a matter of minutes, this prospect is made considerably more daunting when you consider the fact that the dive boat cannot come and rescue you, as they cannot risk leaving the site when other divers in your group have already descended!

Fortunately I managed to secure myself on the shot line and once my buddy was in the water we started our descent, the current was so strong that we were actually horizontal and it genuinely felt like there was a gale blowing us as we pulled ourselves down the shot line against the current. Then came another challenge as we reached the top of the mast, releasing my grip on the shot line and pushing myself across to grab hold of another line about 4 metres away, of course the vision of being carried out to sea for miles flashed through my mind again. Once I had a secure grip on the second line I breathed a sigh of relief as the deck became clearly visible below. We descended to the deck and once there we were shielded from the current a free to explore, visibility was fantastic, but as we were only diving on air and not Nitrox the dive time was limited at 30 metres. We had also used more air than usual due to the increased effort to actually descend.

Back on board the boat we discussed the conditions, and whilst challenging agreed that’s what actually made the experience even more rewarding. On the way back past the capital Male we were fortunate enough to see a number of Dolphins swimming along right in front of the boat. All in all a fantastic days diving.

For further information or to receive a monthly e-magazine full of articles and scuba advice, please visit our online dive store. We also supply a vast range of scuba diving equipment as well as overseas dive property & dive holidays

We supply all scuba equipment from dive masks, snorkels, fins, wetsuits, drysuits, bcd’s, regulators, dive computers, underwater cameras, to dive luggage, dive jewellery, scuba diving flippers, and a vast range of dive accessories. We stock leading brands such as Body glove, Ralf tech, AP Valves, Northern Diver, Tilos, Coltri sub, Sola, Faber, Funky Fins & Aquamarine Jewellery with more manufacturers being added to the range all the time.

Scuba Diving - Should I Tip The Crew?

March 24th, 2008

Tipping etiquette is one of those subjects that often causes concern and even embarrassment. Many of us often find ourselves thinking, should I tip? How much is a reasonable amount to tip? Or even who should I tip? This is further complicated abroad when we’re perhaps not as familiar with local customs and expectations.

Whilst I feel strongly that noone should feel under pressure to tip, particularly if you’re not a satisfied customer, I do feel that it is good to tip, after all in addition to ensuring you enjoy the dive, your scuba instructors & dive masters are responsible for your safety throughout the dive, so it’s good to show appreciation for this. The boat crew also have an important role to play in terms of making sure you’re safe, and also in many overseas countries they are not paid very much for their services and survive on the generosity of tourists rather than their wages alone.

It is customary to tip both the captain and the divemaster or instructor. I would recommend daily tipping, however if you know you will be diving with the same divemaster and crew for the duration of your stay, then it is of course perfectly acceptable to tip at the end.

In terms of a reasonable amount to tip, for the boat crew typically 10 - 15% is perfectly reasonable, and for the dive master 15% is absolutely fine, perhaps more if you feel the service received was above and beyond your expectations.

For further information or to receive a monthly e-magazine full of articles and scuba advice, please visit our online dive store. We also supply a vast range of scuba diving equipment as well as overseas dive property & dive holidays

We supply all scuba equipment from dive masks, snorkels, fins, wetsuits, drysuits, bcd’s, regulators, dive computers, underwater cameras, to dive luggage, dive jewellery, scuba diving flippers, and a vast range of dive accessories. We stock leading brands such as Body glove, Ralf tech, AP Valves, Northern Diver, Tilos, Coltri sub, Sola, Faber, Funky Fins & Aquamarine Jewellery with more manufacturers being added to the range all the time.

Diving In Thailand - Koh Samui

March 24th, 2008

Koh Samui is Thailand’s third largest island. It is still covered with coconut trees, jungle and rugged rocks of granite sloping into the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Siam. Samui measures 21km in its length and is 25km wide.

Nowadays Koh Samui is a preferred destination for divers who are looking for an up-market western infrastructure in the Gulf of when compared to what is available on Koh Tao the main diving destination in this area.

5 Star resort and luxury villa accommodation is easily found on all parts of the island. Four international hospitals are available as well as a golf course, plenty of Spa treatments from traditional Thai massages to healing fast and hot stone therapies. Many restaurants employ international high class chefs and the variety of international cuisine is enormous with no doubt -delicious. All the major fast food chains will be found as well.

Diving from Samui is varied, mainly boat diving and virtually possible all year round. The journey to the dive sites differs between 45 mins (Speedboat to Sail Rock) and 3.5 hrs (slower displacement boats/tourboat) depending on the destination and boat type, which means Speed- or Tourboat.

Depths range from shallow reefs between 10-18m and deeper Pinnacles down to 40m. However most of the dives are not conducted deeper than 30m and depending on diver’s experience.

The majority of dive trips offer two or three dives which are more or less daytrips due to the destination and travel time.

One of the undoubtedly most famous dive sites in the Koh Samui Archipelago is

SAIL ROCK located 45 km north of Samui midway between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. This rock pinnacle is, shaped like an ice-berg emerges from 40m to 15 m above the oceans surface. Sail Rock provides large schools of pelagic’s steep walls, rock formation covered with corals and an awesome “chimney”, a swimthrough located on its northwest side. The chimney starts at 18m down and exits at 6m where the natural light penetrating the top makes it fantastically picturesque. At its exit on the top you will find yourself surrounded by magnificent carpets of colourful anemones full of vibrant anemone fish. At 12m you will spot a hole that opens up. -”The window” is another opportunity to exit the chimney into the open water.

Apart from the big schools of fishes you see here all year round you have a good chance to spot whale sharks or manta rays passing by on their feed in season.

For further information or to receive a monthly e-magazine full of articles and scuba advice, please visit our online dive store. We also supply a vast range of scuba diving equipment as well as overseas dive property & dive holidays

We supply all scuba equipment from dive masks, snorkels, fins, wetsuits, drysuits, bcd’s, regulators, dive computers, underwater cameras, to dive luggage, dive jewellery, scuba diving flippers, and a vast range of dive accessories. We stock leading brands such as Body glove, Ralf tech, AP Valves, Northern Diver, Tilos, Coltri sub, Sola, Faber, Funky Fins & Aquamarine Jewellery with more manufacturers being added to the range all the time.

Wetsuit urination - should I pee or not?

March 6th, 2008

It’s happened to all of us, you descend to 18 metres and suddenly you feel the urge. You can either try and hold it, ruin the dive for everyone else, who won’t be too pleased to learn the dive they have been preparing for all morning ended for a toilet stop, or pee in your wetsuit!

In reality, there is no real health risk, because urine is actually sterile, the only symptom of wetsuit urinating in your wetsuit is the temporary warm feeling.

However if you are dehydrated your urine can be dark and smelly, so you dive buddies may not take too kindly to this, should they find themselves swimming through it. To avoid this problem drink more water, because then your urine will not be dark or smelly because If you are hydrated, your urine should be clear and odourless.

Even if you relieved yourself before the dive, you may need to go again when you get down to 18 metres or so due to the increase in pressure, your body feels compressed and your kidneys start to produce urine.

You should always rinse your wetsuit and other dive gear thoroughly after your dive anyway, so there should be no trace of urine smell anyway. The reality is that if you do not rinse your wetsuit it will end up developing some rather unpleasant smells from the algae and other dirt in the water, and not from your urine!

For further information or to receive a monthly e-magazine full of articles and scuba advice, please visit our online dive store. We also supply a vast range of scuba diving equipment as well as overseas dive property & dive holidays

We supply all scuba equipment from dive masks, snorkels, fins, wetsuits, drysuits, bcd’s, regulators, dive computers, underwater cameras, to dive luggage, dive jewellery, scuba diving flippers, and a vast range of dive accessories. We stock leading brands such as Body glove, Ralf tech, AP Valves, Tilos, Coltri sub, Sola, Funky Fins & Aquamarine Jewellery with more manufacturers being added to the range all the time.