About Me

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Leybourne Lake Dive Centre is a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre near Maidstone in Kent with the ability to offer IANTD, DSAT, TDI, Rebreather and the full range of PADI courses to fulfill your needs. We also have an on-site and Online shop to cater for your additional equipment needs, and a fully functional gas blending station offering air and nitrox gas fills. Trimix can be blended by prior arrangement.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Dirt Hidden Under The Carpet

Air cylinders testers are rare, so for many years, and from different venues, I have sent my scuba tanks to the same company for test. And for many years the service has been problematic. Delays in collection, missed return dates. Cylinders leaking on filling, manifolds not sealed etc.
Finally enough was enough, bullet bit I commissioned our own in house testing service, paid out the money for the gear and the training, inspection, authorisation and bingo we now do our own. We are IDEST Test Centre 6W. Now we are opening cylinders for the first time and peering in, looking for rust, checking the valve threads. What do we find, rust and bad valves. How come in the last 6 years I do not recall ever having one being brought back needing new valves or requiring rust blasted out? We learned in our training that it is a requirement, when servicing a valve to replace all the innards. How come I have not seen that done before? Well all I can say is this. When we service your cylinder, we will do it quickly, efficiently and thoroughly. If there is rust inside, we will find it and rectify it. The valve will be stripped, cleaned and have the service parts changed. The valve and cylinders threads will be tested and the cylinder will be 02 clean. It might not be quite so cheap, but it wont be hiding something nasty!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

British Divers Are Best

Having just dived with Dressel Divers in Mexico I am once again filled with admiration for us Brits. There the water was warm, the currents mild, the weather hot and sunny. The stress levels were about zero on the sphincter scale. So why on a 10 to 12 meter deep night dive I was briefed to come up after 45 min's or I would be out of air! Why physically turn on my torch and tell me NOT to touch it until after the dive when the dive leader would turn it off! Why operate the kit of a diver to do a buoyancy check when with over 100 dives to her credit she can very comfortably do it herself? Why, why why treat a group of 4 divers, consisting 2 Master Scuba Divers, an Instructor and a Course Director in the same way as a Discover Scuba! Well to be honest its probably resort instructor burn-out syndrome (RIBOS). That's where you are so glad to get your American guest to survive 45 minutes without a disaster that everything blurs into one and all customers are a threat! It made me think of the divers I see here, and it made me appreciate their skills, particularly buoyancy, navigation, the simple ability to actually fin! To breath deeply and slowly, and not to use the low pressure inflator as a lift button. Well done British divers, pat yourself on the back, that effort paid off! You are a cut above.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Hammerhead Heaven

For those of you lucky enough to be off to Sharm soon, good news. Get to the back of Jackson Reef and the Hammerhead Sharks are there a plenty. 16 sightings on one dive alone. Wonderful creatures, such grace. The best advice if you want to see them. Keep the group tight - like a bait ball - stay around 14 metres and when the first few appear do not, in any circumstances swim towards them. Once the sentinels have come for a look if you don't spook them they will disappear to return with the rest of the group for a look. Then if you keep the tight grouping they will stay for a really good look at you!

A Product I Can Recommend

As many of you know I am an opinionated, individual. Not one for sitting on the fence, if I like something I'm only too happy to share my delight and if I come across a real bummer I squeal like a good'n.
Well have I got a dose of delight for you. Last week in Sharm, and I apologise for the missing week of blogging, I tried the new Cressi Travel Light BCD. At 5.5lbs it certainly lacks weight, but with integrated weights, big pockets, metal D rings, trim pouches and three dump points it definitely packs punch. All from a BC that will fold up to the size of your old school plimsoll bag!
So clearly it must have faults - the weight pouches fall out - No. Lacking in lift - No. Feeble construction - No. Sorry I dived it the whole week, 16 times in all, and couldn't fault it. I wholly and unreservedly say - Well done Cressi, 10 out of 10, one of the best diving products I've ever bought!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Oh No Not Sharm Again!

Tomorrow morning I'm off to Sharm and frankly I'm over the moon, so I'm amazed to hear people questioning why I'm going there for the 30th plus time. 'You have seen everything there' seems to be the favorite remark. I don't agree and I'll tell you why. If I walk in a wood and stand under an Oak tree for 20 minutes in December I would never claim to have seen everything that tree has to offer. To start with it has no leaves, in the spring it will grow some, in the summer it will flower and in the autumn it has acorns, then the leaves change colour and fall. And that's just the tree, I've not mentioned the effects of weather or light or even the visiting wildlife. So you see I will always see new things every time I dive in Sharm or on any other site and that's why I'm over the moon.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Swan Rescue

I had a strange encounter with a swan today outside the dive centre. It just didn't look right, it was just standing there, swaying and stumbling. So being an interfering kind of bloke I went up to it and stood next to it - him i should say to be precise. and he just looked at me. 'Fluffy', er yes I named him, then waddled towards me and sat down right next to me. Now I'm no expert but I knew 'Fluffy' was not acting according to the usual swan protocols here. So I picked him up and set him on the back of the pick up where, until the Swan Rescue Service man appeared, we had a big cuddle. 'Fluffy' is now recovering from what appears to be a bit of food poisoning. It made me think though, why did I react? Simple I'm a First Aider and Rescue Diver, I'm trained to take notice of the unusual, and have the confidence to react to it. So if any of you want to have the confidence to react to an unusual or problematic situation why not complete your Rescue Course this summer.
Please note no swans were harmed in the writing of this blog.

Monday, 13 July 2009

My Top 10 Diving Dislikes

We all have them - our pet hates. You know the event, issue or subject that just hits the spot on the grumble gland every time. Here's some of mine............
Lateness. The van leaves for the dive site at..... and it doesn't.
I didn't read the manual - nobody told me I had to.
Can I move my course from tomorrow as I can work overtime, have a wedding, hangover etc
No I cannot swim - is it important.
Twinned bottles without a manifold.
My regs don't need servicing I had them done three years ago.
As I've bought a mask and a snorkel can I have 70% off
This is a low fill it only has 231bar in it
Why do you charge for an air fill - air's free
I bought this from x,y,or z diving at the dive show and its broken will you sort it out under guarantee.

Whats your top pet hate?

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Cannot See The Wood for the Trees

How is it that we so often fail to see what's right in front of us? How many of us know some exotic location like Shark Yollander Reef or the Thistlegorm in the Red sea better than our own back yard or back lake. Today I have seen a great underwater video of Leybourne Lake taken only this week and it's made me realise I spend a lot of time looking at students and not enough looking at the fish! So I'm going in today for a pleasure dive and I'm going to look at the fish, and the boats and look for the Eel that everyone keeps seeing, oh and the massive Pike and the Mitton Crabs. As for the video when it's edited we will share it.

Friday, 10 July 2009

The Pleasure Of Success

Recently two people very dear to me experienced success. Within days of each other my Son finished his NVQ in Building and my Daughter passed her ICT GCSE. Both showed the same signs of delight and described their symptoms of pleasure. It was lovely to witness the buzz they felt from the of achievement. So I'll ask you a question, when was the last time you felt the buzz? Well how about completing something enjoyable - like a scuba course. No matter the level from beginner to instructor on completion you too can feel joy of achievement and bask in your well deserved glory. Pleasure, Glory and Buzz available to order just ask in the shop for details.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

We Provide A Dyson Service !

The other day I was really very impressed with something - so I'm going to recommend it. I have a 9 year old Dyson cleaner. Yes I know I'm a bloke and what do I know about cleaners!!! Well I'm single so I have too. Anyway back to the issue. The cleaner handle was broken, plus the pipe was split and the stair brush snapped.... you get the picture. So I went on line and the new parts were £52. Or, so the Dyson website claimed, for £63 a man would come out, service it and replace all the broken parts. Now come on you cannot get someone to come out for less than £90 and then the parts and labour bill will be a gazillion, but, ever the optimist I phoned and the very next day (yes I'm serious) the man was there, and on time. What happened next was amazing, he tore it apart, cleaned it, replaced my handle, pipe, and brush and then, because, 'they looked a bit worn, and were old style' put on a new cable, filter and brush head. By now I'm expecting the extras bill to require a mortgage! Nope! Exactly as it said on the tin £63 - amazing, even fantastic. Then I realised something, that's exactly what we do with our courses, advertise a price, include everything, give great service, and no hidden charges. Result, very happy customers. Maybe on the Dyson blog their recommending a 'Leybourne Service' !

Where did the website go?

It's an amazing phenominum the inter-web, such power. Power to make paupers millionaires and millionaires paupers! Well I'm frankly neither but today the inter-web cost me a whole day of my life. How? - well everything just vanished. Yesterday we had a website, a shop and an email system and this morning, no we didn't. After frantic unanswered calls to the web people, texts, voice mails, emails, no reply. This afternoon and still we had nothing interwebbingly. So we started the only thing we could, we temporarily re-hosted the site and re-routed the emails to keep the thing working whilst looking for answers. So if you found us missing that's why and if you sent a mail that was not answered today, please resend it, because it's stuck out there - somewhere. Never to return. Unlike our website which has - I hope !

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Days Off Are Precious

I had yesterday off! Those who know me understand the rare nature of this phenomenon! And wow!!!! It reminded me just how precious a day off is, and how not one second of it should be wasted. And that made me think of how we help you use your precious time off. Having the pool in the morning, lake in the afternoon, we really do give you the opportunity to make the most of your day or weekend. Without reducing your contact instructor time by a second we can complete your training much more efficiently than other centres or schools. It's all down to using our local pool and, as importantly our local lake. Why do other local schools keep their students away from our lake and make them drive for hours around the M25? Does Wraysbury offer better viz, lower entry fee's? NO. It's simple: they do not want their students to come into our shop and see our lower prices on equipment, servicing, holidays and training. So at least you know you are being smart, saving time and money choosing Leybourne as your dive centre where we know service and value matters.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

In August Let's Get Wrecked!

On August 24th we are in Stoney Cove for a Wreck Specialty training course. Transport leaves the dive centre at 4pm Sunday traveling to Leicestershire. We will be staying in our favorite Badgers Mount Hotel. Monday's three wreck dives on the Stairngarth will include a mapping exercise followed by line laying drills culminating in full penetration. I know that all who know me will expect some remark here but I'm going to pass; just this once! If you want to know more about this exciting specialty give the centre a call. Due to the nature of this course spaces are limited.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

More Congratulations - What More!

More converts to 'Devils Gas'! As from today we have two more Enriched Air divers. We congratulate Stacey Smith and Stephanie Kimmenauer on completing their courses. On their final exams between them they missed only 1 mark - very well done to you both. If you would like to join the Nitrox users club we run courses on demand - simply ask in store.

Congratulations Master Scuba Diver

Congratulations to Divemaster Trainee Martin Vass on achieving PADI Master Scuba Diver. His route to success was, Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Deep, Wreck, Nitrox, Boat, Drift and just to make sure, Night and Submersible Marker Buoy. We wish you continued success with your ongoing DM.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Advanced Open Water August 23/24

As you know the Advanced Open Water course is designed to do just that 'advance' your skills and knowledge. Starting with Peak Performance Buoyancy and Navigation in Leybourne Lake on the Sunday followed by Deep, Multilevel and Wreck on the Monday at Stoney Cove in Leicestershire. Five dives worth of supervised learning with a pleasant evening in Badgers Mount Hotel in between. Upon qualifying, your depth limit is increased from 18m to 30m, your comfort limit far beyond!!! Next available course is August 23rd / 24th. Bookings being taken now.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

What's Hot and What's Not

We regularly get asked what's the viz? or what's the temp in the lake today? But so very often lately I've been surprised by non divers or holiday divers ideas about the temperature during the summer.
Over the past few days I've asked people to take a guess. All have be wrong, hopelessly wrong. One lady assured me 'it must be around 9 or 10 degrees', another suggested '12 at most'.
So what is it today? 24 degrees centigrade, yes twenty four!!!!! My advice, if you own a dry suit - leave it at home. If you have a shorty - consider wearing it! And if you have never dived in the UK because it's too cold, now is the time to try it.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

I Want A Buddy!

Often I am asked 'Is there anyone I can go diving with?' So how can I help? Well here's how: You want a buddy? Simply add yourself to the Blog and add a comment onto this post. Then keep an eye on it and as the list of people grows so will your chances of finding a buddy who is free to dive Wednesday afternoons or Friday mornings. I suggest you simply put the time and place you want. I do not recommend you post any personal details i.e. telephone numbers.

So July 3rd 3pm Leybourne Lake Need a Buddy Any takers?

Monday, 29 June 2009

What's on This Week.

The plan for this week so far!
Dive Shop Open 10am every day

Wednesday 10am Open Water Classroom 5pm Evening Dives in the Lake
Saturday 10am Enriched Air Course
Sunday 10am Open Water Classroom

Spaces available on courses.

Congratulations on Becoming a PADI Instructor

All the dive team at Leybourne wish to extend our heart felt congratulations to Sheila Sambrook on passing the gruelling PADI Instructor Examinations held this weekend in Weymouth. We look forward to her teaching her first students and wish her every success.

Sunday Afternoon St Margaret's Bay

Sunday afternoon was fun. Left the centre at 2pm, at St Margaret's at 3pm and straight off into the sea. Usual poor viz leading up to the tide but improving on the turn. Once again the lobsters survived to swim another day! Well done to the the sea diving virgins who had their first taste of UK shore diving. Back at the shop by 6pm for a well deserved few beers. Thanks to all who turned up. A few photo's to follow on this one.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Congratulations to the SMB Display Team!

Well that was a fun day. Four students completed their SMB Distinctive specialty with style in a balmy warm lake - 21c. Congratulations to Luurt, Hilde, Kelly and Dominic. A splendid quartet of firmly inflated sausages moving around like the Red Arrows of the lake as the real thing passed overhead. Also congrats to Keith B and Keith P on completing their Dry Suit and Open Water courses. Now time to prepare for Sundays sea dive. See you on the beach by 3pm, and bring your sun block!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Why Risk Comparison to Something Good?

Life can be so unfair! It has been brought to my notice that whilst virtually every scuba training shop, school or club in the Maidstone area features on a certain dive schools price comparison web chart - We don't. I mean come on let's be reasonable we are the 10th busiest PADI centre in the country, and we don't even get a mention! Well I've done a little research and I think I know why. Could it be because we are less expensive than they are and they would rather not say so. So if you or a friend wants to become a PADI Open Water Diver - we charge £330 - that's it, no long distance drives to far flung lakes, no lake entry fees to pay, no extra for dive slates that MUST be included, no lent DVDs (we give you your very own to keep) no extra charge for 2:1 instructor ratios, no hidden fee for the happy smiling instructors, the professional service. You get the picture, and if they do and include us I'll let you know.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Summer Sea Dives 2009 - Changes to Schedule

As many of you know our summer diving schedule has been scuppered by a skipper - he sold the boat and the new owner has torpedoed all bookings!
Well good news, we found another boat, the NEW dates for this year are now-
Monday 31st August (Bank Hol) 8am Ropes Off Wreck plus Drift Dive
Saturday 12th September 9am Ropes Off Wreck plus Drift
Saturday 26th September 9am Ropes Off Wreck plus Drift
Saturday 10th October 12pm Ropes Off Wreck plus Drift
This boat running out of Brighton is £45 per day has an Hydraulic Lift.
Those who have paid for the original trips will have priority bookings or can of course have a full refund. Please call for more info or to book.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

SMB Specialty Saturday!

For those of you who wish to come sea diving this season and have yet to master the inflatable sausage, we have an SMB Specialty course on Saturday afternoon at the lake. Starting with a briefing at the dive centre at 1pm followed by 2 dives where there will be lots of practice at sending them up and diving whilst they are up there! An obsticle course, SMB in tow, will complete the day. Back to the centre - a whole 5 minutes drive away for tea and medals, well Speciality cards anyway. For those of you who want to show off your new skills, come diving at St Margaret's Bay on sunday afternoon. Spaces available.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Nobody Does it Better - That's Official

Isn't honesty the best thing? Isn't an honest person or business what we look for? Well let me be honest right now! I Martin Morgans am NOT a Platinum Course Director, nor am I a Gold one. There were just not enough Instructor students last year for me to achieve that. But for 2009 according to PADI I am a Silver Course Director, along with about 100 others around the world. And I'm proud of that. That makes me unsurpassed this year by any other Course Director I know of in Kent. And that's the bit that annoys me, why say you're a platinum Course Director when you know you are not. Trouble is when that happens it makes me ask the question - if that's wrong, hyped or inaccurate, just how many other claims are worthy of closer inspection. So beware the claims of some individuals with their virtual shops or virtual qualifications. They might give virtual service with virtual value and that will hurt in reality.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Sunday Sea Dive 28th June

As last sunday was so popular at St Margaret's Bay - let's do it again!!
Hight tide is at 4.14 BST! Meet at the centre at 2pm. Cost of admission is still FREE (come on it's a beach dive even a hardened PADI pro cannot charge for that!) Call the shop for more info or just see you there.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

South Africa Nov 22 Dec 6

This trip is now confirmed as taking place. Same itinerary as last year with diving at Aliwaal Shoal, Sodwana Bay and Protea Banks. Tiger dives and game drives also included. Price remains £1125 for transfers, accomodation, breakfast, diving, game drives. Flights can be arranged for you or book oyur own. This is a fantastic trip and is at a very good price.

St Margarets Bay Dive

This morning's dive made a change - marching into the sea in the sunshine. Viz improved from about 20 metres out with a few good size crabs and lobsters to be seen. Very calm conditions, all in all very pleasent. Breakfast at the truckshop finished the outing off nicely.
Julian makes such a picture underneath his twinset, we are arranging for helpers to carry him in and out next time. Next time we might even bother find the wreck!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Timeliness is next to godliness?

So what exactly is the worst possible sin - well let me tell you. It's being late for the dive trip and making everybody wait at the dive centre until you finally show up. And as we wait for Julian, we consider this thought. The consensus is we should go without the plonker, but, that would mean we might miss the opportunity to drown the git later ! Whats your thought on the thorny issue of the worst possible dive sin?

IDC September/October

This years next IDC seems to have attracted a lot of interest with 7 places having been booked and confimed already. One space is reserved pending confimation. Being mindful of the need for space we are looking to use a larger classroom in the IT department of a local school to ensure we have the best of environments for the course. Details to follow once known.
The students already booked are now reviewing the DM exams in preparation and honing those in water skills. Rescue workshops are also running to ensure the IDC will be as stress free as possible.

Sunday Sea Dive

We off to dive the wreck off Deal tomorrow. high tide is 9.15 so we are meeting at the dive centre at 7.15 and at the castle at 8.15. Lets hope we are lucky with the viz!!!! Hoping to fine a jeep to sit in.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

When Things Go Wrong

Why is it that things always, without fail, go wrong exactly the moment you need them?
Regs work perfectly for months, until 24hours before the dive holiday. Wetsuits that suddenly shrink the week before. Is it fate or is it more likely that we never check stuff until the last minute. Whats the result ? Usually the only person affected is the poor old service technician who has to get the job overnight! So spare him a thought and ease the pressure on yourself too - check your kit!!!