Hello Alexander, thank you for taking the time to give the boot community the best tips and information about diving in local waters. Tell us please, what’s the special charm of diving for you personally?
Alexander Kassler: “Diving has so many attractions. For me personally, the best part is diving down into a completely different world that makes you – and makes you want to – concentrate on other things. You also discover things that you wouldn't otherwise see. There’s also the fantastic feeling of weightlessness, when you have almost perfect buoyancy, and then there’s the community. That and sharing experiences in the group and also the worldwide travel are what make diving a really attractive hobby."
How have you dealt with the recent travel restrictions and reduced offers at dive destinations? Did you have to change your diving orientation or focus more on another type of diving, for example apnoea diving or cold-water diving?
Alexander Kassler: "I’ve done apnoea diving before and have also gone diving with a rebreather. But I think Corona has inspired many warm-water divers to go to domestic dive sites and become cool-water or cold-water divers. And there’s solid proof of this: last year there were more dives at national dive sites than ever before. But for me personally, Corona wasn’t a decisive reason to change my orientation, as I’ve been diving in local waters for a long time. But it must also be said that diving in Germany was quite limited during this time. Many lakes and the dive centres at them had to shut down or were not allowed to receive guests."
So you weren’t able to dive much last year?
Alexander Kassler: “Fortunately I was! I live in Leipzig, where you’re allowed to dive on your own in many of the well-known lakes. What we clearly noticed here was that the visibility was much better. Fewer divers automatically means less movement and therefore clearer visibility. But I also did a liveaboard in Egypt – with a quarantine afterwards, of course."
What do you have to keep in mind when diving in Germany? Can you dive just anywhere?
Alexander Kassler: "That depends on the federal state and also on the respective municipalities. In Germany there’s a general rule that says diving is allowed everywhere where it isn’t prohibited. Conversely, this also means that diving is not allowed where it isn’t expressly permitted. Most municipalities allow diving in local lakes only with a dive school. As I mentioned before, these were closed during Corona. In general, you should always find out on site whether you’re really allowed to dive at the respective lake. Or even better: before you go diving, inform yourself online, inquire at the local dive schools or regional diving associations."
And what equipment do you need in local waters? After all, it’s much colder here than at the "typical" dive sites. Alexander Kassler: "Since it gets colder below a certain depth and such lakes are sometimes very deep, it’s important to have the right equipment. Then there are the thermoclines, where the temperature can abruptly drop from 20 degrees to seven or eight. So it's important to be well prepared. That means: use a regulator that’s specially designed for cold water and wear a wetsuit that’s at least seven millimetres thick to keep you warm. Alternatively, there are drysuits that don’t allow water to reach the body; then you put on special underwear underneath, like for skiing. So, if you’ve been spending all your time diving in warm or tropical waters on vacation, you may have difficulties when you get into cooler water. You should always inform yourself well in advance."
Do you have any tips for beginner divers? Is diving in local waters suitable for them?
Alexander Kassler: "If you want to start diving, I recommend going to a dive club and taking an introductory diving course. You can also start with snorkelling, which is wonderful in German lakes. Just put on a diving mask, rent a thick suit and dive in. I did a lot of that last year, for example. In fact, the level just below the surface is one of the most beautiful parts of a lake. While snorkelling you can watch the sun reflecting, for example, and see the fish moving around in the shore area."
And what would you recommend to experienced divers when diving in local waters?
Alexander Kassler: "I would advise any diver who calls themselves an experienced diver but has never been diving in cold water to take it very slowly and with care. 1000 dives in the Red Sea doesn’t automatically qualify you for cold-water diving. There are some differences between local and more tropical waters, especially in terms of temperature, light and visibility, so be sure to check that your equipment meets the requirements of the dive site."
Have you ever had a scary moment while diving?
Alexander Kassler: "I've actually been scared quite a few times when, for example, you get a rush at a certain depth or your air supply is suddenly lower than it should be, those are scary moments. And then there are also moments when you turn around and a blue shark bumps into your mask. But these moments of shock are also good, because then you come to your senses and common sense kicks in. The biggest trap in diving is to overestimate yourself or think that nothing can happen to you.”
Looking back at the last few months and for the future: How important is and will boot Düsseldorf remain for the diving industry?
Alexander Kassler: "The boot is always like a big family reunion. Especially after the boot show was cancelled once (2021), everyone is really hungry for a meetup with the community. Personally, I feel that boot Düsseldorf is the world's most important platform for the entire diving scene, where you get back together with everyone who is spread all over the world throughout the year. In addition, visitors of the trade fail are of course eager to learn about new destinations and dive sites as well as innovations in equipment and gear, and they want to get all the relevant information."
Alexander, thank you for your time and this great, informative interview!
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