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: http://www.justgiving.com/ScubaSantas/.

See you next year!

Lloyd Watkin

See more pictures here: Scuba Santas 2007

Merthyr Mawr Christmas Pudding Challenge 10k 2007

By , Sunday 16th December 2007 11:00 am

I’d been looking forward to this race for a good couple of months! The Christmas Pudding challenge promised a big sand dune and a spell of stream running. I was not disappointed. My first race at Merthyr Mawr, before this race I didn’t even know that the highest sand dune in Europe was almost in my back yard. After parking the car a couple of miles away and running up to the start I saw the monster in front of me *gulp* much bigger than I was expecting.

The Big Dipper, Merthyr Mawr, South Wales Here’s a picture of the sand dune from near the top as you can see its a big one at about 300ft! The way up was tough and with lots of people I couldn’t go any faster even if I’d wanted to. Anyway there was a bit of congestion at the top of the dune so there was a few minutes of waiting around (good time for everyone to catch their breath). The next thing I know I’m plummeting straight down the other side at full speed, half worried I’m going to bowl over at any moment, but my its good fun ;)

From there we head out across a flat wind swept area before what I heard to refer as the ‘orrible hill, and it was just that. A long steep hill up to the golf course (at least it wasn’t covered in sand too). So did the usual trick, drop the arms, reduce the stride length and switch into “Disney’s Little Engine that Could” mode….

“I know I can, I’m sure I can, I know I can, I’m sure I can”

…which slowly became, “I’m not sure I can, I know my legs hurt” :( Slowly but surely I got to the top of the hill and had some nice views down to the sea.

I figured the mid-point couldn’t be far away at this time and upon approaching not only were we offered water but mulled wine and mince pies. Now being the highly professional athlete I am of course I opted for the mulled wine, vitamins, water, warmth it all made sense…..surely? A good cup of hot mulled wine it was and with the long slow decent I started flying along – alcohol fueled possibly ;)

Around back to the dunes which again made the running a little tough and in the back of my mind the stream was coming. Next thing I know we’re running through a shallow bit of water, some tried to skirt around the outside but for a laugh I headed through the middle :) Got out of that one when a marshall mentioned there was another couple to go. Lets say the third one was pretty deep and cold, almost got up to places I don’t wish to have frozen off, but fortunately the crowd was spared me shreaking like a girl had that happened!

Post race I collected my soup and bread roll and Christmas Pudding and ran back to a warm car for the drive home accompanied by some loud JayZ courtesy of Radio 1.

Cardiff Santa Dash 2007

By , Sunday 9th December 2007 12:30 pm

 This was to be a quick 5km race around Bute Park in Cardiff, however the weather over the past week meant that a last minute change of course was required reducing the course length to around 3km (best guess!). The announcement system was terrible (being polite) so I don’t think many people actually had much of an idea what was going on.

The race went ok, nothing much to report except although things in the gym has been going well it doesn’t make up for a lack of running in the outdoors! I have the Merthyr Mawr Christmas pudding next weekend which I’m really looking forward to although the weather has prevented much running outside. This will need to fixed over the next week :)

Cardiff Santa Dash 2007 Photos

Advanced Diver Training

By , Saturday 1st December 2007 12:00 pm

Advanced Diver Training

Advanced Diver Training was a quick inexpensive website set up for a scuba diving instructor. The budget was small but this does not mean that the quality of the end product had to be low. The site was created, edited, and up and running within 3 days at a small cost. We hope you agree that the site has a professional look and the site owner is able to update and edit the site without further intevention of a website designer. This website was developed with the open source software wordpress.

Advanced Diver Training – PADI/IANTD training in nitrox and trimix

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