Nor-Fest.

NOR-FEST 2018 – A report on the first Northern Festival of Diving

Daddy! When did the great hot spell of 2018 finally come to an end?

Son! It finally came to an end the day before NOR-FEST

The very first NOR-FEST was held over the weekend of 28th and 29th of July.  Based on the Northumbrian Coast at Beadnell, which is the departure point for the Farne Islands and provides a wide range of diving opportunities, especially wrecks and the ever-inquisitive seals.

It wasn’t just the weather that seemed intent on thwarting this first ever festival in the North.  The launching tractor was out of commission, necessitating a switch of launching venue to Seahouses, 3 miles further north.  These difficulties did not phase the chief organiser David Taylor, who calmly dealt with each problem as it arose.

With the diving programme virtually washed out, the organisers awaited anxiously to see how many would arrive for the conference.  They need not have worried because the quality of speakers lined up was attractive enough to guarantee a large audience.  An extra bonus for them was the quality of the catering provided by Fell Divers, which included a seemingly endless supply of home baked cakes.

The audience was informed and entertained by Richard Booth talking about wrecks off the North East coast, illustrated with slides taken over a ten year period.  The second speaker, Nic Faulkes then spoke about the concept and practicalities of setting up the underwater guided trail at Gun Rocks (the clue is in the name) see the website at http://www.gunrocks.co.uk for more details.  Next up was Steve Sanders who fascinated everyone with his talk on the wrecks he has explored at depths up to 100 metres, and some of the amazingly poignant objects still lying there undisturbed.  The final speaker was Dr. Ben Burville who enlightened the audience with explanations of seal behaviour all illustrated with appropriate video clips.

What conclusions can we draw from this first effort.

In spite of the early setbacks everyone agreed that the first NOR-FEST was a big success.  This was largely to the credit of David Taylor and his team of volunteers.  Planning is already under way for 2019.  Our thanks go to the organisers of KERNFEST for the information they published, to the BSAC Technical Team, and the RNLI for their attendance, and to all the members of the industry who supported us in various ways.

We now have the practical experience of having actually organised the event.  We also have a much longer time period for planning and publicity, further, we have the benefit of recommendation by word of mouth from those who attended.

Next year we would like to include a photographic competition ‘The Spirit of NORFEST’ and to encourage branches to mix much more so that those who know the area well can pass on their knowledge to those who are less familiar with the area.

For information about NORFEST 2019 and other NORFED events please check out our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/149685099074770/ and our Website https://www.norfed.org.uk/

Oh! And one final thing, we clearly need a much bigger sacrifice to the god of storms and tractors to ensure its success.

Report written by Ken Crow, Harrogate BSAC.

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