Diary

4,000 dives with some 'facts', figures and opinions!

It's taken a few years but here we go!

The first dive was on Sunday 23rd May 1982 on the Carrs directly infront of the camp site at Beadnell, we used to park and launch there before it was gifted to National Trust who shut it all down, the concrete slip is still there as is the windlass.........it was with my dad and we got a large lobster and crab, quite strange as sizeable edible crabs are not so common inshore! I remember that my dad got the lobster from its hole and it bolted and I bashed through the kelp to corner it, same day it was off to dive the Islands!

BSAC tests were signed off by such Bishop Auckland luminaries as Dave Doubleday, Peter Elliott and Neil Taylor, despite my father being a national 'two star' instructor he thought that I would listen to other guys rather than him, he was probably right!

As an aside I was thirteen at the time and think that I grasped the risks involved with diving following a dozen or so lectures prior to grabbing tanks and getting into the sea. Organisations today allow diving to start at eight after a fifteen minute brief in my opinion this is too young to grasp the risks involved and the long term physiological effects of an increased oxygen partial pressure on brain development amongst other things simply aren't known.

Since this date I have spent the equivalent of 122 days underwater..........

My deepest dive was to 115m, no chance of doing this again any time soon!

651 dives at depths over 25m

And an additional 432 dives at depths over 40m........

As well as the Uk I have dived all over the world, including......

Egypt (obviously really!)

Malta (also obvious)

Cuba (before it got popular)

Indonesia (loved the muck diving)

Thailand (a bit worrying when some of the Belgian guys bring 'lasys' onto the boat...)

Ecuador well Galapagos Islands really!

Micronesia, specifically Chuuk or Truuk Lagoon (rust central)

Maldives (long way to go and good but Indonesia better)

Cyprus (Got some before and after photos of a collapsing wreck, bronze prop still there!)

Fiji the soft coral capital of the world

Most exciting dive......well this has to be during a dive at Wolf Island at the Galapagos Islands.... read on!

Basically we had spent forty minutes or so on the side of the extinct volcano and had been impressed with hammerheads then bottlenose dolphins had come down for a 'look see' after chasing a shoal of fish, the first thing we had seen of the dolphins was on looking up after it started raining scales from the unfortunate fish. I remember and have a video of one dolphin which 'posed' on the flattish plateau behind us before heading off at full speed down the side of the extinct volcano, it was one of those instances where you had to double take, it was so 'quick'.

So, loads of good photos and the vis was great, the plan was always deploy a DSMB and just 'go' so that in short order you were in blue water with the bottom a long, long way down. I was in a four with a Japanese guy plus Portugese chap and his English wife, in the shallower water a sea-lion had come up and chewed fins and other odd pinnipeds were dotted around in the deep stuff and so were we, spread over a thirty meter radius I guess. I was looking in the right direction and a 'large' shark that I guess was under four meters but well over three zoomed up from the blue, hit one of the sea lions in a shower of spray, blood and crap then dropped down and circled the dead or dying pinniped whilst we got in a tight circle waited out deco and got the hell out of it.

The shark displayed feeding habits of a Great White and whilst they are logged as infrequent visitors to the Islands they do visit, that said it could have been a bloody big galapagos shark as these do reach three and a half meters long and feed on virtually anything!

My most favourite dive........I guess that some would say 'boring' but here we go.......North Side of Beadnell Point

But lets be a bit more 'specific', bottom of the tide a week after a good blow in early June, oh and the blow was a bloody big easterly!

So, bottom of the tide so that getting in and out is easy, you go onto the stone steps at the inside edge of the dive site, you can frequently get eight meters vis on the site which is more than adequate oh and by this time of year there are plenty of blue fiends and the fish of summer have moved in too whilst the weed hasn't gone crackers!

Beadnell Point has seen quite a few boats bash up over the years and yup I have bits and pieces from quite a few of them and they keep on coming........I wont say where to look, find that yourself! In the recent years I have picked up........a brass maltese dolphin, two brass name plates, a rather long herringbone silver chain and other 'trinkets'.

You can also head past the gut containing all of the scrap metal from SS Yewglen and pick up lots of lost fishing weights, swing round to the boiler area and there are always bits of scrap bronze, brass and copper which are thrown out after storms have bashed the stones about, so at this stage in an ideal world you have a trinket in your pocket, a bag of scrap and then look at the rock face......

By the time you reach the jumble of boulders in about ten meters of water you will have had at least a dozen chances to extract a blue fiend for tea, so having extracted tea you head back, pick up your scrap and go back to the steps.........blow up the lift bag clamber out and start the long drag back to the exit point and wait for your car to get picked up!

And of course, worst dive...............Sorry Andy!

After a rather fraught drive I got to Weymouth to do some rebreather diving in the summer of 2012 and after motoring out to mid-channel we were going to go down on SS Margot, not excessive but around the sixty meter mark. After a successful dive it's all a blur but I can vividly remember Andy asking the name of my girlfriend and me racking my brains before saying 'I can't remember' and giggling like a lunatic!

From there it was a helicopter evacuation to Plymouth and that was interesting, again a single random memory of being in a field, apparently the helicopter had 'failed' and a second was en-route and I looked at the crew man, apologised and started throwing up, at that point my brain was full of bubbles. I can vaguely remember being wheeled into the pot at Plymouth and then having a mega-aggressive treatment complete with oxygen being supplied via a hood.... I was strapped down as I was subject to regular oxygen toxicity fits, I can remember some, not pleasant. Oh a vivid memory post first treatment was that a doctor said the profile was fine, my response was a shrug and 'apparently not!'

Anyway by this time everyone had been told and the immediate prognosis was not good, I was 50/50 to make the helicopter ride......at Plymouth I was going to come out a crippled cabbage.......but I made a 'full' recovery with the problem being I have no spare neural pathways. For that reason I have a little DNR tattoo and no longer do deep stuff or indeed incur anything more than ten minutes deco to minimise risks!

Oh and the reason? A PFO that hadn't reared it's ugly head for over 3k dives although there was a warning skin bend that year which I put down to dehydration and hard work rather than any underlying health issue. This was fettled at Bristol under direction of arguably the pre-eminent surgeon in that field who had been in the navy for some years and specialised in this work, thank you Dr Mark Turner!

And yes I was in shore diving within a month, shallow stuff on small tanks but if nothing else it aided my mental recovery.

So there you are an eventful thirty seven years with a cylinder to reach the big 4K, will I get to 5K? Well if I can keep going until my 60th then it is a distinct possibility. And yes, you too can get to a large amount of dives if you.........

Dive safe

RichW

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