In the absences of other reports I thought I’d mention this SDC run by Malcolm Gauld for BSAC North Scotland Region, up in the Aberdeen area.
It was touch and go whether this course would actually run and only three like minded inquiries from members of Dundee SAC ensured it would go ahead. Luckily for me I knew a couple of the Dundee guys and was able to share lifts which meant not having to stops over in a B’n’B or travel up at the crack of dawn on my own.
So there we were, four divers driving up to Malcolm’s place for a good half days theory lectures which covered the physics and physiology, equipment and configuration that we would be using during the practical sessions and then off to Boddam quarry to put it all into practice.
The first practical session was all about buddy checks, weight checks and buoyancy control demonstrating the ‘Gold’ level standard that we were supposed to have achieved as a course prerequisite. In addition the new task of accessing and turning on stage cylinders was included. The evenings homework was to plan the next days diving and complete a dive runtime slate to familiarise ourselves with using the new BSAC Ox-Stop tables
Day two saw us having two dives, a practical session deploying DSMB from the bottom and from mid-water, a bit of energetic swimming to up our breathing rates and more buoyancy control exercises as we switched onto deco gas. All exercises that were directly applicable to the sorts of diving that would benefit from the decompression techniques we were learning. The second dive saw a final demonstration of these techniques and involved an additional exercise of ‘handing off’ of a deco cylinder. This particular exercise was very interesting. Apart form wrestling with clips, the difference in buoyancy as a result of receiving or donating a cylinder was quite noticeable and food for thought. Finally we all swapped onto our deco gas and performed our planned stops before surfacing.
This is a really good course as although the theory and techniques taught wouldn’t stretch most competent divers, the practical sessions really test your ability to perform standard activities while under a certain degree of task loading. It also clearly demonstrates that kit configuration that err on the side of simplicity are eminently preferable to stuff cobbled together for the course. By that I mean that a twin set ends up being far simpler than a single cylinder plus bails out with the added deco stage.
A great big thanks you goes to Malcolm Gauld for giving up his weekend to run this SDC and to the Guys from Dundee (Nick, David and Andrew) for making it such fun. In discussion, this course will be run again soon and I’ll probably go up to assist, it is well worth while and I’d recommend it to everyone who has the prereqs, both of which we can do inhouse (Nitrox and BTW). One thing I came away with is that these techniques only deliver a benefit when we consider what would be long decompression stop times on air, for short stops there are little if any (time based) advantages.
From a diving perspective, Boddam quarry is a long way away but I really enjoyed the dive and there was a few bits and bobs to see including a wrecked motorbike and even a freshwater sponge.
No pictures again, well we were training! (If the author now starts using any technical jargon, I think he’s due a good slap – Ed!)