I have always had an interest in the Ocean, well any type of water to be honest. From muddy puddles and paddling in the sea to spending most of my free time in the swimming pools training and competing. When my Grandma surprised me in early September 2020 with a Scuba Diving Try Dive Session as an early 13th birthday gift I was thrilled and so excited.
On the night of the try dive we meet with a few members of Sub-C Divers and Mike Rickard who is the Diver Officer for an introduction briefing. Ian was my instructor for the try dive and the whole session was brilliant. Not too technical, just a quick introduction to all the equipment, geared up and into the pool.
Once in the pool we learned to actually breath under water with the regulators, how to inflate and deflate our BCD jackets , how to move about including tuck and rolls and also how to clear a mask whilst wearing it under water.
I loved it!
I signed up for the next available Ocean Diver Trainee Course.
Ken Hilton, Ocean Diver Training officer, kept in touch. Advising us of all the requirements for both BSAC and the Sub-C Divers Club.
We began the pool training in October and managed to attend two practical pool lessons before a further Covid-19 lockdown happened. Sadly we couldn’t continue the practical pool dives, however, the club adapted and we continued the theory on zoom meetings online. It was a different instructor each week presenting each topic. We used the BSAC handbooks and chatted throughout. These theory zoom lessons continued right up till Christmas time.
It was a further 6 months before the leisure centre was able to reopen their doors to the club and in June 2021 I finally managed to get back into the pool to continue the practical lessons.
During this time I had a few different instructors; Ian, Adam, Nick, Stella and Derek. Each teaching specific skills for the week. I even found myself a training buddy, Mike, as we were regularly paired together.
Another new friend I made was John – the equipment officer. John made sure all my equipment was correct and available whenever I needed it. I also found his stash of biscuits. Yum!
Once I finished all the pool sessions it was time to move onto actual open water. We went to Capernwray on the 11th of July for my first open water dive. I was very, very nervous. I was so nervous that I couldn’t even talk. I thought I was going to be sick with nerves. My instructor, Stella talked to me about what we were going to do. Meanwhile I was overheating in my dry suit and there was a lot to take in. We got all kitted up and headed for my first ever open water dive. I was amazed at how much there was to see. Stella is an amazing instructor and once in the water everything we talked about started to make sense. We saw fish such as sturgeon and trout, two small sunken boats which was amazing and two metal horses. I sat on one which was so fun but I couldn’t keep the head up so I ended up tumbling forward! I think I also got a little too excited and used up far too much air.
Sadly my second dive didn’t go as well as I could my equalise my ears. I was very annoyed at myself. However, it did teach me early on that not all dives are going to be as successful as you’d hope.
As a consolation prize at the end of the day Stella and I ran and jumped off the edge of the docks which was awesome and put the smile back on my face!!!
Just two weeks later and I was on my way to go and do an actual ocean dive off a RIB in Anglesey! Once again my nerves kicked in as I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Thankfully my buddy Ian was fantastic. He reassured me that I could do it. Ian talked me through exactly what dive was planned, the Wreck of Kimya, and what I should expect.
Ian promised not to take his eyes of me for a second (which reassured my mum!) and advised there where no expectations of me, that we would just practice the skills I had already learned in the pool and Capernwray but in the Ocean.
Once I was on the RIB the nerves just turned into excitement – I was diving in the sea!!! However the dive did not go very well as my ears didn’t equalise again. Also, if I am being totally honest – I did kind of freaked out! I looked down I couldn’t see anything in the unknown environment, knowing that once I let go of the rope that was it – anything could happen. After a few more minutes we decided to call it and got back on to the boat. – I was gutted and really doubting myself at this point – was this something I could actually do again?
On the way back to shore I was allowed to drive the RIB which was fantastic! I wasn’t controlling anything just steering under a lot of supervision but it was still fabulous and really helped to pick up my mood after the disappointment.
Once we got back to shore Ian and I did a shallow shore dive. This was amazing. It really did build my confidence back up that despite the unsuccessful RIB dive Ocean diving would still be a possibility for me. We saw sooooo much sea life such as crabs, fish, sea weed and a huge jellyfish. Thank you to Ian for turning the day around. Overall it was an awesome experience!!!
During August 2021 I did four more amazing open water dives in Capernwray, With my instructor Nick, I had my most controlled drive yet. I seemed to be getting to grips with the buoyancy and had no problem equalising my ears. We achieved maximum planned depths of 15M on both dives. Nick even let me plan our second dive (with guidance of course). I had been wanting to go through the plane and we did. This was the first time I needed to use a torch as it gets very dark.
Overall I had a fantastic day with Nick and I left the site buzzing after finally having two back to back successful dives!
I needed just one more Open Water dive to complete my practical training and Stella volunteered to be my instructor the very next weekend. – Thank you.
Woohoo – all my practical sections where now signed off – This just left my theory exam which I was dreading. It was such a long time since the zoom sessions. I studied and studied and still managed to fail! It was only on my 2nd try that I passed an then I became a qualified Ocean Diver. I was so proud with myself since I was still 13 when I qualified. What a journey – good and bad dives but an overall amazing experience.
Shortly after, the club was hosting its annual Summer Sizzler. I was so excited. I thought that it would boost my confidence and it really did. I managed to do not one, but two successful RIB dives and I can’t even describe how proud of myself I was, I just couldn’t believe I did it. The first RIB dive we dived the Missouri wreck and I’m not joking it was phenomenal! It was probably one of my best dives ever, I equalised my ears and got down to 12 meters. The wreck wasn’t in once piece but that just made it even more exiting because you had to search a figure out which bit of the wreck was which. I found loads of cool shells (which I stuffed in the drysuit pocket) and saw loads of crabs and fish. I somehow managed to use 130 bar (probably because I saw a huge crab.) On the decompression stop I tried to play rock, paper, scissors with Stella but I don’t think she realise what I was doing and just thought I had gone mad. I will let her know beforehand next time.
The second RIB dive that I did didn’t go as well as the first but was still incredible. I mean the rolling backwards of the back of the boat is still the best thing ever. I don’t think the novelty will ever wear off! Later I did a shore dive and it was one of my longest dives ever. A full 58 mins. These dives really boosted my confidence. It was an amazing weekend and I can’t wait for next years event.
However this is the day is probably going to stay with me forever. It was the best day ever! It was my birthday and I got to go scuba diving! Ian pulled out all the stops for the day and got a team together, Chris, Gary, Derek and Mike for a diving day. It was back in Anglesey, this time at Penryhn Bay and it was just unbelievable.
First of all the RIB ride was absolutely phenomenal. The waves were so choppy, it felt like I was actually flying! Once we got to where we were diving (lamb island) everyone was starting to get a bit hungry so Ian and myself decided to let everyone else eat and we went exploring. It was an amazing dive I was so happy that my ears equalised and that I managed to get down to 11 meters. Once we had finished our dive we flung ourselves back onto the RIB, (its not the most graceful thing in the world).
Next up we crawled off the RIB and onto an old coastguard ramp and jumped off it into the water. It always surprises me on how buoyant dry suits actually are since I just hit the water and didn’t even sink. I just bobbed about for a bit fascinated on how I didn’t even have to move to stay on top of the water, I could just lie on my back and float away!
I got back onto the RIB and ate my dinner and gave out some birthday cinnamon rolls. It was then time to head back but on the way home we took a detour to stop off at the skerries. To my delight there was lots of seals surrounding the island. I wanted to stay on the RIB to enjoy the seals but I decided to go and explore. It was full of daisies and it looked so beautiful even though there was loads of bird poo. It felt so unreal. I just couldn’t believe I was there, standing in a dry suit watching the seals next to this huge lighthouse on this little island. After about 15 mins we headed back home avoiding the breaking white waves (sadly.) After the sea had calmed down a bit I was supervised to drive the RIB and this time controlled the steering and the speed. It was so fun. Overall, I cant even begin to describe how amazing and unforgettable this day was.
These dives have been amazing and I am so proud with them all even if some didn’t go to plan. I can’t even describe how amazing these experiences have been.
Sorry it’s a long read, but I had a full 12 months to cover!
Absolutely looking forward to doing the Sports Diver Course and Boat Handling.
Amelia Prescott Aged 14 BSAC Ocean Diver (Sub C Divers)