The fun they had at TEKCamp

An awesome week of meeting the best UK technical divers and learning from them

Diving in The Red Sea

Warm water, clear visibility makes for a great holiday!

Malinbeg Harbour

Often, the simplest local dives are the best.

I'm not getting into that. It's dark and looks cold - my 1st dive.

Having completed all my pool sessions successfully, with the exception of a little mask removal drama, i was ready for the depths of the ocean. The pool sessions were great. Kerri and i spent hours after each pool dive discussing how far our diving had progressed and how much more confident we were feeling. We were so enthused that Kerri even came into work with me for my night shift to chat about it and then go to work the next day. She regretted that manouver.

My open water dives were to be conducted in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. The Lough is dark, murky and pretty cold - not really an ideal spot for new divers but you have to start somewhere, so why not? I was nervous about this but my instructor told me i was ready,  i had done all the pool skills so what was next otherwise?

On a brisk Sunday morning in October i went on my first ocean dive. By the time i arrived at the boat i had decided i was no longer Jacque Cousteau, screw the money, scuba diving was stupid and The Maldives didn't seem that great anyway. But it was too late. I was beginning to poo a little. I stepped onto the hard hull boat and looked at my future wife for what was probably the last time. I could tell she felt the same. What were we doing? This was madness. Should we run? We climbed aboard.

the outer lees, strangford lough
A 20min boat ride later we were moored up on the "Outer Lees" an old ship wreck in the middle of Strangford Lough. It loomed up from the darkness and looked like something you just shouldn't be hanging around. It was all rusted metal, old and dangerous looking. Our instructor said, "Ok, get your kit on and jump in there and move round to that ladder, hang on and wait for me."

You have to be kidding mate.

my first dive

Nevertheless i struggled on an ill fitting dry suit, hood and a weight belt with enough lead to sink the Bismarck. I felt really restricted. I couldn't see with this stupid hood on, i couldn't walk in the big bin liner and why did i have 3 breeze blocks strapped around my waist? I was going to drown.

I smiled for the camera, loaded a 12l cylinder onto my back, signed over the house to Kerri and jumped in. Oh God.

I managed to claw my way around the wreck to the meeting point doing everything in my power to ensure i DIDN'T go underwater. I gingerly lowered my face into the water holding my breath and looked beneath. I could see stuff, this was pretty cool. I then received the thumbs down from my instructor and we descended into the gloom. I plummeted to the sea bed 8m below.

My first breath under the sea was a strange experience. I was definitely scared, but also excited and curious as to what i was going to see. I sat on the bottom staring at my instructor. I could tell he was gauging whether i was about to fly into full scale panic and make a bolt for the surface, which was considered, but i started to feel stable and concentrated to stay calm and focus on my breathing.

I stared around me. This was unbelievable. I looked at some sea weed waving around the sea floor like they were blowing in the wind, and i could see Kerri a few meters away with another diver doing some skills. She was still alive too, this was turning into a good day out. We went for a bit of a swim, well, my instructor finned about, i mainly clawed my way around but at least i was UNDER the water now - being a scuba diver.

I think this lasted about 15-20mins and then we surfaced. Although i did enjoy my first ocean experience i was glad it was over. I needed to regroup my thoughts, get my shit together and reflect. Kerri and I would be having a serious debrief about this! Which we did. We went home and Kerri described how she was working out how to tell me she couldn't scuba dive ever again. We both worked out our fears and continued with the program!

I had successfully survived and enjoyed, to some degree, my first real scuba dive.

What makes a man jump off a perfectly good boat?

What made me want to scuba dive?

hangover = scuba
This is a question all divers are asked by friends and family at some stage in their diving career. The main reason i started diving was largely due to a hangover. I find that after i have been drinking, the next day, which is usually a Sunday, is spent trawling the internet, searching ebay and generally finding a way to spend money on things i don't need in order to numb the growing depression i am feeling caused by the previous nights alcohol abuse.

So on a Sunday in Sept 2008 i was doing my usual surf extravaganza. After having read the entire internet Kerri and i began talking about things we were looking forward to in order to relieve the overwhelming urge to form a suicide pact. This conversation revolved around our up coming wedding in Sri Lanka and honeymoon in The Maldives, yes, we are good to ourselves and have all the money.

We began to focus on The Maldives and how much we were looking forward to lying on a beach in a remote island in the blazing sun. In the brochure there were pictures of beaches, eating out, drinking (which we glanced over) and scuba diving. Apparently The Maldives is the scuba diving capital of the world. Oh?

At that very moment i decided we should do some scuba diving while we were there, but we didn't know how. So we would take a scuba class in The Maldives. It then quickly moved on to the idea that we should learn before we went so we didn't have to study anything whilst on holiday. This was an amazing idea by me. But how? We knew absolutely nothing about the sport. Was it even called a sport? Is it a hobby? We didn't know. We had to find out....right now.

So, back onto the internet. May i just explain quickly that both Kerri and i are obsessive by nature and like to read and know as much as possible about our interests. We spent the next 6 hours or so learning to dive online. By the time we had finished we knew all the courses we would take for the next 10 years, where we would be going on scuba trips and that an octopus was a stupid name for the yellow breather thing and that the first stage would be better being called this as it had "legs" coming out of it.

However, we knew that we probably would need some recognised license or something to dive on holiday so the research continued. It seemed PADI was the most popular so we became PADI divers instantly and planned to move to Thailand, become instructors, leave our day jobs far behind and drink beer on the beach in between dives. We needed someone to teach us, and fast.

Another quick google brought up PADI instructors in Northern Ireland. We simply picked one that had try dives at our local pool, gave the guy a ring and did a pool dive on the Tuesday.

That weekend we gave the guy a stupid amount of money out of our wedding budget and signed up for Open Water and Advanced Open Water there and then.

What had we done?

Welcome to my blog!

Well, here it is. I Are Diver.

This is my personal diving blog. I have some information about myself, the equipment i have and some insight into why i use what i do and the type of diving i enjoy. There are also some valuable links for any diver.

I will add some posts over time with stories of my diving and maybe some dive site info and my future plans. In the mean time enjoy what is here.

Dive safe.