Scuba Blue Dives Babbacombe

Carla CookEnjoy finding out about a Scuba Blue dive trip as reported by our very own Divemaster, Carla Cook.

 

Saturday 12 January saw the first of Scuba Blue’s 2019 dive adventures. Fourteen brave divers took to the chilly waters of Babbacombe in Devon for a great early morning dive. It was so good to see Scuba Blue’s ethos of ‘start diving, keep diving’ in full swing with five newly qualified open water divers joining experienced divers for their first sea dive.

 

Babbacombe is a fantastic location for old and new divers.  Just one hour from our home base in Somerset, it is always teeming with life.  With a car park right next to the shore and an easy entrance and exit to the sea, makes it a great place to introduce new Babbacombe Beachdivers to their first experience. Also for those of us experienced divers who may have overindulged at Christmas, it is a nice way to ease us back in for another fun-filled year of diving.

 

I have been diving for over three years and have been part of Scuba Blue from the beginning. Last year I started training to be a divemaster so I could share my love of diving with others. I honestly do not think I would have enjoyed the experience as much if I had not done it with Scuba Blue. The team are so knowledgeable, welcoming and passionate; I have made friends for life.

 

Scuba Blue Divers at Babbacombe I got to support some of the new divers through their open water courses, so to be able to be part of their first fun dives was extremely rewarding. They were so excited to be able to spot their first crabs, lobsters and other sea life, having animated discussions with us afterwards, helping to identify what they had spotted during the dive. I would highly recommend Great British Marine Animals by Paul Naylor to help with this!

 

I have to mention Scuba Blue’s very own Mr Bluffield, who is, unfortunately, gaining the unwanted reputation of losing his dive equipment! Thankfully, the dive community are so amazing that within a few hours a fellow diver had found his camera.

 

It would not be a proper dive day without a trip to a local pub for some food, here we are at Route 16 (other pubs are available).Lunch at Route 16 in Babbacombe

 

I cannot wait for Scuba Blue’s next dive adventure, but in the meantime, every Tuesday evening you will find us at a pool in Taunton, ready to welcome the next generation of divers. If you have ever thought you would like to have a go at diving, why not join us? For only £30, you can take part in a try dive and meet the Scuba Blue team. To find out more call 07966 429239 and check out our website at www.scubablue.co.uk and for advice on diving at Babbacombe have a look at this blog article 

 

Scuba Blue loves to help people start diving, but more importantly, we want to keep you diving!

Andy and Tony

A tale of a dive day: a winter trip to Cornwall.

Here is a blog written by Scuba Blue’s first homegrown Divemaster (and soon to be Instructor), Andy Bluffield.

 

Well just as I thought the 2018 diving season was over I got a call from Scuba Blue’s ace photographer and videographer Tony Reed asking if I was up for a dive out of Falmouth with Atlantic Scuba. Well of course I was, I couldn’t think of a better way to help work off the Christmas mince pies and finish off the year in style.

 

A 5:30 am alarm call lead to a bleary-eyed meeting with Tony for our lift share down to Cornwall.  After a quick Costa coffee, we made good time on the quiet post-Christmas roads and arrived in good time for a pre-10:00 am ropes off fry up in the Mylor Cafe (so much for working off the mince pies!).

 

Atlantic Scuba

We met up with skipper, Mark Milburn, owner of Atlantic Scuba on the jetty.  He was wearing shorts (brrrrr), a smile and carrying a jerry can of two stroke.  Mark’s knowledge of the local area is outstanding; there are few who can match his intimate knowledge of Cornish diving.  Nothing was too much trouble when it came to making sure we had a great day – a freshly filled cylinder awaited Tony, who had been diving the previous day and been unable to get a fill beforehand (there are those who say he spends more time below water than above it!).

 

After a smooth trip out to the Manacles reef, Mark shot the wreck directly over the boilers enabling us to drop straight onto the SS Mohegan.  This ship sank in tragic circumstances in 1898 with the loss of 106 passengers and crew after making a navigational error which drove her onto the Manacles. As we descended onto the wreck, three huge boilers came into view. Visibility was over 5 metres and surface conditions screamed: “jump in, the waters lovely”. Swimming above the boilers you could see breaks in the skin and also notice that the middle boiler is, in fact, two smaller boilers back-to-back. These were covered in the life typically found on a UK dive. Most of the wreck is well broken up and cross sections are covered with an abundance of pink sea fans which hold out their arms perpendicular to the current to catch their current-borne food.

 

Maerl bedsIt was then back to Falmouth for a cylinder swap. Mark runs a rib which, although very comfortable, means that space is at a premium. After a quick turnaround, albeit with plenty of time for a hot chocolate, we were back on our way out to dive the Maerl beds.

 

This was my first experience of these beds and “Wow, just Wow”. Tony had told me to expect a floor of red twiglets that just went on and on and filled with life.  His description was spot on. Mearl is a term for a seabed densely covered by several species of red, hard skeletoned, seaweed, It is rock hard and, like most red seaweeds, needs lots of light to thrive so tend to be found in well lit, shallow waters. The beds at Falmouth are huge and the conditions are perfect due to a tidal flow that removes fine sediment but isn’t strong enough to break up the brittle maerl branches. Within these beds, layers of dead maerl build up with a thin layer of pink, living maerl on the top.  Mark explained how Mearl beds are such an important habitat for many different types of marine life that live amongst it and told us how it can be of importance to sustainable fisheries, providing nursery grounds for commercial species of fish and shellfish. It’s clear to see how the beds could be easily damaged and have declined substantially in some areas. Pressures on maerl beds include scallop dredging, bottom trawling, aquaculture and pollution. They are very slow to develop and are unlikely to return if removed or lost. The site is one of the largest maerl beds in south-west Britain and it was a privilege to dive them.

 

Crab closeup

Despite being an experienced UK diver I know there are always new places to go, wrecks to explore, and underwater environments which are globally rare to investigate.  This was a great day but not untypical of what we lucky UK divers get to explore. If you are inspired to go on a similar trip, advance your training or even learn how to dive, get in touch with Scuba Blue. We love meeting other divers, training people to become divers and helping them to keep diving.  Check out our dive club.

 

Check out more of Tony Reed’s pictures at Cheap and Cheerful Photography and Videography and Mark Milburn’s dive centre in Falmouth, Atlantic Scuba.

Exciting news from Scuba Blue for 2019

Exciting news from Scuba Blue for 2019. Having spent 8 very happy and successful months working with Fathom Diving, Scuba Blue has acquired its own brand new premises.

 

Inside the new Scuba Blue base.We will be operating from West Monkton on the outskirts of Taunton. As far as Scuba Blue members and customers are concerned nothing changes except the location;  we have our own compressor, so air is available, a retail arm and of course our training and dive trips will continue to go from strength to strength!!

 

Work has already started to make the new base a proper Scuba Blue home and we can’t wait to invite you over for our housewarming in the new year.

 

We would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Kelvin Richards andNew home view two his amazing Fathom team for the incredible support they have given us in our first 8 months. Through this support, we have been able to build an amazing community of divers and a solid business that is now looking to move to the next level.

 

More news on the big move very soon but in the meantime stay in touch as usual through Facebook, email or we are always available to chat on 07966 429239. Have a fantastic Christmas and we look forward to diving with you in 2019.

Midge thanking Paul Naylor

An Evening with Paul Naylor

What a fabulous evening last night !!

 

Paul Naylor, author of “Great British Marine Animals”, now in its expanded 3rd Edition, visited Scuba Blue to give a presentation on “Sex and Violence in the Underwater World”!  A subject guaranteed to grab the attention of any audience.

 

Great British Marine AnimalsThe lecture room at Scuba Blue HQ (kindly provided by Fathom Diving) was full for Paul’s talk and it was great to meet people from the dive community across the area. Paul spoke and showed video and photographs for over an hour but afterwards, no one could believe how quickly the time had passed.  We would have happily listened to Paul’s tales for much longer. Rather than skim over all the animals we divers see regularly on our UK dive trips Paul chose to focus on a handful of creatures which we then got to know so much better.  Who knew that the cute Tompot Blenny could be such a devious little critter! As Midge put it when thanking Paul:

 

“A huge thank you to author Paul Naylor for an absolutely riveting presentation on the fascinating creatures that inhabit our coastline. The time went SO quickly and I’m sure next time we dive we will all observe creatures with renewed respect and wonder after hearing the amazing facts Paul amusingly delivered !!”

Paul Naylor's audienceAfterwards, Paul stayed to chat and answer questions as well as selling copies of his book – autographed of course.  His book was so popular that he sold every copy he had brought with him.  I am confident that Midge will be inviting Paul back to Scuba Blue soon.

 

Paul Naylor Picture

The image of the plumose anemone and edible crab is an indication of the quality of images which feature on every page of Great British Marine Animals. To find out more about Paul check out his website at http://www.marinephoto.co.uk If you are a UK diver Paul’s book should be on your bookshelf, or even better, in a waterproof bag with your dive kit so you can find out more about what you have just seen as soon as you leave the water.  Also, have a look at Benny The Blenny who is a rarity among marine creatures – he is a regular blogger!

 

For more information about Scuba Blue, sign up for our occasional newsletters and find out about our club just go to https://www.scubablue.co.uk and follow us on Facebook

people enjoying scuba pool training

Scuba Blue in the pool

Here is a video made by Tony Reed of Cheap and Cheerful Photography back in the summer.  We might be learning inside now winter has arrived but it’s still just as much fun. Why not call Midge at Scuba Blue and come along to join us for a try dive?  Like it says, no experience necessary to have the time of your life!

Chesil Beach and Portland

Chesil Cove

Kitting up at ChesilMost of the best-known shore diving sites on our South Devon/Dorset doorstep are exposed to winds from the South or East.  Where to go when the “Easterlies, damned Easterlies” are blowing? The answer is usually Chesil Cove.  When conditions are favourable then this is a fantastic dive site with visibility well over 10m or so.

 

You can check out conditions through the daily photographs published at https://www.facebook.com/diveportland  This site is maintained by the volunteers at Chesil Beach Watch.  The Facebook group “UK Vis Reports is well worth joining too.Ray at Chesil You may well find a recent report on the conditions at your planned dive site and, if not, just post a request and someone will usually get straight back with the information you need.

 

To get there drive towards Portland on the A354 and, once you’ve crossed the causeway with Chesil Beach on your right, bear right to Chiswell and see if you can park (free) on Brandy Row. Put DT5 1LN in your SatNav; this is the postcode of Quiddles Cafe and should get you there. If you can’t find a parking space there drop your kit off and head back to one of the other nearby car parking spaces.

 

nudibranch at ChesilFor a pre-dive breakfast, or just a bacon buttie if you are on a diet, walk along the Esplanade to Quiddles Cafe – great food and views right over the cove.Crab

 

The plan for diving the cove can be as simple as “Head West for a bit, swim around, head back East”. The easiest point of entry is probably straight down the beach from the ramp and for your first trip to Chesil I’d recommend this area as it has a nice mix of pebble beds, rocks, wreckage and patches of open sand. This variety means that there is an equally varied and abundant marine life to be explored. You can expect to find wrasse, crabs, lobsters, cuttlefish, pollack, John Dory, the occasional bass and often, huge shoals of sand eels. Alternatively, walk along the base of the Esplanade towards the cafe end of the beach and get in there. More or less straight out from Quiddles there is a disused sewage pipe (don’t worry –  it is definitely disused!) and this acts as a magnet for marine life. Follow the pipe out heading East and perhaps turn left (South) and explore the southern end of the cove where there are some huge boulders and rocks. This seems to attract big shoals of pollack and even some sea bass. Head North when you turn the dive until bearing East to get back to the beach.Ray eyeball

 

OK…its time to talk about the obvious problem here; there is no getting away from it… this is one steep beach. If there is any degree of surge or wave action then getting in, and more importantly, getting out, can be a problem so perhaps its time to adjourn to the pub to talk diving steep beachrather than doing it!  My preferred way of handling the dive is to, after doing buddy checks at the top of the beach, move towards the water with your buddy close by and to take steeper slopes on the diagonal to reduce the gradient. Once in the water fit your fins and have a fabulous dive. When getting out reverse the process and be available to help your buddy. In all my trips here I’ve always managed to get in and out with dignity (mostly) intact…just use a bit of common sense.

 

I’ve already mentioned the pub and the one to aim for is the Cove House Inn. which does great draught beer and has a fab menu of pub staples.  When the weather is good you can sit outside and watch other divers falling over!  Alternatively, do like Scuba Blue do when we come down here and have a beach barbecue.Chesil Beach Barbecue with Scuba Blue

 

If you need an air fill head for Underwater Explorers just a couple of minutes drive from Chesil Cove.

 

The Scuba Blue members are regular divers at Chesil Cove. If you fancy giving it a try why not post on the club facebook page and find a buddy to go with. Not a member…. check out the Scuba Blue Club page on the website and join…you know it makes sense 🙂

 

Most of the pictures on this page were taken by the wonderful local underwater photographer, Tony Reed.  Check out more of his work at his blog http://cheapandcheerful.blog and look out for his photography workshops with Scuba Blue.

 

The Scuba Blue divers on Mary Jo. Happy folk after a great dive

Scuba Blue Dive Club

The Scuba Blue Dive Club has got off to a great start. Since its formal launch a few weeks ago membership has grown and we are planning a great programme for 2019…not that 2018 is over yet.

 

The club offers two levels of membership; the Scuba Blue Dive Club offers advanced notice and priority bookings for UK and overseas dive trips, access to a closed online community where members find buddies, plan informal trips and lift shares as well as talking all things diving.  You also get a discount on a training course of your choice.  Already we have found some trips filling up just from club members so to make sure you bag your place on our dive trips you need to get in the club.  The Scuba Blue Dive Club Plus also offers free lead, air fills or cylinder hire as well as free access to our Tuesday night pool sessions for practise and kit checking. Just making use of the free air fills will more than cover the cost of membership…. so what’s to lose?

 

Check out our club page on the website to find out more.

Akona scuba gloves

Akona 3.5mm Gloves

We have been using these gloves with our students this year. Being so stretchy and flexible it’s easy to get a great fit…and warm hands. They are so good several members of the dive team have bought them too. Check out our video review of these great scuba gloves

Akona Adventure Dive Knife

Akona Adventure Dive Knives

Scuba Blue stocks the Akona range of adventure dive knives. Available in stainless steel or titanium and pointed or blunt tipped.  Check out the knives in this video review.

 

 

midge in the shop

Look around the Scuba Blue Shop

Welcome to our shop based in Dunkeswell in North Devon, just 15 minutes away from J26 on the M5. Because of our close link with Fathom Diving we have immediate access to a huge range of diving and snorkelling equipment from the OMS, Sherwood and Akona brands. Fathom also manufacture a range of drysuits on site so come up and get measured up for a new MTM drysuit.  Check out our video tour here.