You can also read interesting articles published by members here. Check out the latest article on how the spare propeller on the SS Maine was raised back in 1983 (article reproduced from DIVER magazine, courtesy of Terry Blackmore).
27 January 2021
Again, no Dive Lists this week, but we continue to meet on Zoom each Wednesday.
The old compressor has been getting some views on Facebook Marketplace. It's also been posted on our Facebook page and, since another branch may be our best bet for a sale, we'll put it on the regional and national Facebook pages too (if allowed).
We do plan to continue the Splash-in competition this year and hopefully the Covid-19 restrictions will lift in time for this to be another successful event. When this will be is still unknown, but it may be prudent to plan for an event later in the year (as we did in 2020). After checking on the Neap tides and HW times on Saturdays, a possible date might be 28 August. Any thoughts? Let me know...
20 January 2021
Obviously, there were no Dive Lists taken this week, but we do continue to meet on Zoom each Wednesday (12 people this week).
The old compressor has been advertised on Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. There has been some interest expressed, but I shall also be contacting BSAC to see if there is some way of informing other branches of what we have for sale (the current online version of SCUBA magazine is certainly not fulfilling this need).
We do plan to continue the Splash-in competition this year and hopefully the Covid-19 restrictions will lift in time for this to be another successful event. Planning is crucial to make this event a success and we are looking for a Project Manager to take over the running of the competition. Let us know if you are interested in taking on this role.
While we are not diving, BSAC has been increasing the amount of online content to keep you interested in diving. I've listed the main items of interest below. You can copy the URL address into your browser. You will have to login to the BSAC website, but if you are having problems logging in, please let me know and I'll try to sort things out with them directly.
BSAC Webinars and Videos
Catch up on past special interest webinars
Specialise your skills with eLearning
Advance your scuba training with eLearning
Programme of webinars
Diving skills to hone at home - videos
UK wreck guides - videos
(This has a video presentation on the Maine, but it's not very comprehensive and I've added a comment to direct people to the information on our website). Perhaps we could contribute some videos to this list from our own knowledge of wrecks (e.g. the Bretagne?).
13 January 2021
Obviously, there were no Dive Lists taken this week, but we do continue to meet on Zoom each Wednesday (9 people this week).
Due to the national lockdown we are unable to organise any branch diving at present. There was some discussion about whether shore diving in a buddy pair is allowed. Although you are permitted to meet with one other person to exercise locally once per day, you are not allowed to leave home for recreational purposes. So the question would be whether bystanders (and potentially the police) regard diving as exercise or recreation. I suspect most people will think the latter (especially if you're carrying a camera!).
BSAC has confirmed this interpretation of the rules, and is currently advising that you stay at home and do not dive. Given the increasing infection rates (even in Torbay recently) and the alarmingly high number of daily deaths, I believe this advice is sensible. The prudent thing would be to err on the side of caution instead of pushing the boundaries of the rules. The latest BSAC advice was shown.
6 January 2021
Obviously, with the national lockdown in place, there were no Dive Lists taken this week.
The traditional New Years Day Harbour Dive did go ahead this year, with 13 divers turning up to brave the cool but relatively clear water of the harbour. Only 3 were branch members with the rest being mostly local underwater photographers. If you check Instagram, there were some lovely photos taken on the day. In accordance with our permit to dive, the dive was properly marshalled and social distancing appropriately maintained.
Since then of course, we have gone into national lockdown again and so we are unable to organise any branch diving. Although you can meet with one other person to exercise locally once per day, you are not allowed to leave home for recreational purposes. Whether shore diving in buddy pairs is permitted depends on how diving is regarded by the authorities. I am hoping to get some guidance on this from BSAC. Remember that during the first lockdown, no diving was taking place (and the Covid situation at the moment seems to be even worse than it was back then).
In the meantime, we continue to meet up socially on Zoom. Join us next week if you can...
30 December 2020
No social meeting on Zoom this week. We'll resume again next week (I think we'll be limited to Zoom meetings for some time to come).
The traditional New Years Day Harbour Dive has been approved by the Harbour Master and will therefore go ahead (provided we don't get locked down tomorrow). Diving can take place between 10:00 and 14:00 (high tide is 07:32, so earlier would be better). This is a branch dive and divers must be logged in and out of the water (this is a condition of our approval to dive). Since an update on the Tiers is imminent, I'll issue an update if we are forced to cancel or change anything. It is important for our reputation that we are seen to observe the current Covid-19 precautions during the event.
Here's hoping you had as merry a Christmas as possible in the circumstances...and that next year will be better!
23 December 2020
The traditional New Years Day Harbour Dive will go ahead this year, providing we are not locked down in the meantime. I have submitted the Council event form, the Risk Analysis, Proof of Insurance and signed an indemnity waiver. Consequently, the Harbour Master has given his approval and will issue a Notice to Mariners prior to the event (mainly to advise the cruise ship tenders that there will be divers in the harbour). It is important for our reputation that we are seen to observe Covid-19 precautions during the event. I will update you next week with timings, etc.
The compressor is working ok at the moment. Let Terry know if you need to be shown how to use it. The door code has been changed since it was installed.
There may be a dive mid-next week if the weather lets up enough. Let us know by email here if interested.
16 December 2020
There was one dive from TD1 last week (Saturday), but the visibility was fairly poor.
I did attend the Harbour Liaison Meeting this morning (held on Zoom). Most of the discussion was around the budget for next year which will see some small increases. Unsurprisingly, the harbour has seen a significant drop in revenues this year due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.
The traditional New Years Day Harbour Dive should go ahead this year (2021). I have submitted the request form to the Council and I just need to submit the Risk Analysis and Proof of Insurance to the Harbour Master to get approval. All of this is in hand and I have added Covid-19 precautions to the Risk Analysis, so hopefully we should get this signed off soon.
9 December 2020
There were two dives from TD1 last week (Thursday and Saturday), but the Sunday dive didn't proceed due to the zero vis kicked up by the storm waves on Saturday afternoon.
The old compressor is now up for sale on Gumtree (and may be on Facebook Marketplace soon as well).
There will be a Harbour Liaison Meeting on Wednesday morning next week (held on Zoom). Let me know if you are interested in attending.
2 December 2020
Since lockdown ended today, we are able to start diving from TD1 again (limited to 6 on board). However, since Devon is in Tier 2, we are unable to resume meeting socially at the rugby club and so we are still meeting up on Zoom.
Not much other news this week. We are still working on a prop replacement for the boat. Reminder: contact Terry if you need to be shown how to use the compressor. The door lock code has been changed to restrict access by the uninitiated. Contact Terry for the new code.
25 November 2020
Still on Zoom this week. Next week, after lockdown ends on 2 December, we may be able to resume meeting at the rugby club in tables of 6, but this depends on whether Torbay will be placed in Tier 1 or Tier 2. It is expected that this will be announced by the Government tomorrow.
Apart from some buddy pairs going shore diving, no club diving has been done due to lockdown. We expect that after the lockdown ends next week, we will be able to resume diving from TD1 (limited to 6 on-board).
Contact Terry if you need to be shown how to use the compressor. The door lock code has been changed to restrict access by the uninitiated. Contact Terry for the new code. The replacement cooler for the old compressor has been fitted and it has been started up. After a bit more troubleshooting, we should be able to shoot a video of it working so that it can be advertised for sale.
There has been some progress in selecting a new prop, but there is still some work to do. The water temperature gauge has been fixed (wiring fault). An oil change still needs to be done and the bilge pump flexible hose needs to be replaced.
Good news - EDF has refunded the club some money from our electricity bill and reduced the monthly rate (due to lower usage over the lockdown months).
18 November 2020
Still on Zoom obviously, but we continue to meet each week.
No diving has been done since last week - the Spring tides and stormy weather seem to have ruined the local vis. The lockdown means that we are unable to go boat diving of course, but if you want to go shore diving locally, that seems to be permitted as long as you only meet up with one buddy from outside your household. In the circumstances, we will not be organising branch shore dives which could be construed as group meetings, but you are free to organise your own shore dives with a buddy. If you need a buddy, we can help to communicate this through this email list or via WhatsApp.
There are now five whips on the new compressor (all of which deliver 232 bar). Contact Terry if you need to be shown how to use the compressor. The door lock code has been changed to restrict access by the uninitiated. Contact Terry for the new code. The replacement cooler for the old compressor is scheduled to be fitted tomorrow so that we can prepare it for sale.
The new sign at the entrance to Beacon Cove has been installed by the council, and since we helped to sponsor it, our logo is featured. We have also sponsored a permanent poster that has gone up on the path down to the cove. I prepared this with help from Paul Naylor (author of 'Great British Marine Animals'), who also kindly supplied all but one of the photographs (Terry Griffiths' cuttlefish photo from Splash-in 2017 was the exception).
11 November 2020
Due to the lockdown we are back to meeting on Zoom. Discussion tonight was mostly around the compressor and TD1 servicing.
The lockdown means that we are unable to go out boat diving on TD1 until December. If you want to go shore diving locally, that seems to be permitted under the rules (counts as exercise), but you can only meet up with one buddy from outside your household. BSAC HQ has confirmed that this is their view too. In the circumstances, we will not be organising branch shore dives which could be construed as group meetings, but you are free to organise your own shore dives with a buddy. If you need a buddy, we can help to communicate this through this email list or via WhatsApp. The weather forecasts for the near future however do not look promising, with gale force winds from the south and southwest.
The leaking hose fitting on the new compressor has been changed out. Contact Terry if you need to be shown how to use the compressor. The door lock code has been changed to restrict access by the uninitiated. Contact Terry for the new code. The cooler for the old compressor has now been purchased and will be fitted soon. We shall then be trying to sell it as a working compressor.
We have been contacted by Plymouth Aquarium who are running a seagrass project and looking for local diving clubs to assist. Let me know if you are interested in finding out more and I can forward their email to you. The project seems to be based in Plymouth, so I'm not sure if there is a Torbay element (but it may be worth checking out).
4 November 2020
Since the lockdown comes into effect at midnight on Wednesday, tonight's meeting was the last to be held at the rugby club until 9 Dec. We will try a Zoom meeting next week just to keep in touch.
The lockdown means that after today, we are unable to go out boat diving on TD1 until December. If you want to go shore diving locally, that seems to be permitted under the rules (counts as exercise), but you can only meet up with one buddy from outside your household. BSAC HQ has confirmed that this is their view too. In the circumstances, we will not be organising branch shore dives which could be construed as group meetings, but you are free to organise your own shore dives with a buddy. If you need a buddy, we can help to communicate this through this email list or via WhatsApp.
The compressor seems to be working fine (with a few minor gremlins to sort out). Contact Terry if you need to be shown how to use it. We shall be changing the door lock code soon to restrict access to the uninitiated. BSAC has confirmed that our current arrangements with regard to only supplying air to branch members are valid. If local BSAC members need air fills, they will have to join the branch to have access to the compressor.
The Scylla dive from Plymouth which was scheduled for 28 Nov has obviously been cancelled. If a new date is arranged, we can publicise it here in case more people are interested in joining the party.
Since pools have been closed during lockdown, Try Dives and pool training are obviously not possible. We shall try to kickstart this again in December if possible.
There has been some interest again in the spare propeller from the SS Maine (a photo of it appeared in a local Facebook page which got a lot of comments, mostly from people who remember it from the Victoria Shopping Centre in Paignton). You can read the DIVER magazine story of how it was recovered (by Terry Blackmore and others) on our website (go to the 'Articles' page). How we raised the Maine objective
2 November 2020
Since the lockdown will go into effect on Thursday, this Wednesday will be the last meeting to be held at the rugby club until 9 Dec. We may try a Zoom meeting again next week just to keep in touch.
The lockdown means that after Wednesday, we are unable to go out boat diving on TD1 until December. If you want to go shore diving, that seems to be permitted under the rules (counts as exercise), but you can only meet up with one buddy from outside your household.
28 October 2020
The new compressor is now working. You must contact us to arrange a demonstration of how to run it safely, since the procedure is a little different. The old compressor has been fixed (ready for sale), although it is still waiting for a replacement oil cooler.
TD1 has had an engine clean-up and the fuel filters replaced. Work is ongoing to find a replacement prop to restore some of its power. It could also do with a bottom scrape.
Currently, 4 members have booked to dive the Scylla (plus another dive) from Outcast out of Plymouth on Saturday 28 November. There are still places on the boat - call Aquanauts on 01752 228825 to book.
We are looking into the possibility of offering Nitrox fills at some point. Can you please let me know if you are Nitrox certified (and at what level), and whether you would be interested in joining a 'Nitrox Club' in the future (to pay for O2 cylinder hire).
I'd also like to hear from those members who hold BSAC Compressor Operation, Nitrox Blender, or Mixed Gas Blender qualifications. We are looking into options for providing air fills for BSAC Members who are not branch members.
21 October 2020
There was a Committee meeting tonight. Items discussed included how to manage the new compressor, boat servicing requirements, the status of training courses, Cox'n approvals, and fund raising options.
The new compressor has hit a snag with an electrical problem, but we are hoping that this can be fixed tomorrow. The old compressor should also be fixed soon, since all the parts are now in. We are hoping to sell on the old compressor as fully working equipment (we've been told that with proper maintenance it will continue to work for many years to come).
14 October 2020
Good news - the new compressor has been installed and is working! At the moment, it is only operating manually, but a new relay should be delivered tomorrow that will allow it to work automatically. Thanks to Granville, Terry and Mike who have worked hard to swap the compressors out and set up the new panels. Members will need to receive instruction on how to operate the new compressor safely before being allowed to fill their own cylinders, and we shall probably change the door code to manage this. Let us know if you want to become a compressor operator. The Nitrox panel is not yet connected, but we shall be investigating our options to do this.
A big thank you to all those who have generously donated money to the Compressor Fund, which now stands at £1350. If any one else is willing to help, it would be very much appreciated - please let Margaret know.
There will be a Committee meeting next Wednesday at 18:45 before the social evening to discuss how we manage the new compressor, cox approvals, and the status of ongoing training courses.
This week's Herald Express contained a report on Splash-in 2000, complete with 5 colour photos. And we were also featured in Divernet online magazine.
Due to Covid-19 precautions, TD1 can only take 6 divers (including Cox) at one time, but if we have 8 divers (including 2 Cox's and 2 Boat Handlers), we can run 2 waves, morning and afternoon. Remember, this pandemic is not over yet (and infection rates are starting to rise again), so precautions should be taken to enforce social distancing. This means that, apart from the 2 divers kitting or de-kitting on the rear bench, all should wear a face mask if you are within 2m of another person outside, or if you are inside the cabin. Hands should be sanitised when getting on the boat (hand gel is available), and surfaces should be wiped clean with a virucide (also on the boat). Simple cooking on board can only be done if strict food hygiene standards are followed, including use of masks and hand sanitising.
Please also remember to observe precautions in the Compressor Room. If you have downloaded the NHS Covid-19 App, a QR code is posted in the Compressor Room that you can scan to check-in.