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My name’s Ben, I started my diving adventures with orca through my school. The staff at orca are so helpful, friendly and supportive and they have helped me to gain confidence and I am now a qualified PADI open water diver. On the 28th of September I turned up to the dive shop in the morning ready for a normal dive at Saint Andrews Lake. But to my surprise Gary said “today you’re in a dry suit.” I felt nervous as I hadn’t dived in a dry suit before. After a wonderful breakfast stop at nells café, we continued our journey to saint Andrews. When we arrived the colour of the water was turquoise blue because it used to be a chalk quarry. The others, Rhonda, Aaron, Jason, Paul and Dave, were all doing deep dives but I was unable to go with them because of my age. They achieved a depth of 30+ meters. Once they had finished their dive they had to wait an interval until the next one so Rhonda had a chat through how to use a dry suit, Rhonda is easy to learn from and listen to and is very patient, she also loves to teach people. She explained the differences between a wet suit and a dry suit which helped me through my experience.

And then it was my turn to kit up. I had to put a thermal under layer on before squeezing into the dry suit. It took Rhonda and Aaron lifting me off the floor to get me into it and because my neck is quite skinny I needed an extra neck seal and collar to help with the seal to be tighter.

Once I was kitted up we walked along to the pontoon where we did a buddy check and also put our mask and fins on. Making sure to inflate my BCD I put my hands on my mask, regulator and weights I did a giant stride into the water. It felt weird when I was in because it vacuumed around my feet. Rhonda and I went and did a weight check. After finishing a weight check me, Rhonda and Aaron went under and swam to the platform getting deeper I was putting little bits of air into the dry suit. After reaching the platform I had to do fin pivots and a hover. Concluding the skills underwater we swam around for a little bit, but being new to the dry suit I put too much air into it and my legs went up and I was upside down. Rhonda and Aaron flipped me back round and let some air out of the dry suit. After that we swam back up to five meters and did a safety stop. once reaching the surface I had to take my gear of and put it back on. That concludes my first dive.  After getting out I waited for the others to finish their second deep dive. Once they were out Rhonda went through a briefing of the second dive. We all kitted up once again and this time walked into the water. We swam down to the platform at 6 meters and I had to disconnect my dry suit from my bcd and show that it was disconnected and then I reconnected it. And we had to make the dive last 20 minutes so we went to the aeroplane at 11.2 meters which was the deepest I had ever been before. We came back up to 5 meters and waited for our safety stop which was marked by a gnome. We came to the surface and that was the end of my dive experience in a dry suit.  Thanks everybody for helping me out especially Rhonda an Aaron and thank you to Gary  for introducing me and supporting me.

Ben Liddard – Age 13 ¾