Introduction to your first Open Water Dives at Stoney Cove
Once you have completed your Ocean Diver lessons in the pool, and passed the theory exam, you will be ready to go to Stoney Cove to undertake the 5 ‘Open Water’ lessons. This document is intended to tell you everything you need to know to make your first few visits there a success.
A bit about Stoney Cove
Stoney Cove is an old granite quarry, extending over 13 acres, and has sheltered water, descending to depths of 7, 22 and 36 metres, with generally clear water, making it ideal for diver training at all levels. There is also much of interest in the quarry – a Viscount aircraft cockpit, a Nautilus submarine, a Wessex helicopter, a bus, a tank, hundreds of fish (crayfish, perch, pike, roach, amongst others), some quite large, a turtle, a couple of reef sharks, and much, much more! Full details about Stoney Cove can be found on the website.
There is also a large shop on site ideal for any small items you may have forgotten and the staff are usually helpful and knowledgeable.
There is a very good takeaway snack bar, selling hot and cold drinks, as well as burgers, chips, bacon, egg and sausage rolls, all for very reasonable prices. More extensive snacks and meals can be obtained at Nemo’s bar diner, situated right next to the diving entry points.
The cylinder filling station is open throughout the day - there is a charge.
Arriving at Stoney Cove
To get to Stoney Cove from Derby or Nottingham, take the M1, leaving at junction 21. Take the M69 to junction 2, and then turn left onto the B4069 to Sapcote. Follow signs for Stoney.
Your instructor will tell you what time to arrive. Generally, this will be between 6am and 9am. At weekends, Stoney Cove opens for diving at 7am, but parking near to the quarry is limited – if you don’t get there before approx 7am, you will not get in the main car park and will have to park a couple of hundred yards away and carry your kit.
Entry to Stoney Cove is £17.00 for non-members or £11 for members, payable at the entrance. Membership costs £25 for two years, so your membership will be more than covered within 4 visits – and Ocean Diver qualification will almost certainly require at least 4 visits…. then there’s Sports Diver and ……!
If you want to pay the lower rate on your first trip, you need to apply for membership in advance of your first trip (details on the Stoney Cove website, or call Stoney). You will need a passport sized photograph.
A few practicalities
You will need to have joined BSAC before diving at Stoney Cove. It is also worth buying a divers log book to record all your dives. See the membership secratary for both issues.
Depending on the instructor-to-trainee ratio, the mix of trainees (e.g. those doing shallow vs. deep dives), and a number of other factors, there may be significant periods of ‘hanging around’ waiting for the next dive. You will probably complete two dives on each visit – if you arrive for around 8am you are likely to finish around 3pm. During winter months, ensure that you have warm clothes!
The trainers all volunteer to train us, the trainees. The intent is that they are not ‘out of pocket’ for their trouble, and so the trainees should ensure that their instructor’s Stoney Cove entry costs, any fuel, and a Nitrox refill, if used, is covered. Discuss with the instructors on the day.
As this is probably the first time you have used a drysuit ‘in anger’, note the following:
Before the dive –
o When putting a drysuit feed hose on a DV, make sure you don't lose the blanking plug – it’s best to do this at home! Replace it as soon as the drysuit feed hose is taken off!
o Ensure that you fill the stab jacket mini-cylinder, if fitted.
o Ensure the two tanks you take to Stoney Cove are full.
o Ensure that you loosen the stab jacket shoulder straps before your buddy starts to help you put the jacket on! It’s good practice to loosen them as soon as you remove the jacket, ready for the next dive.
After you finish diving, before leaving Stoney Cove –
o Empty water out of stab jackets.
o Wet dive kit will get your car surprisingly wet – put your wet kit on a plastic sheet or in a waterproof box.
o Reimburse trainers for out-of-pocket expenses.
o Complete the details in your diver log book, if you have one, and ask the trainer to countersign them. If you have completed any lessons in full, ask the trainer to sign off the qualification record.
When you get home –
o Thoroughly empty the stab jacket of water.
o Replace the blanking plug on the DV as soon as the drysuit feed hose is taken off!
o If you've emptied the stab jacket mini-cylinder, don't leave it empty. Re-filling from a tank with 50 bar is adequate, you don't need to fill it completely.
o Don't leave wet stab jackets & DVs in the car until Tuesday - take them out and dry them! If they've got mucky from the car park, please rinse. Same with any suits you've borrowed.
o Ensure the two tanks are re-filled before returning them to the clubhouse.
Items to take to Stoney Cove
- Drysuit hose*
- Day-glo neoprene hood (a black hood is okay for Stoney)
- Neoprene gloves
- Two tanks – check that these are full!!
- Stab jacket
- Fins (with straps at the back, not the slipper shaped ones you’ve used in the pool)
- ‘Woolly Bear’* (this is an undersuit to wear under your drysuit. It’s a but like a sleeping bag with arms & legs!)
- Weight-belt & clips - you will need a longer belt than usual to take the extra weights and go round the drysuit
- Weights – significantly more than used in the pool (speak to your trainers for advice on how mmuch weight to take. It is worth having spare on the diving platform in case you need more than initially thought)
- Some divers also prefer to use ankle weights with a drysuit
- Thick socks*- however many pairs you need to pad out the drysuit!
- Booties if using a wetsuit or semi-dry
- Lots of Patience – Finding those sharks and the turtle isn’t easy!
- Passport photograph – first visit only, if you intend to join Stoney Cove
- Stoney Cove Membership Card – you will get this on the first trip, if you join
- BSAC Membership Card - or the 'receipt' from when you joined
- Dry clothes
- Dive computer – not required for first trip but will soon become compulsory. The club has 1 or 2 that you can borrow.
- Tubular support bandage – may be needed for your arms, depending on the type of ‘woolly bear’ you have (only if using drysuit. Not everyone needs one)
- Thin plastic 'diesel' gloves from petrol stations - makes putting the neoprene ones on easier! (optional)
- Bag to carry fins, mask etc
- Flask of coffee (or other warm drink)
- Cold drink – you do get quite thirsty and should always be well hydrated while diving
- Qualification log book (the book your lecturers sign when lectures are complete)
- Divers log book (you can buy these from Steve or from diving shops)
- Plastic sheet for the car boot, or waterproof box (optional if you want to avoid mud sticking to your wet stuff and messing up the boot of your car)
- A mat to stand on while getting changed & to put kit on - reduces the amount of muck on your kit & in your car (particularly if you're in the far car park) (as above)
Items you may be able to borrow on the day
- Zip lube – you may be able to borrow this on the day if you have a borrowed drysuit
- Talc – to put on the drysuit seals – makes putting on the suit much easier!
- Pen – To complete details in the Diver’s log book and to sign off the qualification record
Depending on the weather
- Warm hat
- Warm clothes (e.g. fleece jacket and fleece trousers)
Recommended to bring all of these – you do feel the cold with wet hair etc.