It'll take a lot of jelly to make that S.E.T.T

They say you can’t please all of the people all of the time, or is that some of the people some of the time. So, after 2 abortive attempts at getting a dive organised that suited everyone who wanted to go I decided to take Dudley’s advice and “just set a bloody date that’s good for you and sod everyone else!”

That was back in October time. I picked up the phone, dialled Horsea Dive Centre’s number and spoke to a nice man there who amiably informed me that the next available S.E.T.T. dive-date was Sunday 15th May, 2005, and “…would I like the morning or afternoon session?“ I then spent the next 6 months refining the attendees list and after trying to get commitment and money out of members of a certain dive Club not too far away, I can completely understand the getting blood out of a stone analogy.

The big day arrived and I had arranged to do some marshally-type things, like filling cylinders, before the drive to Gosport. With most of the 14 prospective divers assembled at the Club House, kit shuffling ensued and we end up driving down in 2 cars – Dudley’s mobile dive shop and mine. We set off with Dudley leading as he had sat-nav, while I played the poor relative with my manual sat-nav, Pete Smith shouting directions, in the back as I had no idea of where I was going. Traffic light induced separation from the lead vehicle caused a brief moment of confusion and one very scenic drive later we eventually caught up with Dudley just outside Portsmouth.

A small detour later we pulled into the Fort Blockhouse car park and met with the rest of the days divers. Car park forms filled out and IDs issued, we were waved through the gates with instructions to drive until we see the tower and park on the sea front. The first sighting of the S.E.T.T. from the outside is a strange one – a non-descript square tower set (no pun intended) slightly back from the sea front. The previous group were just leaving as we piled our kit into the entrance hall. Thanks abound from them to the single member of staff I can see, so they seemed to have had a good time, and I actually feel a small sense of relief as this is my first real crack at proper dive marshalling and you always want people to have fun at your party.

Site and dive briefings were given by Navy-boy (sorry, can’t remember his name) and Karen, our chaperone for the duration, along with an introduction to what and how they do things at the S.E.T.T.

Changing rooms are on the 8th and toilets on the ground. All covered in the briefing. Then we start loading the equipment into the lift for the journey to the 10th floor and pool side.

Looking down into 30m (27.something actually) of crystal clear 30+ degree water is a little strange. We had been told to enter the water slowly, as soaking the floor was a big no-no because “..water drips down through the gaps in the floor and soaks the electrics”. Once again I drop into marshally-mode and set the order for the pairs to go into the water, with Mr Philips and Mr Mumford getting wet early as they are the team photographers for the event.

The dive itself was a ‘different’ experience, but having done clear water with vis this good before it was not too disorientating. An uneventful slow descent was met with a near-drowning experience when I come face-to-face with my Dad kneeling on the bottom of the tank holding a sign telling me he cannot swim and almost spat my DV out laughing. Fooling around for the camera at this depth was a new one on me though and Pete had his lens pressed right up against the viewing port until the battery light on his camera said the show was over. I then got a signal from Dad telling me he was hungry this time and checking watches saw it was time to start our ascent, our 15 minute bottom time up. 15 more minutes and 2 short stops later we were standing on the side drip-drying and chatting with the others who have already dived.

Pete (Smith) decided to practice his free-fall technique, going from surface to bottom in something like 30 seconds, water resistance not withstanding; while Dominic used twice as much air as normal just trying to get a date with the mermaid painted on the side of the tank. Everyone seemed to have had a good time and the session was over all too soon. Those a little slow parting with their money before the day gallantly settled up and it just left me to get the readies from one final member:

“So, Mr Gray…I’ve booked it, we’ve dived it, so now you can bloody well pay for it”

And he did…..

I’d like to offer my thanks to all who attended, especially Lou Smith who completed the dive marshal paperwork on the day, while I was busy with the squeegee.

Mark Woods

This page was last updated on : 06 Sep 2011