I did promise Kevin I would do a dry-suit speciality in April 2004. Well in July 2005 I finally got round to doing it (thanks to Nuz's proddings).
So after about 4 years of quiet suggestion, and some less than subtle baiting, by Kev and more recently Nuz I have finally done the dry-suit speciality! And frankly I'm pleased I did.
We were fortunate to get a nice sunny day, at the tail end of a couple of weeks of good hot weather. The result was a quarry (we went to Capernwray) at 15C at 17m, with good vis (8-10m) which made for a very nice intro to UK diving. Frankly after that I am far less worried about the cold UK water (and yes 15C is cold for someone who until now had thought 22C was chilly!) than I was before.
I was also pleasantly surprised at dry-suit diving, it wasn't the hard-as-nails experience many had egged it up to be. My biggest gripe was with my suit; it was for someone 6 inches taller and with feet at lest 3 sizes bigger. A fit that resulted in squeezed toes and a few bouts of underwater "pull your wellies back on" action!
The pool session (Kev likes to be thorough) was fun, and not hard. We did a few suit specific exercises (fin pivots using suit inflater only for buoyancy, inflater removal and re-insertion, a hover again with suit only for buoyancy, and a couple of inversions) the whole thing frankly being good fun, and quite rightly giving you a chance to practice suit skills and have a little bimble in the most benign of locations. I know its not required for the speciality, but this was a fine idea, well recommended.
There are some times of the day a normal person should just not have to see. 6am is definitely one of them! Our seriously-stupidly-should-be-illegal-at-that-hour-in-the-morning early start saw Nuz, Corrine, Iain, Suzanne (that’s Iain’s Suzanne, not mine!) and setting off along the M62 to get to Capernwray for 9:30am. At the quarry entrance we were politely fleeced for £10 to park, and £7.50 each for a quarry registration (this place really knows how to part you from your money!) That trauma over with, we pull into a car park that would put a B&Q warehouse on a bank holiday Monday to shame both in terms of size and how well filled with cars it was. Frankly I thought there would be enough divers in the quarry to enable us to walk on water.
Frankly I was rather apprehensive, what if I was cold?, What if the suit leaked? After all a pool is warm, the UK is not, what if the purported good UK vis was in fact pants?
All this was churning round in my head as we waddled down to the slip way in out kit. But by the time we got there the sun was doing a good job of turning us all into boil-in-the-bag divers; so the cool water was a pleasant relief.
The initial buoyancy check was not encouraging as the vis could not have been more than 2m, not a good start. However once we swam out to the shot line to begin the dive proper things had dramatically improved (8 to 10m vis) and the whole experience was looking up.
We proceeded to bimble around some of the sights, seeing very few divers (my initial worry about diver capacity proving to be groundless) and a surprising number of (brown) fish. Whilst the first dive was sunk boats and the horses, our second (where we did the skills) was more interesting; we toured the oil-rig, the dragonfly helicopter, the Podsnap (a mine sweeper) and the Cessna. All good fun. Not too cold. I’ll be happy to do it again some other time.