25 of us gathered at the community-owned Ivy House in Nunhead for this year's xmas do. Clive and Sally provided amusing hats for everyone. The Ivy House dealt with our large group very well.
Pat the Chair presented Sally with the Barry Maisey Award for her hard work this year, which included putting together the club's grant funding application, doing the Instructor Foundation Course, delivering a lot of training (at the pool, lakes and at the Swanage training weekend), promoting the club and initiating try-dives via Facebook, postering and promoting in connection with the This Girl Can campaign, helping with legal queries, and generally being of assistance (and noticing when assistance is needed) on Wednesday evenings especially. On top of all this, she recently qualified as Dive Leader, which is also beneficial to the club. Well done, Sally.
Sunday, 13 December 2015
This was a dive I’d been wanting to do for a long time, and I finally got the chance during a six-day trip to Iceland in November. I dived with dive.is who seemed like a decent outfit, although Scuba Iceland (scuba.is) also look like they might be worth a try. Two dives with dive.is cost 39,990ISK (about £204 – yep, Iceland is still expensive). This includes equipment, hot chocolate and biscuits between the dives, and pick-up/drop-off from/to your accommodation in Reykjavik. Today we were collected at a very civilised 10am, and dropped off at 4.30pm. The dives were led by Rachael, an instructor from Northern Ireland. Other dive.is staff helped out during kitting-up, and took a group of snorkelers into Silfra just before us five divers got into the water. The drive from Reykjavik takes about 45 minutes, and we experienced some dramatic weather (including rainbows) on the way. Entry into the water is via a short walk, and a platform and steps fixed to the rock.
There’s not much I can add to the huge amounts of online information and the many recent magazine articles about Silfra, other than to confirm these two dives definitely lived up to the hype. The water is unbelievably clear (visibility of well over 50 metres, probably a lot more), and yes – to repeat the cliché made over and over online – diving these waters felt like flying. In such good visibility, the variety and intensity of the blues in the water was incredible. The near-silence underwater was also notable, and differed greatly to the relatively noisy UK sea waters we normally dive in. Silfra is full of glacial meltwater, and apparently safe to drink – it was fun to take out our regulators for a sip. The dives lasted 33 and 32 minutes, and involved a gentle drift down the fissure, passing through wide and narrow spaces, always with unobstructed access to the surface. There is a point in the dive where you can pause with each hand on the rocks to your left and right, however Rachael explained that it’s not quite correct to say (as some guides do) that one rock is the edge of Europe and the other is part of North America – both sides of the fissure are within the rift valley which is a no-man’s-land, not part of either continent. We saw no wildlife other than a few bright green weeds, however trout apparently live in the lake fed by Silfra. Maximum depth on both dives was 14 metres. The water – at 2 degrees C – was the coldest I’ve ever dived in, but the equipment we were provided with (Bares neoprene drysuit in decent condition, undersuit, hood and thick 3-fingered mitts) was adequate – only my hands and face got really cold. My dive computer, however, decided it was too cold to function, and my camera battery – although almost fully charged – started running low at the start of the second dive. A bathroom at the car park has hot running water, thankfully.
Silfra instantly entered my top 10 favourite dives. I would do these dives again, without hesitation. Snorkelling here would also be worth doing, as you don’t need to be underwater to appreciate the excellent visibility.