A LOCKDOWN SURE IS a wake-up call to take nothing for granted. As the UK blinked open and dive- centres returned to life with stringent regulations and new booking systems, avid coldwater divers flung themselves back into the water at the first opportunity.
Meanwhile many holiday-divers, thwarted by the challenges of international travel and quarantines, might have felt at a loss for a diving fix and disappointment from postponed trips.
However, as we see so often in this magazine, our UK waters abound with history, marine life and thrilling discoveries to be made.
Even when drysuit-trained, the rigour and increased task-loading of actually using one in the sea can be intimidating.
Fears of bad weather, long drives to sites, lugging of gear, dreadful vis and shots of big blokes wearing a whole dive-shop and twin-set out at sea can make the whole thing seem a stretch too far.
Nothing, apart from comfort, is gained by staying in a comfort zone, however.
Having dived only in the UK’s inland lakes and quarries (and once at sea in a wetsuit) the notion of suddenly going deep in my newish drysuit in an uncontrolled, unfamiliar environment alongside experienced divers had always made me nervous.
So it was a blessing to join an “Intro to UK Diving” weekend with Dive Beyond of Portland along with a small group and instructor James from Aquanaut Scuba, giving us the chance to develop our UK sea-diving skills on shallow dives without feeling intimidated.
We were based at the Aqua Hotel next to Dive Beyond, where a pontoon allowed easy boarding of the RIB. No onboard kitting-up was required – that was all done first along with buddy-checks.
The plan was to do two dives a day with a nice long surface interval allowing time to debrief and unwind.
As we might expect, dive and boat-safety briefings are mandatory, both before boarding and onboard, and are provided by the skipper, whose word is god. Best of all here, our RIB had a ladder!