Author: Ryan Wright
Date: 25th Feb 2023
Another great day Sports Diver training at Capenwray!
On my last trip in December, it started to snow just as we started our second dive of the day. So, this time, the sun is shining, the weather is nice but the water is a chilly 5 degrees Celsius!
I’ve still got my eye out for buying my own dry suit, so every time I dive in the UK, I have to hire a suit and under suit. The staff at Capenwray are always happy to help and give advice.
Today, as part of my Sports Diver training I was assistant dive manager. Tessa, my instructor, had briefed me on what my role was going to be a few days before.
I started by giving a brief of the dive site, a run through the risk assessment and then the dive plan with my buddy. Once we’re happy, we kit up, don our dry suit and head to the water. We run through any final points, carry out the buddy checks and stride into the cold open water.
It’s a strange feeling, you don’t feel the cold on your body, just your face and hands. It’s always a slight tense moment entering the water, as your suit seals may not hold up and begin to leak. Luckily enough, Tessa our instructor, Billy my buddy and my hire suit was all sealed.
We swam along the surface to the surface marker buoy, poised ourselves for the cold water and gave the signal to go down. A nice steady descent down the shot line, clearing our ears, it wasn’t long before we were at the nose of the plane at around 15m.
The task for this dive was distance lining. This technique can be used for diving in wrecks or in poor visibility, so you can safely return to your start point. We started by tying off the line to the Captains window frame of the plane, and reeled out the line to our first point where, we again tied off and continued to the next tie point and so on. It was quite challenging, because you are focussing on where you are going, keeping the line taught, maintaining good buoyancy and making sure your buddy is ok. Later in the debrief, Tessa would confirm my suspicions of me needing to keep the line taught. I felt like I got the hang of it after a little while. Once I’d taken out the line, it was Billy my buddy’s turn. Billy made light work of the exercise, even though it was his first time at Capenwray.
Time flies when you’re having fun, it’s not long before we’re heading back to the shot line for our ascent. As we begin our ascent, we take care to slowly ascend the shot line, checking our ascent rate on our computers as we head to our 3 minute safety stop at 6m. Now, here’s the next challenge, we have to remain buoyant within 0.5m with hands off the shot line! Eyes gazed on the depth gauge on my computer and focussing on my breathing to keep within the limits, I don’t think I did too bad, more practice needed for sure, but I think we all did well, besides we can always blame the cold, can’t we? We all signal to say our safety stop time has lapsed and we can head to the surface. It’s time now to de-kit and debrief over a cup of tea and a spot of lunch.
After the lunch has settled and our fingers have thawed, we begin to plan the next dive. This dive I will taking on the roll of dive leader with a different buddy and instructor.
Abbie and I are the next buddy pair and Tom is our instructor for our second and final dive of the day. Just as before we brief the dive, head to the water, carry out our checks and before we know it, we’re striding off the edge into the cold Capenwray water. This time, we gather other selves, signal ok, then signal to go down, no shot line just straight down. The water is clear and we can see the plane straight ahead as we swim towards, cautiously descending checking on each other making sure we’re all ok. Once at the plane Abbie, grabs her compass and puts us on the bearing for the Bell. We swim with no assurance we are heading the right direction, except for this needle pointing on a heading straight ahead of us. As we pass the array of purposeful debris scattered on the bed of Capenwray, the plane is no longer insight, but sure enough, a figure begins to form ahead of us, it is the bell? A few seconds later, we were both kicking a little harder in excitement that the Bell was being ravelled before our eyes. Great work Abbie!
After a quick tour of the Bell it’s onto the next heading, and then onto riding the horse and waving at the Devil. It was too cold for the kiss! The more we continued with the dive, I got a little apprehensive, I knew what was coming, open water mask clearing! It’s no biggie, I’ve done this loads of times before, even in the sea, I kept telling myself! But never in water as cold as 5 degrees Celsius!
Knelt down on the 6m shelf, Tom gives me a demo. He makes it look a piece of cake, and then points at me. It’s my turn, I take off my mask, the cold water smothers my eyes, it’s not too bad I thought, just put your mask back on and don’t panic! I managed to put it on, clear away the water and give a very pleased ok signal to Tom. It was amazing how quickly I became cold, I’m not sure if it was due to having taken off my mask or because we had stopped swimming for a short while or maybe a combination of both. Anyway, we headed back, surfaced, de-kitted and debriefed. A hot cup of coffee is in order before heading home.
All in all, a cold dive but again another great open water diving experience and one step closer to gaining my Sports Diver qualification.
Thank you to all the instructors and volunteers at the club that make days like this so enjoyable.