Scuba Santa dive report by Shaun Steward

On Saturday 17th December, at the crack of dawn, five hardcore divers ( David Allen, Darren Zikmund, Chris Knight, Jo Kelly and myself) set off for a Christmas dive weekend. The first destination was NDAC (‘national diving and activity centre’) near Chepstow. We crossed the Severn bridge and achieved our goal of staying in Wales for less than 4 mins.

Entering the grounds of NDAC, we unloaded the cars, got our fills and spent some time setting up our gear.

Despite the cold we kitted up and jumped in for the first dive, Jo and I descending on the Wessex helicopter to meet the others after there deeper dive. David and Chris survived an hour long dive, both braving drysuit leaks. Tea and hot chocolate all round to keep the icicles at bay as we waited for our cylinders to be filled.

Mission 1 complete!!

After emptying half of Chepstow from his leg, David sent his drysuit in for an emergency repair, counting him out of dive 2. Chris also chose this time to dry out his kit. Darren, Jo and myself headed in for our second dive of the day. In my opinion,…. Great vis!

As the winter sun sunk behind the hills and the ice crystals began to form, we prepared our kit for the night dive.
Jumping into an 8 degree lake in the dark didn’t seem like a very good idea at the time, and being my first night dive, I have to admit it was a little disorientating.
With everyone comparing how bright their torches were, I soon got the hang of it and just followed the light.

After packing away the dive kit and thawing out, it was time to move into the wigwams.. Basically a garden shed with a toasty heater and comfy beds. Brilliant!!!
All this cold water diving definitely builds up an appetite. So we headed into Chepstow for an awesome curry and a well earned pint or two at David’s local. Well,, that was just what the doctor ordered!

On Sunday morning we defrosted the cars, drove down to Vobster and were joined by our sixth Santa – Carl (friend of Jo). We kitted up, donned our Santa suites and tried to memorise each others fins… It’s tricky to find your buddies underwater when everyone has turned up in the same outfit as you!

After the dive we were greeted with a mince pie, cup of tea and the news that we had broken the previous record of 158.
161 – Scuba Santa’s in the water at one time!!! And the fantastic news that Vobster raised almost £10 000 for the RNLI.

Jo, Carl, David and myself jumped in for a second dive, descending through the tunnel, around the crushing works and back, only to notice that most of the other Santa’s had packed their sleighs and headed North!

As the weekend drew to an end and the light began to fade, David, Darren & myself took one final giant stride for RNLI. Ten minutes into the dive, Darren had some equipment failure and we aborted the dive, calling it a day.

All in all, it was a brilliant weekend and would like to thank David for organising it, and all our sponsors for helping to raise £120 for the RNLI .

Ho ho hope to see you there next year.

Shaun