Training trip to NDAC Chepstow, 30th May 2016

Plymouth Expedition, 13-15th June 2016
17/05/2016
Summer Expedition 2016: Diving off the land’s end
20/10/2016

Author: Jay Shiao

Conditions

The day started off a little bit grey but by midday it was beautiful and sunny. As it was a quarry, the water was relatively still with some leisurely swimmers and plenty of other divers. The water temperature seemed to hover around 10-15oC.

Visibility

Visibility was approximately 6-8 meters. Rosalie and I kept close to Marko so neither of us ever got lost or panicked!

Dives

The entry for the first dive we walked in from the shore. On entry I saw a small white and red fish, and was excited to see some more life! For the rest of the trip, however, there was limited fish or other life. We then gradually made our way deeper towards the landing platforms. The whole dive was good practice for buoyancy and mask clearing, and was a very chill introductive dive. Marko additionally instructed us to practice buoyancy by doing a fin pivots, learning how to inflate the drysuit, let air out of the dry suit. We did some swim throughs and circled around an airplane with the words “VOTE OUT” on it and made a slow ascent above the Landrover to the surface.

NDAC Chepstow map

We dived down to about 15m and visited the following attractions: 1. Landrover Lagoon, 2. Training Platform, 3. Training platform, 4. Airplane and swim throughs, and 5. Tanks.

The entry for the second dive we took a large step off the platform. We made our way to Landrover Lagoon (point #1) and descended slowly on top of the car. From the car we swam to the top of a container and while here, we practiced dry suit inversions including front flips. The first couple were shaky but we got the hang of it. We also practiced removing the mask completing and putting it back on. The water was incredibly cold!! I got a brain freeze, but we finished this task quickly. While doing some more swim throughs, I started ascending and couldn’t control my buoyancy, but Marko and a kind stranger helped pull me back down. I believe it was because I had some air in my feet, and the way to get rid of that air is to do a front flip. When we went back to the airplane, the “Out” was now crossed out and said “VOTE IN”!  We surfaced for a short while Marko got some extra weights and then we went back in the water to practice using the surfacing using the altern.

As we exited the water, cheeky Rosalie and I believed we could swim without our gloves, so Marko kindly offered to take our diving gear back as we went for a short swim. The water was indeed very cold without anything cover our hands!

Our dives were both in the area circled in red below. The maximum depth we reached was approximately 15-16 meters.

Challenges

Putting on the gear was tough the first time. Rosalie and I were absolutely exhausted every time we had to carry our gear down and put it on. Since my suit was new, I felt like I was suffocating for the first 20 minutes. However, once we got into the dive everything got smoother. It’ll be better the next time when the efficiency can be increased putting on all the gear and carrying it down to the quarry quicker.

Air in the feet messed with our buoyancy and made it tough to descend when needed. It would be good to learn how to get rid of air in the suit with simple movements such as doing a quick dance or front flip. Additionally, learning how to correctly use the dry suit to achieve the best buoyancy will also take some time.

Fun Stuff

Over lunch with delicious burgers and chips, we discussed Marko’s adventures vomiting while diving and having the fish eat his vomit. How lovely. Rosalie also beat me rather quickly in a match of Connect 4. I will get my revenge. The one photo Rosalie was able to take with her GoPro. Looks like a creepy hippo about to sneak up on us.

On our way back we stopped at Birbury for a beer at Swan Hotel. Very very lovely day, and lovely city. So lovely I didn’t think it was real, or people even lived there. We had a debriefing on the dive, talked about how great of an experience it was, and how we looked forward to the next dive. Apparently there is a trout farm there but we didn’t see any trouts….

 

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