Divecrew Blog

BSAC Fast Track

Divecrew are a BSAC Fast Track Centre with an area covering the South East of England. So what is BSAC Fast Track? Divecrew have crossed instructors over to BSAC. So it means any club in the South East of England can refer a diver to Divecrew. Divecrew takes that student diver and progresses them through their chosen course, for example Ocean Diver. As Divecrew trains every week and has full time paid instructors the course goes ahead on agree dates regardless. Working on Fast Track the student could finish the theory and confined on two consecutive weekends. The open water element then being completed in one weekend. So three weeks, qualified. This removes the months of training within the club itself.

Once the diver is certified, Divecrew puts the diver back with the club. They then can go an dive, rather than being in training for months. This takes pressure of the BSAC Club Instructors. However, the Fast Track divers are going to need to gain experience. They are raw new divers. Certainly to be signed off, their buoyancy will be acceptable as will their mastery of the skills.

Divecrew have committed to the BSAC Fast Track programme and will deliver divers back to the respective clubs. Divecrew instructors are in the water every weekend teaching. However, Fast Track is not for everyone. Some students need a slower pace of learning and mastering skills. In which case they need to be trained by their club.

The Fast Track programme is in its infancy. However, Divecrew already have circa 20 students wanting fast Track.

A major coup was the Imperial College London who want Divecrew to Fast Track a group of Ocean Divers and Sport Divers.

So what about the PADI versus BSAC stand off? Well our Director of Instruction is a Master Instructor of  three different agencies and an Instructor of BSAC. Add to this being an Instructor Trainer for Adaptive Teaching, Martin has a powerful set of tools available to him.

Martin stated, ‘Every agency thinks they have it right and everyone else is wrong and therefore inferior. I have met good PADI divers and really poor PADI divers. Ditto SSI, ditto RAID, ditto BSAC. No one agency has it right 100%. Being mutli-agency I steal great techniques from each agency, add adaptive teaching where needed and make the techniques my own. This truly benefits the student on any course I run. As an instructor, I sometimes cannot get my head around the sheer arrogance of pompous instructors who know it all and know best. I would love to make it mandatory for every instructor to teach up to 16 school children and teach a triple amputee. No agency in its IDC makes enough effort about thinking outside the box. A number of the main agencies are too focused on liability and standards that must be met. Example. We work with veterans, troops who have suffered life changing injuries. A social media picture of a diver with no legs completing a course (open water) was met with some idiot instructor stating he should not be qualified as he cannot perform a giant stride. Unbelievable? I have come across this a number of times. Not just with a diver with no legs. I had it once with an autistic group where the diver refused to do a giant stride. She opted for a roll in to deep water. Job done. Check the standards! Divecrew are constantly developing its pro team and challenge agency standards as to their validity and interpretation. Divecrew will always be a high profile industry leader, not a follower. We are really pleased to be approached to be the South East BSAC Fast Track Centre. We are looking forward to breaking the past divides of PADI v BSAC. In Divecrew’s eyes – a diver is a diver regardless of the training agency’.

If you are interested in becoming a BSAC Fast Track Diver contact Divecrew. If you would like to become a Partner Club to Divecrew Fast Track Centre contact Divecrew.

Lord of the Rings

Martin has been dubbed “Lord of the Rings”. He currently has 100% success record of finding and retrieving lost rings even in zero visibility.

How does this come to Divecrew?

Normally Divecrew gets a telephone call, can we help retrieve rings, mobile phones even a boat cover. It really helps when the client knows roughly where the item was lost.

On arrival at site, the conditions are checked including boat traffic, current, weather, water movement, bottom composition, depth of water. It is also important to establish the best entry and exit. The Grand Union Canal job proved tricky getting in and out due to steep piled banks. Once a search area has been determined a few methods are tried. Can you see underwater? On the River Thames job there was no visibility whatsoever. No torch would work. The bottom was silt and blanket weed. Depth was about two metres. The hardest thing in the Thames was orientation. So easy to go off the search area. The location position was achieved by coming to the surface, getting a point of orientation and dropping again. Obviously, great care is needed that your fins are not burying the actual object you are looking for. It is important to have the current wash away from the search site any disturbed silt.

Searching needs to be methodical, slow and precise when you cannot see anything. We use a “pin pointer”. It is a small underwater metal detector. Not only does it have bright LED’s (could not see them in the Thames), it vibrates when it detects metal. The bigger the metal, the stronger the vibration. The Thames search took around 50 minutes. Once the pin pointer alerted Martin to the metal, it is a case of carefully fur tilling around in the silt and weed. Bingo, a ring was found.

Finding a lost ring is a bit needle in an underwater haystack. One has to be methodical and patient.

In the Grand Union Canal job, the challenges were different. The client knew roughly where the ring entered the water. It was close to a lock sluice. The fast moving water could have pushed the ring down stream? Getting in was a challenge. Once in swimming against the current was difficult. Eventually getting to the place of the search, due to fast moving water, a john line was attached to keep Martin in place. The water was around one metre deep. However, the fast moving water had a bonus, the visibility was good. After checking with Ben (the owner of the ring) where to start the search, the rain stopped and the sun came out. As Martin descended he immediately saw a glint. The ring was being vibrated by the strong current and the sun was catching the edges of the ring. No pin pointer needed. Underwater search, less than one minute.

In previous searches, a lost iphone took 40 minutes to find when a paddle boarder dropped it in the lake. Another iphone with sensitive information on it? Took about 20 minutes to locate. A boat cover took less than a minute to locate.

Divecrew will attempt to recovery lost items. However, we make it very clear there is no guarantee of recovery. So much can affect the chances of the find. Wrong search area. Boat movement. Strong current. Zero visibility.

If you have something precious be it in value or sentimental value and you have run out of options, call Divecrew. 01344 771113

We do charge for the search regardless of whether we find the item or not. This is all explained honestly on the booking.

Dry suit diving is COOL.

Diving in the UK’s temperate water, really needs a dry suit. So what are the benefits and how do they work?

We are back!

Bigger and better than before. Yes Divecrew are back into full action as of the 2nd December 2020. Backed by our fellow Etonian, the PM, Boris, he has granted Divecrew to re-open for business. Well done sir.

So during lock down have we been vegetating? Hell NO. We have been busy behind the scenes. So first up was improving our on line shop. Second up was getting our heads around BSAC and SSI courses. Now we have we have so much to offer. Lots of courses with bundle deals to ensure you save money. Three of the senior team are now pool plant operators certified. We undertook crossovers, so BSAC Instructors and SSI Instructors. Divecrew is the UK’s first commercial BSAC Fast Track Centre.

We have also been busy with planning holidays for 2021 and 2022. Along with lots of UK diving weekends and days. Some of these are FREE.

We have ramped up our servicing too. More products have been brought into the shop including made to measure dry suits.

Divecrew are financially sound and ramping up to make up for lost ground. 2020 write it off. 2021 is going to be one hell of a party. Bring it on.

Oh, did we mention our brand new 40 metre luxury motor yacht? Yes it is in the water and sailing. It is just incredible. Book your trip with us and save up to £450 on the RRP as we book direct with the boat owner. We have again been using lock down time to work with our Egyptian contacts to arrange an incredible tour of the Red Sea. Our own hand picked and very experienced guide Tarek. We have chartered the whole boat. It is pure luxury. On our charters we demand high quality boats, captains, crew. guides and service. Holidays need to be special After Covid, very, very special. Join us. Red Sea. Philippines. Maldives. Galapagos. You choose.

PS. We are looking for more professionals to join Divecrew. So TDM’s, DM’s AI’s and Instructors. Lots of benefits. Working with the UK’s only Gold Star IDC centre. Opportunities to multi-agency train. Call Divecrew 01344 771113. We are open seven days a week.

New Year, New Boat

Divecrew have chartered a brand new boat. 40 metres of sheer luxury. Join “Shark Bite” for Get Hammered in 2021.

Staycation or Overseas Diving

2021 is going to be a great year, diving, right here in the UK. Divecrew are already working on overseas trips, subject to Covid and air corridors. Get Hammered is always a popular trip to the Red Sea and 2021 will see the brand new luxury boat being used by Divecrew. But, we also dive the UK. Shore and boat dives. Sea and inland lakes.

As well as these overseas trips like Get Hammered, Divecrew are investing lots of time and effort into diving in the UK. There are some incredible places to dive and not all inland lakes either. Here is just a few sea dives: Swanage Pier – shallow water diving circa 6 metres great for new divers. Chesil Beach – an easy shore dive with circa 12 metres maximum depth, again great for new divers wanting to cut their teeth. Lundy and Farnes – ever popular with our Divecrew Divers. Boat dives with normally the first very shallow circa 6-8 metres. Why so shallow? Well when the divers get in the water all the seals know it is playtime. A truly incredible experience and the reason it sells out quickly. Porthkerris – boat dives circa 25 metres maximum depth. Includes wrecks, pinacles and an amazing ‘river’ dives (shallow circa 6 metres) collecting scallops.

Divecrew also have inland lake opportunities for divers pleasure diving and or lessons. Wraysbury near Heathrow is fairly shallow with platforms around 4 to 7 metres and lots of attractions. Vobster is deeper circa 35 metres, again with lots of underwater attractions. Or the NDAC Chepstow (National Diving and Activity Centre) with a maximum depth of 75 metres and tons of attractions to keep divers amused. In some locations one can expect good visibility to be circa 6 to 8 metres.

So cold water diving or should we say COOL diving. You can dive all year in the UK. However, 5mm wet suits may be okay for short dives in the summer, but, to be really comfortable and safe you need to be a dry suit diver. Hypothermia is not good for divers.

Divecrew have a range school rental suits or you splash out with a made to measure suit. Want to stay on a tighter budget? Check out the dive centres SALE RAIL. Just check with the dive centre and or the on line shop. Some incredible dry suits and incredible prices. Quality Scubapro, Aqualung or Typhoon suits reduced in price.

Diving in the UK makes diving overseas a real walk in the park. Buoyancy is pivotal to good diving and being a motor skill, the only way to be good is constant practice. Being in the water regularly makes everyting second nature.

The UK trips do invlove a cost as the boat has to be paid and there is your accommodation. Some UK trips like Swanage and Chesil have a very small fee as they are shore dives. Inland lakes have local fees for diver entry.

Divecrew will post on the web site and Facebook the list of overseas and UK diving opportunities. Divecrew state the diving conditions and recommendation on diving certification levels. Divecrew pleasure dives are always led by a Divecrew Professional. The professional is not there to teach, but, at divecrew we do look after our own divers.

Check out the various options and become a Divecrew Diver.

The Video below is Vobster Quay.

Another lock down

So England has another lock down. 4 weeks, really. I guess it will not be 4 weeks at all, it will be longer. So what does this mean for the dive industry? Well many dive centres are either on the edge of folding or have already gone. This body blow is not going to help matters. So what needs to happen? Well would it not be a miracle if the training agencies all got together and came up with a forward thinking strategy to save the industry. No training agency delivers the product. Dive centres do. Training agencies need to wake up and smell the coffee. Get real. If you want to be successful stop thinking short term and start playing the longer game. It is going to be years for the market to recover. There is the potential for the pent-up demand to scuba dive and overseas holidays, if this is so, you need local dive centres to be around to deliver. The arrogance of some dive agencies beggars belief, stop, think, act! Get behind the people who have bricks and mortar dive centres and actually deliver your product.  Save the Dive Centres.

Should I Own My Own Dive Kit Or Just Hire?

This is a question that Divecrew often gets asked.  Some customers come into our shop and say “it’s cheaper to just hire”.

Do you know that initially they are right it is cheaper, but is that the only measure that you are working on?

Benefits of hiring dive kit

You have more room in your luggage.  If you are travelling long haul, most airlines give you ample luggage room, but some shorter haul destinations are a bit miserly.  But did you know if you say you are a diver some airlines give you extra free luggage allowance.  You also avoid any servicing charges on regulators. To keep your regulators in tip top form you do need to ensure they are fully serviced in line with manufacturers requirements.  In my opinion those are the key benefits for hiring kit.

 

Benefits of Purchasing your own kit

The most significant is the fact that your kit will fit you correctly, it’s always better to visit your local dive store to seek professional advice while trying equipment on.

All too often we see people who have purchased products which are inexpensive, ill-fitting, not fit for purpose online and have had to deal with the hassle of trying to re-coup costs, time and effort sending something back overseas.

Once you have your own kit you become familiar with it and instinctively know how to use it. Adjustment settings on regulators, location of octos, clips and gauges, subtle additions of air into your BCD and finally correct weighting with your equipment.

Another major benefit of taking your own, is that you cannot guarantee the quality of the kit you are going to hire overseas. We often we hear stories of poorly serviced hire kit causing divers an issue. Or they don’t have the size you need, so you must compromise.  Most certainly they will only have unisex kit. Female BCDS will fit women better in the right places, and hire centres are unlikely to be able to offer you these.

Examples of kit defects we have seen about include:

  • Rust from the inside of 15l cylinders being drawn into the regulators causing a rust deposit being produced inside, and probably in the lungs too.
  • A cracked first stage.
  • Burst high pressure hoses.
  • Leaking bladders in the BCD.
  • Faulty regs that are not allowing sufficient air at depth.
  • Spiders crawling out of a regulator Second stage because they are not stored properly
  • And of course you now have the issue of Covid. Do you really want to share a set of regulators that 10’s of people have had in their mouth prior to yours!!!

These are but a few of the issues we have heard of or physically seen.  Some of our clients would never hire again.

If you are a travel diver there is light weight kit out there, travel BCD, travel regulators, travel fins meaning that your weight limit with these gems in your luggage is kept to a minimum.

There are also amazing colours, so everything can match and blend- an important requirement particularly for us ladies.

Ultimately you are using life support kit.  You need to be 100% comfortable with the kit you are using, in what is an alien environment to us, can you guarantee this when you are using a 3rd parties equipment?

Our recommendation is purchase your own.  You will be surprised at some of the costs associated.  With some rentals it only takes 2-3 hires to have purchased the cost of a new set of dive kit.

We would also recommmend purchasing DIN regulators rather than relyiong on a compression fit of an o’ring of a Yoke or A Clamp. I have seen diver spend ages trying to find an insert on holiday with a descent o’ring and I have witnessed an o’ring blowing on a dive when over 10 metres down.

Have peace of mind and dive safe- Get your own.

Have a look at some of the Divecrew Packages available in store today.

https://shop.divecrew.co.uk/shop/divecrew-2012/en/

 

Little and Often

Our Master Instructor imparts knowledge on various aspects of teaching diving that will help other professionals. At Divecrew the best techniques have either been stolen from different agencies or have evolved through experience of working with many students with various abilities. Our Master Instructors provide free Master Classes for the Divecrew TDM’s, DM’s, AI’s and Instructors. This way Team Teaching is consistent and the latest techniques are used.

Platform use and silt. Lakes with training platforms that have silt bottoms, need diver care with buoyancy. One technique is never take a new student of the platform direct. Get the student to use the platform as a ‘runway’ adjusting their buoyancy before they get to the end of the platform.

Mask skills. The one skill many divers hate. New students can be eased into mask skills by doing them all shallow. Then mid water and then deep water.

DSMB. Deployment underwater can have its own issues for new divers. Having shown on land how to deploy, then demonstrated underwater from a platform, get the student to deploy a ‘restricted’ DSMB. Tie off the DSMB so that even when filled it will not drag the diver up if the diver has an issue. Once the diver masters the technique, use a full DSMB. Then attempt a DSMB deployment hovering above the platform. If time allows and practice is needed the first hovering DSMB deployment can be restricted too.

Psychology and Scuba

At Divecrew we try not to teach divers as a homogenous group. Everyone is different. So how did we get to the this point? Well first thing is we challenge some agencies as they tend to turn our “sheep” instructors. Instructors being professional should use a range of skills and techniques so that every diver student can be taught in comfort and safety. Working with Deptherapy and injured troops heightened our senses to the individual needs of the divers. The “sheep” mentality is challenged as to what is a technique and what is a standard. For example many instructors talk of a giant stride as a deep water entry. So what is the best entry for a student? The easiest! Simple. The standards state a deep water entry not a giant stride.

When working with the troops, some of whom have missing limbs, it is seen so often that instructors know best. Normally the instructors do not have limbs missing. Therefore, one cannot put themselves in that students place. Sometimes the instructor has to state the output and ask the student how they think they can best achieve it.

Divecrew have been fortunate to work with an autistic group. Many wrote the group off stating scuba was just too much for them. Wrong! The students completed their open water but a miraculous change happened. At the beginning the students were withdrawn. We struggled to get them to participate. Eventually the barriers went down. By the end of the training, the students were laughing and joking with the team. Their confidence went through the roof.

So do we deploy different tactics. Yes we do. Divecrew are multi-agency and believe no one agency has it completely right. PADI, SSI, RAID and BSAC. So what our senior instructors do is work with the agencies standards then add value to the course by supplementing skills and training techniques. Our speciality courses are enhanced giving any diver more value, more skills, more understanding. Once the senior team agree on a skill, the skill and technique is cascaded down through professional master classes. These free classes for Divecrew professionals teach skills, techniques and control. We discuss the psychology of scuba and students. Everything possible is undertaken to ensure our students re well trained and at all times feel safe. We undertake our own Quality Assurance through the senior professionals. So regardless of the course being taught, a Master Instructors may show up to observe. When we have new instructors, they must go through an internship. Unfortunately too many instructors believe once they have the ticket they have the right to teach. Some lapse into bad habits. Some become complacent. Some out of date and out of touch. Unlike some other sports, scuba instructors do not have to have annual assessments to ensure they are up to date and technically correct.

Divecrew believe agencies should do more to teach instructors adaptive methods and how to treat divers as individuals. The psychology of scuba should be a pivotal component in the instructor candidates development. Blindly following a set powerpoint and or a slate, is not conducive to teaching professionally. It makes a mockery of being “Professional Educators”.

So our advice. If your chosen dive centre do not treat you with respect and as an individual, find another dive centre.