2020: The year we didn’t! – We didn’t dive, we didn’t train, and we didn’t go on holiday.
So with 2021 here, we have started to plan this year’s events. Once the OK has been given, we intend to make up for last year’s lack of diving.
We have already been out this year to Wraysbury Lake, as you are allowed to exercise with one other person from outside your household. The visibility was good at five metres and it was reported that you could see one object from the other, so navigation was easier.
In the upcoming weeks, we intend to try out other lakes and maybe some shore dives if it is permitted. One of the lakes we are trying out at the moment is at Lakeside Shopping Centre. This was used extensively up until the Lakeside dive centre closed down. We have now gained access to the lake once more and have had some exploratory dives, checking for safety and to see what state the platforms and wrecks are in.
We hope to open the Lake to other divers in the near future and use it for a lot of our training this year. With a max depth of five metres at the moment, it will be ideal for Open Water Dives 1,2 and 3, although we will try and use other lakes for Dive 4 to achieve a greater depth for the students, remembering that you are only qualified up to the depth you were trained, to a max depth of 18 metres. We will also run the Rescue Course and parts of the Advanced Open Water Training there, as well as Speciality Training.
Over the last few months, our staff have been running theory lessons over Microsoft Teams with their students, which has been very successful, and we intend to carry on with this as an option for all students,
Once we are back in the pools, we can catch up with the training we started last year, in some cases we will start afresh, as no doubt most of what was learnt has been forgotten!
We already have trips booked for next year; these include old favourites like Porthkerris in July, Swanage in August and the Farne Islands in October – to play with the seals. The August Red Sea trip is already full, but we have another Red Sea trip booked in September on the Reefs and Wrecks itinerary with Scuba Travel.
During the first Lockdown, Jamie Drummond ran Mental Health Awareness training for the staff, which proved to be a very successful course for all who attended, and I would like to say thank you to Jamie for all the hard work he put into that. Following on from that, he then ran the Safeguarding and Best Practice training for the staff in Lock down 2. Again, a big thank you to Jamie. Here at Orca, we work with a lot of young people: all our staff are DBS checked and are trained in Safeguarding and Best Practice. This makes sure the staff know how to react to a situation if it arises.
At Orca, we have upgraded our compressor and now have the ability to pump Enriched Air as well as clean air.We have also used the time to service all our equipment, such as regulators, BCDs and tanks, which are now painted ‘Orca Blue’. Thank you ‘Colchester’ Barry for the great paint job! Ofcourse, all equipment is disinfected after use in accordance with government guide lines.
We hope this year is going to turn out better than last year, with more Diving, more Training and more Holidays.