News Archive 2003

General Diving News

ScotSAC News

Branch News

Congratulations to the following on their various achievements/announcements;

  • Congratulations to Morag Hathaway of Midlothian branch on gaining her Master Diver award
    Billy Symington

  • Pentland Sub-Aqua Club would like to pass on their congratulations and best wishes to Marion Brown and Hugh Fraser on their recently announced wedding.

  • Guy Gibson, Tim Barratt and Alastair Innes who have qualified as Sport Divers and to Alison Fuller-Shapcott who has qualified as Master Diver all from KelSAC. Marion Brown of Pentland SAC on her Master Diver award.
    Kev Watson.

  • Congratulations on achieving sport diver award to Guy Milford, Kevan Mitchell and Carys McLean and Master Diver crossover for Stephen McLean.
    Billy Brown. (Training Officer, Glasgow South)

Posted 21/11/2003

SSAC Pool Share Initiative

Do you have a dead keen trainee? Do you have a trainee who would benefit from some extra tuition? Or does your pool close for the summer months?

Well why not take them along to another pool in your area.

I would like to hear your views on this matter if you are a SSAC member and stay within the Edinburgh and Lothian region - especially diving officers.

Contact , DO Musselburgh

Posted 06/12/2003

NAS Scotland Course Programme 2004

Nautical Archaeology Society Scotland has announced it's training programme for 2004. With two week-long courses and numerous weekends it promises to be an action packed year for amateur archaeologists in Scotland.

If you've never tried your hand at nautical archaeology there are introductory weekends in Aberdeen and Edinburgh and a "Dive with a Purpose" weekend in Lochaline. For old hands there's plenty to keep you interested with SoMAP's 10th Anniversary, Wreckmap and three part III courses spread throughout the year. Practical part I top ups can be arranged to suit.

The Historic Wreck Weekend will take place in August again next year providing a unique opportunity to dive on the 17th Century wrecks of the Swan and HMS Dartmouth, plus two of the other historic wrecks in the Sound such as the Hispania, Thesis, or John Preston.

For more information about NAS Scotland and the training courses available visit the NAS Scotland website.

Posted 29/11/2003

SSAC Direct Debit Facility

SSAC now operates a Direct Debit facility for all members, please make sure that your bank details are correctly detailed on the mandate and that your SSAC membership number is inserted on the form in the space provided.

Anyone wishing to set up a Direct Debit must return the completed mandate to HQ no later that ONE MONTH before their membership is due for renewal.

If, at any time you wish to cancel your Direct Debit you must inform your bank and forward a letter of cancellation to SSAC HQ.

Download the Direct Debit Manadate.

Posted 21/11/2003

SSAC Joint Statement on St Abb's


On behalf of SSAC, BSAC, PADI & SAA we would like to respond to questions which have been raised regarding the suitability of the St Abb's area for diving and training of less experienced divers. Throughout the history and development of the sport of scuba diving in the UK, St Abb's has been consistently and reliably used as a safe diving location for all levels of diver from complete beginner under the first stages of training upwards. The popularity of the location and the wealth and diversity of the diving it offers led to it's establishment as the UK's 1st Voluntary Marine Reserve. A move that was supported and applauded by us all at the time and continues to receive our undivided and unequivocal support. Views expressed recently about the suitability of St Abb's for any level of diver by any individual in no way reflects the views of any of the above organisations and is not supported in any way by us to the extent that we totally refute and disassociate ourselves from any such claim. SSAC, BSAC, PADI & SAA are totally and completely committed to ensuring safe diving for not only our members but all divers and would not support anything which posed a risk to those divers. We are of the opinion that, providing divers adhere to their training and take suitable safety precautions, or Instructors charged with training divers in their care, that not only is St Abbs a safe location but it is ideally suited to use by entry level divers.

Signed on behalf of

Rab Ronaldson, National Diving Officer

Mark Caney, Director

Lizzie Bird, National Diving Officer

Dave McKay, National Diving Officer

Posted 14/11/2003

New Branch Welcome

Musselburgh Sub-aqua Club would like to wish the newest branch of Scotsac, Forth Sub-aqua Club, the very best for the future,

cheers, Davie C. (DO Musselburgh)

Posted 28/10/2003

New Nets Reduce Dolphin Deaths

Bass fishermen on Scotland's south west coast have successfully trialled new nets which reduce dolphin fatalities. The new system has separator grids with a mesh too small to let the dolphins enter the net. Using the new nets 2 dolphins died during 82 hauls compared to 28 deaths during 49 hauls using ordinary nets.

Ben Bradshaw the fisheries minister said "[the nets] have been highly successful. I am extremely pleased that these Scottish fishermen intend to use separator grids on a voluntary basis. This shows real commitment on their part to saving marine creatures"

"Information from the trials will be shared with colleagues in France and the European Commission, as meaningful action to address this problem will require action on the part of all the member states involved in the fisheries concerned". Mr Bradshaw has spoken to his counterpart in the French government "We are trying to raise awareness of this issue because it is not seen as a big problem in France" said Mr Bradshaw.

Members of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association were involved in the trials. A spokesman for the fishermen, Mr Derek Dutchie said "We will continue to work closely with scientists to further develop and improve this equipment to save the lives of marine mammals. At the same time we must encourage other UK fishermen, and those from other EU countries, to study the results of these trialswhich show we can fish and protect dolphins at the same time".

Posted 28/10/2003

Deep Stops Reduce DCI Risk

Divers Alert Network (DAN) have published the results of a research project that shows fewer gas bubbles form when recreational divers carry out "deep stops" for decompression, thus reducing the risk of decompression illness (DCI).

Divers carried out a series of repetative dives to 25m on air, 3 different ascent rates (3m, 10m and 18m per minute) and three different profiles were studied;

  1. No stop
  2. Safety stop at 6m
  3. Deep stop at 15m plus safety stop at 6m

No cases of DCI were recorded during the study. Gas bubble formation was measured using the Doppler Bubble Score Index, a technique that uses ultrasound to detect gas bubbles in the ventricles of the heart. High bubble formation is associated with increased risk of DCI.

The study found that the divers in group 1 (no stop) had the greatest number of bubbles. Divers in group 3 (15m plus 6m stops) who ascended at a rate of 10m per minute had the least number of bubbles detected - and presumably the least risk of DCI.

Posted 28/10/2003

Heartstart / O2 Successes

Congratulations on completing the Heartstart / O2 Administration course to the following divers from Dumfries and Galloway Branch

  • Stan Tanner
  • Ian Bevan
  • Donald Collier
  • Kevin Mollins
  • Rab Vivers
  • Jonathan Hall
  • Allan Johnson
  • Neil Miller
  • Ted Sewell
  • George Abernethy
  • Helen Vivers
  • Jim Wallace

and also

  • Wull fae The Reivers (sorry Wull never got your second name)

Rodger Donald, BDO Dumfries & Galloway Branch

Posted 26/10/2003

RNLI Online Bookshop

Christmas is coming and thoughts will be turning to the endless round of present buying before long. This year you can take the easy route - shop online from home and raise money for the RNLI at the same time!

The RNLI have set up a partnership in association with Amazon, the international retailer of books, electircals, wine, DVDs, video, music, games, fact you name it and they've got it! If you buy via the RNLI website you pay the usual price but 5% of the value of all orders will be donated to the Lifeboats - a great way to make your life easier and help a charity close to all our hearts. Go to and click on the Amazon logo on the right hand side.

The RNLI also have their own online shop where you can buy anything from a tide clock to an RNLI fleece - it's worth a look at

Posted 24/10/2003

Scottish Executive Launch Marine Energy Group

The Scottish Executive has launched a Marine Energy Group (MEG), the groups brief is to ensure Scotland exploits its massive wave and tidal potential. MEG is a subgroup of the Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland (FREDS), chaired by Lewis Macdonald, Deputy Minister for Enterprise. FREDS first meeting took place in Edinburgh on October 20th, speaking at the meeting Mr MacDonald said;

"“It is vital that we develop our wave and tidal resources if Scotland is to realise its potential as world leader in the renewable energy industry. We have already invested over £2 million in the European Marine Energy Centre which is due to open in Orkney later this year.

The Executive has set an ambitious target of delivering 40 per cent of Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Through FREDS and the marine sub-group, we are working with industry to drive forward actions and initiatives to help us meet this target.

The Executive is committed to maximising economic opportunities and creating real jobs in renewable energy. More green jobs will benefit our environment and our economy – it is a win win situation,”

Mr MacDonald made passing reference to "green jobs" but has not invited a representative of the marine conservation lobby to join the forum. The talk is mainly of "developing economic opportunities". It remains to be seen whether the renewable and conservationist aspects are given an equal hearing with the business opportunities of this emerging industry.

More information on FREDS and MEG is available on the Scottish Executive website.

Posted 22/10/2003

The SSAC Sport Diving manual


It gives me the greatest pleasure to let you the membership know that on 10 September our manual arrived at H.Q.

I've been asked on more than one occasion "where's the manual?", "when are we going to get the manual?" and several variations of the same question. To those members that didn't ask or didn't get any feedback, here are a few highs & lows of the past eighteen months.

At the start it was an arduous and at times frustrating task, that has involved many people to get to where we are today, the completed manual. Copyright issues, publishers liability insurance, whole section re-writes, "political correcting" and new photographs. Then there were several proof readings which involved different members each time. Next, indexing followed by a final proofing and sign off. There were one or two other issues that I won't go into, but the committees and those involved know all to well.

You'll appreciate, I'm sure, how difficult a task it is to get the manual out to you the members. Alicia and Ann-Marie have been working on the lists for weeks and with the help of the Regional Coaches they will be in your branch and your hands very soon.

I would like to thank the following members of SSAC who took the time to do the work on your behalf: Drew Stevenson, Jim Guild, Tony Carter, Nigel Spike, Jim Anderson, Carol Ann Guild, Rab Ronaldson, Alison Fish, Dave Ansley, the members of the NDC & GC who assisted at the very outset and throughout; Graham, David, Billy, Kevin, Kevin, Don, Iona, Jack and Bill and all the others who have "added" to the manual over the past eighteen months.

I would also like to thank "the BSAC", without their help and their original manual, it would not have been possible. Their publishers who turned the proofs around quickly and more importantly accurately. SportsScotland for their continuing support and finally the previous committee for the work they started and we had the privilege to finish.

Ken Smith, Chairman

The SSAC Sport Diver Manual is available to members at a cost of £12.50 including postage and packing, the cost to non-members is £16.95 plus £2.50 p&p. Please contact Alicia or Annemarie at HQ for further details.

Posted 12/09/2003

MCS Jellyfish Survey

In an effort to understand the ecology of Britain’s leatherback turtles, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) would like you to help record jellyfish strandings on local beaches and jellyfish swarms at sea.

You can help!
MCS requires detailed records of jellyfish strandings on UK shores and jellyfish swarms at sea. If you regularly walk along beaches, are an Adopt-a-Beach / Beachwatch volunteer, dive or sail, you can help. This recording form and ID guide is all you need to take part in the MCS jellyfish survey.

  • Complete one form per survey in as much detail as possible.
  • It is important to record when you do see jellyfish on the beach or at sea, but it is also useful to know when and where you don’t see any. If possible, please fill in a form for each walk or sea trip regardless of whether or not you see jellyfish.

Summaries of the data collected through this scheme will periodically be available from MCS.

Jellyfish and leatherbacks
Little is known about jellyfish in UK waters, but we do know that they are the staple diet of the critically endangered leatherback turtle. These spectacular reptiles are seasonal visitors to UK seas, and are thought to migrate from their tropical nesting beaches to feed on our jellyfish.

Analyses of stomach contents of dead leatherbacks stranded on UK shores have revealed that they feed on several species of British jellyfish.

By comparing the distribution of jellyfish with environmental factors such as sea temperature, plankton production and current flow, we hope to understand what influences the seasonal distribution of jellyfish and leatherbacks in UK waters.

Jellyfish ID
Identification of live jellyfish is usually easy but once they’ve washed up on the beach it can become more difficult. Please do not guess if you are not really sure, just record the jellyfish as ‘Unidentified’ and describe it on the form. If possible, take photos of the jellyfish bell and manubrium (mouth and arms, underside and centre of bell) to help with identification later. If you’d like to learn more about jellyfish ID, the ‘Collin’s Pocket Guide to the Seashore of Britain and Europe’ may help.

Download the jellyfish survey form.

The MCS colour jellyfish ID guide is available by post. Please send your postal contact details to to receive your free copy.


Health and Safety Advice

  • Some jellyfish can sting
  • Never touch jellyfish with bare hands
  • Always use a stick or wear arm length rubber gloves if you need to turn them over for identificationBeware of the stinging tentacles and keep your face and any exposed skin well clear
  • Seek medical attention in the case of a severe sting

For more information about the Marine Conservation Society visit the MCS website. If this survey whets your appetite take a look at the Seasearch website and find out how you can help record the state of marine life our seas.

Posted 31/08/03

Have you seen this amphipod?

Photo Caprella muticaKate Willis and Elizabeth Cook of the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory would like the help of divers in the UK with a project to assess the UK distribution of the Skeleton Shrimp (Caprella mutica).






TEL: 01631 559313 or 559214

Click on the thumbnails to the right for a larger picture or download the poster here.

Caprella mutica's natural distribution is the coastal waters of East Asia and Siberia, it is presently unrecorded in British waters. This species has a history of accidental introductions. In the 1970s and 1980s, the caprellid was discovered at various locations along the Pacific coast of North America, and more recently it has been reported in European waters in the Netherlands and Norway.

Currently, there is no information on the biology or ecology of Caprella mutica. A project is now underway at SAMS to map the distribution of C. mutica in UK coastal waters, and to gain an insight into its life cycle, growth rate, feeding strategies, and reproductive behaviour. The potential impact of this caprellid on indigenous marine species is also being investigated.

Your help would be very much appreciated.

Posted 28/04/2003

'Fairweather V' Petition


Anyone who has been lucky enough to dive the 'Fairweather V' at the mouth of Loch Broom will know that it is an absolute gem of a dive - surrounded by equally wonderful scenic and wreck dives. Many will be aware of the proposal to site a fish farm in Annat Bay, close to the site of the Fairweather V. Effluent from the proposed farm will affect marine life in the area and could change the character of the Fairweather V and surrounding dive sites beyond recognition.

Darrell Campbell and the Ullapool Branch have been campaigning against the proposed farm for some time now and would like your support. Darrell has put together a petition, you can download it here and send to Highland Council, to lodge an objection against the proposed farm.

Please help to save the Fairweather V by printing out the petition and sending it to: Mr J. Renaltson, Director of Planning & Development Services, Highland Council, Inverness IV3 5NX. Please note - each petition form counts as a single objection whether it has been signed by 1 person or 50, so for the greatest impact just one person should sign each form.

All of the photos seen here were taken on or around the Fairweather V over Easter 2003 (click on the picture to see a larger images, click the back button on your browser to return). It would be tragic to lose one of the best dive sites in Scotland to another fish farm. If you would like more information about the Fairweather V petition, or the wreck please contact Darrell Campbell.

If anyone has any photos of the Fairweather V that they are willing to share - please email, thanks.

Posted 27/04/2003

Lost and Found Section

After a few reports of kit being lost and found, mostly at Finnart, we've added a new section to the Small Ads page imaginatively called Lost & Found!

Posted 24/03/2003

In search of the Fan Shell. Have you seen this shell on your dive?

Photo of fan shell

The photo above is of the Fan Shell (Atrina fragilis), a shell that occurs in UK and Eire waters between 10 and 400m deep. Is is between 10 and 30cm long (approximately), and usually half to two thirds of the (lower part) shell will appear ‘clean’. The rest may have other animals and plants attached (the upper area).

It is a rare species that the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is gathering information on. The MCS are the lead partner in the development of an action plan for the protection of the Fan Mussel (Atrina fragilis). Very little is know about the full distribution of this enormous bivalve so MCS is asking for the assistance of divers in identifying the areas where fan mussels have been sighted. If you do find any Fan Mussels, please be aware that they are sensitive to disturbance so please do not remove them from the sediment.

Please help us to find out more about this animal by emailing or phoning 01989 566017, or faxing back the form below to 01989 567815

Have you seen this shell on your dive?

If so, Please fill in the following:

  • Where were you (GPS preferred)?
  • What was the depth?
  • How many shells were there?
  • Was the shell(s) broken or intact?
  • How big were the shells?

Posted 03/02/2003

Safety First! - Call the Coastguard

Peter Stewart, Diving Liaison Officer for Clyde Coastguard has renewed his request for divers to make contact with H.M. Coastguard whenever they dive. Peter has been out and about recently chatting to divers and reminding them that H.M. Coastguard are the first point of contact in a diving incident.

Far from wanting to 'police' divers, H.M. Coastguard, as part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), with other agencies, are actively involved in researching the causes of diving incidents. It is hoped that a better understanding of why incidents happen will allow safer diving practices to be developed in the future. At present there is no common causative factor to reported incidents, other than those involved had been diving!

Peter asks all divers to contact H.M. Coastguard before a dive, whether it is a boat dive, shore dive, fresh water or salt and give the following information;

    •   Your name and the name of your branch
    •   The number of divers in your group
    •   The location of the dive
    •   When you expect to complete the dive
    •   If you are diving from a boat, the name of your vessel
    •   A contact number if available

When you have completed the dive please contact the Coastguard again to let them know you have returned safely.

Should an incident occur contact H.M. Coastguard sooner rather than later. By telephone dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard, on VHF broadcast either a Pan Pan Medico or Mayday message on Channel 16 - see table below.


When life or vessel are in grave and imminent danger

Mayday, mayday, mayday

This is vessel's name, this is vessel's name, this is vessel's name
(give MMSI number if fitted with DSC)

My position is .......
give your position in latitude and longitude from your GPS or chart, or your bearing and distance from a significant landmark

We have a diving emergency and require immediate assistance

We have X injured/missing divers
(state number of divers involved in the incident)



Urgency message - if crew or vessel need assistance

Pan pan,  pan pan,  pan pan

All ships, all ships, all ships

This is vessel's name, this is vessel's name, this is vessel's name
(give MMSI number if fitted with DSC)

My position is .......
give your position in latitude and longitude from your GPS or chart, or your bearing and distance from a significant landmark

I have X injured divers on board and require medical advice
(state number of divers involved in the incident)


Have dive profiles to hand. You WILL get asked for dive details. (The MCA publication "Discover Sea Diving Safely" sets out the information you will need to hand)

Please note you should give your position in latitude and longitude if possible (this can be obtained from your GPS) or as the bearing and distance from a significant landmark, remember if you are due South of the Bell Rock light your bearing from the light is 180°. When you read the compass bearing to the light it will be 0° - easy to get mixed up in an emergency.

H.M. Coastguard are the single point of contact during any incident. They co-ordinate search and rescue operations and arrange recompression chamber facilities. If you need confirmation of a suspected bend the Coastguard will make contact with the Hyperbaric Unit in Aberdeen and fix up a link so you can speak directly to the medical staff on duty.

The preferred method of contacting H.M.Coastguard is by VHF radio.

GMDSS, DSC and Changes to Channel 16 Monitoring

It is no longer mandatory for shipping to maintain a listening watch on Channel 16, although many still do. At present the Coastguard monitor Channel 16 twenty-four hours a day but from February 2005 this dedicated listening watch cease. The system that will replace it is GMDSS.

GMDSS - Global Maritime Distress and Safety System is a maritime communications system with a number of components. One of these components is the VHF radio fitted with Digital Selective Calling (DSC). DSC is a tone signalling system operating on Channel 70, the signal is capable of transmitting information including the vessel's identification number, the purpose of the call, the vessels exact position and the channel you wish to communicate on. All small craft VHF sets on the market are now "GMDSS compatible" but the DSC component usually needs to be purchased separately. Although optional for small craft used solely for leisure purposes, it is strongly recommended that all small craft have DSC radios.

It is possible to send an urgency message (pan pan) using DSC, however this will need to be programmed in and is not just a case of pushing the BIG RED FINGER MAGNET!

Points to remember


  • Using a mobile phone is not reliable
    • it depends on a good signal and adequate power supply
    • from a boat you can only let one person know you are in a distress situation, using VHF radio will let anyone tuned to Channel 16 know you are in need of assistance
    • the Coastguard can use VHF signals to fix a position, whilst a mobile phone can be fixed to a certain area it is nowhere near as accurate
    • you will not be able to talk directly to a helicopter or lifeboat on a mobile phone
  • If you are diving from the shore always take the time to locate the nearest telephone (land line) just in case.

Hyperbaric Chambers

  • Don't just turn up at the hyperbaric chamber and expect to be treated, not all are manned 24 hours a day, and it may already be occupied
  • If you are at home after a dive trip and develop symptoms of a bend (joint pain, numbness or altered sensation, weakness, tingling in extremities, loss of balance, skin rash, visual disturbances, nausea, undue fatigue) phone the Scottish Hyperbaric Medicine Unit on 0845 408 6008 and ask to speak to the duty diving doctor. The doctor will be able to assess whether or not you have a bend and make arrangements for treatment. Calling the Hyperbaric Unit direct will ensure you receive treatment with the minimum of delay.

Be prepared

  • Make sure you have the telephone number of the local Coastguard before you dive
    • CLYDE - 01475 729014
    • STORNOWAY - 01851 702013 or 01851 702014
    • SHETLAND - 01595 692976
    • ABERDEEN - 01224 592334
    • FORTH - 01333 450666
  • Keep a copy of the DDRC Diving Incident Checklist and Flow Chart handy and use them!

Further Information

Picture MCA logoPeter Stewart, Diving Liaison Officer for Clyde Coastguard is happy to answer your questions about H.M. Coastguard and diving safety procedures, he can be contacted by email: Peter is a member of Clyde Coastguards operational staff and therefore takes part in a roster system, but will endeavour to reply to you as soon as possible.

Thanks to Peter Stewart and the H.M. Coastguard for their help with this article.

Posted 17/01/2003

Nautical Archaeology Intro/Part 1 Course - Aberdeen

Photo: John and Tim working on the Swan wreck siteI have been over at Lochaline recently continuing on from the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) Part 1 course under the stewardship of Philip Robertson and Peter Pritchard. Tim Walsh from Aberdeen has also been over working on his part 2 & 3 over the summer. We would both like to see an active participation of divers in the North East recording the state and deteriation of the wrecks they are diving every weekend. This doesn't take long, or draw away from the fun of the dive, in fact it adds to the interest as you learn more about the wrecks you are diving. I have persuaded Philip and Peter from NAS (Scotland) to come over to Aberdeen on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th December 2003, to run an NAS Part 1 course, "Introduction to Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology". We need a minimum of 8 people to make this event happen, and still have a few places available.

The Saturday consists of an introduction to the skills of recording artefacts underwater, and a pool session of a couple of hours trying out your new skills. On the Sunday we will hopefully get some practical experience on a local wreck site, and follow up by using the recording techniques learnt on the Saturday.

Jason Topley and Aberdeen Watersports have once again, kindly donated the use of their facilities for the whole weekend and places can be booked through either , , Aberdeen Watersports (01224 581313) or at Lochaline Dive Centre (01967 421627). Prices for the weekend can be confirmed before booking, but will be in the region of £70. Accomodation is not included but there is plenty to chose from on the Aberdeen and Grampian Highlands tourist information website.

More information about the course is available from the NAS Scotland website or - hope to see you in December!

John MacLeod.

Posted 17/11/2003

RNLI and Flare Demo

Michael Avril, Water Safety Coordinator for Scotland at the RNLI will be visiting Strathclyde University branch on Tuesday 9th December to give a talk on the role of the RNLI and how divers can improve their own safety when visiting dive sites.

The visit also includes a free flare demo and all attendees will have the chance to have a shot! The visit will begin at 6pm at Strathclyde University John Anderson Campus in the city centre.

All divers are welcome to attend. For further information or to reserve your place please contact Andrew Murray, Diving Officer at

Posted 13/11/2003

Eastwood Branch 25th Anniversary

Eastwood SAC are celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a party to be held at the Busby Hotel, Field Road, Clarkston, Glasgow on Saturday 29th November from 7.30pm till 1am. Tickets are £15 and include a disco and buffet. Accommodation is available at the hotel for those who wish it. Book directly with the hotel 0141 644 2661 and mention the Party. Cost is £68 for a double and £40 for a single.

Tickets available from Sandie Gray 42 Brenfield Avenue Glasgow G44 3LR or email We look forward to seeing as many former and current members as possible.

Posted 20/10/2003

New Sport Diver in the Borders

Congratulations go to Steven Allan of Borders branch who recently qualified as a Sports Diver. Well done!

Kev Watson

Posted 20/10/2003

Happy Birthday Pentland Sub Aqua Club!

Pentland Sub-Aqua has recently celebrated it's 10 anniversary with a posh birthday bash at The George Hotel in Edinburgh. Members were joined by friends and family to mark the occasion. As well as the anniversary it was also a chance for members to wish Sue LePage all the best as she is is emigrating to the States this month. Jim Tilston, branch chairperson, gave a short speech and presented Sue with a bouquet of flowers, champagne and a crystal ornament engraved with muffy, our club logo. Thanks go to Simon Petrie who organised the evening and to Alison Smith who arranged the presentation. Here's to the next 10 years.

Kev Watson, Pentland SAC

Posted 20/10/2003

Pentland Heartstart Successes

Congrats go to the following members of Pentland branch who recently completed a Heartstart course,

    • Julie Young
    • Gina Clark
    • Alison Smith
    • Sue LePage
    • Jim Tilston
    • Dave Simpson
    • Kent Pickles
    • Keith Morris
    • Kev Watson

Thanks to Colin Murray who ran the course and Dave Simpson who organised the venue, coffee, biscuits and christmas mince pies (yeah I know it's only October, but you know Dave, always prepared)

Posted 20/10/2003

DAN Decompression Illness (DCI) Survey

DAN Medical Research are conducting an anonymous survey of divers who were recompressed for DCI within the last five years.

If you were recompressed for decompression illness (DCI) within the past five (5) years, DAN ask that you complete a short anonymous survey. The survey is designed to find out;

  • how often DCI relapses after recompression therapy;
  • what is the effect of flying after recompression on DCI relapse; and
  • how long divers should wait after recompression therapy before flying.

The survey results will be presented during the "Management of Mild DCI in Remote Locations" workshop at the annual meeting of the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) on May 24-25, 2004. It will only take minute of your time to complete the online questionnaire - please help! Click here to visit the survey page

Posted 15/10/2003

Trimix Analyser Launched

Analox have launched a trimix analyser - the Analox ATA. The ATA can be used as a fixed or portable unit and runs on a single D-size battery, reported to give over 200 hours of use, or 1500 tanks analysed. An external power supply option is available.

Analox claim this as the first true trimix analayser capable of accurately reading helium, oxygen and balance gases. The ATA compensates for oxygen concentration and temperature to provide an accurate analysis for helium. The manufacturers have included a backlight, auto power down and a helium sensor zero function. The lifetime of the sensors are claimed to be 4-5 years for O2 and 10 years for helium. The battery powered ATA weighs in at £570, for more details visit the Analox website.

Posted 14/10/2003

Strathclyde University Successes

Congratulations to Alan Cocker of Strathclyde University branch for completing his Sport Diver qualification, and also to Craig Pattison for gaining his Branch Instructor award.

Diving Officer, Andrew Murray wishes to thank them both for their efforts to the club.

Posted 02/10/2003

Sunray Mod Light Recall

Effective immediately, Light & Motion announces a Safety Recall on the Sunray Mod Light.

Light & Motion report a few incidences in which the light inadvertently turned on while unattended. It has been determined that if the light accidentally becomes partially flooded, it is possible for the light to turn on by itself. If you suspect the light has been flooded, it is important to unscrew the silver bezel and remove the light bulb from the socket.

Light & Motion is taking the cautious route and issuing a Safety Recall and is requesting that the lights be sent in for upgrading. Please contact the company to obtain an RMA number to facilitate the servicing.

Black plastic body with blue and white logo and silver bezel. Measures 5.25 inches in length by 2.0 inches in diameter.

To return your Mod Light for the safety upgrade contact the Light & Motion Service Department at

Posted 29/08/03

Ralph Tech SMB Recall

Ralph Tech are recalling all of their SMB Range, including:

  • Stop Tech Pro
  • Evolution &
  • Classic

Any customers who have purchased one the above items should return it to the dealer who will exchange for a different model or full refund. If you have any questions or need more information please email or telephone customer services on 01642 486666

Ralph Tech appologise for any inconvienience caused.

Posted 04/08/03

TravelTrak software for PDAs

Uwatec have released free software that allows you to download your Uwatec dive computer to your PDA. TravelTrak is currently available for iPAQ Pocket PC and Windows CE operating systems. A version for Palm PDAs is expected in September. A SmartTrak update has also been released to allow your PC and PDA to synchonise your dive data. As yet there is no equivalent software for Mac users.

For more details visit the Uwatec Download Centre

Posted 17/07/03

Luggage Allowance Petition

Divers who travel abroad will be familiar with the inequalities of the luggage check-in. Whereas golfers and skiers appear to be able to take mountains of excess at little or no cost, divers seem to get stung every time. If this sounds familiar to you then here's a chance to do something about it!

The Scuba Industries Trade Association (SITA) has been asked to lobby airlines with a view to getting them to increase the baggage allowance for divers travelling overseas. SITA aim to stress the number of divers travelling to give credence to this and would appreciate your name and signature on this form with your postcode to ensure legitimacy of this petition. Help yourself, SITA and divers by downloading the petition poster and form.

Posted 17/07/2003

Uwatec Smart Computer Recall

UWATEC is conducting a voluntary recall of the Smart PRO and Smart COM dive computers. A software programming error in these computers may cause the alert signals to stop working properly, and, in some instances, the screen freezes. If this occurs, inaccurate information is displayed, such as water depth, tank pressure, ascent rate, etc. You can determine if you have one of these units by looking for the 'Smart" name on the front of the computers. For safety reasons, Uwatec ask that you stop using the dive computer immediately.

UWATEC will replace your Smart PRO or Smart COM computer with a new one within ninety (90) days or sooner. In order to obtain a replacement, please take your Smart PRO or Smart COM diving computer into your nearest UWATEC Authorised Dealer or contact SCUBAPRO UWATEC (UK) LTD on +44 (0)1256 812636. Once Uwatec have received your computer, they will begin processing your replacement order.

Download the poster for more information

Posted 15/07/03

Oxygen Administration & Heartstart Course

An Oxygen Administration and Heartstart course will be held on November 9th at the Musselburgh Sports Centre. This is a full day course starting at 9.30am and finishing at 4pm. Those who have already paid a deposit will be contacted by HQ shortly.

There are 6 places still available on this course, if you would like to attend please contact HQ, tel: 0141-425-1021 or email

Posted 31/08/03

Scottish Boat Jumble

The Scottish Boat Jumble, is being held on Sunday 5th October 2003 at The Pilot House, Harbourside, Irvine, Ayrshire.

Tickets are available from the Bosun's Coffee Shop, Largs Yacht Haven or by contacting 07721 888789 or emailing

Free car parking and free mooring of vessels. Admission is £3.50. Box office open 9am, jumble open 10am. Accompanied children free.

The jumble includes:-chandlery, fishing tackle, water skiing, scuba diving, canoeing, rope, paint, varnish, dinghies, tools, covers, sails, clothing, electronics, flags, boats, etc.

Posted 08/09/03

Chamber Awareness Day

The NDO - Rab Ronaldson, accepts this as a SSAC recognised course fullfilling the requirements of the First Aid and Oxygen Administration endorsements.

The Hyperbaric Medicine Unit in Aberdeen now offers a 'Chamber Awareness' course for qualified SCUBA divers. The aim of the course is to provide recreational SCUBA divers with a better understanding of the role of hyperbaric chambers in the treatment of Decompression Illness (DCI). This knowledge can then be passed on to other divers and used to help lower the incidence of DCI as well as improving the initial management and referral of casualties.

The full day course (9am to 5pm) includes lectures on DCI, discussion of referral procedures and management of diving incidents, practical and theory sessions on first aid and oxygen administration, a guided tour of the centre and a chamber dive equivalent to 20 metres of seawater (the dive may be cancelled in case of in coming emergency). Please note participants must be medically fit to take part in the chamber dive and are required to complete a self declaration form.

The first course is scheduled for Tuesday 14th of October and costs £30 per diver. Places are limited to eight, the course will still go ahead if fewer than eight take part. If there is sufficient interest it is possible that the course could be run at weekends.

For more details visit the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit's website.

Posted 29/07/03

St Abb's Training Weekend - Cancelled

Sorry to say but due to a lack of people and instructors, I have had to cancel the training weekend scheduled for St Abb's on August 16th and 17th. Since the weekend involved organising diveboats and dive times for people, it wasnt possible to run it as a turn up and dive training event, as is the case at St Catherine's. If anyone was intending to turn up it wouldn't have been possible to get a place on a boat. Please pass on this information to anyone you think may need to know.

Rab Ronaldson, NDO

Posted 04/08/03

MUSAC Congrats

MUSAC would like to congratulate;

  • Gillian Bell
  • Paul Guiney
  • Brian Malcolm and
  • Tony Marsh

on acheiving their Sport Diver award - well done!

Posted 31/07/03

Treatment to Combat Nitrogen Narcosis

Instruction and treatment to resist nitrogen narcosis could become a routine event for commercial and project divers according to Russian scientists at the St. Petersburg Medical Academy. Researchers at the Laboratory of Hyperbaric Physiology are currently working with rats and have achieved some remarkable results.

Dr Alexander Vjotosh and his team exposed the rats to oxygen-depleted air or raised ambient temperatures for a period of time before a simulated dive. The rats became more resistant to the nitrogen narcosis effects - they managed to pass appropriate tests with better results, in fact their resistance to narcosis was increased 1.5 times. A similar benefit was found when the rats were injected with quercetin, a bioflavonoid, eight hours before the simulated dive. The researchers believe that the treatment and training could be developed to help humans resist the effects of narcosis.

An off shoot of this research programme is a new theory on the mechanism of nitrogen narcosis. The generally accepted theory is that nitrogen narcosis occurs as a result of pressurised nitrogen exerting a force on nerve cells in the brain thus impairing the transmission of nerve impulses in the central nervous system. The Russian research team has proposed an alternative theory that at increased partial pressures of nitrogen an active compound is produced which damages cell proteins and impairs nerve impulse transmission.

Posted 17/07/03

  • Mhairi Palmer and Sarah Moyes from Borders Sub-Aqua Club who have both qualified as Sport Divers.
  • Charles Thorpe from Peeblesshire Sub-Aqua Club who has qualified as a Master Diver.

and a late entry

  • Andrew Gibson from Peeblesshire SAC who recently qualified as a Sport Diver.

Well done all of you!

Posted 13/07/03

Courses and Training for 2003
    • Oxygen Administration & Heart Start Course
      At present these courses will be held at HQ and Haddington depending on the interest from members, courses will be cancelled if insufficient numbers come forward.
      13th April, 29th June, 27th July, 9th November

    • Scotsac Training weekends
      After last years successful training weekends, we will be holding them again this year, 1 on the east coast at St Abbs on the 16th and 17th August, you will have to put your name forward for these dates as there are limited places, I have booked to boats for the weekend and it will be £7.50 per dive from the boat.
      Also 5th & 6th April at St Catherine's and two weekends in September, 6th & 7th / 27th & 28th also at St Catherine's.

    • Regional Instructors Course
      We will be running a Regional Instructors course on the 12th to 14th September at the Water Sports centre on the Isle of Cumbrae just of Largs, Last year was very successful with 11 candidate's on the course with 3 new Regional Instructors and the rest well on their way to finishing off their assessments.

    • Branch Instructor and Nitrox course dates to be arranged but will be advertised soon as possible.

    • Deep Diving Award
      The Deep diving Award is being developed, the Aims and Prerequisites for the course.

Aims of the course

  • The main aim of the course is to teach and enhance the understanding of deep diving.
  • Standardise training for deep diving beyond 30m.
  • Standardise procedures for Deep Diving beyond 30m.
  • To allow members of SSAC to plan and execute deep dives within 'safe' parameters.

The Deep Diving Award is designed for the use of Air and Air Decompression Tables for dives down to a maximum depth of 50m.

The use of Nitrox, by suitably qualified Divers, as a gas for the whole dive is acceptable.

The use of Air as the Bottom Gas and Nitrox as a decompression gas is acceptable.

This course does not cover accelerated decompression using high PP Oxygen decompression gas mixes.

The Deep Diving Course is not a 'Technical Diving' course

The Deep Diving Award is designed for:

  1. Experienced SSAC Sports Divers
  2. Experienced SSAC Master Divers
  3. SSAC First Class Divers

Divers on this course should have experience of 75-100 dives. Diving in a wide range of depth ranges. Diving in a wide variety of locations. Using Bulhmann Decompression Tables for decompression dives and dive planning


  1. Hold Current Membership of the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club
  2. Hold a current medical certificate
  3. Have 75-100 dives
  4. Have Master Diver, Advanced Decompression and Oxygen toxicity lectures. Dive leader Endorsement
  5. Be 18 years of age or older
  6. Have normally been members for 2 years.

Posted 13/03/2003

Seasearch Observer Course

This course is full as of 23/09/2003.

Seasearch is a national project for volunteer sports divers who have an interest in what they're seeing under water, want to learn more and want to help protect the marine environment.

The main aim is to map out the various types of sea bed found in the near-shore zone, up to about 5 miles off the coast or 30m depth around the whole of the British Isles. In addition Seasearch are recording what lives in each area, establishing the richest sites for marine life, the sites where there are problems and the sites which need protection.

Seasearch Training
Seasearch Observer is a one-day course aimed at giving divers new to the project and new to marine recording a basic grounding. At the end of the course you should be able to complete the Seasearch Observation Form and take part in Seasearch Dives either on your own, with your club or on dives organised by Seasearch Partners.

During the course you'll learn about Seasearch - its aims, history and achievements, a basic introduction to the variety of marine life in UK waters, recognising and classifying marine habitats, position fixing, and how to fill in the Observation Form. The day concludes with a 'video dive' and an opportunity to fill in a form without even getting wet!

The course includes a splash proof course pack and everything you'll need to go ahead and get started. The tutors are all divers themselves and drawn from our partner organisations and keen Seasearchers.

During the course you'll get a Seasearch Qualification booklet. Once you have completed 5 for real (two on dives with a Tutor present) you can get signed up as a Seasearch Observer.

Seasearch Observer Training Course
A Seasearch Observer Course will be held on Saturday November 8th in central Edinburgh, starting at 9am and running through to about 5pm. The course will be run by Calum Duncan of the Marine Conservation Society, with help from experienced Seasearch enthusiasts. The course costs £20 per person, a programme can be downloaded here. Places are limited so booking is essential. The course is classroom based and suitable for anyone with an interest in learning more about the marine environment. For qualified divers it may be possible to arrange a Seasearch Dive on Sunday 9th.

If you would like to take part, or would like more information please contact Alison Fish

Posted 11/09/03

Good News for Darwin Mounds

The Darwin Mounds, Scotland's ancient coral reefs, will finally receive protected status according to environment minister Elliot Morley. Conservation groups including the Marine Conservation Society and the WWF have fought an 18 month long battle to force government ministers to honour an election pledge to protect this unique part of Scotland's natural heritage.

The reefs, discovered in 1998, provide a nursery for many species of fish and as such should be important to the stricken Scottish fishing industry and conservationists alike. Despite this researchers have already detected damage from deep sea trawl nets. The reefs will be protected under the European Union habitats directive once the paperwork has been completed and approved by the British government in Westminster. In the meantime Elliot Morley has asked the European Commission to invoke it's emergency powers and close the area to trawlers within the next few weeks.

Conservationists say the announcement is 'fantastic news' and hope that by using the EC's emergency powers further destruction of the reefs will be avoided.

Posted 30/06/03

Ship wrecked on the Summer Isles

A cargo ship has sunk after hitting rocks on the island of Tanera Mor near Ullapool. The Jambo was carrying zinc to Norway when the vessel hit rocks near the Summer Isles. RNLI volunteers rescued the ship's Polish and Croatian crew before the Jambo sank in 20 metres of water.

Mike Deeming of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency told reporters a salvor had already been appointed and would assess the possibilities of removing the ship's fuel oil and cargo of zinc, or even raising the vessel if conditions prove favourable.

The Summer Isles are situated at the mouth of Loch Broom in an environmentally sensitive area, local authorities are concerned that the zinc and oil will cause long term damage to the marine environment if left onboard.

Posted 30/06/03

Fishy sounds help coral reefs

Coral reef fish eggs by Stephen SimpsonYoung reef fish are attracted by sounds they heard while they were in the egg according to researcher Stephen Simpson. The team believe that using sounds familiar to juvenile fish can lead the fish to new areas of reef and encourage colonization. The technique, if successful, could help to repopulate over fished areas and stock marine parks and protection zones.

Simpson explained "Many coral reef fish are spawned on the reef, and while the eggs develop, their noisy parents look after them. Once they hatch, the ant-sized fish escape out to sea for a month to escape the many predators on the reef. There they develop into juveniles. They wait for the new moon and then, under the cloak of darkness, they cross the ‘wall of mouths’ to settle on a reef. This research has also solved a mystery - how they choose a reef has baffled us for many years.”

Working at Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, the researchers have used noise to persuade fish to settle on artificial reefs. In addition, by playing comparable noises to fish eggs, Simpson and Dr Hong Yan at University of Kentucky discovered that embryos would hear the noises made by the fish on their reef before they have even hatched.

Simpson explains, “The noise consists of the pops, bangs, whoops and trumpet sounds used by nocturnal fish to communicate as they hunt. A background crackle is also made by bubbles popping at the clawtips of snapping shrimps. The difference in noise during the day and at night can be compared to a quiet suburban street and rush hour traffic,”

Working alongside Dr Mark Meekan of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Simpson put speakers into artificial reefs, and found that fish used the recorded noises to find a place to settle. “The number of fish arriving on noisy reefs was six times the amount that went to the silent reefs. These experiments provide substantial evidence that fish use reef sounds to navigate when seeking suitable spots to make their home” he says.

This suggests that their memories may become imprinted with the noise of their particular reef - information that could be essential when they are later choosing where to settle.

Picture by Stephen Simpson
Posted 15/06/03

Ballard seeks proof of Noah's flood

Robert Ballard, best known for discovering long lost wrecks including the Titanic and the WWII battleship Bismarck, is turning his attention to the biblical story of the Great Flood.

Over the last five years Ballard and his team have been exploring the Black Sea in search of ancient wrecks, an area well known for yielding wrecks in pristine condition. The Black Sea is cold and has little current or tidal flow to break up wooden wrecks. The oxygen content is very low and does not easily support life, including the boring worms usually responsible for eating away wooden structures in other marine environments; a combination that provides almost perfect conditions for preservation of perishable artefacts. During recent expeditions Ballard's team have discovered apparently man-made formations on the seabed. This year the team will use a high tech, remotely operated submarine to explore the area, the sub is equipped with pressure sensors which allow it to perform delicate manoeuvres

The expedition has a website at

Posted 15/06/03

Norway moves to protect cold water reefs

On June 11th Norway announced a protection zone for a rare cold water reef - meanwhile the British government have yet to fullfil their promise to protect Scotland's own cold water reef - the Darwin Mounds.

Tisler reef lies along the Norway Sweden border at a depth of 75 - 155 metres, the protection zone has been announced to prevent further damage caused by fishing trawlers. The Norwegian government has received the World Wildlife Fund's highest award, a "Gift to the Earth", in recognition of the importance of saving this rare coral reef.

"Norway wants to see the destruction of cold water coral reefs ended," said Norwegian Minister of the Environment, Børge Brende. "We have taken the first steps to stop the destruction of our own reefs and more steps will follow. I call on other nations to increase their activities to protect their coral reefs against both the direct and indirect threats."

By comparison the UK government has failed designate the Darwin Mounds as a Special Area of Conservation, despite promising to do so in October 2001. "There appears to be little political will in the UK to follow through on a 596 day old promise by Margaret Beckett to protect these reefs, which are likely to be smashed up even more by deep water fishing," commented Helen McLachlan, Marine Policy Officer for WWF Scotland. "We are staggered by the UK Government's continued failure to take steps to protect this unique habitat. Norway has really shown the way - what a shame the UK seems unwilling to be equally committed."

The lophelia corals that make up these reefs make an important contribution to the health of the seas by providing habitats for sea fans, sponges, worms, starfish, sea urchins and crustaceans. They also serve as essential spawning and nursery grounds for several fish species, including some commercial ones such as orange roughy and grenadiers.

"Unique cold water reefs such as the Darwin Mounds are invaluable breeding grounds for commercial stocks. They have taken thousands of years to establish yet they can be wiped out in an instant by trawling activity. It's vital the government acts to save the Darwin Mounds now," added McLachlan.

Posted 15/06/03

Reward for Monkfish Eggs

Scientists at Fisheries Research Services (FRS) Marine Laboratory are offering a £50 reward for the fertilised free-floating egg masses produced by female monkfish.

These large gelatinous masses can be up to 10m by 3m in size and may be found floating near the surface in Scottish waters. The egg masses are rarely found, yet they could provide vital information on the breeding behaviour of monkfish, including whether more than one male fish is involved in the fertilisation process and if the fish have distinctive spawning grounds.

Egg masses taken directly from the female are of no use for the study. Ideally the egg masses should be frozen once recovered, although they will keep for a few days on ice. Before storage the mass should be placed in a container or large plastic bag. If lack of space prevents storage in its entirety, then nine or ten samples (approximately one litre each) taken from different parts of the mass would suffice. "We would also be interested in hearing about any
sightings made with respect to these egg masses."

You can contact the following FRS staff members for further information:

  • Martha O'Sullivan Tel: 01224 295326
  • Peter Wright Tel: 01224 295436

Photo 1 of monkfish eggsPhoto 2 of monkfish eggsPhoto 3 of monkfish eggs

Thanks to Alex Gallego of Grampian Branch for submitting this item.
Posted 15/06/2003

Oceanic Recall CDX Regulator 1st Stage

Photo Oceanic CDX 1st stageOceanic have published the following recall with immediate effect.

"This alert requires that all CDX first stages currently in use must be retrofitted prior to continued diving.

Through ongoing research and development, Oceanic has determined that extreme vibration, sometimes described as 'hammering' may occur in the CDX first stage regulator. It has been shown that harmonics in the first stage may cause this vibration.

This quality alert is to inform you of a design modification that has been made to prevent such occurrence and eliminate the effects that any associated 'hammering' may cause in a CDX First Stage. Even though you have probably not experienced this situation, we are asking that you contact your local Oceanic Dealer to have your CDX first stage retrofitted before continued use.

This quality alert and the retrofit being described apply only to the CDX first stages . This does not apply to the new CDX5 or any other Oceanic first stages. We apologise for any inconvenience and thank you for your co-operation.

Please phone the free helpline 0800 316 8749 if you require details of your nearest Oceanic Service Centre or you require any further advice or e-mail any questions (Please give a daytime telephone number and your home address.)

Pelagic House,
EX14 4RB

Tel: 01404 891819 Fax: 01404 891909

If you need to confirm that your regulator is, or is not, a CDx 1st stage, you may check the serial numbers below.

All Cdx 1st stages will have a serial number falling within one of the following series.

  1. 9200001 to 9205622
  2. 0200001 to 0213294
  3. 9D0001 to 9D3273
  4. 0D0001 to 0D3046
  5. 9800013 to 9801711

If you are still not sure, please do not hesitate to give the helpline a call. "

Posted 09/06/2003

Underwater Digital Video Website Launched

Picture logoUnderwater video enthusiats may be interested in a brand new website, Underwater Digital Video, The site aims to provide a one-stop shop for advice, tips and information exchange. Editor Cliff Etzel said "We will publish articles, reviews, profiles and much more related to the shooting of underwater digital video. I'm excited about our position as the only online resource for this under-served segment of both sport diving and digital video enthusiasts." The site has already attracted the attention of Sue Daly, a well known underwater photographer and videographer based in the Channel Islands. With award winning contributors like Sue the site is well worth a visit, even if underwater video doesnt float your boat!

Posted 04/06/2003

Government seeks sunken treasure

HMS Sussex sank in 1694 off Gibraltar. She was carrying a fortune in gold and silver coins, 500 men and 80 cannon. The gold was sent from England to buy the Duke of Savoy's support in the war against France. The ship sank during a severe storm; the majority of the crew were lost along with the treasure, said to be worth £1 million in 1694.

In September 2002, Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc, an American company entered into an agreement with the British government to recover the remains of the vessel and its treasure. Odyssey claim to have identified the wreck of the Sussex in the Mediterranean Sea close to Gibraltar. The agreement requires Odyssey to treat the recovery as an archaeological excavation; recovered cultural artefacts (such as tools, cannon and personal items) will be conserved, the gold and silver will be sold. Proceeds from the sale will be split between Odyssey and the British government. The scale initially favours Odyssey, but as profits increase the scale swings in favour the government. Sussex Archaeological Executive will oversee the operation and ensure the excavation conforms to the highest archaeological standards.

The wreck is reported to lie in 800m of water making this the deepest archaeological excavation ever attempted. The operation is due to start this summer. It remains to be seen whether the financial or archaeological interests take precedence.

Posted 30/05/2003

Zeagle Regulator Recall

Zeagle Regulator High Pressure Seat Recall - Zeagle Systems, Inc. is recalling 931 first stage Scuba regulators sold between January 20, 2003 and May 19, 2003.

If you have one of these regulators it is essential to take it to your dealer for immediate repair. Do not attempt to dive with this regulator again until the regulator has been inspected and by an authorized Zeagle dealer.

The first stage regulators affected are the following models:

FlatHead Six
s/n F001391 to F001476
s/n B003315 to B003652
s/n A001352 to A001571
Envoy s/n C001117 to C001403

The serial numbers are stamped on each first stage body. Zeagle regulators that have been serviced since January 20, 2003 may also be affected.

These first stage regulators may have a defective high-pressure seat that could cause the first stage to over pressurize. If this occurs, the air supply to the diver could be interrupted, making it impossible for the diver to breathe from the regulator. This type of failure is most likely to occur upon initial pressurization of the regulator and is unlikely to occur underwater.

If you own one of these regulators, take it to your authorized Zeagle dealer for a free inspection and repair. Call 1-800-771-5568 or contact any authorized Zeagle dealer for information on obtaining a free repair. Zeagle Systems, Inc. is located at 37150 Chancey Rd., Zephyrhills, FL 33541. For information about Zeagle dealers visit the Zeagle website, Bowstone Diving Products Ltd are the only dealer listed in the UK, you can contact Bowstone at the address below;


Bowstone Diving Products Ltd.
Goyt Mill Upper Hibbert Lane
Marple, Stockport, Cheshire, SK6 7HX
Tel. 011-44-161-484 5443
Fax 011-44-161-484-5443

Posted 27/05/2003


New MCA Building for Orkney

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency opened a new Sector Base in Kirkwall, Orkney, on April 2nd, the building was officially opened by John Astbury, Chief Coastguard and Director of Maritime Operations.

Regional Operations Manager (Search and Rescue) said “This is a prestigious new MCA building to serve the whole of the Orkney community and enhances the front line capability for Search and Rescue and other maritime emergency response in Northern Scotland and the Northern Isles”

Mr Astbury said "I am pleased to be back in Orkney to open this modern facility. The building reflects our continued emphasis in transferring resources right to the front line where the real difference can be made."

The building provides a base for the HM Coastguard Sector Manager for Orkney; the Kirkwall HMCG Coast Rescue Team and operational base for Surveyors and Counter Pollution and Salvage officers from the Region and the wider UK. With a conference room and modern communications infrastructure the building can be used as an Emergency Planning room and command and forward Command and Control centre if required.

The building will be used as a training facility for Coast Rescue Teams from the outer islands of the Orkney Isles and as the venue for the District Marine Safety Committee and other accident prevention activities.

Sector Manager for Orkney, Ian MacDonald said "The new building here does not in any way replace the MCA station Pentland MRSC, it is essentially an MCA facility incorporating a new Sector base and office for the Orkney Sector Manager, a rescue equipment centre for the Kirkwall Auxiliary rescue team with garaging space for three MCA vehicles. On the upper level there is a main office and an MCA staff visitors office. There is a conference/training room which will seat approx 30 persons. This room can be adapted for use as a Command and Control Centre during major incidents with facilities for telephones, laptops and fax. Additionally there is a fully fitted kitchen, changing/shower rooms, disabled lift and toilet."

Ian pointed out that the new Sector Base is not fully manned, it will generally be the Sector Manager on his/her own using the building for their normal work patterns as with any other Sector Manager, due to the nature of Coastguard duties the office may be unmanned for several days at a time.

The building is a welcome addition to MCA facilities in Orkney and will improve the aleady high standard of service provided by the Agency.

Any enquiries can be made directly to Shetland MRSC at anytime by telephoning 01595 692976 . All routine and emergency contact whilst in Orkney should be made through Shetland MRSC.

Posted 09/04/2003

Free Online Dive Logs

DiveLogOnline does what it says on the can - so to speak, it's a database style website that allows individuals to store a log of their dives online and free of charge. You can keep your log completely private or you can share a limited amount of information with visitors to the site. The site provides a template with several mandatory fields (date, location, bottom time, average depth and maximum depth). Additional (non-mandatory) fields include: dive number, buddy's name, air in/out, time in/out, equipment used, temperature, vis, mix and comments on the dive. The site tots up the total bottom time for the dives you've entered, the depth of your deepest dive, and the number of fresh and salt water dives.

If you have access to the internet you can add, view, delete or amend your dive history which is password protected. The site has a search facility so you can find a particular dive easily, or search the dives other users have designated as public. The inventory section allows you to keep a record of your dive gear, cost and date of purchase (but there aren't many lines!). You can print out a record of your dives or export your log (as a csv file) to another application, such as MS Excel or MS Access.

Best of all you can upload small pictures and associate them with a particular dive. Pictures have to be in jpeg or gif format and less than 100Kb, so this isnt a cheap way of storing your digital photos. The site also has a thing called "Album Builder", this lets you select a group of photos then send an email to a friend - when the email arrives it has a hyperlink to an album of the photos you picked. Quite a nice touch for shaing your photos with others.

The main drawback is the American bias, although you can log your dives in metres rather than feet. Tables are supplied on site but you can only chose from PADI, NAUI or Navy.

The site has a news section, online bookstore and a scubastore is planned. You can wander round a sample log and get to know the site before you register (see the home page for details). Dive Log Online is at - even the address is easy to remember!

Dive Record is a similar site which allows you to collect more detailed information about your dives. In addition to the services provided by Dive Log Online, Dive Record provides a calander of your monthly dives, a detailed list of your qualifications and calculates your "Recreational Diving Experience Index" (RDX). The RDX is supposed to represent your diving experience in a single number (!) and is calculated on a points system based on bottom time, maximum depth, lowest temperature, visibility, and location familiarity. An easy dive is represented by a dive of short bottom time (0.1), shallow depth (0.1), in warm (0.1), clear (0.1) water and a familiar location (0.1). This dive is represented by 0.5 on the RDX scale. A recent dive has more weight than one a year or two ago and so on. It's a novel idea but ......

Posted 07/04/2003

Stars Beneath the Sea

Stars Beneath the Sea - by Vanishing Point Theatre, inspired by Trevor Norton's book
An underwater odyssey of unfathomable depth. With fish.

Stars Beneath The Sea is a show about being underwater. It tells the story of the brave and brilliant pioneers of deep sea diving, men and women who pushed their lives, and sometimes the lives of others, to the limit. It is a show about depth, beauty, determination and incredibly stupid ideas, about the lonely impulse of delight that led people on hilarious journeys towards ingenious invention as well as tragic failure. Stars Beneath The Sea will take audiences to places they never expected to go, but will never want to leave. Combining physical performance, puppetry, animation, original music and projection, Vanishing Point presents an exciting and inventively visual show - part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, August 2003.

Stars Beneath the Sea is showing at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh from 1st - 25th of August, for more details visit the Assembly Rooms website

Posted 07/08/03

Shallow Coral Reef Discovered in Drammen Fjord

The remains of an ancient coral reef has been discovered by divers in Drammen fjord, Norway. In just 10-20m of water the reef stretches for 40m. The reef was created 7000 years ago when the sea bed was over 100 metres deep. The deep water coral, thought to be Lophelia, hasn't survived but the reef supports a wide variety of marine life. Experts say the coral may have been dead for thousands of years.

The reef was originally discovered by Polish diver Leszek Piotr Zochowski who insists that its exact location remains secret. The Drammen fjord is in the south of Norway, around 30 miles from Oslo.

Posted 30/05/2003


Underwater Post Office - world first!

Vanuatu has opened the worlds first underwater post office in the Hideaway Island marine sanctuary, close to the capital Vila, the Post Office is manned by four Open Water divers. The post box is in 3m of water, trained divers and snorkellers can post waterproof cards to friends around the world.

Tourism officials in Vanuatu said they hope the unique Post Office, will be a popular attraction with the many divers who visit the country.

Posted 30/05/2003


Master Diver Congrats!

We would like to offer our congratulations to Chris Breen on completing his Master Diver, well done Chris (at last)!

Roger Donald (BDO) and Dumfries Branch

Posted 17/05/2003

New Wrecks for the Detectives

Ratings for the Wreck Detectives, Channel 4's TimeTeam in the water offshoot, must be pretty good as they are planning a new series. Do you know about a shipwreck they could investigate this summer? The team are looking for more interesting wrecks with unsolved mysteries for a new series. If you have any bright ideas please email

Posted 29/04/2003

Singing on the Deco Line

Get bored doing your deco stops? Well now you can sing your way through the stops with this natty "Aquadio" MP3 player specifically designed for divers by Diver Entertainment Systems Inc. It comes complete with custom made housing, rated to 200 feet (approx 60m), with a carribener clip hole, controls for full functionality and 'mask strap' speakers (also rated to 200ft). The player itself has 64MB memory so you can download enough of your favourite music to see you through ten hours of deco stops!

That's got to beat twiddling your thumbs!

Posted 04/04/2003

Congratulations One and All!

Congratulations to Alan and Angela Balharrie of Napier Branch on their recent marriage, sadly no pics but if anyone has one they'd like to share, please send it in.


Pentland Sub-Aqua Club

Sport Diver Award: Lou Thomson & Mike Kerr

Master Diver Award: Sue LePage, Dave Simpson & Jim Tilston

Nitrox divers: Sue LePage, Keith Morris & Bill Bowman

Peeblesshire Sub-Aqua Club

Sport Diver Awards: Babz Allen

Borders Sub-Aqua Club

Sport Diver Awards: Molly Mitchell, Michael Murray, Tracey Black & Scott Findlay

Branch Instructors: Dave MacLaren & Evan Thomson


Sport Diver Awards: Mike Tuson, Vincent Kelly & Jeremy Clark

Napier Sub-Aqua Club

Branch Instructor: Angela Balharrie

Well done all of you.

Posted 03/04/2003

Doubilet on Underwater Photography

National Geographic magazine is world famous for it's photographs, among other things. Many photographic icons of the 20th century first appeared on the cover of National Geographic (NG) which is published in 20 languages and read by 40 million people each month in every country in the world. So you'd have to be pretty good to get even a single picture past the editor. Enter David Doubilet, photographer in residence and widely acclaimed as one of the world's best underwater photographers, to date he has contributed to over 60 stories for NG. Is it the best job in the world? Yes, with reservations, see what David Doubilet has to say and see some of his amazing pictures in this recent article "Photographer David Doubilet on His Work"

Posted 20/03/2003

Ghosts of the Abyss

The RMS Titanic has captured the imagination of millions, from her launch and calamitous maiden voyage to rediscovery of the wreck over 70 years later. In 2001 James Cameron, director of "Titanic", led a team of underwater explorers and filmmakers in a return to the Titanic. The team made a series of historic dives using new camera and lighting equipment to capture images of the interior and exterior of the wreck. Advanced light and filming techniques were used including high-definition 3D cameras, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), and a deep water lighting platform that illuminated the deep ocean like never before. "Ghosts of the Abyss" tells the story of that expedition in large format 3D.

The resulting 59-minute IMAX movie descends more than two miles beneath the surface of the ocean, into the ruined wreck of the great ship, an interior unseen for more than ninety years. In parts of the film images of passengers are superimposed on the underwater footage of the wreck, creating an eerie impression of what must have happened on the night of the famous sinking.

"Ghosts of the Abyss" will be released on April 11th, the only IMAX cinema in Scotland, at the Glasgow Science Centre, currently has no plans to show the film - however if there is sufficient interest Glasgow may decide to show the movie. If you would like to see the film at the Glasgow Science Centre email Michael McCarthy, the Comercial and Operations Director to register your interest (the next nearest IMAX cinema is in Bradford at the National Museum of Film, Photography and Television, who will be showing the film in the near future).

In the meantime you can view a short trailer at the film's website "Ghosts of the Abyss", or download wallpaper for your PC.

Posted 13/03/2003

Things to remember....

OK, you've seen them all before but you've got to admit they make you smile!

  •  It's always a good idea to keep the regulator in your mouth
  •  Diving isn't dangerous. Drowning is dangerous
  •  The only time you have too much air is when you're on the surface
  •  Try to keep the number of your ascents equal to the number of your descents
  •  The dive is optional, the ascent is mandatory
  •  A regulator is actually a diver cooling device, when it stops working you see the diver start to sweat
  •  Never let your dive gear take you somewhere your brain didn't reach five minutes earlier
  •  Probability of survival is inversely proportional to the speed of arrival at surface
  •  In the battle between expansion of gas bubbles v. expansion of diver, the gas has yet to lose
  •  It's always better to be up here wishing you were down there than be down there wishing you were up here
  •  The three most useless things to a diver: the spare cylinder on the boat, computer with no battery, missed deco stops

Thanks to Lee for these gems of wisdom. If you have any to add email us.

Posted 12/03/2003

Diving Safety Questionnaire - please help.

2003 - Safety and Experience Follow Up Survey of Recreational Scuba Divers (ver.Jan2003)

This is a second year follow up dive survey to help us better understand divers and their experiences. In the autumn of 2000 over 12,000 divers participated in the Safety Survey of Recreational Scuba Divers. A report of those results was presented on 28 June 2002 at the annual scientific meeting of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society and was published in January 2003 in Undersea Journal. Articles in dive magazines are following. In the Spring of 2002 over 4,700 divers participated in the Safety and Experience Survey of Recreational Scuba Divers. 500 divers suggested questions for this year's follow up survey and some have been included.

This anonymous, confidential survey should take approximately 3 to 5 minutes to complete. Results will be compiled and completed as a group only.No individual identifying information will be released to anyone. David F Colvard, MD, Raleigh, NC, USA

Go to the Questionnaire

Posted 21/02/2003

Stars Beneath the Sea - by Vanishing Point Theatre, inspired by Trevor Norton's book

An underwater odyssey of unfathomable depth. With fish.

Stars Beneath The Sea is a show about being underwater. It tells the story of the brave and brilliant pioneers of deep sea diving, men and women who pushed their lives, and sometimes the lives of others, to the limit. It is a show about depth, beauty, determination and incredibly stupid ideas, about the lonely impulse of delight that led people on hilarious journeys towards ingenious invention as well as tragic failure. Stars Beneath The Sea will take audiences to places they never expected to go, but will never want to leave. Combining physical performance, puppetry, animation, original music and projection, Vanishing Point presents an exciting and inventively visual show on tour in spring 2003.

Come and join us underwater:

Tramway, Glasgow
7 - 10 May 2003, 8pm
0845 330 3501

MacRobert, University of Stirling
17 May 2003, 11am & 2pm
01786 466666


The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
23 May 2003, 7:30pm
01224 642230

Cumbernauld Theatre
24 May 2003, 7.45pm
01236 732 887

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Bank of Scotland Children's International Theatre Festival
29 May - 1 June 2003,
Daily £4
Schools 0131 225 8050 Public 0131 228 1404

As Stars Beneath the Sea begins its UK tour in Glasgow, Vanishing Point have organised an event with Trevor Norton in Borders Book Store (Buchanan Street) on the 9th of May at 6:00pm, this is a free event. Trevor will be presenting an amusing talk based on the book and looking at the lives and stories of deep-sea divers.

The show is directed and designed by Kai Fischer and Matthew Lenton. Music by John Anderson. Performed by Sandy Grierson, Sean Hay, Skye Loneragan & Itxaso Moreno. The project is supported by Glasgow City Council, The Scottish Arts Council and The Scottish Arts Council Lottery Funded

Posted 23/04/2003

Volunteers Needed Please!

Confirmation has come through that the SSAC try a dive pool will be at the International Festival of the Sea in Leith, on the Friday 23rd to Monday 26th May 2003. The festival is being advertised on local radio and the organisers expect about 200,000 people over the weekend. Have a look at the website it promises to be a great weekend.

I need volunteers to help out with the try dives, please send me names of any willing helpers and times available so I can sort out passes to the show. Friday 23rd and Monday 26th are the main days that need filled. If you are able to help great! You do not have to be an Instructor but you do need to have reasonable experience. I need to know as soon as possible


Rab Ronaldson

Posted 27/04/2003

Everyone Can Help!

I’m talking politics. No, don’t switch off! Everyone can help! In the run up to the second Scottish elections in May 2003, Scottish environmental groups are asking everyone to tell politicians that you are concerned about the environment, whether land, sea, air, wildlife or your own home. Don’t live in Scotland? Doesn’t matter. If you have visited or have friends or relatives here you will know Scotland’s splendid seas are worthy of proper protection. Of course, the same is true throughout the UK, but the looming Scottish election is an opportunity not to be missed for our northern waters.

Lead a busy life and can’t find the time to express your concerns over the state of our seas? No problem. We have made it easy for you to tell the politicians you care about the seas – see the box below.

All those who enjoy the sea - whether divers, surfers, sailors or holidaymakers - have the right to clean, unpolluted waters and to see marine life flourishing, but...

Did you know?

  • 18 out of 21 Scottish fish stocks are outside their ‘safe biological limits’ –their populations are in danger of never recovering. Cod in particular is close to collapse.
  • Scotland is home to ancient coral reefs as incredible and important as anywhere else in the world. These reefs are being broken up by trawlers chasing deep sea species like the Orange Roughy which has seen its numbers crash by 70% in just a few years.
  • Production of farmed salmon increased more than tenfold between 1987 and 2002, from 12,721 tonnes to a projected 159,060 tonnes (FRS). Farmed salmon now outnumber wild by more than 1000 to 1. Escapes and pollution from salmon farms are now regular news.
  • Scotland is lacking domestic legislation for marine species and habitat protection. As I write, mobile trawl and dredge gear may be damaging parks of giant sea pens, rich horse-mussel beds and rare, fragile Serpula worm reefs in a loch near you!
  • Oil tankers navigating the biologically sensitive waters of The Minch are not legally obliged to report their movements to H.M. Coastguard. How long before a ‘Prestige’-like incident ruins valuable inshore fisheries, aquaculture and habitats?

Voter apathy is rife in Britain, yet we are all privileged. We live in a democracy! If you are unhappy about the above facts you and everyone else can help make our Seas Fit for Scotland.

In the run up to the Scottish Elections in May 2003, the Marine Conservation Society is joining forces with other environmental groups in Scotland, including RSPB, NTS, WWF Scotland, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust and Friends of the Earth Scotland, calling on everyone to demand that Scotland’s politicians:

  • Appoint a Minister for the Seas
  • Overhaul Scotland’s outdated legislation to manage our seas and coasts better
  • Introduce ‘regeneration areas’ to restore fish stocks and wildlife.

Everyone CAN help! If you have web access visit and follow the simple on-screen instructions to let Scotland’s politicians know you care and ask them what they are going to do about it.

For more information please contact
Calum Duncan
Marine Conservation Society, 3 Coates Place, EDINBURGH EH3 7AA
Tel: 0131 226 6360 or 01989 566017
Fax: 0131 226 2391Mobile: 07879 821 494

Posted 12/03/2003

DART 2003

The Diving and Research Technology conference will be held in Fort William on May 17th and 18th. This year's venue is the Underwater Centre, Fort William. The conference features leading speakers from the technical diving, deep wreck exploration, shipwreck research and cave diving fields. As well as the presentations many of the industry's leading companies will offer delegates the chance to try out their equipment in realistic deep water conditions. For more details visit 990 Magazine

Posted 12/03/2003

International Festival of the Sea

The International Festival of the Sea will be held in Leith, between May 23rd and May 26th 2003. The Festival is a maritime celebration on a grand scale. From the deepest ocean to the uppermost reaches of the estuary from fishing fleets to the study of the ocean floor it traces our relationship with the sea both past and present.

The harbour at Leith will be packed with vessels large and small sitting at anchor and creating a colourful backdrop to this maritime spectacular. The stars of the show, the great tall ships will line the quaysides around Western Harbour, giving visitors an opportunity to climb aboard, talk to the crews and get an idea at first hand of just what life at sea on board these great giants is all about. Invitations have been sent out to ships all over the world and include vessels such as Belgium’s sail training ship Zenobe Gramme and the Dutch Schooner Oosterschelde. The Royal Navy are attending the Festival with display teams and vessels and all the excitement they are famous for from abseiling from aircraft to chases across the harbour in raiding craft.

Ashore at the Festival exhibits will range from displays of model boats to areas where the visitor can find out more about marine sports from deep sea diving to sailing as well as educational stands that range from ecology to the marine trades. Particular attractions at the Festival have always been the traditional craftsmen, the knot tyers, boat builders, sail tanners and iron forgers who demonstrate their skills and provide an opportunity for the visitor to ‘have a go’.

The packed 12 hour daily entertainment programme will include musicians performing on the great ships and around the exhibition area; street performers and storytellers providing entertainment throughout the 12 hour programme each day; spectacular parades and marching bands such as the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. The local community will be encouraged to join in and under the expert guidance of professional designers will create giant puppets and masks as part of a colourful Nautical Parade. The spectacular finale at the end of each day will include music and sound effects that will ricochet around the harbour.

Day tickets cost £15 for adults and £7 for children available online from the SECC ticket orderline.

To find out more visit the International Festival of the Sea website

Posted 15/11/02

Try Dives at Musselburgh

There will be a trydive held at Musselburgh leisure pool on the 30th of April, for any one wishing to join Musselburgh Sub-Aqua Club. Please contact David Carruthers on 0131-449 3735 for details. Names to David by April 27th please.

Posted 09/04/2003

April Fool

The Sun's April Fool story - a scuba diving Scottie seems to have caught out They dont appear to have worked out the name of the dogs owner, Alf Lipoor, is a simple anagram!

Posted 01/04/2003

Click for larger imageMingary Castle Wreck

The Mingary Castle wreck may be the remains of a Dutch ship packed with munitions sent to destroy the castle, according to historian Nicholas Maclean-Bristol.

After trawling through local documents reaching back four centuries, Maclean-Bristol rediscovered the diary of a prisoner held in the castle 350 years ago. The diarist records the sinking of a Dutch vessel off the Ardnamurchan Peninsular in 1644.

The Mingary Castle wreck is the subject of the Wreck Detectives on Channel 4, March 27th 8-9pm and an article in the Scotsman "Mystery of ancient wreck gives historians something to mull over"

Posted 27/03/2003

The Wreck Detectives

New eight-part series on Channel 4, a team of experts investigate some of the historic shipwrecks that litter the British coastline, using marine archaeology, oceanography, historical research and the latest technology.

    1. 13th March, The Mystery Wreck of Alum Bay, Isle of Wight
    2. 20th March, The Earl of Abergavenny, Weymouth
    3. 27th March, The Mingary Castle Wreck, Sound of Mull
    4. 4th April, HMS Lawford, Normandy
    5. 10th April, Stirling Castle, Kent
    6. 17th April, Medieval Wrecks of St Peter Port, Guernsey
    7. 24th April, The Swan, Sound of Mull
    8. 1st May, HMS Hazardous, Enlish Channel

The Wreck Detectives is on Channel 4 at 8pm.

Posted 13/03/2003

Flares washed up on Arran Beach

Clyde Coastguard were called to Torrylinn Farm, on the south coast of the Isle of Arran after a report that various cylindrical objects had been discovered. The cylinders were described as waxy in texture and smelling of cetaline. These phosphorus flares were reported to have been located on the beach nearby.

Clyde Coastguard immediately dispatched the Arran Coastguard team to the scene to investigate whether there were any further cylinders, and so far 31 others have been discovered locally on the beach. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) from Faslane have been called to make the flares safe. Stuart Atkinson, Clyde Coastguard Watch Manager said: “Our concern remains that a member of the public might inadvertently pick one of these objects up and could put themselves in considerable danger given the possible instability of the flares after prolonged immersion in salt water. Our advice is not to touch them but to phone the Coastguard immediately by dialling 999 and reporting the location of the discovered flare. These flares can spontaneously ignite and cause severe burns.”

Posted 09/03/2003

'Sealegs' for RHIB owners

An enterprising New Zealander has invented a RHIB which gets round all the problems of launching and retrieving the boat from awkward launch sites. The RHIB has retractable 'legs' that end in all-terrain tyres. The boat can be driven into and out of the water, no more winching onto the trailer or waiting for your turn to launch! The only draw back is the cost - around £26,000 for a 4.7m RHIB although boats up to 8m are going into production.

Related Link

Posted 15/02/2003

Diver 'caused hazard to shipping'

An English diver appeared in court on Feb 14th accused of causing a hazard to shipping and a danger to Her Majesty's Dockyard. Anthony Hillgrove is said to have surfaced in the fairway approach to docks in Devonport, Plymouth in front of the Federal German Ship 'Niedersachsen', on January 12th. During the vessels approach to the dock, crew members spotted the diver directly in front of them in the fairway. The ship was forced to alter course and Mr Hillgrove was recovered from the water by police.

In his defence Mr Hillgrove told the court he had intended to surface in the shallows at the end of the dive but had been swept into the fairway by the flood tide whilst completing decompression stops. He said he had no intention of breaking the law but had to surface, he had no option. The court fined Mt Hillgrove £55 and granted an absolute discharge.

Posted 14/02/2003

Valentine's Day Bubbles....

A record 36 couples swopped the more usual mourning suit and wedding dresses for wetsuits and scuba kit when they were married in an underwater creremony at Kradan, Thailand. The mass wedding, on Valentine's Day, took place in 5 metres of water, the participants entered matrimony and the Guiness Book of World Records at one and the same time. The gin clear waters of the Andaman sea have attracted increasing numbers of divers to the annual event over the past three years and next year the organisers believe it will be even bigger.

Perhaps it will catch on in the Clyde?

Posted 14/02/2003

Canadian Coastguard Rescue Dive Team

The Canadian Coastguard have be given funding to form the first rescue dive team authorised to penetrate submerged vessels and vehicles. Following the capsize of a vessel last year, in which five people were killed, the Canadian Government has stumped up the cash to double the size of the existing dive rescue team. A long-standing federal policy has been overturned to allow penetration of stricken vessels in response to public and political pressure.

The current team of 12 divers will be doubled allowing a full team with back up to operate 24/7. A dive supervisor at the scene will be empowered to organise penetration dives in extreme circumstances. Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault stressed that the team would take safety extremely seriously. The team will be highly trained but the decision to enter a submerged vessel will not be automatic. Divers will only be allowed to enter a vessel if conditions at the scene allow a relatively 'safe' passage for the diver and there is a high probability of saving life.

The one million dollar annual price tag has prompted angry reactions from opposition politicians. The money is to be drawn from the already stretched Coastguard budget; no extra funds will be made available.

Related Links

Posted 11/02/2003

St Kilda, double whammy!

"The St Kilda archipelago, comprising the islands of Hirta, Dun, Soay and Boreray, with its spectacular landscapes along the coast of the Hebrides, includes some of the highest cliffs in Europe, which provide a refuge for impressive colonies of rare and endangered species of birds, especially puffins and gannets" - UNESCO

St Kilda was designated a World Heritage Site in 1986, it's precipitous cliffs provide nesting sites for a wide variety of sea birds, including many endangered species. This month the Scottish Parliament have a launched a campaign to get this amazing area listed again for it's unique marine environment and cultural significance.

In his introduction to the bid First Minister Jack McConnell said "Few who have been to St Kilda and stood in the village surrounded by the cries of a million sea-birds can fail to have been moved by the place and its story". If the islands are redesignated it will be one of only 23 places in the world that have been dual recognition by UNESCO, others include Ayer's Rock in Australia and Machu Pichu in Peru. It will take UNESCO around 18 months to decide whether or not the Islands should be listed second time.

Until the 1930's evacuation St Kilda was the most remote community in the UK, the Islands now belong to the National Trust who arrange regular working parties over the summer months. Apart from the National Trust Officers and their support team, some of the most frequent human visitors are boat loads of divers hoping to get an opportunity to dive the clear waters of the archipelago. The possibility of dual designation should be welcome news for any diver who has visited, or who hopes to visit this unique place.

Related Links

Posted 11/02/2003

Protection at last for Darwin Mounds?

Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley is committed to protecting the Darwin Mounds in the North Atlantic according to a spokesman from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Since the new Common Fisheries Policy came into effect on January 1st, EU member states can take positive action to protect endangered eco-systems.

The Darwin Mounds, discovered in 1998, are an area of cold water coral at a depth of 1000m located 100 miles off the north coast of Scotland. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature deep sea trawling practices have damaged the reefs, action now is the only way to prevent further damage or destruction of this unique marine habitat and the marine life it supports. In 2001 Margaret Beckett, then DEFRA minister, promised to protect the area, saying that the Darwin Mounds were top of the priority list for conservation. Since then no action has been taken, it is hoped that this recent announcement preceeds positive action to protect this import marine environment.

Related Links

Posted 10/02/2003

Loch Linnhe Fish Ranch

A massive artificial reef is being constructed in Loch Linnhe near Oban, the world's first in cold water. The experimental reef is made from 1,250,000 concrete blocks and has cost £1 million to build. The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) hope the reef will allow researchers to assess the role of large scale artificial reefs in addressing inshore fishing issues including:

  • The use of artificial reefs in fisheries protection and as a means of delineating fishery areas
  • The use of artificial reefs to enhance fish stocks through stock enhancement
  • The organisation, management and policing of community owned ranching facilities
  • Economic viability of artificial reefs as tools in fishery enhancement

SAMS have had to obtain special licenses to construct the reef after showing that the planned development is unlikely to cause harm to the environment or adversely affect anyone's livelihood. So far about a third of the reef has been constructed and already the scientists have recorded an increase in the numbers and diversity of species. Juvenile cod have been seen in increasing numbers around the reef, and lobsters in particular have taken a liking to the new habitat. Researchers believe the reef will eventually provide a sustainable resource for local fishermen, providing lobster and other shellfish but also sheltering young fish, allowing them a sheltered area in which to grow before venturing offshore. Allowing marine life to flourish naturally, rather than employing the intensive fish farming techniques so common on the West Coast, it may be possible to sustain both the sealife and the livelihood of local fishermen.

Learn more about the reef at the website of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, read the latest newspaper report "High hopes for Scottish fish ranch" on the Guardian newspaper site or check out the BBC online article 'Man-made reef could boost fish stocks'

Posted 03/02/2003

Portencross Project Website Changes

ThePortencross Project hasnt got off to a very good start this year, following a virus attack the site has changed it's address slightly and can now be found at

To add insult to injury the weather has played havoc with the first planned dives of the year, check out the forum for new dates and times.

Posted 29/01/2003

Training Schedule Changes

The new training schedule is now available on the training pages, there are some changes so please check out the web pages or download the document from the downloads sections. The changes to diving depths and pre-requisites for Branch Instructor training are listed below.

Diving Depths

    No deeper than 30m
    30 to 40m must be accompanied by a Master Diver Instructor, or hold a suitable qualification to do so.
    No deeper than 40m
    40 to 50m must have permission from the Regional Coach, or hold a suitable qualification to do so.
    This is the highest diving award and SSAC recommend a PPO2 of 1.4bar, this gives a depth of 57m on air.

Branch Instructor Requirements

  1. Hold current membership of the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club (SSAC).
  2. Have been a SSAC Sports Diver for at least eighteen months.
  3. Hold a current medical certificate.
  4. Be aged 18 or over (unless recommended by Regional Coach).
  5. Have a minimum of 75 correctly logged dives.
  6. Have completed the Master Diver 'dive leader' endorsement.
  7. Have the recommendation of the Branch Diving Officer (BDO) preferably endorsed by the Regional Coach (RC). Candidates recommended by 'Acting' BDOs must have the endorsement of the Regional Coach.
  8. Have attended the Master Diver lectures on Safety and Emergency Procedures and Advanced Decompression Theory.
  9. Complete the one-day SSAC Branch Instructor Course organised by the BI co-ordinator or NDC.
  10. Complete a practical pool session of at least two one-hour sessions assessed by the Regional Coach and Diving Officer
  11. Complete a practical open water assessment, assessed by Regional Coach and Diving Officer.

1 to 8 must be completed before attending the BI course.

Please note: the NDC recommend that for 30m and deeper you have an independent air supply, twin cyclinders or a pony cylinder.

Posted 03/01/2003

RIBEX International Boat Show 2003 - Cancelled!

Thinking about buying a new RIB? Then this is the show for you even though it's a bit of a treck! RIBEX 2003 takes place between May 16th and 18th at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth. Open between 10am and 6pm each day. It is the only show in the world dedicated to the Rigid Inflatable Boat and its associated array of equipment.

RIBEX is much more than a static exhibition, it truly is a show which educates, informs and entertains by means of its seminars, displays and interactive demonstrations. It is the annual meeting point for the rib industry and thousands of enthusiasts who attend from all around the world. RIBEX is very much an on water show with some 80 craft available for immediate sea trialing. Access to the open water is excellent and means that purchasers of these craft, be they professional or private, can evaluate each RIB or engine system one against the other - a unique opportunity indeed. Clothing, electronics, engines, accessories, special exhibits, and a whole lot more, go towards making this a truly focused event. Dates for this years show have only just been announced and the website hasnt (at present) been updated for 2003, no doubt it soon will be, keep an eye on

Posted 16/11/02

SSAC 50th Anniversary Ceilidh

To kick off Scotsac's 50th celebrations we have organised a Ceilidh on Saturday 29th March. This is the weekend of Dive Scotland the Scottish dive show. The Ceilidh is being held in the Quality Central Hotel which is less than a mile from the SSEC where the dive show is being held. Ceilidh tickets are priced £20 and there are fantastic rates for the hotel, £35 for a double room and £25 for a single. Tickets are selling fast many taking advantage of these attractive rates to have a day at the dive show enjoy the ceilidh and travel home next day. You can download a booking form here and send it to Scotsac HQ with your remittance for tickets then phone the hotel and book your room. You don't have to be a member of Scotsac, BSAC, SAA, or PADI or any other we just want people to have a good time and help us celebrate our birthday.

The Show itself is a great opportunity to hear presentations from top speakers, find out what's new in dive gear, publications and holiday destinations. The try-dive pool will be available so why not bring along a non-diver and introduce them to your sport? Tickets for the Dive Show cost £6 in advance or £8 on the door. Get your ticket by phone on 020 8977 9878 or online at

Posted 27/02/2003

50th Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting will take place on Sunday, 2nd March 2003, in the Logie Theatre, Stirling University. Doors open 12.45pm, all SSAC members are invited to attend, only members who are fully paid up for the current year are entitled to vote, please bring your current certificate of membership with you.

How to get there






    Chairman's Welcome

    Ken Smith


    Adoption of 2002 AGM minutes

    Ken Smith


    Chairman's Report

    Ken Smith


    Treasurer's Report

    Drew Stevenson


    Secretary's Report

    Bill Beattie


    Adoption of 2002 A/C's
    Appointment of Auditors

    Drew Stevenson


    National Diving Officer's Report

    Robert Ronaldson





    Questions to Office Bearers



    Election of Office Bearers for 2003/2004



    Adoption of Motions








Posted 15/02/2003

Exercise Bounty Bay

A real treat for anyone interested in wreck diving. Exercise Bounty Bay starts on January 13th, not the most auspicious of dates but at least it isn't a Friday. A Joint Service Scientific Diving Expedition to Pitcairn Island, South Pacific Ocean will dive the remains of the infamous ‘Bounty’ and other wrecks on and around the islands of Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno.

You can follow the teams' progress live on the web at

How the Bounty got to Pitcairn Island

Photo: Replica of the BountyHis Majesty's Armed Vessel (HMAV) Bounty set sail from London on 23rd December 1787, her mission was to collect breadfruit tree saplings from Tahiti and transport them to the West Indies. The trees were intended to provide a cheap food source for the many slaves kept on the British owned plantations in the area. The ship's captain was Lieutenant William Bligh, second in command was Fletcher Christian. After a difficult passage the vessel arrived in Tahiti 10 months later and successfully collected the saplings. To avoid the cyclone season the Bounty remained in Tahiti a further 5 months and finally set sail for the West Indies on 4th April 1789.

Twenty-four days later members of the crew, led by Fletcher Christian, mutinied setting Bligh and 18 members of the ship's crew adrift in the Bounty's launch with few supplies and little hope of survival. The Bounty returned to Tahiti but the mutineers were unable to settle there. The Navy sent HMS Pandora to arrest the mutineers and return them to England to face trial, but by the time the Pandora arrived Christian had fled taking several Tahitian Islanders and eight of the original mutineers in search of a safe haven. The fugitives first settled on Tubuai but skirmishes with the local inhabitants persuaded them to seek an island far from the known shipping routes where their presence could be kept secret from the world. After two months of searching Christian sailed the Bounty to Pitcairn Island where vessel was stripped of useful equipment, then dragged inshore and burnt for fear that she would be spotted and give away their settlement.

Despite their idyllic surroundings life on Pitcairn was far from peaceful. In 1808, when Europeans discovered the settlement, only one of the mutineers was still alive along with the Tahitian women who had accompanied them and their children. The male Tahitians and the other mutineers died in violent circumstances. Fletcher Christian died only four years after founding the Pitcairn community.

Further Information

Posted 12/01/2003

Dive with Sharks for Charity

Mike Kerr, Sports Diver with Pentland Branch, is organising a charity dive with sharks in aid of Cancer Research UK and is looking for divers who wish to take part. There are 10 places left at present.

A minimum of £55.00 is needed to cover dive costs, any amount above that raised will go toward Cancer Research. Participants must hold a Sports Diver qualification, or above, and have a minimum of 20 open water dives logged. Divers must supply all of thier own kit.

Please contact for more details. The dive will be on Wednesday 12/02/2003 @ 6.00pm.

Posted 08/11/02


Glasgow South have launched a forum for diving (and biking). Why not pop by for a chinwag, all welcome at

Posted 03/01/2003

Bo'ness Divers Boot Sale

Bo'ness Branch are holding a Divers Boot Sale on February 10th at the Bo'ness Recreation Centre. You can book a table / space through Barry Nelson (01506 880030) for £3, all proceeds will go to the RNLI. All divers are welcome, not just SSAC members so why not take this opportunity to sell any unwanted equipment you have to someone who can put it to good use? The sale takes place between 8pm and 10pm and the pool will be available from 8.30 to 10pm to try out equipment.

Posted 28/12/2002

"Diving With a Purpose" Launch

'Diving with a purpose' is the overall title of several projects run by the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) and aimed at encouraging divers and non-divers to record sites around the coast of the UK. The launch of this initiative in Scotland will take place on Saturday, 18th January 2003 between 10.30am and 3pm at the headquarters of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), 16 Bernard Terrace, Edinburgh (click here for a map).

Speakers will include;

  • Bobby Forbes of the ScapaMap Project
  • Philip Robertson of the Lochaline Dive Centre, Diving with a Purpose in the Sound of Mull

There will also be a workshop on development of "Diving with a Purpose" in Scotland. For more details contact;

NAS Scotland,
Lochaline Dive Centre,

Tel & Fax: 01967 421627

Or download the flyer here (This document is in pdf format, to open of download the flyer you need Adobe Acrobat Reader, available free of charge from the Adobe website)

Background Information
The 'Diving with a Purpose' project aims to provide information about maritime sites around the UK for a number of reasons:

  • To add information to the records of various organisations.
  • To provide additional information on a variety of maritime sites for members of the general public.
  • To enhance the understanding and appreciation of our maritime heritage by all.
  • To help divers get more enjoyment out of their sport.
  • To help understand the impact we are having on our maritime heritage.

NAS is working with a number of organisations to get the 'project' up and running including:

Archaeological Need
Archaeologists know very little about many of the wrecks that are regularly dived by sport divers. Even the precise location of wrecks is often unknown. It is also important to begin to understand how sites and wrecks are changing. Many wrecks are beginning to break up and we are losing the opportunity of recording them before they finally collapse. After the point of collapse it might be much more difficult to record these sites. In many cases the only evidence for industrial technological change, or changes in ship design lie on the seabed. It is often a misconception that we possess written records and plans of modern wreck.

Dive Slate
The NAS have produced a dive slate to encourage divers to observe and record their chosen wrecks. The slate can be used on a casual basis, to record details of a dive in your logbook. All the NAS ask is that you send a copy of the information to them. This can be done in any format you want, e.g. a photocopy of your slate, or an email. Ultimately there will be a data-base into which divers will be able to enter information directly. If you have a particular interest and want to take on the full recording of a site you can 'Adopt a Wreck'.

'Adopt a Wreck'
This is aimed at those groups, clubs or individuals who regularly dive a site, and have developed more than a passing interest and are keen to get involved in research or site survey. This scheme will appeal to those wanting to take on a club project which will have a genuine scientific outcome. Information resulting from these projects will then be passed, with the name of the contributer, to the appropriate agency.

Posted 08/11/02