This months member in the spotlight is one of our most active divers and instructors, Andy Hepburn.
Above: Andy Hepburn (left) chatting with Mark Shuttleworth.
My Name is Andrew Hepburn, (Andy to most of my diving colleagues) I have been diving for nearly 12 years. I am qualified to PADI Master Scuba Diver, SAA Dive Leader, SAA Open Water instructor, Basic Boat Handler and VHF Operator.
My first try Dive was on Holiday in Corfu in May 1994 (The only good thing about Corfu!) In fact the holiday was so mediocre we had a second holiday in September in Malta, our hotel there had a dive school on site so I managed to organise a “5 pack” 5 try dives, and I was hooked, vowing to learn properly on my return to UK. This happened in 1995 when I signed up with Freewater Diving at Henley and after waiting for some warmer weather!
I passed my PADI open water qualification in June. In September it was back to Malta and there I passed the PADI Advanced open water. After this the next few years were taken up diving with Freewater and assisting on pool nights and training sessions etc until I had qualified as MSD. I was then talked in to trying for Dive Master, but before qualifying Freewater went bust. A number of us tried to keep the club going (driving force our current DO) but it did not work out, so a few of us transferred to CPA. a pretty good move from my point of view, as without the club environment I probably would have given up diving by now.
Above: Andy doing a buddy check, before a dive at Plymouth in 2007.
I was asked which my best dives are, a difficult question to answer because by and large they are all pretty good. The ones which stand out must be some of the foreign trips to Cuba and the Red Sea and Gibralta, but a recent trip to Portland with both boats when a number of people did not show up at the last minute gave us two boats between 5/6 divers and the weather conditions could not have been more perfect, we also managed to find, shot and dive the Black Hawk with excellent visibility and no tide running. Another memorable dive was off Blue Turtle out of Lyme Regis when we dived on a wreck known as the Heroine, renowned for Conger eels, my buddy had not been close up to a conger before and it is the first time I have seen anyone try to run under water!!
I would like to do more foreign warm water diving where wet suits are the norm and wet dry suits… not!
I find diving is a great way to relax and the concentration needed just to dive as well as instruct means that the every day stuff can be forgotten, it also helps me to keep a little bit fit.
CPA is a good club with a great bunch of people who enjoy diving and although I am not up for being on committees I like to give a bit back on the training side with lectures and in water training, as well as helping to organise the odd trip to the coast with one or both boats and it is usually the case that mention a dive and there are a number of willing participants.
The Editor asked me a number of questions, like who were my childhood heroes? I don’t think I remember that far back! although I do recall being keen on Scouting and belonging to a landlocked Sea Scout Troop, pretty good with tents, but no boats, maybe that is what influenced me joining the Merchant Navy, or more likely it was to get away from the humdrum of office or factory work that seemed to be the only way to make a living. I spent nearly six years with BP on their tankers serving on 13 ships, one for as short a period as a day but most for 3/4 or 6 months at a time.
Some of the trips were quite mundane but there were some really good destinations and some exciting times weather wise, some force 10 and 11 moments when even the Russian trawler fleet were hove to, and we kept steaming, but usually it was “Flat Calm”!
I wasn’t in to diving back in hose days and the nearest I had been to underwater, was snorkelling, in a small but deep rock pool on the coast of Alderney as a kid on holiday with my parents. I do recall seeing loads of fish, more than we seem to see these days.
I hope to keep on diving for a number of years yet and to keep on training so I hope we can get a few new people to come along and keep the club membership up.