Showing posts with label NDAC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NDAC. Show all posts

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Scuba Dooby Doo!

Mark & I spent last weekend at the National Diving & Activity Centre to finish off our last two diving speciality courses. 
We took the train from a rammed Paddington on Friday afternoon and arrived in picturesque Chepstow a few hours later. 
We stayed in a wooden wigwam again...Lucky 13 ;)
Here I am...Hello there!
Wearing my outdoorsy clobber :)
Our awesome instructor Andy & his lovely wife Lesley also arrived on Friday night, so we all met up at the cafe/bar for some grub and chattery.
Then it was off to bed, to catch some Z's before Saturdays Wreck diving extravaganza. 
Saturday morning...
It was a little bit nippy but after a "full English breakfast" minus the meaty stuff I felt more than ready to brave the water.
Dive Wimbledon, what can I say...
I'm so chuffed that we came across these guys, they have been awesome all the way!
I can't believe that less than ten months ago I had never even breathed underwater, now I can navigate a course in very poor visibility, I can hover and control my buoyancy by lung capacity, I can lay a line and penetrate a wreck and I feel like a proficient diver.
Never in a million years did I think that I'd end up feeling so fired up about diving.
When we did our open water course last February I thought that would be as far as I'd want to take it but after our very first dive in the Red Sea I knew that I wanted to go further. 
I wanted to improve my underwater skills and also be able to dive deeper than the 18 meters you're allowed to as an open water diver.
So we signed up for five specialities; Dry suit, Navigation, Peak Performance Buoyancy (PPB), Wreck and Deep and we got our Advanced Open Water Diver certificate included in the price.
Here are our fellow students gearing up for the wreck diving on Saturday...
We did three dives and our wreck was a single decker bus.
1. Surveying the wreck and map any hazards and points of interest.
2. Lay a line outside the wreck, then follow the line back whilst closing your eyes, then retrieving the line.
3. Penetration dive, lay a line inside the wreck and retrieve the line.
Both Mark and I did really well and managed to bag our wreck certs, yay!
This is how happy and contented you look after a days diving... 
In the evening the whole crew amassed at the cafe/bar for dinner, drinks and much chin-wagging.
At ten I called it a day and snuck away for a rendezvous with my sleeping bag.
On Sunday morning there was mist in the air.
Before breakfast there were thin wisps of mist dancing over the water...
After breakfast you could hardly see the quarry for the thick mist soup...
We had more important things on our minds, like gearing up for the days first deep dive...

This was the car park before our first dive...
and when we got back up it looked like this :)
We did our three deep dives to the 'BAE 146 Aircraft' at 27 meters.
1. Navigating a reciprocal heading and looking at what happens to colour and a plastic bottle at depth.
2. Swimming around the aircraft maintaining neutral buoyancy, ascend and preform safety stop where you breathe from your buddy's alternate air-source for a minute.
3. The last dive was a bit of a fun-dive, we descended nearby the jetty and swam out to the aircraft, swam through the aircraft and then went on a short tour around a few of the underwater attractions.  I had brought a garden gnome with me which I planted nearby the Devon Aircraft at 25 meters.
I decided to named him 'Orinoco Browne'...
Orinoco from The Wombles of Wimbledon & Browne is the surname of Awesome Andy our instructor :) 
Happy hubby, the best diving buddy a gal could possibly wish for...

Me (in my gnome hat) and our fabulous fellow students in-between dives...
I had a cracking weekend and I have to say that I feel a little bit sad now that it has all come to an end.
In a few days the postman will bring us our Wreck & Deep cards and then that will be that...until next time ;)
We're already scoping out the rescue diver course for spring and hopefully there will be some warmer water diving on the cards before then. Diving ROCKS!
Before I sign off, I want to show you the awesome new stock that I've added to the shop recently, clicking on the pic will take you to the item... 
Hope you are all doing grand and that life is treating you well :)
Lot's of love,

Monday, 17 September 2012

Underwater Love 2.0

My passion for getting dressed up in vintage garb, donning wigs and a face full of slap is pretty well documented here on my blog but this is only one of my many passions.
A more recently added love of mine is diving, no slap & no wigs involved in that.
The attire you don CAN be snazzy, however any sensible diver would choose comfort & fit over style any time.
When keeping yourself comfortable, warm and dry is of paramount importance, looking good takes a backseat.
However saying that I really rather like the action woman silhouette that a snug neoprene wetsuit creates and as for the drysuit it makes me feel a bit like an adventuress about to explore another galaxy, ready to endure all the excitement, adventure and really wild that I will encounter.
We did our PADI open water diver course back in February here in the UK, the water temperature back then was +4 degrees Celsius, it was bitter.
 My life flashed before my eyes several times whilst kneeling on the training platform trying to preform my skill tasks  but I survived to tell the tale and managed to bag my open water diver certification.
This weekend we were going for our advanced open water diver certification and after the diving we did in Egypt I was so much more comfortable below the surface this time around.
On Saturday we went to Wraysbury, which is where we did our open water diver course. 
I have to admit that I was a wee bit apprehensive at first, thinking back on the watery stone cold grave scenario of February but after seeing the lake surrounded by lush leafy trees in the blazing morning sunshine my mind was soon put at ease and I couldn't wait to get in. 
 We did two drysuit dives and one navigation dive. 
One of the drysuit buoyancy skills involved an underwater egg and spoon race, which was hilarious to say the least. 
The navigation dive was crazy. We got lost and had to surface, descend and repeat the skill again. This was because a group of other divers who were doing a search and recovery dive a bit away from us kicked up so much bottom silt that we had virtually zero visibility, it was like swimming through pea soup. 
We will be doing two more navigation dives when we continue with the navigation specialty course at the end of the month and hoping to do a bit of compass practice on land before then. 
On the Sunday we were doing our deep, wreck and PPB dives at the national dive and activity centre outside Chepstow. 
So after our day at Wraysbury we went straight to Victoria to catch a coach to Bristol. 
We got there just before eleven at night so we had to take an excruciatingly expensive taxi "to" the dive center. 
The taxi driver didn't know where the dive center was so hubby and I jumped out and walked around for half an hour to find it, just as well Mark had stuffed a couple of torches in the bag cause it was pitch black...all good fun though. 
We slept in one of the wooden wigwams on the NDAC site, they are only £40 a night for two people but you have to bring your own sleeping bag.
In the morning the other Dive Wimbledon crew arrived and after brekkie we kitted up for our three training dives.
The first dive I was a little bit apprehensive about because it was the deep diver one but after the briefing I chilled out for a moment away from everybody else and tried to visualize doing the dive before actually doing it and that really calmed me down. We went down to 27 meters and swam around an aircraft at the bottom a few times, ascended and preformed the all important safety stop  at five meters for three minutes and then surfaced. I was a bit scared that I would freak at the bottom cause ascending rapidly from that depth is potentially fatal but I was surprisingly calm throughout the entire dive.
The second dive was the wreck dive and we went down to explore a double decker bus. We didn't go inside the wreck but when we do our wreck specialty dive there will be a wreck penetration option, hubby is keen but I'm not that bothered about going inside stuff, I'm happy poking my head in to have a look but who knows as my skills get progressively better I may be looking for further challenges?
The third dive was delayed because unfortunately a couple of divers had an accident on a deep dive (40 meters) and had to be taken away in helicopter to a recompression chamber. It certainly puts things into perspective and makes me want to adhere to safe diving practices rigorously and checking my equipment prior to diving even more closely. The most important thing though is to keep calm, yes, of course things can go wrong but panicking makes things a whole lot worse and as you never dive alone there is almost always a way of dealing with an emergency without bolting to the surface. I panicked back in February whilst trying to perform the mask remove and replace task and had to be brought back up to the surface by my instructor, he held me down so that I wouldn't bolt and then slowly brought me up whilst trying to keep me calm, what a star!
The third dive of the day was a peak performance buoyancy dive or PPB as it's called in diver circles. We descended to a training table did a bit of hoovering and then swam back to the exit point exploring the area, we swam around a troop carrier maintaining neutral buoyancy and spotted several gnomes. You can bring your own gnome and add to the family and I am definitely doing that next time we go.
After the last dive I was so shattered I could hardly get back up steps of the pier, exhausted but very happy and guess what I jumped in as a open water diver and emerged as an advanced open water diver...huzzah!
An absolutely fabulous weekend was had and I can't wait to get cracking on the four specialty courses that we've got left, diving is so much fun and I love it!
If anyone in the London area is thinking of learning how to dive I couldn't recommend Dive Wimbledon highly enough, the instructors are ace, they are very engaging teachers, meticulously organized and make you feel very safe when you are diving.
Here's a few snapshots from our awesome weekend :)
I hope from the bottom of my heart that the divers involved in the accident  yesterday pulled though and will have a speedy recovery.
Have a great week y'all!
Lot's of love,