Monthly Archives: May 2017

Scuba diving holiday

7 Reasons Why Your Next Family Holiday Should Be a Scuba Diving Holiday

Are you trying to decide where to go and what to do on your next family holiday? Trying to balance out the wants and needs of everyone in your group? Why not try something new and exciting which will bring you together AND give you a choice of incredible destinations? Find out here why learning to dive and taking the plunge together might just be exactly what you are looking for…

  • Get Active – Together!

You may be ready for a holiday and in need of some rest and relaxation but your kids are probably hoping to do more than just lounge by the pool. Scuba diving is a great way to be active but it’s also incredibly relaxing. You’ll immerse yourself in to a whole new world which will completely distract you from the hassles and stresses of working life – there is no better way to relax than watching fish swim by. Learning to dive will help you relax and keep the kids active at the same time!

  • familt holiday 2Create Memories That Will Last A Lifetime

What was your most memorable family holiday? Did it involve a special activity or special place? Your kids will never forget a family diving trip. Not only will you be the coolest parents in town but you’ll be exploring the oceans together and creating life long memories.

  • Learn More About Each Other

Scuba programs can be very revealing! Most parents don’t see their children when they are studying at school – you’ll get to see another side to your kids. Not only that but when learning to dive everyone is on a level playing field. You’ll stop being Mum and Dad for a short time and you’ll be students together.

  • Achieve Something Great

The PADI Open Water certification is a lifelong certification. Completing your Open Water Course is a huge achievement and there’s no better way to accomplish this than together with family. You’ll finish your programs feeling a sense of success and achievement.

  • Teach Responsibility

Scuba diving requires divers to diligently check their equipment before diving and during dives there are also procedures to follow. Through learning to dive your kids will develop skills including not only being responsible for themselves but also team (“buddy”) responsibility too. These skills are transferable to everyday life and they’ll be learning them in a fun and practical way.

  • Encourage Team Work

Divers always dive with a “buddy” and during your course you’ll learn how important it is to work as a unit together. You’ll be amazed to see how siblings that are prone to squabbling at home suddenly become supportive, encouraging and start to enjoy working together.

  • Discover a Whole New World

Of course, the main reason we dive is to explore and you’ll be doing this together on your family holiday. It doesn’t end there though – with your diving certifications under your belts you’ll be able to explore and discover unlimited places together in the years to come. The world really will be your (and your family’s) oyster!

Family Holiday 3

Here are a few of the exciting PADI Courses for kids:

PADI Bubblemaker (ages 8+) – Children dive in a pool in less than two metres/six feet of water. Get your “parent of the year” award by throwing a memorable Bubblemaker birthday party at your local PADI dive shop.

PADI Seal Team (ages 8+) – The PADI Seal Team provides action-packed fun in a pool through exciting scuba AquaMissions. Divers are introduced to underwater photography, navigation, environmental awareness and others to choose from.

PADI Junior Open Water Diver (ages 10 to 14) – Students as young as 10 can take the PADI Open Water Diver scuba certification course. At completion they’ll become Junior Open Water Divers with certain limitations

The-Zenobia-Cyprus-Shutterstock-resized

A Lust for Rust: Best Wreck Dives in Cyprus Part 1

This week guest blogger Alexandra Dimitriou takes us below the waves to her favorite wreck dives in Cyprus…

Wrecks are wonderful. A lust for rust is common among us divers and Cyprus is a real treat for those who prefer their boats below the waves.

Wreck dives to watch in Cyprus are:

The Zenobia

Location: Larnaca, Cyprus // Description: Wreck // Length: 174 meters // Depth: 18 – 42 meters

This world class wreck is enormous. The Zenobia was a roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro ferry) that sank on her maiden voyage in 1980 and is unmissable. At depths between 18 – 42 meters and with a length of 174 meters. She has four lorry decks on four very distinct experience levels; this wreck is perfect for anyone from an Open Water Diver to the teck-iest among you.

The value of the wreck when she went down was huge. Carrying 104 eighteen-wheeler lorries and one car (the captain’s private blue Lada) the loss was estimated at 20 million Cypriot pounds for the vessel herself and then an astonishing 200 million Cypriot pounds for her cargo. This must have been a huge blow to the Swedish Company that made it, but the Zenobia wreck has proved to be one of the most lucrative tourist attractions on the island. The revenue that this metal giant provides to the dive industry is estimated to be over 25 million Euros per year! This shows you just how great she is, almost all certified divers will visit her at least once and, in my experience, will return year after year to explore another section of her.

The crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean make a Wreck Diver Specialty course ideal here – you can learn how to reel in and reel out without even penetrating the wreck to begin with, and then, under the watchful eye of your PADI Instructor, you can explore its interior to your heart’s content.

The Alexandria

Location: Larnaca, Cyprus // Description: Wreck // Length: 35 meters // Depth: 30-40 meters

This wreck lives in the shadow of her neighbor the Zenobia. Located just 500 meters away from the Zen, she is hugely overlooked by many divers, but that’s all the more reason to make this one for you logbooks. The Alexandria, or the Alex for short, was an old fishing trawler that went down in 2006. She was on her way to Limassol to be decommissioned, but bad weather had another fate in store and she went down to lie on the sea bed in a perfect upright position. If you have your PADI Wreck Diver and Enriched Air Diver specialties, this wreck can be covered easily in just one dive; the perfect appetizer before moving on to her big sister, the Zenobia.

HMS Cricket

Location: North-East of Larnaca, Cyprus // Description: Wreck // Length: 35 meters // Depth: 33 meters

The HMS Cricket is a “Donald Duck” wreck dive, meaning she lies upside down on the seabed, with her hull  pointing to the surface (like a duck’s beak). She can be quite a challenge because of her position in very silty conditions – which means that your buoyancy needs to be perfect before making this dive! If not for your own enjoyment, buoyancy and gentle frog/flutter kicks are vital because anyone who happens to be behind you will encounter very low visibility if you don’t. A combination of Wreck Diver, Peak Performance Buoyancy and Enriched Air Diver specialty courses would be ideal before this epic dive.

The Cricket was originally commissioned for the WWI and her final fate is veiled in mystery. A huge implosion hole is its only clue, and it makes for a great penetration point. You really have to turn this dive around in your mind to get a true vision of what she once was – an Aphis Class gunboat whose life was extended by WWII.

PADI Mindfulness

Freediving and Mindfulness

Mindfulness. You hear that word all the time, in yoga, in self-help books, or perhaps it rings a bell from a psychology class that you took years ago. For me, mindfulness used to be an abstract idea that I had heard in passing, probably wanted to learn more about, but definitely did not have time to sit and meditate on in the midst of my already chaotic life. Well, before I learned to freedive that is.

Mindfulness is the act of being completely aware of the present moment. For example, right now I’m sitting at my desk. I can feel my fingertips clicking away at the computer keys. I can hear the air conditioning buzzing in the background. I’m taking deep, slow breaths as I contemplate my next idea to compose into a sentence. I am bit hungry and feeling tired. I am accepting each sensation or feeling of the moment in a calm manner. Mindfulness is simple in theory, but the accepted culture of our busy lifestyles often makes it difficult to put it into practice.

Freediving and mindfulness

When I began my freediving training I heard a phrase over and over again that I quite often relate to during my mindfulness practice: get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When participating in freediving training, this motto is particularly significant due to the demand of your mental resolve. Freedivers must be mindful of their condition at all times in order to practice proper technique while staying relaxed.

Static apnea is a discipline of freediving where the diver floats face down in the water completely motionless and performs a breath-hold. This step in a freediving course is just as much a mental challenge as a physical one. When I am engaged in a static apnea, mindfulness plays a huge role. You have to actively allow your body to accept the discomfort and relax. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

This acceptance is something that I have found I am now able to apply to aspects of my life that are completely unrelated to freediving and is a benefit to my training that I did not anticipate. Whether I’m stuck in traffic, arguing with my spouse, cold in a restaurant because I forgot to bring a jacket, or whatever the predicament may be, I am able to apply my breathing techniques and mindfulness that I have learned in freediving to help me accept an uncomfortable state.

The mental benefits that I have experienced from freediving remind me of the benefits described by those who have a devoted yoga practice. Freediving is a sport that allows you to search for your inner peace, and once found, allow the diver to go to that same state of calmness even when the reality of their surroundings may not be calm at all.

Freediving and mindfulness

When it comes to exploring a new challenge like freediving, it’s wise to know a few tips and tricks to get you started. Check out these 8 Tips for Beginner Freedivers.

Underwater archaeology ©Brett Seymour

Underwater archaeology with AmbassaDiver Gemma Smith – Part 1

In this two part blog AmbassaDiver Gemma Smith writes about getting involved in the mysterious world of underwater archaeology…

Why Underwater Archaeology?

There are many aspects of diving I love, and there are always new adventures to have and new places to see as a diver. This is one of the beauties of the sport. One of the branches of diving which interests me most though, is scientific diving, and in particular underwater archaeology. Both my parents were land archaeologists. So to end up, through my passion for diving, being involved with underwater archaeology has a satisfying feeling of completing a circle; one which began when I was just a child and my Mum would take me along to play in the dirt with a trowel while she worked on her land excavations. Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to be involved with some truly fascinating archaeological projects, and quite possibly one of the most important and famous underwater archaeological excavation ever undertaken; that of the Antikythera Mechanism Shipwreck.

The Antikythera Mechanism Shipwreck

For many decades the tiny and remote Greek island of Antikythera, lying far below the mainland Greek Peloponnese and northwest of Crete, has been known to be home to one of the most significant underwater archaeological sites in the world. It was first come upon in the 1900s by sponge fishermen from the Greek island of Symi, who, having been forced to take shelter from a raging storm on their way back home from their summer fishing grounds in Tunisia decided to try their luck while they waited out the bad weather, and see whether they could add to their haul of sponges. Using the standard diving equipment of the day – canvas suit, heavy copper helmet, and an unwieldy umbilical hose that delivered air to the divers, as well as being their only connection to the world above them – the story goes that a diver by the name of Elias Stadiatis was the first to descend. Minutes later he came back to the surface in a frenzy, shouting of seeing ‘dead bodies, littering the sea floor. Dead bodies everywhere!’ These ‘dead bodies’ would, on further dives, turn out to a huge collection of breathtaking bronze and marble statues, relics from an unknown ship wrecked thousands of years previously, and their discovery would start the beginning of some of the most extraordinary finds of recent times.

Underwater archaeology ©Brett Seymour

©Brett Seymour

Despite the incredible beauty of the statues found and recovered, the Antikythera wreck is without doubt best known for a device which has come to be known as both the ‘Antikythera Mechanism’ as well as ‘the world’s oldest computer’. Complex interlocking bronze cogs and wheels, cut with total precision and marked with tiny scales and inscriptions were, and still are, unlike anything ever discovered. Most mind-blowing perhaps though is the age of this device. To think that this was made by the Ancient Greeks over 2000 years ago puts it utterly ahead of its time. Until this discovery there had never been another accurate scale, or any cogwheels, found from that long ago era. Opinion is still divided as to its exact use, but nowadays it is thought by experts to predict the movement of the sun, moon, and planets, as well as showing eclipses and the cycles of the ancient Olympic Games.

This wreck site has continued to captivate the imagination of people in the decades since its discovery. The legendary diving pioneers Jacques Cousteau and Frederic Dumas made expeditions to the site in both 1952 and 1976. Although no further pieces of the Antikythera Mechanism were uncovered on this trips, they were able to add to the impressive haul of treasure already recovered from the wreck. However, despite many beautiful finds, and the obvious potential for finding yet more, it would be many years before another archaeological team would return to this site…

Dive Across Canada

Dive Across Canada

From a diver’s point of view, Canada really has a lot going for it: It has extensive borders with the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. It has more lakes than the rest of the world combined and 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. And it’s widely considered to be one of the most peaceful and friendly nations on earth.

Canada is vast and varied. It’s snow-capped Rocky Mountains, vast prairies, glaciers and arctic expanses. It’s Montreal’s culture, coffee and a doughnut at Tim Hortons, British Columbia salmon and a Calgary rodeo. It’s a magnificent dive destination.

Getting a handle on the plethora of dive opportunities is easy if you think regionally. On the West Coast the Pacific beckons. The Prairie Provinces have more great dive sites than the name might imply. Central Canada has wreck diving to rival the best in the world. Atlantic Canada offers up another entire ocean complete with some of the biggest tides going. And sitting on top of all this, not to be forgotten by the adventurous, are the enormous Arctic Territories.

Great Dives

West Coast

  • Saltery Bay – This popular Powell River dive site affords divers easy shore access to some great Pacific Northwest diving. Don’t miss the mermaid (really) and watch your depth on the sponge festooned wall, which drops quickly to 60 metres/200 feet.
  • Whytecliff Park – Convenient to Vancouver, this dive site is located on Howe Sound’s spectacular coastline. Several dive options make it easy to plan dives for anyone from neophyte to ultra experienced. Everyone should keep a watchful eye out for the iconic giant octopus. Depths to 30 metres/100 feet are readily available for shore divers.
  • Porlier Pass – This current swept channel in the Gulf Islands has a number of dive sites including Boscowitz Rock and the remains of an old tug that has become an anemone-festooned marine life magnet. These are world-class dive sites worthy of a page in every diver’s log.

Prairie Provinces

  • Clear Lake – This is a great “made” dive site. There’s a life sized ceramic cow, an underwater hyperbaric chamber, a dive bell and many other unusual interesting items to keep divers interested.
  • Whiteswan Lake – Explore an old town that was flooded when the construction of two dams created an impoundment. Divers have been busy here too, adding creative structure to highlight dives.
  • West Hawk Lake – Created by a pre-historic meteor impact, West Hawk Lake plunges to more than 100 metres/330 feet. Rock walls and ledges interspersed with sloping sandy bottoms are home to small mouth bass.

Central Canada

  • Fathom Five – This marine park features clear, clean water, cool underwater cliffs, caves and overhangs in addition to more than 20 shipwrecks. There’s something here for divers of all levels.
  • Keystorm – This spectacular wreck went up on the rocks near Scow Island in 1912 and now lies on her starboard side at depths between 6 metres/20 feet and 35 metres/120 feet. For the deep divers, the stern and prop make for some spectacular photos. There’s plenty of structure to explore too including the cargo hold, wheelhouse and engine rooms. Divers penetrating the wreck need to watch out for disorientation as the wreck lists heavily. Some say this is the premier wreck in the region.
  • Forillon National Park – This park protects is a great place to get up close and personal with the rich underwater world of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There are several shore diving locations with significant depths accessible.

Atlantic Canada

  • HMCS Sagueny – Scuttled in 1994, HMCS Saguenay now lies in 27 meters/90 feet of water. She lists heavily and is partly buried in the sand. The wreck is home to a great variety of marine life.
  • Bell Island Wrecks – The PLM-27 is one of four World War II wrecks off Bell Island. It’s relatively easy to access and is a great spot for divers of all levels. The massive, propeller is big draw.
  • Deer Island – Make sure to get the tides right here. If you don’t your planned depth could be out by as much as 15 metres/50 feet. Diving at slack water is vital. These tides support a great variety of marine life and filter feeders such as sponges and anemones abound. Lobsters lurk under ledges, often curious and willing to come out for calm careful divers.

Arctic Canada

  • Whales and Ice – With the help of specialist operators and appropriate equipment, it’s possible to dive with some massive marine mammals in Canadian Arctic waters. Narwhal, beluga, bowhead and humpback whale encounters are a real possibility. Spending some bottom time in a unique ice dominated underwater seascape is on the cards too. Icebergs and pack ice create the backdrop for a bucket list adventure.

Dive Summary

Visibility – Varies with location and ranges up to 50 metres/165 feet plus in some freshwater sites.

Water Temperature – Varies with location from sub zero up to more than 35°C/95°F.

Weather – Again, varies dramatically with location. Decide on a destination and check locally.

Featured Creatures – You’ll find just about every species outside those of the tropics. Arctic whales, Atlantic lobster, wolf eels and giant octopus in British Columbia and freshwater species in the myriad lake and quarries.

Recommended TrainingWreck and Deep Diver specialties for the many wrecks in fresh and salt water. Dry Suit Diver makes sense for many Canadian locales. Digital Underwater Photographer for everywhere.

Travel Info

Note – Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

Language – English and French are the official languages

Currency – The Canadian dollar

Major Airports – Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal, Calgary and Edmonton see the bulk of air traffic. The Canadian transport infrastructure in general is excellent.

Electricity – 120 volts, 60Hz. Internet widely available.

Topside Attractions – From cosmopolitan cites to vast tracts of wilderness the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

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