Medical Requirements for diving
Divers from other Diving Agencies
Diving with SSAC, a Branch of the British Sub-aqua Club
Training - New Diver
Training - Qualified Diver
Facilities and Equipment
Q - Where does Southsea Sub-Aqua Club meet?
A - SSAC has its own club house at the historic ‘Fort Widley’ with fantastic views overlooking the city of Portsmouth and across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. Our address is:Southsea Sub-Aqua Club
Portsdown Hill Road
Q - When is the Club open?
A - From 20:30 to 23:00 on Monday and Thursday evenings. The Club generally does not open on a bank holiday. Most people tend to arrive after 21:00 and Thursday night tends to be the more social with planning for diving the weekend. Monday is quieter and tends to be focussed on training as many people make use of the pool facilities on a Monday.
Q - How do I get there?
A - SAT NAV – PO6 3LS - By car along the From the M27, J12 head for signs to Queen Alexandra Hospital and then up the hill to the B2177 heading towards Southwick. Unfortunately Fort Widley is not well served by public transport (nearest train station is Cosham). Regular bus services run from Cosham to QA hospital then there is a 10 minute walk (uphill) to the Fort.
Q - What does SSAC stand for?
A - Southsea Sub-Aqua Club. Branch 009 of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC).
Q – Do you have use of a swimming pool?
A – We have the use of St Edmund’s School pool on a Monday evening between 8pm and 9pm. As it is linked to a school we are restricted to term time availability as the pool is pool is closed during school holidays. St Edmund’s is conveniently located in the centre of Portsmouth with easy parking. The address is;
St Edmund's RC School
Q - Can my family use the pool to go swimming?
A - Yes,family members may use the pool to go swimming. There is a small charge for family members.
Q - How many members do you have?
A - Membership levels fluctuate but on average between 90 and 100 members (2015 figures). We have both full diving and social members.
Q - How do I apply for membership?
A - SSAC accepts members all year round. To join, simply visit the club on a Monday or Thursday evening, complete some paperwork and pay the appropriate fee(s). We have easy payment terms for SSAC membership fee. If you are already qualified divers please remember to bring along your qualification details and log book.
Q – What do I get with BSAC membership – what are the benefits?
A - 12 months membership to the BSAC, which gives you access to international diver and instructor training courses. Also 3rd Party Limited Public Liability Insurance to £10 million and 12 monthly issues of ‘SCUBA’ magazine. Plus many more benefits. Click here for more information
Q - What Insurance do I get with my membership?
Third Party Liability Insurance
Any member for the time being of any branch of The British Sub Aqua Club to which the Policy applies.
Legal Liability arising from or in connection with the sport diving activities, including social events, of any branch of The British Sub Aqua Club.
Q - What is abated or joint membership?
A - Abated membership is when you have two members living at the same address. The second member can take out the reduced Abated membership which does not include the SCUBA magazine as this will be sent to the full member they are abated to.
Q - When does my BSAC membership start and expire?
A - Out club has a Common Renewal Date of 1 March each year for BSAC membership. This means that if you join part way through the year the cost of your BSAC membership is calculated based on the pro-rata basis. Eg if you join in June your membership will be calculated as 8 months of the normal annual membership fee. Subsequent years will be a full year due on 1 March. Your membership is taken from the first day of the month in which you have joined for example if you join on the 15th June 2015 your membership will start from the 1st June 2015.
Q - I don’t wish to dive with the club but can I still be a social member?
A - Yes, we have a social membership category for those not wishing to take part in diving activities, such as spouses/family members of those former divers who have ‘hung up their fins’.
Q - I am fairly fit and healthy - Do I need to have a medical to dive?
A - There is an option to complete a BSAC ‘Self Certified’ medical declaration form and providing you have can answer all the questions about your medical history and whether you have had certain medical conditions as ‘No’ you can dive with the Club. If you have any doubts it is always wise to seek the advice of a medical referee who is able to give specific advice about diving and medical conditions. We can provide details of BSAC approved medical referees if required.
A copy of the medical certification form and guidance about medical matters generally is available at Medical Matters - British Sub Aqua Club
Q – I have a medical history of (Heart/Lung/Blood/Nervous system… etc) problems –Can I still learn to dive?
A - Possibly but you may need to see a medical doctor (referee) who specialises in the medical/physical aspects of diving on the body. There is some general advice available on the BSAC web site Medical Matters - British Sub Aqua Club about different types of medical conditions why may help but generally it is a requirement to undergo a medical assessment by a referee. If you pass your medical there are a couple of forms which the doctor will complete after your medical. We can provide details of a number of local doctors who are recognised by BSAC who can assess your ability to dive safely.
Q - How long does my self-declaration medical last?
A - A BSAC self-declaration medical must be completed annually. Ask the membership secretary for a new one if yours has expired.
Q - I am a diver with another diving agency (PADI/INTD/TDI/SAA/CMAS) – can I still join your BSAC club?
A - Yes, many of our members learned to dive with other agencies but have subsequently joined the club and BSAC and enjoy the club diving environment. There is more information about the options available to divers from other Agencies on the BSAC web site Welcoming divers from other agencies - British Sub Aqua Club Whilst it is desirable for you to join BSAC it is not mandatory. You will however be required to have 3rd Party liability insurance in order to dive with us and use Club equipment. One of the benefits of being a member of the BSAC is that you are automatically covered by 3rd party liability insurance. Alternatively insurance can be arranged through various companies including Divemaster Ltd.
Q - What’s the difference between PADI and BSAC?
A - There are several differences; the main difference is that BSAC is a diving club, run by volunteers in a network of branches throughout the UK and abroad. Diver training is geared to UK recreational diving generally and with the support of members within a branch.
Q – What is the BSAC equivalent grade for my qualification?
A - There are details on the BSAC web site Welcoming divers from other agencies - British Sub Aqua Club
Q – I’ve never dived before but I’d like to give it a try - can this be arranged?
A - Yes we can arrange a ‘Try Dive’ - providing you are relatively fit and well. The Try dive is a great way to see if you like the experience of diving underwater and breathing from scuba equipment. The Try Dive will normally take place on a Monday evening (8 – 9pm) during our regular pool session at St Edmund’s school Portsmouth. Try dives can be arranged for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. Try dives cost £25 (a contribution to pool/equipment hire and insurance) but this is refundable if you subsequently join SSAC. Simply contact the club, or pop in to see us and we can book you on our next try dive event.
Q – What sort of diving does the Club do?
A - We have a varied diving programme designed to cater for all levels and interests. From local shore diving to UK and Overseas trips, and from technical diving to photography, historical/archaeological projects and marine conservation projects. We enjoy diving here along the South Coast and have a good knowledge of local shipwrecks.
Q - How do I book on a dive?
A - Once the Diving Officer has approved a dive, a Dive Planning sheet is put up on the notice-board at the club house for members to add their names to the list. Where appropriate a deposit may be payable (see also Rolling Deposit Scheme).
Q – What is there to see when you go diving in the UK/Solent area? - Surely it’s too dark/poor visibility?
A - It’s true that conditions can be challenging when diving in the Solent area but the area is rich in wrecks and the marine life that inhabits them. The variety and quantity of wrecks, marine habitat and life make the area a great place to go diving. Our training is designed to cope with sometimes poor visibility/conditions, and if suitably equipped divers can still enjoy diving in the area most of the year round.
Q – What temperature is the water around here – Is it cold?
A - The sea temperature in the Solent ranges from 5 or 6 degrees C in the winter to a balmy 18+C in August. To get the most out of the diving season most divers wear a dry suit but it is possible to dive in the summer months using a good wet suit.
Q - How much does it cost to join the club?
A - The actual costs will depend on a number of factors such as whether you are a trained diver, your age and other factors.There are 3 elements to the cost of joining Southsea Sub-Aqua Club (a branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club);
1) The BSAC membership fee
2) The Southsea Sub-Aqua Club joining fee or Ocean Diver Course fee
3) The Southsea Sub-Aqua Club membership fee.
For details of current membership fees see the membership fees section of our web site: www.southseasubaqua.org.uk/membership/fees
Q - Can I pay my SSAC membership fee monthly?
A - Yes, you can elect to pay monthly by setting up a standing order with your bank. Ask the membership secretary for a Standing Order form, complete it with your bank details and return it to the membership secretary for processing. Unfortunately the joining fee and BSAC fee are not included in this arrangement and must be paid when joining (unless you are already a BSAC member).
Q - How much does it cost to fill a cylinder with air or Nitrox?
A - Use of the air cylinder is free (i.e. – the cost of the air compressor is covered by an element of the membership fee). There is a small charge for use of the Nitrox compressor, based on the minutes used to cover the cost of maintenance and electricity etc. Generally the cost is less than half of that you would expect to pay at a dive shop/centre. Technical diving gasses (Oxygen and Helium) are available at the club based on a price per litre. Please ask the Diving Officer for more details.
Q - How much is it to hire equipment?
A - Equipment during Ocean Diver training is included within the cost of your membership fee. Once your training has finished you may still hire out equipment but there will be a small charge depending on what equipment you need to borrow. Hire fees are intended to cover equipment servicing and are significantly cheaper than hiring from local dive shops. Details of current fees are available from the Equipment Officer.
Q - How much does diving equipment cost?
A - There is no getting away from the fact that diving equipment is on the expensive side. A dry suit can cost from @£400 upwards, regulators @£250 and BCD a similar £200 – there’s also fins, mask, torch etc so as a rough guide you can expect to pay i.r.o. £1,000 to £1500 for basic equipment but you can pay more to get kitted out with all new equipment. Generally diving equipment is well engineered and robust and that comes with a cost. In particular regulators and BCDs are life saving equipment and therefore have to undergo stringent testing so in some respects it is not always the case that cheapest is best and if possible you should research the various equipment options to find out what suits you and your pocket. You don’t have to buy all the kit up front as the club can loan some equipment during training. Club members will be very willing to provide advice/experience though there can be a degree of personal choice. If you opt to buy 2nd hand equipment (there’s lots on EBay) it is strongly recommended that you get things serviced before use.
Q - How much does a typical days’ diving cost?
A - It could be as little as £0 – for a local shore dive! Typically a day’s diving on a local charter hard boat costs iro £45 to £50 per day for 2 dives. Diving from our own boat is £5 per dive plus a share of fuel and other direct costs (eg towing/launch fees).
Q – How old do you have to be to learn to dive with SSAC?
A SSAC can train people from the age of 12. All instructors have passed a Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) checks in respect of their involvement in training young and vulnerable people.
Q – Am I too old to learn to dive?
A - There is no upper limit providing you are fit and healthy. A medical examination by a diving doctor/medical referee may be required in certain circumstances.
Q – Will I get a recognised diving qualification at the end of my training?
A - All BSAC training is carried out by suitably qualified instructors to internationally recognised standards. Your qualification will be recognised by most dive operators abroad in the event you wish to dive on holiday etc.
Q – How long will it take me to learn to dive?
A – There is no set time limit and it will depend on a number of factors – your own confidence and ability, you and your instructor availability, access to pool and sheltered water sites, and ultimately the time of year and weather when finishing your training in the sea. BSAC training is more progressive than other agencies and covers, even at the basic Ocean Diver level subjects such as diving using Nitrox, rescue training and use of a dry suit. All this additional training is designed to prepare divers for UK diving within a club environment.
Q – What level can you train to?
A - Current levels of instructors within the club means that we can train to BSAC Advanced Diver level within the Branch.
Q – What training facilities do you have?
A - We have our own club house which provides an excellent venue for theory training. For larger training groups we are equipped with a projector and screen, white boards, and also a pc with large wide screen monitor which can be used for smaller groups. We have 3 resussi Annie and O2 kits for first aid/practical training and plenty of other equipment which can be used to support training delivery. Our RHIB can also be used for practical training.
Q – Do you run Skill Development Courses (SDC) in house?
A - We frequently run SDCs for our own branch and also host SDCs for the BSAC Southern Region.
Q – I’m a qualified (PADI/SAA/CMAS) diver/instructor – how do I qualify as a BSAC diver/instructor?
A - If you wish to continue developing your diving skills and learning new skills you can ‘cross over’ to a BSAC grade. There are a number of options available – as set out on the BSAC web site or you can come along and chat it over with our Diving Officer or Training Officer. Welcoming divers from other agencies - British Sub Aqua Club
Q – Does SSAC own a boat?
A - Yes, the club has a very capable 6.5 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) called ‘Southsea Explorer’. It has a 135hp engine and can comfortably take 8 divers (plus coxswain and crew) dependent on the nature of the diving planned. The RHIB is equipped with GPS, echo sounder, side-scan sonar and VHF/DSC radio along with safety equipment such as radar reflector, flares, lifejackets, first aid kit and a supply of Oxygen.
Q - What qualification do I need to be able to helm the RHIB?
A - Either, a BSAC Diver Coxswain, Boat Handler, RYA level 2 Powerboat or recognised equivalent - Plus 3rd Party liability insurance (included in BSAC membership).
Q - Does SSAC have the facility to fill diving cylinders?
A - SSAC owns 2 compressors – a Hamworthy Air compressor and a Coltri-Sub Nitrox (membrane) compressor. Subject to the appropriate training and qualifications, members can gain access to the compressors 24/7 to fill their diving cylinders. The air compressor is capable of filling to a pressure of 300 bar. A mixed gas/Tri-Mix facility is also available including a booster pump for those qualified in technical diving.
Q - I don’t have any equipment – Does SSAC have diving equipment that I can hire?
A - Yes, we have several sets of scuba equipment (BCD, regulators, fins, mask, snorkel, weights etc) that is available to trainees or full diving members. Unfortunately we are unable to supply wet suits or dry suits though these can be hired or purchased from a number of local dive shops.