Friday 24 April 2009


Not the common name for a Russian maiden but a place in land locked Greece.

Rumour has it that the city is named after a nymph with whom Poseidon, the god of the sea, mated. So according to mythology, it's natural for this land locked central part of Greece to feature its own dive centre.

I had previously heard about a fresh water lake surrounded by hills and plains from Merryn and Kosta of Aquacore Divers in Larisa and agreed to dive it during my next visit to this vast agricultural area of central Greece which is almost a four hours drive from Athens.

What's so special about diving in this fresh water lake? Interesting and unusual things like patches of boiling/bubbly sand along the bottom of the lake , unexploded world war 2 ordinance, easy access and most importantly the beauty, solitude and serenity of the place.

Water temperature was a cool 16 degrees Celsius and luckily for me, I managed to fit into one of Aquacore Divers' dry suits (they must be the only outfit in Greece providing dry suits for hire).

Although familiar with diving dry, this was the first time I dove in a crushed neoprene suit, and was also provided with larger fins to accommodate the boots and much needed extra weights (14 Kgs with a 12 litre steel 200 Bar cylinder).

Entrance is a simple walk-in from a muddy shore and good buoyancy is required to avoid stirring the fine silty bottom. It was unusual not sensing the taste of saltwater as well as having to carefully fin your way through occasional sections of reeds.

The shallow and relaxing dive which lasted just under an hour worked up an appetite and it wasn’t long before we were enjoying coffee and snacks at a roadside cafe.

Thanks Merryn and Costa for making it happen.

Monday 13 April 2009

Mad dogs and Englishmen

George Moyse, a 97-year-old RAF veteran, undertook a freefall parachute jump onto Netheravon airfield last weekend to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Believed to be a UK record for the oldest man to tandem-jump, George, from Bournemouth, leapt out of a Cessna 208 Caravan (Cargomaster) aircraft from 10,000 feet into the blue skies above Wiltshire accompanied by his 43-year-old grandson, Edward Brewer who was jumping on behalf of the Royal Air Force Association. The jump took place on Saturday, 4 April 2009.

Afterwards, George who served in the RAF's No 1 Armoured Car Company during the Second World War in the Middle East, said of his jump:

"It was lovely, I really enjoyed it; I wasn't frightened at all."

George who turned 98 on Wednesday got the idea for the parachute jump after seeing and advertisement in his local paper:

"I thought that would be a good idea, I'll have a go at that."

His grandson Ed hadn't thought George would be cleared fit by a doctor when he came up with the idea:

"I told him if your doctor is mad enough to sign a certificate to say you can jump then I'll do it with you," he said.
"At the time I thought I was on a safe bet. And then he rang me and said, 'my doctor's just given me permission to jump!' So I've ended up doing it with him."

George's freefall descent to earth was clocked at just over 120mph and there to meet him on the ground were members of his family including his great-grandson who were delighted with his achievement. Also there to greet him was Flight Lieutenant Anthony Hutchinson from No1 Squadron, RAF Regiment who presented George with a large framed print of "The battle of Al Waki market", which was a recent notable combat action in Iraq by No1 Squadron, which during the Second World War was then George's unit, No1 Armoured Car Company.

George Moyse and his grandson, Edward Brewer are raising money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and The RAF Association (RAFA).

Sunday 5 April 2009

The first and only dive guide to the Antarctic

Formerly an exclusive realm for scientific and military divers, this icy wilderness has now become the extreme destination for recreational divers wishing to explore beyond the conventional.

BELOW FREEZING is the first and only dive guide to the Antarctic. It is written by Lisa Eareckson Trotter who was the first person to learn to dive in the Antarctic and a long time member of the crew aboard Lindblad Explorers's ENDEAVOUR.

Published by WILDGuides, a non-profit organistaion focused on wildlife conservation, the book describes the pleasures of diving in Antarctica's waters, whilst at the same time detailing the hazards of this bitter harsh enviroment.

The 116 page soft cover book opens with a brief history of Antarctic diving dating back to 1902 and then provides a short overview of the the world's fifth largest continent. Subsequent sections cover 'how to get there', the diving, what marine life and underwater conditions to expect as well as a special note regarding Leopard Seals which is the only animal divers need to be wary about. The final chapter deals with the description of 25 dive sites.

The book is an excellent reference outlying what visitors need to know, how to prepare as well as what they can expect to see when they get there.

It is available for under Euro 28.

Friday 3 April 2009

'Twitter' and Diving

As some of you are aware, the purpose of Twitter is to post instant updates (under 140 characters at a time) on the web and it's most effective for information that's only relevant for a short period of time.

So how about encouraging your local dive stores or service providers to feature Twitter and provide information regarding weather conditions at their local dive sites.