Life and Dives of Vivienne “Scuba” Whitehead

As you all might have read previously, Viv AKA Boss Lady, had her first casual refresher dive with Jasper a couple of days ago.  She thoroughly enjoyed that dive and decided her next step was dry suit diving, for the first time in many years. All in preparation for a return to probably the best recreational wreck in Malta, Um El Faroud of course.

When Viv asked me to refresh her dry suit skills, I was delighted and also a little nervous as it wasn’t just a pleasure dive with the boss… but it was skills we had to perform in the dry suit.

Add to that, I was also introducing her to the Wing, Back Plate and Long hose, which is becoming the ‘preferred system’ for diving at Divewise

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

To begin, the weather was not working to our advantage. With some swell and surge making the grass lay flat all around us but Viv was determined to go diving.

So we cracked on and started preparing the gear. Now you all know, Viv is a petite lady, so adjusting the harness for the wing was the first move. Once the wing and backplate were suited for her height, she tried it on again and fitted like a glove. A glove that she wasn’t used to because the previous instructors gave her wrong handed gloves for her dives..

Read that blog post here

Gear was set with weights evenly distributed along the cylinder for balance and better trim. Then it was dry suit time. Sarah, another female instructor at Divewise, kindly allowed Viv to use her dry suit and also to test for any leaks. All the ladies at Divewise seem to be short so sizing wasn’t an issue.

After donning her undergarments, Viv tried the dry suit for fit. Not being used to wearing so much clothing in summer, Viv was starting to feel the heat. All zipped up with a few hair pulled out here and there but nothing too much for Viv to handle so far.

Whilst in the dry suit, we practised surface drills for long hose to get her familiar with her equipment. She realised how heavy the gear was at this stage but was also happy to see how streamlined the hoses and wing made her look.

Having Alan watching you teach his wife was nerve recking to say the least. But nonetheless, he gave Viv some encouragement whilst taking some photos and then we headed to the confined waters of our House reef.

On entering the water, I assisted Viv with the fins, as diving with a dry suit required heavier fins especially as her feet were floaty due to the neoprene boots on the suit and fluffy socks that keep you warm. Then we chatted on the surface making sure all was good, and then conducted a buoyancy check but the weighting was off so we added an extra 2 kg making her perfectly weighted.

At this point, I think all nerves had disappeared and felt like I was back in the water teaching a student. Doing something I have missed a lot due to the COVID saga. To my surprise… Viv was exceptionally great at hovering. Indeed despite many years of not diving it was obvious that her previous training had been very good.

She still had it!

Her trim with the wing had made a vast improvement on how flat she became in the water. She tested out the inflation of the dry suit, disconnecting the inflator hose and methods to get rid of gas from the suit.

Off we went to deeper water with Jasper taking photos, myself guiding and Viv behind me having a good old time being the model and practising in the suit. We didn’t see much sea life as we focused on diving skills for the dry suit but we did come across some plastic which we picked up and brought back with us. During the dive, Viv again, had no trouble equalising which was great as diving with a dry suit in the beginning, tends to affect your buoyancy and making comfortable ascent or descent is paramount. Viv had a 40-minute dive along the reef and to our surprise after the dive, she was ONLY slightly damp from her neck in the front… probably from turning and looking up

Not too bad in the summer, as it can be refreshing.

Once we had de-kitted and finally removed her from the suit, Viv looked as though she had run a marathon and was exhausted. She had a great dive but forgot how much scuba diving can be very physically straining and tiring to the body.  She was a trooper, being so petite, yet carrying so much gear, learning new techniques and equipment, she really pushed herself and succeeded.

Well Done Viv, we were all so proud of you and I think all your instructors are going to start begging to take you diving. You’re a lot of fun in the water and it’s honestly a pleasure to dive with you.

Cannot wait for Um El Faroud, Imperial Eagle and Bristol Beaufighter 😊

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