PSAI Advanced Nitrox and Decompression Procedures

Jake writes about his first experience with technical diving at the National Diving and Activity Centre, Chepstow.

This course serves as an entrance to the world of technical diving. The jump from recreational diving is huge and as a result, three days are required to develop the skills and the change of attitude required to conduct safe diving practices. The process started with studying the manual, which everyone really looks forward to at the start of every course.


The first day of the course involved no diving (fortunately as I had forgot my drysuit), the purpose of the day was to understand the information learnt prior to the course and to discuss kit setup. We all discussed our own gear, and allowed everyone to view the different ways the twinsets had been set up and regulators routed. Allowing people to comment how it could be done more efficiently or what problems it could present in different scenarios. The most important lesson learnt was that for kit configuration there isn’t a set way that is correct, everyone’s kit was slightly different as it suited what they found most comfortable.


By this point we were all eager to see how the modifications would affect us in-water. We had two dives to do, and a lot of skills to practice. Mike and Carl wanted us to build up muscle memory so that in an emergency, the skills would be fluid and done with precision. This involved sitting on the platforms at Chepstow practicing shut down drills, swapping between regulators, finning techniques and many more. The introduction of a stage cylinder altered the way we all dived and the use of an extra regulator took a while to get used to.


The final day, all our dive planning had led to this day. We only had to do one deeper dive, so we took the day slow and kept emphasis on keeping calm and relaxed throughout. The dive planned was to 43m, with a bottom time of 15 minutes and a total dive time of 38 minutes. We were going to simulate decompression for a longer dive time to develop greater experience with ascent rates and stopping at set depths. The dive was a success, with me discovering what narcosis feels like at the amusement of everyone else. That is something that is unfortunately going to be brought up in every conversation.

I believe I can speak on behalf of the other students and thank Mike Rushworth and Carl Yates for a seamless course that tested our understanding and abilities and provided a solid foundation for safe diving practices.

Scholars Dive the Kyarra

Myself, Jake and Lucy were thrilled to have the opportunity to dive the wreck of the Kyarra in Swanage, Dorset. The liner Kyarra was a casualty clearing ship, with a quick-firing gun mounted on her stern as a defense against U-boats.

On the 26th May 1918 she was ordered to embark 1000 war-wounded Aussie soldiers in Devonport and return them to Sydney. However, she was hit by a German submarine and sank within 7 minutes.

On the 15th August we travelled down to Swanage pier, and boarded the Divers Down boat, ready to discover the Kyarra. We were diving on 32% Nitrox to give us more time explore the Kyarra. Once we had reached the site we entered the water safely and descended 23 meters down a line onto the ships port railing. There was a slight current as we were descending but nothing that made the descent difficult or dangerous. We observed many interesting features and wildlife, for example we saw the remains of the old bollards in the aft hold area, in which one of them had a crab living inside it! We also saw the rudder post and proceeded to swim to across the Kyarra’s hull. There were various fish living around the wreck.

The visibility was fairly good and overall was a very interesting dive. We agreed prior to the dive to start making our ascent when the first person reached 100 bar, which we successfully managed including a safety stop at 5 meters. During the safety stop we launched a delayed SMB so that the skipper could move the boat close to us to pick us up. Once the boat was close enough we held on the line of the side of the boat and proceeded to the back of the boat where the lift was. When we all were back on board we were all very happy about the dive, and made our way back to Swanage pier!

By Natasha

Scholarship Week 4


Women’s dive daSophiey was a great success! A very busy but enjoyable day and we were lucky with the weather. I started the day in the kit room organising wetsuits, BCDs, regulators and cylinders for everyone then up to Andark Lake to assist with a PADI Refreshers course. It was brilliant to see so many women of all ages kitting up and having fun doing the treasure hunt in the lake. There was so much going on with talks, PADI Discover Scuba Diving in the pool, kit displays from Suunto, Cressi and Apex and hunting for coins in Andark lake to win prizes. Emma Hewitt’s talk on her PADI career was very interesting and inspiring. Then it was straight into helping with Aquanauts in Andark Pool; the children were brilliant at mastering new skills. What a day!

 Sunday was calmer with a trip to Vobster Quay, a flooded quarry,  for the PADI Advanced Open Water Course. I spotted lots of little fish while doing surface cover then went on a Wreck dive with students to a sunken plane. I was fortunate to get an extra dive with Simon, a DM, who took me on an underwater tour of Vobster Quay and down to a caravan where the water temperature was 8’C! Much too cold for my liking but I’m glad I’ve done it. 

On Wednesday I helped out with evening training in the pool. It was great to watch students take their first breath underwater on the Discover Scuba Diving and to grow in confidence during the session. I’m now assisting with a PADI Junior Open Water Course where the students are learning new skills in the pool and are excited to be doing their first open water dives this weekend at Andark Lake. 

 Next week we are going to visit PADI headquarters for a sneak peak behind the scenes – I’m very excited! 

Michael Andark Scholarship, Week 1

I’m looking forward to a summer full of diving, meeting new people and learning lots through the Andark Divemaster Scholarship.  I grew up in Kent and have just finished studying Geography at the University of Southampton, with a particular interest in climate change and environmental issues. The scholarship is a brilliant opportunity for me to learn new skills and have fun whilst doing so! I’d love diving to be a big part of my life and/or career in the future, perhaps even becoming an instructor. The Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver and Emergency First Response courses which I have just completed at Andark were challenging, rewarding and very enjoyable. I’m extremely thankful to Andark, PADI and Suunto for the scholarship, and look forward to meeting those involved in the planning and sponsorship over the summer, including an upcoming visit to Suunto.




Sophie’s First blog about the Andark Scholarship

I am excited to be doing the Andark Scholarship for PADI Divemaster this summer. I have just completed my PADI Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver and Emergency First Response with Andark and can’t wait to begin the Divemaster. I’m looking forward to visiting the Suunto factory in the next few weeks to thank them for the sponsorship. I met Mike Rushworth from Reveal Coaching last week to plan out my goals for this summer.

I’ve completed my first year at the University of Southampton studying Marine Biology. I began diving this year through a university society and absolutely loved it and I hope to be able to use diving for research in my future career. I grew up in rural Gloucestershire (quite far from the sea!) and I am a Girlguiding Rainbow leader in my free time.


Andark scholarship