CGMS planning director Valerie Scott talks about her enthusiasm for deep-water scuba diving.
How did you get into scuba diving?
I started scuba diving when I was 50; my husband was already a keen diver and I went to buy him a snorkel and saw a learn-to-dive-for-£90 advert in the diving shop. The offer was too good to turn down. I am now a member of the British Sub-Aqua Club and a member of Teddington and Totnes sub-aqua clubs. Both my husband and I are diving instructors and have progressed to deep-water diving, more than 60m down.
What does it involve?
Most of our diving is off the south coast of England around Plymouth but we also dive in the Red Sea, off the Croatian coast and around Scapa Flow in Orkney, which ranks as one of the world’s top diving destinations and is great for exploring shipwrecks. Deep diving is different from recreational open-cylinder diving and involves a closed-circuit re-breather system that 'scrubs out' CO2. For deep diving we spend only half an hour under water and it takes one hour to resurface. Total weight of equipment is 72kg: I weigh 53kg.
Why do you do it?
Diving is a magical experience and exploring the unknown a huge adventure that gives us a big buzz – last week we explored an old P&O liner off the coast of Salcombe that was torpedoed in the First World War; before that we went down nearly 70m to explore a wrecked cargo ship called the Murree that went down in gales in 1989 20 miles off the Cornwall coast. This involved laying a line – unspooling a length of cord so you can retrace your point of entry to the wreck. It can get dark.
What’s the toughest thing about it?
Underwater cave diving is terribly difficult demanding excellent balance and buoyancy and the need to avoid kicking up silt – a big no-no in cave diving. I also once had to rescue a fellow diver who ran out of air 15m down and lost consciousness: I released her weight belt, brought her to the surface and gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She fully recovered.
What’s the most rewarding thing about it?
Seeing sharks and other big fish at quite close quarters is very rewarding, while the overall sensation of diving is exhilarating.
Are there any similarities between your day job and scuba diving?
Both planning and diving call for meticulous preparation – you plan the dive and dive the plan.
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