For most of us, our first tentative fin kicks in ‘open water’ are a dim distant memory. I asked some of this year’s trainees to remind us what it was like.
On the train down to Portland it dawned on me that I had only been ‘diving’ for two months and that going in the actual sea was obviously a terrible mistake. Friends and colleagues had exacerbated the situation the week before by asking why I didn’t have any kit, and warning me that I would freeze in the UK waters. So it was a relief to see the Clidive friendliness extended all the way down to the south coast, and that reports of warm seas hadn’t been a lie.
I had, in fact, been so focused on all the kit I needed and didn’t have that I didn’t really know what to expect from the dives. Right up to entry I was still getting used to wearing a hood, an excessive quantity of weights and some massive gloves, so it was lucky that Steve, Elaine and Preeda were such patient instructors to manage us newbies.
Others complained about the visibility, but I still loved it (I also can’t complain as it turns out my excessive finning might have caused a lot of the vis problems). So, much practice to be done, but the whole weekend has made me want to get straight back in there, in no small part thanks to the enthusiasm and kindness of everyone on the trip.
By Kath Biggs
I had a great weekend in Portland – I’ve finally overcome issues with mask clearing and been let out of the pool! Getting used to a very buoyant wetsuit and realising that I’d need 11kgs of extra weight was certainly an eye opener.
I had a great first day with Preeda, who showed me the ropes, or, more accurately, the dead scallop beds off Castletown beach. We completed all my training with no fuss and plenty of laughs along the way.
Once back at the Dive Centre, the stories what some of the other divers had seen sounded amazing – cuttlefish, spider crabs, sea squirts, entire shoals of fish – and so naturally I was excited to get back out there on Sunday and see this for myself.
As is turns out, because Saturday was so windy, visibility down at 8m was disappointingly poor, and that’s without the further silt I was kicking up once we were on the seabed. That said, I saw my first live sea squirts, spider crabs and fish shoals across my first wrecks, so I’m quite happy with that success rate for a first day. The visibility hasn’t put me off, and I’ll be back for more in 2017!
By David Ferryman
In the last training trip to Wraysbury, with Elaine as my instructor, I did my Sports Diver open-water dives along with Annalisa.
It was my first time as a fully qualified OD, but also my second diving trip ever, so I was slightly nervous, even though I did not want to show it in front of two ladies. Thankfully, Elaine was very reassuring and clear with the instructions, so we knew before even getting there what exercises we were going to do, and how we were going to plan the whole day.
Luckily the day panned out better than expected. The water from the quarry was warmer than I expected (considering I had only dived in Torquay, and the sea was freezing), and very clear, so we managed to go through all the exercises without any issue, and even finish before schedule.
The confidence on that day allowed me to be fully focused and ready the next day when we went to Stoney Cove along with Steve and Ben as our instructors. It showed how important it is to go diving on a regular basis, as something that would seem obvious while training can be easily neglected when in the open water.
By Alberto Bonifacio
During my time as a trainee, I realised that Clidive instructors are relentless. Relentless in their patience and pursuit to get you qualified. I feel overwhelming gratitude to everyone who has given up their spare time to get me over the finish line.
With the OD qualification under my belt, I was pretty chuffed with myself. With the SD qualification, I feel more confident in the water and look forward to going on more trips next year and seeing what UK waters have to offer!
By Natasha Goldring
I joined the club in January this year and by September I had managed to get qualified both as Ocean Diver and the Sports Diver.
This was thanks to the help and kindness of the instructors, who managed to organise training weekends at short notice so that I could get both qualifications before the Azores trip (which was amazing by the way!)
The Ocean Diver training trip to Torquay was hard! It was my first dive in the UK, and I wasn’t prepared for the cold and the low visibility. I even got to experience my first drift dive, due to some unexpectedly strong currents! It was more hilarious then scary though, as I felt very safe with the instructors always close to me.
The SD training trip in comparison was easy and enjoyable, and we even got to do a wreck dive in Stoney Cove.
I would suggest to new trainees that they bring snacks for the training days, as often there’s no time for lunch and you end up starving by the end of the day!
By Annalisa Premoli
I was introduced to Clidive one alcoholic afternoon, sat on the river terrace of Somerset House. “It’s like Scouts underwater”, I was told.
Unlike PADI, people teach here because they have a drive to share their passion, rather than because they are paid to do so. Individuals in this club have given up a great deal of time getting me qualified as an Ocean Diver and then a Sports Diver.
When you’re in a club, you do things for each other and for the sake of the club, rather than for some form of gain, and this I think is a great thing in itself. Personally, I spend a lot of time interacting with people in a transactional fashion: let’s pay Karen this so she does X, email George in order to get Y. Every time I do something with or for the club, I feel refreshed by this lack of exchanging, this working for the common good, although I do find that I sometimes have the symptoms of a hangover the next day.
Because of, or perhaps in spite of its location, it’s a club replete with bright, chatty people, with a good gender balance and an atmosphere free of macho posturing. It feels refreshingly grown up, neither the preserve of a dusty old guard, nor like some terrible youth project. It’s a really positive, adult learning environment. And when we have a post-training drink in the local pub, the landlady brings a tray of complimentary sandwiches!
By Jonathan Perlmutter