The branch Officers Handbook can be downloaded below.
Plymouth Sound Divers Club constitution:
Dive Managers Guidance:
PLYMOUTH SOUND BSAC GUIDANCE FOR DIVE MANAGERS
The Dive Manager is appointed by the Diving Officer to run a dive and acts on behalf of the
Diving Officer. Dive Definitions & Responsibilities states that if a Dive Manager runs a dive
with the Diving Officer’s approval, and the requirements of Safe Diving guide (previously
Safe Diving Practices) are complied with, the Diving Officer accepts full responsibility for the
dive (see http://www.bsac.com/ ).
The Dive Manager has the following responsibilities:
● Run a safe dive
● Run a dive that meets the aspirations of the diver’s present
● Ensure that Branch equipment is not damaged
● Ensure harmonious relations with other persons/groups encountered
These guidance notes have been written for the benefit of Dive Managers and persons
intending to become Dive Managers. They assume that the dive is being run from Plymouth.
Running an away dive requires considerably more preparation and organisation.
Dive managers should hold the following qualifications,
● Advanced Diver
● Diver Coxn
● VHF Certificate
Aspiring Dive Managers should act as Assistant Dive Manager a few times to gain
experience, then assume the role of Dive Manager once or twice under the watchful eye of
an experienced Dive Manager. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the boat
equipment, and particularly the items provided for safety, before embarking upon the role of
Dive Manager. These items include:
● VHF radio
● Oxygen administration equipment
● Contents of safety box, including flares and first aid kit
BEFORE THE DIVE:
Decide where and when you want to dive, taking into account factors such as tide, weather,
current underwater visibility, etc. During periods of unsettled weather, it is a good idea to
time the dive so that, in the event of rough seas, a high-water dive inside Plymouth Sound
can be carried out.
Inform the Diving Officer that you want to run a dive and agree on a date and time. This can
be done at the Monday evening meeting before the dive, or further in advance.
The Diving Manager will then advertise the dive by email and Facebook (if they are a
member). People wishing to dive will then contact the dive manager to book on and state
any depth restrictions they may have to enable the DM to select a dive site to suit all divers
DIVE MANAGER PLANNING FORM:
The Dive Marshal Planning Form is more than just a form to record dive details. It is a
planning tool to assist in safe diving. It therefore follows that the Dive Manager should
commence completion of the form before he arrives at the boathouse. The following
information should be recorded at the planning stage:
● Tide heights and times
● Slack water time
● Weather forecast.
● Dive site options (see section 5. Dive Site Selection)
● Risk assessment.
All the equipment listed on this form needs to be checked that it is functional and then ticked
as correct. The risk assessment should identify the hazards arising from a particular dive, and the Dive
Manager must consider the precautions that need to be adopted to overcome these hazards.
Chapter 5 of the International Convention for the Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) applies to
leisure craft, including boats owned by diving clubs. If an accident occurs, and it can be
demonstrated that the requirements of SOLAS have not been met, a prosecution may result.
The main requirement of SOLAS V is that a voyage at sea must be pre-planned. The factors
to consider are:
● Weather – obtain forecast
● Tides – check tidal predictions
● Limitations of vessel – is the vessel and its equipment adequate for the voyage?
● Crew – consider experience and physical ability of crew
● Navigational danger – check Admiralty Chart
● Contingency plan – identify safe havens in case sea conditions deteriorate
● RYA Safetrx – This must be activated, and the Chair and Diving Officer used as
● Dive Manager Planning Form – A photo must be taken of this and sent to the DO.
● Fuel – The DM is to ensure there is enough fuel for the dive.
SOLAS V covers a number of additional points. See http://www.bsac.com/ for details.
DIVE SITE SELECTION:
See Attachment 1 for a summary of dive sites in the Plymouth area. The dive site is selected
by the Dive Manager, and his decision is final.
A good philosophy to adopt is to go to the best possible dive site under the prevailing
weather and sea conditions. If a deep dive is planned it may be necessary to visit a second
site for those who want a shallower dive. A back-up plan may be required in case the sea
conditions are more calm or rougher than expected.
The GPS units are programmed with all the wrecks in the Plymouth area, plus many of the
Diving is best inside Plymouth Sound 3 hours before to 3 hours after high water (HW). At
other times the visibility can be poor. Some dives in the northern part of Plymouth Sound are
very tidal, eg. Battery Buoy, Devil’s Point, Millbay Pit (Eastern King Point), and Mallard
Shoal. These are best dived at high water slack, which is 1 hour before to 1 hour after HW
on spring tides, and longer on neap tides.
The diving at some sites outside Plymouth Sound is also governed by tidal conditions,
particularly those between Bolt Head and Bolt Tail. At these sites slack water does not
coincide with high water or low water, therefore, seek this information from an experienced
Branch member, or obtain it from the tidal diamonds on an Admiralty Chart. Generally, slack
water at these sites is 2 – 3 hours after HW or LW Devonport.
Diving is prohibited at certain sites. The Port of Plymouth extends south east from Rame
Head as far as the 30 metre depth contour, and east north east to the Shagstone. The
Queen’s Harbour Master (QHM) controls, from the Longroom, all activities within the Port of
Plymouth this is run on a licence bases as detailed in PLNTM 018 Diving in Plymouth Sound
Information | Royal Navy (mod.uk) and will not generally permit diving in the following areas:-
● Main shipping channel
● In the vicinity of naval vessels
● Near the Naval Base
Further information is contained within The Dockyard Port of Plymouth Order 1999 (Statutory
Instrument 1999 No. 2029). See
www.opsi.gov.uk/SI/si1999/19992029www.opsi.gov.uk/SI/si1999/19992029 to view the
document. QHM previously prohibited diving on the wreck of the Fylrix in Jennycliff Bay, but
this no longer appears to be the case. Note that QHM permission is required to dive any site
within the Port of Plymouth.
Diving on the following sites is prohibited under The Protection of Wrecks Act 1973:-
● Coronation Sites 1 and 2
● Cattewater Wreck
● Erme Estuary Wreck
● Erme Ingot Site
● Moor Sands Wreck, Salcombe
● Salcombe Cannon Wreck, West Prawle
Finally, diving is prohibited on the wreck of the A7 submarine in Whitsand Bay, as it is a
Controlled Site under The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 (Designation of Vessels
and Controlled Sites) Order 2002.
AT THE BOATHOUSE:
Having agreed to run a dive, the Dive Manager must turn up at the boathouse to run the dive
or send a suitably qualified and experienced replacement.
A general recommendation for the Dive Manager is not to get side-tracked by activities
unconnected with dive managing, eg. compressor operation, filling nitrox cylinders, etc.
A good Dive manager delegates tasks but leads by example.
A minimum of 4 divers is required before a dive can take place.
Unlock boathouse doors. Open shutter door fully to prevent damage to boat aerials, etc.
when boats are removed.
Ensure that only persons familiar with the air bank are allowed to fill cylinders.
Nitrox users must confirm the nitrox mix and MOD with the Dive Manager.
Enter divers’ details on the Dive Marshal Planning Form.
Decide whether the original plan is to be changed because of weather (better or worse than
predicted), and experience of divers present. Modify Dive Marshal Planning Form
Obtain details of any training/drill required.
Collect dive fees.
Guest divers are welcome, they must provide evidence of qualifications and fitness to dive.
For PADI and other non-BSAC divers, establish the BSAC equivalent diving grade. Branch
members have priority over guest divers when filling spaces on Branch boats. Guests will be
asked to make a voluntary £6 donation towards maintenance of club equipment.
Guest divers must fill in the following forms: –
● Guest diver Form.
● Guest diver crew form (Only members of BSAC may come as crew due to insurance
● Fitness to dive form.
Decide how many boats are required for the number of divers present and the intended dive
site. If only one boat is required, select the most appropriate boat. In general, the Ribcraft is
only used when 7 or more divers are present. For 6 divers or less the Tornado is used.
Nominate someone to buy petrol (standard unleaded) f. A receipt showing the amount
bought and amount paid must be obtained. An equitable way of ensuring that all divers take
a turn at getting petrol has still to be found.
Fuel is obtained in red polythene 20 litre jerry cans that are kept in the Mount Batten fuel
locker. During fuelling of the boats, a hosepipe should be used to trickle water into the boat
to wash away spilt fuel, and a portable fire extinguisher should be on hand.
Smoking is not permitted in the boathouse, or on The Mountbatten Watersports Site.
There are no hard and fast rules about how much petrol is required because there are so
many variables. If the intention is to visit one of the distant sites such as Hatt Rock, a tank at
least three quarters full is suggested. For a closer site such as the Drop Off, a tank at least
half full is adequate. More fuel than expected will be required if the sea is rough or the boat
is heavily laden. It is best to take more fuel than you think you will need. You may have to
search for a lost diver or assist in a Mayday response.
Engine oil level is checked monthly by the equipment officer, check if in doubt.
Nominate a person (or persons) with suitable vehicle(s) to launch and retrieve the boat(s).
Inform new members and guests about the changing room facilities, and provide them with
the changing room combination number if required.
Pair up divers, and assign them to boats. Correct pairing of divers is probably the single
most important action the Dive Manager can take to prevent incidents occurring. The
overriding requirement is to ensure that Ocean Divers are paired with someone qualified to
Dive Leader or above (the recommendation in Safe Diving that Ocean Divers may dive
together, at the discretion of the Diving Officer, is not supported). It is also good practice,
where possible, to pair an experienced diver with an inexperienced diver. This is not always
possible, as there will be occasions when the experienced divers wish to dive together on a
deep dive, or wish to have a longer dive than is often possible with inexperienced divers. If
an inexperienced diver is to be paired with an experienced diver, there is no reason why it
must always be the Dive Manager. All experienced divers should expect to take their turn at
being paired with an inexperienced diver. Try to pair up divers who have equipment or
interests in common, ie.
● Similar sized cylinders
● Similar gas consumption
● Similar depth preference
● Same nitrox mix
● Rebreather divers
● Similar interests, eg. underwater photography
Ensure that each pair decides on who is to lead the dive.
If there is an odd number of divers, the 3 most experienced divers should dive together.
Ocean Divers should never be included in a group of 3 divers diving together except under
certain conditions on planned training dives.
Assign 2 suitably qualified and experienced boathandlers to each boat.
Provide dive briefing (see section 7. Dive Briefing).
Ensure that the dive site (including alternatives if sea conditions rougher or calmer than
expected) and boat return time are entered on the Dive Marshal Planning Form, Inform
shore contact or Coastguard of dive site, return time etc. Also be aware that, if the dive
location is subsequently changed, the search for an overdue boat may be concentrated in
the wrong area. The boats are register under the Coastguard CG66 scheme
Before leaving the boathouse check that all doors are locked and lights off.
Before the dive boat sets out for the dive site, ensure that cylinders are properly secured on
the boat using bungee cords.
Use the Dive Marshal Planning Form as the basis of the dive briefing. Also use the
whiteboard and marker pen to draw the dive site, particularly if anyone is unfamiliar with it.
The wall-mounted Admiralty Chart may also be useful. New members and guests may not
understand what is expected of them. They will require an explanation of arrangements for
boat loading, launching, retrieval, unloading, washing, etc. Also explain changing room
facilities. Introduce new members and guests during briefing.
Key points to brief are:-
● How many/which boats are to be used
● Buddy pairs
● Allocation of divers to boats
● Allocation of other duties, eg. purchase of petrol
● Dive site(s), including alternatives if sea conditions calmer or rougher than expected
● Risk assessment(s) and other safety points about dive site(s) and voyage (hazards and
LAUNCHING AND RETRIEVING:
Launching and retrieving is best carried out with a four-wheel drive vehicle. A conventional
vehicle can be used, except at low water where the base of the slip is steep and slippery.
The Dive Manager must ensure that:-
● The trailer is roadworthy before leaving the boathouse, eg. tyres properly inflated.
● The dive boat is properly secured to the trailer (using strop, and bow rope).
● The transom must be secured to the trailer with extra straps if leaving the Mountbatten
● The trailer is properly attached to the towing vehicle.
● The trailer safety wire, where provided, is looped over the towbar.
● The boat engine is in the raised position, and locked for towing.
● The slip is clear of people and boats before the dive boat and trailer are reversed into
● An experienced person is supervising launch/recovery.
● The dive boat slowly slid off the trailer in a controlled manner to avoid contact between
the hull of the boat and the slip.
● All persons are clear of the trailer before a signal is given to tow it up the slip.
● When retrieving the boat, it is properly positioned on the trailer rollers.
● At low water, when driving the boat between the slip and Mount Batten pontoon, the
propeller/skeg is not damaged by contact with the seabed. The engine should be
partially tilted to prevent such damage.
● Use fender, where provided, when mooring boats at Mount Batten pontoon.
The following areas pose a navigational hazard because of rocks just below the water
● Western end of Mountbatten pontoon at low water.
● Reef between Shagstone and Renney Rocks.
● Channel between Mewstone and mainland.
● Area immediately south-west of Mewstone.
● Area east of Mewstone (The Slimers).
● Inshore coastline between Gara Point and Stoke Point.
● Immediately west of Rame Head (Peader Rock).
● Plymouth Breakwater.
● Garden Battery (Battery Buoy).
Observe speed limit in the Cattewater (8 knots).
During winter dives be alert to the possibility of hypothermia. At any time of the year, wetsuit
divers should dive after drysuit divers.
Ensure that damage to the boat’s inflatable tubes from sharp items such as
unprotected jubilee clips, etc. is prevented.
Operate boats economically. This will normally mean travelling at a speed of not more than
20 – 22 knots. Use the engine’s tilt control to optimise performance.
Give as many divers as possible the opportunity to cox the dive boats, provided that they are
suitably qualified and experienced.
If intending to dive within the Port of Plymouth, permission must be obtained from Longroom
(VHF Channel 14).
Once the dive boat has left Mount Batten en route to the dive site it is often apparent that the
sea conditions are calmer or rougher than expected. The dive plan should be modified
accordingly, and divers will require a new dive briefing.
If another dive boat or angling boat is already on the dive site, seek permission to dive, or
If running dives to two different sites it is usually preferable to visit the deepest site first, as
this gives deep divers the option of a second dive.
It is a safe practice to deploy a shot line on many reef dives, even if divers are not going to
use it for the descent, as it makes it easier for the dive boat to remain on station.
Particular care is needed when deploying a weighted shot line when other divers are
underwater. It is therefore preferable to use, with permission, a shot line already deployed on
If a dive site is not listed on the GPS unit, eg. a seldom dived part of the Drop Off, it is a safe
practice to enter the location (using MOB) so that, in the event of fog, the site can be
relocated to recover divers.
If diving in fog, poor air visibility, or very rough seas, it is prudent to pick a site where divers
can descend and ascend a shot line. Avoid drift dives, or decompression using delayed
For small wrecks, particularly when the sea is rough or the current is strong, consider adding
a folding anchor to the shot weight to improve its holding power. For deep wrecks an
additional length of rope may be needed to extend the length of the shot line.
Use echo sounder to assess the water depth before dropping divers.
Ensure that the current is not too strong for diving.
Ensure that divers are not dropped into water too deep for their qualifications, experience, or
On reef dives, drop divers well uptide of deep water.
If divers are to descend a shot line, ensure that they are dropped in well uptide. Use the
small marker buoy attached to the main shot buoy to determine direction of tidal flow. Also
try to ensure that the direction of approach to the shot buoy ensures that the wind/waves
carry the boat away from the divers after they are dropped.
The Dive Manager should appoint a suitably qualified and experienced person to deputise
for him whilst he is underwater.
Log entry time on dive slate for each pair of divers. Also log time out if repeat dives are
planned (time is displayed on GPS units and installed VHF radio – identify whether GMT or
Ensure that A-flag is displayed on the boat whilst diving is underway.
Ensure that dive boats are used to divert other craft approaching the dive site.
Once divers are deployed, remain uptide/upwind of dive site in case of engine failure.
Drop anchor immediately if there is an engine failure whilst divers are underwater.
On drift dives do not put too many pairs of divers into the water together because of the
difficulty of providing boat cover once they have spread out over a large area.
Once delayed SMBs are deployed, follow them with the dive boat, but do not approach too
close. When a delayed SMB has been deployed, don’t assume that both divers are below it; they
may have become separated.
If a delayed SMB behaves in an unexpected manner, eg. moves rapidly downwind, suspect
separation from the divers.
Safe Diving Practices
For all sites, obtain a dive plan from each pair of divers, and consider the following points to
determine whether it is satisfactory:
● What are the bottom times and total dive times?
● Are the divers carrying enough gas?
● Are divers properly equipped for the dive?
● What are the arrangements for descent and ascent?
● What are the decompression arrangements?
● For reef dives, what direction are divers planning to swim?
Ensure that proper buddy checks are carried out.
Provide advice on the maximum distance from entry point for deployment of delayed SMBs
(this will depend upon sea conditions and air visibility).
Instruct divers not to use a shot line for ascent unless it has been firmly secured to
If there is any uncertainty regarding the accuracy with which the shot has been deployed,
ask the first pair of divers to send up a pellet to confirm that the shot is on the wreck.
If divers are planning to carry out more than one dive, ensure that a sufficient surface
interval is taken. Some second dives, particularly after a deep dive, may not be prudent,
even if permitted by dive computers, and the final decision on this rests with the Dive
An appropriate site must be selected for a night dive; ideally with little or no current. If a shot
buoy is used it should be fitted with a strobe light. All divers must be equipped with two
torches and have a strobe light attached to their delayed SMB.
An independent gas supply is strongly recommended for all dives, and mandatory for deep
dives (40 metres and over) and dives involving decompression stops. An octopus rig does
not meet this requirement.
Ensure that divers using nitrox dive on a site where the depth does not exceed the MOD for
the mix they are using, or if on a wall know their MOD.
The BSAC document “Safe Diving” (see http://www.bsac.com/ ) provides detailed guidance
regarding diving with rebreathers, and should be read by Dive Managers. If a rebreather
diver is paired with an open circuit diver, the open circuit diver should be the most
experienced diver available, and be equipped with a redundant gas supply. The rebreather
diver must provide his buddy with a thorough briefing on his equipment and emergency
Every diver must have a dive computer (or watch, depth gauge and tables) and must have a
delayed SMB. Preferable orange with the diver Name on it for recognition on stops
Take down A-flag when diving is completed.
If diving within the Port of Plymouth notify Longroom when diving has finished.
Ensure that divers do not exert themselves unnecessarily after a dive, as this is a risk factor
for DCI. Whenever possible, shot weights should be retrieved with the assistance of a lifting
bag. If this is not possible, the task of shot retrieval should be shared between several
divers. Use GPS to navigate back to Mount Batten in fog (either route function, or map display).
Before leaving the dive site, confirm that all divers are back on board the dive boat.
Secure cylinders before the return journey.
Each boat carries VHF, radio , flares, first aid kit and oxygen administration equipment.
Familiarise yourself with their use.
With regard to oxygen administration, remember that when the contents of the oxygen
cylinder are exhausted there may be other options available, eg. rebreathers, and nitrox
cylinders. Use gases with the highest oxygen content first.
If an incident arises, and help is required, notify Longroom (VHF Channel 14) if within the
Port of Plymouth, or Brixham Coastguard (VHF Channel 16) if elsewhere. A distress call
(Mayday or Pan-Pan) may be required (VHF Channel 16). On VHF radios fitted with Digital
Selective Calling (DCS), a DCS alert should be activated.
If an incident results in a casualty, he/she may be taken off the dive boat by helicopter or
RNLI lifeboat. However, if a decision is taken to ferry the casualty ashore by dive boat, the
normal rendezvous point with the ambulance is the slip at Queen Anne Battery Marina, but
this must be confirmed with Longroom/Brixham Coastguard.
A defibrillator is available at Mount Batten Reception.
Telephone numbers for the Longroom, Coastguard, DDRC and Mount Batten Reception are
provided on the Dive Marshal Planning Form.
BACK AT THE BOATHOUSE:
Unload boat(s). Note that no diver, except the driver of the towing vehicle, should change out
of their dive suit until the boats are back at the boathouse, unloaded and rinsed with
Flush engine with fresh water for a few minutes using hose connection (do not start engine).
Or use water muffs on engine water intake bottom of leg and run engine.
Flush inside of trailer hubs with fresh water using hose connection (move trailer half way
Hose boat, exterior of engine, and trailer with fresh water. Use only a light spray on the
Isolate boat electrical supply.
Open boat lockers to provide ventilation.
Place boats in the boathouse.
Do not operate the trailer handbrake; it can seize in the on position. Use wooden chocks
Fit wheel locks and return key to key safe.
Complete Dive Marshal Planning Form, including record of maximum depths, and dive
Ensure that lights, water taps, etc are switched off.
Lock all boathouse doors.
Notify all divers, particularly new members and guests, which pub is to be visited !
Report equipment defects to the Equipment Officer as soon as possible.
Report incidents to the Diving Officer as soon as possible.