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<font color='#0000FF'>Hi gudd peeple...

Being a Norwegian and all I thought I'd ask you guys how diving in the UK normally is done.
I've made some highly scientific observations you see, (In pubs, during diving in warmer climates and on the web) and these are some of my impressions so far:

- A LOT of organised diving through dive-shops.

- Lots of bad visibility. 10m+ is not common at all.

- Inland diving is quite popular, simply because shore-diving is rather inaccessible for many.

- Currents dictate dive times all over the UK.

- Almost no hunting?

- Many dive only when going abroad.

- Lots of Wreck diving, very often quite deep. 40-50 meters on air easily accepted.

- No buddy line diving?

- Single dives accepted???

As a comparison here's some of what I've got on Norwegian diving:
- Quite a few clubs around, CMAS or PADI, very often centered around a compressor. Some shops do divetrips, but that's not the norm. Most diving is done with buddies buddying up and getting in the water on their own, though.

- Very few diveshops once you leave the cities, though you'll find some very small ones in small communities, very often family business run from the garage.

- All year diving. Mostly dry-suit., though in the extreme south during summer a bit of wet-suit diving for the brave.

- Currents is not very much a factor, which means you can jump in justabout any time. Dives will just be adjusted to fit the current current  


- Lots of good vis, especially in the winter. 30-40 meters not uncommon in the North. Rarely as low as 3-4 meters vis, though not uncommon in the easternmost fjords.

- Lots of life in the sea, some of which is killed for grub. Salmon, trout and lobsters exempted.

- Very safety orientated diving, partly due to quite a few taking CMAS certificates through clubs. Singleton diving is not accepted in general. Quite a few clubs use buddy line when appropriate, especially with freshmen.

Well I could go on, but I was hoping to just start a discussion in order to broaden my horizon, and p'raps yours, and find out what the general approach to diving is in the UK, whether it's "happy go lucky" or overly safe...

Anyone?

Kyrre
 

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Bit of a difficult one, this...

...to sum up UK diving, I would say that it is frustrating, back-breaking, cold, equipment intensive and bloody rewarding when everything goes well and according to plan.  Like most things in life, you get out what you put in and make some lifelong friends into the bargain.

Its great!!!
 
 
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (andy2tanx @ Aug. 23 2003,19:53)]...to sum up UK diving, I would say that it is frustrating, back-breaking, cold, equipment intensive and bloody rewarding when everything goes well and according to plan.  
<font color='#0000FF'>Yup I understand it's difficult, since there are a lot of divers around, but in reference to your statement I get the impression that there are so many factors you have to take into consideration when diving in the UK. You need a boat, you need to look at the tide, the viz has to be okay, the diveboat operators have to be okay, the jetty has to be open, the shot line has to be in place.. etc etc...

Myself I have a Donald Duck wreck (IE intact and upright) at 20 meters depth a kilometer from my house, though obviously everyone here in N. isn't that lucky.

I might be wrong but it seems you Brits have to be VERY dedicated to pursue your hobby and get in the water whenever you want...

Kyrre
 

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<font color='#000080'>Kyrre,

I'm not sure there is a "norm" for UK divers.

There's the BSAC (or equivalent) club divers, who probably dive most regularly (every weekend mostly) and usually have their own boat. They tend to dive their favourite local sites most of the time with the occaisional trip further afield, normally on Bank Holidays. Obsessed with wrecks and brass.

Then there's the shops, which normally are PADI training centres, which often have loose clubs of ex-trainees. They rarely have their own boat so rely on the occasional charter boat with shore or quarry dives in between. Obsessed with courses and badges.

The techies tend to congregate into small groups of like minded, though are usually affiliated to BSAC or similar clubs from which they originated. They'll dive as a close knit team and will do "projects". Obsessed with depth and equipment.

A mass of holiday divers then, often trained abroad and never dive in the UK (though those that get really hooked sometimes make a cross-over). Generally not obsessed.

YDers. Just obsessed.

Those are the basic stereotypes, though few conform exactly.

In terms of the actual diving, you've pretty much got the right idea.

Our sea diving is very much affected by conditions, whether that be tides or weather, and very often a trip that's been in the planning for weeks will get blown out at the last minute. That's why we've got quite a few developed inland sites to fall back on. We are quite used to going to a great deal of effort, struggling with cumbersome kit, to drop down on a barely recognisible pile of corroded steel with virtually no visibility, but come up with massive grins on our faces! And why? Because we got wet and we survived! (And of course, because we are mad!)

No, we don't hunt much (I've never seen a speargun in use) but it's common for the odd lobster to be taken if found. Most hunting is for brass! With so many wrecks around our coasts it's not surprising that it is an obsession. Many of our wrecks are military in origin and have been sunk in open sea, which means they're at greater depth. So, you'll find we often dive deeper than most, just to get to them.

No, buddy lines are not in normal usage, but do come into play in low viz situations. And yes, solo diving is creeping in as more acceptable. This is coming hand-in-hand with the deeper and more technical diving being done, where ideas of self-sufficiency are paramount and so the buddy system is less critical.

I think different conditions and historical matters would account for most of the differences in diving here compared with there.

However, I think one thing we've found (on this forum at least) is that we all have the same sense of humour!
 

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A lot of what you say is correct, Kyrre. There IS a lot of inland diving, although you're never more than 100 miles from the sea in the UK, simply because it's impossible to dive in the sea a lot of the time in most places. There are exceptions, like Oban, on the west coast of scotland, where you can almost always find a sheltered site, but they are exactly that, exceptions. The vis is generally nowhere near as good as in Norway, or even the west coast of Sweden, where I mainly dive, and the tide always has to be taken into consideration – you can only dive at slack water in most places. There are lots of excellent wrecks but you can seldom see more than a few metres of the wreck at at a time, whereas you can often see most or all of the wreck in our waters. The only good thing is that the winter air and sea temperatures are quite a lot higher in most parts of the UK than in Scandinavia – we often have surface sea temperatures of zero or even minus one in our local fiord in January and February, whereas it never gets that cold in most parts of the UK, although I believe it does in some parts of Scotland. I think it's fair to say that there are, relatively speaking, more winter divers (at least winter sea divers) in Scandinavia, thanks to our archipelagos and fiords, which make shore diving easy.
I would say UK divers and Scandinavian divers are equally safety conscious, though, and there are a LOT of clubs in the UK. Diving is NOT mainly organised through diveshops. However, there are a lot of charter boats operating in the popular areas. As a rule, people seem to book with the skipper direct, rather than through a diveshop.
These are my conclusions from my limited experience of UK diving – I've dived from Dover, Weymouth, Plymouth and Islay (Scotland) and done three trips to southern Ireland. Others may or may not agree with me.
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>Thanks for the reply, Mark.

One thing that's significant in difference between our countries is that it's illegal to pick ANYTHING from a wreck unless it's actually yours.
Granted, it's done regularly, but the fact remains that all military wrecks in Norway are owned by someone, all wrecks older than 100 years are Governmental Property while the few younger wrecks normally are owned by some salvage- or insurance-company.
Which means, basicly, we're on a see don't touch basis. "Saw nothing, heard nothing, took nothing" is the consequent reply if you ask someone about their dive while they stuff stuff into the trunk of their car...

Good thing: Leaves more for us photographers.
Bad thing: People collect and keep it in their garage while it can't be shown.
A LOT goes abroad. Sweden, Finland and the UK are  countries often mentioned... (Though we do manage to keep most Brits out with our beer prices  
)

Kyrre
 

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<font color='#000080'>The "wrecking" (i.e. brass hunting) aspect of British diving is a historic tradition, but is dying out. Attitudes are changing, generally due to the PADI influence, and these days it is the preserve of the BSAC old guard.

I don't think there's much difference in the legal aspects of salvage here - in principle all our wrecks belong to someone too - but items can be lifted as long as they are declared to the Receiver of Wreck. This is basically a civil office that decides who owns what. If an owner is found for what you've brought up then it is declared as their property, but often the Receiver will grant you a salvage award. If no owner can be found, then you get to keep it.

In addition, of course, we do have many protected wrecks, whether these be war graves or archaeological sites. These are strictly "look but don't touch" or even no diving at all. Generally, these sites are very well respected.

There is still some stuff brought up on the quiet, but we've recently had an amnesty as a forerunner to a bit of a clamp-down. I think in the future there will be few skippers who will allow stuff to be brought up onto their boats.

Personally, I've never seen the fascination with it and like yourself would much prefer to have our wrecks left intact for all to enjoy, rather than having bits of them collecting dust in someones garage!
 

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Kyrre,

I think the diving in the UK is bloody marvellous, even though the English Channel where I live next to (East Sussex) probably has the worst viz possible in the UK. I love wreck diving and there are over 300 known wrecks off the coast of Sussex.

Inland diving, for me (live on the coast) is something to do in winter when the sea is too rough. Shore dives, where I live, are to be avoided unless there is nothing else to do.

Solo diving? Well it happens and on the occasions I have done it I have found it more relaxing than buddy diving (depends on the buddy of course). I always try to ensure I have redundancy/contingency plans to get myself out of trouble if my buddy is absent. As I normally dive with the same group of people now we usually agree (for the most part - not always) that if we get split up and don't find each other we still finish the dive. Everyone has redundant gas supply etc etc.

Buddy line - no way for me. Tried it once and the thing kept getting snagged and caught up (only half a mtr viz).

The tide - wreck diving is best done on the slack so diving can involve some very early starts.

I had my first mix with a bit of helium in for a mid Channel 50 mtr dive and it was marvellous the difference it made - I will soon be doing the Trimix course and won't be diving beyond 40 mtrs without it when I've got my cert.

The viz where you are sounds great - if we are diving at the same time you can probably see us from there.

There isn't that much left on the wrecks I've seen to plunder.

It is a well known fact that the best research and cleverest answers occur in the pub.
 

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Be jellous be very Jellous


Seriously we have some of the best wreck diving in the world. Thousands of wrecks to chose from in anything from 6m to 100m.

The Solsett, The Moldavia, The Duke are fantastic wrecks often with 20m viz.

Yes you need to go deeper and further out to get the viz but at cirtain times of the year the 30m wrecks com into their own and then there are shed loads of great dives to do.

We dont have reefs all over the country but Pembrookshire has great reefs and so does Lundy islend.

I honistly think no mater where I lived in the world I would long for UK wreck diving.

Mark Chase
 

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Guys

Well said all, top summary Mark / John, not much to argue with except maybe that BSAC is more training and rescue obsessed than brass hunting.

Club diving is the way to master the conditions and gain experience. Many eather move to Holiday diving or tech agencies after a while though.

As an example today i did 2 dives off a club rhib on 2 Dover wrecks i have not done before.

St Cecilia - Freighter in 32m, 8m proud, 8.5NM from Dover, water 19Deg at 30m, vis 3-4m very cloudy but light. Dived with a PADI AOW diver on his 2nd UK dive, (45 total dives, his 1st UK was with me last year). Good dive 46min, he had good air and buoyancy.

2nd dive UB109, WW1 sub in 25m (sunk by remote control in 1918), 6m proud, gun and perescopes in place. Same buddy, vis 2m but very dark. He had a panic attack at 20m before we got to the wreck, and we aborted the dive. Other pair (both SD) with us had a good 40 min dive, 1 has 25 OW dives all off Dover, other 200+ worldwide, majority Dover and Ireland.

Temperament and experience i'd say. Have to say i found it a bit spookey but knew it would be ok once we were on the wreck.

Landed the shot on the coning tower by the way YEEEEss.

Dive Safe

Paul
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>Yup

Wrecks' galore in other words. I can see why wreckies get their kicks off the UK coast.
An acquaintance of mine, Bill Smith (the Bluebird) in Newcastle, has told me quite a bit about the wreckdiving around the area. It's going to be a while before you run out of divesites ...

Mind you, we've got our fair share of wreckage here in Norway too, thanks the Germans and you guys

I live close to Narvik and next weekend I'll be off for a wreck-weekend, with 6 dives, 6 wrecks. Although I prefer a good wall to a wreck, I'm really looking forward to it.

Herman Kunne is one of the wrecks. Run ashore after running out of ammo in the fight with British forces on April 13th 1940 the destroyer now stretches from the surface to about 40 below. Here's a pic I took.
 

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I have to say I've only done 2 really good wreck dives in the UK – the Salsette, under perfect conditions (i.e 20 m vis and no current), and the James Eagan Layne (spelling?), also under perfect conditions. The rest (including a number out of Dover) have frankly been crap. I really don't see the point of diving a wreck if you can't see more than a couple of metres of it at a time. There, that should start you off  
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (John Gulliver @ Aug. 24 2003,12:32)]I really don't see the point of diving a wreck if you can't see more than a couple of metres of it at a time. There, that should start you off  
<font color='#000080'>That's fighting talk, that is!

As you know, this discussion is ongoing elsewhere. For me wrecks provide everything that reefs (in the UK at least) have got on offer in terms of marine life. They just add that little extra in terms of atmosphere.

I know you're very much into the marine biology - I certainly don't know enough about it to appreciate it fully - but I still spend most of my time on a wreck watching all the little critters scurrying about. However, the most thrilling sight I've yet had on a dive was to approach the upright bow of a wreck and see the rails emerge from the gloom. Spine chilling!

Having said that, I'm making my first trip to the Red Sea soon. I'm sure my best diving experiences are yet to come!

I'll reserve judgement until then.  
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (John Gulliver @ Aug. 24 2003,12:32)]The rest (including a number out of Dover) have frankly been crap. I really don't see the point of diving a wreck if you can't see more than a couple of metres of it at a time. There, that should start you off  
Couple of mtrs viz - you should think yourself lucky!!!!

That is par for the course a lot of the year in that part of the Channel (I live in Bexhill and mainly do wreck dives on Brighton charters). If 2 or 3 mtrs is all the viz that I get then I have to dive with it (stopping is not an option).

You just pay attention more to the bits you can see and that is still better than a reef (for me).

I have even done 40 minutes dong a drift dive over sand (by accident admittedly) and until then I did not know that starfish can get into a position like a hollow ball and roll with the tide. Whether that is by design or as a result of a defensive action as a result of being swept along in the current I have no idea. What I was trying to say before the starfish bit is that not going diving is not an option and crap viz (2 inches) is def not going to stop me and on good days 2 to 3 mtrs I am happy. Sometimes we even get 10 to 15 mtrs which is quite scary - all that space to look at.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Mark Davies @ Aug. 24 2003,14:22)]I know you're very much into the marine biology - I certainly don't know enough about it to appreciate it fully - but I still spend most of my time on a wreck watching all the little critters scurrying about. However, the most thrilling sight I've yet had on a dive was to approach the upright bow of a wreck and see the rails emerge from the gloom. Spine chilling!
What Mark said !!!!!!!!

 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Mark Davies @ Aug. 24 2003,15:22)]I'm sure my best diving experiences are yet to come!
Mine too, hopefully. I haven't been to Micronesia, Cocos or Galapagos yet.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Finless @ Aug. 24 2003,16:13)]I did not know that starfish can get into a position like a hollow ball and roll with the tide. Whether that is by design or as a result of a defensive action as a result of being swept along in the current I have no idea.
Sounds as though they were just feeling horny. They stand on the tips of their arms when releasing their sperms/eggs.
 

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Guys

Similar experience to Mark got me hooked, which i have covered on that thread. Below is a dive report from one of my clubs Sport Divers on the 2 wrecks we did yesterday, i think you will feel the enthusiasm for wreck diving even in poor vis:-

6 divers turned out for the start of 10 wrecks in 10 days. The first wreck on the list St-Cecilia a large freighter. The weather was kind to us with light winds but cloudy skys and a little bit of a swell. The drive to the dive sight was quick but a little bouncy. The wreck was shot very quickly but it is so big that even we couldn't miss it (or could we). First in were Carl F and Pete C for the shot recovery. The water temp was warm 19oC but the vis was not great 3 - 4 mtrs. At the bottom of the shot, you guessed it, no wreck. A quick circle search and there it was, huge. Carl had to do a lift and shift (shame no instructors saw it) to the wreck only to find the smooth side of a ship with nothinf to tie it to. After a long, long swim we found what could have been the bridge. An interesting wreck to dive and we were soon joined by Chris Mc and Mike G. All of us seeing a monster lobby walking around. On surfacing Paul O dropped in with a PADI guest diver Ross on his 2nd every UK channel dive. While in the boat Carl played chicken with a trawler to cover the divers still down. The dive ended with out incident and we headed back to shore. And yes Carl did forget the shot floating loose in the sea, so we had to turn back and pick it up. Oppps.
The Afternoon dive was a bit empty, only 4 divers going out. The sea was calm and the target was UB109. A very quick drive to the site and the first shot missed the target. The second shot went straight in. Paul O and Ross (PADI guest diver) dropped in on recovery but unfortunalty Ross had a panic attack at 20 mtrs and Paul returned him to the boat. This left Chris Mc and Carl to go get the shot. And i could see why Ross had not enjoyed the 20 mtrs patch, it was very, very dark. As we approached the bottom of the shot it seemed to suddenly go above us and we knew we had hit the wreck. And what a wreck, this is a fantastic sub. It is in great condition for its age and i'm glad to see that it has been RESPECTED and not touched by divers. The glass is all still in place in the periscope and the conning windows and the journey from the conning tower past the gun and to the bow is amazing. The bow is in tact and the little flag holder at the front is still there. The details you can make out on this wreck is eerie, to think men worked and died on this. The cargo/torpedo loading hatch is great. Although the vis was 4 - 5 mtrs it was very dark but focused your attention to the detail. You have to do this wreck if you have an interest in subs. Remeber though it is a war grave so please respect it.

lets hope they are all as good as these over the next few days.
cArL.
 

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Well, I'm sure I would have enjoyed the sub. The vis was evidently not bad at all, good enough to see the details.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (John Gulliver @ Aug. 24 2003,17:50)]
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Finless @ Aug. 24 2003,16:13)]I did not know that starfish can get into a position like a hollow ball and roll with the tide. Whether that is by design or as a result of a defensive action as a result of being swept along in the current I have no idea.
Sounds as though they were just feeling horny. They stand on the tips of their arms when releasing their sperms/eggs.
That would make sense, I have never seen Starfish do that that before + they were "white side out" which did not make sense as that must be the most vulnerable side (?).

John, just to confirm, all legs were arched back meeting at one point white side out and there were quite a lot being rolled along in the current. The ones I saw were very much ball shaped.

I really ought to learn some more on the subject - I thought they were doing the tumble weed option and moving to somewhere else.
 
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