A New Option For Carrying Dive Plan Data

The phrase "plan the dive, dive the plan" was coined Hal Watts, founder of PSAI. (He was also the one to name an alternative air source 'an octopus', but that's another story.)

Let's face it, the fundamentals of dive planning remain the same for all divers, a process that every diver should follow. However, when it comes to recording your proposed plan, what do you do? It can be quite simple data or something far more complex, depending on what level of dive you have planned for.

Sally Cartwright, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, Fraser Purdon, Martin Robson, MV Karin, John Thornton, Scapa Flow, Otter Drysuits, The Underwater Marketing Company, diving planning, technical diving
Mixed gas training in Scapa Flow, March 1999

I wish that 'Deco-Decals' has been in existence in March 1999 during my trimix training. I can vividly remember sitting in the cabin of MV Karin - a Scapa Flow liveaboard - with a roll of masking tape, and very precisely covering my wrist slate with strips of it. Once this was evenly applied I would then carefully draw a specific grid in biro. Finally I would take my time to write out my dive schedule and two bailout tables. It would typically take me about 30 minutes to plan my dive and get my slate ready for a dive. Whilst I found the process quite theraputic, the task was a bit of a time thief, and I would lose chunks of my day complying with best practice in dive planning.

Today there is a better option for both OC and CCR advanced and technical divers to record their proposed dive - along with the various bail out options - thanks to a collaboration between Huw Singer, Bristol Channel Diving Services, Neal Brock, Deco-Decals, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, XRay Mag, X-Ray MagazineHuw Singer and Brit based Bristol Channel Diving Services. The team designed and developed a range of self-adhesive, 'traffic light' colour-coded slate stickers called 'Deco-Decals'. They should fit pretty much every scuba-diving wrist slate available (Size: 200mm x 118mm).

Green – the dive is going to plan.

Amber – depth or time has been exceed and adjustments should be made, ie next depth, next time.

Red – there is an issue that requires immediate action, ie loss of decompression gas, or bailout is needed.

We all know that colour is absorbed at depth, so what is the point of colour coding each decal? In low light conditions the diver will use a light to read their slate - and in blue water there will be a visual difference, albeit subtle. The significance of the colour coding also makes the students think beyond the immediate dive plan and understand the implications of properly planning for set scenarios, in addition to the original dive plan.

Huw Singer, Bristol Channel Diving Services, Neal Brock, Deco-Decals, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, XRay Mag, X-Ray Magazine, Hal Watts, Plan the dive, dive the plan

Each Deco-Decal is logically laid out, in an accessible format for training scenarios or every day diving up to 70 metre / 230 feet diving, and is available in both metric and imperial. (There is also a V2 version of Deco-Decal dive planning set which is printed slightly larger, apparently making it easier to read underwater for those with slightly older eyes.)

The green slate has a two useful key way points to prompt you where you need to turn your dive - gas pressure or time. Plus you can see the gas mixtures you are carrying, both back gas and deco gas.

Huw Singer, Bristol Channel Diving Services, Neal Brock, Deco-Decals, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, XRay Mag, X-Ray Magazine, technical diving, recording diving data, dive slates

The reusable decals are varnished and durable, and you simply write on them using an ultra-fine tipped waterproof marker. Once you have completed your dive and want to input fresh data, just wipe the decal clean with a 'Magic Sponge' / 'Magic Eraser' or similar product. After multiple use (10+ dives) you can replace a decal by peeling it off cleanly, leaving little, if any, adhesive residue.

First Published: X-Ray MagazineJuly 2015 Issue 67, Page 34

The ‘Aberdeen connection’ makes Scapa Flow Long Weekends accessible to all divers

Traditionally Scapa Flow diving has been a week’s event.  After receiving many requests from loyal divers who use the Aberdeen connection, John Thornton has launched four day ‘long weekend’ charters on the Karin.  This is proving popular with the latest invaders of Scapa Flow.

“We’ve noticed that with more demands on leisure time, more of our divers are giving Scrabster a miss and driving straight to Aberdeen instead”, stated John Thornton, Skipper of the Karin.  “Having talked to them, it does make sense because of the distance and time saved.  You can drive from Birmingham to Aberdeen in 7.5 hours and for divers north of the Border, Glasgow is 3.15 hours and Edinburgh a mere 1.5 hour drive, so divers are laughing at the reduced travelling times.  We’ve found that the Thursday night sailing at 17:00 from Aberdeen on North Link Ferries www.northlinkferries.com is proving especially popular with divers, as they are in Kirkwall by 23:00.  This means that on Friday you go diving”.

The beauty of the Karin is that it is driven by a man who has been sailing and diving the Orcadian waters for over twenty years.  In fact John also teaches diving, making him one of the most experienced and qualified Skippers to work Scapa.  Therefore on the Karin divers get all the important things in life, like big wide benches to kit up on, a range of exotic gases on tap which are blended to a ‘T’, slack when it should be (more or less), a good Scottish Breakfast (when requested), and a skipper who understands what divers need.

“I’m very lucky that I’ve a consistent, loyal customer base that keeps on coming back because they know what they are going to get, so I do a lot of day charters and liveaboards.  Obviously”, John grinned, “there is more flexibility with a liveaboard, for instance on the four day charters we can sleep over at Long Hope or Burray.  But that is where the beauty of the Flow comes into it’s own.  Where else can you find Blockships, Cruisers and Battleships right on your door step, and it doesn’t really matter too much what the weather is doing.  With it being so protected you can get out diving pretty much all year around up here”.

John’s experience of leading expeditions as far afield as Singapore has given him a huge insight into trip planning.  “We want everyone to have a good time and one of the better ways of ensuring this is prior planning.  When divers are not sure of something, the best thing they can do is hop onto the website (www.scapaflow.com) and drop me a line.  We can organise B&B’s, tanks, equipment hire, nitrox, trimix, an onboard cook, and of course training, so get in touch if you have any questions”.

The Thursday sailings from Aberdeen now mean that a long weekend in Scapa is easily achievable for all divers.  For those of you who have not yet experienced the magic of  The Great Harbour, a four day long weekend charter (sailing from Aberdeen) is a perfect way to introduce you to the renowned wrecks and legendary landscapes that is Scapa Flow.

Notes to Editors:

Scapa Flow is arguably one of Britain’s most historic and famous stretches of water.  Affectionately known as “The Great Harbour” this natural maritime haven, one of the largest in the World, has been used since prehistory with its sheltered waters playing a key role in travel, trade, tourism and conflict over the centuries.  The Flow’s geographical location makes it strategically important, as this refuge allows easy access to both the North Sea and the Atlantic.  As a result the Orkneys have had their fair share of invaders who have left their mark in more ways than one.  For the Vikings who utilised this harbour, also named this harbour.  Skalpeid-floi or ‘Bay of the Long Isthmus’ comes from Old Norse.

The Karin was built in 1968, originally working out ofHamburgin theNorth Sea.  She is licensed for 15, including crew, with 12 pax being the norm.  SinceThorntongot his hand on the Karin in 1995, she has undergone quite a conversion.  Currently she has two heads (toilets), one shower, a drying room and a snug main day cabin complete with lots of charging points and aDVDand television.  Sleeping wise, there is one single and seven twin cabins all with proper sized single mattresses.  Divers should bring their own sleeping bags and towels, but in the event that someone forgets these, John can provide them. 

There is a galley on board so divers can self cater if they wish, or a cook can be provided on request.  Local fresh organic produce, such as Orcadian meat is used where possible.  In the evenings there are many hotels and pubs that cook good food.

Four Day Charters Itinerary

This is a suggestion.  It is not set in stone due to weather, diving abilities and preferences, but to give divers an idea of what to expect during this Charter.

Light Cruiser
22 – 35 metres
Gobernador Bories
16 metres
Kronprinz Wilhelm
18 – 35 metres
WWII Escort Boat
16 metres
Light Cruiser
22 – 36 metres
Light Cruiser
24 metres
James Barrie
45 metres
12 metres

Press Coverage includes;