Jarrod Jablonski talks 'Mars' by Rosemary E Lunn

Jarrod Jablonski, GUE Founder and CEO of Halcyon, made a whistle stop tour of the UK in September 2013. He gave two talks on 'Mars Makalos' - or 'Mars the Magnificent'. This aptly named 16th century warship took quite a bit of finding. She was discovered in May 2011 after a twenty-year search by a team of divers from Ocean Discovery that included GUE's Richard Lundgren.

To put the wreck into context, it would be fair to say that Mars is Sweden’s ‘Mary Rose’, and the comment that ‘this is the wreck find of the century’ is probably quite correct. Mars is considered so important that the current King of Sweden visited the team to see for himself how the exploration work is going.

Grahame Knott, John Kendall, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, Jarrod Jablonski, DiveLife, The Shipwreck Project, GUE, Santi, Suex Scooters, EUROTEK, TEKDiveUSA, advanced and technical diving conference,The Underwater Marketing Company, Halcyon
From left to right; Grahame Knott (technical skipper and The Shipwreck Project), John Kendall (UK Santi distributor, GUE Tech and Cave Instructor), Rosemary E Lunn (The Underwater Marketing Company, EUROTEK and TEKDiveUSA co-organiser) and Jarrod Jablonski (GUE Founder and Halycon CEO) at DiveLife.
Image Credit: Jason Brown / Bardo Photographic

The story of Mars and her subsequent discovery could be taken out of any ‘Boys Own’ annual, so it was no surprise that over 100 divers attended Jarrod’s talk, hosted by Manchester based DiveLife. Southern divers were not neglected either - Jarrod also spoke at Aquanauts in Plymouth.

Jarrod is a charismatic fluid speaker, and gave a highly entertaining presentation, actively involving his audience. He vividly brought images of a bunch of exceedingly large, very well preserved timbers and cannons to life, explaining about the ‘maritime battlefield’. Mars sank during a ferocious battle between Sweden and Denmark, and there is plentiful evidence of this. Divers were able to see how the ship burnt and they also found cannon balls embedded in the timbers. I was entranced, and Mars is now firmly included on my bucket list of diving.

I found watching the story of the exploration dives and the logistics involved enlightening. Having been involved with running the logistics on two HMHS Britannic expeditions, I can appreciate just what goes into running a major dive. The GUE ethos of running a unified dive team, standard gases and set way of rigging diving equipment, makes perfect sense when it comes to project diving. It saves so much faff time, and divers who have never met before will have a greater understanding of how their diving partners will behave underwater.

Diving on Mars has been very closely controlled and monitored and it is a perfect example of what amateur divers can achieve. Richard Lundgren’s team has been working hand in glove with scientists and academics to properly document and preserve Mars and her artifacts. Certain protocols have been put in place to protect the wreck and its environment. Lundgren’s team are trying to minimise the amount of oxygen in the water, therefore this has primarily been a rebreather expedition. And there has also been limited lifting of artifacts. A broken cannon and a small cannon that had previously only been seen in documents have been recovered and preserved. All the other cannons are remaining in situ for the time being. It looks as though work will continue in this significant wreck for many years to come.

Incidentally if you missed Jarrod speaking about Mars, you have the opportunity to see Richard Lundgren talk at the Nautical Archeology Society Conference on Saturday 2nd November in Portsmouth. More details on this can be found on the NAS website.

Article published: Sport Diver UK, November 2013 issue

DiveLife, Manchester’s premier Scuba Centre has moved and expanded

It’s the sport that so many of you have always wanted to do, but have just never got around to it.  Perhaps you tried it on holiday and loved it, but never thought you could do a course and get qualified. Or you’ve learnt overseas but never considered you could happily do it in theUK.  “It” of course is Scuba Diving.

Interest in scuba diving continues to grow and you can understand why when watching incredible marine life courtesy of the BBC’s Blue Planet.  With the Red Sea Riviera now a leading economical sunshine destination, more and more holiday makers are having their own ‘Blue Planet moment’ snorkelling the beautiful Egyptian waters. A fact that has impacted in a positive way on Whitefield based DiveLife (www.divelife.co.uk).

Less than four years ago DiveLife was a brand new dive centre. Today the shop on Bury New Road has been outgrown, hence the relocation to bigger premises just a 100 yards away around the corner behind the Beehive Pub. 

“At DiveLife we all have a passion for diving, and this is what DiveLife is all about”, explained Owner Brett Thorpe. “I guess this is probably why we’ve grown so quickly. Although we’re a young company, we do have a lot of ‘real diving’ experience. If you take the shop staff for instance, we’ve got 62 years of diving knowledge between the 6 of us, so we really do know about scuba diving and understand it’s such a cool sport.  Learning to dive can really change your life and we’ve had people who’ve tried it on holiday come to us to do to their PADI Open Water Course.  Because they love the sports so much, they’ve now swapped their pin-striped suit for a rubber one and become professional instructors, which means they can teach diving anywhere in the World”.

It’s a less well known fact that you don’t have to travel far to experience good diving. We’re lucky in the UK that our diving can be pretty awesome because of our rich and varied marine life. We’re also a maritime nation which means we’ve got unique opportunities to dive with mischievous seals, majestic basking sharks, and historical wrecks such as the German High Seas Fleet. Overtime these wrecks evolve into artificial reefs and get covered in a myriad of life including all sorts of anemones. The sheer opulence and richness of Jewel Anemones are completely unexpected and beautiful to look at and enjoy. Vibrant oranges, gaudy pinks and brilliant Forget-me-not blues that turn purple when a torch beam hits them, which is why so many British divers think that UK diving is some of the very best in the World.

Learning to dive isn’t difficult, but as with anything worth being serious about, you’ll need to invest some time and effort. Compared with other adventure sports it’s also relatively inexpensive. To take part you don’t need to be able to swim that well, just need to be in good health and be reasonably comfortable in the water. When it comes to courses, in Britain there are half a dozen dive training agencies, and one of the most popular is the Professional Association of Diving Instructors and their Open Water Course.  This is an internationally recognised diving qualification so it’s no surprise that many people begin their exciting journey into the Underwater World by visiting their local PADI Dive Centre. 

“We’re a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre”, grinned Brett Thorpe.   “This is awarded to a dive centre that consistently achieves the highest standard of instruction.  Since we opened in Spring 2006, we’ve proudly trained and issued over 1,500 diving qualifications.  So if this is something that you’ve always wanted to do, why not come along and have a go. Twice a week we have a Scuba Experience night, and this is where complete beginners have the opportunity of doing a pool dive with one of our instructors. At £25 we’ve found this to be a very popular present for Christmas, Birthdays, or as a special treat, because it’s exciting, different and a unique experience. It’s really great to see each person surface after their dive with a big grin on their face saying “it’s the best thing I’ve ever done”.

You’ll be in safe hands at DiveLife because we have a strong and diverse professional instructional team with our male and female instructors ranging in age from 20 to 55.  Every one of us believes in developing their own personal diving knowledge since it provides the very best services to our customers. This means that if at any time someone needs some extra tuition for instance, we are able to help and support them.

This ethos is also carried over into our premises, because we know that divers want a fully inventoried shop containing only the very best brands.  It’s one of the reasons we grew out of Bury New Road because we can now stock all kinds and sizes of kit that enables us to give good quality equipment counselling. We’re very near to Junction 17 on the M60, so why not drop by for a cup of tea and see what DiveLife and our new shop is all about. At this time of year we often get requests for help from friends and family of divers popping in to buy them something, so please ask if you want some advice. We’ve got loads of free car parking, which makes looking for your first mask, fins and snorkel easy. And for those divers who have not discovered us yet, it doesn’t matter if you enjoy single cylinder diving, prefer a twinset, dive a Rebreather or just want to know more about snorkelling and diving, we would be delighted to help you get more out of scuba diving. It can be your passport to changing your life”.