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Posted 04.05.2022

Flora's Scuba Diving Journey: Open Water

Flora is a 17-year-old from Derby who recently undertook work experience with our friends at MSDS Marine. She is currently studying A-level Art, Photography and Business at Bilborough College in Nottingham and is going to go to Falmouth University to study marine photography and natural history later this year. MSDS Marine and Go Dive are supporting her on her journey to PADI Rescue Diver this year and Flora will be posting regular updates throughout her Open Water all the way through to Rescue Diver on the Go Dive blog pages.
Find out more about Flora and her work experience to date here.

PADI Open Water

Pool Week 1
Starting this course is an exciting new experience that will give me new skills that can help me pursue my dreams as a marine photography student. I am excited to be writing this blog as I go along though my PADI open water diver training course and start to build new skills and experiences. In week one I started off in the Go Dive classroom, learning about the scuba equipment and how you look after, check and use it. We also spent time going over section one within the PADI open water diver manual, which highlighted the relationship between my depth in water and the pressure. After covering this section within the classroom, we headed to the pool to learn week one’s skills, this included setting up your scuba kit, inflating and deflating your BCD, breathing underwater and more. This week taught me the dangers I need to be aware off when descending and ascending within a dive and other exciting new skills. I really enjoyed this week and am excited to see what the future weeks entail.

Pool Week 2
Before week two I have spent my free time thoroughly going through section two within the PADI manual, this got me ready for week two’s session and got me excited to try out the new skills I had learned about within the book. This week started off in the classroom, where we covered section two within the PADI open water diver manual. The group concentrated on how being underwater effect’s the way we see size, distance, light intensity and colour and how our hearing differs underwater. We went through knowledge review two as a group and highlighted any incorrect answers anyone may have had, and made sure that we all knew the right answer. We then went to the pool where we covered section two’s skills; this included deep water entry, dealing with a loose cylinder band, mask removal and replacement and more. This week helped me to understand equalising and buoyancy a bit more.

Pool Week 3

After doing my theory, I was excited to get in the classroom and then the pool! We are now getting nearer to the open water weekend which I am really looking forward to. Getting nearer to the weekend at Stoney Cove means in the pool and classroom we are rapidly building our skills and learning new aspects of diving, which I am really enjoying! This week we focussed on section three of the PADI open water manual which included different dive environments and how to manage them safely. Also, we covered how we should dive when there is a current, tide and surf. This week in the pool we were trying out the deep water entry method which is the seated back roll, I was excited to try this out as this is probably the method I will use most when at university and in the future as I suspect that I will most likely be diving from a boat if I follow my dream to be a marine photographer. I was also keen to try out cramp release in the water as in previous weeks I had been getting cramp! This week both the classroom and the pool were good fun and the group and I can’t wait for our swimming race next week!

Pool Week 4

This week we had the swimming test! We were all looking forward to this as we had challenged each other to a race! We started the night off going over our knowledge review, we covered everything in this weeks section, which mainly focused on the safety precautions to take when diving and how to follow and use a dive computer. These skills are all extremely important when diving, which meant we all had to understand everything correctly and the teaching was thorough. We then went over the skills for this week in the pool which included putting scuba kit on at the surface, this was challenging but fun, and how to breathe from a free-flowing regulator, this skill could be a lifesaver if your regulator was to free flow underwater and you couldn’t get it under control. This week I built my skills and knowledge of how to stay safe but have a good dive. I look forward to every week with my group as everything is explained so well and the tutors have time for everyone, even if you need to go through something a few times.

Pool Week 5

This week was the final week in the classroom and pool! We started off the session with yummy flapjacks made by someone in the group which we ate while going over the knowledge review and Stoney Cove details. This week focused again on the safety precautions needed to dive and how to use a compass underwater and when planning dives. These skills will all be used in Stoney Cove and in most if not all future dives that I will do. In the pool this week we went over all our skills that we had learnt over the previous four weeks and then did a mini dive around the pool! We were then finished and ready to head to Stoney on the Saturday. After the last session in the pool I went home so excited and ready to get in the water at Stoney Cove and practice all my new dive skills that I had learnt and to experience a real dive.

Open Water Weekend at Stoney cove
SATURDAY- I was so excited to spend the weekend at Stoney, I got all my kit ready the night before as it was an early 6am start. In the morning I set off early making sure that I made it in time for 7:30. I arrived and met the team of people I would be diving with, and we went through our dry suit knowledge reviews. Once we had gone through all of the theory elements and had some breakfast, we got all of our kit prepared. We then went over the brief for our first dive. In this dive we stayed on the 7-meter shelf where we entered using a giant stride, covered all of our dive one skills and explored the Nautilus. Once we had resurfaced, kit was removed and prepared ready for the next dive. We then had a de-brief over a coffee and snack. After dive one I was eager to get back in for dive two and explore more of the 7 meter shelf. In dive two we practiced more skills that we had been taught in the pool and explored more of the shelf, within this dive we saw a few big perch which was exciting and then in the cockpit of a plane we saw lots of baby perch which was definitely the highlight of my weekend! The water was much clearer than I had anticipated. After exiting the water and dissembling our kit we headed to the Stoney Cove pub where we got warm and had a drink and went over our dives. Day one of Stoney was so much fun and I really enjoyed using the skills we were taught in the pool, in a new area, which was an actual real life dive site!

SUNDAY- Sunday morning started similar to Saturday, we met in the carpark and had a chat about how the day might go. We then headed to the main car park where we assembled all our kit and had a brief about our first dive. Within dive three (dive one of Sunday) we again explored the 7 meter shelf further and developed our underwater and surface compass skills, which helps you navigate from one place to another; we also went deeper down the road to have a look at the block house, which was noticeably deeper than we had been before.  Going deeper helped us as a group realise how depth means equalising much more. Within this dive I did experience some equalising issues when going down to the block house, however I overcame this by ascending slightly, equalising and then descending again while equalising, and that worked out well. After this dive we changed over our cylinders ready for the next and final dive of the weekend. Once our kits were ready we went and had some breakfast and a chat about how the dive went.

In dive four (dive two of the Sunday) we planned the dive ourselves as a group, to do this we went to look at the Stoney Cove map and all chose sections we wanted to explore. Once we had established a suitable route including landmarks we all wanted to see, we then decided on figures which would help establish when we would turn during the dive etc. In the plan we had created we would be exploring the 7 meter shelf which I was keen to do, as I wanted to see the different fish but also we were exploring deeper. The plan was to go down to about 17/18 meters, this was also very exciting and I couldn’t wait to see all the different things which were that deep, especially the Wessex helicopter. After the planning session, we assembled our final dive kit and headed to the water, we were allowed to enter the water however we wanted to. I chose a giant stride as that is my favourite entrance, as I like to be dramatic! Once in the water we headed straight to the cock pit of the plane where we again saw the school of baby fish, I was allowed to take the gopro myself on this dive so I was thrilled to film the fish and try my best to get some good images! Once we had explored the cock pit some more we went down the road towards 22 meters, we did not go all the way down to 22 meters due to not having the qualifications, however, we went down as far as we could and observed the different landmarks from above, this was brilliant to see. As a group we were particularly interested in seeing the Land Rover and Wessex. Dive 4 was very good and challenged our skills as we went deeper than we had before, everyone enjoyed this dive and I am now ready and can’t wait to do my Open Water Advanced course so I can explore these landmarks even more and grow my knowledge and diving skill set.

This weekend at Stoney Cove developed and tested my diving skills and I have found some new friends and dive buddies for life, I am very grateful to MSDS Marine and Go Dive for helping me experience my first diving and for teaching me skills to take through to hopefully a career in Marine Photography. I now have a true passion for diving, it is the best activity I have ever done and I am eager to learn more. Looking to the future, I am truly excited to be going on social dives and to grow my certifications within scuba diving.

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