Mark 'Crowley' Russell (from DIVE Magazine, April 2020)
The Coronavirus pandemic has already had a devastating impact on the scuba diving world – but there's another question on divers' minds: 'What happens if I get it? Can I dive after COVID-19?' And the answer is not straightforward.
An article published in the German magazine Wetnotes on 15 April gives an insight into the medical problems that scuba divers who have contracted SARS-CoV-2 might face. In it, Dr Frank Hartig, a senior consultant and response crisis coordinator/disaster officer for SARS-CoV-2 at Innsbruck University Hospital in Austria – and a scuba diver himself – describes some of the problems he has already encountered as a physician.
The acronym SARS – as in SARS-CoV-2, the official name of COVID-19 – stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SARS attacks the lungs, and while research into the long-term effects of the novel coronavirus is only just beginning, its physical impacts are all too tragically well known. Lung damage caused by conditions such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) has been widely reported. It is also known to attack other organs, including the heart, although cardiac damage may go unnoticed until the heart is actually checked. Although we might not know much about the coronavirus itself, it has long been established that scuba diving with a compromised cardiopulmonary system can lead to serious injury, even death.
In his article, Dr Hartig describes his involvement with six active scuba divers who were hospitalised with conditions brought on by SARS-CoV-2 and who subsequently recovered and were discharged. When they returned for a check-up several weeks later, they all outwardly appeared to be healthy, but a closer examination proved otherwise.
Each year, the Club awards a number of trophies to members who have distinguished themselves in one way or another. Some of the trophies have a long history and some distinguished past recipients. Diving trophies are presented at the AGM in April, and Photographic trophies during the Christmas Dinner.
Most Dives in the year. Awarded by the Diving Officer.
Presented by D Cockbill (Chairman 62-65). Awarded by the Chairman for hard work in the club during the year.
Dominic was lost in a diving incident in March 1995. The knife was presented in his memory by Sea & Sea Ltd. Awarded by the Committee for support to the club over the years.
“The first 1st class diver in Torbay”, dated 28th December 1959. Awarded by the Committee for the Best Lady Diver.
Awarded by the Committee for the Best Trainee.
Awarded by last year’s winner for the most spectacular 'cock-up' of the year.
The name of the Branch shall be The Torbay Branch No 0008 British Sub-Aqua Club.
The constitution of the Branch will be the current rules of the BSAC except as amended in the Branch Constitution. The latter must not conflict with the former, and should such conflict arise, the constitution of the BSAC shall take priority. The Branch Constitution can only be amended at an Extraordinary or Annual General Meeting.
The inaugural meeting of the British Sub Aqua Club was held in London at the Waldorf Hotel on October 15th 1953. There were about 50 people present and the meeting had been arranged by Oscar Gugen and Peter Small. They had both attended a course run at Dartmouth by the retired RAF Captain Trevor Hampton AFC, who had bought some equipment made by Seibe Gorman, and had possibly made the first aqualung dive in English waters.
Gugen and Small decided that the club would be non profit making, the subscription would be 30 shillings a year, and the lower age limit would be 16. The first AGM was held in December 1953, and by then there were 100 members and three more branches, Bristol, Blackpool and Manchester.
Torbay Branch was formed in early 1954, as number 8. There was already a local group calling themselves The Blue Dolphins, among them were Dennis Damerell, Brian Hesketh, Paul Truscott, and Tony Prowse. They apparently amalgamated with the newly formed Torbay Branch, whose founder members included George Wakefield, Bill Bennett, and Charles Thomsett. The fledgling club initially met at Bill Bennett’s house, but soon started to hold meetings at the Royal Torbay Yacht Club. “Number 10 store” was obtained at Torbay harbour, and remained as the club compressor room until the harbour development in recent years.
On Saturday 29th June 2019, Torbay BSAC held its 3rd annual “Splash-In,” a one-day underwater photography competition attracting enthusiasts from across the Southwest region (and even further afield). Entrants had to take their underwater photographs on that day between midnight and 4:30pm within the Torbay area. There were 4 classes of entry: wide-angle, macro, compact camera, and beginners (not won a previous competition).
The competition was open to anyone with an interest in underwater photography and photos could be taken while scuba diving or simply snorkelling. Prizes were to be awarded at a dinner taking place that evening at Living Coasts in Torquay Harbour. Peter Rowlands, the editor of “Underwater Photography” magazine had again kindly agreed to be the competition judge.
On the 21st March 1917 the armed merchantman S.S. Maine set sail from London's East India Docks bound for Philadelphia carrying a cargo consisting of chalk, horsehair, goatskins and fenugreek seeds to run the gauntlet of the marauding U-boat packs in the Atlantic.
She never made it out of the English Channel. On the squally, misty morning of the 23rd March 1917, under the command of Captain 'Bill' Johnston and with his First Officer on the bridge, lookouts stationed on the forecastle head and the poop, and the 12cm gun on the stern manned she was steaming on an evasive zig-zag course at about ten knots approximately thirteen miles South of Berry Head. The poor weather perhaps masked the wake of the periscope of the following U boat. Oberleutnant-zur-see Ralph Wenninger on the U-boat UC17 had spotted the Maine shortly after dawn and was shadowing her. He attacked and at 8:05am the Maine was struck on the port side level with her No.2 hold by a single torpedo.
The damage was extensive; the explosion blew the hatches off No.2 and No.3 holds, smashed the port gig and wrecked her bridge, knocking the captain off his feet. Though serious, the damage was not immediately crippling and Captain Johnston, after sending a distress call, was able to set a course for land under the vessel’s own steam. The crew must have been terrified that the U-boat would return but for some reason the U-boat didn't prosecute his attack. He was either very confident of the kill or lost contact with the Maine in continuing squally weather. Later, as the incoming water soaked her cargo of chalk and quenched her boilers, Captain Johnston ordered the lifeboats swung down and prepared to abandon ship.