News Archive 2005

General Diving News

ScotSAC News


Candidate Profiles for Election to the GC and NDC for 2006-2007

Candidates for the 2006-2007 SSAC General Committee (GC) and National Diving Council (NDC) have provided the following information to support their nominations. Ballot papers were enclosed with the Jan/Feb edition of Scottish Diver.

If you misplace your ballot paper, please contact SSAC HQ for an additional copy. All votes must be received at HQ by January 31, 2006. Successful candidates will take post from the AGM in March 2006

Candidates for the GC

Chairman: Jack Morrison and Ken Smith

NDO: Kevin Miller and Kevin Webb

Secretary: Andy Murray and Bill Beattie

 

Candidates for the NDC


Chairman

The two candidates for Chairman in 2006-2007 are Jack Morrison and Ken Smith.

Jack Morrison (Clydebank)

My name is Jack Morrison and I am standing for the position of Chairman of the SSAC. I have been a member of SSAC since 1961 and am a Master Diver and Branch Instructor. I have served on SSAC committees for many years including Vice Chair, Expedition Officer and a member of the first NDC. At branch level I have served as Chairman, Diving Officer and Equipment Officer. On the General Committee, I currently hold the position of Editor of Scottish Diver and have performed this role for many years. My role as Editor has brought me into contact with a great number of divers throughout SSAC and other organisations. This has given me the opportunity to raise the profile of SSAC within the diving community, and stay in touch with current issues affecting clubs. In addition, I have also been involved in a number of projects including the new 3 year development plan, leading on the proposal for SSAC Ltd and liaising with SportScotland advisors.

My main diving interest is photography but I am also passionate about conservation and protecting the rich marine environment around our coast.

Why do I want to be chairman? Basically my slogan would be “I want to put the fun back into diving” In my opinion we have lost touch with the membership and we need to address that. We need to find out through talking to branches and members what they need and try to provide it, they are not the enemy. If we become incorporated we need to take more seriously how we recruit GC members. It’s no good turning up at the AGM and hoping someone will volunteer. As chairman I see it as part of my job to go out and look for people with expertise who can offer SSAC skills and experience to improve the running of the club. I am not that naïve to think we can take all the politics out of the club, but by adopting a more professional approach we can minimise it. Only then can SSAC move forward and become a better organisation with more social events and a friendlier attitude toward our fellow divers. Like you I just want to go diving and have fun.

Jack Morrison.

Ken Smith (West Lothian)

I’m Ken Smith, the current Chair of the SSAC, a post I’ve had the privilege to hold for the past three years.

Who is Ken Smith? A Master diver, Regional Coach and BI course co-ordinator, along with Joe Campbell & Frank Connor.

What makes me a good chair? In my opinion I’m impartial, honest, and trustworthy. Hopefully respected and have ScotSAC and our member’s interests as my core motivators. Tasks I do delegate with the correct level of authority and I‘m not afraid to take difficult decisions, which benefit the club over individuals wishes. At the risk of self-flattery I consider myself an articulate leader that listens to the committees and acts based upon what is best for the SSAC and the membership.

I think I respond well to pressure and weigh up all the facts to get a consensus of opinion on the “right way” to steer the club. With our partners and other diving organisations I’ve worked to maximise our profile and with our suppliers get the best value for the club and members. I am able to get the committees that you elect to work together for the benefit of all the membership, reinforcing the ethos and ideals of the SSAC founding members whilst looking to the future development of the SSAC.

So what have I added to the SSAC? A now truly democratic and transparent committee with shared areas of responsibility. We have given you: the Diving manual, organised the 50th celebrations, a suite of policies giving us a more professional standing. This has generated a vision for the next three-year and a template for future committees to work with so we will have evolution not revolution each time a committee changes, protecting the membership and the club.

Bill Beattie, GC Secretary, and I have worked hard behind the scenes with SportScotland and the Scottish Sports Association to raise ScotSAC’s profile and build relationships that underpin our organisation at the highest level. Working alongside Kevin Webb to develop closer ties with the BSAC & SAA driving our sport forward whilst maintaining safety and we’ve brought the GC and NDC into a closer working relationship.

“Making a decision is easy, making the right one is more difficult”

It is down to you, the member, to vote on your clubs future. Please make your vote count and if elected I look forward to serving you in 2006.

Ken Smith.


National Diving Officer

Kevin Miller and Kevin Webb are standing for the position of National Diving Officer.

Kevin Miller (Strathclyde University)

Qualification; Master Diver, Regional Instructor.

I qualified as a Sports Diver (3rd class) in 1994 within Clydebank Branch under the guidance of a number of people who gave both their time, patience and commitment to me.

It was the commitment and dedication of those people who trained me to dive, which made me decide to give something back to the organisation 'Scotsac' without whom I would possibly never have taken the time to learn to dive.

The Branch Diving Officer approached me at a time when they were looking for a replacement to undertake a BI course and obtaining this qualification and to undertake the role as BDO for which I held for two years. During this period I undertook the Regional Instructors course and successfully gained my position as a R.I. During this time I was approached to serve on the NDC and was given the role as secretary and Regional Coach to a number of Branches.

During my first spell on the NDC I was tasked with the organisation of the Summer Solstice Dive and the organisation of the BDO's conference in Oban. Both of which proved to be a success and were repeated the following year/s. I have served on the NDC on two occasions and held the position as Assistant NDO and for a brief period National Coach. I also was the course Director of the BI course and pleased to say have been instrumental to seeing a number of the candidates achieve this award and contribute to the development of our Branch structure.

In addition to playing an active role within the NDC I was also tasked with the responsibility of conducting the ‘Road Show’ taking the ‘Try a Dive’ pool to a number of events all of which have proved to be successful and personally rewarding.

Having served under three NDO's I believe I have a good understanding of what is required for the position as National Diving Officer and have a real commitment to listening to the members and looking at where the developmental needs are for the 21st Century.

I do not believe or presume to have all the answers to many of the questions raised by members, but should I be successful in obtaining the position as NDO. I sincerely hope you the members will support me in the leadership and development of the sport for which we all love to take part in.

Kevin Miller.

Kevin Webb (Carlisle)

Despite living the “wrong” side of the border, I would like to think I have served the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club well over the past few years, notably as NDO. I am, primarily, a diver: that is what I joined for, that is what I want to see as our chief focus; to make sure the activity can progress, with all the advances being made in equipment – and an increasingly regulated environment – I am keen to maintain our status as a Club that promotes modern, safe diving practices.

The NDC has undertaken a series of reviews of elements of our training, and while not advocating change for change’s sake, I would suggest that doing nothing is not an option: stagnation can easily result in regression. At present the focus is on the “building blocks” of our Instructor system: the BI and RI awards; much consultation and planning is required to ensure that both courses deliver the desired outcomes at the correct levels, to avoid unnecessary duplication, whilst at the same time training candidates to a level appropriate for their intended sphere of activity.

In leading and monitoring these reviews I rely, of course, on the wealth of experience of others, particularly those on the NDC. An Examiner myself, I also find it helpful to be able to tap into the fund of information available from other Examiners, not least when it comes to trying to reinvent the wheel – it’s amazing how many “new” ideas have been tried (and possibly failed) before!

I have maintained, and built upon, the links forged by my predecessors with other dive organizations and bodies that have a direct bearing on our activities – my work as an Auxiliary Coastguard, for example, not only gives me another boat to play with, but also keeps me abreast of how we can encourage safe diving practices without unnecessary paperwork.

I would like to think that I have an effective working relationship with our governing body, the General Committee; this is, I feel, vital in view of the major changes emerging for the nature of the Club – and the increasingly stringent financial budgets we have to work within (as my wife constantly reminds me…).

I may not be able to spell for toffee – but I can dive, drive, and travel the length and breadth of Scotland to serve the interests of the membership for another term, if you allow me to do so.

Kevin Webb.


Secretary

Nominees for the post of Secretary are Andy Murray and Bill Beattie.

Andy Murray (Strathclyde University)

My name is Andy Murray and I am standing for the role of Secretary of the SSAC. I have been a member of SSAC for over 9 years and have held the position of Diving Officer in my branch for 4 years. I am a Master Diver and a Regional Instructor and enjoy not only diving, but teaching divers of all levels.

I have already served on the General Committee for two years and have been involved in a number of activities. This has included the recent construction of a 3 year development plan together with the current Editor, Jack Morrison. I have established a new communication process ‘Have Your Say’, which allows members to ask a range of direct questions to the GC or NDC. This appears to be popular with members and is improving communication. In addition to my GC role, I have been a contributing editor to Scottish Diver magazine for some time. I have worked closely with the current Editor and nominee for future Chairman. I hope I get the opportunity to work with Jack in our new roles to further serve the membership.

Communication is key to success. Without good communication, an organisation cannot develop. The ‘Have Your Say’ is only the first of many new communication options we have with the membership. I have already developed a new member consultation process to be launched in 2006. One of the prime roles of the Secretary is to maintain the communication between the branches and GC, something that has not been maximised in the past. I have already performed some of the Secretary responsibilities over the last year by producing GC meeting minutes and been involved in some external consultations.

As we move forward and propose the incorporation of SSAC, the role of Secretary will change to that of a Company Secretary. Through my professional background, I believe I have the knowledge and skills to enable this transition and hope to have the opportunity to enable SSAC to move forward.

I would urge all members to make their voice heard, and consider voting during this very busy election period.

Andy Murray.

Bill Beattie (Larkhall)

My name is Bill Beattie; I have been the General Committee Secretary now for 3 years, before that I was an ordinary committee member. I have been a ScotSAC member for 8 years; I was also a member of Cumbernauld branch in 1976. Currently I am the Diving Officer for Larkhall branch, where contrary to rumours red and blue drysuits are not compulsory, only preferred. I have a Master diver and Branch Instructor qualification, dive and instruct regularly and have the dubious distinction of being the first ScotSAC member to have a successful PFO closure. One badge I don’t really recommend.

I came on post as secretary at the same time as Ken Smith our current chair. It became immediately apparent that we had our work cut out. Besides the usual stuff the GC deals with, we had the new diving manual to complete and the 50th anniversary celebrations to organise. Sub-committees were set up to deal with this and to spread the workload. This was a definite departure from the old committee where the chair and the secretary made the bulk of the decisions. Now every member is actively involved and given a specific remit. Meetings are now held regularly on a monthly basis with myself taking (and deciphering) the minutes and dealing with correspondence.

Over the past few years it has become apparent that most important issue that could affect the running of ScotSAC is lack of funding. Our 15K Sportscotland grant heavily subsidises the running of our club, however, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain this level of grant funding against the more popularly funded “competitive sports” governing bodies. In an effort to address this and improve governance of our sport, the committee participated in the “Modern Sport” weekend hosted by Sportscotland. In addition to this I have personally tried to raise ScotSAC’s profile and fly our flag by attending as many other Sportscotland and the Scottish Sports Association meetings with Ken Smith as possible. It is particularly gratifying to see ScotSAC name on the agenda along with the giants of Scottish Rugby and Athletics. We have certainly made some useful allies.

ScotSAC as an organisation needs to adapt and evolve to meet these challenges; we have to become a much more “professional” organisation. Important decisions have to be made to underpin our club future, many of which need to be made soon. I hope that my involvement in the committee has gone some way to fulfil these and has been one of commitment and integrity. It’s important that I am re-elected as secretary for the continuity of the committee to effect these changes which I believe will be for the benefit of us all.

It’s great to put something back into the sport that has given me so much fun.

Bill Beattie.


Candidates for the National Diving Council
Bert Smith (Reivers)

For those that don’t know me, my name is Albert Smith, but most people that do call me Bert, or other things when l am not about. I have been asked to let the membership know a little about myself, as someone has nominated me to assist and serve on the NDC.

I am 58 years young, having spent 26 years in the armed forces, got to get about a bit, was sent around the world to see exotic places and meet interesting people. Having been a diver Commercial and Sport for a few of those years, actually tried it in the mid 70’s and never got around to stopping, I would say its probably the love of my life “apart from my good lady.” (better say that or l will be in the poo). Having finished with the Services l decided to set up my own Diving Company, the company is called Scottish Diving Supplies and Services, supplying the commercial and sport diving industry.

I first became a member of Scotsac in 1994 having been involved with BSAC prior to that, but living in Scotland. I thought l should give those my support. I have the privilege at the moment of being the Branch Diving Officer of Reivers Sub Aqua Club here in Dumfries.

I am currently the course co-ordinator for the Heartstart, Oxygen Administration and First Aid courses, I assist the NDC as one of their Regional Instructors and run the afore said courses at HQ and various club locations as and when they are needed. My latest task is to put a course together, Basic and Advanced on Wreck Exploration.

Well that’s me if you want to help your club fill in the enclosed paperwork and send it back, make your nomination count, whoever gets the job they will work to your club better.

Bert Smith.

Graeme Forsyth (Johnstone)

I have been a Branch Instructor for 6 years, a Regional Instructor for 2 years and an NDC member for the past 3 Years. I was also BDO for Johnstone branch and a Regional Coach as well as Deep Diving Director until unfortunate circumstances and work commitments forced me to give up these positions earlier this year.

I am standing for a position on the NDC this year as I now have time to commit myself to this position. I will be pushing for and volunteering for more courses for the members, this includes the new courses such as Junior Snorkel Award and Deep Diving Award.

I would also like to bring the "fun element" and social aspects to the foremost with the club but still maintain our outstanding safety record by scrutinising and updating our existing courses and training programme as and when necessary.

I look forward to being elected onto the NDC this coming year and being able, once again to give my time, effort and experience back to the club.

Graeme Forsyth.

Hugh Fraser (Pentland)

I have been a member of SSAC for ten years and trained and qualified with SSAC up to Master Diver level. I'm now a Regional Instructor and I was elected onto the NDC at last years AGM.

I'm a great believer in the SSAC Training Schedule and present grades. There are bits of the schedule that need updating but just what's necessary to catch up with modern methods equipment and practises. If it's not broken, why fix it? Go on holiday to some of the exotic dive locations that are being dived these days, show your Logbook and Training Schedule and look at the reaction. A newly qualified Sport Diver is usually far more experienced than some others in the group.

It's the responsibility of the NDC to ensure that this high standard is kept. Things are constantly being improved and upgraded and this needs an active and committed NDC. SSAC has an excellent training and safety record. The NDC has the responsibility of making sure that this is kept up. I'm prepared to carry on, if elected and do what I can to help keep standards high.

Hugh Fraser.

Kevin Watson (Pentland)

I have been a member of SSAC since 1987. I started my dive training with Midlothian, and later went on to become a founder member of Pentland SAC. I have held various posts within Pentland, including the position of Diving Officer for 8½ years. I have held positions on the General Committee for 4 years, although most people probably know me from my activities as an active Regional Coach in 4 out of the past 5 years. I have previously been a member of the NDC for a 2 year period under Rab Ronaldson, during which time I was involved in running a number of courses and organising events. As a 1 st Class club examiner I feel I have a lot to offer the NDC in terms of experience and time.

Over the past two years I have been disappointed in the lack of regional coach cover for branches, and number of courses being run. I am keen to help rectify this problem as well as encouraging better communication between other diving agencies.

I have worked with Kevin Miller for the last 6 years and believe that together we would make a strong team which could take SSAC forward without all the petty squabbling which has taken place over the past 2 years. I believe the membership is interested in courses and support, not club politics. We need to get back to the high standards we had in previous years and deliver to the membership rather than making empty promises.

Kevin Watson.

Marion Brown (Forth Valley)

I have over 20 years experience as a diver and have been involved with training since qualifying as an Instructor 20 years ago.

I began diving in the warm waters of the Middle East but was hooked enough to continue diving Scottish waters in a wetsuit during my first winter back here! When cold, dark water and low visibility had not turned me off; I invested in a drysuit and continue to be an active club diver.

I have filled a variety of positions at club level – treasurer, training officer and most recently BDO, until stepping down prior to our AGM. During that time our club members opted to join SSAC as we wanted to be with an organisation which emphasised the “club” system.

Having previously been a member of another dive organisation, and having dived in many parts of the world with variously qualified divers from many other training organisations, I am convinced that a strong club system delivers the best training. However, that puts the onus on us to keep training skills relevant and abreast of changes as they develop e.g. with equipment and safety issues, and always be ready to adopt current “best practice”. Some standardisation of lecture content and examinations would help this.

I would also be interested in reviewing the move towards an intermediate qualification, before Sport Diver which was being worked on 2 years ago. Gaining this earlier qualification can allow novice divers opportunities to gain open water experience accompanied by suitably qualified club members also takes some of the pressure off hard pressed Instructors. In turn, Instructors would have more time to accompany Sport Divers on more challenging dives, thereby building that group’s experience. An additional bonus might be that the SSAC would retain more of these divers who presently drop out of our clubs.

I have put myself forward for a position on the NDC as I feel strongly committed to promoting the club system; delivering training which enables our members to undertake diving in safety through understanding.

Being retired, I have a reasonable amount of free time which I could devote to NDC business.

Marion Brown.

Martin Henderson (Coatbridge)

My name is Marty Henderson and I have been asked to put a profile through for myself for the magazine to let the members of the SSAC know why I feel I should be an elected member of the NDC.

Well I have been a member of the SSAC since 1983. In that time I have been the Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Equipment Officer and Diving Officer (for ten years) within the Coatbridge SAC

I am now an active (non elected) member of the NDC working for the members of the SSAC. Both myself and Tony Carter paid to put ourselves through the RYA GMDSS Assessor Course to allow us to run the new VHF course and save the members of SSAC money on this course as now we don't have to pay for Assessors from the RYA to come to our course and complete the final exam for the course.

I am more than willing to use up my spare time on a voluntary basis for the good of the SSAC. The present NDO and I have been in discussions over the last month or so about me getting involved with at least one other course so, as you can see I have been busy working on the NDC.

This is my second time on the NDC, the first time I was involved I assisted on the Nitrox course and also the Oxygen Administration and Heartstart UK courses, unfortunately due to personnel circumstances I had to resign from my post as a regional coach.

I hope you can see how hard I work and understand why I feel I should be an elected member of the NDC.

Marty Henderson.

Tony Carter (Larkhall)

First and foremost I am a diver: Finnart or the Red Sea, St Kilda or St Abbs, it really doesn’t matter - I just enjoy taking part in the sport on a (very) regular basis, diving at least once a week, preferably from my RIB (but when I get that converted trawler…!). It is a sport, and I believe passionately that we must never lose sight of the sheer enjoyment that can be had from the variety of underwater experiences available on our door step; I have hours of videotape shot in an attempt to capture the fascinating life available for all to enjoy in a lochs near us.

Of course, safety standards cannot be compromised, which means monitoring standards, as well as adapting to advances on the world of diving: in this regard I have a track record stretching back many years. I am an Examiner and Regional Coach of long standing, recently appointed one of two Senior Coaches. I train and assess all manner and abilities of divers in pool and open water within and outwith Larkhall Branch, and have been a regular member of the NDC team, under several NDOs and for the past 2 years a member of GC.

In addition to giving advice based on experience, I have taken an active part in developing and manning many specific areas of diving practice, notably H & S policy, BI, RI and NI courses and, especially, running the VHF and boat handling courses; the latter not only involves delivering (original) course material and practical sessions but also liaising with other national bodies in, for instance, an attempt to keep us (SSAC) from being set “standards” of practice that might be totally unrealistic for the Scottish diving scene.

As First Class diver, I am determined to keep the SSAC as an organisation at the forefront of dive training, practice – and enjoyment.

Tony Carter

Posted 26/12/05

Drysuit Endorsement Training Schedule

INTRODUCTION
Training may be carried out by a Branch Instructor who holds the drysuit endorsement. Assessment may not be carried out by the person who provided instruction.

PREREQUISITES
Candidates for the drysuit endorsement should;

  • Hold current membership of the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club.
  • Hold a current medical certificate
  • Have completed Sport Diver aqualung training, or as a minimum, have completed the Sport Diver rescue and air share exercise in open water.
  • Attend a lecture entitled "The use, operation and care of dry suits".

POOL TRAINING

  • Fit all equipment, including undersuit if worn.
  • Demonstrate correct adjustment of buoyancy at the surface i.e. with zero buoyancy in the candidate's suit and BC, demonstrate that the candidate is no more than 3kg negatively buoyant on the surface.
  • Demonstrate the correct operation of inflation and deflation valves by providing good positive buoyancy, then deflating the suit ready to dive.
  • Where the simulated dive has not been carried out then a full simulated dive is to be carried out and is to include recovery from a buoyant feet up position. Where the diver has progressed past the simulated dive then an exercise is to be carried out which includes the demonstration of depth and buoyancy control, air sharing, life saving and a recovery from the buoyant feet up position.
  • The Assessor is to flood the subject's dry suit by opening the zip approximately 30cm. The suit is to be allowed to flood as much as possible. The candidate is then to return to the surface in a controlled manner. The weight belt may be removed if necessary.

OPEN WATER TRAINING

  • Open water training shall only be carried out on successful completion of the pool assessment.
  • Fit all normally used diving equipment.
  • Demonstrate correct adjustment of buoyancy at the surface, that is with zero buoyancy in the candidate's suit and BC, demonstrate that the candidate is no more than 3kg negatively buoyant on the surface.
  • Dive to the bottom of a heavy shot line in 10m, adjust buoyancy to neutral. The candidate is to remain close to the shot line in order to maintain position should buoyancy become too positive.
  • Carry out a dive in which the performance and buoyancy control of the candidate is tested. This exercise should include; several depth/buoyancy adjustments, air sharing, a simulated decompression stop, and a simulated rescue. The depth of the dive is not to exceed 10m.
  • At a depth of not more than 15m dump all possible air from the suit, establish neutral buoyancy using the BC/ABLJ/SJ and make a controlled ascent.
  • On the surface recover from a buoyant feet up position.

ASSESSMENTS
Repeat the exercises specified in both pool and open water training sections to the satisfaction of an assessor.

Kevin Webb, NDO


This schedule is also available on the Training pages.

Posted 23/12/05

SSAC Diving Officer's Conference, 2006
Saturday 18th February, 2006
Royal Hotel, Oban

The 2006 SSAC Diving Officer's Conference will take place at the Royal Hotel in Oban on Saturday, 18th February 2006. All Branch Diving Officers are invited to attend.

The Royal Hotel is situated in Argyll Square at the centre of Oban. 12 single rooms are available and 79 twin/doubles, all rooms are ensuite. The SSAC DO's conference rate is £32 pppn for bed and breakfast, or £47pppn for dinner, bed and breakfast - please mention SSAC when you book to ensure the special rate.

For more information about the hotel visit the Strathmore Hotels website where you can book online, alternatively you can boook via email salesroyaloban@strathmorehotels.com or telephone on 01631 563021.

Posted 20/12/05

SSAC Training Development Plan for 2006

National Instructor Development
The NDC aim to train and qualify the following number of instructors by the end of 2006.

Course

Target no. qualified
by end 2006

Branch Instructor

> 24

Regional Instructor

> 6

Examiner

> 1

National Courses
The NDC aim to deliver the following courses during 2006.

Course

No. courses to be
delivered during 2006

Branch Instructor

6

Regional Instructor

2

Examiner

1

1st Class

1

Boathandling

3

VHF/GMDSS

3

Heartstart/ Oxygen
Administration

6

Diver First Aid

6

Deep Diving

2

Courses Under Development
The NDC continue to work on the development of new courses including;

  • Nitrox
  • Junior Snorkeller
  • HeartStart / O2 Refresher
  • Underwater Archaeology
  • First Aid Refresher

The NDC aim to have dates available for all of these courses during 2006.

Endorsements
During 2006 Regional Coaches will actively promote the SSAC drysuit endorsement and the deep rescue endorsement.

The drysuit endorsement is for any SSAC member who uses a drysuit and takes part in open water dives. The deep rescue endorsement is for experienced Sport Divers and above, it is a prerequisite for the deep diving award.

Training Weekends
The NDC will develop focused training weekends to be held during 2006. Sport Diver or Master Diver training weekends will consist of one full day of lectures followed by a day of in-water training.

The NDC aim to hold two Sport Diver and two Master Diver training weekends during 2006. Dates and locations will be announced on this site and in Scottish Diver.

Diving Officer’s Conference
The DOs' Conference will be held at the Royal Hotel in Oban, on 18th February 2006. This one-day event will include; talks, lectures and a detailed discussion on the training schedule. Further details will be available soon after Christmas.

And what about diving?
In 2006 the NDC would like to see more social diving across the organisation, after all that’s what it's all about. To this end the Solstice Dive and Treasure Hunt will be reinstated.

If you have any queries or suggestions please do not hesitate to contact me either via or on 07774 218013.

Kevin Webb, NDO

Posted 20/12/05

Branch Instructor Course
SSAC HQ, February 25th 2006

Places are available on the Branch Instructor Course to be held at HQ on February 25th, 2006. To take part in the course you should;

  • Hold current membership of the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club.
  • Have been a SSAC Sports Diver for at least eighteen months
  • Hold a current medical certificate.
  • Be aged 18 or over (unless recommended by RC).
  • Have at least 75 correctly logged dives.
  • Have completed the Master Diver 'dive leader' endorsement.
  • Have attended the Master Diver lectures on Safety and Emergency Procedures and Advanced Decompression Theory.
  • Have the recommendation of your Branch Diving Officer (BDO) preferably endorsed by the Regional Coach (RC). Candidates recommended by "Acting" BDO's must have the endorsement of the Regional Coach.

In addition to the one day training course, successful candidtates will also be required to;

  • Complete a Lecture assessment under supervision of their Diving Officer and Regional Coach or nominated R.I.
  • Complete a practical pool session of at least two one-hour sessions under supervision of their Diving Officer and Regional Coach or nominated R.I.
  • Complete 2 practical open water sessions under supervision of their Diving Officer and Regional Coach or nominated R.I

If you would like a place on this course, download and complete the booking form and return it with a 50% deposit to;

The Scottish Sub Aqua Club, The Cockburn Centre, 40 Bogmoor Place, Glasgow, G51 4TQ.

Ken Smith, Course Director.

Posted 14/12/05

Open Forum on Change of Status to a Company Limited by Guarantee
Wednesday, February 1, 2006 at 7.30pm
James Weir Building, Montrose Street, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

The Purpose of this consultation is to discuss the Draft Memorandum, Articles of Association and Bye-laws for the proposed change of status to the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club, a company limited by guarantee. Prior to the meeting SSAC members will receive a copy of these documents. Alan Grosset who has prepared the Bye-laws will be present to explain and answer any questions you may have in regard of these documents, and about why we should become a company limited by guarantee. The meeting will be held in room M420 on the fourth floor of the James Weir Building, Montrose Street, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, G1 1XJ. Enter the building via the main entrance and proceed to the second floor. Room 226 is located at the far end of the building and signs will lead the way.

This is your opportunity to find out more about the future direction of the Club and whether you think it is the right one. Please attend this meeting if you have strong feelings either way about the change. This is where we want to have a detailed discussion which will save a lot of time at the AGM in March when we put it to the vote. There is never enough time at an AGM so that is why it is important we get a good attendance at this open forum.

I know some of you have concerns about this so here is your opportunity to have your say and hear an expert give his answers. Parking is on street and free after 6pm. Queen Street train station, Buchanan Bus Station and Buchanan Underground station are all within 5-10 minutes walk. If you cannot attend the meeting, then please submit your queries via .

Ken Smith, Chairman.

Posted 11/12/05

SSAC Committee Nominations 2006-07

November 30th marked the deadline for nominations of members to the SSAC General Committee and National Diving Council for 2006-2007.
The following positions have been elected unopposed:

  • Vice Chair - Norman Mitchell (West Lothian)
  • Editor - Alison Fish (Ullapool)
  • Treasurer - Diana Webb (Carlisle)

The following positions have more than one nomination and will require a ballot election:

  • Chairman - Jack Morrison (Clydebank) and Ken Smith (West Lothian)
  • National Diving Officer - Kevin Miller (Strathclyde University) and Kevin Webb (Carlisle)
  • Secretary - Bill Beattie (Larkhall) and Andrew Murray (Strathclyde University)

In addition, the following four members have been nominated as ordinary members of the General Committee:

  • Joe Campbell (Hamilton)
  • Graeme Clark (Kelvin)
  • Frank Connor (Hamilton)
  • George Mc Burns (East CoastDivers)

Seven members have been nominated for positions on the National Diving Council. An election shall take place in order to select members to hold the five available positions. The nominees are:

  • Marion Brown (Forth Valley)
  • Tony Carter (Larkhall)
  • Graeme Forsyth (Johnstone)
  • Robert Hugh Fraser (Pentland)
  • Martin Henderson (Coatbridge)
  • Bert Smith (Reivers)
  • Kevin Watson (Pentland)

Profiles of the above nominees, along with a ballot paper were enclosed with the Jan/Feb edition of Scottish Diver. If you misplace your ballot paper, please contact for an additional copy.

All votes must be received at HQ by January 31, 2006. Successful candidates will take post from the AGM in March 2006

Posted 11/12/05

Seasearch Scotland 2005

Seasearch in Scotland in 2005 has been another busy year, with 226 records (including an impressive 90 Survey-level forms) returned from all round the coast, from Bass Rock to St Kilda and particularly from our target area of North East Scotland, bringing the total since 2000 to 866 for Scotland.

A big thank you to all of you whom have returned Seasearch forms and organised Seasearch trips, to Marion Perutz and Owen Paisley for co-ordinating locally, a big help, and to Sue Mitchell for invaluable data entry.

Feedback already on the Seasearch website includes:

  • Seasearch Summary Report for Kilbrannan Sound by Seasearch west Scotland co-ordinator Owen Paisley
  • Northern Sea-Fan Survey in Firth of Lorn interim report
  • Seasearch North-East Scotland newsletter by Seasearch northeast Scotland co-ordinator Marion Perutz
  • Seasearch 2004 Report

Readers of the SSAC website also have access to several articles written for Scottish Diver magazine. Many thanks to Alison Fish, Seasearch Surveyor and Scottish Sub-Aqua Club representative on the Seasearch Steering Group for ensuring these get on the website.

As you may imagine, 866 forms has been quite a bit of work to compile and enter into Marine Recorder, although we have most of the data up to the end of 2004 entered and on the National Biodiversity Network (click on species datasets and then Marine Conservation Society). I am also delighted that funding is available to continue supporting Sue Mitchell, BS-AC and Seasearch diver, to enter the Seasearch 2005 data into Marine Recorder at the MCS Scotland office. Summary reports for many of the trips in 2005 are therefore still in the pipeline but will be on the website over the course of the next few months.

Seasearch Form Amnesty
From individual conversations, I know there are still plenty of Seasearch forms out there from 2005 and 2004. Please send in your forms, even if there is only one awaiting postage. Don't feel that you need a big pile of forms before sending them off - individually is fine. We'd rather have the forms here to compile and I assure you they are all gratefully received and all get entered. To repeat, we are still accepting forms for 2005 and before so please keep sending them in.

Use for Seasearch Information in 2005
Seasearch data from the Firth of Lorn contributed to site-condition monitoring work for the European Marine Site.

An amazing 107 Seasearch forms from NorthEast Scotland will help add many sublittoral dots along a stretch of coast where there were precious few diver records - thanks to all who have contributed, particularly Marion Perutz, George Brown, Charles & Jonie Guest, Alan & Barbara Bellerby, Lilias Parks, Fiona Reid, Jim Bromham, Ken & Alison Farrow, Bill Ruck and many others. This was a real priority in 2005 as JNCC, one of our Seasearch funders, were particularly interested in records from this under-recorded stretch of coast, in fact from the whole east coast of the UK, for which only Isle of May, East Lothian, Berwickshire and Durham coasts had substantial records.

We have had our first Seasearch courses in Argyll, following one I unfortunately had to cancel in October 2004. Thanks to Owen organising and running them in Oban and Tarbert and supporting Seasearch activity following them in Loch Creran, Loch Melfort and Kilbrannan Sound and all who submitted forms.

Calum Duncan, Seasearch Scotland Co-ordinator, Scottish Officer Marine Conservation Society

Posted 03/12/05


Fish Identification For Divers - London Aquarium

The London Aquarium, Saturday 28th January 2006, 10:30 am – 4.30 pm. Cost £30

This one-day course in fish identification for divers will be led by Dr Frances Dipper, author of ‘British Sea Fishes’. It will include an introduction to the form and function of fishes, and cover their life history, feeding and reproduction. We will go on to look at the range of fishes which can be seen by divers in British and Irish waters and how to identify them underwater, including looking at the aquarium’s temperate water tanks. Finally we will look at some of the conservation issues affecting fish in our waters.

The course is aimed primarily at divers with the intention of improving fish recognition skills for those who want to take part in Seasearch surveys. However you do not need to be a Seasearch diver to take part. If you are the course will count towards your Seasearch Specialist qualification so bring along your Seasearch logbook.

What the course includes:

  • illustrated presentations
  • a course pack
  • entrance to the London Aquarium
  • pocket Good Fish Guide

Copies of British Sea Fishes, the Good Fish Guide and other Seasearch publications will be on sale at the course. The cost of the day is £30.00

To reserve your place on the course please download and complete the Booking Form and return it with your payment for the course. Numbers are limited.

Seasearch hope to run a second course in Scotland later in the year, details will be posted on this website.

Posted 03/12/05


Branch Instructor Course

Places are still available on the Branch Instructor Course to be held at HQ on December 10th. To take part in the course you should;

  • Hold current membership of the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club.

  • Have been a SSAC Sports Diver for at least eighteen months

  • Hold a current medical certificate.

  • Be aged 18 or over (unless recommended by RC).

  • Have at least 75 correctly logged dives.

  • Have completed the Master Diver 'dive leader' endorsement.

  • Have attended the Master Diver lectures on Safety and Emergency Procedures and Advanced Decompression Theory.

  • Have the recommendation of your Branch Diving Officer (BDO) preferably endorsed by the Regional Coach (RC). Candidates recommended by "Acting" BDO's must have the endorsement of the Regional Coach.

In addition to the one day training course, successful candidtates will also be required to;

  • Complete a Lecture assessment under supervision of their Diving Officer and Regional Coach or nominated R.I.

  • Complete a practical pool session of at least two one-hour sessions under supervision of their Diving Officer and Regional Coach or nominated R.I.

  • Complete 2 practical open water sessions under supervision of their Diving Officer and Regional Coach or nominated R.I

If you would like a place on this course, download and complete the booking form and return it with a 50% deposit to;

The Scottish Sub Aqua Club, The Cockburn Centre, 40 Bogmoor Place, Glasgow, G51 4TQ.

Ken Smith, Course Director.

Posted 02/12/05

NAS Introduction to Archaeology on the Foreshore and Underwater

St Cuthberts High School, Johnstone. Saturday, 28th January 2006. (9am - 5 pm)

This one day course run by the Nautical Archaeology Society’s training office in Scotland, is a comprehensive introduction to the subject of archaeology on the foreshore and underwater. Many of the major aspects of archaeology are presented in a series of illustrated talks and practical sessions, which include:-

  • What archaeology is and how it is carried out on the foreshore and underwater.
  • The type of sites that are investigated, e.g. harbours, sunken settlements shipwrecks, etc.
  • The detective work; the principles of science and deduction that underlie the whole subject.
  • The survey methods used on archaeological sites to record structures and finds, etc.
  • Maritime finds, what to do? The law and how it affects you.
  • The contribution survey projects can make to the National Monuments Record of Maritime sites maintained by RCAHMS.

All of these aspects are presented using examples from local projects and others around the world, many of which are in progress at the moment.

A major part of the course is the practical survey session which can be held in a swimming pool. Non-divers are given equivalent tasks on the surface. The surveys are then drawn up afterwards in the classroom. At the end of the course, the questions of where to go and what to do next are discussed: Part I; Part II & Part III Courses; NAS Part II survey projects; Field projects & Summer schools.

As the courses are for relatively small groups, they are informal and relaxed and hopefully an enjoyable way to spend a day! All participants are issued with a NAS Training Record Card, an internationally recognised certificate. The course is recognised by BSAC and SAA as a ‘Diver Skill Development’ and some courses are recognised by PADI as a ‘PADI Diver Speciality’. SSAC recognise the Part 1 course as one of the two modules required for the First Class Diver Award.

The Introductory course costs £50 (includes all local costs, a training record card and a CD Rom training manual). Membership of NAS and the Training Manual are available at extra cost. If you would like to participate on this course, please contact Philip Robertson, Training Officer for Scotland, NAS Training in Scotland Tel/fax: (0131) 552 5795, email:

For more information visit the NAS Scotland website

Posted 03/11/05


Proposed Ballachulish Slate Depositories Development

 

Mr Ken Michie of Ballachulish has contacted SSAC HQ to let divers know of a proposed building development at the Ballachulish Slate Depositories - also known as the slate piers. This area is often frequented by divers but the development will mean that access is denied in the future.

The slate piers jut out into Loch Leven just to the north of the main A82 in the village of Ballachulish. The diving there is excellent with a variety of marine life living in the nooks and crannies created by the slates. The water is usually clear offering good visibility and the entry is relatively easy compared to some sites. The site is out of the current and can be dived at any state of the tide. Close to the piers, on the east side, are shallow waters suitable for training and newly qualified divers, to the north the loch bed drops away to greater depths and is popular with more experienced divers.

At present a housing development planning application has been submitted by J A Gardner Properties Ltd. Mr Michie has spoken to a number of SSAC divers about the proposal and would like their support in objecting to the proposed development. Objections should be directed to the Planning Office at Fulton House, Gordon Square, Fort William, before November 4th 2005.

Please note the dealine for objections has been extended to November 17th, 2005.

Posted 29/10/05


Arran Sea Scenes Calendar 2006

The Community of Arran Seabed Trust has published a beautiful 2006 calendar to draw attention to their campaign to create a Marine Protected Area (MPA) covering the whole of Lamlash Bay. All of the photos were taken by members of the Isle of Arran Sub-Aqua Club. From dogfish to pipefish, anemones to octopus all the favourites are there in glorious, glossy technicolor. One calendar costs £4.25 including postage and packing, the more you buy the cheaper they get! A great little gift that will last all year.

Check out the COAST website for the full price list and order details - and you can join the campaign while you're there it's free!

Posted 07/10/05


Tide Turns Against Fairweather V

The Scottish Executive and Crown Estate Commission have given the go ahead for a fish farm in Loch Broom near the wreck of the Fairweather V. The decision appears to have ignored views of the local community and Highland Council who have both condemned the move. Members of Ullapool Sub Aqua Club, who campaigned long and hard to save the wreck, are critical of the decision.

Highland Green MSP, Eleanor Scott said "Highland Council itself were quite clear they had a quite different vision for how this bit of water and coastline should be used…that they didn't want this development to go ahead"

Fairweather V is one of the best  known and most dived wrecks on the north west mainland coast. The clear waters and relatively sheltered location in Annat Bay make the wreck a magnet for all kinds of marine life. Effluent from the fish farm could have a potentially disastrous environmental impact on the wreck and surrounding area.

A draft consultation  of the Atlantic Coast (Wester Ross) Project emphasises the significance of the Fairweather V and scenic diving in Annat Bay and the negative impact that any aquaculture would have on the diving there.

Posted 07/10/05


Seasearch Observer Course at Tarbert on Loch Fyne

A Seasearch Observer course will be held at Tarbert on Loch Fyne during the weekend of October 22nd and 23rd. The Observer Course is principally designed to give you the confidence to go out on your dive with a slate and return simple, useful information about the seabed and its associated wildlife. You do not need to know latin names for anything! Please note that the Seasearch Observer course is NOT a marine identification course, although there is a marine identification component to it.

If you like to find out more about this course please contact Owen Paisley, Seasearch Organiser for the West of Scotland by email or telephone him on 01546 600209

For more details about Seasearch, to download forms or find out about other courses please visit the Seasearch website or contact Owen Paisley.

Posted 26/09/05


HSE Warning to Divers

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned divers of the risks of using unsafe electrical equipment underwater during commercial fishing operations.

The warning comes after a multi-agency investigation into illegal diving for razor fish (spoots) off Argyll and Bute on the west coast of Scotland. The investigation revealed that some fishermen operating in the area are dropping electrified cables, which consist of several un-insulated metal electrodes, into the water that are then dragged by the vessel across the seabed stunning razor fish as they go. A diver who follows the path of the cable then collects the fish. However, if the diver comes into contact or even close proximity to the electrodes there is a real risk of electrocution.

In an effort to curb this unsafe diving practice and illegal fishing method, HSE, the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA), Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Police Marine, Air and Underwater Search Units (USU) launched Operation Spoots in June 2005.

A police launch and divers departed Greenock, Grand Harbour, while a Police Air Unit helicopter flew over Kilbrannen Sound and reported a suspect vessel with a diver seen in the water. The launch headed to the location but the vessel’s crew may have spotted the helicopter and as a result immediately sailed back to Carradale Harbour.

A second suspect vessel, however, was identified and the police launch carrying a diver and two HSE Inspectors was dispatched to make a high-speed approach. As the launch came within sight of the fishing vessel a crewmember was seen to move to the stern and throw something overboard. The vessel was approached, hailed and warned that HSE inspectors would be boarding. The location of the diver in the water was identified and the police deployed a heavy shot-line to mark the location of the dropped object as two HSE Inspectors boarded and started their investigation.

The crew was asked if they were using electrical cables for fishing and after being informed that a USU was available and prepared to dive, he admitted to dumping the electrical cables and using them for catching razor fish. After isolating the generator used to charge the cables, a USU diver searched the seabed and found that the shot-line had landed on top of the electric cables, which were then recovered.

Meanwhile, onboard the vessel, HSE discovered the illegal diver was also the skipper which meant that if he had been injured there was no means of rescuing him from the water. Furthermore, this would have prevented the boat from being operated since the sole remaining crewman could not sail it single handed.

As a result of the operation, a Prohibition Notice was served on the vessel operator, which immediately brought to a halt the dangerous diving practices and effectively prevented the boat from being used in a similar manner until the Notice had been satisfactorily complied with. Operators fishing for razor fish using similar methods are reputed to earn £1,500 – £2,000 per day; thus prohibiting the operation will have considerable financial repercussions for the boat’s owners. Breaking the terms of an Enforcement Notice is punishable by fines not exceeding £20,000 on summons or an unlimited fine on indictment.

As a follow-up to Operation Spoots, HSE, together with the MCA and Police held a meeting with boat owners, operators and divers in the Carradale area. The meeting offered an opportunity to listen to their concerns and to devise a way to work in partnership to tackle health and safety risks posed by the use of divers in commercial fishing activities. However, if necessary, HSE will come down hard on all boat operators who persist on putting divers’ safety at risk by using such dangerous and illegal fishing methods.

Commenting on the operation, Frank Murray, HSE Principal Inspector of Diving, said:

“The close cooperation for this operation between HSE and the other responsible agencies is seen as a great success and heralds future similar operations. We are determined that dangerous commercial diving operations will be vigorously tracked down and stopped.”

Posted 01/09/05


Boathandling and VHF/GMDSS Course Dates

Photo: RHIB, with thanks to Ullapool SAC

Boathandling courses will be held at SSAC HQ on the following dates;

  • 2nd - 4th September 2005; cost £45
  • 25th - 27th November 2005; cost £50
  • 17th - 19th February 2006; cost £50

The location for practical aspects of the course is weather dependent, but will probably take place at Largs. For more information visit the Boathandling page. To book a place on the course date of your choice please , a 50% deposit is required to confirm the booking.


VHF/GMDSS courses will be held at SSAC HQ on the following dates;

  • 27th August 2005
  • 5th November 2005
  • 4th March 2006

The VHF/GMDSS courses cost £25 plus a £20 cheque to be brought on the day of the course made out to The Royal Yachting Association (for license). Candidates are required to bring 1 passport sized photograph of themselves on the day of the course. To book a place on the course date of your choice please , a 50% deposit is required to confirm the booking.

Posted 21/09/05

Change of Telephone Number for the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit

The telephone number for the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit at Aberdeen has changed.

In case of a diving emergency or need for medical advice in Scotland: call 0845 408 6008 and ask for the on-call hyperbaric consultant.

In England, Wales or Northern Ireland telephone 07831 151523

Posted 12/08/05


Last Orders at the Puff Inn

Dive trips to St Kilda will be drier in the future - the Puff Inn, St Kilda's only pub has closed it's doors to passing tourists. The Inn was originally opened for Ministry of Defence staff stationed on the island and will continue to serve MOD approved customers. Visiting divers and yatchies will go dry unless they bring along a carry-out.

A spokesperson for QinetiQ said;

"QinetiQ operates and manages areas of St Kilda on behalf of the MOD, which has a lease with the National Trust for Scotland. The Puff Inn is a canteen within the boundaries of an MOD site. By providing a canteen facility for the staff on this site, which can be accessed only by authorised staff who have appropriate clearance, we are operating as we do for any other site we manage for the MOD.

"The medical reception centre is a recognised first aid post and treatment would be given to a member of the public who may for whatever reason require urgent medical attention. The National Trust for Scotland has its own toilet facilities, which are open to the public visiting the island."

Posted 12/08/05


Seasearch Observer Course - Inverness

A Seasearch Observer course has been organised for 17th & 18th September in the Inverness region.

The Observer Course is a one-day course on the Saturday and does not require diving. We hope to do RIB dives on the Sunday to enable course participants to get Seasearch Observer dives signed off.

The Observer Course is principally designed to give you the confidence to go out on your dive with a slate and return simple, useful information about the seabed and its associated wildlife. You do not need to know latin names for anything! Please note that the Seasearch Observer course is NOT a marine identification course, although there is a marine identification component to it.

The course cost will be £30. To reserve a place please send a cheque for the full amount to myself and fill out the form below (please note the change of address). , Local Seasearch Organiser for North East Scotland, 29 Mount Street, Aberdeen, AB25 2QX.

For more details about Seasearch, forms and the other courses please visit the Seasearch website.


Heartstart/Oxygen Administration 2005 Course Dates

Heartstart/Oxygen Administration courses will be held at SSAC HQ on the following dates;

  • July 30th
  • Sept 25th
  • Oct 30th
  • Nov 27th

To book a place on the course date of your choice please

Posted 30/06/05

GC/NDC Minutes Published

The General Committee and the National Diving Council have agreed to publish minutes of their meetings. Minutes will be published shortly after the meeting takes place. Dates of scheduled meetings and minutes of previous meetings are available on the Committees page. Dates of future meetings are also available on the Diary page, SSAC members are welcome to attend General Council meetings.

Posted 23/06/05

Renewal of Lapsed SSAC Membership

SSAC members who have allowed their membership to lapse for less than 6 months will be required to pay the usual renewal fee, membership will be backdated to the orignal renewal date. For example if the original renewal date is in January and payment is received in March, the next annual fee will become due in January of the following year.

If membership has lapsed for over 6 months a joining fee will be charged in addition to the fee.

More details about SSAC membership, including fees and membership forms are available on the membership page.

Di Webb, Treasurer

Posted 23/06/05

Dive Gear from Lidl?

If you have a Lidl store nearby you may want to check out their special offers for the week of 27th June 2006 when the chain will be selling some items of dive gear, including

  • 3mm steamers and shorties,
  • neoprene boots,
  • knives
  • strobes
  • dive torch - rated to 30m

Could be worth a look for pool gear or back up equipment. Click on the images below to see a larger picture. For more details and store locations visit the Lidl website.

Posted 19/06/05


Wreckmap Britain 2005

As part of SeaBritain 2005 and National Archaeology Week the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) is asking divers to collect information about a wreck they dive on during the week of 16th to 24th of July. There are an estimated 100,000 active divers in the UK and many will be diving the wrecks around Britain’s coast during July. The NAS would like divers to dedicate just one dive to recording what is actually on the seabed.

During July recording forms will be available to download from the NAS website, as well as information and advice on how and what to record – including the condition of the wreck, its dimensions, any interesting features, or even visible artefacts. Video and photographic records, to support the submitted forms, will be welcomed. The NAS will pass on all information collected to the appropriate National Archive or local Environment Record archive.

The results of the project will be published on the NAS website and will be available for anyone to use in dive planning or wreck interpretation. Participants will receive a certificate stating that they helped record Britain’s wrecks during National Archaeology Week. For more details visit the NAS website.

Posted 31/05/05


Duncansby Head to Dunnottar Seasearch

Divers have returned the first marine life records from little-dived reefs in the Pentland Firth (at Duncansby Head and the Pentland Skerries) and beneath spectacular Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven. The Seasearch divers trained by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) were diving on expeditions organised by Inverness Sub-Aqua Club and MCS member George Brown and Seasearch Northeast Scotland co-ordinator Marion Perutz with assistance from Stonehaven diver Allan Bellerby. The Seasearch project is co-ordinated throughout Scotland by Calum Duncan, MCS Scottish Officer.

George Brown, organiser of the Seasearch trip to the Pentland Firth said “The Pentland Skerries and the mainland coastline around Duncansby Head are subject to some of the harshest sea and tidal conditions around the British Isles but below the surface lies another world. How life can exist in such vivid colour and diversity in such hostility is a wonder. I first dived here 25 years ago and have ventured below the waves many times since yet there is still so much to be discovered.

Seasearch has appointed Marion Perutz as part-time co-ordinator for North East Scotland. Marion, who organised the Stonehaven weekend and also dived with George at Duncansby Head said ‘Beneath the towering cliffs of Duncansby Head, we entered an amazing world of caves and tunnels blanketed in brilliant sponges, seasquirts and sparkling sea anemones. So far we have only just begun to obtain records from this spectacular area of coastline in the Northeast of Scotland. We are still in need of many more.

MCS Scottish Officer Calum Duncan, who dived on the Stonehaven trip, said ‘These weekends follow a successful Seasearch trip out of Lossiemouth in April. Conditions rarely allow diving by boat in the Stonehaven area so we were very lucky the following month to conduct Seasearch along the stretch of coast best known for spectacular Dunnottar Castle. Underwater, it is equally scenic with conglomerate reefs home to colourful sea anemones, swimming crabs and lush seaweeds.'

Calum continued 'By conducting Seasearch in the Pentland Firth and along the Aberdeenshire coast, these divers have done an excellent job in expanding our limited knowledge of marine life distribution in this part of Scotland.'

A number of other Seasearch events have been organised for the months ahead involving dive clubs from the north-east of Scotland. Weather permitting, future Seasearch weekends will be taking place on 2-3 July and 6-7 August. Please contact Marion Perutz for details.

The results that divers have provided at a UK level have already led to the identification of new marine conservation areas and to an expansion of our knowledge of the distribution of marine species. Results collected locally in the Moray Firth will also be of interest and help meet actions in the Moray Firth Partnership action plan.

Posted 31/05/05


Seasearch Observer Course - West Coast

Owen Paisley Seasearch Co-ordinator for the west of Scotland has organised a Seasearch Observer course to be held at the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory, near Oban on Saturday 25th of June, 2005. The cost of the course will be £25 and Owen will also arrange diving on the Sunday.

The Observer Course takes one day and is aimed at giving divers who are new to the project, and new to marine recording, a basic grounding. At the end of the course divers 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.

About You
Saturday - You DO NOT need to be a qualified diver to do the one-day Seasearch Observer Course.

Sunday - You DO need to be a qualified diver before you can do any Seasearch for real on the Sunday. Minimum qualifications are SSAC/BSAC Sports Diver, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, SAA Club Diver or CMAS 2 Star equivalent. You need to have done at least 20 dives of which 10 should have been in temperate seawater. You will also need to have a diving medical certificate or medical declaration and have 3rd party diving insurance. Seasearch is not a diver-training organisation and we insist that you do not dive beyond your previous level of experience on our dives.

For more details contact Owen Paisley, telephone 01546 600209.

Posted 26/05/05


Aberdeen Hosts First Deep Diving Course

Photo: Divers checking run time on the shotAberdeen played host to the first SSAC Deep Diving Course on the 21st and 22nd of May. Six candidates attended an intensive day of lectures and practical workshops on the Saturday. The course included planning a (simulated) staged decompression dive for the following day.

The practical part of the course took place in the Moray Firth. Candidates and instructors met in Portsoy harbour to dive the wreck of the Moray, off Cullen Bay. Only two candidates and one instructor took to the water at any one time. Surface conditions varied from no wind and brilliant sunshine to a thunder and hailstorm on the return boat trip of the last wave. There was a moderate surface current most of the time but visibility on the wreck was consistently good. The divers successfully completed simulated staged decompression dives, where they responded to a range of simulated emergency situations presented by the instructors. For saftey dives to 30m were undertaken, divers attaining the Deep Diving qualification are certified to dive to a maximum of 50m.

"Everybody felt that the course was extremely useful - not only did it go very well but we also had a very nice dive to round it all up!" said Alex Gallego, one of the three instructors.

Congratulations to the successful candidates; Emily Gamble, Colin McWhirr, Donald Macfarlane and Andy McGeoch of Grampian Branch and Craig Pattison of Strathclyde University Branch. Commiserations to Les Noble of Grampian Branch who was unable to dive on the Sunday and has yet to complete the practical. Well done to instructors Graeme Forsyth, Andy Parks and Alex Gallego for getting the course up and running.

Posted 23/05/05


Seasearch Northern Ireland

Claire Goodwin, Seasearch Co-ordinator for Northern Ireland, is organising several Seasearch weekends to survey the relatively little dived coast of Northern Ireland.

  • Cushendun on the 16/17th and 30/31st July. The Glens of Antrim lie on the east coast of Ireland and are well known for their scenery. We will be surveying their equally spectacular coastline. The survey will be based at the picturesque village of Cushendun which lies at the foot of Glendun.

    This area of the coast is little dived and we hope to increase our knowledge of important habitats, including maerl and seagrass beds, which occur here. The area is tidal so expect some drift diving. A Seasearch tutor will be present at both weekends so it would be good opportunity to complete qualifications.

    The weekends will include four dives, we will be using DV Diving's rib which can comfortably accommodate 12 divers. The diving costs are subsidised by our local sponsor (EHSNI) and will be £30 for the two days. Air filling arrangements are to be confirmed and there may be a small extra charge for this. Accommodation is available in a camping barn and costs £9 per night with your own sleeping bag or £11 with towels and bedding provided. More luxurious accommodation is available locally for an extra cost.

    A deposit of £36.00 will be required for either Cushenden weekend.
  • Isle of Muck on the 13/14th of August. The Isle of Muck is an Ulster Wildlife Trust nature reserve. We hope to do two dives on the Isle and two on the Maidens offshore islands. The Maidens isolated location and strong tides have led to the area being rarely dived but their clear waters and abundant wrecks make them a "must" for divers. We will be diving with the North Irish Lodge Dive Centre, owner Peter Steele has years of experience of diving the area. Accommodation will be provided in Ford Farm camping barn.
  • The cost for the trip is £68, this includes four dives, air fills and accommodation (bring your own sleeping bag). A £40 deposit and a completed booking form will secure your place. The trip is being organised in conjuction with Kate Hutchinson, the Ulster Wildlife Trust/WWF marine officer.

If you haven't dived in Northern Ireland there has never been a better time to try. Several budget airlines including Easyjet, British Midlands and British European fly into Belfast and fast ferry crossings are available from Scotland. Claire can advise on travel arrangements and kit can be hired locally from DV diving if required.

Please contact Claire Goodwin for further information and a booking form.

Posted 22/05/05


Scottish Sustainable Development Roadshow

Have you got something to say about Scotland's future? From wind farms to scallop dredging, fish farms to monoculture the Scottish Sustainable Development Forum want to hear your views. Let them know what you want Scotland's future to look like by taking part in one of the country-wide focus groups that make up the SSDF Roadshow;

  • Gatehouse of Fleet - 1st June 2005, 7:30pm-9:30pm, Community Centre
  • Finzean - 6th June 2005, 7:30pm-9:30pm, Village Hall
  • Kirkwall - 8th June 2005, 7pm-9pm, Ayre Hotel
  • Thurso - 9th June 2005, 4pm-6pm, Town Hall Band Room
  • Stromness - 10 June 2005, 10am-11:30am, Community Centre
  • Burghead - 21st June 2005, 7:30pm-9:30pm, Church of Scotland Church Hall
  • Oban - 24th June 2005, 1:00pm-3:00pm, Corran Halls

The Scottish Sustainable Development Forum is a focus for thinking and action on sustainable development across Scotland. The Forum acts as an advocate for sustainable development and strives to promote debate, involve all interested parties, raise awareness and understanding, promote good practice, and make recommendations for action.

Posted 21/05/05


Scientists to Explore Ancient Scottish Reef

One of the oldest and least explored habitats on Earth is due to be explored by Greenpeace and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).

The Mingulay coral reef complex lies off the west of Scotland in about 150 metres of water and, despite the fact that it may have existed for thousands of years, scientists know little about it or the wildlife it supports. Using remotely operated vehicles - essentially small, unmanned submarines - scientists onboard the Greenpeace ship Esperanza will study, sample and document the reef and the numerous species it is thought to host. An onboard aquarium will allow scientists to closely examine small samples taken from the ocean floor.

During the expedition, which set off from Greenock on 12 May, scientists will also be looking for any evidence of damage to the reef, including any that may have been caused by fishing nets dragged across the ocean floor. Although the extent of any damage to the Mingulay reef is currently unknown, coral habitats around the world face many threats, particularly from destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling.

Greenpeace scientist David Santillo said:

"Parts of the Mingulay reef complex could be as much as ten thousand years old, yet, like so many marine habitats worldwide, we know virtually nothing about it or its importance to marine life. A halt to bottom trawling would allow more of this kind of research to be carried out around the world, so that informed decisions can be made about how to protect these fragile footholds for ocean wildlife."

SAMS scientist Dr Murray Roberts said:

"We have been interested in this area since the late 1990s but we only mapped out the reefs off Mingulay two years ago. We are very excited to have the chance to explore these complex habitats using a robotic submarine. We hope the information we gather will keep us busy for months to come."

Also onboard the Esperanza will be Dr John Wilson, a marine scientist who was first to dive on the reef almost 30 years ago. In the last few years a research initiative led by SAMS has begun mapping the reef. This joint expedition is a key contribution to further scientific knowledge of one of the UK's most significant, though barely studied, natural marine features.

Posted 21/05/05


Join DAN's Project Dive Exploration

With a target of one million dive profiles Project Dive Exploration (PDE) is the most extensive study of recreational diving ever conducted. Divers Alert Network have set up the project with the aim of producing statistically accurate analyses of dive profiles, diver characteristics, and diver behavior.

Project Dive Exploration (PDE) profiles - essentially, road maps of each dive recorded on dive computers - are collected by volunteers and are delivered to DAN via the Internet. The data is then analyzed to help DAN scientists understand the relationship of the risk of decompression illness (DCI) to myriad physical, medical, and behavioral factors. The results of this study are likely to form the basis of future dive table and dive computer models.

PDE has multiple objectives, including:

  • Collecting real-time depth/time profiles for analysis;
  • Documenting the condition of the diver 48 hours after the end of the dive series;
  • Documenting any health changes in the diver, whether related to diving or not;
  • Investigating the relationship between diving and health effects by using statistical analysis and modeling;
  • Developing a flexible, low-risk decompression procedures for multilevel / multiday repetitive diving; and
  • Studying the effects of flying after diving.

Certified divers can participate in PDE individually, through a Field Research Co-ordinator (FRC), or through Data Collection Centers. Divers are responsible for filling out forms, uploading their dive computer, completing the 48-Hour Report Form, and submitting data to DAN.

Signs and symptoms and medical outcomes of PDE dives are reported in the: Daily Dive Log; 48-Hour Report; Diving Injury Report Form; and DAN Medical Services Emergency Call database. The diver or FRC records symptoms or relevant events at the end of each dive day in the Daily Dive Log.

The 48-Hour Report is completed at 48 hours after the last dive or altitude exposure and submitted to DAN. The 48-Hour Report lists signs or symptoms (if noted), altitude exposure (if any), and recompression therapy (if given). A diver must submit a 48-hour report to be included in the analytical database. If recompression is reported, the treating chamber is contacted for medical documentation. Additional case details are often available in the Medical Services Emergency Call database. All potential DCS cases are tested against exclusionary diagnostic criteria and are classified as AGE, DCS, or neither. All data provided is privileged scientific/medical information. The diver's identity will not be released to anyone without the diver's permission.

By taking part in this research you can contribute to a safer future for divers around the world, all divers are encouraged to participate and you don't need to be a DAN member - to sign up as a FRC or to find out more visit the DAN Medical Research webpage.

Posted 20/05/05


Diver Friendly Furnace Cafe

John Nicolson was at the Furnace Cafe, Loch Fyne at the beginning of May and found it is now a diver friendly place. The new owners welcome divers and are making positive changes. Improvements which will attract the diving community include fitting a hose to clean down kit and putting a changing hut where the old gipsy caravan used to be. Divers will also be welcome to use the toilets!

All the owners ask in return is that divers use the cafe! Its open now for snacks, hot food and hot drinks. Please park on the left hand side as you enter the car park.

Thanks to John for passing on this information.

Posted 04/05/05


SSAC 52nd AGM

The 52nd Annual General Meeting took place at Stirling University on Sunday, March 20th. A summary of the speakers' presentations may be downloaded by clicking on the links below (in pdf format).

Presentations are in portable document format, to open these documents you need Adobe Acrobat reader, available free of charge from the Adobe website.

Posted 01/05/05

HSE Safety Advice on "Octopus" Rigs

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published the results of research carried out to review breathing performance of ‘octopus’ regulators.

Commenting on the research findings, Chris Sherman, HSE Chief Inspector of Diving, said: “This research highlights a potential problem that may be encountered in an emergency situation using an ‘octopus’ regulator.”

Many recreational divers use an ‘octopus’ system which has two second stage regulators (or demand valves) attached to a single first stage regulator; thus enabling two divers to breathe from the same cylinder.

The breathing performance for a single demand valve and first stage regulator combination is set out in British Standard EN250. This, however, gives no indication as to how two demand valves would perform together when drawing on a single first stage regulator. This, along with evidence of divers struggling to use ‘octopus’ systems in genuine emergencies, prompted the research.

The results of test data show that SCUBA single demand valve systems capable of meeting the requirements of BS EN250 cannot necessarily be relied on to perform to the same standards when used as part of an ‘octopus’ system.

In particular, the research found that the performance of a first stage regulator is a vital factor when determining the performance of a complete system and that reduced breathing performance was experienced when using low cost/performance first stage regulators compared to high cost/performance models. In addition, tests showed that the poorer performing demand valve of any ‘octopus’ pair will experience a greater loss of performance with increasing depth and ventilation rate when compared to the better performance valve. Breathing in-phase as opposed to out-of-phase also affected performance.

The report recommends that a completely independent gas supply and demand regulator is the preferred system as an alternative air supply during an emergency situation. However, if divers choose to use a ‘octopus’ system, they should be aware that:

  • although CE marked valves to BS EN250 may be considered as ‘fit for purpose’ when used alone, their performance cannot be assured when configured as part of an ‘octopus’ system;
  • octopus systems should be based on a high-performance first stage regulator;
  • systems should be configured with demand valves of similar performance; and
  • older valves, or valves whose performance may have degraded should not be used.

Chris Sherman added: “HSE recommends the use of a completely independent secondary gas supply system; for example, a pony cylinder set-up. That way, if there is a problem with the ‘octopus’ system or if a buddy pair become separated, divers have a much increased chance of survival in the event of running out of air.”

The full report is available from the HSE website

Posted 28/04/05


Request for Volunteers

From time to time SSAC HQ or branches would like additional help with events, producing materials or provision of training. Details of volunteer opportunities will be posted on the website, sent out on the mailing list and published in Scottish Diver.

To get the new page started HQ have asked for your help to develop new lecture materials for all levels of SSAC diver training, from snorkeller to first class diver. If you are a Sport Diver or above and have time to help please take a look at the Volunteers page.

Posted 17/04/05

Deep Rescue Course

Billy Symington would like to hear from anyone who has taken the Deep Rescue Course - if you've completed the course please click here and complete our form, thanks.

Posted 15/04/05

Scottish Turtle Roadshow

Many divers are surprised to hear that four species of turtle have been recorded in Scottish waters; Kemp's Ridley, Loggerhead, Leatherback and Green turtles. Leatherbacks visit Scottish waters each summer, probably to feed on the abundant jellyfish, whilst the other species tend to occur as windblown strays.

The Leatherback is the largest of the marine turtles and gets its name from the black, leathery skin that covers its carapace. Leatherbacks drifting on the ocean surface have often been mistaken for upturned rowing boats because of their large size and the prominent ridges on their carapace that look similar to a boat's hull. Leatherbacks are world travellers, individuals have been recorded at sea as far north as Norway and as far south as Tasmania. Important rookeries are found on the coasts of Central and South America as well as West and South Africa. Sadly Leatherback turtles are critically endangered. They are killed for their meat, their eggs are harvested and they can become entangled and drown in fishing gear.

This year the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) are asking divers, sailors, sea-goers and holidaymakers to report any sightings of turtles.

The Scottish Turtle Roadshow was launched in Anstruther on 22nd February to raise awareness of these endangered creatures. The roadshow will be appearing at the following places throughout the spring and summer;

  • Kippford, Dumfries and Galloway - March 28th to April 8th
  • Lochgilphead, Girvan - April 6th to April 12th
  • Aberdeen and Shetland - April 25th to April 29th
  • Skye and the Western Isles - May 30th to June 12th
  • Orkney - June 4th to June 8th
  • Inverness and Fraserburgh - July 25th to July 29th

If you see any turtles in Scottish waters please report your sighting to Dr Martin Gaywood, Scottish Natural Heritage tel 0131 447 4784.

MCS are keen to hear about your sightings of Basking Sharks again this year, you can report sightings on the MCS website

Posted 31/03/05


Child and Vulnerable Adult (CVA) Policy Disclosure Checks

All Regional Coaches and new Branch Instructors are required to have an enhanced disclosure check, as outlined in the SSAC Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy. Existing Branch Instructors may apply for a voluntary disclosure check.

Initial ID checks can be carried out by Iona Anthony or Tony Dorrington. Tony is happy to visit branches who have four or more instructors wishing to be checked. Branches should to arrange a visit.

To complete the initial ID check instructors must provide;

  • passport / photographic drivers licence plus
  • two recent utility bills. 

The Central Registered Body in Scotland (CRBS) is the organisation that provides free Disclosures (police checks) for volunteers in the voluntary sector working with children, young people and vulnerable adults. Once the check has been carried out by CRBS, each individual will receive a letter from Disclosure Scotland detailing their 'history'.  This is copied to Tony Dorrington at SSAC HQ. At present there is a delay of approximately two months between the date of submission and notification of the outcome, so please get your forms in early.

Posted 29/03/05


New SSAC Underwater Archaeology Courses

The Scottish Sub-Aqua Club is pleased to announce a joint venture with Nautical Archaeology Society (Training) Scotland.

We will shortly be running SSAC Introduction to Underwater Archaeology Courses, which will be cross-accredited to the NAS Introduction to Underwater and Foreshore Archaeology course. The one day course will introduce elements of marine archaeology, from survey and dating techniques to marine legislation.

Courses will cost £50 for SSAC members.

SSAC will also be entering into the NAS Adopt A Wreck scheme, with a number of projects running across the country. Course and survey dates will be announced shortly.

Anyone who wishes further information should contact through this site or .

Posted 18/03/05


SSAC Diving Officer's Conference 2005

The Diving Officer's Conference took place at Stirling University on Sunday, February 27th. It was an interesting day with plenty of lively discussion.

MS PowerPoint presentations used by the speakers may be downloaded by clicking on the links below.

10.30

Welcome

Kevin Webb, SSAC NDO

10.45

Overview of Limited Status

Ken Smith, SSAC Chair

10.55

Deep Diving Award

Graeme Forsyth

11.35

Risk Assessment

Kevin Miller

11.50

The Underwater Environment

Jack Morrison

12.20

Marine Archaeology

Phil Robertson, NAS Scotland

13.45

Up-date on Disclosure Checks

Iona Anthony

14.10

Review of the Proposed Training Schedule

Kevin Webb, SSAC NDO

14.40

BSAC News

Clare Peddie, BSAC NDO

15.20

New Annual Medical, Medical Q&A

Dr David Wilmot

15.40

SAA News

Dave McKay, SAA NDO

16.00

Open to the floor

 

Posted 05/02/05


Diving Incidents Cause Concern

Despite a steady overall improvement in coastal diving incidents reported to HM Coastguard over the last 7 years (from 1997-2003), UK national sub-aqua diving continues to cause concern.

During 2004, HM Coastguard and the Maritime rescue facilities were involved in 13 incidents which resulted in a fatality. The British Sub-Aqua Club, who, as the National Governing body collates all recreational diving incident data, reported an overall figure of 25 fatalities involving divers pursuing the sport both on the coast and inland. This reflects the worst year since 1973.

Within the HM Coastguard statistics, the single greatest incident type remains decompression illness (DCI), which accounted for 62 incidents alone, and a further 32 were attributed to rapid ascent which may have developed into DCI. There were 14 medical emergencies which may have arisen from possible pre existing medical conditions.

Ken Bazeley, The MCA’s National Diving Liaison Officer said:

“Whilst we are encouraged that surface and boating incidents involving divers are steadily improving, which reflects the excellent prevention work carried out by all involved in sport diving over recent years, we were particularly concerned to be involved in 13 coastal diving fatalities recorded last year.”

“However, and in order to further progress safety within the sport, we are very pleased to be working closely with the British Diving Safety Group (BDSG) and we will continue with vital joint prevention work throughout the year in order to bring the safety message home to all those involved in this growing sport.”

“During last year Coastguard Diving Liaison Officers from all over the UK, supported local diving and spread the word regarding accident prevention. More divers than ever before have visited Coastguard Rescue Centres, taking away information on safe diving practice. In the year ahead, we will be encouraging divers to join clubs and benefit from the safety and training advantages that club membership can offer and also to conduct risk-assessments before conducting any diving activity”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is a member of the British Diving Safety Group (BDSG) which was formed in 2002 to promote safe diving practices amongst the British sport diving community. Currently chaired by the RNLI, the group has a broad membership, with all of the major UK diver training agencies (including SSAC), the HSE, the MCA and the professional charter-boat skipper organisations having a seat at the table. These organisations meet regularly in order to work towards a common goal; to make diving safer.

By sharing and analysing incident data, agreeing safety initiatives and then promoting them to divers through the member organisations, the group has a broad influence throughout the recreational diving community.

On 1st March 2005 the BDSG launched its own website at www.bdsg.org. The site contains much useful information and downloads for British divers and diving professionals, as well as links to useful dive planning aids such as weather reports and tidal information.

Incidents in Scottish Waters

According to Ken Bazeley of the MCA, four of the 13 fatalities occured in Scottish waters, search and rescue operations were co-ordinated by Clyde, Forth and Shetland Coastguard stations. No SSAC divers were involved in these fatal incidents.

Three DCI incidents were reported to SSAC in 2004, one occured abroad. Of the two incidents reported in Scottish waters one involved a diver from another agency but was co-ordinated by SSAC divers.

Two research projects are underway to assess the total number of dives undertaken in UK waters by recreational divers, and are expected to report at the end of 2005.

Updated 05/03/05

 

COAST Plan Endorsed by MSP

The Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) has gained the support of MSP and Enterprise Minister Allan Wilson in their fight to establish a Marine Protected Area in Lamlash Bay.

Mr Wilson met with his colleague Environment Minister Lewis MacDonald in Edinburgh to discuss Arran COAST's newly published proposals for restrictions in Lamlash Bay.

"COAST's latest proposals are much more structured and professional than their predecessor and represent a substantial and serious contribution to emerging issues on better coastal management" said Mr Wilson.

"Consequently I was anxious that they be considered not simply in the context of a local community pressure group interested only in their own backyard, important as that is, but that they also be looked at as a microcosm of some of the challenges facing the various interest, public and private, charged with developing a marine environment strategy and coastal national park."

"It was very important therefore that they were considered by Departmental officials from the Environment Group as well as the Fisheries Division as they can inform not only the development of the Scottish executive's Inshore Fisheries policy but also wider strategic thing on coastal zonal management" said Mr Wilson.

" I am pleased, therefore, that it was agreed that officials from both Executive Departments should meet with COAST to discuss their latest proposals and that that meeting should take place, appropriately, on the island"

"It is vitally important that all concerned with the better management of our marine resource should take on board community and environmental considerations as well as the interests of the fishing community. I hope therefore that this meeting will be the first stage in a partnership approach to better coastal management that will bear fruit for future generations" concluded Mr Wilson.

COAST is a representative local organisation which recently published plans for the establishment of a ‘no-take zone’ centred on Lamlash Bay. The proposal is for a marine generation trial through development of a community- based marine protected area. The organisation believes there are sound ecological and economic arguments for restricting fishing activity in Lamlash Bay and proposes to:

  1. Develop and test a community-led approach to marine conservation, through consultation with a range of local stakeholders, that can inform similar efforts elsewhere in Britain, specifically by:
    a) establishing a No Take Zone in the vicinity of Clauchlands to protect maerl beds;
    b) making Lamlash Bay a Marine Protected Area - closed to mobile fishing gear - to regenerate and enhance local fish and shellfish populations, scallops in particular;
    c) investigating the fishery benefits of the No Take Zone and Marine Protected Area, particularly with regard to commercial invertebrate species; retaining the status quo outside Lamlash Bay.
  2. Undertake baseline biological surveys against which to assess affects of protection, in collaboration with national initiatives such as Seasearch and local expertise, such as the University Marine Biological Station Millport;
  3. Establish the local and national conservation significance of Lamlash Bay.

A full copy of the proposal is available on the COAST website.

Posted 03/03/05


Lunch With the FT 2005

Lunch with FT 2005 is an exciting new collaboration between the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the Financial Times to promote the vital need for sustainable management of fish stocks for the protection of our over-harvested and struggling marine ecosystem.

In November, moved by reports of over-fishing and the resulting devastation to marine life and habitats, and inspired by Charles Clover’s book ‘The End of the Line’, the Financial Times approached MCS with a proposal. They suggested that MCS should become the beneficiary charity of their annual promotion ‘Lunch with FT 2005’ running for 3 weeks in February in 150 of the best restaurants in Britain.

The FT has asked every participating chef to meet the challenge of creating their special menu using only fish recommended by MCS. MCS is really pleased with this opportunity to spread the message about the devastating impacts of unsustainable fishing, both to chefs and public alike. Scottish restaurants taking part in the promotion are listed below:

  • The Gallery Restaurant and Bar
    National Gallery of Scotland,
    The Mound,
    Edinburgh EH1 1SG
  • Kinnaird Hotel and Restaurant
    Kinnaird Estate,
    By Dunkeld
    Perthshire PH8 OLB
  • Pompadour Restaurant
    Caledonian Hilton Hotel,
    Princes St,
    Edinburgh EH1 2AB
  • Off the Wall Restaurant
    105 High St,
    The Royal Mile,
    Edinburgh EH1 1SG

In order to take advantage of this mouth-watering offer, all you need to do is make a reservation (quoting Lunch with the FT), download and print your exclusive pass (as many as you want) and take it along with you.

The pass entitles you and unlimited diners to a two-course meal. One pass is valid per reservation and you can print extra passes or collect them from the Weekend FT Newspaper on Saturday February 12,19 and 26 2005. Passes can be downloaded at the FT website

Posted 21/02/05


Seasearch Expeditions - Volunteers Needed!

Image: Seasearch logoMarion Perutz, Seasearch Co-ordinator in the North-East is organising a number of Seasearch events. Marion has two weekends organised  this summer to survey the north and east coasts of Aberdeenshire, centred on Stonehaven and Rosehearty. To get the weekends off the ground Marion needs boats, coxons and volunteers.

Seasearch has been running for some years now but this part of the Scottish coastline has had little survey work and there are very few records of what is actually there; a big blank on the map.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) have applied to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) for funding to offset costs of the volunteer seabed surveys but for that we must submit our proposals to SNH by the 15 March 2005.  Subject to the availability of boats, Seasearch surveyors/observers and the weather, the weekends of 21st - 22nd May and 2nd - 3rd July have been selected.  To carry out these surveys at least three boats (preferably RIBS) are needed for each weekend, together with trained Seasearch surveyors and observers from the local clubs; we could also be joined by trained Seasearch divers from other regions.

Would you and/or your club be willing to provide a boat and cox'n for one or both weekends?  So far Alan Bellerby can provide a 4.7m inflatable, for safety reasons two inflatables are needed to support one another.  Remember this is also a great opportunity for you to get your Seasearch qualifying dives signed off.

If you or your club are in a position to help please contact Marion.

Posted 21/02/05


Artificial Reef Proposed for Scapa

Orkney Dive Boat Operators Association (ODBOA) have propsed a project to sink a warship in Scapa Flow. The Association has already received the backing of Orkney Islands Councillors, who have provided financial help towards developing a business plan for finding and sinking an appropriate ship.

Divers visiting German World War I wrecks scuttled in the Flow during 1919, bring an estimated £3 million to the Orkney Islands every year. ODBOA warn that the wrecks have deteriorated after almost 90 years on the seabed and now is the time to invest in the industry's future.

HMS Scylla, an ex-Navy warship, sunk off the south coast of England in 2004 has proved hugely popular with divers. Boat operators in Orkney hope that a similar artificial reef in the islands will help to sustain the tourist industry and continue to attract divers to Scapa Flow.

Posted 12/02/05


Coastguard Warn of Flares Washed Up On Beach

Live phosphorus flares have been washed up on beaches around Ayr and Girvan on the west coast. Clyde Coastguard have issued a warning to anyone using beaches in the area to avoid handling the flares which are considered highly dangerous, since they may ignite spontaneously when dried out. The flares can also smoke and become very hot to the touch before igniting. People should certainly avoid picking them up. The Coastguard, Police and Joint Services Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team are working together to remove the flares.

John Griffiths, Rescue Co-ordination Centre Manager at Clyde Coastguard warned: "Since Friday up to 60 such flares have been found on beaches in the Girvan and Ayr area. The flares are waxy and yellow in colour, about nine inches long and two inches in diameter. There are no other visible marks. They have a faint petrol smell about them. Any such findings by members of the public should be immediately reported to the Coastguard or to the Police, via the emergency 999 system if necessary."

Seven Coastguard Rescue Teams are involved in the search for more flares. The flares are thought to have been driven onto the beach by a Northwesterly wind and rising tide.

Posted 12/02/05


Health Check for RRS Discovery

Photo: RRS DiscoveryA vital medical tool more commonly used for internal investigations in humans will be delving deep into a less likely patient this week. The University of Dundee will present Dundee Heritage Trust with a monitor to use with an endoscope for restoration work on the historic vessel, RRS Discovery.

Jeremy Martindale, an expert in minimal access surgery in the University's Medical School will present Dundee Heritage Trust with a second hand monitor to be used with an endoscope, previously donated by the University. The Trust will use this high tech medical equipment to seek out damage or decay in areas of the ship's hull that are difficult to access.

Jim Meldrum, the ships rigger, who served in the Merchant Navy and Alan Duffy who is the ships carpenter, will use the endoscope to get into the ship's hull to search for decay or water seepage. The new monitor will relay pictures from the camera so the tradesmen can identify what lies below and take action to repair any damage.

Jim explains: "The endoscope and monitor will let us do health checks on the parts of the ship we can't see on a regular basis. We won't have to dry dock the ship and remove its timber every time we need to check it. For such an historic ship that needs careful preservation, this is a great advantage."

Stewart Brymer, chair of Dundee Heritage Trust initially came up with the idea of using the endoscope on the Discovery. He said: "Endoscopes are usually associated with investigations in the human body but they are also used in industry to look into engines. I thought that given the University of Dundee's expertise in minimally invasive surgery we could use the same techniques on Dundee's ship."

"The longer rot is allowed to take root and spread on the ship, the longer it takes to conserve the old timber. We hope that this equipment will let us detect decay earlier and save us time in the restoration procedure."

Posted 12/02/05


Scottish Marine Life Watching Code

Scotland is to have a Marine Wildlife Watching Code. 

Under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 Scottish Natural Heritage must "prepare and issue a code, to be known as the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code, setting out recommendations, advice and information relating to commercial and leisure activities involving the watching of marine wildlife". Most commercial operators are already highly responsible, some already have codes, but not all do. It can be difficult to decide what to do to balance your visitors' wishes to get a good view with the need to cause minimum disturbance. For many people, watching marine wildlife is just part of what they do on or near the water. If you are in charge of any kind of boat, if you dive, if you just walk along the beach, you may have an impact on the wildlife around you. Some marine creatures have legal protection from harassment or disturbance. Following a sensible code will prevent you from committing an offence, however unwittingly.

Hambrey Consulting has been contracted by Scottish Natural Heritage to work with them and with all interested parties to write the Code. The wildlife tourism industry is going to help, but Hambrey also need ideas and views from recreational boat owners, divers, birdwatchers, otter fans, kayakers, anglers, jet-skiers and people who like to walk their dogs on a beach. This could mean you. To help you make your views heard Hambrey will be running a series of workshops around Scotland in spring 2005. You can also contact Hambrey via the Marine Code website. After the workshops, and reading your comments, Hambrey will write a draft Code for formal consultation which will be posted on the Marine Code website for comment.

What Will the Code Cover?
Whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, otters, turtles, seabirds and shore birds. All the above species can be found in Scottish waters and we want to keep them here. The Code will cover not just the animals themselves, but where they live, breed and feed so this includes beaches, estuaries, and the beach between high and low water. So, bait diggers, dog walkers, sand yacht racers, we need your views too.

Workshop Dates

LARGS - TUESDAY 8th MARCH
Nixons Hotel, 2 Barr Crescent, Largs
7.30pm

NORTH QUEENSFERRY - WEDNESDAY 9th MARCH
Corus Hotel North Edinburgh (North Queensferry Hotel)
7.30pm

OBAN - THURSDAY 10th MARCH
Balmoral Hotel, 4 Craigard Road, Oban
7.30pm

NORTH KESSOCK- TUESDAY 15th MARCH
North Kessock Hotel
7.30pm

Have your say by going along to a workshop or visiting the Marine Code website

Posted 12/02/05


Historic Diving Weekend at Deep Sea World

Deep Sea World, at North Queensferry, is taking a step back in time on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th April by dedicating a weekend to the fascinating history of scuba diving. The weekend, organised in association with the Historical Diving Society, will be packed full of demonstrations and talks on the history of diving over the past 100 years. All activities are free with general admission.

Using antique equipment such as lead boots, canvas suits and old style diving helmets, the Historic Diving Society will perform spectacular underwater demonstrations in Deep Sea World’s shark filled tank.

This is the second event Deep Sea World has hosted with the Historical Diving Society as Matthew Kane, Dive Officer for Deep Sea World, explains: 'We are delighted to welcome back the Historical Diving Society to Deep Sea World. The Society’s last visit was a fascinating experience for our dive team and a spectacle to watch. Scuba diving has changed dramatically over the past 100 years and this weekend will demonstrate how far we have come in terms of underwater technology. It will certainly be a fascinating experience for anyone interested in scuba diving. What the divers will have to look out for is our resident sharks - they are always curious about new people entering their habitat.'

Deep Sea World will be open between 10.00am - 6.00pm (last entry 5.00pm) on April 16th and 17th, for more details visit the Deep Sea World website.

Posted 12/02/05


SSAC Update on Deep Diving Award

This is an update to let everyone know how the award is progressing. On the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd of January, a core of Regional Instructors were successfully qualified to teach the Deep Diving Award. A few minor issues were raised during this initial run which will be integrated into the award. Hopefully by the time you read this report the amendments will have been made and course dates announced.

The initial core of instructors were chosen from all over the country. This will allow courses to be run in various locations, limiting the need for course candidates to travel excessive distances and also allow a greater number of courses to run throughout the year. On completion of the award, candidates with appropriate equipment will be qualified to dive to depths of 50m on air. However, it should be emphasised that this award is in no way a substitute for the Master Diver Award.

Eligibility and prerequisites for the award are as follows:
Eligibility

Those eligible to enrol on the award are experienced SSAC Sports Divers, Master Divers and First Class Divers who:

  • Hold current membership of the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club.
  • Hold a current medical certificate.
  • Are 18 years of age or older
Prerequisites

All divers must satisfy the following prerequisites PRIOR to attending the course;

  • Have the recommendation of the Branch Diving Officer
  • Hold the Dive leader Endorsement or have completed the Dive Leader part of the Master Diver Award
  • Have attended Master Diver lectures: advanced decompression and oxygen toxicity
  • Hold the Deep Rescue Endorsement
  • Have 75-100 dives with experience of a wide range of depths and diving in a wide variety of locations. 20 of these must be to a depth of 31m+ (sport divers to be accompanied by master diver instructors on any dive below 30m)

Courses will be arranged in a variety of locations, dates will be anounced shortly.

Graeme Forsyth

Posted 29/01/05


Seasearch Co-ordinators Appointed

Scotland has two new local Seasearch Co-ordinators, Marion Perutz and Owen Paisley. Marion has been appointed to the North East and Owen is taking on Western Scotland, Calum Duncan will continue to provide support to the whole of Scotland.

Marion is off to a flying start with three events organised to take place over the next couple of months;

  • Seasearch presentation: 7th Feb, 7.30 pm, at Aberdeen University, Taylor Bdg, Room C11.
    This is a an introductory talk about Seasearch including a short video presentation. All are welcome.
  • Seasearch Observer Course: 19th & 20th Feb., Stonehaven.
    This is a one day course in which we will tell you more about how to undertake a Seasarch survey and how to recognise Scottish marine life. We will hopefully be doing a practice Seasearch dive on the Sunday. Cost £30
  • Seasearch Surveyor Course: 12th & 13th Mar, Macduff.
    This two day course is for more experienced Searchers or enthusiastic marine biologists. We will teach you how to carry out a more detailed Seasearch survey and again there will be practice Seasearching on the Sunday. Cost £30.

For more information contact Marion Perutz or visit the Seasearch website.

Posted 29/01/05


Jacques Cousteau Odyssey

Think of a pioneer of scuba diving and nine out of ten divers (of a certain age) will come up with the name Jacques Cousteau. Ask the same question of non-divers and the answer will probably be the same.

Jacques Cousteau not only invented the aqualung, thus establishing the sport of scuba diving, but also shared his amazing undersea adventures with millions of people through the medium of television. Cousteau financed his exploration of the seas by producing TV documentaries, films and books. “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” was first shown on the BBC in 1968 and continued until 1976, capturing the hearts and minds of a generation, and setting the standard for future wildlife documentary programmes.

In the aftermath of the BBC's amazing "Blue Planet" it's difficult to imagine the impact these early programmes had on the viewing public. Today a quick look at any TV listings magazine will reveal a number of programmes about wrecks, sharks or whales; even TV drama often contains the odd underwater shot, but back in 1968 no-one had seen below the surface of the ocean. Cousteau showed Joe Public life beneath the waves for the first time and they loved it!

Luckily for all of us a complete set of Cousteau's documentary programmes will be released shortly on DVD. The 6 DVD set includes all 12 episodes of "The Cousteau Odyssey" plus explorations of wrecks, island reefs and the river Nile. The Region 1 set is due out in the USA on April 19th 2005 priced at $41.19, and is available to pre-order from Amazon.com. At the time of writing the set is not advertised in the UK.

Posted 20/01/05


SSAC Diary Dates

This year's Diving Officers' Conference will take place on Sunday, 27th February at lecture theatre A3, Stirling University.

The SSAC Annual General Meeting is scheduled for Sunday 20th March at the same venue - all welcome.

Posted 15/01/05


 
SOS - Save Our Seas!

Photo: a future for our seas leafletThe Marine Conservation Society need your help to Save Our Seas! The MCS believe there are now clear signs that our seas are in crisis.

The Society say: "For too long our seas have been ignored, receiving paltry protection compared to land based habitats. Habitats and species are threatened and in decline as never before from human activities, including developement, over-fishing and climate change. Out-moded laws and complex consenting processes are still making a mockery of the Government’s vision of “clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas”.

We need a fundamental reform of how our seas are managed and protected and comprehensive marine conservation legislation now.

Tony Blair and 300 MPs have already indicated support for marine legislation, but they now need the public to show their support and tell them we need action."

Divers are members of a very small and privileged group who experience the marine environment first hand. If you care about the marine environment please sign the MCS petition online.

Posted 09/01/05


 
The Braer Disaster - 12 years on

The MV Braer ran aground off the coast of Shetland on the 5 January 1993, spilling 85,000 tonnes of oil and killing some 5,000 seabirds. The Braer grounding could have been a much greater disaster. Breeding birds were away from Shetland, and the stormy weather dispersed the oil. However, oil has settled into the sediment in the Fair Isle Channel which means that the langoustine fishery has still not been re-opened. Much of the light crude oil the Braer was carrying dispersed quickly, but it is more toxic than the heavier crude oils which were carried by the Prestige and the Erika.

In the wake of the Braer oil spill the Donaldson Inquiry recommended that the most sensitive and environmentally valuable parts of our coastal seas should be identified as Marine Environment High Risk Areas (MEHRAs) in order to protect them from such disasters.

It now appears that the publication of the long over due report from the Department for Transport (DfT) containing its choices of Marine Environmental High Risk Areas is finally about to happen. Scottish Environment Groups hope that the report will identify sites in UK waters and will put forward management measures that will at last give much needed protection from the threat of shipping accidents.

"In 1993, the Shetland Islands got off lightly from the Braer spill, as most of the oil was swept out to sea - but we can't rely on fate alone to get us off the hook next time." said Helen McLachlan, Convener of the Scottish Environment LINK Marine Task Force.

Although less than one per cent of the Braer's load was washed ashore, the concentration in the sea was much higher. Inshore fisheries and salmon farms were badly affected, with oil concentrations up to 20,000 times higher than normal, and the harvests were lost. Fishing in the area was suspended for several weeks.

Fish, shellfish, marine mammals and various bird species were all affected by the spill. The Shetlands are known for their large colonies of birds, and many rare species stop there during migration. It is estimated that up to 32,000 birds could have perished because of the Braer oil spill.

NGOs including the Marine Conservation Society, WWF, Scottish Wildlife Trust, The National Trust for Scotland and RSPB Scotland have since campaigned for the introduction of Marine Environmental High Risk Areas to protect fragile marine areas. In the meantime, pollution incidents at sea have continued to occur such as the Sea Empress in 1996 and Jambo in 2003.

It is anticipated that approximately 10% of the UK coastline will be selected as Marine Environment High Risk Areas. However, NGOs are concerned that some of the UK's most sensitive coastal waters will be overlooked as the methodology developed for identifying MEHRAs in 1999 was flawed.

Furthermore, the identification of the sites alone will be of little use unless effective measures are introduced to tackle the threats from marine accidents.

After a ten year wait for the selection of MEHRAs, they must:

  1. include sites which give adequate cover to the UK's most precious and sensitive marine sites e.g the Scilly Isles, St Kilda and the Minch;
  2. include comprehensive management measures e.g. areas to be avoided and vessel traffic separation schemes. Without effective management measures the MEHRAs will be pointless;
  3. include a tight action plan for implementation - we must not wait another year.

"We will be looking very carefully at the forthcoming announcement and report on MEHRAs and fully participating in the consultation regarding the types of mitigation and management measures that could be introduced at individual sites." said Calum Duncan, Scottish Officer for the Marine Conservation Society.

Posted 09/01/05


 
Protection for Wreck of Historic Sub

Photo:Holland 5
Picture supplied by the Royal Navy Submarine Museum,
click on the picture for a larger image.

The wreck site of a prototype submarine has been designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. The Holland no.5 was one of the first submarines developed with a conning tower and periscope. The Order, which comes into effect on Jan 4th, will protect the wreck site from being damaged by unauthorised interference.

Holland no.5 was the last of five submarines built under license at the Vickers Maxim shipyard, Barrow-in-Furness, by the Holland Torpedo Boat Company. John P. Holland designed and built submarines for the United States Navy before taking on the British commission in 1900. The American Type 6 vessel was described by one US newspaper as "Uncle Sam's Devil of the Deep" but Holland improved on the design producing bigger and more powerful submarines for the Royal Navy. The Holland no.5 was launched in May 1902 and foundered off the coast of East Sussex on 8 August 1912. The wreck was rediscovered in 2000.

Heritage Minister Andrew McIntosh said: “The Holland no.5 played a short but significant role in the evolution of the British submarine and the survival of this boat gives a unique opportunity to study the technology of the time including the possible prototype of the submarine periscope.

“Only two of the Holland submarines survive today. The Holland no.5 is thought to be intact and in good condition. I am pleased that this Order will preserve the wreck site allowing proper study of the vessel and preventing any vandalism by trophy hunters.”

Holland no.1 was salvaged in 1982 and is now displayed at the RN Submarine Museum at Gosport in Hampshire.

Posted 04/01/05


Kingston Bridge Lane Closures

Glasgow's Kingston Bridge, which carries the M8 over the Clyde, is to undergo an eleven million-pound refurbishment this year. Work will start on January 29th 2005 and is expected to continue until January 2006. Regular travellers on the bridge are already used to traffic disruption on Scotland's busiest road bridge following extended roadworks during 2000, 2003 and 2004.

The latest work is aimed at upgrading and strengthening the bridge. The Stobcross on-ramp and westbound near side lane will be closed throughout the work. Four lanes of the west bound carriageway and the one lane of the West Street off-ramp will be kept open during the day. Overnight work will cause lane closures affecting westbound traffic. Divers travelling to the west coast via Glasgow are advised to visit the NADICS website for more detailed information.

Posted 01/01/05


 
Tsunami Appeal

No doubt everyone has seen reports of the disaster following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated so many coastal areas of the Indian Ocean. The areas affected are well known dive destinations so will be familiar to many in SSAC. Sadly people living in these coastal regions are amongst the poorest in the world, the survivors desperately need our help to rebuild their lives.

The Disasters Emergency Committee is now accepting online and telephone donations to the disaster relief appeal. Visit the website at www.dec.org.uk or telephone 0870 6060900. Anyone with a Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) account can give online at the All About Giving website.

Please give generously, every penny counts.

Posted 31/12/04


 
Coastguard Scuppers Ebay Pirate

The Receiver of Wreck, together with the Mary Rose Trust, issued a warning today to those tempted to purchase objects on the internet auction house eBay, or elsewhere, that are listed as having come from the wreck of the Mary Rose.

The Trust states that such items are highly unlikely to have come from the Mary Rose, and if they are, they will have been acquired illegally. Anyone who sees such an item is advised to contact the Trust to ascertain provenance.

The warning has come as a result of a recent attempt by an individual to sell a cannon ball on eBay for over £5,000 claiming that it had come from the Mary Rose. The Mary Rose Trust were alerted to the sale by one of the divers who had worked on the excavation and knew that the Trust has a policy that all artefacts from the excavation are kept in the Mary Rose collection with many of them on display at the museum in Portsmouth. The Mary Rose is one of 55 sites in the UK that are designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.

The Mary Rose Trust believed that the items must either be from another source, or have been acquired illegally, and passed the matter on to the Receiver of Wreck who has powers to seize illegally held wreck material and to investigate such matters under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

The Receiver of Wreck worked in conjunction with eBay, and with Hampshire Police Marine Unit, who confiscated 14 cannonballs from the premises of the vendor. These were later inspected by Curator of Ordnance at the Mary Rose Trust, Alexzandra Hildred, who confirmed that they had none of the features found on shot from the Mary Rose. Enquiries into the origins of the shot are still being conducted by the Police Marine Unit and it is believed they are 18th or 19th century in date and were recovered on the shores of the River Hamble.

The Receiver of Wreck, Sophia Exelby said: “This joint operation shows that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is willing and able to act on credible information received in relation to offences regarding illegally held wreck material. Although these cannonballs did not ultimately come from the Mary Rose, the principles of investigation and enforcement are the same and will be applied to any other such cases which arise.”

John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust said: “We are delighted that the Receiver of Wreck took swift action to investigate the claim that this iron shot was from the Mary Rose. There should not be any artefacts from the Mary Rose in private hands apart from a few curios made from Mary Rose timber recovered in the 1830s and we would always like to be alerted to any fraudulent or illegal sales.

“We are relieved that the shot turned out to be nothing to do with the Mary Rose, but are not pleased that the vendor tried to pass them off as genuine and even used a photograph taken without authority from our website.”

Posted 21/12/04


Diving Medical Requirements for 2005

Inline with other diving agencies a proposal has been put forward regarding diving medicals. The proposal is that SSAC take up a yearly (self certificated) medical for every diving member of the club. The proposal was made to was put to the General Committee (GC) and approved at a joint meeting of the National Diving Committee (NDC) and the GC on 24th November, 2004.

This means that from the 1st January 2005 each diving member of SSAC is required to submit a yearly self-certificate medical along with your renewal form.

Medical forms can be downloaded here, obtained from your branch or by telephoning HQ on 0141-425-1021.

Safe and happy diving

Kevin J Webb, NDO

Posted 19/12/04


NAS Scotland Open Days

The Nautical Archaeology Society, Scotland will be holding four open days in 2005. The days will allow NAS members and the public to view a collection of finds from wrecks in Scottish waters. The National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh will host the open days on March 5th - 6th and again on March 12th - 13th, 2005.

Posted 08/11/04


Deep Rescue Endorsement

Why do we need a deep rescue endorsement?
The training schedule states that the assessment for Sport Diver includes a rescue from 10m but when a Sport Diver qualifies they can dive to 30m. Similarly the Master diver assessment requires a rescue from 15m but when qualified Master Divers can dive to 40m.

The Deep Rescue endorsement will teach divers to lift an unconscious diver to the surface safely with a buoyant lift.
The pre requisites for this course are

1) Hold current membership of Scottish Sub Aqua Club (SSAC)
2) Hold current medical certificate
3) Have been a member of SSAC for 2 years
4) Hold the 20/30m ascents for Master Diver assessment
5) Hold the dry suit endorsement unless diving in semi dry suit
6) 5 dives between 25/35m must be completed before course (A Master Diver Branch Instructor must accompany Sport Divers for no 6)

Billy Symington deep rescue co-ordinator
You can contact me through SSAC HQ

Posted 08/11/04


Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004

An underwater photographer has claimed the top prize in this years Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award. Doug Perrine, who is well knon for his photographs of sharks, scooped the prestigious prize with his beautiful picture of two Bronze Whaler sharks charging a bait ball during the sardine run. Doug Perrine describes taking the photograph;

"During the annual sardine run, vast shoals of sardines migrate up the east coast of South Africa. A kilometre off Transkei’s Wild Coast, a pod of common dolphins herded sardines to the surface in a ‘baitball’. Other predators soon rushed in, including bottlenose dolphins, tuna, Cape gannets and thousands of sharks. The sharks would charge through the baitball, bursting through the other side or shooting clear out of the water, their mouths stuffed full of fish. So intent were they on feeding that they often bumped me as they rushed past. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life."

Charles Hood, one of the UK's best known underwater photographers, was highly commended in the Underwater World section for his head on picture of a hammerhead shark. Another UK photographer, Pete Atkinson, won the Innovation Award with his picture of a grey reef shark. Other marine life photos were commended or highly commended in several sections of the competition. To see the photos online visit the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005 website

Following the award ceremony on Saturday 23rd of October pictures from the competition will go on show in a travelling exhibition. The exhibition will visit the following venues in Scotland and the north of England;

Posted 22/10/04


Overview of SSAC National Courses

The Scottish Sub Aqua Club (SSAC) run many national courses, courses that are brought together by SSAC members, for SSAC members.

The concept for a course can have many catalysts to start the ball rolling. Although we all have our own day jobs, so to speak, it never ceases to amaze me the time, effort and enthusiasm that members put into not only the course content but also the running of a course, as you can appreciate we also like to dive as well.

So what courses do we run at present ? Well the obvious ones are:

    • Sport Diver
    • Master Diver
    • First Class Diver

These first three are our diver grades that can be run as weekend courses.

    • Branch Instructor
    • Regional Instructor
    • Examiner

These second three are our Instructor grades.

    • Nitrox
    • Oxygen Administration and Heart Start
    • First Aid

These three are safety orientated.

There are other courses we have all been talking about, one that has been a bone of contention for some of you, yes you all know the one I mean, the Deep Diving Course. You will be pleased to know that after a lot of hard work put in by many members it is now imminent.

We have also put into place a number of course management changes. The main one will be that we will now have Course Directors. They will be in overall charge of their designated course, and Course Co-ordinators who will work under the watchful eye of the Course Directors for each course.

Course Directors will produce a statement of progress for each course, and each course will undoubtedly evolve both due to diving practises and new equipment being brought out.

There are also a number of new courses that we are looking at. Again the Course Directors will issue a statement detailing the course content and time frame for running new courses.

Training Weekends
Unfortunately there will be no training weekends running this year, but we are looking at running these again in the New Year. The emphasis will be on training at open water and Master Diver levels, with assessments at Branch Instructor, Regional Instructor and Examiner levels. More details will be forwarded to your Diving Officer and Regional Coach.

We firmly believe that the courses we in the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club strive to create, to maintain and to deliver are second to none. We also believe that all the courses can, and will be taken to the membership, in short all regions of the country will have access to all of our training.

As you can see a lot goes on behind the scenes. We as a club need to keep moving forward, but we need to move forward safely. That is why it takes time to bring new courses out to you the membership.

Safe and Happy Diving,

Kevin Webb, National Diving Officer and the National Dving Committee


Deep Diving Course

At the last National Diving Committee (NDC) meeting it was decided to appoint a Course Director who in turn would appoint Course Co-ordinators to be able to run the courses and to finalise the Deep Diving Award with regard to safety issues, practicalities of teaching this award at the open water stage and the core of instructors to carry this forward.

The course may appear to have been a long time in the making but as with all other SSAC issues, the safety of the members is paramount in determining when a course is ready to be offered for deployment.

The Deep Diving Course will be available to members who hold the necessary pre-requisites; details of these pre-requisites and course dates will be announced in the near future.

A few key members have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to help bring this course forward and I would like to thank them at this point.

More hard work is still needed to finalise and run these courses and I would like to invite any Regional Instructors who wish to help to contact myself through SSAC HQ.

Graeme Forsyth, Deep Diving Director

Posted 12/10/04


Appointment of our new Acting National Diving Officer

It gives me great pleasure to announce that at the joint meeting of the National Diving Council and the General Committee on the 11 August 04, Kevin Webb was appointed into the above role, filling the void left by Rab. Kevin is an active Branch member & instructor in Carlisle, our Regional Instructor course co-ordinator, a Regional Coach, an Examiner and up until his appointment the Vice-Chair of the SSAC.

I’m sure you’ll give him your support in this new role along with the N.D.C., which remains as elected.

Kindest regards,

Ken Smith, Chair, The SSAC

Kevin can be contacted by email at ndo@scotsac.com