Wave Shape
Wave Shape

Club History

Wave Shape
Dacorum Scuba will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2024. If you can add to this history with stories and images, we’d love to hear them. Please contact comms@dacorumsac.org.uk

There are more images in the Celebrating the History of DSAC gallery

In The Beginning: 7 November 1974

Dacorum Sub Aqua Club was founded on 7 November 1974 as Dacorum Divers. It became branch 0713 of the British Sub Aqua Club. According to BSAC, the founding members were:

  • M Kaufman
  • D Ibbs
  • Ron Lloyd (Treasurer)
  • Roger Greenway (DO)
  • Mike Dunsford
  • R Amitt
  • A Reid
  • E Kaufman

Roger Greenway Cannon Award

Roger Greenway later gave his name to the Roger Greenway Cannon Award for Outstanding Effort, presented to non-committee members of DSAC who make outstanding contributions to the club.

The Early Years: 1975 to 1979

Diving matures as a pastime, with divers increasingly able to buy diving suits rather than having to make their own from rubber sheets and glue. Similarly, twin hose regulators give way to single hose. Still, many divers continue to make their own underwater torches.

ABLJs (Adjustable Buoyancy Life Jackets) which look like horse collars and are inflated manually using exhaled air are the norm in this period. Manual inflation of this kind eventually starts to give way to direct feeds, allowing a diver to manage buoyancy without having to remove their regulator.

The end of an ice dive at the Blue Lagoon in the early 1980s. Note the Fenzy ABLJ, wet suit and high volume mask.

Watches to keep track of time, analog depth gauges and tables form the basis for dive planning and execution.

The sequence of qualifications awarded by BSAC at this time is Snorkel Diver, Third Class, Second Class and then First Class Diver. Open water training for DSAC takes place at Glebe Lake at Calvert, the Blue Lagoon, Bletchley or at Stoney Cove.


Diving Matures: 1980 to 1987

Scuba diving in this era is gaining in popularity as a hobby, with technological advances meaning rapid changes in equipment, techniques and procedures.

A Dive Log Sheet from the 1980s

The sequence of BSAC diver qualifications changes to: Novice Diver, Sports Diver, Dive Leader, Advanced Diver and First Class Diver.

The club has two inflatable boats. The first, a Bombard, with aluminium flooring is stolen from the boat store. The second is a Zodiac. Members start doing more adventurous trips to places like St. Kilda.

The bombard inflatable in Portland harbour in the early 1980s

Equipment Advances: 1988 to 1990

The club buys a 5m Humber Alpha RIB, naming it “DS-AC”. Its emergency engine is broken off its mounting and sinks at sea after an accident when towing another boat.

A seal distemper outbreak occurs, with many seals dying on the east coast. DSAC takes part in rescue efforts.

Bernie’s close encounters

Dive computers become much more advanced and more widely used – the BSAC 88 decompression tables come out – just in time to be made redundant by dive computers which quickly become standard equipment.

The stab (stabiliser jacket) is introduced and begins to replace ABLJs, though there is controversy over their safety. Some argue that ABLJs are safer than stab jackets because ABLJs tend to float an unconscious diver face up while a stab jacket might float face down.

Diving Goes Mainstream: 1990 to 1999

A DSAC trip in 1990 aboard Jean de la Lune, a live-aboard in the Hebrides

Club RIB DS-AC1 is damaged when a large wave grounds it on rocks near Portland, and remains out of action for six months. In a separate incident, two DSAC members are picked up by a helicopter after becoming separated on another RIB dive when they can’t be seen due to tall waves.

Another member-owned RIB is swamped in the Portland Race in 1994, requiring a helicopter and lifeboat for rescue.

1996 sees DS-AC1 sunk when a professional instructor (outside of DSAC) fails to demonstrate the seaworthiness of a RIB with fully deflated tubes. However, with the sinking taking place in only 6m of water, the boat is recovered, repaired and then sold.

The club receives a grant from the Foundation for Sports and the Arts. With a lot of additional fund raising, the club is able to buy and equip a 5.8m Humber Destroyer, named DSAC2. Dacorum Borough Council also provide DSAC with some land on a peppercorn rent, so that the club can build a boat shed. Dacorum Borough Council also help with a grant to aid with the cost of the shed. By 1997 the boat shed is built.

DSAC2 at West Bay, 1999

Club finances get a makeover – with finances in dire straits in 1992, 1993 saw a new focus on ensuring expensive club activities are sustainable. This also helps to get much of the pool equipment replaced, with the last ABLJs giving way to stab jackets.

DSAC members do 24-hour underwater bike rides in shifts to raise money for Children in Need

DSAC members go to St Albans Sub Aqua Club for their annual “It’s A Knock Out” competition. DSAC randomly create two teams from those attending – one team wins and the other comes last!

It’s a Knockout Competition vs. St Albans Sub Aqua Club

The 25th Anniversary of DSAC in 1999 held at the Crystal Rooms in Tring also saw the launch of the club’s first website.

By the end of 1999, DSAC numbered 75 members with eight nationally qualified instructors, a good RIB and a full set of modern pool training equipment.

Nitrox and Technical Diving: 2000 to 2009

This period sees considerable change, with Technical and Nitrox diving becoming increasingly accepted and popular. DSAC trains 30 members to Advanced Nitrox level and six members take Trimix courses.

By 2002, five members are using Inspiration Rebreathers. In 2008 DSAC even provided a Rebreather Try Dive for Alex Hill from the Watford Observer.

All of this innovation led the club to buy a compressor in 2005, allowing members to blend gas for their diving by 2006 when Helium and Oxygen banks are added.

The newly installed compressor in the Gas Shed, 2005

DSAC club membership grew from 80 members at the start of this period to just over 95, but declined over the latter 2000s to end at around 65.

The RIB, though expensive to run and requiring work – a trailer axle replacement in 2003 and a new engine in 2006 – remains very well used by a variety of club members for both training and diving.

DSAC2 is also used in 2003 for BSAC’s own 50th anniversary, with members doing 50 dives on the Countess of Erne in Portland Harbour.

DSAC2 setting out for 50 dives done in celebration of 50 years of DSAC, 2003

“Going Down”, the DSAC Newsletter, changes considerably over the period. From originally a printed newsletter, to a distributed word document and finally a pdf file available from the website, “Going Down” is published every few months and distributes news, stories, dive reports, trip photos and competitions to members.

Going Down Newsletter, December 2004 issue

Trips in this period range across the UK from Scapa Flow down to Lymington and Lyme Regis as well as the usual Dorset coast sites. Overseas, Malta and the Red Sea remain favourite destinations for club trips. Even “Hard Hat” diving features, with members diving with the Historical Diving Society in 2006.

DSAC members hard hat diving at Portsmouth’s Horsea Island, January 2006

Digital Era: 2010 to 2019

DSAC’s newsletter “Going Down” closes as social media and websites take hold as a more convenient way of disseminating information.

The older club website (renamed in 2004 to http://www.dacorumsac.org.uk) prepares by the end of this period to move on to the new BSAC standard format which we use today.

An older version of the DSAC website

A £6,000 grant from Dacorum Olympics / Paralympics Fund helps to refresh kit and equipment for the club in 2012, but by 2019 the cost of maintenance for the RIB is too much and the RIB is sold to members.

A prominent member of DSAC, Glen Adams, leads a project “What Lies Beneath” to conduct an underwater survey – covering measurements, photography and marine life – for new unknown dive sites and involves many members of DSAC taking part. In 2014 he submitted the final report to BSAC. £135 raised at the club presentation of the report goes to the RNLI.

Glen is also then awarded the Roger Greenway Cannon Award for Outstanding Effort for his work on the project.

Considerable diving over this period ranges from St Abbs – a favourite of DSAC – to Lochaline, Red Sea trips as well as more unusually some river diving in North Yorkshire.

Covid-19 & Beyond: 2020 to the Present

Restrictions result in much reduced diving and no travel for most. Thursday meetings go online for a brief period, and membership numbers start to reduce. The diving industry changes considerably, with familiar dive shops and charter boats shutting up operations.

Additional focus on attracting members across a variety of ages & backgrounds helps refresh and revitalise DSAC, with Try Dives to show the joy of scuba diving to prospective members. As part of the modernisation effort, Dacorum Scuba became the new branding name for DSAC.

Investing in AP Diving TekWings for Ocean Diver Trainees

Once restrictions fully ease, a rush to complete training and provide both newly qualified as well as experienced divers with experience through dive trips – both day and longer trips – means diving resumes in full force, with UK and overseas club trips arranged quickly.

Dacorum Scuba members on a Red Sea trip aboard MV Legends, March 2023

With big trips already completed to Kinlochbervie, The Farne Islands, Oban and the Red Sea and many more planned as well as a plethora of ad-hoc & day-trips, Dacorum Scuba is looking forward to an exciting future of dive trips and training.

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