Learning to Dive
As you are reading this, you must at least be thinking about learning to dive, even if it’s only one of those “I’ve always wondered what it’s like to breathe underwater” sort of thoughts. Well now’s your chance to find out!
The first step is to attend a 'come and try it' (CATI) session on a Wednesday evening during our regular pool-training slot at Totnes Pool. The session is taken by one of our qualified and experienced instructors. First they will show you the basic scuba equipment and how to assemble it. Then its into the pool to show you how to breathe and move about under water.
We provide all the equipment - all you need to bring is a swimming costume and a T-shirt or similar. Then you can come to Meadowbrook Community Centre in Dartington where we will explain all you need to know about the club, the training and the equipment and answer any questions you might have. CATI sessions are run on a regular basis, and cost £15. Please note that you will be asked to sign a medical self-declaration to confirm that you have no known significant medical problems (especially heart conditions, serious ear or sinus problems, lung damage, fits or epilepsy, and some forms of asthma). Unfortunately, whilst we can do CATIs for 8 year olds and upward, there is a minimum age limit of 14 years for those wishing to learn to dive. If under 18 a parent or guardian must be present during all training.
As a new diver training with BSAC you will be guided and supervised by qualified divers and instructors. They will help you to broaden your experience and ability, enabling you to progress first to Ocean Diver grade . As your experience grows, and you receive more instruction, you can gain the Sports Diver and Dive Leader qualification, or even go on to become an Advanced or First Class Diver.
Ocean Diver training involves some 7 hours of theory instruction and 7 hours of practical lessons. This is followed by 5 dives in the sea to complete your qualification. The aim of this training is to teach you to be competent in the safe and correct use of all appropriate open water scuba diving equipment in a sheltered water training area; and then to introduce you to open water diving under the supervision of a BSAC Nationally Qualified Instructor. Training takes place at Totnes Pool on Wednesday evenings at 7.45 p.m. These wet sessions are followed by one-hour theory lessons at Meadowbrook. The training generally takes 3-4 months to complete, weather permitting .
Equipment : Initially all you need is your own mask, snorkel and fins as we can supply the other training equipment. As with most things, you can spend as much or as little as you like on kit, but you should be able to get a reasonably good quality mask for £25-35 whilst a set of fins will set you back anything between £30-80, You shouldn’t spend more than £10 on a snorkel. We will be giving you advice on what to buy when you start the course, so you don’t need to worry about it too much at the moment. However, before you go in the sea you will need to have a good wetsuit, ideally 7-8mm thick. Once you have completed your Ocean Diver training, you will hopefully want to get your own gear and continue diving with us and we can give you further advice on what and where to buy. If you buy new, some guide prices for the essentials are: semi-dry wetsuit ~£175 (or drysuit ~£250-500), boots ~£25, stab jacket ~£250, regulator & gauges ~£250, air cylinder ~£150, knife ~£25, weight belt ~£40, watch ~£30 and torch ~£15-150(!). However, there tends to be a healthy supply of good safe second hand equipment available. Even hardly used equipment is often half the price of the new item. With a little luck and patience you may be able to buy most of what you need for £600 or so. And remember - diving equipment is built to last!
Costs: Totnes BSAC has recently reduced the cost of learning to dive with the club, so that it is more accessible. From 1st March 2016 the cost of the Ocean Diver course will be:
- £375 for adults
- £300 for juniors, or full-time students under 21years
These fees include:
- Pool work,
- Open water dives
- Course materials ("The Diving Manual", Student Notes and Qualification Book),
- Use of club equipment and air fills
- 12 months memberships of Totnes Sub-Aqua Club
- 12 months membership of BSAC
Payment can be spread over 3 months and will need to be complete before the final Ocean Diver qualification can be awarded. Membership of the Branch and BSAC gives you access to the club equipment; cheap diving; free use of the pool during our Wednesday evening "wet" session; discounts at some of the local dive shops; 12 monthly copies of BSAC Dive magazine; and Public Liability Insurance cover up to £2 million.
The only additional cost is for membership of Meadowbrook Community Centre, where the club meets. This is a private members club so you will also need to become a member to use the facilities - £20 for 2016. However, This is a modest cost and the drinks are cheap!
Further training : Diver training does not have to end with simply learning to dive and members are encouraged to progress through the BSAC qualifications. We do not charge for subsequent training to Sports Diver and beyond, other than for training materials (between £20-£50 depending on the qualification), provided you are a full diving member of both the Branch and BSAC. However, you will be expected to have your own equipment by this stage. BSAC also offer lots of skill development courses (SDCs) on topics such as Boat Handling; Navigation and Chartwork; Dive Planning and Marshalling; First Aid for Divers; Practical Rescue Management; and many more, and again these are generally charged at cost.
Membership of the Branch and BSAC gives you access to the club equipment; cheap diving; free use of the pool during our Wednesday evening “wet” session; discounts at some of the local dive shops; 12 monthly copies of BSAC Dive magazine; and Public Liability Insurance cover up to £2 million.
Medicals : You must complete a Medical Self-Declaration before commencing pool training. In particular circumstances we may require you to consult a medical referee to confirm your fitness to dive.
Diving : South Devon is undoubtedly one of the places to live if you are a diver, with enthusiasts from all over the UK coming to the West Country every year just to dive off our coast. Underwater visibility can be as good as 20-30 metres and the water abounds with colourful marine life. The area has as much to offer underwater as it does on land, with spectacular underwater scenery and many local shipwrecks to be visited. Diving is organised throughout the year at sites all over South Devon , visiting wrecks like the Scylla, the Persier, the Maine and the James Egan Layne; or more scenic dives such as Hilsea Point, the East Rutts and the famous Eddystone Reef. In the summer there are likely to be evening dives during the week as well as weekend diving, with all levels of experience catered for. There are also regular trips to Cornwall and expeditions to such places as the Scillies, Scotland (Oban and Scapa Flow ), Pembroke, Southwest Ireland and the South of France.
The branch owns two boats (RIBS), each fully equipped with radio, echo sounder, electronic navigation and safety equipment. These are kept in a purpose built boatshed, which also houses our 4WD vehicle and compressor.
It isn’t all just diving either, with a regular programme of social events such as ten pin bowling, trips to see the likes of the Mary Rose and The Victory, and beach barbecues (umbrellas optional!).
If you have any questions, or need anything explained, then please click here to contact us.