‘Diving into BigWave’ by Assistant Producer Nathalie Grace Miles
Posted on: June 5th, 2023
I started diving with my Dad and Sister when I was 15 years old and it was love at first sight. The magic of the ocean captivated me and I have never looked back. I have dived in 12 countries, across 5 continents and seen some incredible marine species in some fascinating underwater environments. I always had the dream of turning this hobby into my career but had never been given the opportunity, that was, until I started working at Big Wave Productions. As one of the top producers of underwater broadcast content in the UK, they were keen to embrace my love and experience in the ocean and very kindly offered to send me off to do my HSE commercial diving course. I of course jumped at the opportunity.
I was lucky to get on a course very last minute with Puffin Dive Centre in Oban, Scotland. They were extremely accommodating to my challenging schedule and within a couple of weeks I was on the very long journey up to Scotland. My fellow trainee on the course was the lovely Jack from Orkney, who had ambitions of being a clam fisherman. And at the helm were the worldly experienced Mo and Mike who guided me through the course.
The course got off to a steady start with some emergency first aid and rescue scenarios, my training of past came flooding back to me and all seemed plain sailing. Next up was some navigation in the water. Now, navigation has never been my strong point. Ever since that fateful day off the coast of Koh Tao in Thailand when I got a group of open water divers lost (don’t worry, everyone was very safe…we were just a little off course), my confidence hasn’t quite been the same. Nonetheless, I took on the challenge and Jack was my very willing guinea pig so off we both went around the bay. And what a spectacular sight we saw, there were crabs everywhere, lobsters, clams, moon jellyfish, goby’s and a spectacular abundance of kelp. The least said about my navigation the better…must work on that, luckily we were in a sheltered bay so I couldn’t go too far wrong…
Before long, physics and physiology were introduced into our daily lectures which were super interesting. But my favourite lectures came in the form of interpreting US Navy tables. A sentence I never thought I would say. Who knew how satisfying it could be working out repetitive group designators and residual nitrogen times!?
It was soon time to put this theory into practice and out came the full face masks. Now, I would say I took to diving generally as smoothly as a duck to water, with full face masks, it was more like a dog to a cold bath. It is definitely a different feeling diving with a full face mask, and the drills you have to complete involve being attached to a life line (a long rope running between a clip on your shoulder and the surface) and sitting on the bottom of the sea bed at certain depths for varying intervals. 5 times at 6m for 40 minutes, 4 times at 16m for 25 minutes and 2 times at 30 metres for 15 minutes. All on your own, not being able to move because of the life lines (and for fear I would get myself lost!) I can’t say these drills went without a little sulk or two. Even in a dry suit, 9oc Scottish waters are chilly! Once the bottom times had been completed it was onto the more interesting skills, full face mask removal, nuts and bolts removal and replacement, rescuing unresponsive divers, lifting a casualty (a cylinder) out of the water using a rope, much more up my street!
Drills done, 4 exams followed, a bit more oxygen administration and first aid and just like that, the course was done. I can officially call myself a HSE qualified commercial scuba diver. A massive bucket list tick for me. I am so unbelievably grateful to Sarah and the rest of the Big Wave team for this incredible opportunity and I am super excited to see what opportunities this opens up through my work here.