These days, our former DO, Geoff (as above), is almost a one-man dive club. He has sent the following summary of his year:
For those interested, short videos of my adventures through 2019 can be accessed via my YouTube channel:
Looking back on 2019, it has been quite an active year for me including some new dive destinations and bucket list items ticked off. In the early days of January, with several weeks of UK gloom ahead I booked a week at Beaches resort in Turks and Caicos for early February. The dive shop there did not support rebreathers so this was a week of relaxing open circuit diving in warm, crystal clear water with abundant sea life, including Caribbean Reef sharks on almost every dive.
In March, Andy Balthrop (another 406 exile) joined me on a trip to Malta diving with our friends at Dive Systems Malta. For those that have not visited Malta there is an abundance of wrecks to explore, and although the marine life is not as plentiful as in other locations, we did get to see octopus, some great wrecks and a sea tunnel.
In April, I headed out to Pula in Croatia with the boys from Nuttys Dive Centre in Essex for some cold-water rebreather diving on a selection of WW1 wrecks with ‘Diving Center Shark’. Although we lost two days due to bad weather (still a little early in the season) we managed some excellent dives on a variety of wrecks during the day, and enjoyed the local seafood and accompanying libations in the evening.
May was a relatively quiet month with just a trip to the National Diving & Activity Centre (NDAC) in Chepstow with some fellow rebreather divers from BSAC 365. NDAC is an inland flooded quarry that has some interesting sinkings, including aircraft, military vehicles and assorted boats / trawlers. With the benefit of the rebreathers and “devil gas” (trimix to the uninitiated) we banked a few 70m dives, although burning deco time in 8 C water is no fun without suitable undergarments in a dry suit. NDAC was the “warm up” for something that should be on every divers bucket list – diving the wrecks of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow, Orkney. Fortunately, three places on MV Huskyan became available at short notice, so myself, Roger and Paul from BSAC 365 took advantage and had a memorable week diving these historic wrecks. If considering a trip to dive Scapa Flow, I strongly recommend going with Emily and the MV Huskyan, excellent captain, superb dive vessel.
July saw me returning to Grenada with my long suffering “dive widow” wife Dee. Although I like visiting new places it is difficult not to go back to Grenada. As a destination it has everything a diver could want, plus Dee was happy that I would disappear each day for a few hours, leaving her in peace. Grenada has an abundance of outstanding reef and wreck diving, complimented by equally impressive island life. If considering a visit to Grenada I recommend diving with Eveline Verdier at ScubaTech, a member of the PADI Women’s Hall of Fame.
In early August I was fortunate enough to meet up with some fellow 406 Exiles (Derek, Robin, the Daltons and Cara) for a few refreshments in the ‘Pirate’ quarter of Wapping, East London, where several 16th century public houses line the River Thames. As a break from the diving programme, I headed out to the Balkan states in August to climb the highest peaks in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. This is a wonderful and currently unspoilt part of the world and highly recommended for those with wanderlust!
In September, a few of us including 406 exile Mike Dalton and his lovely wife Zulfa headed to Plymouth for a weekend diving some of the many wrecks in the area. Although the Saturday was a bit choppy we managed some very enjoyable dives including HMS Scylla and the classic James Eagan Layne.
As one last hurrah for the year, I headed out to Grand Cayman in October, primarily to tick off the USS Kittiwake, a regular contender in the top ten wreck dive sites list. Like Turks & Caicos, the water conditions here are ideal – 50+m visibility, 28°C water temperature and abundant sea life. Again, on the rebreather, my dive itinerary included a few 65m dives and one epic 3 hour 46 minute dive. A weekend diving out of Portland had been lined up by BSAC 365 in mid-November but poor weather conditions scuppered those plans bringing my 2019 diving calender to a close with just a short break to visit the Christmas Markets in Budapest in December to conclude my 2019 travel adventures.
Looking back, it has been a pretty good year; 55 dives completed with most of these on “the box” (not including several pool skill refresher dives), deepest dive 70m and longest dive 3 hours 46 minutes.
Now in my 60th year, plans for 2020 are already in development, with trips to Larnaca (April) and Farne Islands (August) already booked and potential destinations including Costa Rica, Norway and SE Asia on the dance card, 2020 should be an interesting year.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy and safe 2020.
Ian Hussey and Dive Member Contributions.