Packing up the car on aÂ cold frostyÂ morning I wondered â€œwhatÂ am I thinkingâ€œ. Actuallyâ€¦ thatâ€™s much like most early start dive trips except this morning I was shivering a little I was heading down to Vobster Quay in Somerset to meet several other equally foolish people for an interesting new eventÂ organised between members of Yorkshire Divers (YD)
The drive down from Cardiff was interesting due to the amount of fog and I had to crawl the car through Bristol. Upon reaching the dive site we saw that the water was in the same state as many people from around the country had been the previous nightâ€¦. steaming
So why had a small hardy bunch gathered in the middle of Somerset on a freezing December morning? Well its the age old story of getting dressed up as father christmas and jumping into cold water to raise money for charity. Every year members of YD work hard and selflessly to raise money for various charities and this year it was the turn of the RNLI, appreciated by many divers in the UK.
During the dive the Santas were joined byÂ a christmas fairy, a snowman, and a pagan viking (celebrating the Winter Solstice). It doesnâ€™t exactly sound like the most seraphic underwater scene but it was the good kind of strange being surrounded by such a group of people underwater. One of the nice things is thatÂ the group wasÂ diving everything from single tanks to twinsets and rebreathers. We all came from different diving backgrounds PADI, BSAC, TDI, IANTD, GUE but we were all there to have a bit of winter diving fun asÂ one big underwater group
A chilly first dive of around 45 minutes took us over to the rear end of an aeroplane fusilage where everyone posted for festive underwater christmas photos. Floating inside an aeroplane fusilage, underwater, hearing two guys singing â€œWeâ€™re walking in the airâ€ has to count as one of the most surreal experiences of my life! Maybe narcosis does take significant effect at less than 30 metres as I spent most of the dive smiling or laughing mask filling with water all the time
We finished on a boat wreck which had been festively decorated by staff at Vobster Quay. Those who turned up to keep watch on the surface later told the group how people had exited the water looking confused asking â€œUmm did anyone else see all the father christmasâ€™ underwater?â€.
On surfacing all involved took readily to a nice hot cup of tea, some some mince pies, and pulling christmas crackers. Those celebrating the winter solstice were soon offering people a small cup of meade to warm the soul after a cold dive, another welcome addition to the day.
LaterÂ we were joined by an enthusitastic young journalist who wanted to come along for a dive to experienceÂ the group of Santas. â€œCrazyâ€œÂ I thought, but we had a spare Santa outfit, soÂ as soon as we could feel our extremities then once again it was time to jump in. We obtained some interesting video footage for the BBC which included several santas disappearing into in long dark tunnel and some very festive rebreather divers.
Upon exiting the water maybe a little of the enthusiasm was lost but there were definate smiles from our new friend. Everybody should dive with a group of Santas!
Overall the whole group had a fun enjoyable day despite the temperatures, and we certainly managed to spread a little of that Christmas magic for everyone at the site that day. Iâ€™d like to thank Tim from Vobster Quay for the use of their facilities and donating Â£5 for every scuba diving Santa, Gareth Lock from â€œImages of Lifeâ€ for his excellent underwater photography skills, everyone who took part today, and also everyone that has donated money for the event. Donations can be collected until the mid-Feburary 2008 via our JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/ScubaSantas/.
See you next year!
Scuba Santa 2007 Photos
See more pictures here: Scuba Santas 2007
Scuba Santas at the BBC
BBC – Somerset – So Somerset – Scuba Santas dive in to help the RNLI – Festive scuba divers at Vobster Quay in Somerset have helped to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.
BBC – Somerset – So Somerset – Santa Sitala’s scuba experience – BBC reporter Sitala Peek spent the Saturday before Christmas surrounded by scuba -diving Santas. Read how she got on at Vobster Quay.