THE 50TH BIRTHDAY GIFT
It all started earlier this year when I planned to go to Australia with friends I wanted to dive the Great Barrier Reef. For various reasons, the holiday didn't happen, but I had decided I wanted to learn to dive anyway. Then one day, at my gym, I saw a Try Dive Day advertised. I booked a place and following the dive, I signed up with Aqua Adventure Training to do the Open Water Diver course. I completed all the course work and pool sessions, but even so, on the day of my qualifying dives I was extremely nervous, and at one point I thought, "No, I can't do this"; but with Martin (my patient instructor), his calming influence and a very small group, I succeeded; and in August I became a qualified diver.
Martin and his partner, Natalie, also run a diving club; so I joined, and in September went on my first diving holiday with the club to Fethiye in Turkey. We dived for 5 consecutive days and whilst we were there I used the opportunity to increase my skills. The holiday was a great success.
On returning to the UK I decided I wanted to extend my diving season' and signed up for my Dry Suit Specialty course. Since returning home I've dived several sites and Martin uses each opportunity to increase my navigational skills and shows me the techniques that the book just can't teach you to ensure that I will be able to confidently navigate any site when I dive. It's this genuine desire to pass on as much of his experience in each dive and course as is possible that makes learning with Martin so worthwhile. And the value? Priceless!
Aqua Adventure Training
020 8318 2357
THE EXPERIENCED COUPLE
I'm 25, 5 foot nothing, work in an office in the city and wear pink, so you could say I don't quite fit the macho stereotype of a typical British diver. I nearly didn't become a diver at all, a disastrous try dive in Greece left me convinced that the sport was not for me. Then I found myself in Cairns on a round the world trip a few years later and decided it was time to try again, well, it would have been rude not to.
Having caught the bug I carried on diving throughout the rest of the trip. On returning to the UK I found that my confidence grew in direct proportion to the experience I gained and the skills I learnt through the Specialty Courses.
On returning to the UK the next step was to find a London based SSI club and get myself a Drysuit. With Martin and Aqua Adventure Training I have completed a number of specialty courses and I have just signed up to the Dive Control Specialist course to develop my skills further and become a safer diver.
I find that the more challenging conditions here really help me to focus on perfecting core skills, including buddy control, buoyancy and navigation. The thing I like about Martin's teaching is that there is no pressure to get the courses done within a set time scale or number of dives. To me it's about the knowledge and ability, not the card.
I am a 37 year old mother of 5 and I also have 2 foster children, I am a PADI Divemaster and I am also deaf. I have been working with Young People for the last 4 years on a Scuba Diving project within a Youth club.I have been able to raise funds to take these disadvantaged young people on two trips to the Red Sea to pass their Open Water course. Funding was provided by the Awards for all' which is part of the Lottery, and from Sheffield Action team who provided the equipment and training funds.
The young people I work alongside are from a very diverse background and some of the girls are teenage moms, Scuba diving has given them a new lease of life and confidence to tackle the world. For me it has given me a sense of satisfaction (as my husband does not dive) that I can achieve something other than cook a good meal.
The girls are from the Norfolk Park Young People's Council. At the moment I am trying to set up a web site called Scuba Youth Uk and I'm trying to raise more funds to work with young women especially young teenaged moms, introducing them to Scuba diving and confidence building work.
There's a poster on my wall and I look at it everyday, it says
"Some young people
do what you say
Some young people
do what you say not to do
But all young people
DO AS YOU DO"
I'm so glad these girls enjoy a piece of my world.
Angela can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Diving into Mystery
By Kathy Brandt
When I decided to plunge into mystery writing, I knew what the "who, what, and where" of my novels would be. I've been a scuba diver for almost twenty years and have been sailing in the British Virgin Islands for ten. So my character, police diver and underwater investigator Hannah Sampson, was a natural. I published the first book in my underwater investigation series, SWIMMING WITH THE DEAD, in 2003, followed this year by DARK WATER DIVE (Signet/ $5.99). My third book, DANGEROUS DEPTHS was released in May 2005. How lucky could I get? I'm doing what I love and writing about it! And even better, the reviewers are calling the books "first rate thrillers, the underwater action top-notch."
I've tried hard to keep the books authentic. I have dived the sites that my character, Hannah Sampson, dives when she sets out to solve heinous crimes, though I admit with relief that I have never encountered a dead body on a dive. Like me, Hannah finds wrecks dark, claustrophobic places, where air tanks clanging off hulls serve to emphasize the fact that she is jailed by steel. She experiences the same fear that I do at depth, when nitrogen narcosis sends her to the edge of panic. I want the reader to feel what Hannah feels when she is caught in a wreck and out of air or swims right into the body of a murder victim.
I've also been awe struck in the underwater environment. Most of you know what I mean. It is like being submerged in Alice In Wonderland, gliding under arches blanketed in color, my bubbles catching and sparkling like mercury in the rocks above my head; swimming along underwater walls covered in reef life, the sea floor thousands of feet below. I've followed turtles and Manta Rays, played with sea lions, touched Christmas Tree Worms, and encountered Hammerheads that completely ignored my presence.
I want to share this wonder with those who have not experienced it and also let people know that the environment is fragile. As a result my books all have environmental sub-themes, focusing on the damage to coral reefs worldwide, on the decimation of shark populations for a bowl of shark fin soup, on endangered sea turtles.
When I started these books, I knew a respectable amount about the ocean environment and the basics of diving. But I knew absolutely nothing about dive rescue and recovery, underwater investigation, or even some of the particulars about reef ecology or sea turtle preservation. I had a lot to learn.
I got certified in dry suits on a snowy day in a Colorado lake, elevation 10,500 feet. I've joined rescue and recovery divers for training both in the classroom and in water murky with sediment, where the diver swims blind. Those divers showed me the ropeshow to interview witnesses, find the last seen point, handle the radio, act as line tender, and develop search patterns.
I learned about evidence retrieval and preservation from the experts, people like Bob Teather who wrote the definitive book on underwater crime scene investigation. By the way, did you know that fingerprints, fibers, even blood can be recovered if the diver handles a weapon or body correctly underwater?
Recently, I accompanied a team of researchers in the Caribbean as they tagged turtles as part of a study that will hopefully provide enough data to change laws. I've spent hours in the dusty environmental library in the BVI and days at home buried in articles and research studies about the marine environment. Even that is fun, especially when it all gets turned into mystery.
Kathy Brandt is a mystery writer and a land locked diver, who lives in Colorado. To find out more, visit her website at: www.ksbrandt.com Her books are available on line from Amazon:
First Scholarship fund will award $500 to assist women technical divers
Jill Heinerth and Patty Mortara, who run 'Women Underwater' are about to make their first scholarship award to help women progress in technical diving. Both are experienced cave and expedition divers.
The funds can be used towards diving courses such as decompression procedures, overhead environment (wreck / cave training), gas courses (advanced nitrox thru trimix) or closed-circuit rebreather training.
Applications are open to women world-wide and the selected scholar gets to choose the course she would like to take, with which instructor, and the WomenUnderwater Scholarship Fund will provide $500.00 towards her endeavor.
The Women Underwater Scholarship is part of the WDHOF (Women Divers Hall of Fame) Scholarship program. There are 8 other scholarships available this year thru that organization; information regarding those can be found at wdhof.org-scholarships.