GUE Fundamentals Part 2 : Misdirected Aggression & Spag 'Bol

Apparently the alarm sounded at 7.00am again.

I must confess; I didn't hear it. I don't mean to keep going on about the swim test or my apparent lack of fitness; but I was knackered, hence I slept through the incessant beeping that usually makes me cringe at the thought of what the pending day would bring.

At 7.30am my natural body clock finally kicked in, and, as my senses slowly came to life, I remembered where I was, and what I was there for; diving.

Day 2 was all about in water stuff.

Wifebuddy in action

I trailed my newly elongated arms down the stairs, met Kerri, who had breakfast in hand; a choice of tea or coffee at the ready, and partially enjoyed Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

Don't get me wrong, I quite like the cereal, but to be honest, a big fry up would have been more desirable.

Within the hour the rest of the team were up and about, and the boss man had us in our drysuits.


A properly fitted harness is critical for pleasant diving, and I was eager for Rich to get mine sized properly once and for all; as well a showing me the correct method of adjustment.

He didn't disappoint.

As Shelley had been more or less sorted the day before, Wifebuddy and I got preferential treatment for the guts of an hour. My harness was pretty close; I had my shoulder straps in a good position, but I needed to shift the D-rings an inch and lengthen the crotch strap.

Kerri's needed completely redone.

By the time Rich had finished with us we looked like different divers. Once donned, I immediately noticed the raised D-rings, and became a little anxious I wouldn't be able to locate them; my muscle memory had adapted to the poor placement.

I was promptly educated in the workings of 'ball joints' and shown how to hit the D-ring every time with a double ender.

Oh, how that would come back to haunt me...

Kerri's rig looked awesome. I always thought it looked 'wrong', but for some reason she always seemed content to dive it the way it was; must be yet another woman thing i'll never understand.

By 10am all was done, and finally we made our way to Capernwray for a dive.


More affectionately known as "Capers" I must admit I really liked Capernwray Quarry. I know local divers find quarries a bit boring, which I fully understand, im lucky as I have a Lough at my back door, but as far as a big hole full of water goes; Capers is right up there.

View of Capernwray from the accommodation

The facilities are brilliant; big car park, lots of gases available, shop, service centre, rentals, training, changing area, and a cracking cafe in which you can walk about in your dry suit. Did I mention it’s fully licensed?

The staff were brilliant and obviously knew Rich well, and treated us students like new friends; we relaxed immediately.


Orientation of the centre done, we finally got the twinsets out of the Ford Boring and got a fill of our new standard gas: 32% Nitrox.

Rich then educated his students in the dark ways of analysing and marking up cylinders after a fill.

All of us were tech trained anyway so it was familiar territory, but every agency has its own slant on things; nothing too out of the ordinary.

Gases analysed, we went for a cup of tea and dive briefing.


Over tea Rich enlightening us in the finer arts of:

  • Buoyancy
  • Trim 
  • Balance 
  • Frog kick 
  • Modified frog kick 
  • Flutter kick 
  • Modified flutter kick 

perfect frog kick
The plan was simple; jump in the water, find the 6m platform, Rich would demonstrate his awesomeness; we would copy if flawlessly, get out and have lunch.

Yeah; just like that.

After a rather hideous walk the entire length of the humongous car park, we slumped onto some strategically based benches at the shore and began GUE EDGE; an almost clever acronym, designed to help a diver remember all the important parts that need stated before a dive.

G - Goal
U - Unified Team
E - Equipment

E - Exposure
D - Deco
G - Gas
E - Environment

It took a few days to get it to stick in my head; along with a new style of buddy check.

Initially I really didn't like our new buddy check, and felt Kerri and I had a better one. After several dives we soon got into the gist of it, and the more logical approach made sense, reducing the chance of missing something.

In hindsight we were just very set in our ways; I'm a bit old for all these changes...

Then we hit the water - awesome!

It felt phenomenal to get weightless and do what I had come for. The three of us made our way to the platform and did our best to remain stationary so Rich could perform for us.

The buoyancy stuff was pretty much as expected; I have a good grasp of how to control it, and was pretty stable once I got settled.

The balance exercise really brought a few things to light. Although I felt I had my arms out in front keeping me balanced, I soon learned I hadn't them spread wide enough. Keeping my legs further apart had a huge influence on balance as well; something I had never tried before.

That was something I would develop as the week progressed.

Trim is something I strive for; I love seeing divers that have the perfectly flat shape in the water, it looks so graceful as they kick and glide through space. I recall just doing everything Rich said; "Arch your back, clench your butt cheeks and keep your head back."

So, I did it. He seemed happy enough, so we moved on.

Watching the boss demonstrate propulsion was just fantastic. I've watched loads of videos of GUE divers looking all cool, fining through caves and stuff, but to see the control up close was unreal.

Demonstrations done, it was over to the students, and the 3 of us began circling the platform with our attempts of the various propulsion techniques. Rich hovered around with his big video camera, taking footage to "educate" us with later.

I felt a bit of a twat. I have been using the frog kick for years, and although in my mind I was doing exactly as Rich did, it felt awkward and weird. The flutter kicks felt much better in comparison, which was strange, as I had never used that type of kick before. The constant knees up was peculiar, but did make me feel pretty flat in the water.

After an hour the big thumb came out and our little team of 3 made our best effort to swim in formation back to the shore. It was iffy, but not bad.

Once out, we semi-stripped out of our suits and headed for lunch and a debrief.


I wasn't thrilled to see the camera sitting on the lunch table. I have never seen myself in the water, and I knew it would be educational at best.

Rich pressed play, and the 4 of us huddled around the tiny screen. 

I was happy and disappointed at the same time. My trim looked pretty good, in fact, I was damn pleased with it; but my frog kick was appalling. The power phase was good, but the recovery was abysmal; my fins drooped and lazily made their way back to my arse.

Disappointment washed over me. The kicker was; I had been fining about for years like that, thinking I was all tech and cool like; nah, not the case.

All the students had their problems and Rich gave us individual advice on how to improve the crappy bits.

I needed to point my toes after each power phase, in order to lift my fins and stop sending wash to the sea bed. I was cool with that; twinkle toes from then on!


GUE diving is heavily based on the "team" thing. To aid our learning Rich manoeuvred 2 mustards and a mayo sachet around our lunch table to demonstrate how a team should move, and the benefit it brings.

It was actually quite fascinating and made a lot of sense, as expected.

A minute later rich began pouring a small pillar of salt onto his plate. The three of us leaned in close to see what the Jedi master was going to enlighten us with.

As we continued to loom in over Rich's plate he looked up, somewhat surprised; "what are you lot doing?"

We replied in unison: "Seeing what you’re doing with the salt."

Rich slowly and deliberately lifted a chip, pressed it into the salt and ate it; "I'm eating my chips you muppets"


The next dive was the basic 5.

Basic 5
  • Reg remove and replace 
  • Regulator exchange and stow 
  • S-drill 
  • Mask flood 
  • Mask remove and replace 

All to be conducted remaining at a constant depth, and without moving.

We conducted a few dry runs on the benches by the shore, waded into the rather chilly 6c water, and made our way back to the platform.

Once there Rich demonstrated the back kick and helicopter turn. We three students again attempted to replicate; all on film of course.

The basic 5 followed. I was number one, so lined myself up, built my stable platform and started the sequence.

It didn't go too badly. The reg out stuff I found pretty straight forward, until I tried to clip off my main reg. (Remember the moved D-rings?)

Well, I kinda found the rings but my light cord also found them. Rich explained later he has only seen a diver clip to a light cord 3 times; 2 of which were me, as I repeatedly clipped the bolt snap to the cable: twice in a row.

By the second effort I got bit pissed and really threw the light head forward out of my way. The cable was clear and I found the d ring.

stupid light cord

The mask off stuff was as unpleasant as expected, but I struggled through it regardless.

By the time Shelley had made her effort, the water temp had dropped further and Rich ended the session.

Poor Kerri had to wait for her basic 5.

Diving for the day was completed and we headed back to the ranch for debrief and dinner.


This time the video was plumbed into the TV and we got a really good look at ourselves. My frog kick was still dropping slightly, but rich explained it wasn’t a show stopper and was actually very good; he just felt with a little extra work I could really make it awesome.

I thought I was just about getting it right, but there did appear to be dramatic improvements from the morning session, so I made a mental note to really keep my fin tips up from then on.

I shall kick like Kermit!

My basic 5 was better than expected. Watching the light cord disaster was kinda funny, it looks so obvious on video;

"You're gonna clip that onto your cord mate ... told you"

Amazingly my buoyancy held quite well during the mask off drill, dropping only about 30cm or so, and face planting the platform. It needed a little polishing, but again nothing to worry about.

The video continued and we got to witness Kerri attempting to clip off a bolt snap to a D-ring. She had managed to clip bolt snap to bolt snap. Any tech diver can tell you; that's a disaster to get sorted in water, usually requiring a buddy to help out.

Wifebuddy, on the other hand, needed no such help and appeared determined to solve the problem alone, through persistence, brute force, bad temper, and finally pure aggression.

The snap hadn't a chance.

Rich explained Kerri had become a little task fixated and perhaps it was a touch of "Misdirected Aggression."

I could tell he was afraid, and quickly moved on...


The camera was put to bed and Rich kindly treated us to fantastic spaghetti bolognaise. It was a great meal, and I did my best to finish the enormous helping I was issued.

The boss could eat.


Dinner was done by 9pm, and we moved to the comfortable part of the house for the gas planning lecture.

We covered: 

  • Minimum gas and how to calculate bar needed for a shared ascent. 
  • Turn pressure, based on minimum gas. 
  • Usable gas, and the various equations; all, halves and thirds 
  • Surface consumption rate; GUE version of sac rate.
evening lecture

The gas planning was brilliant. It really simplified how to plan a dive, and work out exactly how much gas was needed, rather than just defaulting to the "thirds" rule we usually used.

By 11pm I was a bit frazzled and class was adjourned.

Kerri skipped off to bed, but I allowed my brain to unwind a little with the aid of a Carlsberg. Rich and I chatted on for bit then finally called it quits.

It had been a really long day, I was exhausted, but satisfied; and waddled off to bed calculating the turn pressure for our local dive site in my head...

What would DAY 3 bring?



Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!

Safe diving buddy.