Hard Hat Dive

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Below is a letter from one of our members describing her time on our outings to the Diver Training College to experience a couple of dives with a difference.

 TRIP BACK IN TIME        

As divers we may sometimes sit and wonder what it would be like to experience the methods of the past, we envisage pictures of men underwater in canvas suits with brass helmets and lead boots. Well today a group of us went along to the Divers Training Centre at Appleton Roebuck near York to do exactly this, and also to experience the feeling of being 50metres underwater and all the strange effects this has on us.

   

We begin with the Hard Hat dive as we call it and as we gather around a 6metre tank to be briefed on the safety aspects and the use of the equipment we eagerly await our adventure.  We are shown how to dress a diver in the suit putting on the breastplate and screwing it down then step up to the platform where the boots and helmet are fitted ready for the faceplate screwing in and the signal to descend.  On land the suit is clumsy and awkward but as you enter the water with air being pumped into the suit you balloon into a weightless world, albeit for the boots that keep you firmly planted on the bottom of the tank. Just one or two jobs to do and a walk around the tank and you already feel the strain of lifting your feet and the pressure of the helmet on your shoulders.  Its time to attempt the climb back to the surface and back to today it makes you appreciate the lightweight dry suits of the modern diving community and how much easier they must make commercial diving.

After a very nice dinner (all included in the price) we now go down to the chamber room to experience the pressures of deep diving without actually leaving the surface,

Again we have a safety briefing along with an explanation of the equipment and its uses, a hyper baric chamber is more commonly used to assist divers when for some reason they suffer from the phenomenon known as the bends, but today we are in safe and experienced hands and are all set to enjoy our ‘dive’. As we begin our descent the temperature rises and the pressure builds, we took along a tennis ball and some 8mm neoprene and as we are pressurised to greater and greater depth we watch the flatten, so much for a quick game of tennis then I forgot the rackets anyway, we also notice that we can no longer whistle and our reactions are slowing then we start to giggle and its infectious but the best bit is when you attempt to speak you’ve turned into Mickey Mouse, by this time we are all in fits of laughter and its nothing at all to do with Nitrogen Narcosis, is it. After a short stay at 50metres we begin our ascent noticing as we do so that the air seems thick and full of moisture, its just like an early morning mist and now its getting colder again and the tennis ball re-inflates itself as we reach our first safety stop on our way back to the surface.  Its seems only a couple of minutes ago that we began our descent but in reality when we check our dive chart being kept by those on the surface we have been in the chamber just over half an hour.

A great day out and an experience to remember with thanks to the staff at the Diver Training Centre for their patient support and supervision, and also to their catering staff for an excellent dinner.