Let’s start with why we love Club boat diving. Obviously this will be a personal opinion but, judging by the number of members who have done a BSAC Boathandling Course, others clearly feel the same.
No other form of diving gives you the opportunity to experiment, to find an interesting looking feature on a chart and to go and investigate. Nothing is quite as satisfying as being able to find and drop the shot line straight onto a wreck and to have calculated slack water correctly so that everyone gets a good dive. And you can’t beat pulling up in a remote cove for lunch, to sunbathe and possibly to swim. After all there is an open water swimming group in WSAC called the WOWS (Wild Open Water Swimmers). And I haven’t even mentioned the “messing about in boats”!
There is no doubt in my mind that the underuse of the Club RIB is at least partially due to the lack of members willing to tow it to dive sites. And there are even fewer people who are willing to launch it once there.
I realise that tow bars are expensive but I consider it an essential piece of RIB diving kit. Just like a dry suit enables you to get in the open water, a tow bar enables you to dive from the Club boat. That’s how it should be viewed, as a piece of diving kit.
“Why doesn’t the Club pay for some members to get a tow bar fitted?” is a question that has been asked several times, but the answer is always the same – there is no guarantee that the member in question would use it to tow the Club boat, or they may even leave the Club altogether.
A better system is to reward towers when they tow the boat and that is precisely what WSAC does. There is a 35p per mile payment made to anyone towing the boat to a dive site, this cost being shared between all divers using the boat. True that this is to offset wear and tear, inconvenience and increased fuel consumption, but it is also enough to make having a tow bar worthwhile.
I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Imagine a weekend/day trip to Anglesey to dive from Trearddur Bay, involving maybe 6 divers. The return mileage would be between 180 and 200 miles, so payment to the tower would be £63 to £70 with each diver contributing about £11 to the cost. It doesn’t take many of these to make up the price of a tow bar.
Again, when I towed the RIB to Oban for a week of diving last year the round trip of 700 miles meant I got a payment of £245. Two such trips would virtually pay for the tow bar! Even with this cost shared between participating divers, it is still a lot cheaper per head than using a hired boat, and the bonus is you can dive when and where you want, subject to detailed planning, of course. Adventurous diving is what it’s called.
There is a fly in the ointment. This logic only applies to members who took their driving test before 1997. After that a training session and extra test is required and it seems prohibitively expensive. At the moment there are plenty to whom the above does apply however, so come on guys, get that tow bar fitted so that we can all do more UK diving.