The Isle of Mull – My first trip with a new club – By Melanie Smuk
I thought I would put a few words together about my fantastic diving experience with iDive (A dive club in Ipswich) for the first time. Before I dive in (pun intended), I just wanted to introduce myself as I know I haven’t met everyone. My name is Mel, I am an associate professor/senior lecturer in statistics and epidemiology at a London university (I basically play around with numbers on clinical trials). I had been frequently diving for many years with a range of GUE, SSI, and PADI divers in the UK and around the world from Belize to Iceland to Bali. However, I always felt a little isolated so I was looking for a friendly club to join to meet local divers and get involved in more UK dive trips, which is why I joined the club in March 2023. Having come from a PADI background, BSAC easily converted my qualifications to Sports Mixed Gas Diver (50m) and I was all set to dive.
The Isle of Mull trip quickly caught my attention as it included wildlife, wreck dives, a new location I hadn’t been to before, and a hot tub at the accommodation (that’s how I sold it to my non-diving partner). I signed up straight away and counted down the days to September. I did have a splash around in the pool doing timed full twinset shutdowns with a big thanks to David Lock and Imogen who joined me on separate occasions to witness my grimacing face reaching for the valves. It therefore turned out that Mull was going to be my first iDive trip and what a great trip it was!
On the first dive day, there was an issue with the boat, but this didn’t stop us so off we went from the shore, just outside our accommodation, and we even found a wreck on our adventure. Before entering the water, it was great to experience and see everyone doing buddy checks. Having usually dived with closed circuit or solo self-sufficient divers, buddy checks had slightly gone out of the window other than covering any unusual setups that were worth flagging (not really a good excuse). So, I was rusty on my BWRAF (weirdly taught to me as Bruce Willis Recks All Films) but it was nice to get back into good practice.
Day two, and the boat was back in action. We had a couple of amazing dives, with David Grimson and I popping down to the bottom of a wreck at 42m where there was still a good amount of light and beautiful plants and fish. If you are asking, what plants and what fish? then sorry I am going to have to leave you questioning. I am one of those divers who still haven’t a clue of the names of wildlife, most things I place into the category of fish, crab, lobster, scallop, mussel, plant, or “thingy”. So, I guess you can deduce it wasn’t a crab, lobster, scallop, muscle, or a “thingy” we saw on the dives.
The dives did bring up the importance of checking hand signals between new buddies before a dive. At one point in the dive, we wanted to discuss our deco status, my usual deco sign is putting up my little pinkie finger on my right hand (a bit like a pinkie swear from the film Drop Dead Fred) while my buddies tapped their computers to discuss deco. On the other hand signal confusion came when discussing how much gas we had left. As a trained PADI Tec diver I am used to using only one hand to give numbers and thus showing four fingers horizontally to mean 9 again wasn’t obviously clear to my buddies. They weren’t really issues but did make me take notes for good practice of checking signals before a dive in the future. It did remind me of when I did a dive in Costa Rica, and as the guide turned to me underwater to ask about gas, I panicked when I realised that the rented gauge was in PSI not in my usual ‘bar’ and I hadn’t checked what the hand signal for 1000 was. Quick thinking made me use the “T” hand signal which now, on reflection, logically makes more sense for 1000 PSI than 100 bar, I guess that’s possibly where it comes from…
The rest of the dive days went swimmingly (sorry I do like a bad pun) and I really enjoyed meeting some amazing divers. I also picked up new knowledge/skills thanks to Alan Beaumont (dressing scallops and a crab, the rules of Rugby (apparently League is better than Union), and foiling (sailing)). My partner and I had a lovely time, and we are both looking forward to future iDive trips.