Picture of By Piers Boileau-Goad

By Piers Boileau-Goad

14th January 2024

Dark and early, I joined the queue at Vobster to see a few vehicles ahead, waiting in line, mercifully not too many, I was just around the corner from the gate. At about 07:45 the gate opened and the cars entered. I was assigned a spot by the classrooms, not too far from the water and not close enough to be harassed by cars or vans coming past for the schools area, ideal. I grabbed a spot under cover and spread out, waiting for the imminent arrival of my buddy. I had one chap from Portugal and another from the Czech Republic next to me on the benches so we had a good chat about life, the cold and how silly we were diving in freezing cold water when the air temperature was a mere 4 degrees.

With my buddy having arrived, my cylinders filled (having been away I had not had a chance to fill them yet) and my unit checked, it was time to suit up and prepare to jump in.
For a first dive this year we intended from the outset to get some skills done and follow these by a bimble. Having gone through her GUE checklist to allow her to practice we kitted up and walked into the lake.
I was having a bit of trouble locating a d ring for my bailout so was helped. Feeling like a plonker for not being able to do it myself (muscle memory having forgotten the location, plus the d ring lying flat) I did chastise myself but isn’t this was training is for? We did a quick bubble check and headed off to find a platform.


On the platform we settled ourselves while I started with a bailout onto open circuit. With this done and the second stage securely stowed back on the cylinder, I handed over to my buddy for their skills – a valve drill. With this done very nicely while staying perfectly neutral all the time they went on to an ‘s drill’ at which time we were bothered by some other divers passing by, frankly getting in the way. Did they mean to steal our platform?
It seems that this may have been their plan as they nabbed an adjacent platform. I did my hypoxic and hyperoxic drills (too little and too much oxygen respectively in my system) and we decided to bimble off. The plan was that I lead the dive and she stay on my left, however my nav skills are awful so I ensured that we were immediately, but temporarily geographically misplaced. My buddy however knew where we were so took over leading and took us to the Jacquin where there were some wreck speciality dives happening which is always nice to see. Following the Jacquin we headed to the crushing works where I did some more hyperoxic and hypoxic skills on the move.

At about 40 minutes into the dive the leader decided that they were getting cold – it was only 8 degrees! – so decided to turn the dive and head for hot chocolate! We had both decided to practice bagging up. This is a skill I dispise with a passion, much preferring to use a shotline/lazy shot when possible. Perhaps I’m just lazy?! Practice makes perfect so I need to keep practicing. My double ender caught in the line and up went my SMB. This is why I carry a ratchet reel with a pull out knob which doesn’t get caught! While filling the bag I knew it was going to go wrong but I seem to have a nasty habit of tempting fate sometimes. Oh well, no harm done. My buddy deployed nicely and so we both headed up, my free ascent was frankly very good so we stopped at 6m for a few minutes to clear any obligations whilst also complying with custom. My heating was at this stage very much on. While my core was warm enough my extremities were getting frost bite, naturally therefore, perhaps providence read my mind, some divers in WETSUITS came past us. My mind immediately though ‘they are either brave or trying to kick like hell to stay warm. Either way, good effort!’ With our safety stop done we ascended.

What a lovely little dive. Good to get some skills done and regain the confidence. While many people dislike doing a dive simply to practice skills I see them as absolutely paramount so that dives done in the sea can be done safely, but more importantly, enjoyably. Isn’t the enjoyment of exploration the very reason we dive?
Another session has been scheduled so additional skills will be done then, perfect!

Dive time: 52 minutes.
Max depth: 22.5m.
Water temperature: 8 degrees.
Air temperature: 4 degrees on entry.
Visibility: 4-5m depending on locale.
Total Gas consumed: 124 litres/62 bar of dilluent and o2.

The blue line was our route