The diving ‘season’ is rapidly approaching. Of course, many of us continue to dive throughout the year (back home in Scotland we get all four seasons in any one day anyway!).
Those who continue to scuba dive during the winter months benefit not only from the maintenance of their skills and experience, meaning they have less need of refresher training. Diving continuously means you do not miss out on the enjoyment of that underwater world that we have all invested so much time, effort and money in accessing.
The benefits of scuba diving in winter
Many years ago I highlighted some of the benefits of winter diving and the recent cold snap, with associated severe weather warnings, reminded me of that. At the time I spoke of the subtle enjoyment of diving on a clear crisp winter’s day where the water temperature was significantly warmer than the surface temperature (and the log fire in the pub afterwards played a part too.
The start of the 'UK scuba season'
However, if you do succumb to the winter hibernation now is the time to start preparing. The traditional ‘start of the season’ Easter appears to have taken a bit of a back seat in recent years, at least according to the incident data and anecdotal evidence, but eggs have been in the stores since the week after Christmas in some locations! So time to get ready!
Getting your scuba equipment
If you haven’t already check out your equipment and ensure that anything that requires a service is completed in plenty of time to allow you to test it out in controlled conditions before you invest time and money in travelling to the coast only to find it ‘not quite right’.
Getting your club boats ready
Larger pieces of equipment, especially boats, likewise need the same care and attention and the success of early season events like the Menai boat run are encouraging the spread of similar events elsewhere in the UK. One of the purposes of the Menai run was to test out boats prior to the diving season but that should not imply using it to check for faults. It is intended as a fun day out on the water and a boat breakdown during the event can seriously impact on that enjoyment (especially if you miss out on the fish & Chips/Icecream). So make sure the boat is serviced and well prepared beforehand.
Fitness to dive
As well as checking out our kit we need to prepare ourselves to ensure we enjoy our diving. I’m not suggesting a massive gym routine but a steady progressive build-up to get ready makes lots of sense. So much so that there will undoubtedly be lots of advice in the diving media in the run-up to Easter as in most years. Of course, the best preparation is to “go diving” but do so in a progressive way to steadily build up to the levels you were at the end of the last season.
Getting into the pool to start building some fitness levels is a help but there is no real substitute for hefting all that heavy open water kit. However you choose to build up, start steady and take your time in conditions that you feel more comfortable in, before undertaking more challenging dives. That leads nicely into that other recurring topic, Planning…
Think SAFE – Dive SAFE
BSAC Safety and Development manager