Malta 2011 ( IANTD Full Trimix Course )

My girlfriendbuddy and i decided that it was time to go back to malta for a few days.

And that was what we did.

I booked my course via Paul again – no problems there,

it seems that i found my home base at the Diving Matrix Teclab.

Read the rest of this entry

Vobster TEKCamp 2011 – Review

Finally,

ive made my way back to the continent and have some time on my hands to write this final review on the TEKCamp. Unfortunatly halfway through the camp we had problems with the internet connection, thats why i wasnt able to continue my daily reviews.
However I think everyone at the camp enjoyed it very much, and the experience was new to everybody i think – even the instructors.

It turned out to be such a good atmosphere – smiling faces everywhere :).

Lets talk about the event itself :

My day always started at the campsite, which was included in the whole weeks price for very little extra money. A big flat field of a nearby farm offered the ideal conditions for everyone who is willing to sleep in a tent. If not there were several affordable BnBs around.

At about half seven every morning i made my way to the vobster quay facilities for a shower. After that there was some breakfast ranging from some free porridge to an egg and bacon bap – very english – i liked it.  :)

Martin, the main organizer behind the event held his daily briefing about eight o’clock. Everybody got paired with instructors for the day and then it started straight away.

My workshops the week were :

Monday – Trim and Bouancy with Mark Powell

A fantastic workshop on the basics and essentials to everybody involved with technical diving. Lots of divers lost immense amounts of lead that day and all the cylinder bands went upwards quite a bit. :)

Two dives involving some task loading and some failures. It was really ideal to get aclimatised.

Tuesday – Line Laying and Stage Handling with Rich Walker (GUE).

I think i never before had so much fun with a piece of string before – an extensive dry practice really tuned us in for some line laying underwater. Everything went well and all the communications worked fantasticly, even though we had our eyes closed.

Here is a little video of the Line Laying Dry part.

The Stage handling was very useful aswell. Stage handling represents one of the most tricky skills in technical diving, the ultimate goal is to bring all these components together, trim+bouancy+stage handling+communications.

We started of in the water with only one stage and worked our way up to a 3 stage rotation while ascending.

Wednesday – Tech Rescue with Paul Toomer

A day diving with Paul is always a highlight, as ive been diving with Paul some times before i was really looking forward to this one. Todays Topic was Tech Rescue – quite a serious topic, which is often untouched in technical diving courses. Not today though – weve talked about loads of scenarios.

The beauty with Paul Toomer is that he is one of the few Instructors out there who are able to perform their teaching in such a humoristic but nevertheless wholehearted way.

In the water we covered various scenarious, starting from OOG situations over OOG-No-Mask ascents and we ended up simulating an unconscious diver we had to get through deco, really tricky.

The Conclusion on this one was that there is no right way, it is individually up to you and what you are willing to risk for the victim. What we learned the easy way, is that bringing an unconscious diver through decompression is one of the most difficult scenarios out there.

Thursday – Rebreather and Scooter Dives – Yaaayy

Obviously one of the most wanted workshops to do were the Rebreather and Scooter ones.

In the morning i was on the Sentinel-Expidition with Phil Short on a 75 min one-to-one Dive.

Phil started explaining how the machine works and guided me through the predive checks which of course every diver has to perform personally. After the 5 minute prebreathe we were about ready to go for a little skill circuit about bailout procedures.

Just after that i started to understand why people spend so much money on these units. No bubbles, warm damp air and very different No-Stop times.

The bouancy is in the beginning a bit tricky, but as soon as youre aware that your breath has no affect on your trim anymore youll get it eventually. Another big smile while getting out of the water.

Scooter diving with the WKPP diver John Kendall was also a unique experience.

After carrying out the suprisingly light Halcyon R16 Scooters we got an introduction on the little torpedos :P.

Also important aspects were : why scooter, what are the dangers in scooter diving…

In a nutshell … absolutely brilliant !!! As soon as it is affordable there will definatly be a scooter for me.

Its just unbelievable banter!!!

Friday : General Skills and Drills with Clare Pooley

Suddenly some sad faces were seen during breakfast as this was the last day diving, but they all disappeared after the morning briefing.

I was with the GUE and IANTD Instructor Clare Pooley. The aim of the days workshop was to do some more Tec – Rescue and to work on individual weaknesses. I identified my personal weakness throughout the week as task loading, but i think if instructors throw various problems at you at the same time everybody struggels eventually.

We had a really good dive down to the wrecks in the quarry and had and individual time with the instructor.

A really successful dive and much appreciated among all divers.

Apart from the workshop there was loads more to do :

I cant mention everything … but some irishmen wrote a more detailed review about all the events.

Just an overview here : There were always  2 lunch talks between the dives and food and there also was an evening presentation in the farmhouse near the campsite.

Just a few examples of what i liked the most : 

Paul Toomer : Intro to Tech – Talk : Why do we do tech, best ways to get involved, risks and how to get experience.

Kevin Gurr ( Yesyes “the Kevin Gurr” ) : Rebreather Myths – A very interesting talk about the way he got involved in rebreather diving and what is behind the “Myths” of Rebreather diving ( failures ).

Howard Payne : Diving and Surviving , Diving related dangers from a new angle.

Richard Stevenson : Wreck Expeditions, what you need, what the difficulties are.

Martin Robson : Cave Diving Expeditions and special decompression procedures

Martin Robson : Analyzing Gas, Calibrate ?, CO Analyzer.

Phil Short : Cave Diving. An absolutely stunning presentation about early Cave Diving which was back then more related to Caving than Diving. Projects in Russia he was involved in lately and how crazy you actually have to be to do this stuff. An incredible talk from one greatest survivalists of our time.

Richard Walker : Wreck Diving in Norway , some very spectacular wrecks in crystal clear cosy 5°C water :). These wrecks are definatly on my list for the next few years .

There were also loads of manufacturers who offered their new equipment to try out : Just to mention some Brands :

Suunto, Hollis, Halcyon, VR-Technology, O’Three, Fourth Element and many more.

The whole staff team from Vobster Diving was always very helpful and did all in all an awesome job.

The gas-fills were very cheap (compared to germany) and im very thankful as a student that all the food was delicious and affordable.

I probably could go on and on and on and on…. but i think i would just spoil the fun for you for next year.

If any german diver is interested i would suggest to share a ride to the island to reduce costs.

It was so worth the whole roadtrip i made and i will try as hard as i can to come back last year.

Any questions just use the contact form.
Richard

PS: HA nearly forgot the little compilation i made about the week : Enjoy !!

Vobster TEKCamp Day 3

Yep, i tried to write this yesterday but the battery died while i was doing that.
Lets try again!

 

Day 3 held for me some exciting Tec-Rescue Workshop with Paul Toomer for me, but before all that we had a little warmup with a Breathhold exercise by Phil Short. How to relax when youre lung is absolutely empty and you have to perform a distance to your buddy with the lifeeasing reg ? That really helped.

 

The Tec – Rescue Workshop was absolutely stunning, we had soo much fun, even though the topic is quite a serious one.

Starting with proper gas sharing drills and we ended up simulating an unconscious buddy with deco on the clock .
The Lunch Talks by Jim Dowley and Mark Powell yesterday were about Wreck diving and Cave diving expeditions in egypt.

Some really interesting facts about the geology there were mentioned and when ill go to egypt next time ill definatly come round for some dives.

 

The second dive of the workshop held even more fun for me and gemma, we had an intense shutdown session followed by some stage moving while buddy breathing and no mask exercises. The confidence really went a big step higher after these drills.

The evening talks by martin robson and richie stevenson about cave and wreckdiving expeditions also covering some advanced deco procedures which are neccessary in those environments. Very interesting. It really makes a beginner technical diver think about pursueing some projects myself.

 

Todays ( Thursday day 4 ) Workshop for me is REBREATHER DIVING WITH PHIL SHORT, and thats why im going to stop here, purely because im just too excited!

Richard.

 

Vobster TekCamp Day 2

Soo, day two here almost over.

Breakdown of my day : Riseandshine at 7am, breakfast at 8am, first workshop with the GUE UK Director about line laying at 10.

Workshop 1 : Line Laying.

Ever thought about how to properly lay some line in a wreck, cave or even the open sea ? Here was the answer : lots of dry exercise with eyes closed simulated a no viz situation where we had to find the way back to the start.
Then we put our dry practice underwater and included some extras like : no mask and OOG ( and both ), which was really challenging but i really learned a lot from it.

 

Luch talk : 1 WKPP : by GUE Instructor John Kendall

John Kendall presented us his experience about the Turner-Wakulla sink Connection dive with the WKPP in Florida 2009 which was quite insipring and tempting to start such a project myself aswell.

 

Lunch talk 2 : Diving and Surviving by Howard Payne.

Basicly a very helpful talk about the dos and donts in technical diving, most common problems and incidents in diving and how to avoid them .Im glad i did not miss misse this talk as it really broke down the most common mistakes in advanced diving.

 

 

Workshop 2 : Stage Handling with Richard Walker

 

How to configure a Stage, how to stack them and move them around underwater ? Richard Walker was the prime person to answer these questions. After a intense analizing and and planning on land, we started off underwater with one stage each and ended with a 3 stage movearound while doing an ascend. Obviously no perfection in that can be achieved in one day, but with the brilliant and experienced instructor Richard Walker we certainly got a big step closer to it.

 

 

Now we are going back up to the farm where Rich Walker (again ;)  ) is waiting for us with a talk about his wreck expeditions in norway.

Theres very little time to keep this Blog up to date but im trying as hard as i can.

 

Here are some pictures of the last two days !


I cannot over-emphasize how much it was worth it driving over here !!! Sorry to all the german lads who missed it out :(.

 

Im very sorry about the mess im writing down here, but there is little time to take photo and even less to write blogs.

As soon as im back or have time for it i will write up an extended review on this event which is going to be published further on german websites aswell.

 

Richard

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1 : Fine Tuning

First day is about to be over. Todays topic on the training was fine tuning and of course the mandatory check dive.

I was grouped in with another local diver to the Instructor and famous author Mark Powell ( “Deco for Divers” ), so we went over our equipment config and tried to give it a bit of “fine-tuning”. In my case we worked a lot on my technique operating the valves. which made a big difference to me. When ive got the time i will publish a little article about that.

For lunch was a delicious burger and 3 presentations.

The first one was by Paul Toomer “Intro to technical diving”, then Rich Walker told us about the GUE “Project Baseline”  and the last one was about the Wookey hole by a diver whose name i will add here later  (sorry mate ).
On the second dive we put our corrections and fine tuning into practice by doing another dive in the quarry.
Its a really good atmosphere among the divers and everybody gets to know each other really quickly here.

 

Now im going back to the farm where we will get a few more talks about expeditions, and eventially an early night.

This really is a full on programme!

 

More news tomorrow.

 

Richard

Day 0 : Journey

Not lots to mention here, made it without any problems to Vobster Quay Dive Centre. Arriving in late hours i was welcomed with some delicous Jacket Potato and Chicken by Martin and the other VB Staff members. Thanks for that :) i really appreciated it after that drive!!!

Vobster TEKcamp Episode : 0 – The day before depature.

Dive Gear – check, Tent(s) – check, enough undwear – check ;),

So here we are, the car is sitting fully fueld in the garage. Tire pressure is checked and its just been through a service, so there shouldnt be any issues getting to england. The ferry ticket is printed out and the gps is all setup for a drive over Wiesbaden to Bonn to Brussels to Dünkirchen to Orpington and finally Upper Vobster where the dive centre is. 1400 km total. That fact speaks for me being a dive-addict.

Ill be starting tomorrow at 0800 and i aim to catch the 4pm ferry to dover. It is going to be a long day and im looking forward to get to sleep in the tent on the campsite.

Im sure its going to be a great week with lots of useable knowledge, skills and fun!
See you tomorrow in Vobster Quay.

Richard

final adjustments

The last week before my dive trip towards england starts.

Ill set off on a very early sunday mornig towards brussels to pick up some people joining me for the drive to london. From there i will have to make it to the ferry till 4pm. Arriving in Dover at about 6pm and dropping the people off at 8pm in london-orpington.

That means i would be arriving at half 9 in Vobster Quay at the earliest, and then to put my tent up in the dark – yey…

 

However … it thought it’d be sensible make a few more preparations with my equipment, so i installed a P-Valve and two pockets in my drysuit.

Really excited about the whole event. Meeting the most skilled and experienced technical divers and diving with them.

:)

 

 

 

More Gas capacity.

Finally – adding a stage to my equipmentlist extends the limits of my dives significantly.

I decided to start with a 7L Luxfer Stage, which is not as bulky as a 80cft. but still has more capacity than a 40cft. .

When ive got multiple stages – the small 7L will contain the highest mix.

The cylinder is equipped with a Halcyon Valve and a Halcyon Rigginkit and Sherwood rubberknobs.

So the finest possible. I got it at the deepstop diving shop near mannheim where i found a very friendly and skilled team.

Ive rigged a oxygen cleaned Seemann SL25 and a SL600 second stage on it.

My first deeper dive with it in the sparmann quarry coming up on wednesday.

R.

New Light !

Okay, after a while a new post here. Meanwhile ive done about 4 dives in local quarrys/lakes

which proofed my expectations towards my new canister light.

here are some facts about it :

The manufacturer is quite new on the market, the brand name is ” light-for-me” and has its origins in poland,

but now moved to London.

Maybe they should have had a second thought towards the name ;) .

The whole company is all about LED lights – starting from

backup lights with a light output of 1000lumens to a whole professional video-setup.

Ive got the 4Tec – Torch in the 3 hour version. The name pretty much tells it all.

This light is designed for technical divers – who need a canister light with a sufficient light output

and an battery capacity that meets their diving requirements. But whats new about this ?

Weve seen loads of these cheap LED Canister lights come and go.

The main reason of this is that so far usually only the expensive HID Technology

was able to meet the requirements for light intensity, battery capacity and

focusability to enable the diver to communicate using the light.

 

LED Technology isnt focusable – and that meant that theres no narrow beam angle that could generate clear underwater signals.

But the 4Tec torch has a fixed narrow focus that allows very clear underwater signals.

The torch comes completly assembled with a goodman handle and a charger.

Also a cordura pocket is included which allows to wear the torch on the harness without any metal straps.

This Youtube Video demonstrates the focus and light power of the torch.

The clear advantage of the LED is that the LED bulb has a lifetime of over 100000 hours,

and emitts less heat than the HID which results in less power consumption and smaller battery packs.

The battery pack of the size of a normal 0,5 beer can allows to use the torch on the 100% setting for 3 hours.

You can run the LED in the 100% or the 10% setting, which is still very bright.

The switch is located on the light head. The rotary magnetic switch also will not compromise

the integrity of the lighthead housing itself.

The manufacturer claims that the 4Tec Lighthead gives an output of 1200 Lumens, but as we all know these values arent very comparable.

One big advantage is also the price – i ordered my torch for roughly 420€ from the UK.

Comparable HID Lights start at 800€.

But to be honest the one minor thing i dont like is that i cant detatch the light head – as it is recommended for travelling.

For any further information about the torch visit the Manufacturers Website.

Ill provide an inwater video of the torch as soon as possible.
Regards
Richard

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