Archive for the ‘Esther Underwater’ Category

In September 2011, I was able to showcase some of the work I produced last summer, in the annual show of the Society of Wildlife Artists, at the Mall Galleries, London.

The exhibition of all my underwater art and more was due to be on show in Dorset in May… but due to a slight change of plan, it has been postponed till later this year!

I will keep you all posted, and I will have a mini-show in the village hall before the work heads south.

– Esther

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Visibility: three metres. Exposure protection: wetsuit, hood and boots.

I’ve discarded my gloves today, as they make drawing a little more cumbersome. The sun is shining. My buddy and I make our final checks, wade into the water and dive.

The visibility is very good and within the first ten minutes I spot a pipefish! It’s only the second I’ve seen in as many weeks. I signal Shep and he spots it, just as I get his attention. I find it unexpectedly unnerving initially; with its head out of sight, it’s like a snake in the grass!

We watch it for a while, then move on… another! We pass an area of weed and Shep spots two more.

It has been one of the best dives to date: one hour and twenty-five minutes of incredible sea life, good visibility and warm waters.

Everything was right, and we really thought we would see the illusive seahorse today. But no… still no horses.

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It was my first dive from a rib today. Slightly apprehensive, but kind words from the skip across from Brownsea made my approach clear.

Chris, a member of the local dive club, had arranged to meet me at Swanage Pier (this place still holds foreboding) at around two-ish, with the aim to head out at two thirty prompt. I arrived early, dumped my kit at the kiosk and parked up the other side of town – giving myself a short walk back to collect my nerves, all of them it seems…

Back to the Pier and I noticed a chap, suited up and sitting in a grey rib eating his sandwiches. It’s Chris. We shout our greetings and I’m introduced to Gary: our skipper for the afternoon and general boat cover. Once togged up, I wade out to join them on the rib, hand over my kit and clamber on (in a very un-ladylike fashion).


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One hour and twenty minutes in my wetsuit, hood, gloves and boots, and I am cold. D is very cold.

We made it to the far end of south beach and it was worth it.

Blenny, dragonet, hermits, shore crabs of all sizes, wrasse, snakelock… and I even caught a glimpse of mullet grazing the shallows.

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No sooner am I back in Dorset than I’m jumping in the sea with D. Studland, with borrowed kit (thanks Matt), a BCD from the dive centre, and away we go. The beach is packed! I’ve never seen it like this before. The number of boats moored have increased, too. We make our way to the water and don fins. It’s good to be back!

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(To read all of Esther Tyson’s “Swimming Underwater” posts on one page, please click here.)

The Grand Finale.

Open Water 3 and Open Water 4, Swanage, Tanville Ledges! It’s 28ºC. I’m in a wet suit, hood, gloves and boots. I have 10kg of weights around my waist and 2kg of ankle weights. We are diving in salt water from a boat in a controlled environment. I have 230psi in my tank and we are about to do our giant stride!

Skills: Equipment preparation, donning and adjustment. Pre-dive safety check. Entry and weight check. 5 point descent. Buoyancy control/Oral inflation fin pivot. Full mask flood and clear. Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent. Cramp removal. Free descent. Underwater exploration. 5 Point Ascent with a 3 minute safety stop (hovering the correct way up for a change!) and a tired diver tow (I was the tired diver by the end of that!).

16º at the surface, 16º bottom temperature and 7.7 depth. Done, and it all went well.

This is when I make a big mistake. (more…)

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Thursday 6.30pm

It is one month to the evening since I began training to scuba dive! I’m back at the pool side with Eileen, and we are about to finish off confined water 4 and 5. I feel calm and collected…?! On the cards tonight is the hover; I imagine Tom Cruise at the end of his line, but it doesn’t quite work out like that…

Heather is also going for her open water 3 and 4 on Sunday, and we are to do most of the skills together this evening.

We enter the pool with a giant stride. My mask is less tight, because I’ve been wearing a hood. (I leave it as is, in the hope that I have less of a mark on my face when we finish.) Making sure I hold the mask firmly as I hit the water, it remains in place and no water is leaking in… cool. We buddy up for a 5 point descent and all is well. I have to remember: part of ‘sorted’ is to elevate and equalise.

I’ve struggled a little with buoyancy this evening. Even with my BCD empty of air, my body wants to float and it’s difficult keeping both knees on the tiles. We watch Eileen do the hover, and then it’s my turn. In my attempt I turn turtle and hover upside down. Feet in the air and totally un-Cruise like; what is going on?! I can just see myself – what a picture! Hover complete and finally into an upright position (with help), I kneel on the bottom.


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