The Webmaster
photo of a sheep taking a rest above Red Tarn in Cumbria
A Concise Biography of Diver and Webmaster - Paul Renucci

In The Beginning
Paul's school days proved him to be a powerful swimmer. That ability saw him in competition swimming for his school over a number of years.

Later, in 1988, Paul and his wife Kath decided that the Maldives would be a good place to spend their next holiday during the 1989 season and seeing photos of divers on those colourful reefs set their minds on a course with destiny.

Perhaps not so surprising, Paul remembered ten years previous about an open day that Carlisle Sub Aqua Club held. A lecture was giving together with some slides but, as they say, the penny failed to drop on that occasion.

The First Club - Dumfries
With the 1989 Maldive holiday coming up in November, they decided to find out if any Sub Aqua clubs were still around in the area and eventually found several but with one problem. Pauls day off at work did not fall on any of their training days. He remembers that time . . like it was yesterday, and refused to be beaten. He found Dumfries club trained on his day off which was a Tuesday, and although this club was 33 miles distant - off he went and joined. His wife would follow on at a later date.

Paul says: "That was a great time - I was hooked with the very first training session. In those days it was snorkel training and snorkel lectures for your Snorkel certificate before being allowed to go onto Scuba.

Dumfries were a tough lot - everything had to be done three times but if you got two out of the three assessments right, you moved on to the next stage in the course. They had the deepest sodding pool at TWELVE FOOT. That was a serious challenge having pounded up and down that Olympic size pool - then you had to duck dive for the fins and mask on the bottom while still out of breath. But I loved it and I soon passed my snorkelling with Dumfries. Now I was ready to move to the more serious stuff, Scuba!!"

His Second Club - Penrith
By now he was making a twice a week trip. The travelling was becoming a frustration and with rising fuel prices he sadly began to look for an alternative club nearer to home, but there were non to match his day off. He made the difficult decision to change his day off work to Wednesday. Paul says: "that was tough to arrange and basically I was informed I could take Wednesday or nothing - I bit their hands off ! - he exclaims - because I knew Penrith Divers had their training day on Wednesday night - in fact it was great - Wednesday 6pm they set off for a dive and then back to the RAFA club at Penrith for a pint and a lecture. So although I was still travelling just over 20 miles to get there, plus another 8 to the dive sites, but at least it was just once a week."

Paul explains: "The 5th of May saw me buy all my gear in one big swoop.
My first suit was a semidry suit, Spiro reg, a Buddy Pacific ABLJ (anyone remember them?) a dive dynamics watch etc." 13 or more years on and I'm on my 3rd dive watch, 2nd underwater camera, 3rd knife and probably tenth torch and 27th snorkel tube - oh, and 3rd weight belt - blasted fishermen keep picking them up after I leave the water !!!??". He adds" Ullswater has most of my gear but I picked up stacks in the sea to compensate me. Anyone lost a ###### ??? - shhhh Paul. :-)".

"Kath by now had joined Penrith with me and she quickly caught up with me onto the Scuba - I blame the Dumfries pool size and depth for that!"

Their training in open water Scuba began on the 23rd of July, 1989. Paul said:"It was Stybarrow Crag - the deepest site in Ullswater at 60 odd metres but - I was only going to drop to 10 metres. But what a great ten metres - the log book reads:- Jumped in from height. Maurice towing me 100 mtres, Snorkel swim for 200 metres. Went down medium/steep slope running out.
AIR in: 230 bar. AIR out: 160 bar.

His 31st dive was "The Maldives" on Budufinulu Canyon. Paul recalls:- "It was an 18 metre dive in crystal clear water and it was like taking a hot bath - the water was hot and we were seeing unbelievable colours for the fish and hard coral's too!

By the end of that first year in 1989 he had achieved 47 dives within 6 month.

Officer Paul
Having rapidly gained his qualifications as Sports diver followed by Advanced Diver. He wasted no time getting involved in club politics. This saw him voted on as Equipment Officer, Science Officer and Secretary over the following years.

Attending the Annual National ScotSac meetings he found himself up for National Course Co-ordinator. He recalls: "the proposed appointment of myself onto this elite group brought about a challenge as to my experience - not least as a qualified diver!. I'm not one for keeping my mouth shut - naturally I had a few things to say in that crowded hall but after a few arguements during the process, I was voted on". It would be the first of many confrontations. Turning a ScotSac loss maker into a profit and making a name for himself as the "Yes I can - It's you that can't man".

International Paul
Paul said: "being the National Course Co-Ordinator was very rewarding - I won't forget when they told me due to finances that only a certain number of courses could be afforded. I was recommended to put on no more than 3 or 4 boat handling courses - I actually had the demand and so that grew to 13 or 14 boat courses that year! and to put it politely, that raised a few eyebrows. All very hard work, but then came the Oxygen Admin course which was the new ground breaker of the day - in the early 90s, sadly that took a few years to set up. Course co-ordinator was not a one man job - it involved a lot of negotiating with outside companies for accommodation, food, and of course appealing to instructors to assist in the training. By the end of that first year "we" had a fantastic team. We then started work on the, then new, Oxygen admin course. Although we never got to implement it, in our time, it did take off though."

Paul continued: "I should mention that internationally, ScotSac and BSAC have the best courses as proven by the masses of letters and calls I recieved from overseas visiting divers who actually come here to take the ScotSac and BSAC courses. They found out about those course from their fellow buds who had told them how brilliant they are!!
That's a big feather in the caps of those agencies, so to those diving under ScotSac or BSAC you should feel proud that divers overseas hold you all with such high regard - even though we feel things could be improved."
Paul the Computer Whiz Kid
By the end of 1999, Paul was already taking his next bold steps in learning how to make web pages.

He happened to take a course at Carlisle College covering all the main software applications and here comes another surprise for readers - he jumped straight into the deep end, excuse the pun, and took on the Advanced Diploma in Computer Applications which is the toughest course the college operated at that time. It was a two year course and without any formal training he walked away not just with top marks but with a career in teaching others at the college and that was on top of holding his full time job.

Paul said: It wan't such a great leap. From the age of 15, I was programming computers and started producing little port scanning programs and other stuff for fun. Some of my software was commercially produced and I helped many others reach the same level as myself." - quizzed further he said: "today, many so called hackers haven't got what it takes - they simply copy viruses that someone else has written. That's no challenge! Half of them don't know how to program a virus - I do believe that real programmers do this to gain employment - programming a brilliant virus is like creating a brilliant CV, and proves their ability all in one go. They also get free global advertising of their skills - that's sweet and it makes me wish I was 15 again - I'd have been a millionaire 10 times over by now!!".

The dream, the reality - Freshwaterdiver
Paul never seems to stop to take in air - maybe that's the secret to his achievements and in particular, his long dives?. On the other hand, neither Kath or Paul smoke - maybe that has a bearing on things. Paul commented "the trouble with smoker divers is that most cant last more than 15 minutes down under - I went in with one guy - we had only just touched 15 metres after ten or less minutes when I gave him an air check, thinking he'd be around 210 or 220 bar. He was at 40 bar and we surfaced immediately. He smoked 60 a day and that was the last ever dive I done with him!!"

"My own dive Buddy has given me some flac over this issue because he smokes, but only lightly and he actually has better air consumption than myself !!- amazing, but I am pleased he is the exception to the rule - he's a good buddy but then I'd have to say that !"

Paul's idea now, was to put on-line all his dive information. But he says it wasn't an easy path. Already he saw several marine websites covering the seas and ocean's he has dived. But few were covering the Lakes and tarns. And so it was.

He said: "Making the web pages was easy, but getting the thing uploaded to the server took several month. He had asked lots of people coming into the shop he managed, if they had any experience of writing and uploading. Many had, but he was amazed at how much trouble they had. He got to know two lads well and they exchanged ideas but they gave up trying to upload. Paul was near the end of his teather with it too - it was then that he met Paul Brown who went on to set up as Paul Brown Computer Services. Meeting someone else who is also mad keen on PC's has been beneficial for both of us he said. Not that the new college skills didn't help. Kath was also getting into PC's and she had taken up a number of computer courses so that she could lend a hand".

It's not been a bed of roses for Paul. He has seen some of his former buddies not walk away from dives. Paul said: "Either they ended up in hospital or worse. Until recently one buddy who he had performed a lot of dives with was still down there after many years searching". He is keen to point out that he had no involvement on that dive.

On March 1st 2000, the first Freshwaterdiver web site came on-line after a three month struggle. She had 4 lakes covering 15 dive sites and made 800 hits that year. A major upgrade and update 12 month later saw the hits climb to 1200 per year. As of writing this article on March 18th 2004, Freshwaterdiver has just gone through 20,009 hits.
Further more, the new Freshwaterdiver 2005 version for launch in January 2005 has now been completed, save for this last article.

Paul said: "I didn't get this far without the help of many people. A patient wife, Kath, who has seen me working on this web site until 4 am in the morning and that has been more the norm than anything else. And to my friend's who have help, but also enjoyed checking through this new site with me. Will M. (Apple Macs), Jim Dick (a Mac technician from a local computer store), Paul Brown (Computer Services), Chris R. and others for their input on the technical side - not to mention many local divers and clubs who have kindly taken me down to those underwater dive sites, and to many others for sending in write-ups on sites. B.J. Everett, Chay Doleman, Geoffrey Chambers, Martin Middlemiss and his bud Alistar. To the mighty Furness Sub Aqua Club - thanks to David Thexton, Dave Skinner. Thanks to BSAC's Noel Wood and the West Lakes branch. Thanks to ScotSac's Solway, Penrith, Carlisle Divers, Red Fox divers and Dumfries branch.

He has dived the Shetlands, Maldives, underwater cities of Gozo and Malta, and so many local Scottish sites it would make you dizzy to reel them all off - but the one place he loved the most was the Moray Firth. He say's "I met everyone up there (on the moray) while doing a stint for the NDC (National Dive Council) and people here were so freindly that Kath and I re-visited the area many, many times". He has dived every point around the Scottish mainland and that includes the Shetland Islands. Surprisingly, he hasn't yet got to the German fleet in Scapa.

Update: October 2005 onward, Paul has been on Radio and TV helping in the Carlisle Floods of January 2005 and then again in October 2005. There was also the Wastwater Gnome story that broke across Europe on TV and in the press which was ushered in by Paul and his buds.

In 2006, he had dived the Greek island of Zante, and in 2007 he plans to have a dunk in the Caribbean and maybe Florida.

For 2007, he just got back from an amazing time diving Grand Cayman in the Caribbean and New Providence Island in the Bahama's. He even paid for a DVD of it all from Red Sail Sports in the Cayman Islands.

Further breaking news for 2007: Paul signs up with ScotSac and Carlisle Divers.

They say there are no old, bold divers and for Paul, towards the end of 2010, was to see him bow out of diving due to work pressures, meaning only one day off per week for diving was not enough. Regretfully, three month later, he was discovered to be suffering from Diabetes type II. So that would as he says "seen him kicked out of diving - perhaps fate?".

He said "The Website will continue for many more years" he promises.
Paul dives with a wild dolphin a few feet away at Amble-on-Sea
Above: The magic of the Dolphins
Below: The antics of Seals.

photo of Paul with a Farne isle seal nibbling at his fins
Photo of Pauls bud in the Shetland isles rescueing a hooked dogfish
Above: We are saving a Dog fish caught in the wreckage of "The Samba", in the "Ness of Sound" at 31 metres.
Below: Saving lives with the "Charity Dive Team" that Paul and Kath brought together involving local Cumbrian divers.

Pauls team of charity divers from across Cumbria
Below: A selection of Pauls favourite dive stories written by him.
a display of dive site stories written by Paul

It has been heart warming, knowing that the countless hours of work and effort put into this web site project has been so warmly appreciated by my fellow divers.
You'll also find my comments and input on the YD and BSAC forums.
It would be a major undertaking to list all the kind comments about freshwaterdiver.com, but here are a few and I certainly havent forgot everyone else's comment.

I must say that I have been using your website for many years now. Our club has arranged quite a few weekends there now staying in either YHA or backpacker accomodation and using your website to work out what dives to do. It is regarded as a bible in our club. York BSAC.

I particularly like the information on sites that are rather difficult to get information on. (ie where you have been there before.) The Lakes are a great place to have a relaxing dive weekend. Regards Gary (YD Forum member)

Until I was reading the site after seeing a link to it on another thread the other day I never knew there were so many places you could dive in the Lakes. Who's up for a YD does lakes this summer then!! Derek "Ratcliff"

V The Story Continued 2012 V

2012 - Webmaster Paul begins his largest project yet - HD Video of the dive sites across Cumbria's Lakes, Tarns, Rivers and Quarries!
Naturally, he hasn't stopped at just doing the filming 'bit', he is also adding invaluable audio, and has even appeared in front of the camera! but says 'I wont be showing those films until later ?! interesting! - whats he up to? - you may well ask, but he's keeping his cards close to his chest for now.

Now into May 2012 ,Paul says: "I've covered the mighty Ullswater, Coniston, Crummock, Loweswater, Buttermere, Haweswater, Grasmere, Thirlmere, Yew Tree tarn to give tarns a mention, I also have Rivers Eden and Esk uploaded - cant recall the others, but Windermere, Wastwater and anything else out there is in the planning stages. I do have more to add to Grasmere and the river Eden. I'll get there in the end. Just need some good spells of dry and relatively sunny weather to complete.

I have all these videos residing on YouTube, in my "Freshwaterdiver1 channel" which was created for 2012 onward.

Now June 5th 2012 and the Queens Jubilee will be a memorable date indeed, as I have now completed the refit and modernisation of Freshwaterdiver!

'I am doing all my own editing too but I must thank Kath, my wife, who is a bit of a golfers caddy in that she carries a lot of my gear to help' . . he adds' AND she's getting her photos shown on tv at pip@itv.com !! - anyway . . . it's not easy when you have a professional Hydrolic fluid head mount and tripod weighting a ton, just so that I can get those super smooth pan shots, which is actually only a recent addition this year! - The first shoot using it, was on the Glenridding Pier and Hotel on the Inn shoot, also the river shots too. I also have the "Stabiliser" which is a bit of a bother when your have to keep re-aligning those counter weights on the assembly but it is very effective when doing walking shots along a lake shoreline for example, or simply filming steps down to a shore line, as using the tripod system takes time to set up and level up using the inbuilt spirit level and rotating that 75mm ball mounting - if you do see any jerkyness its probably because I failed to lock that ball mount down after levelling'.

'I have to say - from a filming point of view that 75mm ball mounting is outstanding once levelled. The ultimate end result is that I dont have to go into heavy post film editing using the Transforms to level out anything that goes pear shaped during a pan across a lake'. So for any budding videoographers out there - be sure to get a tripod with a 75mm ball mount and an hydrolic head for taking those smooth pan shots.

My sincere thanks again, to everyone - and yes, the story will continue onward - so watch our "Whats New" page for all the latest.
 
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