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Famous Celebrity Divers!

This time I’m taking a tip from the heaps of tree-wasting gossip rags that sell by the metric ton and aren’t even fit to serve as bogroll by bringing celebrities into the mix. Nothing is interesting unless someone who used to be in Eastenders does it.

Here’s a pointless list of the top 5 celebrity divers:

1.

Niall

Nerfherder, Niles, Niall or whatever his name is from One Direction has been scuba diving ever since he first watched Finding Nemo. Niall has a powerful erotic attraction to clownfish and seeks them out on every single dive. Niall would never actually harm a clownfish but instead he regularly gets groupies to wear a clown fish hood that he has purchased in all sizes from Scapa Scuba. Niall also insists on the fish being incorrectly identified as nemo fish and has been known to explode into violent apoplexy if someone refers to them as clownfish. Rumours abound of an aide who was very badly beaten and then paid not to press charges. As a calming measure Niall uses tipex and a fine point marker to erase the word ‘clown’ in fish books that he buys in bulk and replace it with ‘nemo’ in the same style of font as the book.

2.

Nicole Sherzinger

Singing plastic gonk and professional fake person Nicole Scherzinger is also an avid scuba diver and her self-edited Wikipedia page refers to her as an experienced Master Scuba Diver Trainer. In actual fact Nicole has done one Discover Scuba Dive when she was filming a yoghurt advert in ancient Greece. During the 6 min dive, Nicole was so scared of the water that she pretended she couldn’t equalise so the instructor would abort the dive. Her heavily soiled wetsuit is currently listed on eBay.

3.

pitbull

Rapping man Pitbull is often paid to shout for 30 seconds on someone else’s song. Whilst making the video for ‘Timber’ the impossibly facile, novelty, wet fart of a song he helped Keisha excrete, Pitbull was filmed diving into the water with sharks. Pitbull received a lot of fan feedback saying that he was extremely underequipped to be in the water and being a precise stickler for details, Pitbull was led to GUE. Pitbull completed his Fundamentals course and currently holds a recreational pass. Some of the feedback he received was that he still needs to work on his trim as he has a tendancy to become vertical whilst attempting shutdowns. Pitbull is currently waiting on the delivery of a new trilaminate drysuit as he has incorrectly identified this as the problem for reaching his valves.

4.

Jeremy Clarkson

Hateful ex BBC presentator and professional racist Jeremy Clarkson is a well known scuba diver. Over the course of his diving career Jeremy has got into a few scrapes! Here’s a few of his antics:

  • During a trip to Raja Ampat Jeremy was so overweighted he smashed 4 fan corals, chipped off a giant chunk of staghorn coral, sat on 100 year old brain coral causing a massive amount of damage and didn’t give a shit.
  • He secretly erased the red sea dive site map that the guide had spent 20 mins drawing and replaced it with anti-islamic slogans.
  • Jeremy once supplied dynamite and cyanide to the local fishermen and then openly laughed at the devastation.
  • Jeremy has bought and eaten shark fin soup whilst saying that he didn’t know why everyone was getting their ‘knickers in a twist’.

Ha ha ha! Keep it up Jeremy!

5.

blazin-squad

Although Blazin’ Squad may have come across as a confused ASBO with Chicken Cottage crumbs down it’s hoodie the collective members had a forward thinking plan. Realising that the appeal of watching the teenage victims of knife crime rap badly would be short lived, the Squad made plans to give themselves a second career as dive professionals. Knowing they would be unable to start their Divemaster courses until they were 18, the Squad set about doing all their entry level courses and putting together plans to open Blazin’ Squad’s Dive Centre (tagline: ‘Go Diving with Blazin’ Squad’). Upon turning 18 the Squad began their DM course. Sadly it was all to come to naught. By dropping out of school early to pursue a career in the sounds of the UK garage they were unable later to get to grips with the mathematical requirements of the physics section of the dive theory. Several years down the line, none of them have finished the course and they all on the street.

Do you have any meticulously researched celebrity diving stories? Please do share!

Dive Myths #5 The Divemaster is your bitch

Has anyone done a Divemaster course that left them feeling less like a dive professional and more like the instructor’s gimp, released whenever a vast amount of heavy dive equipment needs to be loaded onto a van and then put back in the box until it’s time to sort all the urine soaked school wetsuits back into size order?

Gimp

A DM orientation session begins

I’m constantly surprised by the attitude many instructors take towards their Divemaster trainees (DMTs), particularly in this country. It could be argued that overseas things can be a little different: For a start if you sign up to do a free Divemaster internship, then don’t start complaining when you get worked like a dog because there’s no such thing as a free dive.

Often candidates on zero to hero DM programs may be youngsters on gap years for whom a little ‘discipline’ might come in handy. But, wherever money changes hands that makes the DMT a paying customer.

In this country the vast majority of people signing up for a DM course are people with full time jobs who love to go diving as their weekend hobby. I ran a dive centre in London, which meant that most of my Divemasters had well paid jobs with long working hours. People like that don’t respond well to watching the instructor put his feet up with a coffee and laugh at them as they unload 30 tanks out of a van. All they do is not bother coming back the next weekend.

Here’s a few things that DMTs sometimes endure:

  • Sitting under the water doing nothing, watching the instructor work.
  • Being sneered at for turning up wearing split fins (I know, I know, but instead it’s a chance for re-education, not mockery).
  • Unloading vast tonnes of equipment by themselves and then being berated at a later date for putting the BCDs back in the wrong order.
  • Being made to wear rubber suits and hoods and assist the instructor with their ‘equipment’.

Now don’t get me wrong, there has to be a pecking order, it’s part of what drives people to continue. It’s a chance for you as an instructor to bring through your own qualified assistants. For example, I used to teach with someone who would go into the pool only wearing what appeared to be cycling shorts. He was a hirsute man and I would need to fight through a forest of chest hair to reach a BCD strap whilst demonstrating out of air. I was able to help him along the decision making process to purchasing a wetsuit by explaining that I didn’t want to feel like I was lovingly fondling his chest during skill demonstrations.

There’s plenty of time for fun and games but I think that some instructors confuse a lack of respect with ‘banter’. Banter is what you have with your mates down the pub of an evening. It’s not mocking someone who’s paying you to learn when they set up their equipment incorrectly. However when you undertake the DM course you do need to expect that there will be a fair bit of physical work.

Therefore a DM course is one where both student and instructor must meet half way. No-one wants a lazy DM and nobody wants his or her instructor to be a dick.

The DM course can also take a fair bit of time to complete. It’s to the benefit of both student and dive centre that it doesn’t drag on too much. If it takes too long, the candidates lose motivation and are less likely to progress onto instructor. Seeing as most dive centres I work with always seem to need instructors and active DMs this isn’t good.

Here’s a few tips for both parties to ensure that your DM course ticks along to a happy conclusion instead of falling apart amidst a sea of broken dreams, bitter recriminations and false promises:

  • Make a plan: Schedule dates for the skill circuits and workshops. These must be planned and run by instructors, they’re difficult to fit in and around other courses.
  • Stick to the plan: If you are a DMT then turn up! Cancelling last minute can drop the dive centre in it, so try not to. If it does happen then help with the re-scheduling.
  • Make sure you get something signed off every time: This goes for the instructor and DMT. If you’re an instructor working with a DMT then speak to them before and see what you can get signed off for them. Even if it’s just a couple of skills, it all counts and makes sure they see progress from turning up. If you’re the DMT then don’t be scared to talk to the instructor before about what you can get signed off.
  • Sign it! This goes for both parties. Make sure the DM evaluation form gets signed off. There’s nothing more dispiriting than a DMT asking how they’re doing after several months of assisting only to discover a blank document in the student record folder:

“I’ve done loads”,

“With which instructor?”

“Dunno, they had brown hair…”

  • Do the theory as e-learning. It’s sooo much easier to get this done in your own time. Trying to schedule evening lectures, especially with the vagaries of public transport and people often having to work late makes this section drag on. It’s only a slightly greater cost than the books and is definitely worth the investment.

One final important point for the instructors: When you’re teaching in open water and you must directly supervise your students (ie any open water course) then your DMTs cannot supervise your students. Ever. This means during ascent skills like CESAs etc you cannot leave your other students on the bottom with a DMT. You must exit the other students from the water before returning to perform the required skills. More details on this can wait for another blog on another day.

Supporting a DM through their training and getting the course done quickly and efficiently should be the goal of every instructor working with DMTs. So the DM is not your bitch, that said, I’ve never shied away from a bit of bribery. Mine’s a white Americano please.

If you’ve got buoyancy control problems, I feel bad for you son. I’ve got 99 problems but a hover ain’t one.

I’ve wanted to work out a way to use that title for a long time… Anyway, last year, I was very proud to be asked to contribute some articles to Sport Diver Australasia magazine. Here’s the first of them, enjoy!

Sport Diver Australasia Buoyancy Masterclass

For more info and articles check out the magazine itself:

Scuba Diver Ocean Planet

#Killmenow

I attended the Course Director update at PADI this week and we covered lots of interesting things. One of the things that came up a few times was the use of hashtags.

Now I’m going to put it out there that I don’t understand the hashtag, well, I do understand it but I don’t. Is that any clearer?

What I sort of understand is that the hashtag can be deployed in 3 distinct ways:

1. You use it as a search term on twitter. This is the one that I understand the most. You place terms associated with your tweet after a hashtag and that way anyone searching for those terms might see your tweet. For example: “The only reason I would watch a TV show starring anyone from #madeinchelsea is if they were made to recreate the Stanley Milgram experiment. For real.”

2. You use it to try and create a tag that people will go and search for. By getting people to use your hashtag you eventually instil it into the consciousness of a demographic of people for a temporary period of time: “Loving watching human–amoeba Joey Essex administering lethal electric shocks to his co-‘stars’. #pushthebutton!”

3. You use it as a kind of running commentary on the banality of your existence: “Went down the shops and bought milk because we’d run out. BOOOOOOOOM! Smashed it! #nomoreblackcoffeeforme #livingfornow #nolactosecompromises.

The first use of the hashtag is pretty simple and I can get onboard with that. The second one also makes sense, for example PADI are using a #padiinstructor to generate a bit more buzz around the Instructor Exam, which makes sense to gee up excitement about something fun and interesting.

However a lot of other companies are doing the same thing without realising that what they are promoting isn’t fun or interesting. Like wiping your arse.

Andrex Clean

In Andrex’s latest advert, a series of adults are asked what having a clean arse means to them. They pull faces and act shocked (with act being the key word as they are all people acting pulling faces and being shocked). But then the advert pulls a switcheroo and shows children being asked the same question, giving cutesy and unembarrassed answers.

I can’t imagine how many kids you’d have to question about dirty bottoms before you got an answer you could use in an advert but it won’t have troubled Andrex because once again the children will be actors delivering lines. ‘Look at how unencumbered children are by social conventions’, the advert seems to be saying. It’s reminiscent of another short lived bogroll advert that tried to engage people over whether they scrunched or folded their shitrags to clean up after themselves. Thanks guys, I’m going to try that one for myself and really get down to the fundamentals of arse wipery the next and last time I’m invited to a dinner party.

The Andrex ad ends with an exhortation to search #andrexclean to find out what being clean means for you. This enrages me as I cannot even begin to imagine the kind of moron who would go onto Twitter to either search or use that hashtag. Hmm, they would wonder to themselves, exactly how clean would it be possible for me to get my arse? I mean I do a pretty good job using the existing brand of bog paper I purchase but maybe if I used Andrex I could get an even cleaner nipsy? Perhaps it would be better at the required level of damage limitation after 8 pints and a bad kebab? Maybe I could use it to buff my balloon knot up to a high, bacterial-free shine and clean enough to serve a canapé on it? MAYBE, WITH ANDREX’S HELP, I COULD HAVE A CLEANER ARSE.

Or maybe, none of that would ever, ever cross anyone’s mind unless they were a complete and utter imbecile.

As an indication, go and put #padiinstructor and #andrexclean into Twitter and see how many results you get….*

Whilst I can still struggle to get to grips with the first 2 uses of hashtags at least I get them. The last one really does make me feel like an elderly man shuffling down the internet superhighway with my trousers round my ankles shaking my fist at a bunch of ruffians who have startled me by running too fast.

I just don’t really get what people decide to put behind the hashtag. At what point does it stop becoming a status and become a hashtag? Whenever people write BOOOOOM! I just think that maybe something heavy fell over whilst they were typing. The use of hashtags as a kind of life commentary just seems like an evolution of the pictures of sunsets with inspirational quotes on them which read like terrifying cries for help in the social media wasteland.

Anyway, I need to go and start writing another article now, so, until next time, keep it hostile yeah?

#booooooooomsmashedanotherblogpost! #writinganarticleaboutnotsmashingupcoralreefsforadivepublicationwithout
swearingishard
#perhapsanothercoffeeorisitoktostartdrinkingbeer?

*Since I published this, I am now the only entry on Twitter if you search for #andrexclean. I’m so proud.

How to review diving equipment. Badly.

Reg in the oven

The world of diving equipment reviews has changed substantially over the last few years. Going back 20 odd years and it was still possible to buy fairly horrendous bits of equipment. Diver Magazine will argue that their introduction of ANSTI tests as a means to test the breathing efficiency of regs gave the industry a big kick up the arse that has resulted in the much safer design of regulators these days.

And there is the problem: All the regulators made by the main scuba manufacturers and sold in the EU will do the basic job of supplying air consistently and safely. Therefore how do you review a modern set of regulators that is in anyway relevant and useful to a customer?

There are 2 main approaches I can see:

The first would be to start looking at other features as well as work of breathing. For example the routing of hoses, how versatile the reg would be with different set ups or even just general aesthetics.

The other route would be to make like the gigantic twat that is Jeremy Clarkson and attempt to blow the regulator up Top Gear style.

Over the last few years the internet has become a battle ground which can be roughly split into 2 schools of thought: On the one side you have science and reason and on the other wishful thinking, all with a million shades of grey in between. What this has highlighted is that for a test to have any true meaning it needs to be double blind (where the test’s organiser and the tester themselves don’t know which product they’re using) and done under strict and replicable controls. This isn’t going to be practicable for most diving equipment tests but the test should at the very least be relevant to actual diving circumstances.

However if you’re thinking of publishing a series of ‘hardcore’ tests in a small dive magazine and don’t care about any of that at all, here’s my guide to setting up a the kind of test that Top Gear would be proud of:

HEAT

Regulators are a hardworking piece of equipment and can be tough so to get the best results you need to cook them low and slow. Create a marinade of olive oil, garlic and rosemary and slow roast the regulator in the oven for 4 hours until the blanking plugs are falling off the bone.

This should definitely replicate the scenario of the reg being in the sun for a bit.

COLD

Once the regulator has been thoroughly cooked remove it from the oven and serve piping hot into a bath of ice water. This will help keep the colours fresh and vibrant and also replicates the common scenario of being teleported off the back off an Egyptian liveaboard into Silfra lagoon.

DEPTH

Now that the regulator has suffered immense heat stress and metal fatigue it’s time to see how this baby will perform in the water. To do this, remove all the blanking plugs from the first stage and immerse the regulator in seawater for several hours. Put it back together and then see how it breathes. This replicates the common diving situation of removing all the blanking plugs from the regulator you spent £500 on and immersing it in seawater for several hours.

POST DIVE CARE

The dive’s over and surprisingly you’re not dead but we all know that sometimes the most severe punishment a reg can take is in transit to and from the dive site. Drag the first stage up the beach with the dust cap off and then reverse the van over it a couple of times. Just before putting it away, strike it really hard with a great big rock. Any reg worth it’s salt should definitely still be working after that

THE RESULTS

Now you should have a useful guide to the best reg to buy if you like to cook, freeze and then smash your life support equipment on a regular basis. Once the test is over, sell all the regs on eBay.

Are Tec Divers Geeks?

Big Bang Theory

I realise that as a tec diver it’s fun to think of yourself as an adventurer, heading out on the high seas to challenge the deep to a duel but I’ve always secretly believed that in fact most tec divers are geeks: Proper Big Bang Theory style nerds. Maybe you’ve got tattoos and ride a bike, but you’re just as likely to have re-watched Battlestar Galactica and read the IMDB trivia for every single episode.

Let’s have a look at the list of charges:

It’s called a sport but it’s not.

Kid misses ball

As tempting as it is to describe diving as a sport, anything that rewards inactivity is going to struggle to meet the definition. Diving doesn’t require fast reactions and excellent motor skills, it doesn’t need you to be super-fit or work well in a team dynamic (I know, I know, tec divers dive in teams but there’s also plenty of solo tec divers. There aren’t many solo footballers). What tec diving does require is careful planning and a methodical approach. Therefore if you spent a lot of time at school being the last person to be chosen for games and then shivering near the goalposts in some kind of defensive position then welcome to tec diving!

It’s got sums

Hard Sums

Not many sports count sums as an inherent part of the fun but in tec there are sometimes some sums. Hah. Admittedly most of the hard stuff is done on the computer but, as mentioned, there’s loads of pre-dive planning: Cutting dive plans and back up plans and working out whether you have enough gas for the plan. You might also need to do some quick recalculations on the fly if you have to deal with an emergency.

It’s not exactly hard but then in football the only possible place the  rule of thirds might apply is how much time you have with the groupie in the hotel room during a friendly ‘roast’.

You don’t have to get your abs out

Fit divers

I would rarely miss the opportunity to expose my torso to the elements, once memorably described by a friend as looking like a ‘fisher price man’, but here in the UK you can disguise a multitude of sins under several layers of undersuit and a drysuit. There’s no ‘take no prisoners’ lycra here. So if your gut has fallen through as a result of eating flour and processed meat at inland dive sites then just buy a thicker undersuit!

You can make things at home and pretend you’re in the A Team.

The-A-TEAM

There’s loads of exciting things that you can make yourself in tec diving. I’ve lost count of the number of  evenings I’ve spent sitting in front of the TV fettling with my equipment in an enjoyable state of flow. You can build your own webbing harness, bungee clips and leashes for carrying loads of stages. You always have plenty of gaffer tape, inner tube, bungee and permanent markers. Therefore if you enjoyed spending time as a child painting miniature lead orcs and building tanks from templates in White Dwarf magazine then welcome to Tec diving!

It uses cool jargon so that you can pretend you’re in dungeons and dragons.

dice

If you do choose to dive in a team there’s lots of jargon to make you feel like you’re taking part in a dangerous and exciting mission. The deco captain will go through militaristic hand signals and there’ll be talk of throwing a bag, cutting a plan and gear and gas matching. This all replicates the feeling of being gathered around a pile of oddly shaped dice working out how many experience points you’ll get by stealing the treasure from the goblins and whether that means you can level up. Essentially the deco captain is just an adult version of the dungeon master.

You’ve found the perfect sport.

Tec diving is the ultimate sport for anyone with nerdy tendencies. I remember all those things I loved at school: Being part of a gang of like minded geeks, playing games together and making things on your own in your bedroom? Now I get to do all that as a grown up, I get to go on the missions for real with the equipment I’ve made and frankly it’s awesome. There haven’t been any orcs so far but frankly that doesn’t seem to have bothered me yet. So long live the geeks, who’s up for a dive?