Some members of Penrith Divers have decided to head off on an adventure, setting up a new dive club - Eden Valley Divers - to provide more opportunities to further the sport in this area and expand ScotSAC's southern territory. We wish them every success as well as happy and safe diving in the future.
Picture the scene - your mother sadly passes away, leaving you a fabulous woven gold bracelet as a keepsake. You safely lock it away, resolving only to bring it out for very special occasions. A few years pass and your son decides to get married - a special occasion indeed and a very fitting chance to bring your mother's memory along too.
The ceremony progresses beautifully and now it's time for some photographs with Lake Ullswater as a stunning backdrop. All is going well until you are helped up from sitting on the jetty and tragedy strikes! The clasp of your precious bracelet comes undone and it drops into the water below.
Wading into the lake is no good as there is a steep drop before reaching the place the bracelet fell. Even the best efforts of a passing wild swimmer are to no avail! What next? Call in Penrith Divers to see what they can do.
David and Katie took up the challenge and set off on a drizzly evening to attempt the almost impossible. After a chat with the hotel's wedding co-ordinator, George, who had strategically marked the site of the incident, they suited up and got going. The plan was to set off from either side of the post in question - having been careful to walk out a good distance away from the jetty to avoid stirring up the silt - and meet up in the middle for a second sweep. As luck would have it none of this careful planning was necessary as Katie managed, having spent a short time trying to get her bearings and figure out exactly where the jetty was underwater, to swim right over the top of the bracelet's resting place amongst the weed. All that remained was to have a quick look around in case there was anything else there to find, attract David's attention and re-surface to inform the curious young holiday makers who had stopped to see what was going on about what we had been doing.
All in all an extremely successful mission with a very happy lady (and a good write up in the Herald) at the end of it :-)
I HAD my chance. Clear blue waters with temperatures of around 28C, the world’s largest coral reef system, home to some of the most vulnerable and endangered species in the world … I came close to learning to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef when visiting Queensland, Australia, more than 10 years ago.
Circumstances went against me and it never happened, but the desire to try it never went away. So when Penrith Divers offered me the chance to give it a go at their weekly training sessions at Penrith swimming pool, I literally jumped at the opportunity to take the plunge.
Unsure what to expect, I was a little daunted by the number of experienced divers around me, but my instructor, Richard Govan, soon put me at ease and everyone was keen that I enjoy the experience.
Charlotte Skelton, from Morland, who started diving ahead of a school trip to Indonesia seven years ago, loaned me her kit. The 24-year-old wanted to do some underwater studies during her visit, so it made sense for her to learn how to dive before she went. Her dad, Dave, decided to go along too and is now an instructor and chairman of the club.
Just a few minutes of introducing me to the kit and some safety advice and I was straight into the water, tentatively ducking my head at first, just to check I was breathing correctly. Breathing only through your mouth, using tanked air, takes a little practice, but I soon felt comfortable and was off to the deeper waters, with Richard closely in tow, in case I felt uncomfortable or was struggling in any way.
Kicking too hard, I was zooming ahead at first, but after I learned to relax, clear my mask if it let water in, and became more at ease with the buoyancy of my vest (BCD), I began to enjoy myself.
“Have you ever done gymnastics?” asked Richard after a while.
“No …” I replied tentatively, unsure what he was going to ask me to do!
“Well, you’re going to do a forward roll,” he announced, confidently.
“No, I’m going to land on my head …” I thought to myself, with confidence falling short of his own. But sure enough, after watching Richard demonstrate, to my surprise (and I do believe to Richard’s if he’s honest!), I managed some underwater acrobatics too, completing an unaided forward roll under the water. I do believe I’ve already caught the bug! Scuba diving clearly appeals to people of all ages. The oldest member at Penrith Divers is 70 and the youngest 16.
Secretary David Bell is holding the mantle for the older generation and has been scuba diving for 14 years, after starting on the island of Koh Samui, Thailand, in 2003.
Despite being in his 50s when he started, he felt he was “never too old to learn” and after five days of thorough training, did his first open water dive at Sail Rock and was hooked. David joined ScotSAC and Penrith Divers in late 2008 and attained sports diver level in the first 12 months, finished master diver training in March, 2012, and qualified as a branch instructor in early 2014.
He has now clocked up 400 dives in places ranging from Ullswater to Zanzibar and the Maldives.
Dylan Beattie, aged 16, and his brother Josh, 18, are the next generation at the club, with Dylan qualified as an open water diver and Josh a qualified sports diver.
While diving equipment is not cheap, the benefits of learning with a club include the fact you can borrow kit until you are certain that diving is for you.
All that is needed to start out is a club membership, which gives you all your training at the pool for the year for free, and membership of the training accreditation organisation ScotSAC. Penrith Divers meet at the town swimming pool every Sunday morning between 9 and 10am. For more information, visit penrithdivers.co.uk.
A fantastic slideshow from founder member Frank James (with a little assistance from Andy Holliman) gave many former members the chance to meet up once again, as well as offering the current members some insight into what had gone before.
Grateful thanks to Claire and Steve Bland for all their time and effort with catering, lighting management and location facilitation. A good time was had by all.
Report in Cumberland and Westmorland Herald reunites founder member.
After seeing the report of Penrith Divers’ trip to Lanzarote, one of the club’s founder members - Frank James – was prompted to hunt for some early club information he knew was stored somewhere. Coming up with copies of meeting minutes from 1978/79, national council minutes from the same time and some early suggestions for the club logo, Frank then contacted us via our website and arranged to meet up.
He was invited to our next meeting and welcomed by the club. After the regular meeting business was concluded he captivated the present members with information about how Penrith branch was formed in early 1978, following a split between the then Carlisle /Penrith branch and also with tales of “Real Divers”, none of this drysuit stuff for them! At the end of the meeting Frank offered to put together a slide show of early photos of dive trips covered by the club, which was gratefully accepted.
He also visited our training session at the Leisure Centre on Sunday morning to complete the hand over the files to David Bell, our present club secretary, leaving with the thought that he should come back some time to get in the water.
Frank’s slide show will be on the evening of Wednesday 11th Jan 2017 and any club members, past or present, are welcome to come along and have a chat. If you are interested, please contact us through the website www.penrithdivers.co.uk or ring David on 01768483932 to give us an idea of numbers
That’s Frank James slide show for past and present members
Wed 11th Jan 2017 19:30 at Abbot Lodge Ice cream parlour.
Seven members of Penrith Divers (sporting new club shirts sponsored by Abbott Lodge Jersey Ice Cream) and their partners met early one morning at Edinburgh airport ready to jet off for a week of diving with Manta Divers at Puerto Del Carmen. Guided ably by George, the group visited caves, swim-throughs, lava walls and even an underwater art installation - the Museo Atlantico.
As day one was Halloween, the challenge had to be diving in fancy dress! Club members rose to
the occasion well but the Barracuda, Sardine shoals, Sea-horses and assorted other sea life that we
passed didn’t seem impressed. However, some members who, up to now, had only dived in English waters were surprised that you were able to see for more than 10 meters underwater and astonished by the amount and variety of sea life around them.
From day two we were joined for the remainder of the week by some of our Welsh brethren, who gratefully received their club shirts and adapted well to Northern Club life. This day involved two more dives from the old sea wall steps with sightings of Angel Sharks on both dives and an Octopus or two again.
After the day’s two dives it was becoming standard to meet
the partners for a tapas lunch followed by a relaxing
afternoon in the sun.
For the divers, day three involved a visit to the underwater statues and a reef dive from a boat with both dives proving that you don't need to go deep for good diving.
For the non-divers there was a full range of activities from a bus trip round the island for some to an
experimental dip under the water for others.
The excitement continued after the sun went down with a night dive where we had chance to see lots of the small, young and timid sea creatures that try to stay safe by not venturing out in the daytime.
Day four was a very special day for one club member who celebrated both his 500th dive and 68th birthday. As Lanzarote is a regular haunt, the day’s boat trip was chosen to include his favourite part of the local reef. A drop down to 18 meters then over the edge of the wall to 30 meters led to encounters with large Barracuda and Grouper along with some of the more usual local wildlife. The
second dive was to the wrecks just off (and in one case built into) the harbour wall. As well as exploring the wrecks, there was much excitement on reaching the bottom as we were joined first by
a Stingray and then by one of the biggest Angel Sharks we had yet seen. All of which made the time spent decompressing at the end well worth it.
Our last day’s diving continued the trend with two very good dives from Black Beach, enjoying some spectacular swim-throughs and a last chance to marvel at creatures like Cuttlefish, Garden Eels and Fireworms. On the way back to the dive centre, members were already asking “Where shall we go next year?”.
Days 6 & 7
The last day and a half on the island involved the obligatory no diving time to allow our bodies to
get back to normal before flying. There were some spectacular thunderstorms to watch and a
chance for the non-divers to show off what they’d learnt about the local area and the island’s
culture. Not to mention a spot of rugby and the famous local Honey Rum to be enjoyed.
Finally its time to get back into English waters and training sessions at Penrith Leisure Centre each
Following some intense negotiations (and good working relationships) with the land owners, we were kindly given permission to dive the River Eden near Lazonby. Rob, Steve and David formed the advance party to check out the suitability of the site for the rest of the club.
25 minutes later and the decision was that it was a good, if slightly shallow at 5m max, dive with a different set of challenges to those presented by the lakes.
A new challenge for the club to experience in small, controlled groups when circumstances allow :-)
At last, after many years of discussions and much worrying about cost and specs, the club has a new compressor!
A fun afternoon/evening was had trying to sort last minute dilemmas and manoeuvre the not-so-light machinery,
followed by a day or two of frantic searching for electrical components and people to sort them but the new beast is now in and settled, more than halving the time needed to be spent waiting for tanks to fill. Here's to many happy breaths with her help.
Everyone enjoyed the good food mainly prepared by Ann with assistance from David on barby, good company helping the ladies to put faces to names, a few beers and wine rounded off with the great weather.
The day helped to celebrate a good 12 months with several members gaining new certificate levels.
Sports Diver - Josh Beattie and Josh Brooke.
Master Diver - Kate Brooke, Alan Green, Dave and Charlotte Skelton
and achieving Club Instructor - David Bell and Alan Green.
All of this was made possible by our BDO and instructors Rob ,Richard and Billy and not forgetting the area RDO Peter on the cold mornings in Crummock.
Many thanks for the time and sometimes patience.
The next day saw an early start as Rob took some of the trainees up to Loch Long. So starts the next 12 months.