Before you take up diving…some things you should know

A house festooned with diving kit

I am a naturally fair person, if I write only glowy happy stuff I get guilty and I have to go away and write the other side of the story because that’s fair and stops people from making huge errors in judgement – boy did they brainwash me with the informed consent stuff back in the day!

So to balance the incredibly gushy posts I have written recently about the joy aquatic please note the following issues should you decide to take up diving, particularly if you are female :-

1. VANITY – If you are vain you might as well forget this now, diving is like childbirth, you’re not going to look good doing this, it’s actually impossible. Between the rivers of snot you produce, the hair that tangles into an uncombable ball and the deeply unattractive pressure marks your mask will leave on your face this is not a sport for those who have to look good. You’re never going to surface looking like some sleek haired super model with your skin gilded by the sun.

No one looks good in a mask

Underwater your skin is greenish white like a long dead alien, but fortunately you will be unrecognisable in any pictures your evil dive friends will take due to mask and regulator distorting your features like some comedy iPhone app. I now routinely take out a contract on anybody possessing surface pictures of me on the basis that some grubby eco warrior may turn up and try to set me free but I will allow below surface pictures to see the light of cyber space as even my own mother wouldn’t recognise me. HINT – Impress your Facebook friends with your adventurous lifestyle, cut and paste a library scuba diving image to your timeline, nobody will know it isn’t you.

2. DIGNITY – Close on the heels of vanity comes dignity, prepare to lose it if you take up diving. By the time some sturdy dive master has heaved you into the inflatable dive boat and you have landed in the foot well looking like the kind of aquatic mammal that washes up on beaches and has the locals trying to encourage it back into the open sea you will realise that the last smear test you had in front of a class of teenage trainee nurses was actually discrete and kind by comparison. Before you ever get to the boat you will have wriggled and levered yourself into a tight wetsuit on a public beach whilst tourists gaze on having been distracted from the latest blockbuster by the way you bend the laws of physics by forcing so much flesh into neoprene – it’s all a bit TARDIS, we’re all bigger inside our wetsuits! If it has taken two men and a wrestling hold to zip up your wetsuit you can ramp up the humiliation factor by ten.

Side Note:- Please excuse any typing errors, I’m trying to write this whilst Nick is hoovering my keyboard! He doesn’t realise cigarette ash is all that holds it together and is an excellent conductor.

Nick a man of many attachments - he even has a compressor nozzle that attaches to his BCD hose so he can clean his dyson!

3. WEALTH – You will become poorer, quickly; this sport has more accessories than Ann Summers. Actually it’s a lot like Ann Summers, between stuff you wear and stuff that bleeps, restrains, informs and adorns, all of which come in a variety of day glo colours, scuba diving is fetish heaven with a higher price tag. The minute something is even vaguely related to Scuba the price triples, from writing slates to laminated fish identification any bit of plastic that can be used underwater will set you back a fortune. Even the stuff that holds your kit after you have finished using it costs a fortune – want a coathanger to hold your BCD and regulators, £10 please, for one! Nick, being Nick, is of course accumulating accessories at warp factor seven and the tea shop is overflowing with small packets of “o” rings (how many do you bloody need?!), lumpy and exciting parcels that contain regulators and hoses, dive tools (euphemism for large knives!), defogger for masks, silicon gel for serious slipperiness (reason unknown and I’m not asking), and other things too obscure to describe. I have bought only one thing, a little rubber necklace that allows my alternate air supply to rest just below my chin instead of being crammed in my BCD pocket or trailing behind me. This has been sneered at by assorted dive masters and dive buddies as akin to a baby having a dummy on a ribbon, but that’s boys for you, it’s so manly to contort yourself like a lightening struck shark to find your alternate air when you need it. Incidentally, your boyfriend/partner/nearest man will try to make all equipment choices for you and will refuse to take into consideration the clear fact that you are built differently to them (they haven’t actually noticed you have breasts – See VANITY above) and will therefore try and force upon you their own favourite brand of scuba bondage gear.

4. TEDIUM – You will become very boring, because you are a convert and converts tend to bang on a lot about stuff with tedious zeal. New Scuba divers only talk about diving; most sentences will begin “When I went diving in the Red Sea/Maldives/Stoney Cove…..” even if they are only talking about the price of bread. It’s amazing how any topic can be turned to talking about diving. If you ask Nick the time the reply will be “When I started my dive at Scapa Flow the time was…….” To all my friends and family who are now being subjected to the endless tedium of me talking about diving, boring for Britain about my diving courses, bitching for Britain about my lack of funds to buy diving kit and my constant assurances that they are not too old/tired/frightened/unfit or not interested enough to dive, I apologise, it will wear off, I think. It could be worse, I could like football.

Hard choices - more boots or more diving kit???

5. CHOICE – You will have to decide between a new pair of Kurt Geiger boots and an Oceanic dive computer, unless you are nicely wealthy, and this is a tough call (I went for the Oceanics Dive Computer, I’d already bought the Kurt Geigers in August, so they don’t count under the three week rule as espoused by my good and sensible friend Victoria). Equally all travel of any type will revolve around diving opportunities, it is now impossible for Nick to pop down town for some milk without fitting in a quick reef dive. Duty trips home to the UK will now be taken under extreme duress and only during very cold times of the year and stand a good chance of being cancelled if Turkish Airlines come up with a special flight price to the Red Sea (which they bloody well have! 99 Euros returns! Argh!).

Despite all of the above I don’t think I could now give up Diving, the plusses do actually outweigh the negatives and I was never big on vanity or dignity and I’ve never been the kind of girl who sits on the beach looking lovely whilst the boys play.

The people help, without a doubt, this whole thing is starting to look suspiciously like a social life, between the ever changing montage of visitors who brighten your diving day to the locals who bring you into their circle there is a lovely camaraderie that has nothing to do with nationality or booze and that’s a good thing, because it’s thin on the ground here.

And then there is the trust. Whilst I may not trust with my life every person I dive with there are many that I do, including all of my instructors, and for someone who is as quietly lonely as I am, who generally sorts everything herself, no matter how awful, to have a group of people who generate calm feelings of support around me, well that’s priceless and worth any negative. Thanks to them all.