Visit to Mallow Search and Rescue, Tuesday 3 March

A few UCCSAC members have arranged to pay a visit to Mallow Search and Rescue on Tuesday 3 March at 19.30. Anybody who would like to come along is welcome to join us to find out more about what they do and what our club might be able to do to help. They’ll show us the equipment they use and talk about the training that they do.

Mallow SAR have been undertaking water-based searches for missing persons and providing boat cover for events throughout Ireland for over 30 years. They do a lot of good work that is sometimes very tough. Not everybody is cut out for search-and-rescue diving, but Mallow also need shore and surface support and help with fundraising, so there are lots of ways in which UCCSAC could contribute. If you’ve been thinking about getting involved in some voluntary work then this might be a good fit for you.

So, if you’re planning to drive up to Mallow and can offer lifts to other people, then please let me know (sdob@cs.ucc.ie) so that I can tell the unit how many people to expect. Please also get in touch if you would like to go up but need transport.

I’ll have more information for interested people closer to the date.

Trainee diving in Oysterhaven, 21/22 February

We’ll be doing some training dives in Oysterhaven over the weekend of 21–24 February. Oysterhaven is only about 35 minutes’ drive from the city centre so we’ll be able to drive down and back each day. The beach is fairly sheltered, so we should be OK unless the weather is really terrible, and there are plenty of hermit crabs and anemones to look at while you’re underwater.

New divers

This is a training weekend, so of course new trainees are welcome. You must

  1. be fully paid up (CFT membership and club equipment levy),
  2. have completed your medical,
  3. have passed your pool snorkel test, and
  4. have completed the pool scuba training.

The number of trainees we can bring will depend on how many instructors are available (I’ll be finding this out over the next few days). If you’re available and you meet the criteria above, send me an email (sdob@cs.ucc.ie) and I’ll put you on the list. Let me know if you are available on one day or both.

Costs and lifts

The diving itself won’t cost anything, but you’ll need to bring a packed lunch. If you have transport and can give lifts to other people, please let me know. If you need a lift, let me know.

Qualified divers

You know the score. Come along and get wet or just meet us in the pub later.

Trainee diving, 10-11 January 2015

Apologies for the late notice, folks: the first trainee diving of 2015 will take place over the weekend of Saturday 10 – Sunday 11 January 11 January in Portroe Quarry, Tipperary. We’ll be diving on both days and staying in the Lake House, Dromineer on Saturday night. We will, as normal, be meeting to pack gear on the evening of Friday 9 January before travelling up the following morning. This is mainly a training weekend, although all are welcome; details for new and returning divers are separated below.

New divers

We want to bring as many uncertified trainees with us as possible; this is what this weekend is about. Obviously, we are constrained by the number of available instructors. At time of writing, we have 1 instructor on Saturday and 3 instructors on Sunday available. This means that we can accommodate at most 4 trainees over the weekend. You will need to be able to commit to travelling from Cork to Tipperary early on Saturday morning and returning to Cork late(ish) on Sunday evening. If you can commit to this, then (barring unforeseen circumstances) you should be a certified CMAS Diver * when you return to Cork on Sunday evening.

You should have completed your CFT medical assessment before you travel up. If you haven’t done so already, contact our steam-powered DO to get this sorted.

I am currently negotiating prices with our regular accommodation in Tipperary, but you can expect costs to run as follows:

  • €30/day for bed and breakfast in Dromineer;
  • €20/day for diving in Portroe Dive Centre; and
  • €5 as a one-off registration fee for joining Portroe as a diver.

I haven’t sorted out dinner yet but we usually come to some agreement with our accommodation. As a ballpark figure, you are looking at about €95 for the weekend all told (alcohol, as always, excepted).

I know that this isn’t cheap, but it is a chance to get yourself certified before the spring season starts. For the record, your instructors will be paying exactly the same as you for the privilege of teaching you how to dive.

If you have read this far, and you are ready, willing, and committed, then email sdob@cs.ucc.ie to secure a place, and I will move heaven and earth to make this happen.

Qualified divers

Qualified divers are welcome, as always — particularly if you can offer transport to and from Portroe. You know the score (if you don’t, see above). You will need to make sure that you are registered with CFT and medicalled-up (as always, contact the DO to get this sorted if it isn’t already). I need to know when you’re travelling and if you can bring people with you. Pay it forward, folks.

As always, questions to the usual address.

Tenerife 2015

The second annual UCCSAC trip to Tenerife will take place in August 2015 during the second-last week of the summer holiday, from 24 August to 31 August. Last year’s trip was a massive success and I’m (Séamus) apparently a glutton for punishment, so there’s no reason not to do it again. Details (and photos of the 2014 trip, courtesy of Naomi, Daire, and Gary) below!
hellodarren

The basics

The plan is to fly from Cork to Tenerife on Monday 24 August 2015 and back on Monday 31 August. This will get everyone back to Cork with almost a full week to recover and prepare for the start of the new college year. While in Tenerife, we’ll do 10 dives over 5 days, with the possibility of doing additional night dives if people are motivated. We’ll be staying in self-catering apartments close to our dive centre and to the beach. The total cost of flights, accommodation, dives, and transfers should be €650—700.

Food isn’t included in this figure: it works out cheaper to go self-catering and feed yourself than to book full-board. There are cheap eating options in and around where we’re staying as well as supermarkets nearby and cooking facilities in the apartments.

wreck

2014. Day 1, dive 2: El Condesito

Who can come

(Almost) anyone! New club members and veterans are equally welcome. As long as you’re a paid-up member of UCCSAC for 2015, you’re invited. You don’t have to be a certified diver yet, although you’ll need to be at least a Diver * (or equivalent) by the time we head out there next August. Plenty of people who went on the 2014 trip hadn’t finished their training when they booked their places, and some found that committing to Tenerife helped motivate them to keep pushing to complete it.

The diving is suitable for all levels of experience. We didn’t get to see anywhere near all of the dive sites on the island, so people coming for a second year should experience some new sites combined with return visits.

There are 30 places on the trip this year, the most that the dive centre can handle at one time. Last year there were fewer places and the trip was fully booked within about 10 days of the announcement, so this time I want to give as many people as possible a chance to experience the diving.

the_crew

Over 50% of the 2014 contingent were new members.

 

Diving

We’ll be diving with Aqua-Marina, a dive centre on Compostela Beach in Playa de las Américas. We dived with them in September 2014 and they were brilliant; they’re regarded by most as the best centre on the island and their TripAdvisor page speaks for itself. The centre is organised, their gear is high-quality and well maintained, and the staff are friendly, thorough, and safe.

For most, the highlight of the 2014 trip was diving with the enormous Atlantic rays off Las Galletas, but there were enough fish, octopuses, wrecks, caves and swim-throughs to keep everyone happy all week long. Tenerife is frequently visited by turtles, dolphins, and other large pelagics, although we didn’t see them on the last trip.

Aqua-Marina are offering a package of 10 dives for €300, including tank, weights and full equipment rental, which is a great discount. If you bring some or all of your own equipment, there’s a further discount, although there’s no need to bring anything apart from yourself.

rays

Day 5, dive 2: El Acuario

Flights

We’ll be flying Ryanair both ways, leaving Cork at 13.25 on 24 August and returning at 21.55 on 31 August. Return flights on our dates are currently €240 without a check-in bag, or €310 with a 15 kg baggage allowance. Depending on the size of the group, this price might decrease slightly, but I can’t promise that it will.

It’s up to you whether you want to bring a check-in bag. You can easily get by without one. If you’re bringing any of your own dive gear beyond a mask and computer, though, you’ll have difficulty fitting it into a cabin bag. I wrote a post talking about bringing dive gear on the 2014 trip, which you can read if you’re considering packing some dive kit.

In 2014, some people arranged among themselves to share a single check-in bag. I have no problem with this but won’t get involved in organising it: you’ll have to arrange it yourselves.

daire

Remember that you may need baggage space for unexpected purchases.

Accommodation and transfers

At time of writing, the plan is for us to stay at Compostela Beach Apartments, near the dive centre. These are studio self-catering apartments that each fit two people sharing. The cost of the week’s accommodation is €112, or €16 per person per night. (Cheaper than Baltimore!) This puts us near the heart of the action in Los Cristianos: a minute’s walk from the beach, five minutes from the dive centre, and ten minutes or less from more bars and restaurants than you can shake a stick at. If I can find cheaper in the same area then I will switch our booking but it’s unlikely

I’m booking a coach to get us between the airport and the hotel when we arrive and leave. The cost per person, between €10 and €15, will depend on how many people sign up (the more people the cheaper).

sdobandfish

Day 1, dive 1: Palm Mar Roncadores

Provisional costs

At time of writing, the approximate costs from above, totalled up, look like this.

Flights €240
Transfers €15
Accommodation €110
10 dives €300
Total €665

You need to understand that this figure is provisional and I can’t promise that it won’t change. It may fluctuate slightly (by up to 5% either way) depending on what happens with numbers. The price of flights may go up between now and when I book them, which is why (see below) I’m asking for a deposit to cover a little extra. The cost of accommodation and transfers will go down if more people sign up.

You’ll also have to budget for food and drink: this depends on how classy you are (and how much you eat). Food and drink are both very, very cheap in Tenerife.

cheers

You may want to budget for a refreshing glass of lemonade after the day’s diving is done.

Your next move

I need to pay for flights as soon as possible so that we get the best deal. I will be taking deposits, starting immediately, to cover the cost of the flights. I’ll set up a payment schedule for the cost of accommodation and diving over the next few months. So, by Thursday 22 January 2015, I need you to bring the following to the P.E. Office:

  • Either €250, if you don’t want a check-in bag, or €320, if you do (cash or cheque made out to ‘UCC Subaqua Club’); and
  • A photocopy of the ID page of your passport.

You can bring your passport to the P.E. Office and get a photocopy of it made. If we manage to get flights for less than €250/320, I’ll use any saving to offset the cost of accommodation and transfers.

Once your deposit is in, I’ll put you on the Tenerife 2015 mailing list and keep you updated. I haven’t worked out a precise schedule for paying the rest of the money, but you should expect to be paying for accommodation around the end of semester 2 in April, and for dives at the beginning of August.

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Day 3, dive 2: Barranco del Agua

Dive kit for Tenerife

Dive kit

People have been asking me what dive kit they should bring to Tenerife next week. Good question! My thoughts are below. If you’re interested in Aqua Marina’s rental gear, they talk about it on their website (about halfway down the page).

None of the below is necessary, so if you don’t have it, don’t buy it for this trip. Everything on this list can be rented over there if you decide you need it.

You should definitely bring

  • Your computer and torch. They should both fit into your carry-on bag and you can leave your torch batteries at home if you’re really concerned about weight.
  • Your camera, if you absolutely insist.

Strongly consider

  • Your mask, if it fits you comfortably and doesn’t leak (and definitely bring it if it’s got prescription lenses). Box it up for travelling. Do you want to bring your snorkel? Go for it.
  • Your SMB. It’s light, it’ll go in your carry-on, and in the unlikely event that you get lost, it’ll cut down considerably on the amount of time you’re waiting to be found. I wouldn’t bother with the reel, though (see below); just deploy it on the surface.

Consider

  • Your regulator, if it’s a particularly good one and you’re diligent about getting it serivced regularly.
  • Your BCD, if (a) you’re strongly attached to it, (b) it has integrated weights and you use them (and the dive centre’s kit doesn’t), and (c) you can spare the baggage weight. If you’re XXL or bigger you should check with the dive centre to confirm that they have rental gear to fit you. Aqua Marina have BCDs up to XXL (I checked).
  • Your compass (if it’s not on your regulator console). We’ll be diving with guides but it’s still no harm to have a vague idea where you’re going.
  • Your line-cutter or knife. It’ll have to go into checked baggage but they don’t weigh much. My line-cutter weighs about 50 g and having it on me is reassuring.
  • Your slate, for noughts and crosses at 3 m.

Probably don’t bother with

  • Your fins, unless they’re super-amazing tech fins or weird split fins and you can’t imagine using anything else. Otherwise, fins are basically just heavy bits of plastic that strap to your feet.
  • Your hood and gloves, at least where we’re going.
  • Your reel (even if you’re bringing an SMB).

Leave

  • Your wetsuit. I know, you love your suit, but suits are heavy when they’re dry and heavier when they’re wet and are pretty interchangeable. Again, if you’re XXL or bigger you might check with the dive centre first. Aqua Marina have suits up to XXXL.
  • Your weights and weight belt (but if your BCD has integrated pouches, then bring them, obviously).

Misc

EPIRBs, rattles, and so on: sure, whatever; I have no opinion.

UCCSAC AGM, Friday 16 May

Hey everybody, some concrete details on the club’s AGM, which is coming up on Friday 16 May 2014. Short version: meet in the Franciscan Well on North Mall at 19.30, to start in the upstairs room at 20.00 sharp. From prospective members, to continuing and returning members, to burnt-out husks former and retiring committee members, all are welcome! More details below. Continue reading

AGM, Friday 16 May

Early warning: we’re holding our AGM on Friday 16 May. Save the date! We’ll be electing a new committee, reviewing the year so far, and discussing our plans for the future.

Venue, time, and agenda are all to be decided; more details will follow as they’re decided.

Night diving tomorrow

Apologies for the late notice. Ray is planning a night dive tomorrow (Tuesday 4 March) out of Oysterhaven. This is for experienced divers only: D** (or current D** exam candidates) or above. The plan is to meet at Oysterhaven at 19.45 tomorrow evening. Brian will be opening the cages at 21.00 tonight to get gear.

Not sure how many spaces there are; best bet is to contact Ray directly if you have his contact details; otherwise get in touch with me (sdób) through the usual channels and I’ll put you in touch with him.

Tenerife 2014

Let’s go to Tenerife, shall we? You can fly there from Cork and get a Stella and a full English on the seafront in Los Cristianos. Oh, and the water is clear, the mean sea temperature is 23°C in August, and there’s a chance of seeing turtles, dolphins, and angel sharks, as well as the usual suspects. If you’re all “shut up and take my money”, feel free to skip to the last section to find out how to proceed; otherwise, read on! Continue reading