Earlier this month a group from the Kingston and Elmbridge Sub Aqua Club drove for 13 hours just to get to the Northern Cost of Scotland….it was then a two hour ferry ride the next morning to Scapa Flow.

Here is a little video produced by Jackie and Brian Maskell….who I never have thought would be into Harpsichord  music…listen out for it…you learn something new everyday.

Anyhoo they have kindly shared this with us to put on the club website.

I am sure someone in the group will be submitting a full write up and pictures for the website soon…in the meantime enjoy the video and see if you can spot the playful seal.

 

Weymouth dive trip 18th 19th August

Paul Battersby writes:

Brian Deluce had organised his final Weymouth trip of the season aboard Skin Deeper departing from Portland Marina on Saturday morning of the 18th.

Due to the early start on Saturday, 9 brave souls made the journey down on Friday evening with some delays around the New Forest due to the usual Friday traffic issues. The majority of the crew stayed at the Bunker Portland, with a couple of couples preferring the more luxurious hotel and B&B option.

After a quick walk around Victoria square and a look at Chesil beach a few of the crew sampled some refreshments at the Little Ship Inn across the road from the Bunker.

After a hearty breakfast at the Bunker we set off to the Marina which luckily was only a few minutes’ drive away to load the gear. The first dive was to the ALEX VAN OPSTAL MV, the first victim of the 2nd World War, she was torpedoed and sunk on 15th September 1939, two weeks into the War.

The weather was reasonable with a swell building as the day went on, the first dive was very enjoyable with 5-6m vis plenty of eels a few lobsters and fish to be seen, water temp was a balmy 19C at 30M!

As the swell was building the dive manager decided the second dive would be on the scallop beds a little closer to shore. This was a drift dive with a reasonable current running hence some concentration was required to pick up scallops.  A good haul was gathered by Chris, Brian, and Jackie with Chris also picking up a prehistoric fossil!

The sun managed to come out on the return to harbour and after unloading the boat we stopped for refreshments at The Boat That Rocks with a nice view over the harbour.

Richard then led a group to Underwater Explorers to continue his search for more equipment which turned into a record day’s business for the store! A few of the more hardy souls then made their way to the Cove House Inn at the end of Chesil beach.

The bunker turned on a very nice French themed evening meal, Mark can provide the recipe for the main course if anyone would like to try it at home.

As the weather was not looking good for Sunday the dive manager decided to call off the second days diving. Luckily the weather was not quite as bad as the 2014 storms see pics here!

Brian has booked dates for 2019 if anyone would like to get in early for a great weekend diving.   

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Photo of club members relaxing after a hard day of diving in Cornwall 2018

Club Members Relaxing – Nice to see Adrian hasn’t been left behind…

Image of Cornish Pussy - a Dive Boat

MV Cornish Pussy

Our 2018 trip to Cornwall was based again in Falmouth staying at the Grove Hotel again. Our host, Geoff, made us welcome with great breakfasts. In the evenings his gin and tonics were just as generous on the gin as last year! We used Dive action again with Gary Fox. He is a very experienced skipper and each evening he took our cylinders back to his base and filled them for the next day’s diving. His boat, Cornish Pussy, worked well and the pick-ups were as smooth as last year.

Our first dive was far from perfect. Adrian must be a strong candidate for the “Wooden Spoon” this year as he realised on Monday morning that he had left his dry suit at home. Luckily Matt had a wetsuit to fit in his cavernous van. This came with a shorty over suit giving the torso area 10mm of neoprene, cosy enough for the trip. Add to that the divers under weighted and regulators not working and we looked far from the experienced dive club that we are!

From there our diving got better, Adrian was trying out a twin set loaned by Richard Hoyle prior to his trip to Scapa Flow. Matt and Nicky took Jon and Emma under their wing for the first two days with no problems. For our first day we dived on the Epsilon and then the Rock Island Bridge wrecks. The visibility was disappointing at around 5 metres.

Photo of the front of The Grove hotel

The Grove Hotel – Where we stayed for the duration

Tuesday we dived on the Coroni River (31 metres) and a drift dive on the East Narrows. Visibility was poor at 2 – 3 metres so we were expecting for more later in the week. Wednesday was also poor but Thursday we dived on the Mohegan (32 metres) and the Carmarthan (22 metres). The Mohegan was well stocked with life including lobster, crab, congers and bib. Both wrecks were blessed with up to 5 metres visibility. The novelty of the Camarthan was the boilers. They were upright on their base so stood up like a couple of huge tin cans.

Most of the time we made our own arrangements on food but on the Monday night we all met at Rick Stein’s fish and chip restaurant. On Thursday, our last night, we all ate at a Caribbean themed restaurant called Cribbs. This was voted the best food of the trip, complete with some excellent cocktails.

It was generally thought that we would not use Falmouth as a base next time and that, perhaps, we take a break from Cornwall next year and look to diving from the Penzance area. Gary Fox suggested that we base his boat in Newlyn and this will allow us access to the wrecks in Mount’s Bay and along the coast to Lands End. Gary assured us that these were far better dive sites with, usually, better visibility.

Any takers to run this trip?

 

Well…in so much as we were heavily featured in BSAC’s latest edition of SCUBA Magazine article “All Aboard – 10 Steps to Planning a Club Trip Abroad”….so we must be doing something right! 🙂

If you want to read more about the 2017 Galapagos Trip Click here.

There is also a great feature on Thistlegorm in 3D, which we also dived during a live-aboard club trip to the Red Sea in 2017!  For this Red Sea Trip Click here.

Also read up about our latest trip to Malta 2018 here.

Image of SCUBA Magazine Front Cover Issue 82 September 2018

SCUBA Magazine – Issue 82 September 2018

Image of Kingston And Elmbridge Club Members on Zodiak RIB during Galapagos Trip 2017

“Grin and Wave Boys, Just Grin and Wave” – Usual Suspects!

R-L – Jim (Waving), Elaine, Kev, Tony, Brian, “Another Diver”, Jackie

Picture of Club Members Relaxing and Sightseeing

Pic 1 (L-R) Gill, Kev, Paul, Jim, Jackie, Brian and Audrey. Pic 2 (L-R) Random Guy, Elaine, Tony, Jim, Audrey, Jackie, Brian, Paul, Gill and Kev

So your ship is going down….things are looking very grim….what do you do?  How will you react?  Will you make good or bad decisions? 

We all like to think that we will do the right thing in a crisis, but rarely we do.  I remember once frozen to the spot as rapid gunfire went off all around me while living in war torn Northern Uganda back in 1999.  What I should have done is hit the floor and not look around for where the sound was coming from!  Nowadays… people take the Darwin awards that one step further by getting out their smart phones and start recording such scenes!

One of the ways to find out how you will cope in a tight situation is to put yourself on a course that 1) will teach you the theory of what to do if you find yourself in one and 2) a course that then puts that theory you have learnt to the test!

Enter Andark Diving and Watersports based down in Swanwick, Southampton.  Andark run many different types of training courses, but it was their RYA Sea Survival Course that Jim Molyneux our club Building Officer on the Committee organised a trip for any interested club members to attend in May 2018. 

Now, BSAC do offer many skills development courses; one such is the Practical Rescue Management which our Tony and Elaine organised last year at Wraysbury, which focuses mainly on what do with an injured diver in the sea and how to manage their rescue and evacuation.   

There is obviously some repetition on the RYA’s Sea Survival course such as ‘human factors’, first aid, radio work, flares and helicopter/boat transfer (a good refresher)….but this course answers questions like….what if your ship is sinking, types of life rafts, life vests, sea survival gear and what you need in your grab bag to survive?  

Split into a morning of theory and an afternoon of practical drills in Andark’s own purpose built training pool the course was non stop and fun…something for everyone!

The day (27th May 2018) started at 9am with 9 members of Kingston and Elmbridge Sub Aqua Club joining four other sailors who would use the training on their own boats or required the qualification to further their commercial captain ratings.

The day’s training was led by an RNLI trainer, who himself is a Cox from a nearby Lifeboat station and therefore brought to the training much more in depth knowledge and first-hand experience.

While the mornings theory session was comprehensive, for me the afternoon session was the real eye opener into how I would cope….little did we know what was in store for us!

After lunch we made our way over to Andark’s indoor swimming pool used for Recreation and Commercial Diving training and HUET training.  (Helicopter Underwater Escape Training).

We all changed into our old clothes and donned life vests before jumping into the swimming pool and proceeded to learn how to keep warm, how to keep together in a ring, placing any injured people in the centre.  We then practiced how to move in one line linked together by our toes under the arms of the person in front – in a move called the  ‘crocodile’ (or as any funky dance floor king or queen knows it’s – ‘oops upside your head’ dance move) .  This formation reduced the chance of people being separated and is useful in ‘dragging’ any one injured through the water.

Next we each had a go of getting into a 10 man life raft from the water, which was actually quite tricky trying to stand up on a rope ladder that was determined to fold under the life raft!  We then practiced how to use the equipment we ‘brought’ in our grab bag and how to right a capsized life raft…again, quiet hard work if you didn’t know the technique required (glad I practiced it).

We then all had a go jumping off a 3m high platform into the pool to simulated what it would be like to jump fully clothed with life vest on from a high sided boat.  It was such a long way down, but eventually everyone successfully achieved this and felt good for doing so!

The final activity and one I wasn’t expecting was when our trainer took the two groups we had previously been placed into two different changing rooms.  Our group was then briefed as to use any means at our disposal to try and put the other group off evacuating an imaginary ship (pool side)into the life raft we had just practiced using.   When we returned from the changing rooms the team at Andark had darkened the whole swimming pool by covering all the windows and had switched on the sprinkler systems to replicate rain.  We were then given a cold water hose, lots of different buckets, whistles and wooden boards to make as much noise and splashing water as we could when the other team came out of their changing room. 

This was so much fun for our group….not so much for the other, however after they had successful evacuated their ship into the water, then into the life rafter and rowed back and forth a few times in the pool it was our turn!  Revenge was sweet for them!

I may not have done or remembered everything correctly that day, but by practicing the skills we had learnt I can definitely say we are all better prepared should such an unfortunate event happen to us in the future.  

Thank you Jim for organising such a fun and informative day!

“The Maltese archipelago lies virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean, 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km north of Africa. The archipelago consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino with a total population of over 400,000 inhabitants occupying an area of 316 square kilometres.

Malta is the largest island and the cultural, commercial and administrative centre.” Visit Malta

Malta is also where Malteser Chocolates come from, the recipe for which was once guarded by the Maltese Knights of old. 
(Ed. Kidding (Sadly), fake news…A Malteser in Malta wouldn’t even make it into your mouth without melting…such was the heat during our trip)

Maltese Flag

Anyhooo….we move on.

Map and Location of Malta

The trip consisted of 19 club members and 6 non-diving partners with all but two (explain later) staying in the Hotel Cavalieri, St Julians Area of Sliema Bay.  The hotel had fantastic views over the harbour and lots of bars and restaurants inside and surrounding the hotel which allowed the different couples and groups to go off and explore after a days diving.

The hotel was only a 10 minute ride in Dive System vehicles to the centre, who came picked us every morning…only prolonged by waiting for late arrivals! (Ed.  Don’t be late, even if by 2 minutes….take it from me the amount of grief you get the whole week long!!  Still at least they didn’t leave me behind….).  

MV Rozi (Tug)

At the end of the diving day we could then either take a bus back to the hotel or a 30-40 minute stroll.  (Those none divers…and Adrian, found bus services very good and allowed them to explore other areas and towns while we were diving…however I thought it was a bit

MV Imperial Eagle

cheeky that locals only had to pay €1.50 and foreigners paid €2…imagine how that would go down in London …but at least it gave you up to 2 hours to go on as many buses as you would like)

Len our club chairman and trip organiser arranged for 5 days, 10 dives, through Malta’s largest and longest running dive centres in Malta – Dive Systems  (40 years…young).  The dives mainly consisted of deep wrecks, a little bit of cave diving with swim throughs and ‘reefs’.  We were told that there was to be no deco diving and the max dive time of 60 minutes was imposed.  All dives were guided by Dive System staff.

There were 2 days of shore dives and 3 days of boat dives.  Having never done any shore diving myself, especially in the heat of the sun in Malta, it certainly was hot in our wet suits and everyone couldn’t wait once kitted up to dive in to cool off!  

There were few hurdles not usually seen on the way down to the quarry lake at Chepstow NDAC or the quayside of Newhaven….the sheer number of tourists we had to make our way through for one and on particular occasion bikini clad exotic beauties who had set up shop right next to the entry point.  (Not that I am complaining too much mind you, but did think it wasn’t the brightest of ideas considering the amount of heavy kit we were packing (woof) that could knock them out should any of us stumble). 

Admittedly they quickly realised that it wasn’t a good idea seeing 20 sweating, red faced, cursing divers of various sizes and fitness, foaming at the mouth and most of whom having donned  saliva smeared masks before entering the waters 3m below in as elegant a fashion that a Giant Stride allows.  We must have looked a right sight!  (For those who don’t know why you spit into your mask it is to prevent the mask from fogging up (we wash it out before descending!)

Needless to say the boat dives were a lot less frantic and for most dive sites we were the only ones out there diving in beautiful clear blue seas thanks to Malta archipelago being formed of Sandstone. Vis was anything from 15m+.

MV Imperial Eagle

Each dive day started with being collected by the Dive System team from our hotel and dropped off at the Dive Centre, we then had about 45 minutes to kit up using the blue boxes we had been given to put all our kit in and also to collect our BCD jackets and wet suites off the peg. 

I brought my 3mm full wet suit, but was kindly given a 3mm shortie to go over the top as many of the dives were in water temperature of around 19-20oC.  I found this kept my core nice an warm.  Even with this level of rubber on, there was always seemed to be thermocline around 19-26m that would make you shudder and think about peeing even if you had peed before diving until you dropped below it to slightly warmer waters.

Most of the wrecks had been prepped and sunk by the Maltese authorities over the years as attractions for divers to swim around in.  As the water was so clear around them you could make out every detail of the boats.   It must be said that sea life was not as I have seen on other trips around the UK and Red Sea, especially the diversity and size of fish, something that is concerning for all who live in the Med and dive these sites.

Okay so the first day didn’t exactly go to plan for some people…I left my BCD on the peg back in the dive centre, doh, but fortunately the crew had a backup one that I was able to use and saved my day of diving! Phew

MV Karwela

Next, and I don’t really know how to spin/explain for this…but “at the end of Day 1 in the Big Brother Household” all contestants failed to notice that we had in fact left Adrian (bearing in mind he’s got to be at least 6′ 3″) behind at the first dive site….a good 45 minute drive back to the Dive Centre!

Seriously, none of us realised as we drove off into the sunset in 3 vehicles, even after stopping off to eat ice cream for 20 minutes; nor did we realise after unloading the van and washing all our kit to hang out to dry….AND nor did we realise despite seeing his lonely box on the kit room floor and not put away.   

I would say we must have been in the beach bar across the way from the Dive Centre…(lovely little bar called the Exiles…great food, great music, great value…sorry back to story) for at least ooooo about 20 minutes before Adrian walked in calmly looking all hot and told us about the journey he had taken using bus No. 222 back to Sliema! 

MV Karwela

He had gone to use the toilet and through a series of misunderstandings and being that there were 3 vehicles we all thought he was on the other vehicle.  Well at least we know he doesn’t pee in his wet suit!

WHERE WAS HIS BUDDY? I hear you all cry…well he was sitting next to me enjoying a nice cooled pint of the local Sisk Beer of course!  Still I reckon given us another…10-15 minutes longer with the dark night skies drawing in…we would have realised…maybe.  Gulp!! 

Needless to say he didn’t have to buy his beer that night and the flip side he could now speak fluent Maltese…or at least enough to buy a bus ticket and haggle for a chicken in the market – Por Favor (Sorry that’s Ian who says that, even in Brussels).

We soon got our kit and routines together over the next few days.  Adrian was never left alone or out of someone’s sight again….even the guides took a special interest in him when counting heads.  A marked man.

Um El Faroud

Actually embarrassing situation aside we do dive tight as a club always looking out for each other underwater…which appeared to be something our of the norm for our new guide to Dive System that season…who in the beginning kept looking behind constantly to check we were still together and not spread out all over the place.  One of the things with diving in the UK is that we dare not spread out more than a meter maybe 4m on a good dive or we would never see each other again.  It did make me chuckle that he would turn round and we would wave back…”yep still here, still together!”

That closeness in the club, that constant signalling, eye contact, checking makes diving so enjoyable and safe as we know each others abilities, plus the fun nights out with stories to tell in the club house back in the UK.

Um El Faroud

So back to the two who didn’t stay in the Cavalieri Hotel…those being Gieta and Jon.  Gieta’s father was Maltese and along with Gieta’s mother they had bought a property by the sea, not too far from St Julian’s Bay, that they would use for holiday getaways. 

Gieta has spent a lot of time and effort doing up her parents property even to the point of sending over a container of good quality used furniture and kitchen (so yes, even the kitchen sink) that she had collected over a few years in the UK. 

We were all invited on the second to last night to come round for a roof top BBQ and party overlooking the sea.   Gieta has really done a grand job designing and using the furniture she had exported from the UK, plus the use of lots of photos of her and her family and mementos placed around the house gave it such a homely and inviting feel.  We all brought some food and drinks with us, that Jon and lots of different helpers helped to cook throughout the evening.

P29

Other memories for me of this trip was how friendly and helpful people were, their love of the England football team beating Columbia on penalties, the warm night strolls around the town, the amazing ice cream (still burning that off in the gym!), the great food and drink of Exiles bar, the friendly and fun staff of Dive Systems and finally how well it had all been organised by Len!  Thanks Len! 

And thank you everyone on that trip…Good memories!

Dives Undertaken: 

Day 1 (Saturday) Cirkewwa, Malta (Shore) (Also last known position of Adrian that day)

1.       MV Rozi (Tug Boat) Depth 20-34m. 

2.       P29 (Patrol Boat – Former German then Maltese Naval Boat) Depth 20-34m. 

Day 2 (Sunday) Wied is-Zurrieq, Malta (Shore)

3.       MV Um El Faroud (110m tanker) Depth 20-36m. External to Stern and Prop.

4.       MV Um El Faroud Depth 20-36m. Entered Engine Room and out

Day 3 (Monday) Malta (Boat)

5.       MV Imperial Eagle (45m Ferry) Depth 32-39m. (also the statue of Jesus at 34m)

6.       St Michael’s Caves and Reefs. Depth 20-24m.

Day 4 (Tuesday) Dwerja, Gozo (Boat)

7.       Crocodile Rock (Wall) 35m (Avg) – 65m+. 

8.       Azure Window and Reef (Swim Throughs and Cave) Depth 20-40m.  

Day 5 (Wednesday) Xatt I-Ahmar, Gozo (Boat)

9.      MV Karwela (50m Ferry) Depth 30-45m.

10.   MV Cominoland (35m long former cruise passenger ship) Depth 30-45m.

For those of you not on Facebook and won’t have seen Gieta’s Post tonight, Kingston Borough Council are introducing, as of next week, a flat £1.50 charge for parking in the car park out the front of New Malden Swimming anytime after 18:30.

You can pay by contactless or chip and pin cards, Apple Pay, Ringo App or with old fashion coinage!
 
The reason why Gieta and Emma are looking so pleased in this image despite the horrid yellow sticker being found on their windshields was that the guy was putting them on there with a £0.00 fine to give people fair warning of he change. 
 
Don’t be caught out next time you are down the pool!
 
Remember the pool is there for us to use.  There is always one of our guys and gals down there each week providing top cover to make sure we are safe and collecting £2 a swim charge for those not training.
 
It really is good opportunity to enjoy a quiet swim towards the end of a long week.
 
You can also take kit to try out or just take some fins, snorkel and a mask! (Not normally allowed during public swim times)
 
So let’s us it!

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How time flies and weather changes…here I am nearly two weeks on from our first club summer BBQ of the season (17th May) and it’s cold and raining.  

Thankfully though we had a glorious day of sunshine that day, followed by an equally gloriously warm evening of BBQ feasting and prize winning raffle ticket drawing for some top prizes. 

Okay, so we’re not talking ‘those sort’ of top top top prizes…you know like a Shearwater Petrel EX2 Dive Computer…no….come down £1,180 in your expectations and settle on bottles of wine, boxes of chocolates, some smellies (and we aren’t talking old dive socks) and you get the idea of the prizes that could be won.   

Needless to say, with 50 club members and a Border Collie Dog were all in it to win it…the steaks (get it) were high and for a few fortunate members…they were able to go home heads held high knowing that they were winners.

Actually we were all winners as Jonathan and Brian served up a great selection of BBQ meats and veggie alternatives, with different members kindly contributing side salads and bowls of food to accompany.

Big thanks to Jacqui for organising another great club event.

Another BBQ is planned later in the summer…watch out for it being announce on our Facebook Page and Club Member Email Group.

Shirley holding her trophy for long membership and commitment to the club

Shirley holding her trophy for long membership and commitment to the club (a few weeks after the dinner dance)

Shirley Deluce has just celebrated 40 years with BSAC’s Kingston and Elmbridge Sub Aqua Club (No.17).  In recognition of her time and commitment to the club Shirley was presented with a special trophy at the club’s Annual Dinner Dance.

Shirley is the club’s Welfare Officer, but has worn many different hats or should I say ‘dive hoods’ in those 40 years so I thought it would be a good idea to find out more by interviewing her for the club website.

Nathan: “Thanks Shirley for taking the time to talk to me.  I hope you don’t mind, but I have come prepared with some questions?”

Shirley: “No not at all?” “I’ve got my original dive logs here to help with dates.”

Nathan: “So when did you learn dive and why?”

I met my husband Brian at a party.  He’s an ex submariner who I met at a party and one of the first things he said to me was “I do diving, and nothing gets in the way of my diving.”  As scuba diving was something I had thought of doing already, I joined Kingston BSAC where he was a member on the 19th November 1977.”

Shirley’s Original Qualification and BSAC Membership Book

Nathan: “What was diving like back then?”

Well, you didn’t start diving or be able to join the club until you could pass the swimming test, which I did on the 4th September 1977 and only then could you start to learn to snorkel.  The swimming test, known at the A Test was:

  • Swim 200 Yds (189m) on Front
  • Swim 100 Yds (91m) on Back
  • Swim 50Yds (46m) with 10lb Weight Belt
  • Float 5 mins
  • Tread water with hands above head for 1 minute
  • Pick up 6 objects from 8ft down in the pool in 6 dives.

My 1st Open Water Dive was to be a 20ft (6m)  dive at Little Hampton, but before I could do that dive I had to show that I could snorkel and dive down 10ft (3m), which I did at Littleton Pit.” 

A Picture of Shirley when she first joined the club

A Picture of Shirley when she first joined the club

Nathan:  “Who taught you to dive, Brian?”

“No it was a lady and good friend called Adele Morris, not many lady instructors back then and so was glad she was in the club with her husband, in fact there were only about 3 couples in the club back then with family about the same ages as our children so we could dive as couples while the other couples looked after our children or we ladies could go off together and then let the boys going out when we were back.”

Nathan: “So what kind of equipment were you using back then?”

I have it written down here:

  • Bottle Single 72 (72 Cu ft of air)
  • Fenzi ABLJ – Adjustable Buoyancy Life Jacket
  • Wetsuit – 5mm
  • 12lbs of weight
  • Mask & Fins
  • Twin Hose Regulator”

Nathan: “What’s the biggest changes in UK diving since you started?”

  • Lifts on boats, makes diving a lot easier.
  • Buoyancy Control Devices (BCDS) in the 1980s, prior to this we used more of a lift vest.
  • Single demand hose, rather than the twin hoses that came over both shoulders and into your demand valve.

Nathan: “So how many dives have your done?”

“I have 2,000 logged, but I know I haven’t logged them all!” 

Nathan: “Wow! So what’s your favourite bit of kit you like to take along diving with you?”

“I think my computer and a comfortable mask are the two things I like.”

A picture of Inscription written on the glass trophy. Inscription Reads "Congratulations to Shirley Deluce who in 2017 celebrtes 40 years membership of Kingston and Elmbridge BSAC. Well done on this fantastic achievement."

Inscription on the glass trophy

Nathan: “Tell us a bit about what you have been involved in with Kingston and Elmbridge club?”

“I’ve been on the committee a few times, worked behind the bar in our club house and in the  compressor shed.  I was also actively involved in the working party that took down an old workman prefab offices, used on the M25 construction, and re-erecting it into our current club house off Queen Mary’s Close, Tolworth.   (Next to St George’s Playing Fields – Corinthian Casuals)”

“We did a lot of fund raising to buy and transport it to site and put a lot of time into building the club house into the state it is in today, although we have done a lot of thermal insulation and decorative modifications since.  We are all very proud of that achievement and allows us to have a permanent facility for class room training, compressor shed, equipment and rib storage and Thursday night club night with the bar area and food.”

“I was also a Branch Instructor for a number of years until that position disappeared after which I  remained just as a Dive Leader.  I loved training, but now I really enjoy taking people for their first try dive and seeing their expressions.  Some people look so afraid at the beginning, but I like to help calm them down and take them through everything at their own pace and by the end of the try dive you can see happiness and a sense of achievement on their faces.”

“I also like to help people with disabilities to have a go at diving.   A clubs team and I have helped a lot of people to experience diving who may have felt that they wouldn’t ever get the chance.”

“I am currently the club ‘Welfare Officer’ and have been since that post was first introduced by BSAC. I was put forward and have been holding that role for some years now.  I really enjoy it.”

Nathan: “Tell me more about this Welfare Officer role?”

“It’s a committee appointed role that I have held for 10 year and I my responsibilities are to make sure everyone keeps happy, a keeper of the peace should I say.  I am also a confidant for members to go to and act as intermediary if needed between other members or the committee and the member.”

Nathan:  “What do you like about being a BSAC member.”

“As an umbrella organisation they have very good training and clubs that dive regularly. I feel I couldn’t or wouldn’t want to go anywhere else for my diving.”

Nathan: “How has the club changed over the years?”

“I would say that the club is much more inclusive, it wasn’t easy at the beginning for women, but it’s great now.”

Nathan:  “Going back on what you said earlier about helping people with disabilities to learn to dive, can you explain a bit more about that?”

I have this connection and desire to help people ‘have a go’ and not feel they can’t do something, in this case – scuba diving.”

“I was trained in Scotland to be a National Instructor for people with disabilities under SCOTSAC.  After this training we developed what was called “The Dream Team”, this consisted of a few instructors and divers in the club who also wanted to give people with disabilities the opportunity to experience diving.  I am proud to say we have done and continue to try and help people to dive.”

“One of my favourite times was helping a group of children from a local Wimbledon school for the Visually Impaired train to dive at their school.  This then lead onto the school; asking us to get them ready for a trip to Jamaica so they could try diving out there and I was fortunate enough to be able to go with them and help 1 on 1 complete 8 shallow dives.  The following year this same group of children went on to do Tandem cycling across America!”

Nathan: “That sounds fantastic and can imagine the impact that experience had not only on their lives but all those involved.”

“Before we end this interview, tell me what kinds of diving do you like and where do you like to dive in the UK and abroad?”

Any diving really, warm or cold.  I still love to dive in the UK.  It did take me a long time to build the confidence to dive inside wrecks and caves, but now enjoy it.”

“In the UK I love to dive out of Weymouth, there is a lot of variety of diving, whether that be wrecks or drift diving.  We have also made many good and long standing friendships down there that makes diving out of Weymouth that much more fun.”

“As for diving overseas I think that my best has got to be diving in the Maldives.  I saw everything they say you would, the Manta Rays and Whale Sharks.  Brilliant.”

A close up picture of Shirley's Glass Trophy that has a picture of dolphins on one side and an inscription on the other. Inscription Reads "Congratulations to Shirley Deluce who in 2017 celebrtes 40 years membership of Kingston and Elmbridge BSAC. Well done on this fantastic achievement."

Shirley’s Trophy – She loves Dolphins!

With Ian Angus leading last weekends club trip we didn’t do too bad in “Finding NEMO33”!

True it is a honking big silver building somewhere on the outskirts of Brussels, which helped! 

Having said that Ian did a fantastic job in herding, or should that be shoaling, 9 club divers and 4 non divers safely via St Pancras on Eurostar and to our hotel in Central Brussels for the weekend.

Ian is someone who likes to ‘seize the day’ and had therefore booked us all on the 8:05am train from St Pancras on Friday 23rd March…which meant most of us being up by 5am to make it through check-in before the train departed.

Travelling by Eurostar was a first for me and I found it to be a very comfortable and relaxing way to travel across Europe….it seemed we were in Belgium within minutes, but that could have been because I fell asleep pretty much for all of the journey!

Thanks to Jonathan’s French and interjections of limited Spanish by Ian (‘por favor’) travel passes for the group were eventually secured and off we set to the Hotel Hyggee, chosen by Ian’s delightful wife Wendy.  And must I say what a lovely little hotel she chose for us. 

The Hyggee Hotel, pronounced “hoo-ga”* on their website and by us as “Iggy” (as in “Iggy Pop”) is a boutique Scandinavian styled hotel. (*…would explain the exasperated looks given by the receptionists)  The hotel is quite minimalistic in design and filled with really expensive Ikea kind of objects.   (Hygee – A Danish conceptual word that means ‘Wholeness’)

We arrived at the hotel starving, so first things first, we dumped our bags and off we went to find a place to eat and drink.  We ended up in a yuppy bar that was recommended by the hotel receptionist, so we must have scrubbed up well?!? 

The evening for some of us who could remember to put their clocks forward to European time was spent in News Café eating and drinking.  

Next day we headed off by Tram with Ian in the lead to find NEMO33

What a great place NEMO33 is!  Very well organised, fantastic dive shop, bar, restaurant and lots of activities utilising every square space of the building – catering for Free Diving, Aqua Aerobic Spinning Bikes, Scuba Diver training and of course what we came for….a relaxed dive in the 33m dive pool……33.5m on my computer…just putting it out there…b**ches! (pays to have the longest arms! ?)

The non chlorinated, thankfully, water temperature was a warm 33oC and crystal clear.

We had a group time slot to go in at 12pm once we had filled in all our paper work.  There was a quick briefing and a warm up swim before kitting up with tanks, regs and fins supplied by NEMO33.  The only things we had to bring were are own mask, computers and swimming trunks…the latter being very important…especially as there were windows facing into the restaurant/café for people to watch the divers.  Wouldn’t want anyone put off munching on their Mussels….a very Belgique dish I found out.

Talking of dishes I forgot that Belgium is the home of Waffles that come with all sort of fillings and toppings, glad I had taken some time off my training diet!  As we were in Brussels the weekend before Easter every shop front and chocolatier had some sort of chocolate egg and Easter celebration set up in their window. 

In NEMO33 you have little underwater ‘caves’ to explore that allow you to come up and enter into an air pocket where you can take off your mask and regs and have a chat with your buddy before continuing your dive.

Those who had been before warned me about the concentration of bubbles that would be coming up from the divers below in the main 33m shaft.  I was told it could be quite disconcerting as these little bubbles play around your mask, so I needed to be prepared to stick close to the sides of the wall and follow the tiles down if get disorientated.  As I was diving with Len my buddy for the day – our club Chairman, he kept us away while all the other groups and most of ours had gone down and were on their way back up.

We then made our descent to 33m slowly, I had a few problems clearing my ears around the 27m mark, but eventually made it down and promptly stuck my arm down as far as it could go past the suspended floor at 33m in the hole one of the ladders continued through.  Hence why 33.5m!  I don’t consider it cheating…as everyone else was doing it too!

Soon enough the strobe lights were flashing signalling that our dive time was coming to an end.  So Len and I returned slowly to the surface, did our 3minute safety stop at 5m and got out.

The rest of the afternoon was either shopping, in the pub or site seeing.  The Grand Place (A UNESCO World Heritage Site), Galaries Royales and the Manneken Pis (Pissing Boy Statue), along with the countless chocolate shops, cafes and waffle outlets meant that the afternoon soon sailed by.

In the evening Ian had booked us an Italian Restaurant not far from the hotel called La Fringale.  However before that we ended up in the bar next door called the Mini Louise, owned and run by an English lady Kelly who has lived 20 years in Brussels.  The Italian was lovely food and involved a clown with a big tongue that took a real shine to Len (pictures provided) and kept making balloon flowers for the ladies.  

After our meal we all ended back in Mini Louise, some of us until 4am in the morning, with Ludo the bar manager in the end offering to give us free drinks if we would just leave once we finished them.  For those who managed to make it to 4am it took them a lot longer to find their way back to the hotel (should have taken 15minutes…but I’ll let the guys tell you how long tomorrow night at the club house….put it this way, you may have made the shores of England on the Eurostar in the same time.

Those of us who could wake up, Jonathan basically, got up, had breakfast and managed to go and visit the Atomium statue. 

The rest of us got up by midday, checked out and gingerly headed back to a bar we frequented on Saturday afternoon called The Brussels Grill, near the Grand Place to have a spot of lunch and nurse sore heads before returning to the UK on Eurostar. 

Thanks Ian for organising such a fun trip that will be remembered (most of it ? ) for a long time to come!

Photos courtesy of Paul and Sarah, Jonathan and Nathan and Jo (I find it best to click on the first one to engage the lightbox and flick through that way quicker):

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