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Size Matters

Diminutive tekkie and self-proclaimed GUE Scotland interloper Alana Dempsey offers up deep wisdom gleaned from her unique vantage point.

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By Alana Dempsey
Header photo by Owen Flowers

I am known by many names; Titch, Tiny, Pip-squeak, Shorty, Little One. At a petite 5’2″ I am not quite your average tech diver, although I am by no means alone. Diving is not the easiest sport out there, (who doesn’t enjoy rough seas, heavy gear and questionable entry points!) so here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. 

Ask For Help

Alana’s teammates helping her get ready for a dive. Photo by Owen Flowers.

We are team divers right? Which means we always have a team to help us out. Don’t ever struggle alone, because you do not need to. Whether it’s needing help standing your twinset up, a helping hand scrambling down to the entry point, or help getting the top bolt snap of that stage up to your shoulder to clip it off on a bouncing boat, GUE divers are a helpful bunch. So if someone isn’t helping you, it might be because they haven’t realized you needed a hand – just ask!

Persevere

The age old “no such word as can’t” debate. On a serious note, don’t let anyone (including your own brain) tell you that you can’t do something if that is what you want to do. If your kit is just too heavy for you, can you build up your strength with some gym sessions? If you’re struggling with your valve drills, can you spend five minutes each night working on your shoulder mobility? You just can’t understand those gas calculations, but you have access to a wealth of instructors who will run over them with you or write you a few questions to practice. Essentially, what work can you put in to get yourself closer to your goals?

Seek Advice

Two heads are better than one. I’d suggest picking someone whose opinion you value and trust. They don’t need to have the answer straight away, but maybe between you it can be worked out. You would be surprised what conundrums some of our GUE instructors will have the answer to, owing to how many divers they’ve witnessed over the years. Alternatively, find someone whom you think might have experienced the same difficulty and ask them how they approached it. Look for a solution, not excuses.

Alana and teammate Marcus Rose doing a long house check. Photo by Owen Flowers.

Work Smarter Not Harder

Ah my favourite phrase. You may also have heard “hit the easy button.” GUE already covers this well with the ease of things like ratio deco and universal kit configuration. First thing: this is not about being lazy and getting someone else to do the work for you; it’s a similar concept to point 2, how can you help yourself? If it’s a bit of a walk to the entry point and you’re worried about the kit being heavy, could you carry your kit there, put it down, and then go back to put your suit on and pick up all your extras? If you’re knackered when you finish the dive and aren’t sure you can carry your constructed twinset back to the car, can you take off your regs, torch canister, and your weights, and come back for just the twinset, backplate, and wing? Maybe there’s nowhere at the dive site to easily set up your kit, and there’s no way you can hold up a twinset for your buddy to heft on their back; could you buy a small collapsible bench and take that with you?

I am sure everyone has their own tips and tricks; maybe you could share yours with us.

Dive Deeper:

Tips and Tricks from Halcyon on how to Manage your dive equipment 

How a Small Backplate Can Make your Diving Better


Alana Dempsey is a forensic lab tech living in Glasgow and an English interloper into GUE Scotland. I started diving in 2011 with BSAC and am a BSAC instructor. I continue to teach new divers with the Sheffield University Sub-Aqua Club and believe getting the basics right from the start is a must. Wreck diving is my passion, especially wrecks with history, (e.g. WW1 wrecks at Scapa Flow) but I can also often be found nudibranch hunting in our local dive spots at Loch Long. Tech 1 diving range is probably my favorite, but I’m starting to look for my next challenge. I’ll be a support diver on the Kalliopi project in May 2021 and look forward to developing my project skills.

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Art

Rock & Water

Sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor evokes the sacred, populating underwater seascapes with corporeal objets d’art, meant to be assimilated by the sea.

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Text, photography and art courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor.

Crossing the Rubicon, Museo Atlántico, Lanzarote, Spain, Atlantic Ocean

“Museums are places of conservation, education, and about protecting something sacred. We need to assign those same values to our oceans.”

Nexus, Oslo Fjord, Norway
Museo Subacuático de Arte, Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico
Museo Subacuático de Arte, Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico

As soon as we sink them, they belong to the sea.

The Rising Tide, River Thames, Vauxhall, London

“The Rising Tide was located within sight of the Houses of Parliament. The politician on a petroleum horse was an obvious metaphor for how fossil fuel companies are embedded into our politician system. I think we really have to start holding people accountable for what they are doing. And that needs to be documented in stone rather than in a few words in a newspaper column that disappears. There are a lot of people whose actions need to be immortalised.”

The Raft of Lampedusa, Museo Atlántico, Lanzarote, Spain, Atlantic Ocean
Museo Subacuático de Arte, Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico
Nexus, Oslo Fjord, Norway
The Coral Greenhouse, John Brewer Reef, Australia, Pacific Ocean
The Silent Evolution, Museo Subacuático de Arte, Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico

“It is named a museum for a simple reason. Every day we dredge, pollute and overfish our oceans, while museums are places of preservation, of conservation, and of education. They are places where we keep objects that have great value to us. Our oceans are sacred.”

Check out www.underwatersculpture.com for a lot more amazing work!


Jason deCaires Taylor MRSS is an award winning sculptor, environmentalist and professional underwater photographer. For the past 16 years, Taylor has been creating underwater museums and sculpture parks beneath the waves, submerging over 1,100 living artworks throughout the world’s oceans and seas. Themes explored by these artistic installations include, among others, the climate emergency, environmental activism, and the regenerative attributes of nature. The sculptures create a habitat for marine life whilst illustrating humanity’s fragility and its relationship with the marine world. Taylor’s subjects mainly feature members of the local community, focussing on their connections with their own coastal environments.

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