Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm a BT Storyteller for London 2012!

I have been selected to help tell the story of the greatest show on Earth, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

I'm planning to tell this story from above, rather than below, the waves of Weymouth Bay. If you've come to this page from the BT Storyteller website, please move on to my Weymouth and Portland business blog by clicking here, as that's where I'll be focusing my Olympic story.

The link to this page is an error and will be corrected in due course.

I plan to do more scuba diving in the future, but at the moment I'm too busy to get back into the water.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Scuba Divers Spotted Over Weymouth Beach

Here's something different.

Two scuba divers were recently sighted flying over Weymouth's main beach. Divers are a common sight in the nearby harbour, as they clamber in and out of dive boats. But it's unusual to see them on the beach, and especially over the beach!

They were, of course, kites. They were being flown as part of the kite festival, which was held on a bright and suitably blowy day earlier this month.

Monday, May 16, 2011

BSAC Ocean Diver Card Has Arrived

About a year after starting my BSAC training I finally have a small plastic card which declares me an Ocean Diver.

It's been a long haul. The training, conducted by the wonderful volunteers at Alton BSAC in Hampshire, was made trickier by my moving away last summer. Ironically, I now live in Weymouth, within a few minutes walk of a coast that's popular with scuba divers.

Getting the card is a prompt for me to do more diving. Last summer I purchased a batch of second-hand scuba diving gear. I've yet to use most of it.

I can't complain that there's a lack of opportunities to dive here in Dorset. However, my next challenge is to master the use of a drysuit, the highlight of last year's acquisition. So far I've only dived in wetsuits, which were okay but I like the idea of remaining a little warmer under water.

So here's hoping that I'll soon be blogging about diving once again.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Belated Happy New Year

It's been quiet on the diving front.

The gear's sitting in the conservatory waiting to be serviced. There's no shortage of good intentions about finding the local BSAC. The sea outside the front door occasionally looks inviting when the sun's shining (which it isn't today).

But spring's on its way and it'll soon be time to renew my BSAC membership. That'll focus the mind on finding a local club!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter Pause

This is my first winter as a scuba diver.

But other than flicking through the pages of Dive magazine and looking at the pile of second-hand gear that I've acquired, nothing else is happening in my diving world.

I've not even made contact with the local BSAC group. They meet every Thursday evening and as attempts to engage online have failed, I need to get along to one of their gatherings. Unfortunately, Thursday isn't a great evening for me to be out so it hasn't happened yet.

I am looking forward to doing more diving next year. Before I do, I need to have my recent acquisitions tested. I have two large cylinders, a BC, regs, a drysuit and associated bits and pieces. Most of it has sat unused for a few years and needs checking by a professional before going back into use.

Even this blog has been neglected of late. Hence this post, which is really just to flag that I'm still here and I'm planning to be back in the water next year.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Death of Andy Holmes Highlights Hidden Danger of Watersport

When I saw the message on Twitter the name rang a distant bell. Where had I heard that name: Andy Holmes?

Clicking through to the article told me immediately - Holmes and Redgrave, gold medal winners in the rowing at the Seoul Olympics.

What then caught me eye was the probably cause - leptospirosis, or Weil's disease. Again, a name I half recognise but an issue I've heard about before - a rare and sometimes fatal infection caught in fresh water rivers and lakes.

During my diving at inland sites I've had thoughts of this in the back of my mind. The BSAC training prepares you for all sorts of eventualities underwater, but not once was this particular risk mentioned.

To be fair, it is highly unusual, but according the Leptospirosis Information Center commercial divers are required to take specific precautions against it.

Anyone who practices watersport in fresh water risks potential infection. Swimmers, canoeists, divers and even anglers could fall victim to it. The risk doesn't just come from swallowing water - any area of broken skin, such as cut or graze, can allow the bacteria into the body.

The point of this post isn't to scare. Thousands of people practice watersports every day in the UK and we allow our children to play in streams and beside rivers. I don't know the numbers, but I'm sure more people die of drowning than of this disease. Many more are killed on the roads every day, but that doesn't stop us getting into our cars.

The death of Andy Holmes at 51, when he was still a fit and active sportsman, is a reminder of one particular risk that we take when we go into fresh water.

Condolences to his family at what must be a very difficult time.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

High and Dry in Weymouth Museum

Every time I've been out of the water for a while, I wonder whether I'll ever go back.

After all, getting ready for a dive is a lot of hassle. There's all that equipment to sort out, travel to organise, and it's not as if I don't have enough other things to fill my time. Being in a new area doesn't help - I need to make new contacts and find new dive buddies.

But just as I'm getting used to the idea of not getting back into a wetsuit for a long time, something rekindles my desire to strap on a BC and get back under the water. This time it was a visit to Weymouth Museum.

An Underwhelming Presentation

As tourist attractions go, the museum is not very inspiring. Something of a random collection of artifacts grouped loosely by theme. The quality of the information panels is inconsistent and the entire collection is presented incoherently.

That said, we should be glad there's a museum at all and who knows whether it will have a future in the impending 'age of austerity'. Its neglected state is also due in part, perhaps, to the entire building being under threat of imminent redevelopment.

Despite all this, my attention was grabbed by the finds brought up by divers. Elephant tusks, pieces of a P40 Tomahawk aircraft and brass work from HMS Hood were all on display, having been liberated from the seabed over the last 40 years.

By the way, HMS Hood is not the one infamously sunk by the Bismark in the Second World War, but its predecessor. This Hood lies across the southern entrance to Portland Harbour, where it was scuttled during the First World War to block one of three gaps in the huge harbour wall.

Underwater Treasure Trove

I'm easily entranced by the historic, and quickly lured into the hands-on nature of archeology, recovering the past from the soil. Underwater archaeology, even in the primitive form of liberating brass portholes from wrecks, is an exciting new dimension.

I do feel a pang of regret at the thought of ripping old ships to pieces rather than leaving them as relics for divers to enjoy in situ, and I've blogged about it before in 'Scuba Divers are Destroyers'.

But responsible recovery of artifacts has an appeal, as does the experience of simply visiting wreck sites and taking nothing away. Historic sites have a particular resonance and those underwater are even more special simply because they're visited less often.

So while I've left Weymouth Museum disappointed at its representation of hundreds of years of human life, I'm inspired once again to find opportunities to dive in the local seas and start exploring some of the mysteries beneath the waves.