Category: Scuba Diving

2008 WTF?!?

By , Thursday 1st January 2009 12:00 am

2008 was a strange old year, there’s several things I really enjoyed about it,  and there’s some things that have now been forgotten and moved on with….


I haven’t done much in the way of scuba diving I think I managed around about 10 dives all year. One of those dives was the scuba santas event at Vobster Quay which was more successful than my wildest dreams. In the end we raised over £1000 for the RNLI, got coverage on BBC and ITV, and had around 80 divers in the water. Vobster was a sea of scuba diving santas for the day! I really hope I get to do mroe diving in 2009 (lots more!), getting back into it will involve lots of training to get comfortable again. I miss the days of getting on the boat, sun beaming down, grabbing a lobster, packing up   and heading home for a few beers.


At the end of January 2008 I was involved in a car crash, hit from behind whilst stopped, nothing major or so I thought. Over several months my neck pain got progressively worse stopping me running. In the end I contacted an accident claims company who started getting me treatment with a chiropractor in Cardiff which I’m still attending (March 2009 – the claim still isn’t settled either). Running is another one of those things I want to get back to, I did start with Miles but between illnesses, injuries, and him eventually moving to Cambridge we only got out a handful of times. I really need a good kick up the bum to get going again, although my one consolation is that I have been cycling back and fore to work for months which is doing me some good.


In July 2008 I moved into a flat with Megan, we’re getting through the painting and decorating and getting it looking really nice  – although we’re sort of dragging our heels with the painting….still. The flat is in Adamsdown in Cardiff (I never seem to move far) and is suiting us just great.


Work was all over the place in 2008, I started off drifting a little before taking up work at a letting agent as manager. This helped no end with the estate and letting agency software that I was developing. My plan for the estate and letting agency software is to release it as a low cost product when I have more time to clear it up. From what I’m told about competing products on the market it is easier to use and performs many or more of the same functions in a better way :)

During April 2008 coming up to my 22nd birthday both Megan and my mother started pushing for me to ‘get a career’, which a hard idea to swallow was really what I needed. Running my own company was fun but didn’t provide the stability needed and earning a pittance at the letting agency wasn’t a long term career goal. It was always a case of wait until I get my software finished and I’ll start selling it, but time was always against me.

What followed was several interviews with some great companies in some great areas, full of promise of moving to a new area, fresh start seemed great. The best job offer was with a large hosting provider in the Worcester area and seemed ideal. So what happened? Well I had developed an online SMS solution back around christmas that had been sitting around not doing much which investors were found for. Excellent I thought and off we went. All didn’t end well and after several months of broken promises and rising stress levels I made a stand and walked out. Working 60 hours a week, coming home and doing another 3-4 hours plus working all weekend and for all the stress it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. (Here I’d like to thank Megan, my parents, and my friends that stood by me, I was a stress-headed dick at times, and I’m sorry)

Four weeks later I landed myself a job with a company called Tracesmart in Cardiff Bay as a PHP Developer. After passing the tests and the interviews I started with a whole pile of enthusiasm (as you can imagine things had been a bit low for sometime). Tracesmart perform people searching, people tracing, electoral roll data handling, involving huge quantities of data. I’ve been there now for about 5 months (given I’m actually writing this in March 2009) and I love every minute of it. I’m pushing myself every day, have a great working environment (my desk overlooks the bay!), good colleagues! I’ve been involved in some good projects (other posts to follow) and I’m really proud of the work I’m doing there.


Despite starting 2009 in Germany suffering from the Novo virus 2009 is great so far. Megan and I spent  New Years time in Germany and Amsterdam. Amsterdam is beautiful and the Anne Frank house had a real profound effect on me, somewhere we’ll definately be returning to. Work is going really well. My neck is getting better and better so in a couple of weeks time I’ll head out for those first few awful runs once again. The only thing I really need now is a good few dives (or a dive holiday) to get back into the swing of things!

Scuba Santa’s Website Launched

By , Saturday 22nd November 2008 3:55 pm

Given the growing size of this years scuba santas event to be held at Vobster Quay on the 20th December 2008 I thought I should create a website to collect all the information in one place instead of having it spread between Yorkshire Divers (YD) and facebook.

So here’s the site Scuba Santas –

Links are appreciated as this is a fun event that I organise to raise money for the RNLI each year.

Scuba Santas 2008 – Up and Running…

By , Friday 5th September 2008 2:54 pm

Facebook: Scuba Santas 2008″>Scuba Santas 2008 is now up and running. Planning is underway for the 2008 dives organised through YD for the 20th December 2008.  The event is being controlled through facebook events.

There’s also a first individual post on YD here about what date to run the event and to get some provisional names for diving santas: Scuba Diving Santas 2008 – on Yorkshire Divers.

The event will once again be held at Vobster Quay, we’ve applied for another Guiness World Record, and hopefully get more visits from news crews such as those we had last year from the BBC.

More news will be posted once we’ve decided on a charity and things are moving along :)

Here’s more about last years event: Scuba Santas 2007.

Diving Rheola Lakes, Glynneath

By , Saturday 2nd August 2008 9:00 am

Rheola-004Hearing about a new dive site through YD, it being cheaper (£5) and closer (well for Simon) than the NDAC we decided to head down to check it out. The site is north of Neath on the A465 and is an easy drive from the M4. The site is run by Steve of Quest Marine (site details on link).

Rheola-008There are two lakes at the site, one for powerboating and one for quieter activities (such as diving!).  Parking is right up against the water and for the entire day we were the only two divers there . The smaller lake isn’t huge but an ok size for a smaller number of divers. There’s toilets at the site but not much else, although there’s a burger van a short drive back to the entrance to the site and a place you can buy junk food just around the corner.

Rheola-007The lakes were created as they were dug out for rock to build the heads of the valleys road and have naturally filled up over time, due to that there’s no fish life although plenty of plants. Adding some fish would be quite nice and would draw in some additional money from fishermen, although there were some kids fishing the bigger lake so I guess that there’s probably some in there.

The water was very clear with a good 5-6m visibility, although if you knocked the bottom lots of suspended matter was sent upwards and took a while to settle. The suspended matter was much preferrable to the black dust knocked up if you find a patch without plants. I did this to test what it was like but forgot to take some video to demonstrate

Rheola-011 Rheola-006 Rheola-009

We were told that the max depth was 12m with the lake sloping down in 2m steps but we reached a max of 10.8metres. After about 20 minutes (+ 1 golf ball) we both got a bit bored of the site but pushed the dive to 40 minutes. The second dive we went in with a plan and did several run times with stops at 9m, 6m, and 3m both up and down.

In summary, a good cheap site at £5, not much depth but good for practice. I wouldn’t go for a pleasure dive, there needs to be a purpose, maybe if the site develops a few objects would go in but I don’t know what the owners plans are there!

Diving Rheola Lakes, Glynneath – 2nd August 2008

Santa Dives – Vobster Quay 2007

By , Saturday 22nd December 2007 10:30 am

Packing up the car on a cold frosty morning I wondered “what am I thinking“. Actually… that’s much like most early start dive trips except this morning I was shivering a little :( I was heading down to Vobster Quay in Somerset to meet several other equally foolish people for an interesting new event organised between members of Yorkshire Divers (YD).

Steam coming off the water in the morningThe drive down from Cardiff was interesting due to the amount of fog and I had to crawl the car through Bristol. Upon reaching the dive site we saw that the water was in the same state as many people from around the country had been the previous night…. steaming ;)

So why had a small hardy bunch gathered in the middle of Somerset on a freezing December morning? Well its the age old story of getting dressed up as father christmas and jumping into cold water to raise money for charity. Every year members of YD work hard and selflessly to raise money for various charities and this year it was the turn of the RNLI, appreciated by many divers in the UK.

During the dive the Santas were joined by a christmas fairy, a snowman, and a pagan viking (celebrating the Winter Solstice). It doesn’t exactly sound like the most seraphic underwater scene but it was the good kind of strange being surrounded by such a group of people underwater. One of the nice things is that the group was diving everything from single tanks to twinsets and rebreathers. We all came from different diving backgrounds PADI, BSAC, TDI, IANTD, GUE but we were all there to have a bit of winter diving fun as one big underwater group :)

Where's the other santa? Queen Scallop

A chilly first dive of around 45 minutes took us over to the rear end of an aeroplane fusilage where everyone posted for festive underwater christmas photos. Floating inside an aeroplane fusilage, underwater, hearing two guys singing “We’re walking in the air” has to count as one of the most surreal experiences of my life! Maybe narcosis does take significant effect at less than 30 metres as I spent most of the dive smiling or laughing mask filling with water all the time :)

We finished on a boat wreck which had been festively decorated by staff at Vobster Quay. Those who turned up to keep watch on the surface later told the group how people had exited the water looking confused asking “Umm did anyone else see all the father christmas’ underwater?”.

Odin underwater Frosty the Snowman

On surfacing all involved took readily to a nice hot cup of tea, some some mince pies, and pulling christmas crackers. Those celebrating the winter solstice were soon offering people a small cup of meade to warm the soul after a cold dive, another welcome addition to the day.

Later we were joined by an enthusitastic young journalist who wanted to come along for a dive to experience the group of Santas. “Crazy“ I thought, but we had a spare Santa outfit, so as soon as we could feel our extremities then once again it was time to jump in. We obtained some interesting video footage for the BBC which included several santas disappearing into in long dark tunnel and some very festive rebreather divers.

Upon exiting the water maybe a little of the enthusiasm was lost but there were definate smiles from our new friend. Everybody should dive with a group of Santas!

 Queen Scallop and Frosty the Snowman
Santa divers :)

Lloyd playing with beard :)

Overall the whole group had a fun enjoyable day despite the temperatures, and we certainly managed to spread a little of that Christmas magic for everyone at the site that day. I’d like to thank Tim from Vobster Quay for the use of their facilities and donating £5 for every scuba diving Santa, Gareth Lock from “Images of Life” for his excellent underwater photography skills, everyone who took part today, and also everyone that has donated money for the event. Donations can be collected until the mid-Feburary 2008 via our JustGiving page:

See you next year!

Lloyd Watkin

See more pictures here: Scuba Santas 2007

Diving Plymouth on Venture

By , Wednesday 22nd August 2007 8:00 pm

A sneaky mid-week dive trip to Plymouth diving off Venture. As most of my trips these days it was organised through YD. Bizarrely, I was diving without Old Man Taylor, but Cat managed to keep me out of trouble in the water instead… Continue reading 'Diving Plymouth on Venture'»

Introduction to DIR Diving – Vobster – 11-12th August 2007

By , Sunday 12th August 2007 8:00 pm

Simon and my latest jaunt is on an introduction to DIR diving organised by some guys from YD. A really good time has had, lots was learned :) Simon started the weekend coming along  for the ride as it’s me who’s really interested in this stuff. The guy who left Vobster was “DIR Old Man Taylor“… Continue reading 'Introduction to DIR Diving – Vobster – 11-12th August 2007'»

Diving Plymouth on Endeavour

By , Monday 9th July 2007 11:11 am

 Awoke this morning to aching muscles and bruises so obviously I’ve been away on a dive trip this weekend :) A group of us spent two days diving from Endeavour out of Plymouth. The trip was organised by Morgan on YD original post is here, Plymouth 7-8th July – 35m Wrecks.

There are more photos in my gallery: Diving Plymouth on Endeavour – July 2007

Continue reading 'Diving Plymouth on Endeavour'»

Dive trip down to Weymouth, 1st-2nd June 2007

By , Monday 4th June 2007 5:11 pm

Simon and I took a dive trip down to Weymouth to dive with Smudge off Scimitar. We had awesome weather and some great diving! Four dives on the Bow of the Black Hawk, Landing Craft, St. Dunstan, and the Gertrude.

Continue reading 'Dive trip down to Weymouth, 1st-2nd June 2007'»

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