Last year, our dive club decided that we needed more boat-handlers, so nine of us booked on an RYA Powerboat Level 2 course with a local provider.
'One thing, guys, could you bring your club RIB as well?' we were asked as we booked up, 'That way we can have three boats going with three students and an instructor on each.'
The weekend arrived, and we all turned up for the course on the River Tyne, dragging our trusty, recently serviced Humber RIB with us.
The first day went well, and we all had a great laugh. Competitive rivalry ran between the three boats, along with much splashing and merriment.
On day two, we practised emergency stops in the Humber. You bomb along at nearly full pelt until the instructor shouts, then you swing the steering hard across and put the throttle into neutral.
This causes the boat to slip sideways and a wash to flow past the boat, clearing any debris from your path.
The other lads on the boat had had a go, and had done well at what I thought were really slow speeds.
I can do better than that, I thought. Left-hand stop... build up speed... bit more... bit more... faster... instructor shouts... I slam the drive into neutral and spin the wheel round... hand slips and I make a hash of the steering... boat slips sideways and we end up with a wash into the boat, much to the lads' amusement.
Never mind, I think, I'll have a go at a right-hand stop... build up speed... bit more... faster... instructor shouts... I slam the throttle into neutral and spin the wheel... bloody perfect... feels so good to get that one right and it shuts the lads up....
OK, so now I'll have another go at that left-hand stop. Build up speed... bit more... faster... and faster... and faster... nearly 30 knots... instructor shouts and I spin the wheel and slam the throttle down into - reverse?
My fingertips have caught the clutch and I've slammed the drive through neutral into bloody reverse. The engine goes bang ping whirrrrrlll rrrrattllllll and is whining its head off.
The instructor yanks the kill-switch out and looks horrified. We gather round the stern and use the power-tilt to raise the engine.
Strange, I think - I wonder where the prop is? I look at the instructor and ask if it's meant to be like that.
The instructor shakes his head, then leans over and picks up a paddle to wave in the air. The lads in the boat are now strangely silent, and looking at me in a funny way. I start to feel uncomfortable.
After much ridicule by the lads, and embarrassment on my part, the RIB gets put into our local yard for repair. It's only£4000 to fix, as we need a complete new bottom end, gearbox, leg, shaft, seals, gearing, prop, housing...
And, by the way lads, we're having trouble getting the parts, so we lose the RIB for the full season.
Luckily for me, I'm in a great dive club with some really smashing people. Am I ostracised? No. Do I get to foot the bill myself? No. Am I asked to leave? No.
However, I do get a full year of jokes and comments taking the mick...
I also earn the club some recognition at dive sites - aren't you the ones with that muppet who broke your boat?
I hope this gets in, as part of my ongoing penance to a truly great bunch of people - BSAC 1858 Fell Divers.
Dave M

I was taking my PADI Rescue Diver course in Oban on a cold March day.
The course involves two long days both in and out of the water, carrying, dragging and resuscitating 'victims'.
On this particular weekend my drysuit had been sent away for repair, but as I was about the same size as the store-owner, he had kindly offered to loan me his personal drysuit.
As any coldwater diver knows, there is a curious law of nature that reads 'your need to pee is inversely proportional to your body temperature' - that is, as your body temperature drops due to submersion, your need to pee increases.
On this cold day, after a good few cups of tea, my need was getting great, which is when 'my' drysuit zip decided to play up.
After an hour of fiddling, the drysuit was no longer dry, and it certainly felt a little warmer inside.
Needless to say, after a quick hose-down and some time in an airing cupboard, not to mention a liberal application of talc, the suit was returned as good as new to the store-owner.
Brian (real name supplied)

My wife and I decided to get ourselves new drysuits from the Dive 2005 show at the NEC. We decided on Whites suits with Rock-boots.
On our first outing in our new kit we did our dive, and on the short walk back to the car, my wife asked if my feet were cold.
I replied that my toes felt numb, and she said that her boots felt too big.
It turned out that we were wearing each other's boots. She takes size 7, and I take an 11. After hails of laughter and cries of 'numpty', we swapped boots before our next dive.
The following week I was doing the Rescue Diver course.
I started to kit up, only to find that I had one size 11 left boot and one size 7 left boot.
There was another hail of laughter. At least doing the expanding-circle search pattern was easy.

How good does it feel to have bought a reel, sparkly and new? How about testing it out? My buddy and I have a regular midweek dive arrangement at Stoney Cove, so we decided to do some SMB practice on the 7m shelf.
After doing the usual swim-about and bumping into people in the iffy visibility, we stopped at a metal frame and decided that this would be a great place to let the SMBs go.
I unclipped my new reel from my BC, slid the karabiner under the frame and attached it to the SMB, ready for its ascent to the surface. My buddy started to make a series of gestures, but I was more interested in seeing my reel go into action.
While he was still signalling, I detached my octopus and prepared to blast the SMB with air. I looked over to my buddy and saw him indicate 'OK, go on then'. With that, I released the air, and up went the SMB.
My buddy tapped me and made laughing gestures. I didn't realise what I had done until I tried to put the reel under the frame. That's when I realised that I had attached it to a part where it had jammed, preventing me from being able to get the whole reel under the SMB at the surface.
My new reel and line were firmly attached to the frame. While I tried unsuccessfully to dig it out, my buddy was paddling around, laughing, I knew, at my stupidity. In the end he surfaced, detached the line from the SMB and I was able to reel it in.
All the way home, and for weeks afterwards, the story of my reel and SMB plagued me as it was related over pints to other divers. Thanks, Mr Simon Brook, I'm waiting for an opportunity to do the same for you.
Kevin Barry

Last summer, while diving with fellow club-members on Gozo, a couple of us planned to explore the Blue Hole as a second dive.
As a gas-guzzler, I had been diving all week on 18- and 15-litre tanks, but for this dive I had only a 12.
After the long hike from the car park to the Blue Hole, I was in a hurry to cool off in the water, so I kitted up, did the buddy check and went in.
Another pair of divers we were with were having a problem with a piece of kit, so while waiting for them I swam around looking down into the hole while using my snorkel (to save air).
It took about 10 minutes for the others to sort themselves out and get in the water. We gave each other the OK and down sign.
I exhaled and started to descend. When I breathed in, I thought to myself: 'This reg isn't working properly, my mouth is full of water!'
I then thought: 'You pillock, you're diving with your snorkel in your mouth instead of your reg!'
With great calmness I found my reg (as per training) and put it in my mouth. Oh, to breath again!
None of the other divers saw what I had done, and when asked in the debriefing why I had taken my time dropping down, I just said I was a little under weighted.
Chris Heywood

It was a clear, still evening at Shab El Erg in the Red Sea. We had anchored for the night and were the only dive-boat for miles. The cook was bustling creatively, and mouth-watering aromas were beginning to waft from the kitchen to tease our hungry bellies, though dinner would not be ready for at least another hour.
Most of our party hit the drinks, but I persuaded my buddy that a night dive would be more stimulating. We were near the southern end of the reef, 12m above a sandy plateau dotted with small coral gardens.
We descended into clear, dark waters and spent a happy half-hour zig-zagging between corals and marvelling at the weird creatures of the night. I was particularly impressed by a cuttlefish that blushed when I looked at it, and a crab that transformed itself into a weed-covered rock.
We performed so many turns that I lost track of where we were, but I wasn't worried. A glance revealed the bright light of the boat twinkling above, a short fin ahead of us.
I indicated that we should move that way but my buddy looked perplexed, checked her compass and pointed to the left.
I overruled her - after all, I could clearly see where I was going. But doubts started when the light was no nearer after a couple of minutes of hard finning. Again, my buddy pointed to the left and back from where we'd come. Again I pointed to the light.
Nevertheless, I checked my compass, which didn't tell me what I wanted, so I ignored it. After all, I had seen the light. We chased it for two more minutes but when it was still just as far away, I decided to surface.
When our heads popped into the air, the boat was mysteriously behind us and to the left. In front of us, shining brilliantly in the night sky was the full moon!
I felt a twit trying to explain this to my buddy, who'd known what I was up to all along, and to the other divers who had been watching our progress with great amusement.
Still, there were two consolations - we met a Spanish dancer during the long fin back, and dinner was served as soon as we'd finished our post-dive showers.
Martin J Wilkinson

I have a confession to make. Last February, eight of us were going for a night dive in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic. We planned to start at 35m and follow the bottom upwards to the surface.
Everybody was equipped with 15-litre cylinders but me. I had a 12, and when we were at 35m I realised that I didn't have enough air to get back to the surface on my own.
I calculated that if I made a direct ascent right away I would be OK, but I knew I would be far from shore, on my own in the February darkness.
So my buddy and I decided to make an easy ascent as planned, following the bottom closer to the shore. Then, at 20m, when I had 10 bar left, I got onto my buddy's octopus and we ascended to the surface not too far from land. At the surface there was enough air in the cylinder to provide positive buoyancy and allow a relaxing swim on my back.
There was never any panic or stress during the incident, but since then I have thought much about it and always now follow my own pressure gauge and plan the dive according to my own air support, the 12-litre cylinder.
This is the most stupid thing I have ever done. I hope I won't do anything like that again - but you never know.
Gundur Mortensen

I was at the Eco Camp in Marsa Nakari - good weather, good diving, good accommodation and good crew.
The only thing that upset me was the amount of rubbish, mostly plastic bags and bottles, scattered around the desert and under the water.
I whinged on about this for the whole of the trip.
On the penultimate day, we went for a dive off the RIB, a bit further south of our usual haunts. It was a lovely, apparently unspoiled reef with lots of beautiful coral, lots of life and a cracking good dive.
Until, that is, I saw it at about 15m, halfway down the wall - a big lump of black plastic sacking wrapped around a beautiful pinnacle. I was ahead of my buddy, just around a corner out of her sight, so while waiting for her I decided to do the right thing and pick up the offending bag. Over I went and started, gently but firmly, to unwrap the plastic.
It was tougher than I had anticipated, so I gave it what I thought to be a fairly slight tug. At this point, the whole of the pinnacle came away.
It's surprising how heavy a 2m-long chunk of coral is, particularly when you're not expecting to be holding it.
Of course, I dropped it and down it went, bouncing nicely off, and smashing up, all the coral below it until it came to rest on the bottom at 35m.
Thirty seconds later, my buddy came round the corner. By this time I, of course, was looking in the other direction and taking a great interest in something out in the blue - so the cloud of sand and coral debris slowly settling obviously had nothing to do with me.
That's the last time I try to tidy up!
Mick McTiernan

I have just qualified as PADI Divemaster after an eight-month internship, and thorough grounding. I have just had my first club pool session as a divemaster and was asked to assist with a try-dive.
After briefing the student and showing him how to get under water (he was a little nervous) we bobbed up and down three times until he felt comfortable. I then gave him the signal to swim, and kicked at the same moment - which was when I realised that I had not put my fins on.
I signalled OK and up and had a quick chat with him about how he was - then casually asked another instructor on the poolside to 'pass my fins'. The student didn't know anything was wrong, but I got some stick in the pub afterwards.
Wendy Manning

I was diving in Key West in Florida. This was one of my first dives with a twin-set, and I was very excited about it. As I was getting ready, my buddy asked for some help with her BC, so I shifted my focus to help her.
Back to my stuff and ready to drop in - over the side I went, but I didn't stop. Frantically pumping the inflator hose, I saw the problem - the hose from the first stage wasn't there.
Thank God I wasn't in deeper water! I stripped off my gear and found it, so it must have been caught under my backplate. About the time I got my stuff back on my buddy caught up with me. I never told anyone what happened - until now, that is.
Stephen Patten

I guess I should have told my buddy during the check that my left regulator was on my right bottle and my right reg on the left.
There I was in 6?C water, 35m down in the lovely hole known as Stoney, when I got a first-stage free-flow. It was gentle at first, so I swapped regulators. My buddy offered to shut the tank off and, guess what happened - I really should have covered it in the check!
He got my frantic waving, and just as I was sucking on nothing the air came back. I have bought two new reg sets now, and left is left and right is right. My buddy checks are more thorough now, too.
Malcolm Riches

A member of our club is very disorganised. He forgets his fins, mask and weightbelt regularly, even though he has been diving for nearly four years. On dives he seems oblivious to the fact that you are constantly waiting for him. He swims off to look at things without ensuring that you know he has gone. He is a competent diver but seems happier doing his own thing, though he is a strong believer that you should never dive alone!
When we deploy a DSMB from depth, we ensure that we have two reels attached to the blob, so that if something should happen to one, there is a back-up. The dive plan states that we follow this procedure, but he just shakes his head when it comes to do it, so on ascent you regularly lose him. Nice bloke, but a nightmare.
On one dive, we were heading down the shotline as a three, as we had an odd number of divers. For some reason, he let go too early and lost the wreck. The other diver and I arrived and waited two minutes for him to come down the line (he was last down).
I then signalled to my buddy to wait, and went up the line. About 15m above the wreck I met the next set of divers coming down.
Through sign language I established that he hadn't come back up the line, and wasn't on the surface.
I descended, and found my patient buddy. We decided to continue on the dive - something
I now regret. On my 30 minutes' deco I was panicking: 'What if he's trapped on the wreck?'... 'What if he's drifted off unconscious?', etc.
Nothing happened to him, but I learnt a lesson - you can always do a dive again, so if you lose a buddy, look for a minute, then abort the dive.
Ray (real name supplied)

I am a PADI Advanced Diver, and my son-in-law (below) is qualified to Open Water. He has eight logged dives but many others under his belt.
As a merchant seaman, he spends months away and dives with friends. Many of these are divemasters, so it was easy for him to tag along and dive more than me!
While he was on leave, I took him to Stoney Cove. On the journey we got onto the subject of deep dives. He said he was 'comfortable at 40', so I thought the hydrobox at 35m would make a nice first dive.
He was fine about it, and as it was shallower than he had dived before, I wasn't worried.
We surfaced after the dive, during which his BC had malfunctioned, but we managed a perfect ascent.
I asked if he had enjoyed the dive. 'Great - that's my deepest so far,' he said.
I pointed out that it was only 35m - he had dived 40. 'Yes, 40 feet!' he said.
I felt a right plonker. Remember, if NASA can cock up pounds and kilos, resulting in a Mars probe crashing, anything is possible. It's not only under water where we have to communicate properly.
Paul Watson

I was on a liveaboard dive trip on Australia's Great Barrier Reef with a couple of friends. We had had a great day diving in the clear water and were celebrating with a few beers on the boat at night.
Having had a little skinny dip, I was walking around the boat with just a towel wrapped around my lower half when I lost my footing on the slippery deck. The boat was a catamaran, so some of the windows faced directly up from the deck and I managed to put my foot through one that was open.
I fell and got wedged in up to my torso. I eventually extricated myself, after causing much hilarity among my friends.
The next morning, with my ribs in serious pain, a female passenger asked what the commotion had been on deck the night before. I apologised for waking her but she just laughed and said that in the night she had been woken by a loud thud. When she opened her eyes, she could see my right leg and tackle hanging down through her porthole window!
Darron Gray