This is a document to describe to the wider membership the strategy adopted for branch diving this current year, and hopefully for years to come....
Dive boats are booked firstly a year in advance in some cases. Rarely can boats be booked at the last minute. The odd dive spaces however often appear at the last minute on other clubs charters, but with a branch as active as ours we cannot operate that ad-hoc.
The criteria used are:
Tides – I will aim mainly for neaps. Some charters such as “Dive 125” out of Eastbourne helpfully provide information on whether the tide is flowing or ebbing, whether the surface interval will be a few hours of as many as 4 hours.
The day – Based on the above, I will also aim to provide a mix of day dives that will be Saturday's and Sunday's.
Somewhere different! - In order to keep things interesting, I will try out new boats. The "same old, same old" really doesn't inspire does it? It is not a valid argument either to state "we always go there". Diving should be a challenge. To see new sites, new wrecks, new reefs, new pubs even! Keeps things interesting!
Filling boats! - Historically we have never been good at filling boats. Sometimes we do, but over the past few years, it has only been bad weather with a skipper "calling it", that we have avoided some big losses. To mitigate this we tried a "joint venture" with Dagenham BASC last year. The year before that we booked some spaces on some RIBS. This year we have a number of boats where the limit is 8 rather than the normal 12. Next year, with more trainees ready to compete for dive spaces a different strategy again might be required.
Weekends – I will try and put some weekends in the mix too. This year, because of the Olympics we chose to avoid Weymouth, but a number of weekends have been booked.
We are returning to dive a long weekend at Mevagissey. Formerly known as DiveFest (now defunct), those going decided to make it work regardless. This is the 3rd year we have been there. In 2010, just 4 of us went. In 2011, there were 5, but this year 12 are going for 4 days of hard boat diving.
We are also committed to diving equally further afield in Salcombe over the August Bank Holiday. This is a new location, that will give access to some sites we reach from Plymouth, but a few new sites will be available too.
We also have two weekends in Swanage, but I’ll talk about those specifically below in the Training section.
Holidays – A branch tradition that was revived a good few years ago, with a branch trip to Malta. Followed by a couple of trips to the Red Sea, the Scilly Isles, with other private trips to Norway, Micronesia, the Orkney and Shetland Islands. A loosely applied logic is that destinations would alternate between a UK based location and a warmer clime location every year. This year a trip is organised to Scapa Flow (and probably wont be returning for a good few years). Next year, further trips are planned back to Micronesia and also to Antarctica.
Training – We are a vibrant club. Any visit to the pool on a Wednesday will be a witness to the activity that takes place. We have many trainees, some of whom have completed their pool training, some still undergoing. These will be the Diving Officers and Chairman's of the future. It has always been stated that maintaining a commitment to training is the lifeblood of any branch. We don't need to look too far afield to see branches that have given up on training and membership dwindles to nothing. Members move away and aren't replaced. Financial commitments change priorities. Bermondsey BSAC is approaching 56 years of existence and is looking more healthy now than ever. With a limited number of dive spaces available for trainees (after all half the spaces would need to be Dive Leaders!), we have booked a number of training weekends in Swanage. The Dive Leaders get their own decent dive first thing, with the remaining day filled with “get 'em wet” diving, whether by boat to an easy location or “under the pier”. With so many trainees a radical solution is needed. Some training day dives have also occurred at the nearby lakes of Kent.
Dives organised by others – I would firstly argue, why does it HAVE to be organised by the DO? The answer is that it doesn’t, but it is usually left as the “DO's job”. So if any diver wants to arrange there own diving that suits their own needs then GO FOR IT! All that matters is that the diving is organised to the level of competency of those going, and that the Code of Safe Diving Practices is followed, and the DO is advised. If you dont tell the DO, and ignore Safe Diving, then you are at risk of not being covered by the BSAC Insurance should something happen. It would also be helpful to not book anything that clashes with the branch list.
What the DO does not do! - The DO does not book dives to satify the needs of any particular individual.
What the DO does do! - The DO endeavours to achieve a balanced dive programme that reflects the needs of as broad a spectrum as can be achieved. The DO will never satisfy everybody....!
If anyone wants to repond with comments please do!