Andy Torbet returns to the water with a reassuringly green splash...

We often don’t appreciate something until it’s gone. When the Covid-19 restrictions meant no diving I was faced with the longest period above the surface for many years. I had taken getting submerged for granted; I had passed up many opportunities to dive, assuming I could jump in any time. But with the option removed, I felt the need more keenly. I hope, by the time you read this you’ve all had a chance to get wet after the enforced dry spell. I was fortunate enough to get back in the water the day that BSAC issued its guidelines recommending a return to shore diving.

Sensibly, after months out of the water it was a nice, lazy, peaceful and simple start. The site we chose was humble in nature, a quiet section of the River Dart in Devon. The sun was shining with such force that to look skyward, even metres below the cool, clear river-water was difficult without shielding my eyes.

The flow was a perfect speed, not enough to make swimming in any direction remotely difficult but just enough to clear any sediment we disturbed from the bottom as we brushed the current-worn pebbles, tree roots and branches. We were not the only swimmers out on that day. The water was filled with multiple shoals of tiny minnow, shading under the shadow of trees and wholly unperturbed by my close presence.

Of course, I was not alone. This was not a simple return to the water after three months’ hiatus. It was a return to my original snorkelling buddy after two years’ hiatus. The vast majority of the photos taken for this column over the last 104 issues have been snapped by Dan Bolt.

We met back in 2011 when I was undertaking my Britain by Snorkel project, the inspiration for this column, and we’ve been tube-chums ever since. But with my life in 2019 being dominated by stunt work on the new James Bond film, our winter plans constantly scuppered by the British weather and then a little thing called Coronavirus barring any kind of meet-up recently, we hadn’t been out together since summer 2018.

Prevented from shaking hands we nevertheless fell immediately into old ways, donning our suits, making a plan and jumping in. Always two metres apart but with the casual confidence that comes with diving together a lot.

Our return to diving not only heralds a return to an activity, hobby for some and job for others, we love but the community, the tribe, we as human beings and social animals need to survive. I have coped well over lockdown, having been trained to deal with isolation, and from certain solo projects in the past. I did not appreciate how much I enjoyed and was improved by simply hanging out with other human beings until I began to slowly re-introduce myself into the world.

Sometimes we don’t miss something until it’s taken away. And sometimes we don’t realise we missed something until we get it back


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Article by Andy Torbet for SCUBA magazine, Issue 105 August 2020. 

Find out more about learning to snorkel or discover snorkelling in the UK.

Images in this online version may have been substituted from the original images in SCUBA magazine due to usage rights.

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