Hopefully, fingers crossed, with any luck and all being well... we may all be able to start diving again by the 29th of March. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am just at the thought!
Every year at this time of year I start to bleat about safety and first dives of the year. It's a fact that there are more dive incidents in the early weeks of any dive season than there are later in the year when divers (and their dive kit) are 'dived up'. However this year it's going to be so much more important.
So right now, up front, before I go on to explain how I am personally approaching my return to the water PLEASE PLEASE think about signing up for our AQ Back to the Water programme. This will mirror much of what I am doing personally and we are offering it to get everyone back in the water safely and in a structured way.
I am lucky enough to work full-time in the business and as such dive year round. I am NEVER out of the water for more than a couple of weeks and when I'm in the water I spend my time demonstrating and practicing all the various skills and safety procedures.
However this year my computer is currently telling me I haven't dived for 126 days. That's not only shocking but also means that by the end of March I will be falling in to the category of needing a Scuba Review (ReActivate to use the proper name!)
So what is my plan? Will I actually do a Reactivate programme? Am I off to do one of my favourite sub 30m wrecks immediately?
To be frank no to both. But what I will be doing is heading for a shore dive or a simple less-than-15-metre boat dive. I will be diving with a few fellow instructors (we already have our plan!) and I will be taking a lot, and I mean a LOT of safety equipment with me.
But before I even do that I will be spending the next 3 -4 weeks going right through all my dive kit. Partly because I need to check it's all working (my Perdix needs a battery change, as you can see!) but also because there's nothing like a good kit fettle! Most of my stuff has already been serviced over this last lockdown, but I have a couple of bits I still need to get done. My equipment is my lifeline (and my buddy's), and despite the cost of getting it done it isn't a choice. It's a must!
Once that's done and we get the go-ahead to dive I will be heading for the water with my little group as quickly as is humanly feasible. Our plan is fairly simple. Long and proper buddy and equipment checks and then in for a really simply easy dive. No currents or drifting, no deep and dark stuff, no camera's or distractions. A dive where we concentrate on the absolute core skills - neutral buoyancy, correct weighting (I fully expect my dry suit to be slightly 'neater' and therefore my weighting may need to change!) and out-of-air scenarios.
There will be at very least 4 or 5 dives done like this. Then we will gradually build our depths in 5 metre or less increments. That way hopefully by about May or June time (remembering I dive most weeks) I will be back up to dive fitness and depth ready.
So that's me and my personal dive plan. What do I recommend for anyone else. Well more or less the same.
If it's more than 6 months please consider a Reactivate programme. It's a great way of getting your knowledge base as well as your dive skills back up to par.
If that's not your thing then have a look at our AQ Back to the Water programme.The idea of this is to get you back to diving safely and sensibly with all the resources that a dive centre has at its command. We'll start with a quick check of your kit (not a service a quick once over with you) and from there do a shore dive and then (weather permitting) a boat dive. There'll be an instructor and Divemaster with you for both dives and obviously our tool kits, spares and emergency equipment.
And if that's not your bag either then please just be careful and take things slowly. We want happy and safe divers, not squished or ones that bubble on the inside!
Happy Diving everyone from Dale and The AQ team!