Just the best thing ever. Well perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, but WOW does it feel good to be able to get back in the briny again!
However before we all throw ourselves in with ne'er a backwards glance it is worth spending some time checking that our kit, our plans and our buddy are all fit for purpose and as ready to dive as we are!
So lets start by:
Make sure you have it all and don't forget the small things: talc or jollop, batteries for dive computers and torches, gloves etc.
Next go through it all bit by bit. Check it thoroughly looking for any obvious problems like tears, rips or bits nibbled by mice - this year my local mice LOVED my BCD inflator hose, last years mischief (yes that's the collective noun) preferred my fin straps for some reason!
Once you've looked at the obvious delve a bit deeper:
WET OR DRY SUIT
So last September or October you were diving. You were sitting comfortably at 30 metres or more. The temperature was 16 - 18 degrees and the ambient light was such that you didn't really need your torch even though you probably used it. You'd done 20+ dives in the last few months.
Fast forward to April 2021. The sea is 9 degrees, below 18 metres it is DARK and you haven’t dived for 3 - 4 months or more. Your kit has quite probably sat in bag in the shed or garage.
I was lucky enough to do a (very nicely executed I have to say) giant stride into the wet stuff on the first day we could get back in - 29th March. There were about 8 other dive schools diving where I was. Not one was teaching. All had all their staff doing shake down dives, checking out their kit and practicing their dive skills. Wonderful to see.
And this is what we all need to do. Take it slowly, increase depths gradually and make certain our fitness, skills and abilities are up to the dives we want to do. To book dives on Outcast where you'll be diving in a group of other like-minded divers click here.
In tec diving we recommend people increase their depths in 5 metre increments. That seems to make sene for all divers right now. For those who normally spend the winter diving this spring is very different. We are simply not dive fit, we cannot just carry on diving as if we hadn’t had a break we have, a very long one.
So stay shallow to start with, stay close to your buddy and keep it simple. Be a dive tortoise - slow and steady will get your there!
This is back to basics folks, and I have to admit a bit of a soap-box thing of mine. But by doing a buddy-check before you plunge in prevents soooooo many issues. I am not certain I can count the number of times as a dive boat skipper I have had a diver re-surface within 2 - 3 seconds of descending. "My regs aren't working' is the common cry. Yes they are, or at least they would be if you'd turned your air on.
Leaky BCDs, torches that aren't there or in the worst case scenario a buddy who can't work out how to release that quick-release weight. 2 minutes spent doing a buddy check could prevent ALL of these kinds of issues.
In the PADI system we teach BWRAF (Buoyancy, weights, releases, air and final ok), but it doesn't matter which agency you come from or frankly what order you do the check. Go through it and remember it's not just to make sure everything is working. It's also there to make sure you, the buddy, knows where everything is, should you need to help you mate out.
So in conclusion.
WELCOME BACK TO DIVING AND HERE'S TO A SAFE AND MAGNIFICENT SEASON AHEAD OF US!