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Dry Diving


Getting Narked, by Lucy Handel

I've been meaning to do a dry dive for years, but have never got round to it and haven't been available to do other ones which clubs have organised. I have looked around a few chambers, one on the Island of Millport, and the London Diving Chamber. The dive I did was at London's sister unit, the Midlands Diving Chamber.

After battling the awful traffic on the M1, I arrived in Rugby (bit posh. Wouldn t mind living there). The place was very easy to find and I was greeted by nice friendly staff. We all signed the usual medical forms and handed over the money. There were nine of us there and it costed 40 each which may sound a bit steep compared to dive site entry fees etc, however I think the overall experience was definitely worth the money.
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Dry Diving I hadn't really thought about the dive other than the narcosis at depth, so was a bit surprised when they told us to put on scrubs although this didn t bother me at all and when they explained why, it all made sense. Luckily they let us keep our underwear on... and my giraffe socks... So after all the blokes got changed, us ladies popped in the changing room and put our sexy new outfits on.

We were given a safety briefing and they went through the dive plan and what exactly would happen. We were told about noises and temperatures to expect and what to do etc. We then had to complete a short timed test; very simple, this comprised of circling all of the Ls in a section of text. All in all it was a very thorough and entertaining brief.
Dry Diving So off we all went into the chamber with our bottles of water and took a seat. It took us about five minutes to drop to 50 metres depth, which I guess is actually quite slow, however I found myself having to equalise every two seconds. The heat from the air coming in as we dropped was immense, it was like stepping off a plane in a hot country and the air just hits you.

At around 37 metres I started to feel very jolly and leant round to tell my friend a joke, when I spoke we both fell about laughing as I sounded as though I d been breathing a tonne of helium. Then when the guys started talking, that was it, I couldn t stop laughing!
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Several silly moments later we were at maximum depth. We were given a duplicate piece of text and had to circle all the Ls again. We had six minutes on the bottom; I remember mostly laughing about nothing oh dear, haha! We had some balloons and bits of neoprene in there with us which you could see had shrunk loads as we expected.

On the way back up it got reallllly cold! I was glad of the giraffe socks. Putting the oxygen masks on during ascent also made me laugh, as at the time I thought my Darth Vader impression was hysterical evidently it wouldn t have been, but hey I was Martinied up! As indicated by my oh so sexy mask in the pictures...

After the dive we were de briefed and given our scores for our letter circling activity... I won't lie, I came last, however as you can see from the picture, while I should have been circling letters I was in fact laughing. Most people were out by about ten letters at depth (I was out by eighteen... oops!).

As a summary; for anyone who is thinking about doing one do it! It s a fantastic experience and so funny. Thank you to SCUBA MK for organising it and the staff at the Midlands Diving Chamber who were so knowledgeable and accommodating. It s certainly made me feel less nervous should I ever have to use one for real. It has also showed me how I got a lot more narked than I thought I would... but being that I'm a bit nuts anyway, it's really difficult to tell!

The London and Midlands Diving Chamber Teams' 24 Hour Advice Line:
07940 353 816.

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