Anchon WH36, daylight at depth.

I don’t often feel inferior underwater, but after witnessing the clout of Michael’s recently purchased Archon WH36 torch, I knew I had to have one to restore my easily damaged feeling of superiority. Now that I have one, I am God. I can turn night into day and should I feel the urge for an underwater disco, I flick on the strobe and move rhythmically to the beat in my head. This can scare my fellow divers into thinking they are going to need to perform an in-water rescue. Good to keep them on their toes.

ImageThe Archon WH36 is an awesome, super bright, compact and light powerhouse of a torch with one small downside… and that is it comes supplied with a charger that only fits one battery at a time (there are three batteries), and it has a European plug. Before you stop reading, the plus sides of this torch totally make up for this.

It is 3000 lumens. That’s so much, that many, many years in the future, in an area of space a long, long way away, they’ll be talking about the Archon WH36 as the antecedent to the creation of a visually impressive weapon that every child alien wants. 

It has 3.5 hours burn time on full power, 7 hours on half power (makes sense), 5 hours of disco time. That’s so much, that many, many years in the future, we’ll be able to travel to that area of space a long, long way away and still have charge left in the batteries.

It is light, at only 1300 grams with batteries, which translates to 1.3kg, or 2.86601 pounds, or 45.8562 ounces… doesn’t really matter in space.

The battery canister is slim and compact, so it can be tucked away neatly. It also fits nicely in the hand, should you need it to beat clones wearing cumbersome fancy dress outfits, after blinding them with the immensely powerful torch. 

Now wipe the drool off your chin and give us a call. You know you want one.





Top 3 Reasons to Become a Divemaster (From a Non-Divemaster)

It’s a well know running joke in the club. I’m out to set club record for longest Divemaster-In-Training. I had to buy a dive centre to finally earn the right to a snorkel etc. etc. And the question still stands – Will Aileen EVER finish her Divemaster course (watch this space!)

And yet, here I am giving you 3 reasons to do the Divemaster course. Read on…

1. Practice makes perfect – one of the great things about the course, is you get to dive dive dive. When DM-ing, you spend a lot of time helping students out above- and under- water, and hanging in the blue while instructors/students do their thing. This means you learn to prepare for a dive and kit up efficiently,  you perfect your buoyancy, and you build a high level of diving self awareness and awareness of others and your surroundings. I’ve gone down the tech route but can honestly say I couldn’t have progressed as far as I have without those many hours I spent DM-ing.

2. Knowledge is key – you learn what instructors know about diving on the DM-course. How cool is that? This appeals to my geek sensibilities.

3. Key staff member benefits – as a key member of staff, you have access to special supplier deals and promos. Need a drysuit? 30% off thank you very much.

We’ve got a Divemaster induction on the 12th of June. So if any of the above reasons appeal to you (plus Divemaster is by far the best PADI level title), go on and sign-up! If you have any questions or want to talk through the course some more, feel free to call/email or even better catch Maxim, myself or any of the instructors/DMs at club night.


Go Pro Night Thursday 25th July

Go Pro Night

Go Pro Night

We’re having a PADI Go Pro night on Thursday the 25th of July at the shop from 7pm. The aim of the evening is to give divers of all levels a chance to meet the PADI staff and to find out more about courses, the PADI system and going pro.


It doesn’t matter if you’re very experienced or very new, the night is open to anyone. We’ll have a short presentation from PADI, there’ll be food and drink and also great offers on kit and courses.


If you’d like to join us then let us know so we have an idea on numbers and we’ll look forward to seeing you then!



Day 4 and 5: Presentations, presentations. And some descent tips too!

A day of lectures today followed by our first knowledge development presentations in the afternoon. We had another excellent presentation from James Morgan about social media, a lot of the stuff we’re already doing especially following on from the business academy I did last year but there were a lot of great tips. After an amazing lunch at a beautiful location on the beach we had our first presentations.

The view at lunch

The view at lunch

Our group was set up in one of the hotel rooms which was a little cramped and also had hot water unlike many of the other rooms! There was a lot of tension in the air because for many of us, despite delivering this type of presentation on a regular basis this was the first time being evaluated for a very long time! My topic was from Divemaster about DSDs in open water. I diced with a score of one by using a boltsnap as my promoted piece of dive equipment which I had on my belt loop. I drew attention to it with the line ‘I notice some of you are interested in what’s hanging from my shorts’. Fortunately the examiner had a sense of humour and I scored a 5.

One of our fellow candidates then gave a full presentation about wreck diving in Flemish which was brilliant as you were almost able to score him just by following the structure, tone of voice and the fact that wreck is wrak in Flemish.

We had a chilled night as the next day we were heading to open water.

A lot of CDTC candidates

A lot of CDTC candidates!

This morning we met at the dive centre at 8. Imagine the faff of trying to transport 42 CD candidates on 2 boats to a dive site. There was a lot of the requisite faff before we all boarded the boats and headed out into some rather sizeable swell. After a lot of rolling around on the boat we finally got in. Our task was to evaluate the examiners as they took us through a descent and an underwater tour. For the instructors reading, they are really putting a huge amount of emphasis on supervision during try dives and open water training dives. This is because statistically most diving instances in training are actually happening during the tour portion of the dive. They are now saying that you should be swimming on your back or hovering above your students whilst leading them.

The Greengos!

The Greengos!

We had fun swimming around playing naughty students before we headed back in for a debrief. My evaluation score was out on a couple of areas because I was a little too harsh. I was reasonably confident but James clarified some areas of scoring and suddenly it just clicks. Afterwards we had a big buffet lunch on the beach. I’m really trying not to eat too much but it’s kind of impossible with such good food in massive amounts.

Man love

After the lunch we had to deliver our instructor teaching presentations. This follows the same structure as a standard prescriptive knowledge development presentation (sorry for the jargon non-instructors) but this time you actually have to present at large portion of the IDC curriculum so the presentation can go on for some time. I managed to work, Downton Abbey, Will Ferrell and the boltsnap into my presentation again and managed another 5.

Anyway, I’m just finishing my cuba libre before heading over to the bar to convince my fellow team mates to follow my marketing plan. Can’t say too much here in case of spying but if we go ahead it will be sink or swim!

Day Three: It’s the Apprentice

Another early start, but with eggs over easy and a giant pile of American style bacon as you look across the palm trees to the beach and it’s not long before life feels good! This morning we had an evaluation workshop on knowledge development presentations. It’s something I feel pretty comfortable with but a few interesting tips came out including the fact that as instructors we don’t necessarily need to do the ‘An interesting thing that once happened to me….’ Part of the presentation any more. After lunch we  came back to an excellent and inspiring marketing presentation by James Morgan. This involved an abortive skype call with a dive centre that shows that no one is immune to the vagaries of technology but it was one of those presentations when someone tells you a bunch of really obvious easy stuff that for some reason you don’t do, so it was very useful. We then were told that each group had to pitch an IDC to James and that by the end of the week one of us would be the winner. This led to a group marketing meeting in the evening which I am attempting to divert into a pretty outrageous idea. It’s just like the Apprentice again.  I’ll let you know how that one works out..

Team dinner

Team dinner

After the lecture it was back to the swimming pool for our first full teaching presentations. We had to take it in turns as instructors, students and evaluators whilst the PADI examiners looked on. We then had to compare our evaluation scores with them. As each day goes by I’m really feeling incredibly lucky to be in the group I’m in. I’ll introduce them properly later but special mention must go to Dave from Salt Lake City Utah and Sascha from Switzerland who are rapidly becoming partners in crime. Our team even has a Facebook group now so go and like us as it will help with the marketing competition!

I did pretty well on the evaluation only deviating by one small point where the candidate I was evaluating was marked down by the examiner on his choice of positive reinforcement during the de-brief. I got a 5 for my presentation so felt pretty smug about that.

alex getting evaluated

Me getting evaluated. Yes it is that warm I’m not in a wetsuit

Jen has become the official team photographer and has managed to get a number of great shots from the pool including the one below of me counselling Sascha on his skills….

Role model evaluation

Role model evaluation

Day Two: Dom Rep Wraysbury

Yesterday was a big day. We followed a similar setup to the first day with a morning in the classroom and an afternoon in the water. However this time it was our turn to start evaluating. In the morning the staff gave us 3 presentations which we had to evaluate. Just like Tommy Cooper playing the piano badly the presenters gave their presentations deliberately missing things out and obfuscating the subject. Now I think I’m pretty good at evaluation so it was slightly disheartening to practically flunk out completely on the first one. I gave a much higher score than the control one, something I put down to playing good cop to David and his ‘Gates of Lau-Kee’ on recent AIs! However as the presentations went along I eased into it and managed a perfect match on the last one.


The classroom

The classroom

After lunch we had a great presentation on counselling candidates although this also included my worst nightmare of ‘role play’. Fortunately it didn’t take long and we all piled onto a bus to be taken to confined open water. This turned out to be a beach with a breakwater upon which large waves were pounding. We swam out and an interesting skill circuit ensued that began on white sand in blue water and ended like Wraysbury on a Sunday. This very much played to my advantage though so I managed 5s across the board.


Gearing up for confined

The Greengos gear up for confined open water water

Anyway, just a quick one now as it’s back to lectures. I’ll get a fuller update this evening!

Course Director day one: The Greengos

Have you seen the first episode of the Apprentice when the 2 respective groups of cretins have to come up with a team name? Well today is the first time I’ve ever had to do that and we had 10 minutes to do it. We began the course in a conference room at 8 this morning and we were instantly put into teams. I found myself in the Green team along with an instructor who works at Phocea Mexico, we met last year called Johan which was a nice surprise. After a short welcome talk by James Morgan every person in  every team had to stand up in turn and introduce themselves. It was faintly mortifying and my weak attempt to crack a joke about only diving in a drysuit was met with blank stares however it was also amazing to see the range of people in the room. After the introductions we had to decide on our team name. Embarrassed silence ensued so I took charge by masterfully suggesting the ‘Sea Team’ to another polite silence. However after a bit of bouncing the word green around someone suggested ‘Greengos’ as in ‘Gringos’ which kind of fit in with the South American thing. For some reason I was then elected as the team spokesperson and had to announce the name to the room however James Morgan had never heard it before, he declared us original and we got 10 points!

After a buffet lunch we went through the knowledge reviews and exams (yes CDs have to do those too) and the instructors amongst you will be relieved to know that the way the top CD examiners do it is exactly the way we all do it!

Rescue workshopRescue workshop

Alan presents the rescue workshop

Fortunately it didn’t take long and we were off to the pool. We had a superb rescue workshop presentation by Alan Jan with some interesting new additions and a great moment where he really laid the smack down on single strand harnesses. After that we had to do the first of our skill circuits. Our team was evaluated by Alan and we had to demo BWRAF, Snorkel/Reg exchange, Mask Removal, Free Flow Regulator and Cesa. I managed 5s on all except BWRAF where I dropped a point for not physically checking the tank was all the way on. After that we practised our rescue demos for a bit before jumping out.

Rescue Demo

I demo rescue with the pocket mask. The perfect way to avoid mouth contact with a beardy man

Rescue Demo2

I score a 5 for being unresponsive

I’m just writing this before heading over to the drinks reception tonight. Tomorrow brings more lectures and the second confined skills workshop before teaching presentations begin properly. It’s been lots of fun, the team I’m in has a group of really great people with no big egos, and I’m Really looking forward to tomorrow!