Sub-Aqua News Archive

NAS Lecture

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An introduction to Nautical Archaeology and the NAS training Programme

archaeology, underwaterOn Thursday 2nd December, Jon Parlour of the Nautical Archaeology Society gave an interactive session to introduce nautical archaeology. He told us about examples of local projects including the excavation of the “Catherina de Flensburg”, an Eighteenth Century trader wrecked off Plymouth which had been carrying a cargo of reindeer hides. We were able to handle some artefacts recovered from her including bottles and jars, buttons and buckles, rigging blocks and tackle as well as some pieces of the hides themselves. We saw pictures of the ship, remarkably preserved and learned that the hides were so well made that they survived three hundred years underwater. Some have been removed and sold to help finance the research and preservation of the wreck. The hides are made into luxury footwear – a pair of shoes made from these hides retailing at over 1000.

Diving helmet    Diving helmet

We also had the chance to try on some of the specialist diving equipment such as the Kirby 17 helmets, AGA full-face masks and rebreathers.

Anyone who wants to learn more about nautical archaeology, - above or below the water, and perhaps become involved in a project here or abroad can contact the NAS on

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Recompression Chamber Awareness Speciality Course

Everybody has heard of the “Bends” and how to avoid this risk is something we teach as part of our training. However on Sunday 5th February 2006, Blundell’s Sub- Aqua Club had the opportunity to find out even more about Decompression Illness, how to avoid it and what to do in an emergency. We went to the Hyperbaric Chamber in Plymouth to experience going into a recompression chamber.

Hyperbaric Chamber in PlymouthGroup photo

Outside the Hyperbaric ChamberIn the Hyperbaric Chamber

We were dressed up in green scrubs and then we entered the chamber. The air around us was compressed, slowly at first to twice atmospheric pressure then as our ears and sinuses adjusted to the pressure to five times normal air pressure. The air became hot and felt sticky, helium in the air made our voices “funny” and the pressure affected our ability to concentrate fully. This controlled experience of Narcosis enables divers to be aware of how it affects them and therefore be more able to avoid Narcosis when diving for real. As we were brought back up the air got cold and misty in the chamber. Although we had only been “down” for nine minutes it took over half an hour to get back up safely. This allows any gas which had dissolved into our system chance to escape safely.

In the Hyperbaric Chamber   In the Hyperbaric Chamber

Our thanks go to Tim and Joe who operated the chamber and to Jon who was our instructor and dive leader for the day. The following people took part in the day and passed the course: Tom Whateley, Russell Fleming, Tristan Powell (OB), Becky Young, Helen Staddon, Janet A’Lee, Yan Yates.

SAA Oxygen Administration Course

Sunday 30th January 2005, 09.00 – 17.30

Oxygen Administration CourseOxygen Administration Course

In the rare event of a diving accident a rapid and correct response is necessary. Oxygen first aid plays an vital role in assisting the recovery of an injured diver until medical services are able to take command of the situation. oxygen administration equipmentThe Oxygen Administration course teaches the use of oxygen for first aid in diving emergencies in a hands-on, practical way.

Oxygen is used in diving accidents to shrink bubbles that have formed in the blood and tissues. For all diving related cases of Decompression Sickness (DCS or “The Bends”) or Arterial Gas Embolism (AGE), the primary First Aid goal is to administer 100% inhaled oxygen. All divers should understand the role of supplemental oxygen in treating the rare cases of DCS or AGE. All of the internationally recognized Diver Training Agencies (DAN, BSAC, SAA, NAUI, PADI, SSI) require First Aid and CPR Training as a prerequisite for Rescue Diver or Dive Leader certification, and all encourage additional training in O2 Systems.

This useful course not only teaches how to assist in the event of an accident but also teaches which steps to take to avoid getting into difficult situations. Understanding of human physiology, linked with the physics of how gasses behave under pressure shows divers where the risks occur in diving and how to avoid illness. It also then explains why breathing 100% O2 is effective in treating pressure related illness as well as for drowning and similar diving difficulties.

Oxygen Administration CourseOxygen Administration Course

This excellent course was led by Trainers from the SAA, and thanks go to Steve, Gerry, Stuart, and Mark for their professionalism and time. Congratulations go to Tristan Powell, Ben Spalding, Tom Whateley, Trevor Henderson, Becky Young, JEA and GRY who all successfully completed the training (refresher course for some) and are now competent to use the school O2 equipment in the event of an emergency.

Oxygen Administration Course

RYA VHF Radio - GMDSS Short Range Certificate

Divers are required to inform the coastguards of position and dive plans when diving from a boat. It is also vital that you can call for help in the event of an emergency. BUT Did you know that it is illegal to use a marine band VHF radio without the appropriate licences?

marine band VHF radioThis one-day assessed course taught us all we had to know to operate a marine band VHF radio fitted with Digital Selective Calling (DSC). In a relaxed and friendly manner – with many breaks for hot chocolate, Chis taught us to use VHF radio for DSC and normal voice communications and also covered the emergency operating procedures for the use of Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB) and Search and Rescue Transponders (SART).

A group of three students and two members of staff went to Looe where Chris from “Looe Divers” was instructing the RYA certified course. Trainees were able to experience hands-on use of the equipment & procedures. The course tackles this serious and important subject with a lightness of touch that enabled us all to take on and use the vital emergency procedures and pro-words with messages between imaginary vessels “Lusty Lady” and “Deep Distress” covering such emergencies as a fire in the galley to a broken propeller passing across the room. Before the course the trainees had to learn the phonetic alphabet and familiarise themselves with the contents of the training manual.

The end of the course included a knowledge review (written exam) which when passed entitles the trainee to apply for the Short-wave Radio Certificate. This then authorises the holder to operate a VHF Radiotelephone, on board any British vessel, which is voluntarily fitted with radio equipment.

Congratulations go to Ben Spalding, Tristan Powell and Trevor Henderson for successfully completing this course.