Go overboard with the island's only non-commercial dive club
Time Out Bahrain staff
First off what are your qualifications? I started diving in 1993 following a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
I am a BS-AC first class diver and BS-AC national instructor. I am a certified technical diver, rebreather, mixed gas (Trimix) etc.
What’s the full name of the club and where does this come from? Dilmun Club Scuba Divers (DCS Divers) formerly Awali Divers, which was formed from BAPCO’s swimming club at the BAPCO sports facility in Awali
Please tell us a bit about the history of the club, how long’s it been running and how did it get started? The Club was formally recognised as a British Sub-Aqua Club (BS-AC) branch in 1967 and was based in Awali.
The club used to dive from the BAPCO beach at Zallaq, using a platform with an outboard engine. It took upwards of an hour to travel to the artificial reef that the club built about 2,000m off the beach. The reef was made from old cars that had been made eco-friendly by removing all the petrol and oils prior to sinking them. Eventually the club purchased its own 35ft boat, which was kept at the Bahrain Yacht Club.
About five years ago the club moved from the BYC to its current home at the Dilmun Club and uses the Dilly boat which is kept at the Marina Club.
For an absolute beginner interested in learning to dive, please outline the process – how long does it take and what’s the cost involved? As a section of the Dilmun Club our members should be Dilly members. We meet every Monday evening at 7.30pm in Amigos and plan the forthcoming weekend’s activities and generally chat about diving. We offer BS-AC tuition which is conducted by our qualified BS-AC instructors, on a voluntary basis. Basically we are a club and not a commercial entity. We only charge what the training packs cost us, with a little extra to cover equipment and maintenance costs. The Open Water Diver certification usually takes a few weeks as it is conducted in members’ spare time. Generally Monday evenings and weekends. Cost is BD150.
Full details of the course can be found on the BS-AC website www.bsac.com.
What’s the difference between the qualification you offer and the PADI that most people will have heard of? BS-AC celebrates its 60th birthday this year! BS-AC divers are taught from the very outset to be self succient and manage, plan, and execute their own diving. Historically, diving was conducted in UK coastal waters, which are dark and very tidal. Consequently the training emphasises safety and self reliance as opposed to warm water or tropical diving, where conditions are far more benign. The outcome of this is that BS-AC qualifications, in general, are held in high esteem by other agencies.
What is the diving like around Bahrain, what can people expect to see in our waters? Inshore diving in Bahrain is poor due to the extensive marine engineering that is currently taking place. The dredgers are very active and a consequence of this is the turbity in the water which makes the visibility poor. There are quite a few man-made dive sites, mainly old barges and tugs, with depths ranging from six to 20 metres. Off-shore yields much better visibility and the jewels in the crown for Bahrain are Abu Thalma and Najwa both of which are isolated coral reefs. They are located about 55 nautical miles north of Bahrain. There are also a number of off-shore wrecks which we dive on a regular basis.
Are there opportunities to dive with the club further afield? BS-AC has branches worldwide and indeed, in all the GCC countries and we sometimes visit other branches and dive with them. Indeed the BS-AC has a coaching scheme staffed by senior instructors and their role is to help branches where they do not have expertise in their branch and also to conduct instructor training. Contact Dilmun Club Scuba Divers for more information (17 690 926).
Spotlight on the underwater snapper
Kostas Pallikaropoulos is the group’s photographer, he records the experience of each dive and sets it to music for the following week’s meeting.
A diver since 1971 with BSAC and trained in Cyprus by a British Army officer, he said: ‘Failing at spearfishing, I turned to photography and since then I was hooked. As I am mostly diving with the club, it happens that I have taken many photos relevant to the club activities.
‘I read books and I got tips from underwater sites and forums on the internet but most of my knowledge has been gathered by the “trial and error” approach.’
Detailing the process of setting the pictures to music, he added: ‘Depending on the number of photos and pieces of movie film I have shot, the editing can take anything from five to ten hours for an unsophisticated presentation.
‘The music is selected based on the theme filmed and should not be imposing on the visual part. Background/instrumental music/classical music is a safe bet. Sometimes, depending on the subject and the activity filmed, other types of music can be selected.’
And his tips for budding underwater photographers?
‘When you go diving, you do not know what you will encounter, either in terms of visibility or as a subject, so you have to be prepared and flexible for every eventuality. Sometimes you have to be satisfied to take pics of your buddy doing training exercises, or just swimming, playing with the light, his bubbles etc and other times you take pictures of corals, fish, wrecks etc, or a combination of the above.
‘Invest in a camera and housing etc that allows you to change lens underwater. Invest in a wide angle lens that can be fitted underwater. It is good for wide subjects or low-visibility dives. Also invest in flexible photo enhancing software such as Adobe Elements 9, 10, 11, 12...
‘For editing, the free Microsoft “Movie Maker” is, I believe, adequate for recording dives.’