Ever since I was around 8 years old I have always loved being in the water. My dad used to take me scuba diving in the local swimming pool and I have always loved it, luckily my grandparents used to have a swimming pool that I absolutely lived in and on my 11th birthday I had a scuba diving party in it!
I have always done bits of scuba diving on my travels in Egypt, Cyprus, Mexico and the Dominican Republic but I have never been fully qualified, so I could never get the full experience.
So I thought it was time I got my PADI open water certificate, this will mean I can dive anywhere in the world up to 18 metres. We live in Leicestershire so Stoney Cove seemed the best spot as it was only a few miles from my house and is rated as the number one inland dive spot in the country.
Stoney Cove Diving Course
After doing some research and speaking to the very helpful staff I decided to combine two courses, the PADI open water and the PADI dry suit course, this means I can dive in water that is a lot cooler and being from the UK where the water is cold 8 months of the year it seemed to make sense, also most people dive dry suits all year round at Stoney Cove so I really recommend doing this.
The course is done over 4 days, I completed mine over two consecutive weekends, they are jam-packed full days so be prepared for 8:30 starts and 4-5pm finishes each day!
There is a maximum of 4 students and you will be accompanied by two instructors, on my course there was only 3 of us, so a small group makes it really good and you get a lot of one on one time learning from the pros!
Once you have booked onto the course, you will get the welcome pack. This includes your knowledge review books which need to be completed before you attend on day one. Make sure you leave yourself some time to get these done as it’s a thick book and will take some time to get them completed.
Also, if you are doing the dry suit course there is an extra book which isn’t as thick and should only take a few hours to get through and complete.
There is also a DVD to watch and I would suggest watching a few YouTube videos so you can see what you are reading about, I found this a lot more helpful and puts it into perspective more, plus I know for me it really does help it sink in!
But don’t worry too much about getting every question right, your instructor will go over all the points and help you where you need it.
The first day on the course at Stoney Cove is going over the theory you are meant to do before arriving so it really does speed up the whole process if you have done the research and means you can get in the water quicker!
You will have to do a small test, it is mainly multiple choice and you will need to get over 75% to pass, but its not that difficult and some of the questions are common knowledge and some are even repeated in different formats, but don’t worry any you get wrong the instructor will help you get to grips with it.
Be prepared to be inside learning a lot on the first day, there is a lot of theory to learn and scuba diving does have an element of danger with it so ensuring you know all the information you can is vital!
The last test on day one is the swim test, you must be a fairly competent swimmer and comfortable in the water, for the test you need to tred water for 10 minutes ( seems a lot longer when you’re actually doing it! ) and swim 100m
This was carried out in the indoor swimming pool behind the dive shop at the cove, it’s a small pool with a 1m shelf and a 4m dive area.
The second day of the PADI open water course is a full on day in the indoor pool. You will learn all about your kit and enjoy the amazing and strange feeling of breathing under water.
There are a number of different tasks you will have to complete, these are things like removing your mask and clearing it and switching air supplies, what to do if you run our of air and how to float mid water while scuba diving.
They are all fairly simple and your instructor will show you how to perform each task and if you relax and take your time you will fly through them.
This is the day you get to experience diving in open water in Stoney Cove, there are two dives you will do, these will have more tasks some the same as in the pool like clearing your flooded mask and learning how to use a compass, but the main task you will be learning is how to become balanced mid-water and using your lungs to go up and down in the water.
Depending on the time of year you go visibility can be quite bad at the Cove, when I done my course in August it was down to 1-4 meters and as you will be spending 95% of your diving time at 7 meters, this is where it’s at it worst.
There are loads to see on your dive, keep a lookout for the nortilus and some pike!
TIP: If you are doing your dry suit, make sure your zip is completely done up, mine was open half a cm and was enough and I happened to do a whole dive with a slight drip and by the time we had finished my suit was completely full of water!!
The final day, you will have two dives or three if you are doing the drysuit, again these will be similar tasks as you have done before like completely removing your mask, what to do in case of running out of air and for the dry suit removing your suit inflator hose.
You will also get to experience diving a little deeper and getting down to 18 Metres, you will notice a change in temperature and learn how to control your buoyancy at different depths.
This day is by far the best day, you will have learned how to hopefully be comfortable under the water and have your buoyance mastered so you can float through the water.
You will get to see a lot more sights at Stoney Cove and maybe even Nessy will make an appearance, she gets moved to different locations so be on the look out!
There are ship ruins and also you can go through the doors under the pub, be on the lookout for some crayfish and pike in here, they love it in there!
I would recommend anyone looking to get into diving, give it a go! Stoney Cove does it brilliantly and the staff couldn’t be more helpful in anything you want to do!
Scuba Gear – What You Will Need For Diving At Stoney Cove
You will be provided with everything you will need for diving but all of us brought a few things like a mask, snorkel and fins as we found the ones provided are not the best and spending £50 on a mask will make the experience a lot better and also is something you can use for years, as you slowly build up your scuba diving kit!
A few more thing you can buy so you can get used to your kit are –