The start of the snorkelling season – planning and preparation. Overall the temperatures are starting to climb and of course, we have the return of summertime.

Time to start thinking at least about getting our snorkelling equipment out.

So far this year the weather has given us unseasonably warm temperatures in February, a few very sunny days in March and some snow in April. Easter is often considered to be the traditional time for us to return to our coastal activities and with the holiday being towards the end of April this year – I suspect some will be taking that first dip.

The water temperature in an inland diving lake near me is at 8℃. The sea temperature on the South Coast appears to be about 10℃ about normal for this time of year. We know in Spring a significant gap between the water and land temperatures can be experienced which should make us think about how, when and where to plan our early season snorkelling trips and the need to be cautious about the water temperature.

Perhaps a short but invigorating snorkel dive could be an option with time to warm up on the side before thinking about a second dip. Whatever we do thorough planning and preparation is vital to stay safe and to look after our ‘creature comforts’.

- Marg Baldwin, Snorkel Instructor Trainer

How fit are you?

Have you been regularly attending the Branch pool session finning some lengths perhaps refreshing your skills, or have things slipped a little since the festive season? If the latter applies, then now is the time to motivate yourself to slowly build up your fitness levels and encourage others in the Branch to do the same, before taking that first open water trip coastal or inland. Working together helps motivate us all.

Prepare your snorkel kit

Does your suit still fit – it is well-known that adults’ suits ‘shrink’ over the winter months! Or maybe we expand? Does the suit fit applies to our younger members as well – how much have they grown? Getting all your equipment out and checking it over thoroughly well before any planned trip so any repairs and or replacements can be achieved in good time is essential. If your Branch has boats and other equipment such as Oxygen sets these too need to be checked over, ensure they are fully functional.

Planning a trip in the near future

  • Choosing the dive location needs care if coastal, tides must be favourable.
  • Inland or coastal the weather is important, good calm conditions with some sunshine are preferable, easy access in and out of the water is essential – the last thing any of us want to do is struggle when cold.
  • A known location – where you are familiar with the facilities available is strongly advised.
  • Sheltered or inside changing facilities are highly desirable and well-equipped shore support essential.
  • Getting into wet suits should be left until just before for the snorkellers are to go into the water, if the sun is out, they could get quite warm before they enter very chilly water – this could give them quite a ‘shock’.
  • Plan short dives where you can keep steadily moving and all should be briefed to indicate if they are started to feel cold and need to terminate the dive.
  • Changing back into warm dry clothing is a priority after the dive as well as being supplied with a warm drink.
  • Maybe keep the first trip of the year for adults only and involve our young snorkellers, with suitable adult supervision as part of the shore party.

Shore cover when snorkelling

A competent Snorkel Dive Manager is a must. Someone who knows the site, your dive plan and who knows what to do should something go awry.

Establish a Dive Managers ‘station’ so the Dive Manager can see the Snorkellers, yet shelter is close by where the ‘Dry Robes’/towels/blankets can be immediately available as well warm drinks.

Remember this is just the start of the season start slowly and enjoy your snorkelling.

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