Club Diving Policy
As a club we have developed standard diving practices which we have found serve us well and are also suited to the majority of our diving off Dover, where we often dive very close to the shipping lanes and other busy shipping areas and routes.
General Diving Practice
As a standard rule we dive from our club Rhibs (Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats) and in two waves, with a Dive Marshall and Boat handler on the surface at any one time. We also aim to have at least 2 boats on site at any time to provide back up coverage in the event of a breakdown or emergency.
Shoting the wreck and shot recovery
Once we have located the wreck with a combination of the GPS, Electronic Charts and Fish finder, we will drop a shot line (Anchor, Rope and buoy) onto the wreck, and whilst waiting for slack water start getting divers kited up and buddy checking.
Once we have slack water a first pair will be sent down to ensure the shot is on the wreck and secure the shot line to the wreck. If we have somehow missed the wreck they will search for it and then lift and shift the shot across to it, attaching it ideally to a high point on the wreck.
Once they have the line secured they will send the shot to the surface with a lifting bag. This is the signal for the remainder of the first wave to start their dive. With the space available for kiting up this usually creates a natural stagger in the diver deployment.
The Dive Marshall and Boat Handler will be wave 2, and they get to dive once a suitably qualified pair of divers have surfaced, so please bear these 2 in mind when dragging out your dive.
The shot will be released by the last pair, who know they are last as there will be no other distance lines attached to the shot area. They will then use this as their DSMB while assending.
Wreck Diving Procedures
We deploy and use a distance line as a standard practice, between each dive pair, from the shot line. This ensures that the majority of divers come back up the shot line and do not drift off down the channel. In the event of an emergency then this line can be cut and recovery using a DSMB carried out if required.
There are several reasons for using this the first being that it is quite easy in poor visibility to penetrate a wreck without realising you have done so. The distance line ensures you can find your way out.
Often we dive in very poor visibility and a buddy pair can loose sight of each other. By holding the line we have a buddy line and route back to the shot or to our buddy depending on which way you go, thus reducing the chances of separation. We have also found that having this line in place gives inexperienced divers additional confidence on some dives. It further allows a very quick return to the shot even in poor visibility.
Please however ensure that you prepare your reel prior to the dive, do not cram too much line onto it and belay it off at appropriate points to prevent it drifting about on the wreck and becoming a hazard.
We encourage all divers to plan their gas requirements in detail for the dive, however we also realise that conditions, new experiences, new depths, darkness, poor visibility, new and/or inexperienced buddies and distractions can alter consumption rates considerably, so as a basic requirements we expect you to work on the following criteria for the first diver in the pair to reach each level. This is based on a No-stop dive, if you are going into deco plan the Gas requirements in detail.
100 Bar – Turn around and return to the shot. More if there is a strong current or if you have gone further than 50m or are not using a distance line for whatever reason.
70 Bar – Start up the shot line.
50 Bar – On the Surface. Do not sacrifice safety stops to achieve this.
As a bare minimum all divers should plan for a 3min safety stop at 6m.
If you are doing a decompression dive this minimum should be added to your deco stop timings at least.
We as a club tend to use a very slow ascent rate, which we feel is a factor in our safety record. Guest divers and new members need to be aware of this and discuss it with dive buddies so as to avoid separation and confusion.
If you have any signs or symptoms of diving illnesses then contact the Emergency Services immediately:-
Gravesend is our nearest Recompression Chamber, but do not go straight there as it may be in use! Call the Emergency services and let the professionals sort it out.
You can plan a perfectly safe dive with no theoretical chance of DCI and still get a hit as it effects each person in a different way. Watch for the signs and symptoms and react to them. Other than missed deco stops and rapid ascents the main causes/factors are dehydration and physical exertion after a dive. Make sure you are taking on fluids, a stretched bladder is far less painful that DCI.
DCI First Aid
Lie the casualty down.
DCI Common Symptoms
Denial that something is wrong!
Boat Launching and Recovery
All divers are expected to assist in this. Please allow sufficient time to sort your kit out so that you are not doing this while others are preparing and launching the boats.
On recovery it is bad form to disappear and sort your kit out while others are recovering and preparing the boat for the trip home. If you don’t know what to do just ask.
Booking on a dive
The dive rota will be published and distributed, amendments will be on the web site. To get a place book on with the Dive Marshall or DO on the Thursday night, so they can plan the administrative requirements and offer up spare places to guest divers.
You must then call the Dive Marshall or DO between 2000 and 2100 the day before the dive to confirm it is still on and timings. The minimum requirement is for 4 divers so 2 waves of 2 divers, which should include 2 boat handlers and 1 licensed radio operator.
If you are not able to book on Thursday, and later want to dive, call the Dive Marshall or DO and they will try to give you a space.
If you cannot make the dive and need to cancel please inform them ASAP so they can offer up spaces or avoid taking more boats than required.
Our main diving is out of Dover where we have a general sea depth of 30-35m and about 400 shipwrecks to choose from. We also have a few at shallower depths around 22-25m and a few deeper down to about 60m. We aim to dive many different ones over the year and although we may target one for a dive day this may well change subject to factors like the weather and wind direction, other boats on site, time to site, experience levels etc.
Although many of these are at depths beyond that of beginner’s requirements, many are also very proud so a wreck in 30-32m may well be 10-12m proud allowing beginners to dive her upper decks.
Nitrox divers if in doubt should plan on an MoD of 35m and check with the Dive Marshall or DO. However, planning on a MoD of 32m will not cause a problem. If we have targeted a deeper wreck and need to change that is not a problem, as there are so many to choose from and they are very close together.
We are above all else flexible to the demands of safety and divers limitations.
We are happy to take guest divers from all organisations on club dives subject to them having the appropriate level of qualification. To book a place contact the Diving Officer for initial approval and booking.
We expect all guest divers to apply the same rules as detailed above as branch divers unless dispensation is given by the DO. We regularly introduce divers to Channel and Dover diving for the first time so are used to catering for a wide variety of skills and experience levels. Please do not exaggerate experience or skills levels, an accurate overview will allow dive site and buddy selection (if required) to match the appropriate skills level.
Guest are expected to contribute the same towards the expenses incurred on the days dive as club members pay. This will generally be £15 for a Dover dive, which covers fuel, mooring and boat maintenance costs. If it is a double dive day on a Neaps tide this will generally be £25 for the two wreck dives. We do not do drift dives off Dover as there is not much to see. If you need air we can provide that or a cylinder loan for £2.
Please ensure you bring your qualification record and dive log with you.
As a club we have a plethora of quality awards that members can win throughout the year for diving deeds such as wreck finding (or not), navigation (or lack of), notable boat handling and many other related subjects.
We also award on a regular basis the ‘fool of the day hat’. This is normally retained by Carl but its award is done on an ad hoc basis by the DO, who decision is final. All members are encouraged to nominate recipients for this fine award.