Derbyshire Life - - Sport -

does it take for a new stu­dent to qual­ify? ‘It de­pends on the club and what time of year you choose. At the univer­sity we start in Oc­to­ber with five pool ses­sions, a few lec­tures for the the­o­ret­i­cal side and four open wa­ter dives at the end of Novem­ber. They go from a stand­ing start to qual­i­fied ocean divers in a cou­ple of months,’ says Alex. ‘It’s bril­liant watch­ing them get in the sea for the first time. My first sea dives were in Oban in 1990, off Ker­rera. There are quite a few ship­wrecks and it’s shel­tered wa­ter. One of the first trips I try to give them is to the Farne Is­lands be­cause a re­ally friendly colony of seals lives there. Last year’s pups, the year­lings, are all very in­quis­i­tive and want to play with you. They just pot­ter around in the shal­low wa­ter, nudg­ing you and butting you. Their be­hav­iour is very much like dogs un­der­wa­ter. You just have to re­mem­ber that they are wild, they have mas­sive teeth.

‘The world is chang­ing and we have to change with it,’ con­tin­ues Alex. ‘For some peo­ple it’s about scratch­ing the itch and say­ing “that was fun, wasn’t it?” and we hope that they want to con­tinue, for oth­ers it’s just about tick­ing a box. The train­ing is a means to an end, but what you re­ally want to do is swim around wrecks and look at the wildlife.’

Alex says the hard­est part is get­ting out of the pool af­ter the dive and, as I drag my­self up the steps, the tank does seem in­cred­i­bly heavy. But what a great ex­pe­ri­ence!

As we left the build­ing the rain was ham­mer­ing down. Maybe I should have kept my wet­suit on to get to the car!

Many thanks to Alex for the op­por­tu­nity to taste this ex­hil­a­rat­ing pur­suit and to Davs for com­ing along to record the event for pos­ter­ity. For any­one in­ter­ested in tak­ing up the sport, costs may vary be­tween qual­i­fy­ing with a club branch and a com­mer­cial cen­tre, as Alex ex­plains. ‘Gen­er­ally to get a ba­sic qual­i­fi­ca­tion in a shop is about £350-£400, in a branch about half that but it does vary. BSAC fees are £60 per year, a typ­i­cal branch charges from £50 to £200 per year, of­ten dis­count­ing mem­ber­ship if you “put back” into the branch. At the pricier end, they of­ten in­clude things such as air fills, kit and boat ac­cess. A train­ing pack for a BSAC Ocean Diver course is only £40. You need your own suit if the branch doesn’t have one that fits, or you can rent them for £10-£20 a day. To buy, a wet­suit is c.£200, a dry­suit with un­der­suit c.£500-£1,000. Mask, fins and snorkel are about £100. A de­com­pres­sion com­puter is about £150, a BCD (buoy­ancy com­pen­sator de­vice) jacket is £200-£400 and it’s c.£40 for a torch.

‘Once you’re qual­i­fied, div­ing is the cheap part and travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion are the ex­pen­sive part. A club boat’s fees are about £20 a day and a com­mer­cial hired boat is about £50 a day. Then you need to add air fills (£3-£4 a fill), food, ac­com­mo­da­tion and get­ting there. We use bunk houses, chalets and cav­ing huts which keeps the cost down.’

Ge­off and Alex fol­low­ing the ses­sion

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