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Mark Powell, underwater

ISSUE 7 ARCHIVE - BEST DIVE, WORST DIVE, MARK POWELL

BEST: I always find it difficult to answer the question "what is your favourite or best dive?" I have so many memories of fantastic dives that picking just one seems unfair to all the others. Each dive has something unique that makes it special. I remember diving the Flying Enterprise for the first time because it is so intact. As we dropped down onto it I could see the whole length of the ship opening up before me. It is a favourite of mine because of the historical significance.

My best dives are not all deep dives though. I also remember one fantastic dive I did on an August Bank Holiday on the bow of the Blackhawk because of the amazing visibility and variety of fish life. It is one of the best UK dives I have ever done and really proves that UK diving can be better than anywhere else in the world. Finding an undiscovered wreck in 115m off Malta was also a memorable experience. The dive where we find some definitive identifying feature on this wreck and can finally positively identify it will also probably count as one of my best dives.
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Mark Powell, not underwater There are also occasions when a teaching dive in a muddy puddle can be a fantastic experience when a student "gets it" and you can see their improvement before your eyes. However my best dive is usually one of my more recent dives.

I have just come back from two weeks in Malta where I have been teaching and diving on the wrecks that were sunk during the First and Second World Wars. There are some world class wrecks there including HMS Stubborn and the Polynesian.

The Polynesian would certainly feature high in a list of my favourite wrecks. However, the last dive of this trip was on HMS Southwold and at the moment this would be my choice of best dive. This was a fantastic dive for a number of reasons.

Firstly the historic significance of the Southwold is so interesting that it adds another dimension to the wreck. She was a Hunt class destroyer and was escorting convoy MW10, one of the convoys which was attempting to break the siege of Malta. The Southwold hit a mine while attempting to rescue the merchant ship, Breconshire, which had been hit and was immobilised. We were diving the bow section which is lying on its starboard side in 70m. The visibility on the day was fantastic allowing us to see the whole length of the ship. Despite being broken in two, each section is almost intact with most of the features still in place.
Ocean Leisure
As well as the wreck there was a great variety of life on the wreck with more groupers on this than I had seen in the whole of the previous two weeks.

The last thing that makes this dive special is that I was diving with a student who had progressed from Advanced Nitrox/Deco Procedures through Trimix and onto Advanced Trimix. It was a great feeling to be diving with someone who I had helped develop to that level and who also thought that the wreck was the best dive he had ever done.

WORST: In many ways picking my worst dive is even more difficult. I have in the past been accused of being obsessed with diving and of being willing to dive anything at anytime. So I enjoy almost all my dives even if they aren't perfect.

I have had dives with low visibility, where we have missed the wreck, or even when we have had emergencies or problems. However probably my most worst and certainly my most uncomfortable dive was when I was testing out a new undersuit. In order to give it a thorough testing I decided to see how it would work with a flooded drysuit. So I used it for a dive in a drysuit with a major leak in an inland site in February. The water temperature was around 4 degrees and due to the leak in the suit, it began to pour in as soon as I jumped in.

For the first few minutes it was incredibly cold and I was tempted to jump straight back out again. As I got the first wave of cold water I remember thinking that it was a little uncomfortable and that maybe this hadn't been such a good idea. My exact words were a bit more colourful and wouldn't be fit to be published. However after a couple of minutes the suit started to do its job. I wouldn't say I started to warm back up, but certainly wasn't as painfully cold as I had been. I did decide though, that maybe my testing didn't need to be quite so extreme in the future.
Denney Diving

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