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I've just got back from the "National Diving Centre" near Chepstow.  We did a couple of shallow dives yesterday and a gas dive today (Sunday).  The place is very well organised and the staff there are very friendly and helpful.  Air, nitrox, helium, argon etc. are available and there is a shop selling most things too.  There is a caravan selling hot drinks and food and there are clean toilets etc.  Entry fee is £12 (to the diving centre, not the toilets).

They have installed floating pontoons at the waters edge.  Access to these is via a sloping road.  They run a shuttle service to and from the pontoons.  You load your gear onto a trailer and it is taken down to the water for you.  You even get a lift there and back too!

The area of water is about the same as Stoney Cove.  Max depth is 80m, although we didn't explore this far.  Near the pontoons, depth is up to about 30m, then there is a drop off to about 55m and another one to 80m.

We planned a dive to 55m using 18/45 back gas, a stage of 18/45 and 100%.  By the time we'd loaded the trailer with all our gear (we were a team of 3), there wasn't any room for anything else.  There was a buoy off the far end of the pontoon which we were told went to about 50m.  We descended the buoy and were surprised to find that it wasn't actually anchored to anything at the bottom.  There was a steel girder tied off at 51m depth, floating about 3 or 4m above the botom.  Anyway, we planned to reel off from the bottom of the line if vis was bad and loss of the shot line was a possibility.  Vis was very good, but I reeled off anyway (good practice) and we explored for a while.  Water temp was a balmy 7 deg on my somewhat optimistic bottom timer.  Other team members recoded 5 or 6.  After we had turned the dive, we got back to the shot rather quicker than expecteed.  This was explained when we reached surface after a run time of approx. 50 mins.  The buoy which "was" about 15m from the pontoon, was now about 25m from the pontoon.  We had actually moved it!  Anyway, we had a little chuckle about that and returned to the pontoon.

We completed the dive using just our stages of 18/45, leaving our backgas virtually untouched.  In fact, I switched to my backgas at about 12m on the ascent when I had about 20bar remaining, clipped the stage to the line, "sent it up" and met it again at 6m where there is a trapeze.  This is a very economical way to dive.  I still have a set of tanks nearly full of 18/45 for another day.

I'd recommend a trip there, especially to anybody who wants some early season practice in a fairly benign environment.  It wasn't crowded.

They have further plans for the place, including installing some "pipework" for overhead environment training.


Best regards

Bob
 

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Hi Bob,

Sorry just spotted your post,  I posted a report in the UK section.  I thought the setup was very good but I found the actual diving very uninspiring.  Having said that it was OK for my purposes,  checking out some new kit.

I think it have great potential and the sooner they get some attractions in the water, the better.

Daz
 
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