The first Sports Diver to extend their qualification to 40m had their lesson signed off via the MyBSAC app, following a successful training dive in Cyprus.
Steve Whitehouse of Rugby Divers completed the dive on the spectacular wreck MS Zenobia under the watchful eye of friend and dive instructor John McMahon.
The road to Cyprus and 40m
After taking up diving in 2018, Steve joined Rugby Divers who spend much of their time training in nearby Stoney Cove. Despite the inland site’s charms he jumped at the chance to take a warm water holiday to Cyprus with fellow club members John and Carl Adam-Watts. The group spent a week diving with BSAC Centre Scuba Tech (Shelley Patient and Peter Crane), based in Protaras.
After a couple of 'check dives' in local bays the action moved to the Zenobia, an impressive vessel which foundered largely intact and is regularly rated one of the top wreck dives in the world. The Zenobia’s location, depth to the seabed of 45m and clear warm waters also make it an ideal training site for divers keen to progress their skills. Buddying on the dive was John, a BSAC Advanced Diver, Open Water Instructor (OWI) and Sports Mixed Gas Diver. John said:
Cyprus is a regular haunt for me, due to having family there. I love the friendly culture and warm clear waters. For the 40m training dive all of us were on twin cylinders and doing some advanced decompression procedures for a 'deeper' exploration. After previous dives on the wreck gaining confidence at the depth, we dropped down to the two lorries on the seabed, swimming through the void between them and then ascending to the main accommodation block for a swim through the wreck. Permanent shotline-buoys and very little current make stops a time to spend watching other divers, fish and the odd turtle.
[L] Carl exists the Zenobia; [R, clockwise from left] Carl Adam-Watts, John McMahon, Steve Whitehouse
Steve had read up and watched videos for an idea what to expect with the wreck, though he was still awed by the sight:
Nothing prepares you for when you jump in the water, start to descend and it comes in to view! We spent three days on the Zenobia, the first day around the upper section and penetrating the accommodation block. We then did the 40m dive to go under the wheels of the two lorries on the seabed. Obviously we spoke about the dive beforehand, noting the extra risks of a deeper dive, maximum operating depth of breathing gases, work of breathing and so on. John is an excellent instructor with a keen interest in technical diving and we have had many similar conversations before. I felt comfortable with this dive, especially since it was a 'warm water' dive with great visibility. The dive itself was great (as was every other dive on the Zen). It didn't feel particularly different at 40m, although it was interesting keeping an eye on my computer to see the NDL limit approach (and pass) quickly!
Sports Diver update and the MyBSAC app
The app is easy to use and it’s great to have qualifications available on a phone for holiday divers and anyone needing to present their credentials. As an instructor it’s useful to have all the training information about a student in the palm of your hand. The ability to update training records and 'sign off' lessons that evening on your phone is extremely valuable and appreciated by both me and the students, and a significant improvement over the old paper Qualification Record Book (QRB). This will hopefully benefit everyone in the future (and save some trees by not needing a printed QRB!).
[L] Zenobia BBQ; [R, from left] John McMahon, Peter Crane of Scuba Tech, Steve Whitehouse and Carl Adam-Watts celebrate success
While Steve has thoroughly enjoyed being a Sports Diver he is already keen to continue progressing with technical diving, with plans to move on to trimix diving soon. The extra depth progression may make it slightly easier for him to progress down the technical diving route:
I am part way through the Dive Leader course but my focus is more on tech diving at the moment. The changes mean I can pursue this route while still doing the Dive Leader course and help with the club.
Having completed the 40m experience dive depth with brilliant skills and competence I followed through with trying out the app sign-off after the BSAC SD 2023 presentation. I'm surprised and pleased for Steve that he's the first to be signed off, as his dedication and approach to training during his development into a good diver and a great buddy has been a joy to witness.
The week in Cyprus came to an end after Steve completed a rebreather try-dive in Green Bay, where the divers were joined by five turtles.