Who are we and what do we do?
We are Ilfracombe and North Devon Sub Aqua Club. We are raising funds to enable us to continue making a difference to our local marine environment. We are scuba divers who dive the North Devon coast and Bristol Channel from Hartland Point in the west to Minehead in the East, including Britain's first statutory Marine Nature Reserve of Lundy Island. With the second largest tidal range in the world, this is a fascinating, unique and ever changing place. We are passionate about our coast and our ability to contribute to an understanding of our environment. Everyone who watched Blue Planet 2 knows that our seas are under threat. We want to do our bit locally to understanding the changes and to help where we can.
The changing marine environment
The marine environment is immensely susceptible to climate change and is a key indicator of how we need to take action to help our seas remain healthy. As divers we are in a unique position to observe and report on the state of our seas as well as carrying out projects to map wildlife, habitats and conducting marine clean-up projects. We work alongside marine conservation groups such as Coastwise North Devon, Lundy Marine Conservation Zone, Seachangers, Seasearch, Wessex Archaeology and Heritage England. Many of our divers have been specially trained in marine conservation techniques by organisations such as Seasearch and the Marine Conservation Society. They identify and record marine species and their habitats, then report on their observations. This contributes to building up a national database of changes in the marine environment and identifies areas and species that need our protection. The importance and urgency of cleaning up our seas has become very apparent in the past few years and we are keen to do our bit in our locality. This year alone we have carried out eight clean-up dives around Ilfracombe harbour, removing hazardous material and marine litter, conducted seasearch dives and been part of the Lundy MCZ governing body.
Introducing our boat, Combe Diver
To contribute to these projects and carry out this work we need a boat and we use a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) for access to sites and as safety cover when there are divers underwater. It enables us to access sites that we couldn't get to in any other way, and is a key part of ensuring the safety of divers when there is boat traffic, strong current or poor visibility in the water. Our RIB, Combe Diver, has given us good service for nearly 20 years and has been used in a lot of our activities. It is maintained throughout the year and the engine is serviced regularly. However all boats need to be refitted from time to time to extend their useful life. Combe Diver has now succumbed to the ravages of time and developed leaks in both tubes. We have managed to patch them this year (a bit like patching a bicycle tyre) so we could continue using it, but it has come to a point when patching is not enough. Combe Diver now needs new tubes and we seek the cost of re-tubing. The engine, hull and electronics are in good condition and will serve for many years to come so it is a much more sustainable option to re-tube rather than purchasing a new boat. Re-tubing is a bit like replacing the wheels on a car and viable tubes are necessary to keep the boat afloat. Put simply, re-tubing will keep us afloat and enable us to continue our activities and to support marine conservation charities. It makes Combe Diver a sustainable resource that we can use for many years to come. It also enables us to train and develop skippers, crew members and scuba divers so we can build up the number of people involved in marine conservation activities and encourage others to take part in the years ahead.