View Full Version : Returning to UK diving

Dave Lev
05-01-2013, 12:44 PM
I have not dived in the UK for about 15 years. Whilst I've racked up a few dives abroad, my UK experience is limited. I figure there could be other divers who have dived in warm countries who, like me, would not know how best to get into the swing of diving in the UK.

My own interest is likely hard boat scheduled trips initially. (As much as I'd like, I'm not around often enough to be fully involved with a club and when I am here I'd probably need to get dives booked for weekdays rather than be limited by weekend club activity.) However, it might be good to have advice for shore or RIB diving, too.

Let's assume that some sort of diving ability is a given. What nugget of practical, useful information would you pass on to someone who has experienced warm-water diving but now wants to dive in the UK? (Whether hard boat, club RIB or shore diving.)

Let's leave it as vague and open as that and see if anybody has anything useful to say! :)

Greens (greys?!) at the ready...

05-01-2013, 01:02 PM
Found myself in this situation a couple of years back Dave.

Biggest change I expect is going to be diving in a Drysuit! I assume you never have, as you don't mention?

Other than that, ensure you have cold water regs, do a few inland sites in controlled conditions first to practise skills wearing a hood and 5mm gloves and expect your air consumption to increase initially. Plan conservatively and try and dive with an experienced buddy.

After that, start slow and steady in the open water and build your confidence. At the end of the day, it's still just breathing underwater, but it is subtly different.

Took me about 20 dives before I would say I was pretty close to being as comfortable as I was in warm water. Did about 40 dives in Uk before I moved back to Trimix.

Give me a shout when your back and I'll see if we can meet up.


Dave Lev
05-01-2013, 01:40 PM
Drysuit is on order. :) I had one and used it all that time ago. Contrary to what I posted, I just remembered that I did do some diving off Brixton breakwater for my PIE a few years ago. Confident enough about the diving itself even in a drysuit.

What I'm thinking about are the unknown unknowns that are peripheral to the diving itself. Stuff that regular UK divers might take for granted that a warm water diver hasn't even considered.

For example, I know that I should source a crate to protect the boot of my car from wet gear... but should I get one small enough to take onto the boat... or are crates too inconvenient then? And I never used a diver lift before. Practical stuff.

05-01-2013, 01:51 PM
I would suggest making friends with someone who dives regularly in UK waters. Get a lake dive or two in with them so that you can dive together comfortably as a team and then just go diving with them to mentor you. You'll already have the skills to "dive" but you will gain the benefit of their experience and learn what you need from seeing it in action. Don't be frightened to sign up for a boat with new people as they will be willing to share their experiences. I often deliberately pair up with more experienced peeps and poach their skills off them for myself. Other than SMB skills and a mad bright torch not too much will be different.

05-01-2013, 01:56 PM
Don't take a crate onto a boat unless you've used the boat before and know it can be stowed easily! Big crates sliding round the deck are deeply unpopular... If possible, we always put our gear together either on land or on the boat before departure - it's all in one place (apart from 2nd cylinder) and you don't have to try to deal with it while the boat is rolling around.

Even if it isn't raining, if you're going to be on the deck for the trip out, put your drysuit on and do it up. Watched someone fiddling with their gear with the zip undone last year as a nice big wave slapped over the side and straight down her back.

05-01-2013, 01:57 PM
Know and understand who is making the call regarding the weather.
Know whether deposits are returned or carried forward by the skipper, if the skipper cancels the diving.
Make sure your dive cylinders are full with the appropriate gas before setting of to the dive boat.
Toilets-please aim accurately.
If the skipper limits the dive time to say 50 minutes. That means you are expected to be at the surface after 50 minutes.
Waters are tidal so make sure you know exactly when a boat is due to leave. Allow plenty of time for arrival and loading. Tides and skippers do not wait.
When you drop down a shot line. Please do not hang on the shot line. You will drag the shot away from the wreck. This will be irritating to you and any divers following behind
Make sure you have and are competent with a DSMB
Take two decent torches. You can never tell just how dark it might be.
Warm clothing including hat and gloves are essential, for most of the year
Assemble your kit ASAP on the boat.
Do not let your kit get spread around. It is annoying to other divers and you might lose some kit.
Take a mesh bag to keep your gear in
You are responsible for a buddy check, buddy separation arrangements and having all the right kit. This includes o rings.
You won't be led round by a dive guide. Navigation is down to you.

05-01-2013, 02:06 PM
If you are a short arse like me, you might need to ask the skipper not to send the lift all the way down!

05-01-2013, 04:03 PM
Learn a little bit about tide terminology-neaps, springs, tidal range* and slack water
Use weather forecasting tools-the BBC inshore forecast is a starting point
Have plenty of spares kit-fin straps, cable ties, o ring, reg mouth piece, allen keys, adjustable spanner, do not assume that other divers have such kit available

*Lundy Island off North Devon has a 9m tidal range. Knowing low and high tide can make big difference to your nitrox requirements.

05-01-2013, 04:44 PM
I have a liner (or more accurately, a fitted plastic tray) in the boot of my car which helps a lot as I can leave my kit together and sort it when I get home. All the wet stuff gets dumped in the back, and I keep the crate as a dry spares box.

05-01-2013, 07:21 PM
When returning to uk diving and if diving in the sea, altitude training isnt required, however being able to use a DSMB is invaluable. :D