An informative and not at all creepy guide to setting up your stage tank

I’m constantly asked how to set up stage tanks, often interrupted in restaurants and on public transport. Sometimes people shout through the front window of my flat or come up to me at the ambassadors reception. So I thought I’d put together a step by step guide to setting up your stage cylinder.

First of all buy an ali 80 tank. These are the best for their buoyancy characteristics as when full they are only about 1kg negative and when empty only about 1kg positive so they’re nice and easy to handle in the water. Make sure you buy a cool brushed aluminium one or a white one, not a yellow one because then you will get laughed at.

Ali 80

Very nice. Now we need to take our lovely stage out of it’s bag so we can set it up.

mmm shiny

They do look great when they’re new. So smooth and shiny, so nice to touch, in fact..Whats that? You want me to touch you? OK, go on then… Ahem. anyway, as I was saying, now we need to set up the stage rigging kit and …I’m sorry? You want me to make you wear it? Put it on real tight? Um, well OK yes I’d like that too…

Stage kit loose

It’s on but it’s not tight enough, tighten the jubilee clip up, as tight as you can and make the strap taut against the shiny cylinders flank!

Stage kit tight

YES! Now we’re almost there but wait, that’s right, there’s one more piece of the outfit, I mean stage kit to go. We need 2 rubber straps to hold all that junk in place!

Stage Ready

Oh yes…. Make sure those rubber straps go over the strap with the piston clips. You’ll need those to get a grip with later on. Wow, you look fantastic. but there’s just one more thing to go

reg in placereg in place

Aaah yes, your DIN wheel feels so good in my…

What's going on

WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?! GET BACK TO WORK ON THE WEBSITE!

Back to work

We support ‘Fair Deal For Your Local’ campaign….Do You?

Whilst we spend a lot of our time underwater, like most UK divers, we also spend a lot of time in the pub. We have a brilliant local ale house called The Eagle and we spend more time there than we’d care to admit to!

Our brilliant local pub The Eagle Ale House

We hold our monthly club nights there, so if you’ve ever been to our club night, you’ve been to The Eagle! We tend to be there every weekend with our diving students after a hard day’s diving. We’ve also competed in their pub quiz on many occasions and Jen once won her body weight in alcohol!

You may be wondering what this has to do with diving. Well, we think that our club and students really enjoy having a friendly pub on our doorstep and we want it to stay that way. Now apologies for my very simple understanding and explanation of what is undoubtedly a complex issue, but basically you may not realise it but The Eagle, along with many other pubs, are owned by a Pub Company. This means that the publicans are tied into buying their beer from their PubCo and unfortunately if the PubCo is bad, they usually pay much more for a barrel of beer then they would if they were free to buy it from who they wanted to.

Unfortunately there’s more bad news. Often the publicans have to rent the flat above the pub from the PubCo. The PubCo sets the rental price and this is usually a lot higher then comparable flats would be on the open rental market!

They are tied in to the PubCo and unfortunately there is no opportunity to opt out. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to work so hard and to not be making the profit you deserve to through no fault of your own. You may have noticed lots of local pubs closing down and sadly it’s normally because they can’t afford to stay in business and that is because of the PubCos.

Now this is where you come in! Finally the government have listened and are looking to reform the PubCos. This is HUGE news. PLEASE add your support by going to the Fair Deal for Your Local website HERE and sign up as a supporter.

There is also a quick 5 min survey to fill in which asks for your opinion on what rules they should look to impose on the PubCos. Please do this before the deadline of 14 June.

Dave and Simon, the publicans at The Eagle, would love to have your support. If you’ve ever enjoyed a ‘cheeky half’ at The Eagle, then now is the time to do your bit and show them how much they mean to us! By spending just 5 mins of your time doing this you could influence the government and do something life changing for them!

For more detailed information check out:

www.fairdealforyourlocal.com/

@FairDeal4Locals

The Eagle Ale House

From the website Fair Deal For Your Local:

The Pubco Model

 

Is it right that publicans tied to big pub companies can pay above £110 for a barrel of beer, but independent publicans are able to purchase for less than £70?

 

Is it right that tied licensees are unable to make a reasonable living due to high rents on top of inflated beer prices?

 

Is it right that the unbalanced relationship between big property companies known as “pubcos” and their licensees is driving up prices in pubs, restricting investment in pubs and ultimately forcing pubs to close?

 

After nearly a decade of campaigning and failed self-regulation the Government is finally consulting on the unfair unbalanced relationship between pubcos and their licensees. Now is the time to speak up and get a Fair Deal for Your Local.

One F’in Mile!

On Saturday 17 August there’s going to be something decidedly different going on in the scuba diving world…the team at Bite-Back, in conjunction with Mares, are challenging divers to walk a mile in their fins around Kempton Park Race course in Surrey!

Why not get a team together and enter the race? Maybe you could do a ‘grand national’ style sweepstake in your office to raise money. Bite-back (and the sharks) would love you forever if you took part and raised £100 in sponsorship! The money raised will help fund their campaign to ban shark-fin soup, so it’s an incredibly worthwhile cause.

You can choose to walk 1 mile or you could do 1 lap of the course (1.4 miles). It costs £20 to enter and you can do that here or for more information have a look at the Bite-Back website here.

Bite-back team in training!

Bite-back team in training!

The team at Bite-Back has already clocked a time of 53 minutes for a full lap, but has put its slow time down to ‘fits of giggles’ and ‘moon-walking like Michael Jackson’. And don’t worry about damaging your fins, the ground is very soft under fin and the mud will wash off the next time you jump in the water!

There will be prizes for the fastest, slowest and the best dressed! Chantal – maybe it’s time to get that banana costume out again!

Nothing unusual here...carry on!

I’d sponsor Chantal to do the f’in mile in her banana costume!

This is going to be such a fun event so let us know if you want to take part and maybe we could put a DLL team together! Some of our divers will be away on our Red Sea trip so won’t be able to make it, but they’ll do another fancy dress dive there to raise money too!

Croatia: Project Apsrytus Begins….

Croatia Technical Divers Weekend Jun 12-18.

We’re heading out on a technical diving week to Croatia in June. We have amazing package and itinerary put together to really begin to explore the amazing wrecks of the area.

This trip is open to all tec divers from those very recently qualified to more experienced divers. To get the best out of the trip you should be Tec 40 looking to qualify as Tec 45 as a minimum.

Krnica Dive Centre

Krnica Dive Centre

Before we fly: Kit workshop and dive planning refresher to make sure that everything is ready and prepared for the trip

12 June

Fly from London into Venice.
6 pm Mini-bus transfer from Venice airport to Pula (approx. 3 hours).
13 June
SS Lina – 2 dives
14 June
Baron Gautsch (max. depth 40m) – 1 dive
Giuseppe Dezza (max. depth 35m) – 1 dive
Visit to local Naval museum which includes dinner
15 June
MS Argo – bow part – (max. depth 49m) – 1 dive
MS Argo – stern part – (max. depth 49m) – 1 dive
16 June
SS Luana (max. depth 44m) – 1 dive
Cesare Rossarol (max. depth 49m) – 1 dive
Visit at a local Agriturismus for dinner
17 June
Free day. We can organise more diving or sightseeing – whatever you fancy!
18 June
Minibus transfer at approx. 1pm to Venice airport (approx. 3 hours)
Included:
  • Twin room (shared) in self catering accommodation
  • airport transfers
  • lunch on boat
  • diving permits
  • boat transfers
  • Guiding with DLL tec instructors
  • museum visit with dinner
  • agriturismus dinner
  • use of twin set with one stage
  • BBQ
Not included
  • Flights (you book your own flights). Currently around £100 with Easyjet.
  • Gas fills (approx. €200 payable on site).
  • Food and drink (other than the three arranged evenings and on the boat).
  • Activities on the last day.
the Lina

The impressive bow of the Lina before she slopes away to 50m

As you can see this is an absolutely amazing package with a brilliant dive centre on some breathtaking wrecks.  We only have 6 spaces on this trip so for more information or to book please contact us!

Bananas, Ostriches, Cheerleaders oh my!

It’s exactly two months to the day that 26 of us were boarding a couple of jet planes on our way to a week of luxury courtesy of Blue O Two.

I couldn’t believe it was a whole 5 years since I’d been on a liveaboard holiday with Blue O Two and that time I went on my own. This time I was running the trip and we’d filled the entire boat. The difference was amazing. It felt like being on holiday with an extended family, albeit one with a rubber fetish!

Alex and I were chauffeur driven in style to the airport by Steve Barham and we treated ourselves to Valet parking. It made such a nice change than travelling by train weighed down by dive bags.

Unfortunately that’s where the luxuries ended. Alex told me that the check-in staff never bother weighing hand luggage and so we’d filled every spare inch of our bags. That was a mistake, on check in they weighed our hand luggage and they were both 5 kg overweight. Our main bags were ok but didn’t really have any spare space or weight allowance to put an extra 5kg of stuff in.

What ensued is funny in hindsight but rather stressful when experiencing it. The check-in lady sternly told us that we had to repack our bags until they were the right weight. The bags were already on the conveyor belt and she delighted in telling us that we had to crawl under the desk and onto the conveyor belt to retrieve them. Well, Alex charged onto that belt like a bull in heat! I was worried he was going to hurt himself. He dragged the bags out and we then spent 20 mins tying undersuits around our waists, putting on extra layers and filling our pockets. We tried explaining that we were the trip organisers and had other people’s dive equipment so we would be over our allowance whereas they would be under theirs and so it would all even out. Of course she just ignored us. We finally managed to meet her strict requirements and consoled ourselves with a huge Jamie Oliver breakfast. This restaurant is quickly becoming the Huggins of Malta for DLL trips.

Could this be the new Huggins?

Could this be the new Huggins?

We arrived in Hurghada and made the quick 15 min transfer to our home for the week, Blue Horizon. It’s such a beautiful yacht with a sun deck, the sky lounge, dining room and even a Jacuzzi (which unfortunately was broken).

We all quickly made ourselves at home and settled into boat life easily. Boat life consists of living by a bell. You’re told that when the bell rings you feel your hair, if it’s wet it’s time to eat, if it’s dry it’s time to dive! Dimitris decided to give himself more hair so he could really tell what was going on!

Daniel gave Dimitris a hair makeover!

Daniel gave Dimitris a hair makeover!

We had the best check out dive ever as we saw dolphins! Well I say we, everyone other than my group (consisting of Dev, Chantal and Rachel) saw dolphins. Sadly we think that Dev’s squeaky reg, which sounded a bit like Darth Vader on helium, scared them away!

It was so nice being back in tropical warm waters and it was especially warm for me as I’d been lent a Whites drysuit to use for the trip. I must say they are a joy to dive in and a pleasure to travel with as they weigh so little (ok ok, White’s plug over)!

The crew were lots of fun and amazingly helpful as always. Our dive guides were Mustafa and Leo. Rather unbelievably Alex recognised Leo as one of his Open Water instructors from many years ago in Thailand!

Alex and David were kept very busy instructing Dev, Kristine and Michael on their Tec courses. We would often seem them huddled in various corners of the boat talking all things tec. Alistair was also kept busy teaching various rec courses for Steve Connor. Steve is one of the happiest and most enthusiastic students an instructor could wish for! They would also often be found in the sky lounge talking about diving. The rest of us slept and did a bit of diving, but mainly slept!

IMG_0538

Meal times are the time when everybody meets up again.  I’d recently turned veggie, not for any moral reasons really, just because I wanted to. The first night was chicken soup. I asked if there was a veggie alternative and to my amusement my bowl was taken over to the chicken soup, the ladle was carefully skimmed over the surface and the resulting fluid was deemed vegetarian as the chicken pieces were at the bottom! I know any true veggie would probably be horrified but I thought it was funny, and it tasted lovely!

So on to the diving. Well what can I say…it was the Red Sea and it was lovely. Some people saw dolphins and turtles but sadly I didn’t (I’m still blaming Dev’s regs for this)! We mainly did wreck dives but then the wind picked up and we weren’t able to get down to the Brothers. We had to stay on Panorama Reef for a few dives, which was a lovely reef but we were all a bit disappointed not be moving further south.

I’d kindly been lent a great underwater camera by the lovely people at Ocean Leisure. When Alex picked it up for me before the trip he had been given strict instructions on how to use it. Unfortunately he only remembered half way through the week to mention the one button I had to push to set my white balance. My photos drastically improved after that and I had a lot of fun remembering what I’d been taught on my underwater photography course five years ago.

Take a look at the group’s photos from the trip here

There are a couple of dives that I remember very well. The first one was a night dive with Dev. It was about 10 metres deep and there was a lot of life on the boat. Everybody with a torch got followed by Common Lion fish. They use the torch beam to show them where their next meal is. Now I don’t mind this, but they really have no sense of personal space at all and it’s quite eerie at night so Dev and I got very freaked out by how close they were to us. Even when we covered our torch beams they stayed with us like faithful dogs with their masters.  It was quite unnerving how large they were and we spent quite a lot of the dive trying to get away from them. It was soon time to think about getting back to the boat and that’s when we realised we both thought the other person was leading. Whoops! We had totally lost the group and in the end we decided to send up an SMB and get picked up by the zodiac. Not our finest navigational work but on the plus side we had a lovely view of the stars on the way back!

The other memorable dive was the Fancy Dress dive. We did this on the last dive of the holiday. The theme was the alphabet as there were 26 of us, so we had one letter each. Some people had been very secretive about their costumes and when we finally saw them arrive on the dive deck we knew why, they were hilarious! We had a cheerleader, a quack, a zebra, a hippy and a pirate to name a few. I went as Venus and Alex went as King Kong. He did the whole dive in a gorilla mask! The two stand out costumes belonged to Carl and Chantal. Chantal came as a banana and it was the funniest thing to watch her swimming underwater with bubbles coming out the top of the banana!

Chantal goes bananas!

Chantal goes bananas!

Carl came as an Ostrich and there are really no words to describe how funny it was. It looked like Carl was riding the Ostrich, and the Ostrich even had its own mask. Carl’s fake legs were floating above his head! See for yourself in the following video:

Carl’s Ostrich Dive!

We spent the evenings relaxing in the Sky Lounge. There had been a lot of time spent before the trip planning which science fiction films we were going to watch (yes we are geeks).  Sadly it didn’t work out as we’d forgotten one remote control and we needed just one cable (that’s the extent of my technical knowledge) to play the films. I’m not sure Steve B is ever going to get over being defeated by technology!

IMG_0406

With no films to watch we did lots of sleeping, reading, playing cards and sunbathing! It was one of those holidays that you just relax instantly. It was a great break and despite the wind at the end everybody had a great time.

We spent the last night out in Hurghada and it was the usual debauchery. We played the Pyramid of Death (Steve and Chris’s favourite drinking game) and Fives (that was the drinking game we lost Alex to).  We were then treated to an awesome live rock band in the pub and that’s when I carefully replaced Alex’s bottle of beer in his hand with water, in a very Derren Brown stealth-like manner! He thanked me for it in the morning. Scott and Steve B then risked their lives by being pinged skyward in a contraption held together with gaffa tape (which we only realised after seeing the following photo).

You wouldn't get me in that!

You wouldn’t get me in that!

 

Luckily they lived and then the last few standing were ushered into a club by Dean, where somehow he’d managed to wangle free entry for us all. I think that’s where a few of us called it a night and ran the usual taxi gauntlet back to the hotel. I believe a few hardy individuals managed to stay out till the very early hours!

The next day was spent recovering from our hangovers. On the flight home I was reacquainted with the game Temple Run (thanks James) and have been addicted ever since.

I really enjoyed this trip but was a little disappointed that I didn’t see any sharks. To remedy this, we’ve booked another week in August which is the prime season both for the weather and for the sharks, so hopefully we’re going to see Oceanic Whitetips and maybe even Hammerheads! It would be amazing to fill the boat again so if you fancy coming along then check out the details below. And for those film buffs among you, Steve B has already booked onto this trip, and I bet he’s already packed that missing cable!

Click here for Red Sea Trip August 2013 information

Thanks to everyone for making it an awesome trip!

Spot the regulator!

Vicky starts work!

We’re very pleased to announce that Vicky Brown is now working for DLL full time as the shop manager. She’ll be heading up all the recreational diving and day to day stuff in the shop. Most of you will have hopefully met her before but if not be sure to come along and say hello at the next clubnight on May 7th!

Vicky

Vicky realises the terms of the working agreement are slightly harsher than anticipated

Ahoy There Matey!

I would like to announce that I am onboard and at the ready as the newest member of the DLL ship. I have taught for years during transient periods in the UK between jaunts across the globe, so won’t be an unfamiliar face to lots of the divers of DLL.

Having learnt that all that glitters is not gold, I am now back in the UK with my trainer-clad feet firmly planted on the ground, and my thoughts drifting below the deep-green waters of our mysterious coastal waters.

I cannot wait for the season to fully kick off, and the recent tropical sunshine is a welcome break from the icicle cold of Wraysbury that we have endured well into spring due to the unending winter.

Despite the incessant chill, I did have one of my all time best dives the other day in my favourite little lake just outside London when a cool dude student and I went perusing the crystal clear waters by the tunnels. When we arrived at the VW Camper the infamous pike was captaining his underwater car, hanging out in the most tranquil manner, unfazed by the presence of divers.

UK diving is a great love of mine and the waters surrounding these islands are an exciting unexplored paradise that with the right attitude, and dry-suit, rival most dive sites in warmer climates: wrecks ahoy, and reefs with thousands of splendid jewel-like anemones, in the brightest, happiest colours. And, of course, bacon sandwiches.

So now is the time to come out of hibernation, and come diving with me in the sunshine. Or if you’re still not quite sure you can face the cold, come drop by the shop for tea.

Happy diving.  Vicky