I began scuba diving in 2004 after my wife also a scuba diver suggested that I learn. I instantly got the bug and have enjoyed diving all around the UK, the middle east and off the western African seaboard. There are still plenty of places on this fantastic planet that I would like to visit & dive.
There is however one place that I have returned to every year since I took up a late minute space on a diving weekend in October in 2004 and it is the one place where I have found that it is possible to combine a successful family holiday & enjoy a traditionally non-family sport.
As a family we started visiting Porthkerris Dive Centre on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall in May 2006 and there have been a number of changes over the years. Back then we pitched our tents on the hard gravel area that is now the BBQ area, having to secure our huge tent in gale winds with large redundant telegraph poles. Since then our tent has grown as has the family and we have moved from the hard gravel area to the newer shore dive camping ground, finally with the acquisition of our trailer tent onto the hard-stand electric hook up camping pitches closer to the dive centre & amenities.
Last year the portacabin office was replaced by the purpose built dive centre shop and lecture room making a huge difference to the look & feel of the beach area. This year the butty wagon has been replaced with a beach cafe open every day and the toilet & shower block has undergone some cosmetic yet useful improvements. Coming up in the next few years though are some major accommodation & dive centre improvements including training pool & self-catered diver accommodation that Mike & Jo took me for a tour around as the building takes shape. I can’t wait to see the finished outcome and make use of the facilities, we may even be tempted to leave the tent behind.
Over those same years the hard boat diving has also undergone some improvements. When I first dived off the Celtic Cat in 2004, I was diving with a single 12 litre cylinder & wetsuit, therefore it wasn’t so critical to me that I had to climb a ladder to get back into the boat or indeed that there were no kitting up benches on the boat.
I have since moved to diving with twinsets, stages & thankfully for UK diving a drysuit, mercifully it wasn’t too long before the Cat gained the daddy of all lifts, a two diver lift between the twin hulls and also the welcome addition of kitting up benches throughout the dive deck.
The rib also got a backbone aswell as the Celtic Kitten was introduced to the diving fleet. A hard boat shuttle with a loading ramp reminiscent of a mini beach landing craft. The rib is still there and means that a huge diving group like those we have been part of over the last few years (as many as 52 divers over 4 days) can all get a boat dive of one form or another on a dive trip.
So over the years we have been visiting, the dive centre has changed a little bit at a time, but why is it that as we pull away from the beach up that steep incline when I ask the children do you want to come back next year? The unequivocal response from the back seats is YES….
All of the improvements to the diving over the years are great for me and other divers but the kids love the beach, the sea, the rocks, the freedom…. and that is the beauty of Porthkerris Diving for us as a family. I haven’t even mentioned the actual diving locations, such as the manacles or the plethora of wrecks, or the beautiful house reef, drawna nor have I mentioned the friends we have made in returning year after year.
So it is possible I can enjoy going diving but not have to sacrifice precious holiday time with my family.
This weekend we came back from our 6th family trip to the beach at Porthkerris, as we pulled away from the single track farm road that leads up from the beach, I asked the children, so do you want to come back next year…… Guess what the answer was…….
See you on pitch number 1, the one behind the dive centre, one week in July 2012……