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Happy Andrew Moss

Inspiration in 2020

By Andrew Moss October 2020

My first experience of a rebreather was on a Draeger Dolphin in the Red Sea in approximately 2003.   Not wanting to rush things, 15 years later in February 2018, I did a BSAC Try Tech CCR day in Capernwray and tried the Poseidon and AP Inspiration units.  A year later, in 2019 I did a club session in the pool with Simon Smith, using Nic’s unit, both sessions giving a helpful and practical insight into how the units worked.

Having grown up with AP Diving (formally Buddy) since 1986 and having learnt to dive with the  Buddy Pacific and Buddy Double Gold ABLJs (if anyone remembers them), the AP unit felt more familiar and the way to go.  I kept an eye out for a bargain, and one day in March 2020 I became the proud owner of a second hand, albeit new, AP Inspiratio; the EVP mid-sized model which I had always thought was small and perfectly formed. 

Andy in Capernwray practicing skills

March progressed but as we all know it did not pan out quite as expected, into lockdown and other differences this caused to our day to day life.  Aside from cycling as much as possible I worked through the BSAC rebreather course notes and the AP user manual.  Having some familiarity with the unit following my try dives really helped having some understanding as to how it worked.

Come September Simon was (a) willing to run the BSAC CCR course, (b) had some availability to run the course, (c) was willing to teach me, and (d) the water was still warm, 6 plus hours in the water in February not sounding great from my perspective.  The course was duly arranged and run over 6 days in late September / early October: a combination of full days and part days.  With lockdown restrictions in initially relaxed, but still subject to change, it was just excellent to get the course underway.

Day 1 comprised 4 lectures, (1) Course Introduction, (2) Introduction to Rebreathers,  (3) The Rebreather, and (4) Physics and Physiology.  It was then into the garage for a kit faff session: to become familiar with the unit and how to put it together.  We also covered various potential enhancements including the use of half a door stop (horizontally not vertically), to lift the ‘kitty litter’ cannister up, stop it sitting on the first stage hoses. 

Practicing buoyancy in the aeroplane at Capernwray

Day 2 started with preparing the unit for a sheltered water dive, following a demo then mimic approach.  There seemed to be so much to remember and many skills to learn, but fortunately Simon had endless patience, and he likes to create, laminate and have to hand check lists, to make sure nothing is ever forgotten.   It was then off to Ellerton Lake near Scorton. My first error was standing next to the red cone instead of the green cone when putting payment into the post box on the bonnet of the owner’s Toyota pick-up parked in the car park.   Anyway, not worrying unduly, mind spinning with everything I had read, been told and heard, it was time to enter the water.   The first difficulty I had was how to get air out of the loop not being used to blowing out of the side of my mouth.  That issue was overcome by blowing air out through my noise and we then spent the next 70 minutes working through a series of drills in 6 or 7 metres of water, along with a little swim round.  After a debrief, it was time to return to Simon’s and the day concluded with lectures (5) Dive Conduct and (6) Diagnostics and Resolutions.  Having spent time before reading the course notes was helpful as there is a lot of information to take in and I think assisted me to get more from the course already having some knowledge and practical experience.

Day 3 was an early start.   Over to Capernwray for opening time.  The sun was out and the water warm and two open water dives followed, both with a stage cylinder this time.  The first was to 12 metres for 58 minutes and the second to 16 metres for 65 minutes. A wide range of skills were learned and practiced during these dives, interspersed with some swimming around wondering when the next flash card was coming and what it was going to require. The flash cards set out various different scenarios for which different reactions in the correct order are required, sometimes the required actions are listed, other times not, an effective way of learning!  [Editor’s note – I still have nightmares about those flash cards…. 6 years on!] On the first dive, I was bit heavy but took some lead off for the second which was better.  After a debrief it was time to travel back, take apart and wash the kit, and to recover from the day which had been extremely enjoyable.  

Day 4 was another theory / garage kit faff day, including lecture (7) Dive Profile Planning and Monitoring, (8) Ownership and (9) First Aid.  There was also a maintenance session.  It was then time to put the unit together for Day 5 which for me meant trying to remember what I had learned on Day 1.  Fortunately, with some more demo – mimic and reference to checklists I got there.

Day 5 was back to Capernwray and two more dives.   The first was for 96 minutes and the second for 80 minutes, both to 17 metres.  Lots of drills and trying to respond to flash cards correctly.  Then after a debrief, back home, to take apart and wash the unit. 

Peek-a-boo!

Day 6 came.  Derek Anderson’s Oceanic had been booked from Eyemouth providing an opportunity to try the unit out in the sea, salty water with waves and currents.   We got in on the first dive eventually and did a 51 minute dive to 26 metres.  Not sure my buoyancy during the dive was right and the last part of the ascent did not go quite to plan, but no real issue. I was told the buoyancy would come, hopefully for the afternoon.  No pressure for getting the ascent right on the second dive then! 

After lunch it was to Wuddy Rocks / Black Carr, a dive which I had to lead, along with remembering everything else.  After a buddy check it was then into the water for a 55 minute dive to 19 metres.  I was much more comfortable on this dive and even surfaced within 5 seconds of Simon, certainly an improvement on the morning.

Andy and Simon kitting up on Oceanic in the sunshine.

Into debrief, there was a need to continue to practice (obviously), there was a need for kit faff (obviously – needed to sort out the stage which had banged into everything possible for 106 minutes), but notwithstanding this I had passed 😊.    It was then a big thank you to Simon for running an enjoyable and thorough course during which we had significantly exceeded the required time in the water.  

I’m now looking forward to continued practice with the unit over the months to come and becoming more familiar with it following the excellent grounding.