Something For Valentines Day?

Valentine Gifts For Scuba Divers

Valentine Gifts For Scuba Divers

Stuck for something to do on Valentines or want something different?
Well here are some fantastic idea’s for Valentine day gifts.

We have many more great Valentine gift ideas, just call us at the dive centre for inspiration or better still drop into the dive centre and give us a challenge.

Valentine Gift Offers

2-4-1 Discover Scuba Diving Experience
Take the first step on an amazing journey, simply book 2 discover scuba diving experiences before the end of Valentines day (14th Feb) and get one of them for free! Use code VALENTINEDSD2013

Valentine Open Water Referral
For a lifetime of love, give a lifetime of adventure. Simply book the Open Water Referral course before the end of Valentines day (14th Feb) and receive a £25 discount. Course can be taken anytime in the following 3 months. Use code VALENTINEOW2013.

Red Sea Love-A-Board
Already a diver? Then why not join us on our Red Sea diving holiday in October? This gives you plenty of time to spread the cost of the holiday and sample some of the best diving in the world!

Pay your deposit (£250.00) before the 14th February and you will get a free Ocean Pro 3mm shorty wetsuit.

Capture Your Memories in HD
The Intova SP1 HD underwater video camera gives you all the features of a GoPro but at half the price! (£185.00)

Show Your Love & Keep Your Loved One Safe
Keep your loved one safe and treat them to a dive computer, one of the most important scuba diving safety tools you can have as a diver.

Treat her to the amazing Suunto D4i in fantastic hot pink, treat him to the fantastic Suunto  D4i in blue or one of the other superb colours in the range.

Limited budget? Then the Suunto Zoop is just the ticket.

Valentine Gift Voucher
Not sure what to get your scuba diving partner? Why not give them a scuba gift voucher? Completely customisable, just contact the staff, provide the details or let their imagination run wild for you!

Introducing The All New Website

It has been a good few weeks in the planning and development but we are proud of the results!

We wanted to shake things up for 2013 and decided a good image overhall was a great place to start.

The site is now much easier to navigate and packed full of great information and offers. We still have our online shop to sort but that is already under construction.

I hope you agree the slide show in the middle of the main page really brings to life the Malta Holiday we have running in April (13th – 20th), the Red Sea Holiday on the amazing Sea Serpent (4th – 11th October).

There is nothing like having that sun and warm water to look forward too!

Highlights include the unique PADI UK Speciality bundle that saves you over £300 and the recently launched PADI UK Dry Speciality bundle providing even more savings and the opportunity to complete some amazing dry speciality courses during these winter months.

So please, pop onto the new website and let me know what you think.

How to safely deploy a Surface Marker Buoy

How do I deploy a DSMB safely?

It’s a Question time and time again we are asked in the dive centre.

In my view, a Surface Marker Buoy is a must have piece of safety equipment, which, in many cases, is required by local law. So exactly what is a Surface Marker Buoy (“SMB”) and when should you use one?

SMBs come in many different shapes and sizes. Quite simply, they are an inflatable surface marker used to mark the location of a diver or dive group. Such devices can include inflatable dive flags that float on the surface and are attached to a line that a diver drags along, marking the location of the group to boat traffic or the lookout. However, most people associate SMBs with an inflatable tube, also known as a “Safety Sausage”. Safety sausages are invaluable for marking your location in instances where you may have been “navigationally challenged” and surfaced a distance away from the boat, allowing you to be spotted from a much greater distance. They are also essential when you are drift diving and require a boat pick up at the end of your dive. In this instance, a Delayed SMB is even better.

A Delayed SMB (“DSMB”) is effectively a safety sausage that is deployed at depth rather than on the surface. DSMBs are essential in areas of high boat traffic, assuming that boat crew are aware of what a DSMB is used for. I do recall a very hairy moment whilst diving in Thailand however, where a longtail boat drove straight over my deployed DSMB whilst on my safety stop, but that is another story! Delayed SMBs are also useful when completing a safety stop in a current, allowing the dive boat to track you. For instance, in a two knot current you can drift up to 400m (1/4 mile) during a 5 minute safety stop. It makes good sense to deploy your SMB during your safety stop if you haven’t returned to the boat.

DSMBs are also used heavily by technical divers to mark their location whilst completing their decompression stops. Many tech divers will have their name written on their DSMB so that the lookouts know who is decompressing and who may be missing.

So now you understand the uses and importance of an SMB (or DSMB), but before you head out and buy one, let’s discuss how to use one. As a safety device, DSMBs are potentially lethal pieces of equipment in the wrong hands.

The biggest risk areas when deploying a DSMB can broadly be categorised into the following 3 areas:

1. Problems with the reel jamming or line entanglement

There is a vast array of reels on the market, many of which are prone to jamming. Ask around your dive buddies for recommendations and consult online forums. Quite often, the simplest reels, such as a finger spool, are the least prone to jamming. Make sure you get one that works well and ensure that you look after it by regularly lubricating the mechanism and always ensuring you rinse it well in fresh water after use.

A key part of helping to avoid entanglement is to be extremely diligent in winding the reel up after use. I have, on a number of occasions allowed instructors to borrow my reel and it has come back in a dangerous state, the line in knots, reeled up in haste and increasing the chances of jamming on its next use. This is one area that it is well worth being very methodical about. So, after use, I recommend reeling the line out, attaching the end to a fixed point and laying the line out flat may help. Then, slowly reel the line back in to ensure the line is neat and taught. A line that is not tightly reeled up on a finger spool or unenclosed reel is likely to unravel over the reel side and potentially cause entanglement.

I have seen some divers mark distance on their reel line using knots or pieces of coloured ribbon tied on. This is not something that I would recommend as it increases the chances of the reel jamming. Instead, if you want to mark distance on your reel use a permanent marker pen which works well on the white reel line. I use a small mark at the 5m mark for safety stops and then a larger line at the 10m mark, 2 lines at the 20m mark, 3 lines at the 30m mark and so on.


Ensuring the SMB is packed away correctly helps to avoid issues on deployment.

2. Problems with the diver’s equipment getting caught in the SMB

If you have the reel attached to you, always ensure that it is detached prior to the deployment of the SMB. I have witnessed cases where a diver has been dragged up to the surface by an SMB that jammed on deployment and was still attached. If this happens, you need to be able to let go of the reel completely to avoid a rapid ascent. You may want to consider tying the reel to a wreck or rocks prior to inflation and deployment to avoid the chance of being dragged up by a jammed reel.


The first few metres below the surface, which is where you will be performing the majority of your safety stops and deployment, is where the pressure differential is most marked and small changes in depth has a marked impact on air spaces and volumes. With this in mind, you want to ensure you are ready to quickly dump your own buoyancy in your BCD as you fill the SMB. For this reason, it is worthwhile being slightly negatively buoyant to minimise issues with being dragged up during inflation.

Some simple SMBs designed for deployment from a 5m safety stop come with a pretied length of loose line. The loose line on such SMBs can easily become tangled and, for this reason, I would recommend attaching a reel instead. Some SMBs come with an attach length of webbing for deployment and these are excellent provided that you are diligent in folding away the webbing deployment system (as with a reel) neatly. I have an iSMB with webbing, it’s own inflation cylinder by AP Vales and have found it excellent.

3. Problems with inflation

Depending on the SMB, inflation may be performed via gently purging the alternate air source into the SMB opening or via a valve inflation using an inflator hose or oral inflation technique. Some SMBs have their own air supply in the form of a small cylinder.

For SMBs where oral inflation is required it is worth considering the risk associated with removing your regulator to inflate. With this in mind, it may be worth considering an SMB which does not require oral inflation. If you are a competent diver, the risk associated with regulator removal would be minimal. Some SMBs have their own air source attached via a small onboard cylinder. The advantage of these is that you do not haveto remove your regulator!

For open ended SMBs that are inflated using an alternate air source, the principles of inflation are the same as that of operating a lift bag. Roll out the SMB and then hold the open ended part above your alternate air source. You need to ensure the opening is fully open by prizing it open with your fingers. Then place your alternate air source (mouthpiece facing up towards the surface) at the opening and purge small quick bursts of air into the buoy. It is worth remembering that the buoy will not require much air before you release it, as whatever air is inside will expand with the decrease in pressure on ascent.

Using an SMB with a built-in 6m tape avoids requiring a reel.

An alternative inflation method for an open ended buoy is to utilise your exhaled air rather than your alternate air source. Whilst tilting your head to one side, simply hold the open end of the buoy above the primary demand valve and direct several exhalations up into the SMB. For both methods, small bursts of air should be added with care rather than a rapid purge that will result in an rapid ascent of the bag and associated risk of being dragged up with it.

Where a SMB requires oral inflation via a valve, the diver removes the primary regulator from his or her mouth to inflate the buoy and applies small short exhales into the bag to inflate. Similarly, where a low pressure inflator hose is attached to inflate the bag, small short bursts of air should be applied. Using a low pressure inflator hose to inflate from either the divers BCD or dry suit does not necessarily increase the chances of a rapid diver ascent as, unlike the BCD/Drysuit quick connect valve, the SMB valve does not retain the hose connector and can be easily disconnected by pulling off when required.

4. How do I choose the right DSMB?

Like diving with a computer, a DSMB should not be shared between buddy pairs. It is acceptable for just one member of the buddy team to deploy their SMB, however if the buddy pair did get separated, both members would obviously need to deploy. Further, having a second SMB provides a back up should problems such as reel jamming, perished bag or loss should arise with the deployment of the first SMB.  Some operators require every diver to release a DSMB, rather than just one per buddy pair. That way they know when everyone is accounted for and on the way up.

If you simply want an SMB for deploying on your 5m safety stop, then an SMB with a 6m length of webbing tape attached to the SMB is probably the simplest and safest option. If you would like the ability to deploy the SMB from a greater depth, then a simple finger reel is probably the next best solution. Finger reels come in lengths up to 30m. Anything deeper and you will need to use a hand reel.

Some divers carry two reels with the line from the second reel attached to the handle of the first. The idea being that if the first reel jams while deploying the DSMB, you can let it go and deploy line from the second. Where possible, arguably a better solution to counter risk associated with jamming would be to use a single reel and tie it on to the wreck, rock or other potential anchor point for deployment. Alternatively, a finger reel is much less likely to jam as there is no mechanism to jam.

Practice deploying your DSMB in a swimming pool or shallow water. When you have the hang of it, practice with your eyes shut – you may just have to do it all in zero visibility! And keep practicing regularly to keep your skills fresh and ensure deployment is second nature when it is required.

DiveStyle Weekly Promotion – PADI Specialities

PADI Speciality promotion.

The following PADI Specialities are on offer for our AOW water weekend 16th & 17th Feb.

Offer available 31st Jan – 10th Feb.

  • Wreck Diver – £120.00 (RRP£160.00)
  • Deep Diver – £120.00 (RRP£160.00)
  • Search & Recovery – £110.00 (RRP £150.00)
  • Peak Performance Buoyancy – £110.00 (RRP £150)

To book call the shop or use FEBSPEC1 on our online shop.

Bookings and payment to be made before the 10th Feb.

These prices are only available for the dates stated and on a first come first served basis as spaces are limited.

DiveStyle Weekly Promotion – Hollis SMS50

DiveStyle Weekly Offer – Offer Ends 1st March 2013.

HOLLIS SMS50 £450, use the code SMS50WEEKLY to receive a £40 discount!!!

Hollis “SMS” sidemount systems have been designed not just with cave divers in mind, but any sidemount diver. Thenew SMS50 is no exception. Built for sidemount only, this kit can be used in any environment from open water to overhead. Includes an adjustable, one size fits most harness based on a minimalist design

OMG! You Have Got To Be Joking!


Use the code WINTERWARMER checkout.

It may be snowy outside but there is no reason why you can’t feel all warm inside!

Ready to feel all warm inside? How about an Open Water Referral course for £199.00? (SRP £245).

We believe in UK diving and we know that as soon as you have your first UK dive you will be hooked just as we are.

That is why we have a winter warmer deal just for you, your family or friends.

Book and pay for the Open Water Referral Course by the 31st January and pay only £199.00!

You then have until the 31st March to complete the Open Water Referral course in a lovely warm swimming pool.

Dive Computers: Picking The Right Algorithm

An algorithm is the mathematical formula a dive computer uses that factors in real-time measurements of depth, gas mix, time at depth—and, depending on the algorithm, potentially lots of other data—to calculate how long you can stay under water with a reasonable degree of assurance that you won’t get hit with decompression sickness (DCS).

There are currently about a half-dozen different algorithms being used in dive computers, each using its own proprietary computations, and each with its own “liberal” or “conservative” leanings. Computers that use more conservative algorithms lessen the risk or likelihood of DCS by limiting dive time. Computers that use more liberal algorithms provide the opportunity for longer dive times, but, of course, more time spent at depth also increases the risk of DCS.

So which is best? It really comes down to the individual diver’s comfort level. However, divers who have preconditions that might make DCS more likely (age, poor circulation, poor physical conditioning) should always go the conservative route. Most new computers offer methods for programming personal safety adjustments that let you increase the conservatism of virtually any DC.


(Reference from

5 Easy Steps for Maintaining Your Reg

A modern regulator is an extremely reliable mechanism. So reliable, in fact, that some divers will take their regs on countless dives and never so much as rinse them off. Yet they keep on delivering air year after year.
While this is indeed the modus operandi for the maintenance-challenged individuals among us, the truth is, a regulator is a pretty hefty investment, and when you spend that much on something it kinda makes you want to take care of it. We’re not talking a major commitment here; we’re talking a few minutes after each day of diving following some simple steps to help extend the life and performance of what is really the most important component of your life support system.

This is all it takes:

1. After a day’s diving, making sure the dust cover is in place, give the reg a quick rinse with a low-pressure hose to knock off any big chunks of dirt, sand or salt.

2. Drop the reg in a bucket of fresh water or the bathroom sink and let it soak for 10 minutes or so.

3. During the soak, swish the second stage around in the water (without depressing the purge button) to get water flowing through the mouthpiece and exhaust tee.

4. Pull the reg out of the water and give it another gentle rinse, making sure you hit all swivels and hose connections. This will require pulling back the hose protectors—if your reg has them—so you can get at the connections to the first stage.

5. Give the first stage and second stage a gentle shake to clear any excess water from the yoke and the exhaust tee. Then lay it loosely coiled out of direct sunlight to dry.


(Reference taken from

Balanced vs Unbalanced Regs: Does It Make a Difference?

One of the features mentioned in ScubaLab’s regulator tests is whether the first and/or second stages are “balanced.” In recent years, the terms “overbalanced” and “hyperbalanced” have popped up as well, adding to the sometimes confusing mix of features to evaluate before choosing a regulator. We won’t get into detailed technical aspects, and this explanation doesn’t cover every reg in the market, but here’s a simplified explanation.

Balanced First Stage
It’s all about the springs when discussing the difference between balanced and unbalanced first stages. With both piston and diaphragm regs, there’s a high-pressure valve and seat assembly and a spring. An unbalanced reg basically has a different pressure on each end of this valve-spring assembly that causes varying effort to overcome the force of the spring as conditions change — such as change in depth or tank pressure. This translates as variations in the medium pressure traveling through the hose to the second stage, resulting in harder breathing effort at depth or low tank pressure. A balanced first stage routes medium pressure air to both sides of the valve-spring assembly, so that the effort to move the spring is consistent and unaffected by variations in external conditions, giving the diver unvarying pressure to the second stage and consistent breathing effort.

Over-Balanced First Stage
This is a bit of technical wizardry performed by some manufacturers allowing a first stage to slowly increase its medium pressure output as ambient pressure increases (you’re going deeper) instead of keeping it constant. The advantage is that the relative volume of air supplied to the second stage is greater as you go deeper, theoretically making breathing easier. A nice bonus on those deep wreck dives.

Balanced Second Stage
In oversimplified terms, a typical second stage has at its heart a valve and a spring, much like the first stage. When a diver inhales on a regulator, the inhalation effort opens a valve that is closed by the tension of a spring. Balancing a second stage is accomplished by routing medium pressure air to the backside of the valve to help counteract the force of the spring. This allows the valve to open with less effort, making the reg breathe easier under heavier demand, such as the higher pressures at depth.

The Bottom Line
If balancing makes things so much easier for the diver, why isn’t every regulator manufactured that way? One reason is cost. If you open a reg and look inside, the parts are tiny and precision made. Balancing adds a layer of complexity to the manufacturing process that translates into higher cost. Another reason is that not everyone needs a balanced regulator. As our tests prove, an unbalanced system can perform very well in entry-level diving scenarios. Purchasing a balanced first stage paired with an unbalanced second stage can often provide a good balance of performance at a reduced cost to the budget-conscious diver.

(reference article taken from