Are you counting down the days until we can get back in the water? It’s coming SOON and we’ve got fingers, toes (… anything that we can cross is crossed!) that we can get back in the water from the 29th March.
Here’s 10 ways the team and our wonderful customers are preparing for the best day of the year so far…
1. EMBRACE UK DIVING
Lockdown might be coming to an end, but it’s looking pretty unlikely that we can jet away on holiday any time soon. So, it’s a good job we’ve got EPIC diving right here in the UK! We might be preaching to the converted here, but if you’re reading this and you’ve never dived at home – you are seriously missing out!
Yes, it’s probably colder than what you’re used to, but if you feel chilly when you’re diving it’s because you’re not wearing the right gear. Please don’t let the temperature put you off! There are sooo many options to keep you toasty warm and comfy in UK waters (keep reading below for some tips!)
We promise that the first time you dive over here you’ll wonder why you waited so long! We’ve got coral reefs, nudibranchs, colourful fish, octopus, cuttlefish, seals, dolphins… what, you don’t believe us?! See for yourself! This is a virtual dive that The Fifth Point created for us to get our fix during lockdown 2…
2. WORK ON YOUR FITNESS
Being fit to dive is so important. And we’re not just talking about physical fitness here – mental and emotional fitness are also key to wellbeing in diving.
Nic is spending lockdown 3 concentrating on her fitness. With gyms closed and hardly any diving going on, Nic’s general fitness really took a hit in the last 12 months. She just wasn’t as active as normal.
“I’m definitely a workaholic. I guess it’s because I love my job so much, it never really feels like work. With the dive centre closed yet again, I decided that this time I would work on myself and be 100% ready for diving after lockdown.
To improve my physical fitness, I’m out with Hal every day trying to hit at least 10,000 steps on my Garmin Descent. I’m also tuning in to my gym zoom workouts at least 3 times a week. I’ve started batch cooking and I’m tracking my food in myfitnesspal to make sure I’m eating well. It’s going good so far, and I’m definitely feeling fitter, but the biggest improvement I’ve seen is in my mental health. Exercise is so, so important to boosting my mood. It’s been so good I’m making it part of my work day after lockdown – I want to make sure I’ve scheduled in the time to do exercise and prioritise it instead of pushing it to one side!”
Being physically fit is super important for diving – after all, it’s a pretty strenuous sport. Making an effort to work on your cardio and strength will set you up for great diving after lockdown. And we’re not saying you have to go and build a home gym – just get out for walks, do some squats in the shower. Every little helps.
MENTAL & EMOTIONAL FITNESS
The pandemic has caused so many mental health issues for so many people. The uncertainty, the regular massive disruptions to routine, money and job worries, the isolation from our friends and family… it’s just been the worst. And for scuba divers, the fact that our underwater happy place was taken away for months has compounded the issue for us.
So how can we prepare our mental and emotional fitness to be ready to get back in the water? Well, in between now and that day we’re all looking forward to, just give yourself a break now and then. These are not normal times so we can’t expect our feelings to be normal. Some lockdown days we wake up feeling raring to go and super productive. On others, we can’t be bothered to get off the sofa. It’s ok to feel like this, and it’s ok to spend the odd day watching Netflix and not feeling guilty about it! Remember, the time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time!
We all know how to improve our physical fitness, but did you know you can also work specifically on your mental and emotional fitness for diving? If you’ve ever run into mental blocks, emotional barriers to diving or want to understand more about how you think, feel and behave as a diver then you must check out Fit To Dive. Founded by our good friend and Instructor at The Fifth Point, Laura, Fit To Dive creates a space for divers to talk about things that affect all aspects of diver fitness and wellbeing. Laura is a Clinical Psychologist and PADI Staff Instructor who specialises in education and diver training for niche topics related to diver behaviour. Her courses are amazing and she even offers some of them completely free!
3. SERVICE YOUR GEAR
It’s been that long since your dive kit was wet… when was the last time you checked it over?! Drag it out the cupboard and give it a little inspection. There would be nothing worse than rocking up to your first post lockdown dive and finding out something isn’t working as you expected it to!
Jim is beavering away servicing all the school gear at The Fifth Point right now. There’s lots to get through! Here’s his top tips for what to look out for…
- Grab your drysuit. If it’s been sitting in its bag, just unroll it and check that there’s no moisture in there. Have a good look at all the seals, make sure they’ve not perished. Pay attention to your drysuit zip too – if you’ve got a brass zip, you should store it with the zip open. If it’s plastic then make sure it’s closed. While you’re at it, stick a bit of zip lube on there too.
- Check your mask straps. We use them every dive, but we often don’t notice any little nicks in the strap that might cause a total headache when it turns into a massive rip! This goes for your fin straps too.
- Pull out your reg paperwork. When was the last time your regs were serviced? Remember, you should take them into your technician at least every 12 months for a full overhaul.
- Don’t forget your BCD. These should be serviced every year too! At the very least, fully inflate it and leave it to sit overnight. If it’s deflated by morning, you know it definitely needs some TLC! You can also check that the buttons on your inflator are pressing nice and smooth.
If you need any help maintaining or servicing your gear, Jim is here to help. We know we’re kinda blowing his trumpet here, but he is an amazing dive technician. If you need some advice, book in for a video call with him and he can talk you through stuff over zoom. If you’d like him to work his magic on your regulator, drysuit or BCD then we can arrange pick up, he’ll service them so they’re as good as new and we’ll deliver them back to you. Door to door service!
4. INVEST IN EXPOSURE
If you are taking the plunge in the UK for the first time, you might want to think about investing in some gear that’s going to keep you warm – especially if you intend on doing lots of it (you totally should, it’s the best!).
If you want to dive in the UK all year round, then treat yourself to a dry suit (we know they’re not on the website just yet – they’re next on the list and coming soon – give us a shout if you want more info).
Harry has treated himself to a brand new Shark Avatar drysuit. He’s a massive Santi fan, but these suits are top dollar. Instead, he found out about the Avatars from our friends at Shark.
“It turns out that the Avatar has many of the same features and quality as the Santi suits but with a price tag that’s more in my budget! I also love the fact it comes with the Santi smart seals as standard so I decided to upgrade to the Santi dry gloves. I can’t wait to test out the Avatar base layer too, it’s made out of recycled plastic so I hope it’s amazing!”
Of course, you can also dive all year round in a wetsuit, it just depends where you are on the hardcore scale!
Let’s compare two divers in UK water: one is in a top-quality 7mm wetsuit and the other is in a dry suit. On dive one, they’re probably going to be at about the same comfort underwater. The advantage for the dry suit diver is that during their surface interval, they can open their zip, strip the suit down to their waist and they’re completely dry underneath. It’s really easy to stay warm – even if they’re on a boat and it’s blaan a hoolie (that’s a northumbrian for windy!)
The wetsuit diver, however, is soaking wet. Even if they strip the suit, they’re going to be hunting for their towel or their poncho to get dry and stay warm. And we all know the worst feeling of all… putting a cold wet wetsuit back on for the second dive! The wetsuit divers’ comfort levels have dropped significantly before they even hit the water again.
On the second dive, the dry suit diver will most likely be way more comfortable than the wetsuit diver.
We’re not gonna lie, investing in a drysuit or a top-end wetsuit is expensive. If you’re looking for some quick and more affordable fixes to boost your warmth on a dive, check out Fourth Element’s range of hoods and gloves. The Honest Team won’t use anything else because they perform so well!
5. TAKE YOUR DRYSUIT COURSE
If investing in a dry suit has tickled your fancy, it’s a good idea to get some specialty training before you take it out for a spin. There’s subtle differences in buoyancy and control in a dry suit, plus some emergency procedures that you’ll need to know about to keep you safe and comfy while diving. You’ll start off in confined water (in our case, that’s the training tank at Honest HQ) where you’ll do a couple of sessions getting used to how the suit works, nailing your buoyancy and doing somersaults… LOTS of somersaults! Why? Well, that’s just one of the ways you learn to fix your situation if you find yourself stuck upside down with lots of air in your feet! Once you’re comfy with the suit in confined water, you’ll venture out into the big blue for two dives practising more skills, but mainly having fun while staying toasty warm!
Sandra is one of our divers who scores notoriously high on the hardcore scale. She dives all year round in her Fourth Element Proteus II wetsuit, and with some clever base layering underneath, she stays warm even when the temperature drops.
But, Sandra is diving a lot more regularly these days. She’s blossomed into an amazingly talented and experienced diver (she’ll be blushing right now, but she’s far too modest!). She jumps on every dive we go on and has invested in all her own gear. This year she’s decided that it’s time for a dry suit, simply so she can squeeze more dives into a day and stay down longer. She’ll be jumping in for the PADI Dry Suit Specialty course as soon as she can, but she’ll start her theory during lockdown. As it’s all eLearning, she can log on whenever she’s free and crack on so that she’s ready to hit the water straight away.
Get in touch with your local dive centre to find out more about the course. Or, if you fancy a trip up to bonny Northumberland once restrictions have eased, come and do it with our dive school, The Fifth Point! We can combine it with a trip to see the seals at The Farne Islands if you fancy?
6. UP YOUR UNDERSUIT GAME
Seeing as we’re talking so much about drysuits, if you really want to beef up your exposure protection, you might want to think about what you wear underneath your drysuit.
That’s what Matt (one of our amazing customers) did the other day. He ordered the Fourth Element X-Core Vest, literally the best decision ever! All of the Honest Team wear this ace bit of kit too. We discovered it when Nic was looking into heated vests (she’s unashamedly low on the hardcore scale). We got chatting to the guys at Fourth Element and they suggested that Nic tried the X-Core out before forking out the cash on a heated vest. And, wow. It’s epic. The icing on the cake is that it’s also ocean positive and is made from recycled plastic bottles.
To be honest, the whole Fourth Element undergarment range is fantastic, and the X-Core will complement anything you decide to layer it up with! If you need more help working out which combos are best for you, then just give us a shout!
7. GET REFRESHED
With lockdown lifting soon, you might be looking for an activity to take you on adventures in the great outdoors and get as far away from the house as you possibly can! If you’re an “ex” diver, why not reconnect with the sport? We know that life can get in the way of diving (that’s why the Honest team made it their life!), but remember – your qualifications never expire. All you need to do to get active again is take a refresher.
It’s recommended that you get refreshed if you’ve been out of the water for more than 6 months. You might just need a shakedown during one of your local dive centre’s pool sessions. If it’s been quite a long time, or if you think you should pay a little bit more attention to the basics, you might want to think about the PADI ReActivate program. It’s designed to get you back up to speed with your theory (through online eLearning) and water skills with a tailor-made confined session with an Instructor.
Alison has decided to jump back in again after a number of years out of the water. She’ll come to Honest HQ and jump in the training tank with The Fifth Point team as soon as we’re back open. We’ll work on the basics like buoyancy, mask skills and reg skills plus some emergency skills and then the rest of the time we spend working on whatever she feels needs attention. She’ll be one on one with her instructor, and we’re hoping we can go for a dive off the Northumberland coast too!
8. DITCH THE 9-5 GRIND
The COVID experience has definitely made people re-evaluate their careers. The mammoth shift to working from home has proved to businesses all over the country that there’s no need for people to sit in an office every day. If you’re in the most fortunate position where you’re now in your home office and have flexibility in your working hours, could you use this to your advantage to go diving?!
Mid-week dives are definitely on the schedule for life after lockdown. The Honest team will be joining divers from Submerge and The Fifth Point for as much diving as possible and we’re planning on being in the sea nearly every day! If your job is flexible, why not duck out for a few hours and have an adventure. Taking breaks away from your desk and getting out for some fresh air and exercise makes you more productive when you get back to the keyboard!
You could take it one step further like Gabe. He’s going to be relocating to Northumberland and working with us for 6 to 8 months once lockdown lifts. Gabe has made the excellent decision to become a PADI professional. He’ll be diving every day as he progresses through his Divemaster program, onto his Instructor Development Course and then gaining experience teaching real students at The Fifth Point once he’s qualified. Who knows where this adventure will take him but his lifestyle will be incredible. It’s going to be eat, sleep, dive, repeat and once the world opens up, he’ll be able to travel and work as he goes.
9. BECOME A TORCHBEARER
Protecting the ocean is the single most important thing that we can do as scuba divers. We are uniquely positioned to highlight key ocean threats like habitat destruction, climate change, overfishing and land-based pollution. We’re the ones that see the impact these issues cause first hand and we’re the ones with the skills to do something about it. We might not be in the water just now, but everything on earth is connected. There’s lots of things we can do on dry land that help protect the ocean too.
Being a torchbearer in 2021 means that you will take action and…
- Stand up for the ocean – use your voice to drive positive change. Share campaigns, sign petitions, attend beach cleans and underwater cleanups in your local area and shout about all the amazing work you’re doing.
- Assume responsibility – become a steward for the places you love the most. Be a role model in your community, demonstrate environmentally conscious diving techniques and encourage others to follow your lead.
- Dive with a purpose – every dive is an opportunity to collect vital data about the health of the ocean. Make every dive count by collecting marine debris and reporting what you find on the Project AWARE app.
- Reduce your carbon footprint – offset your emissions by signing up to projects that protect seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and salt marshes. Shop at environmentally conscious suppliers (like The Honest Diver) who do everything the can to reduce their emissions as a business.
- Make sustainable choices – reject single-use plastics at every opportunity, make sustainable food choices, support genuine green dive centres and choose diving products that protect the ocean.
10. KEEP INVOLVED
It sucks that we can’t go out and get wet, and we know that a lot of divers are really missing the social aspect that goes hand in hand with awesome diving adventures. There are lots of online communities that you can tap into to get a flavour of this back in your life. Your local dive centres will be organising online activities and zoom meetups to try and keep their tribes connected.
Our amazing customer Gavin joined Submerge at the start of lockdown, taking advantage of our 30-day free trial. Submerge is a bustling online community where divers from all over the UK can get together and get involved with regular online training sessions and workshops. If you follow us a lot, you’ll see lots of familiar faces in the group. With Nic, James and Harry hosting the live events along with the rest of the awesome team at The Fifth Point.
And it’s not just online. As soon as lockdown is over, you can join the gang diving all over the North East with massive discounts on gear rental and guiding. If you’re local to Honest HQ, you might even want to think about subscribing to more than the online membership. It helps divers get out diving regularly without it costing the earth.