I love UK diving. Probably over 95% of all my diving over the last 18 years has been done in UK waters and whenever a non diver or even a new diver asks me where the best place I have ever dived is I will honestly answer that it is the UK. Its the blank stare that I get back from them followed by questions like “but isn’t it cold and dark?” or “but there isn’t anything to see” that concern me.
OK…UK diving isn’t for everyone. Some divers are just not interested in diving here and will only dive whilst on holiday but what has lead them to this decision in the first place? Have these potential or new divers been put off thanks to TV documentaries dramatising the hazards, dive magazines showing clear colourful images of far off places or dark murky green images of UK diving, or was it bad training or early dive experiences in muddy training lakes that has put them off? I don’t know the answer but I’d like to find out.
The other perception that non divers seem to have picked up that concerns me is that UK diving is seen as technical diving. The idea that you must have a twinset or rebreather, stage decompression cylinders, back up everything, a drysuit (OK a drysuit is preferred but not essential), full face masks, go down to 70m and who knows what else to dive in the UK is obviously utter rubbish but this impression has come from somewhere.
So what can we (all) do? There is no doubt that we face certain challenges when diving here (like the poor weather conditions during the last couple of seasons) but should the UK dive industry be actively promoting the good things, the benefits and experiences of UK recreational diving? Should regional recreational training facilities be improved? Should there be more organised diving events like DiveFest that allow divers outside of clubs to get together with like minded individuals and actually have fun and enjoy diving?
What do you think of UK diving? Good, bad or indifferent let us know. What would you like to see the dive industry as a whole doing to help UK divers enjoy our own rich and diverse waters? Leave a comment and help everyone out.