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Useful Information from CPA

The information expressed herein should be treated as opinion. No guarantee is given or implied that any advice on the CPA website is necessarily correct. Nor might it best suit other divers and clubs due to regional and personal differences. Diving is a risk sport. All advice herein should be validated with advice from your own diving club, governing body, or approved published material before being adopted.

Run Speciality Dives

Run a Camp-Dive Trip
CPA often does camp-dive weekends. Fairly obvious how to organise but one or two extra things to think about for diving. Make sure space to park RIB near tents. Obviously campsite near a good slip is ideal. Warn people to take warm clothes – non-regular campers always optimistic about summer night temps. Barbecues good if plenty of time or non-divers happy to organise. Ensure easy to get air fills after the days diving. Watch out on ‘expense’ make sure everyone contributes to towing fees, boat fuel etc, even if just ‘dropping in for the day’ not staying all weekend.

Run a Shore Dive
Try to forecast likely surf condition on the shoreline. Big surf makes entry/exit dangerous. Use weather forecasts for wind conditions. Pay attention to whether will strengthen of slack off. If onshore breeze, much more likely to have bad surf than offshore of same speed. On south coast, winds from northerly direction best. Can be ok in sheltered bays like Swanage in most winds. Check that enough air taken or you know where nearby station is. Marshal should take oxygen and first aid kits, especially if in isolated spot. Plan to have at least one person on surface cover with rescue capability. When marshalling a shore dive, current situation critical. If any risk of current, should have boat cover of some sort. If never a current problem (e.g. Swanage, Chesil Cove, Burton Bradstock), ok with just shore cover. Use SMBs. Brief divers on entry/exit point and orientation. Get everyone to check compass bearings to know which way to head back to shore. Note that if currents do pick up, best to stay on seabed during swim back – stronger current mid-water. Also can use rocks to pull on if bad.

Run a River Dive
Strictly speaking should OK a river dive with the Environment Agency <<see contacts>> well in advance – like a month. They notify lock keepers in writing to warn boats of divers ahead. EA’s river diving rules are: follow EA officer instructions; have licensed boat cover; have fully kitted shore cover all times; display A-flag all times; post lookout to warn approaching boats; no diving within 50m of lock or bridge; never obstruct craft; archaeological finds must be sent to EA; confirm dive with EA the day before. Some of this unrealistic for clubs. Alternative is to be practical. EA only real concerns are that we’re safe and don’t cause problems for other river users. In practice can meet these aims largely by finishing dives before 8am when locks open. Rarely any boat movement before then. Also, EA patrols not out yet! Do consider fishermen though. Don’t dive anywhere near lines and best to chat to them first to establish rapport and ensure no potential problems. Most very amicable, but any problems & back off – they’ve got more rights unless we follow all EA procedures to letter. Beyond that, just stick to standard dive safety procedure. Use SMBs, always have shore cover, should take safety kit (oxygen, 1st aid & ideally mobile phone) and so on. Big difference with river is solo diving. Viz often so poor and rarely depths beyond 4m means that buddies often more a hassle than safety factor. Serious potential for getting tangled though, so if solo must have good knife and redundant air supply. Also, marshall’s briefing to tell shore cover to watch bubbles – if in any trouble give good purge of DV to tell shore cover to come help (alternative: repeated, regular strong tugs on SMB to make it bob rhythmically). Check river conditions before dive. If currents strong, forget it. If marginal, tether divers and get shore cover to play line out/in. If divers do hear boats, best to stay glued to river bed – ample clearance in decent rivers. Surface cover to warn boats to stay clear of SMB. Navigation easy in rivers as current and depth give direction and position across river. Only unknown is position up/down river but not a problem. Best bet to work upstream. Means you can drift back to exit point easily and also that kicked up silt carried away from you, improving viz . Marshal to warn divers of potential for Weil’s disease. Any flu-like symptoms within days of dive means go to Doctor and advise been river diving. Wash kit down after, just as if salt water diving, as organic crud and micro-organisms no good for kit/health either.

Run a Lake Dive
If not a private lake, will be covered by Environment Agency so most comments on river diving apply equally here. Private lakes have own rules. Talk to lake operators about procedure and adhere.

Run a Night Dive
Good weather particularly important as easier to make mistakes. Make clear that dive can be aborted if not good. Poor underwater viz not necessarily a problem, but dive probably no fun anyway. Poor surface viz a real hazard – don’t dive in fog, heavy rain etc. as too easy to lose divers. SMBs should have lights on (Cyalume sticks or battery beacons) else quickly invisible. Some shallower dives in good conditions and clear viz (e.g. tropics) ok without SMBs as underwater torches easily seen from surface. Briefing and buddy checks very important. Before getting on-site, warn about night vision. Takes at least 15 mins of near-darkness for vision to adjust to low light. One strong torch in eyes, or car headlights can destroy night vision for another 15 mins. Advise that all divers check torches before kitting up and turn headlights off & use dim light while getting ready. When ready to dive, eyes will be well adjusted for night vision. Divers should have two torches each – one backup. Don’t use head-mounted torches on night dives as one glance at buddy destroys night vision. On dive, never turn torch out as bulb most likely to blow when turned back on. If want to black out torchlight (e.g. to see photoplankton flash), put torch head against body or cover with hand. If rechargeable batteries, make sure topped up. If disposable, put fresh batteries in regardless. Agree torch signals. Signal with beam on seabed where buddy is looking, not in face. Common signals: rapid side-to-side movement underwater – attention/look this way/maybe problems; same signal on surface toward shore – problems come get me; slow large circle – ok (like finger & thumb circle); steady beam straight up at surface of water – alarm to surface cover (most torches balanced to do this if let free for this reason). When giving hand signals, shine torch at your hand so buddy can see it (tricky if two-handed signal – tuck torch under arm). Doubly important for buddy to confirm signal by repeating it – easy to misunderstand in dark. Buddy checks specially important as easy to miss things at night. Go through religiously and test things work. On dive, pay special attention to navigation. Less cues without sunlight. Easy to get disorientated. Also very special care with depth. Colours and ambient light level don’t change with depth like on available light dive. Very easy to be a lot deeper than you think, so watch depth gauge very often and check buddy is too. Same lighting issues makes it easier to go inside things like wreck holds or caves without realising. Shine torch all around regularly to check. After dive & de-kit, make special torch search of whole area to ensure nothing left behind.

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