Frequently Asked Questions

Equipment

How much will the equipment cost?

A complete set of SCUBA equipment will cost anywhere from £1,000 to £2000. Guide prices for the various items of equipment are listed below:

  • Semi-dry suit £100 to £250
  • Dry suit £250 to £700 +
  • Regulator (Demand Valve) – £150 to £300+
  • Depth and cylinder contents gauges,Compass, Divers Watch, Knife etc – £150 to £300 +
  • Buoyancy Compensation (BC) Jacket (‘Stab’ Jacket) – £200 to £400
  • Weight belt – £15 to £40
  • Air Cylinders – £150

Within the Club there is always good second hand equipment on offer as divers upgrade their equipment and thus it is possible to obtain a set of used equipment for about half the price of equivalent new equipment.

 

What equipment do I need?

During the initial training period it is not necessary to purchase all the required equipment at one go; use of the club’s own equipment (free use in the pool) combined with hiring from local diving shops can ease the initial financial load.

For initial training in the pool, the trainee is usually expected to provide a reasonable quality mask, snorkel, and pool fins, which will total about £75.

This basic equipment can be used for general purpose holiday snorkelling anyway, even if the person decides not to continue SCUBA diving, so it may be considered a “safe investment”.

For open water activities other equipment can be hired either from the Club for a small charge, or alternatively from local dive shops.

 

General

Do I need to be super-fit?

To take up sport diving as an activity, it is essential that the trainee is a competent swimmer and is reasonably fit. The BSAC operate a system of self-certification, however, Dunstable Sub-Aqua Club may require any new members to undertake a medical. A DSAC medical typically costs from around £30 to £50, since it is not considered by most GPs to be an NHS priority.

Unless specifically requested by the examining doctor, it is not necessary to have an X-ray.

 

I learnt elsewhere – can I dive too?

Yes – we welcome all divers irrespective of training agency or qualification.

For Divers who have already qualified with other organisations, it is possible to arrange for training cross over modules to the equivalent BSAC qualifications. For instance PADI Open Water would cross to BSAC Ocean Diver.

 

Is there an age limit?

Training to use full SCUBA equipment involves an element of both physical strength and mental concentration, which are well within the capability of most adults.

It is generally accepted that children under the age of 12 years will probably not have the necessary physical build, nor possibly the time or money to complete sports diver training, although there are always exceptions of course. There is no upper age limit for sports diving, subject to meeting the necessary medical requirements.

Many people come to sports diving for the first time in their thirties to forties or more, as they realise the benefits and attractions of a non-competitive activity which reveals a whole new world!

 

What about a Try Dive?

“Try a dive” sessions are encouraged by BSAC in order to provide a taste of SCUBA diving.

These so-called “Bubble Runs” can be arranged during the pool sessions Monday evenings. They comprises a brief introductory discussion on the use of the equipment and safety aspects, followed by an hour’s pool session using full SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) equipment.

Normally one week’s notice is required to make the necessary arrangements. All equipment is provided so you only need your swimming costume T shirt and towel. A charge of £15 per person is made (discounts for groups of six or more), which is deducted from the joining fee if the person becomes a Club member.

Why not try it now?

 

What about safety?

With correct training, supervision by experienced divers and attention to the guidelines laid down by BSAC, SCUBA diving is less hazardous than most other activity sports – you don’t need any training to ride a bicycle on public roads!

However, it should be borne in mind that taking up sport diving may affect the validity of any life insurance policies taken out in respect of mortgages, loans etc., since it is still classed as a high risk sport much like skiing and some insurers may have specific exclusions.

Membership of BSAC also provides third party liability insurance.

 

Where do we dive?

The Branch Diving Officer prepares a varied diving programme each year to cater for all categories of diver, as well as training requirements. The programme includes inland sites such as Stoney Cove in Leicestershire, Gildenburgh Water near Peterborough, Dostill in Leicestershire and “Blue Lagoon” near Milton Keynes, as well as coastal sites; generally on the South coast, Devon, Cornwall, North Sea sites, Scotland and Faro Islands etc.

Offshore dives are arranged using the Branch’s own RIBs, as well as on a number of chartered hard boats generally operating out of coastal ports in Dorset , Devon , and Cornwall.

In addition, members themselves arrange groups of divers to go to overseas locations, some quite exotic – Mediterranean , Red Sea etc.

 

Training

Can I train quickly?

If time is of the essence, it is possible to obtain the Sports Diver qualification within a few weeks by attending the intensive training courses offered by the BSAC Registered Schools, although this can be a more expensive route.

This approach does not preclude joining a BSAC Branch at any stage. Dunstable Sub-Aqua Club welcomes new members who join “ready” qualified.

If required, we can introduce you to a local professional diving school.

 

Crossing from other training agencies

There are other diving organisations which provide training and qualifications / certification for sport diving e.g. Scottish Sub-Aqua Club (SSAC), Sub-Aqua Association (SAA), PADI, SSI, NAUI amongst others, and most offer certification corresponding to internationally accepted CMAS grades, although there are differences in course content and development skills when compared with similar BSAC grades.

Organisations such as PADI, SSI, and NAUI, which originated in the USA , are essentially commercial operations who issue certification. They generally do not operate local branch or club activities of the type provided by the BSAC Branch structure.

Further, the costs of training and certification tend to be higher, due to their commercial operation.

 

How long will my training take?

It usually takes three months to reach Ocean Diver level within Dunstable Sub Aqua Club. However, it may take longer depending on the commitment of the person concerned and their aptitude. New divers should be able to reach Sport diver within a year, although this will depend on the amount of time they have available.

Is there other training available?

Members are also encouraged to pursue a wide range of specialist skill development courses, which supplement their diving qualifications, for example:

  • Drysuit training
  • BSAC Lifesaver Award
  • BSAC Advanced Lifesaver Award
  • Practical Rescue Management
  • First Aid for Divers
  • Oxygen Administration
  • Decompression workshop
  • Dive Marshalling
  • Boat handling
  • Diver Cox’n
  • Chart work & Navigation
  • GMDSS/VHF Marine Radio
  • Compressor operation and management
  • Decompression chamber operation
  • Recovery and Lifting
  • Expeditions workshop
  • Marine Life Identification
  • Marine Biology
  • Underwater photography
  • Advanced NITROX Diver

 

What is involved in the training?

The basic Ocean Diver course consists of a series of theory lectures followed by pool training in the use of SCUBA equipment. Each module can be “signed off” as it is completed and as time allows. Once the theory lectures are complete a multiple choice written exam will finish the theory section of the course.

During the pool training, there are a series of practical assessments, before moving on towards open water training for Ocean Diver certification.

Further theory lectures, another multiple choice written exam and open water rescue experience is obtained before being awarded the Sports Diver qualification.

Progressively open water training and theory can continue towards attaining the Dive Leader qualification and then on to the Advanced Diver grade.

When can I start?

You can start at any time as Ocean Diver courses are run throughout the year, usually lasting alasting about 12 weeks.

Other traing courses for Sports Diver, Dive Leader and Advanced Diver qualifications are run depending on the requirements of the members at any particular time.