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ISSUE 17 ARCHIVE - BEST DIVE, WORST DIVE

My name is Linda Dollar and I run Marlin Scuba Ltd (a PADI five star IDC centre) in Copford, Colchester Essex with my husband Mark and our dear friend Adam.

For me, learning to dive was a journey of self discovery, and one that will stay with me forever. I have been very fortunate to have dived some wonderful places and meet some amazing people. I feel very privileged 
to have shared such a special time with these individuals, whether on a holiday, through training or just people we have had the pleasure of meeting, making memories that will last forever.
 At Marlin Scuba we are
a group of friendly, enthusiastic PADI dive instructors. We have a well-stocked shop where we can offer equipment, servicing, repairs and general advice.

Our philosophy is that diving is fun and that everybody looks out for each other - either in or out of the water. Diving 
is all about taking your time and going at a pace that suits each individual allowing you to feel happy and confident in what you are achieving; giving you the skills, safety and knowledge to see what the wonderful waters of the world have to offer.

Worst Dive

When I was asked to write about my best dive and worst dive for the guys at Tanked Up, I knew instantly what would be my worst dive. To be fair the dive itself really never happened and some wouldnít even count it as a dive however, the circumstances that surrounded the day still make us laugh.

We had taken a well-deserved day off from training and, with some of our more experienced divers, we had de- cided to venture to the Norfolk coast. A fellow diver had dived there only a couple of weeks previously and had a fantastic dive with great visibility and calm waters. Having checked the weather and tides etc we decided to go for it. Well we should have known, waking to wind and rain we knew that the trip may be in doubt, but as with any UK diving we would take the chance and go and see for ourselves what it would be like.

After a very early start, we made our way up to the Norfolk coast. We had planned our journey and knew we were on a tight schedule to be on the wreck at a precise time, so we didnít hang about.

The journey went well and we soon made our way to the dive site. Once there we were welcomed by light rain and wind but it didnít look too bad. We climbed along the shingle beach. We assessed the situation with regards to the wind and weather conditions and although we knew it would be a tough swim out, once through the surf we should be able to reach the wreck quite easily. So we decided to go for it, if all else failed, we would just come back in with the tide. We all kitted up and made our way to the entry point, this in itself is an aerobic workout over a windy shingle beach.

Taking a few minutes to check our gear, catch our breath and brief our shore cover we made our entry. By this time the surf was rolling in, but my buddy and I kept go- ing and we were soon through the surf only to be faced with quite a large swell. Some of the buddy pairs hadnít made it through and were quickly taken back to shore and dumped on the beach. My buddies and I fought our way through the swell and after what felt like a life time we were where we needed to be. We dropped onto the wreck, only shallow at around five metres, and there it was Ė we had made it, the wreck was below us. We knew this because we could feel it, but not surprisingly, we couldnít see it, nor could we see each other. The surge had really stirred everything up and we made the safest decision - to abandon the dive and get ourselves back to shore.

The return was a lot quicker than our ungainly entry. The surge and surf carried us in and dumped us rather firmly back on the beach. Thankfully we had a great team with us and those who hadnít made it out were on the beach to help us across the shingle. A very welcome sight for a tired team of divers.

After helping each other back to the cars to reflect on the dive Ė or more the case of the lack of the dive, it was great to still see everyone smiling and laughing, some had lost masks, others fins and some had even lost both. But spirits werenít dampened, even the sight of a parking ticket on the van (although we did have a ticket)... kind of summed up the day.

Best Dive

Now this was a tough one, having been fortunate to have done hundreds of brilliant dives, finding one single one to write about is hard. When Iím diving I

am interested in so many things, photography being my favourite. OK, so I donít get to do as much as I would like, but when I do, I really make up for it, taking a few pictures whether in the water or on dry land. I donít claim to be very good and I will never win any awards but Iím happy with the results that I get.

So, back to best dives, well having given this some thought I could not pick one favourite so I have come up with a few. Firstly the Farnes, with the seals... but not just the seals, I love finding urchins, starfish, crabs and other fascinating things that can be found with UK diving. UK diving is so underrated by many, yes I know the cold puts a lot of people off, myself included Ė yes even the pool at 27 degrees is a tad chilly for me and yes UK diving is not for everyone, but you really would not believe what our waters are hiding. Having a good fitting dry suit with thick thermals helps, and a nice warm cuppa once youíre out is a very warm welcome to end any dive.

Anyway back to my best dives... I have really enjoyed looking back through my log book, reminiscing about dives I have done, and I suppose for me Egypt has to be my favourite location - warm waters, colourful coral and clown fish (I just love them) Ė there is just so much to see everywhere you look.

I have had so many fantastic dives whether it be a drift dive, a bimble around or a night dive. I love them all for individual reasons. I have many fond memories of diving in Egypt mainly Sharm, El Gouna, Nuweiba and Taba they all have their own special memories, from diving the The Blue Hole, Els Bells and the Canyon at Dahab, to taking my newbies for a night dive bimble in Nuweiba and see- ing them all with a look of amazement at what we have found.

Having been very fortunate to have dived with so many different people and the memories I hold of diving include the people that made the trips themselves special. But, to me, some of the best dives are simply watching my stu- dents qualify. Being with a student from the start, seeing them overcome their fears or worries to actually take them to qualify is priceless.

Diving is great at bringing people from all walks of life together and having had the privilege of teaching many people from very nervous ladies, over excited juniors, to over-confident men all having made the journey and seeing their faces when they qualify or master their skills is just amazing. Giving them the knowledge, encouragement and support that they need is something I will always cherish. For some, learning to scuba dive is a huge achievement and being the instructor to teach them and see them gain the confidence they need to go on and dive some amazing sites is a pure pleasure. As instructors, we have a gift in teaching our students, giving them the knowledge and ability to help protect our precious underwater world and at the same time giving them the knowledge to dive safely with the ability to go on to help protect what is such an amazing place.

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