Scapa is amazing, simple. The journey, the scenery, Stromness and not least the diving.
A simple but recognisable statement for all those that have had the fortune and the privilege to spend
some time diving there.
(Image by Bob Anderson)
However, as with any dive or dive trip, there is always an opportunity to reflect so as to improve the
experience next time and to pass on some salient advice to future Scapa virgins. The trip, was, without
doubt a success. I enjoyed the dives, the dive boat and the company, quite simple, I couldn’t have asked
for a better group of people with which to spend a week diving the German fleet.
My first piece of advice is to read up on what is available in terms of diving. The predive briefings were
excellent but having some prior knowledge gives the dives an added interest and a little more
knowledge ensures that the fantastic wrecks come alive through their history. Having an idea of what’s
available means that any dives that the you fancy can be discussed with the skipper and so alternatives
to the standards can be considered.
Listen to your buddies. I must thank Julian for pressing the Markgraf as a dive. I didn’t particularly fancy
it from descriptions, the fact it is upside down and as such all the interesting bits are hidden. This is
partially true, but what a dive. Meeting the hull at 26 meters and realizing that there is still another 14
meters to the deck on the sea bed puts the shear majesty and size of the Dreadnoughts into perspective.
It is a stunning dive and more than worth the visit, but it was far too short a time on air for such a
stunning dive. Descending onto the imposing hulk is an amazing experience. It is always worth listening
to other people’s view points as they offer alternative views that may not have been considered so
thanks again Julian.
This leads me onto my main thought. Scapa can be dived on air and, don’t get me wrong these were
great and enjoyable dives but, (and this is really the crux of the hindsight points), I would advise getting
some extra time under the water. These wrecks all have depths from 14 to 40 plus meters (at the sea
bed) but most really come alive at about 28 meters, and they demand exploring. To really get the true
benefit of a trip to Scapa I would recommend extending diving time, and indeed I will be completing
(ready for the next Scapa trip) the RAID DECO 40 course for this very reason.
This RAID DECO 40 course is designed to extend diver’s knowledge and introduce the skills and
decompression procedures required in the use of oxygen enriched gases for extended range recreational
diving. It also develops diving skills and provides a greater understanding of the concept of limited
decompression sport diving, which would mean more time on the likes of the Kronprinz and Markgraf.
(Image by Halton Charters)
The reason that this course is of interest for me is that it is a bridge between recreational and technical
diving. I will be thinking of it as a recreational deco program, but not (as it can be) an intro to the tech
program. It will give me the ability to have true self-sufficient and extended time diving. It also covers
core skills from the technical diver training programs so will improve my diving but most importantly for
me it can be completed on a single cylinder with a stage, so it fits with my current kit. It is also relevant
and designed for those using a twinset with isolation manifold or sidemount equipment. In addition, it
will improve my dive safety by adding redundancy to my skill set, essential if I want to continue with
dives such as the Markgraf by qualifying me to dive to 40 msw by giving me the skills to carry out non-
accelerated decompression stops of a maximum duration of 10min, and/or perform extended NLD dives
with a switch to a richer mix at a shallower depth. Giving me options for longer dives.
For me, as a recreational diver, it is the perfect program, but it can benefit instructors who want to gain
some experience with decompression and give an insight for the inquisitive into the world of technical
diving. Who knows it may be a diving route I want to pursue in the future?
For more details on the RAID DECO 40 coursecontact the DiveLife team in the shop on 0330 223 4140