Early July 2021 saw a couple of frantic weeks of Open Water training as ScubaQuest hosted medical students and doctors from University of Bristol. We worked alongside Faraway Medicine who had previously taken the Bristol medics over to Gozo for their scuba training. Following the cancellation of the 2020 trips due to the pandemic, Faraway decided to look a little closer to home for their 2021 “Dive Medicine” experience, and ScubaQuest was happy to step in to provide the SDI Open Water courses.
Whilst NDAC may not have quite the appeal of Gozo (for some!), the weather played ball and we had 4 great days of diving in the quarry, with morning and afternoon groups alternating between spending time in the water with ScubaQuest and in the classroom with the Faraway Medicine team. Whilst one group was diving, another was being trained in surface scenarios, learning about a wide variety of issues that a dive medic might encounter.
As part of the “Dive Medicine” programme, ScubaQuest ran over eighteen hours of pool time and executed nineteen 40+ minute dives over 6 days, with every diver having their own individual divemaster. Whilst the pace of the training was relentless, the students were enthusiastic and keen to learn, which helped us keep up the momentum and ensure they all had a great experience both in and out of the water. At the end of the fortnight, we had 15 outstanding open water divers who understood trim and buoyancy and could perform all their skills confidently and comfortably whilst in mid-water.
The Faraway teams’ emphasis on small group teaching and realistic workshops meshed well with the one-on-one dive training that ScubaQuest provided, ensuring all the students gained a huge amount of practical experience in just a few days, learning how to manage acutely ill and injured casualties in various environments. It was always interesting to emerge from the depths of the quarry to be greeted by a scene in the NDAC car park with ‘multiple casualties’, often apparently suffering from exotic animal bites and stings (not a common occurrence in Tidenham…), and to watch the students planning and undertaking casualty evacuations and treatment.
Logistically this was the biggest challenge that ScubaQuest had faced, with lots of kit and bodies to co-ordinate but as always the NDAC facility and staff made the experience a lot easier than it might otherwise have been! We have to give huge thanks to the NDAC team, especially Natty Taylor and Philip Modro for all of the logistical support – there were a LOT of cylinders to move and fill in a short time each day! On our side, Gareth Rogers was the ScubaQuest liaison for the two weeks and it was apparent Faraway really appreciated his presence (the phrase ’Absolutely Fabulous’ was used….!). He certainly appeared to have fun being poked, prodded, and made up (nothing new to him apparently…) as a simulation casualty!
Working at NDAC meant there was plenty of scope for simulation exercises, and the students even did some impromptu crossover training with the Royal Engineers and Royal Navy dive teams who were working on site! It was great to see these groups of professionals willing to work and learn from each other when the opportunity arose.
It was a pleasure to plan and to work with the Faraway Medicine team in the process of integrating dive training into the expedition medicine modules of the program over a period of months. Working with Sophie MacDougall and the rest of the Faraway team really gave us a great insight into how collaborative learning programmes like this can work ‘in the real world’, and it was fantastic to see the students benefitting from the energy and enthusiasm that everyone brought to the sessions. Sophie commented afterwards: “It really was great working with ScubaQuest, you are an outstanding organisation and we very much hope to work with you again next year”.
The list of those who pitched in and made this fantastic fortnight such a success is long, as you’d expect from the scale of the effort involved. There were several very early starts and very long days required to make it as seamless for the students as possible. Many thanks to Terry Robinson, Tracy Robinson and Rob Payne Johns (who did every session!) for sacrificing leave days and working so hard to ensure the students all had a great time.
Week one benefitted greatly from the assistance of Mark Powell (divetech and SDI/TDI) who stepped in to support us on the teaching front, which was fantastic from the student’s perspective and much appreciated by the ScubaQuest team. We look forward to welcoming back another cohort of diving doctors next year!
Congratulations to the newly qualified SDI Open Water divers:
Alice Taylor, Dan Smailes, Guy Wilmott, James Pendle, John Wright, Nils Kaufmann, Josephine Harrison, Ria Patel, Imogen Hutchings, Luke Baldock, Nick Pugh, Robin Golding, Rosie Fenton, Sarah Webb and Tom Moody.
ScubaQuest has recently arranged a few events with Dr. Oliver Firth of Hyperdive Ltd which will help you all get back in the water safely, and learn a bit more about dive medicine and why it's important to ensure you're healthy before donning that wet or drysuit once more!
Free online webinar: Tuesday 23rd March 2021 at 7.30pm.
Join Dr. Oli Firth of Hyperdive Ltd for a talk on dive medicine, what it means for the diver, what we should and shouldn't do.
What do we need to be concerned about and what can we as divers do to help reduce our risk of unwanted medical related dive incidents?
With the ever increasing knowledge, prevalence and subsequent diver concerns of conditions such as IPO and Covid, Dr. Firth will take us through some of the problems we might encounter and how we can best help ourselves to avoid them.
This free webinar will be limited to the first 100 people who register so please sign up asap.
Hyperdive Ltd will be undertaking another session of HSE & Fit to Dive medicals at our NDAC centre on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th of April 2021.
If your medical is up to date but due for renewal later in 2021, please call and let us know and we can keep you updated with future sessions.
Please call 01291 798118, message us on here, or contact us for further details or to book an appointment.
This week Mark Culwick has gained yet another diving qualification to add to his already impressive collection! It's the sign of a great teacher (and a glutton for punishment!) to continue their learning journey well beyond the point that most people would have considered them experts in their field, but for Mark the new skills and experiences gained from becoming a student just help make him a better instructor.
Here Mark gives an insight into his recent experiences training for the HSE Commercial Diver qualification:
"The end of an absolutely fantastic and testing few weeks!
Absolutely chuffed to have completed my HSE Pro Scuba course with Bristol Channel Diving Ltd. Huge thanks to Neil and his team: Tony (Supervisor), Tim (Safety Diver), Imogen and Poppy (course support) for pulling out all the stops to make the course so interesting and smoothly run in these challenging times. Nothing was too much trouble and Neil’s knowledge of commercial and media diving was expansive and interesting to say the least (and he doesn’t miss a trick)!
The course incorporated Statutory instruments, HSE ACOPS, US Navy Dive Tables and a plethora of diving techniques such as FFM’s, in water communications, rescue, recompression chamber use, compressor systems and tending to name a few, all done in crazy weather: snow, ice, gales, hail, torrential rain, sub zero and sunny periods!
The other guys on the course came from both the UK and around the world (California, Florida, Sydney) and mostly all with backgrounds in media. They were all friendly and their stories from natural history film making from everywhere around the globe was interesting and inspiring, they all had a real passion for it (Think Big Cat Diaries et al, just a tad jealous)!
I would wholeheartedly recommend Neil and his team from Bristol Channel Diving Limited if you were interested in this type of training!"
ScubaQuest are proud to be approved service providers of Scuba Diving Training for Help for Heroes through PADI training.
This is a project that is very close to the team’s heart, especially ScubaQuest's Mark Culwick, who is an ex-serviceman.
We facilitated two programs in 2019 with candidates coming from far and wide to take advantage of the outstanding support and wonderful opportunities that Help for Heroes provide for our ex-service people.
Connor and Chris who are two of the candidates flew in from Northern Ireland, how cool is that! A further two of the candidates, Kyle and Becky enjoyed the Open Water Course so much they did their drysuit diver course at the same time.
A special mention for Kyle, an RAF veteran who then also returned of his own volition and did his Advanced Open Water course, it was a pleasure to see him again and watch his diving development.
Thanks go to Martin Aldridge ExRM (Physical Development Manager) and our direct liaison with Help for Heroes, Dave Handley ExRN (Physical Development Coach), for their trust in what we try to do at ScubaQuest. Dave is a very experienced diver, Commercial dive boat operator and instructor, so for him to choose ScubaQuest to facilitate the training meant an awful lot. Martin even took his PADI Rescue Diving Course with us and as an experienced water sports instructor we were honoured that he chose us, he even appeared to enjoy his experience.
We would personally like to say thank you to all the support who helped in this project, that means so much to us, especially PADI who sponsor the materials and certifications, it is truly appreciated.
After 15 years in the Dive Industry and then moving away taking a job with Help for Heroes in Sports Recovery, I was tasked with setting up a Dive Club and looking after the training of new divers in their recovery journeys. Sport plays a very important part in a Veteran's recovery who were injured during service, mentally or physically. We aim to give our beneficiaries a passage of recovery through challenging sport activities, its efficacy is demonstrated through papers written by Exeter University that any water sport aids mental health recovery.
“Why are we drawn to the ocean each summer? Why does being near water set our minds and bodies at ease? In Blue Mind, Wallace J. Nichols revolutionizes how we think about these questions, revealing the remarkable truth about the benefits of being in, on, under, or simply near water. Grounded in cutting-edge studies in neurobiology, cognitive psychology, economics, and medicine, and made real by stories of innovative scientists, doctors, athletes, artists, environmentalists, business people and lovers of nature.”
Knowing a lot of people in the industry, Mark Culwick was a natural choice of experience and quality of Instructor, not to mention his link with the military, through his service. In the recovery journey of veterans, it is important that they are cared for both in and out of the water. I have seen a lot of cowboy outfits over the years, but Mark and the ScubaQuest team are anything but!
My thanks go to the whole team for delivering a couple of quality courses this year, we look forward to returning next year.
Physical Development Coach Help for Heroes
There are some moments in your life that you quite simply will never forget. Your first pet or car, your first kiss or true love. That warm feeling you get having returned to a longed- for place or when you return home after a long time away. These memories make us part of who we are.
Have you ever considered where your next memories might be made? How wide is your imagination? The list of possibilities is endless given all of the opportunities our brave new world has to offer us. Some believe only astronauts can dream of escaping gravity and experience the freedom of being weightless. Could their dream be yours?
Reality check! No, we are not going to pay for you to fly on Virgin Galactic, however, we can let you experience weightlessness at a fraction of the cost. Scuba diving for the first time, and for many people, every time, creates memories never to be forgotten. That initial breath as you slip below the waves, perhaps in the Red Sea in Egypt, the Mediterranean off Malta or some other exotic location - eyes wide open to a wonderful world you just cannot experience with your feet planted firmly on terra firma. Divers are fleeting visitors to a huge and mainly unexplored world full of wonder and excitement.
The truth is we do not belong there. We need to take equipment that allows us to merely be a visitor. The memories created are worth every second of the effort and for some divers leads to becoming a passion where one’s appetite for more is just never satisfied.
Whether you are an adventurous 8-year-old, or someone in their later years who have grasped the chance to experience something different and EVERYONE in-between, starting diver training can be a daunting and yet exciting endeavour.
Learning to dive is a multi stage process - find out more below.
So, you are a scuba diver - congratulations! This need not be the end of your journey, perhaps just the beginning. Some divers will decide that enough is enough and we would say ‘that's absolutely fine’. However, others will look at their instructor and think, ‘I want to be able to dive like them’. This is one of the beauties of diving - there is pretty much something for everyone. Underwater photography/ videography, fish identification, environmental awareness, wrecks, caves, mines. The list goes on. Showing family and friends holiday snaps and videos will never quite get the same restrained, uninterested and ‘please not again’ reaction.
All training agencies have a progression path and PADI or SDI are no different. The next step is to advance those skills learned on the Open Water course, build on them to include more depth, and advanced skills such as navigation and peak performance buoyancy. You can also get a flavour of the specialties available at this point aligned to your personal interests in diving, The speciality courses include Dry-suit, Wreck, Search and Recovery, Night Diver and Diver Propulsion Vehicles. It is very much the "cafeteria approach", where you can choose what you want to do with your diving journey in mind.
Experienced recreational divers will often ask themselves ‘What’s next?’. The dark side looms. This might be the time to consider technical training. Good advice and experience suggest, to take time to consolidate learning, practice skills, complete a few specialities. Perhaps Deep diving, Dry-suit or Nitrox, to extend your diving time? Get the most out of what interests you. Dive on a more frequent basis. There is no substitute for time in the water. Trust us, you will want to do it all the time.
Another consideration might be Rescue and First Aid training. Diving is not without risk. Being able to self-rescue and assist, especially in the more exotic places in the world, is a definite advantage. Emergency First Response that covers CPR, injuries and Automatic External Defibrillators is a fantastic community skill as well as a diving skill, and is recommended to everyone, diver and non-diver alike.
If you have ever had that urge to be the person you first met up front leading your passion for the underwater realm, you can start your professional-level diver training and become a Divemaster. This is the first rung on the instructor training ladder and essential for your future career as a dive professional, whatever your final goal. Whether that be at Divemaster level or full-time teaching professional in the UK or anywhere in the world.
Dive training is a journey from a spiritual, educational and geographical perspective. When you are afforded the privilege and freedom of the deep there is no more cathartic experience. You meet new like-minded friends, travel to some amazing places and see things very few of the world’s population ever get to see. So please join us on our journey as we prepare to take you anywhere you wish to go on yours.
Welcome to our world!
In October 2019, a group of us spent a week diving in Scapa Flow...
The astonishing diversity of wrecks, along with the fascinating stories behind them, make Scapa Flow a world-renowned location for all those interested in maritime history.
ScubaQuest’s trip to Scapa Flow in Orkney was a treat for so many reasons. The primary reason was history. To dive on the centenary year of the scuttling of the German Grand Fleet was a tremendous treat. Juxtaposed to this was the weather we were afforded, and the visibility which all made for a fantastic week of vintage and historical wreck diving in one of the ‘must do’ diving locations in the world.
We based our diving operation on MV Valhalla and due to the abundant food our drysuits are now that much more of a squeeze! Hazel, the skipper, runs a tight ship but this was appreciated by all as safety is paramount, but fun is encouraged.
The wrecks dived included the SMS Markgraf and SMS KronPrinz Wilhelm which are both super-dreadnoughts and the SMS Bayern gun turrets which came from a Bayern class battleship. These ships are huge and impressive.
We also dived SMS Dresden II, Coln, Konig and Karlsruhe which are all warships so there was plenty of guns in- volved and masses of naval engineering to see. We also dived the V83 Torpedo Boat Destroyer and SMS Brummer which was a mine layer. Lastly, we dived the odd one out for the week as we dived the F2 which was a WW2 German escort vessel. All the dives were between 12 and 43 meters.
The sea life was impressive and some seals were interested in our endeavours, it was also apparent and pleasing that ghost nets were not evident which improved overall safety significantly.
For most of the party it was a first trip diving ‘up North’ and also diving in relatively deep UK diving conditions. It was a learning curve that everyone managed well and I am sure I can say that it was thoroughly enjoyed as the smiles and conversations told the story.
The main thing was everyone got on well and the banter was superb. ScubaQuest would like to thank Andy, Paul, Tracy, Terry, David, Dave, Ryan and Ilies for making the trip one to remember.
The last thing to report is ARMAGEDDON! You really had to be there to understand…