It may have been noticed by some that the end of February did not consist of the usual trip to Stoney Cove for training and club diving, this was due to several members of the team and some club members going to check out the new diving show, 'Go Diving' at the Ricoh arena in Coventry.
After starting off the morning with a large, hearty English breakfast from the great wetherspoons to fill us up for the day ahead, we set off to Coventry nice and early to ensure we would be there for when the show opened and to our great delight we discovered on arrival we could even park for free, instead of being robbed the usual ridiculous parking charges that accompany most of these events. So far so good
Upon entry to the show our first port of call was the coffee stand for a nice hot brew , where I got told off by the Plastic Police that we know as Bridget for accepting a plastic lid for my coffee cup and contributing to killing sea turtles and damaging the ocean. On a positive note however, the coffee was reasonably priced and the theme of not being robbed was continuing.
We spent the next couple of hours walking around taking a look at all the different suppliers gear on show, where we spent a bit of time talking to the guys at Ocean Reef about the benefits of full face masks - looking froward to seeing more in the pool and with the new addition of the Full Face Mask Specialities to the Dive Rutland repertoire in recent weeks.
Learning some more about the new D5 computer from suunto, which is about to be released in the UK market (and as Tracey says very kindly in Dive Rutland colours! other colours are available.)
And a bit of time with some of the guys from the R.N.L.I where we spoke about the work that they do, which was very insightful and they deserve a lot of credit for the work that they undertake, which is often on a voluntary basis. The guy that I was speaking to was giving me some real life examples of situations he has personally been called out to and some of the calls that he has had to make as a helmsman that have stuck with him for a long time. He then spoke briefly of a course he highly recommends for divers that was created in conjunction with the R.N.L.I known as the sea survival course that teaches divers how to remain safe whilst diving in the sea and gives them some firsthand experience dealing with issues that may occur. Maybe another addition to the training schedule!
Whilst walking about we also decide to enter every competition we could, to try and win some free gear or a holiday but unfortunately I am still waiting on my email to tell we that I have won (although one of the team did!)
All of the suppliers that we spoke to were all really helpful and even let you try out their gear where possible to give you a good idea of how it works. At the back of the hall there was two large temporary swimming pools that had been constructed for the show in order to allow non divers to get a taste of what diving is all about and the second pool was for try dives on rebreathers which I was very tempted by but unfortunately I left all my swim gear at home, so I would have to wait till next time.
The show also consisted of a wide range of different speakers from the industry spread across five different stages to cater to all aspects and individuals. During the day I went to listen to a few of these talks that I had an interest in or that caught my eye while I was passing. The first talk that I sat in on, was a talk by Lanny Vogel on how to get into cave diving, this was a pretty basic talk on the requirements and agencies/courses available for cave diving. It also consisted of a few photos of what you can expect and a brief outline of the kind of thing you would be doing whilst training. It was very interesting and some of the photos that Lanny showed were absolutely fantastic and has made me want to look into this area of diving in the near future.
Another one of the talks that I went to was by Linden Wolbert on the real life adventures of a professional mermaid. Yup that’s right a mermaid. Upon seeing the name of the talk I was intrigued to find out what kind of crazy things this person was up to and I admit, I went for a bit of a laugh and a joke at what I thought was a completely and utterly ridiculous notion.
However it has to be said that by the end of the talk I left with a completely new found respect and outlook for the work that she carries out. I sat down at the back of the talk with my dad and uncle (who were also of the same mindset as myself) so as I couldn’t be seen laughing at the ridiculousness of what I was about to listen too, when she first came on to the stage we were unable to contain our laughter as she was carried on dressed in a full mermaid costume with a great big long tail and for the first part of her talk the sniggering continued when she was showcasing her YouTube series 'mermaid minute' which looked at describing a particular sea creature on each episode.
It was after this that our outlook changed as she played a video showcasing the work that she does for the make a wish foundation and the UK equivalent Rays Of Sunshine. Rather than waffle on here about it, I have provided a link to the video she showcased so that you can see for yourself the amazing work that she does for these children. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsYrx70X0Xs
So although we went for a laugh and a joke our outlook had completely changed by the time we left her talk and although it sounds very cliché, it was a stern reminder of the moral of never judging a book by its cover. Which In this case we did and was proven to be very wrong indeed.
The final talk that we went to and the one that I personally was looking forward to the most was by Andy Torbet, who gave a talk on some of his extreme adventures and work that he has carried out for a variety of different TV series. Andy Torbet is a professional underwater explorer, cave and technical diver. He is a fellow of the royal geographical society and also a member of the explorers club and he has dived in some of the most extreme and challenging environments possible. He began by showcasing a variety of different projects he has been working on in conjunction with the BBC and showed us a few clips from his TV shows beyond bionic and operation iceberg. In these he was testing a super suit that would enable him to dive to depths of up to 600metres, trying to breach 10 metres out of the water and diving in a blue lake which is a collection of glacial melt water that rests on top of a glacier and can be sucked down into the depths of the glacier at any moment. He then moved on to speak about his opportunity to dive on HMHS Britannic which was the sister ship to the Titanic, she was a world war one hospital ship and on one of her missions she struck a German mine near the coast of Kea in Greece and sunk within 55 minutes. She now lies at a depth of 120 metres on her starboard side. Andy spoke about the expedition that they undertook to dive on Britannic which was run In conjunction with the BBC to find out how and why the Britannic sunk. Andy's talk on his adventures was extremely interesting and very inspiring and was definitely the highlight of the show for me. Before he finished he went on to say that all of us are adventurers in our own right and that no matter what level in our diving we are at, we have achieved more than many will in a lifetime and many people will look up to us. Which when I took time to think about this really made sense, as when I tell friends and work colleagues that I am going diving at the weekend a lot of them think I'm absolutely mad or are absolutely amazed at what I do. To the non-diver all of us are adventurers. I left Andy's talk extremely inspired and with a craving to learn more about his adventures as well as progress my own. I highly recommend watching some of his documentaries he has produced with the BBC and also his book 'Extreme Adventures' which I have just recently finished and I can honestly say it was a fantastic read. Now to progress my own adventures and who knows maybe one day I can dive some of the magnificent places that Andy spoke of.
In summary I thoroughly enjoyed my day at the show and could speak about some of the talks for ages but I have tried to keep it short here. I would definitely recommend the show to everyone with any interest in this great sport and personally I can't wait for next year's event. As well as learning a great deal and getting to take a look at some top of the range equipment I have also left inspired and with an even greater urge and willingness to learn more and progress further with my own diving. I hope to see more club members come along next year and see for themselves what a good day out it really was and hopefully leave even half as inspired as I was.
The drive home was difficult as we had to pass right by Stoney's door and the urge to get into the water and go for a dive was incredible.
Written by Robert O'Rourke
Club Member and Trainee DiveMaster
Dive Rutland is the trading name for Dive Rutland Limited, a company registered in England and Wales with company number 9433835.
Registered address: 8 Horn Close, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6FE