8th January 2018.
Sheephaven divers were in the water on Sunday morning, despite the air temperature at PortnaBlagh being down to minus 2 degree Celsius.
One of divers’ frosty fins tells its own tale about the first Sunday Sheephaven Snorkel of 2018.
Nonetheless in-water conditions were quite calm, but also cold with the water temperature less than 8 degrees Celsius, which limited the snorkel time considerably.
This time of year is an opportunity for divers to prepare for the incoming dive season, both by ensuring in-water fitness and by servicing of essential dive gear such a regulators and dive bottles.
Sheephaven SAC is affiliated to the Irish Underwater Council, which regulates the activities of recreational Scuba Diving in Ireland, who have very specific annual qualifications to authorise a diver for the year ahead.
These criteria include an annual demonstration of in-water fitness under the supervision of the club Dive Officer, which includes completing a snorkel over a distance of 500 metres within 10 minutes, a 3 metre free dive and a finally a 50 metre simulated casualty tow.
The second annual qualifying criteria is that a diver must have a current dive medical from their GP, the dive medical is tailored to ensure that specific underlying conditions do not create an undue risk to the diver during a dive.
The third criteria is that a diver must declare each year that their health has not deteriorated since their last medical, in accordance once again with a specific list of questions to minimise the risk of a potential health condition creating an undue risk during diving.
Finally in addition to all the above a diver must have appropriate dive insurance, both for themselves and with regard to their liability to others. This is demonstrated each year by a diver paying a proportion of their annual club subscription to the Irish Underwater Councils insurers, who provide specialised dive insurance cover for all affiliated club members.
All of the above is recorded on the Irish Underwater Council electronic data system, which up until now was known as COMS and allowed individual clubs to monitor whether their members had fulfilled the annual criteria, thereby allowing them to dive.
For Sheephaven SAC club members the annual subscription of €410 has remained constant for many years, thanks in no small part to the fundraising activities of the club members.
This fee covers the diver for all air fills and boat activities for the coming year and goes to support the cost of running the dive boats, air compressor and the clubhouse in Downings.
Over the years Sheephaven SAC has been fortunate to welcome divers from affiliations other than the Irish Underwater Council and that remains the current practice, as well as welcoming back lapsed divers who might wish to return to the club.
So while the diving might be quiet there is still plenty to do in preparing for the coming season ahead.