Saturday, 3 September 2016


I completed my BSAC Advanced Diver back in 2007 and from around 2009 I registered my interest in completing the First Class Diver exams but it wasn’t until last year that I finally pulled my thumb out and started the process.

So what is a First Class Diver?  From the website:

Want to achieve the highest BSAC diver grade?

BSAC's highest diving grade requires a higher than average level of theoretical knowledge, organisational and personal diving skills.  First Class Diver is a very challenging award to achieve.  Since 1953 when the BSAC first formed, only 932* people have qualified as First Class Divers. (*as of 19 October 2011).  BSAC First Class Divers are assessed through nationally conducted examinations.

You must have completed 100 dives in a range of conditions since qualifying as an Advanced Diver, at least 20 of which must show experience of diving to depths greater than 30m.  You must also have:
• Attended a BSAC Chartwork and Position Fixing course (or equivalent).
• Attained the BSAC Diver Rescue specialist qualification (requires FAD, O2, PRM and Adv. Lifesaver).
• Gained the BSAC Diver Coxwain qualification (or equivalent).

Qualification and what that means
The First Class Diver Exam is conducted at a national level and consists of three separate modules that can be taken in any order.  More information on the First Class Diver syllabus
and how to achieve it.

• Theory Knowledge Examination.
• Expedition Plan.
• Practical Diving Assessment (2 Days).

A BSAC First Class Diver is defined as a diver who has:
• A high level of practical diving skills and knowledge beyond that of BSAC Advanced Diver.
• The ability to organise groups of divers and lead major diving expeditions to achieve specific aims or objectives.
• The ability and knowledge to contribute to BSAC developments at a branch, regional and national level.

The Expedition Plan
The Expedition Plan Guidelines which gives a full breakdown of the expedition plan can be found on a downloadable pdf here, however in summary:
• 10-12 divers.
• Nitrox/Trimix (OC/CCR).
• Liveaboard, hardboat or RHIB.
• Minimum 12 recreational dive sites based on 2 dives per day, or 1 dive per day for technical diving.
• Minimum 4 diving days.
• Must include all the information required for the expedition to run smoothly plus all costs (per person).
• The plan must be provisionally agreed with the FCD Chief Examiner and the report should be no longer than 20 pages.

My Plan
My plan was to do a week’s technical diving out of Plymouth with all sites in the 40-60m range.  As well as the guidelines there are a number of examples on BSAC’s website.

Well I obviously failed to read the Expedition Plan Guidelines as my first submission was 42 pages long, not the 20 as requested. 

Bugger.  I deleted any unnecessary pictures, any calculations and any (that I thought) non-essential information.

I finally re-submitted a 25-page document which was accepted. 

The result; a pass.  Basically the only real points that were picked up were wreck protection policy (fair comment), and, and I quote “I could not find a simple timetable for each day. e.g. time for reveille and lights out and the time of slack”.  The slack water comment, fair one, however the timings were in my previous submission but I accidently deleted those with the calculations.  But timings telling someone when to go to bed and wake up?  Seriously?  Again, I did have a timetable in my previous submission but deleted it as that information could be briefed on day one of the trip.

I requested a re-mark as I personally thought the paper was worth a merit, but on the re-mark my submission again came back with a pass.  A merit would have been nice, but a pass is still a pass.

If anyone is interested in working towards their First Class Diver, my submissions can be found here (original submission) and here (revised submission).

Look out for the new instalment; the practical exam.

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: l

Friday, 2 September 2016



After recent experiences I thought it was time a wrote an article on customer service, and how important it is in the diving industry. 

Everyone knows how important customer service is, and how good or bad reviews can effect a business, but this is of particular importance in the diving industry.  Your website can be as flashy as you want, but if you take a look at any one of the diving forums, or on one of the diving related Facebook groups, and you’ll see that word of mouth is king.  Therefore, customer service can either make or break you.

In some of my other blogs and Facebook I’ve mentioned customer service, especially when it’s been excellent, however sometimes this can get lost among lots of other posts.  Therefore, I’ve decided to create an ongoing blog explaining when I’ve received customer service; whether it’s been good, bad, or indifferent.

I don’t yet own an Otter drysuit but my next suit will probably be an Otter.  From a number of recommendations and first hand witness, their suits and service from JJ is outstanding.

Faultless customer service and excellent products.

When I had an issue with my gloves (link) Peter and Martin couldn’t have done more to resolve it.

I’ve had a number of issues with my suit; mostly user error and some due to dry glove issues (link and link).  At every step O’Three have gone above and beyond what I would class as normal customer service.  Their suits are also great.

I’ll be honest and say that once upon a time I wasn’t a fan and publically stated so.  Not from experience but because I listened to others.  I was wrong, and I’ve said so on forums where I previously said otherwise.  Great lights and service by Anna.  When my kit was stolen (link) it was Light-for-Me torches that would be replacing my Halcyon.

Cool, calm, level headed, and a great mentor.  Enough said.

The best inland diving centre in the UK hands down.

Undoubtedly John is the friendliest man in the diving industry, who’s more than happy to chat over the phone to ensure you get exactly what you need.  Not afraid of producing custom products of which I’ve had a few.

Without a doubt the friendliest dive shop in Ipswich.  Nothing is too much trouble.

A few years ago now, but £20 to repair a drysuit boot leak (blob of Aquasure inside and out) and a dive computer broken whilst on a battery replacement (not their fault apparently).  As much as I hate to say this, I was not impressed.

Probably the UK importer as opposed to the parent company, but 4 months after sending my Xen in for repair, I’ve still not heard anything back.  Luckily I have a spare.  It’s a shame as the Xen is an amazing piece of equipment.  To be continued….

Currently at 6 months and waiting with no contact from Liquivision or the UK importer....  I’ve finally contacted Liquivision and they say (according to the serial number) they’ve not received it.

Now at 10 months.  I heard from a third party last month, who is also in a similar situation, that replacements are being sent to the UK importer, but I’ve not heard or received anything.  And I’m still down a Xen with no proof that Liquivision have it, or have even seen it. 

Finally, at 12 months, I hear back and it’s not covered under warranty and I’ve been offered an upgrade for £325.  Needless to say I’ll not be taking it up as the screen should not have failed after 3 years.

Excellent products and towards the military excellent service (especially with equipment donation to support injured soldiers), however recently I was quoted £150 to calibrate a sensor which I could have done myself with £10’s worth of gas.  And that was after a 3 week wait.  And when the sensor was returned to me it was missing parts.  I’ll put this down to a one off.

Hopefully this article may have been beneficial.  If you like any of the articles I’ve written, then why not say so in a review.

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: l