CAVE DIVING IN SPAIN'S MURCIA REGION
IN THE HOTSEAT Q&A WITH PAUL TOOMER AND JILL HEINERTH
‣ Cornwall ‣ Australia ‣ Cayman Islands ‣ Backmount v sidemount
PAUL V TOOMER
On behalf of all of us at RAID, I would like to welcome you to the first edition of The Edge. Although this magazine is ‘Powered by RAID’, it has been designed to be as inclusive as possible, so please feel free to share it with anyone that either dives, or is interested in diving. This is a publication for all – those wanting to become divers, certified divers, Divemasters, Instructors, Instructor Trainers and dive centres, no matter what agency. The Edge is NOT a professional-only publication. Even if you are a non-professional diver, I encourage you to look at the TRAINING UPDATES pages, as this is where we announce new standards, updates to standards, and protocol changes. Professionals reading this magazine are welcome to use the information to make you more accomplished as an industry leader, all we ask is that you confirm with your agency that anything you use fits in with their training standards.
Welcome to the first issue of the RAID magazine, The Edge! Within these pages, you will find a wide array of articles and resources that I hope will be useful to you, regardless of where you find yourself on your own diving journey. From the sharks of New South Wales to the ice caves of Antarctica and beyond, you will get to encounter many of these wondrous spots through personal stories from experienced divers. RAID’s diving gurus have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share, too, and we’re excited to share some of their tips with you throughout! My hope is twofold: that you are encouraged and inspired by the anecdotes and advice shared in this issue, and that you feel empowered to jump into new, unfamiliar waters as you continue on your diving journey.
PAUL TOOMER | President
JASON ALEXANDER | CEO
EDITOR and PRESIDENT OF DIVING Paul Toomer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jason Alexander Email: email@example.com
Mark Evans Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
DESIGN & PRODUCTION MANAGER Matt Griffiths Email: email@example.com
Ross Arnold Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rork Media Limited 71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, England, WC2H 9JQ
Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the views of the publishers. Copyright for material published remains with Rork Media Limited and RAID. Use of material from RAID magazine is strictly prohibited unless permission is given. All advertisements of which the creative content is in whole or in part the work of Rork Media Limited remain the copyright of Rork Media Limited. Cover image courtesy of Jason Brown
ON THE COVER CUEVA DEL
CAVE DIVING IN SPAIN'S MURCIA REGION
IN THE HOTSEAT Q&A WITH PAUL TOOMER AND JILL HEINERTH
‣ Cornwall ‣ Australia ‣ Cayman Islands ‣ Backmount v sidemount
12 Q&A: Paul Vincent Toomer
The latest news from our watery world.
16 The Dive Files
A focus on a particular RAID centre, starting with Pro Dive in Australia.
42 Jeffrey Glenn
Introduction to columnist Jeff Glenn.
44 The Dive Files
This time the focus is on Rocktopus in Thailand.
64 Jill Heinerth
In her first column, Jill collates a Rebreather Diver’s Code of Conduct.
74 Prof. Timmy Gambin
Prof. Gambin on Malta’s Phoenician shipwreck.
We chat to RAID President of Diving Paul Vincent Toomer about tech diving, closed-circuit rebreathers and where RAID is going in the future.
Whistlestop tour of some of the stand-out dive sites throughout the Egyptian Red Sea, including the offshore Brother Islands.
Adrian Stacey embarks on a NSW drive ‘n’ dive trip, this time stopping off to dive with the grey nurse sharks off South Solitary Island marine park.
34 Q&A: Jill Heinerth
We talk to Jill Heinerth about epic expeditions, massive icebergs, cave exploration, and shooting documentaries.
38 The Cayman Islands
Overview of the diving in the Cayman Islands, which offer a sublime mix of walls, reefs and wreck diving.
HINTS AND ADVICE
46 United Kingdom
24 Dive Like A Pro
The team ventures off the South Coast of England, exploring the diving in Cornwall - not to mention the fabled cream teas...
60 TECHNICAL: Backmount vs sidemount
We look at the pros and cons of backmount and sidemount, by getting a single-cylinder diver to trial both styles.
66 Diving in the era of COVID-19
RAID medical advisor Doug Ebersole MD looks at the future of diving in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
70 TECHNICAL: Spain
Garry Dallas ventures underground into the Cueva Del Agua in the Murcia region of Spain.
76 TECHNICAL: Bikini Atoll
Aron Arngrimsson waxes lyrical about Operation Crossroads, and then explores the famous wreck of the USS Saratoga aircraft carrier.
Hints on how to improve your dive skills, beginning with buoyancy, from senior RAID instructional team PJ Prinsloo, Ian France and Oli van Overbeek .
54 Shoot Like A Pro
UW photo pros Paul Duxfield, Mario Vitalini, and Anne and Phil Medcalf offers some sage advice on how to travel with your camera kit.
GEAR GUIDE 84 Test Extra
Mark Evans reviews a selection of products, including the Apeks MTX-RC regulator, xDeep NX Zen wing, and Aqua Lung i200C, and with the assistance of guest reviewer Samara Ironside, the Santi Diving E.Motion + Ladies First drysuit.
Each issue of The RAID Way, we will be scouring the globe to bring together the latest RAID, and general dive industry, news from all over our water planet
RAID JOINS FORCES WITH
DEPTHERAPY TO CREATE NEW ADAPTIVE TEACHING PROGRAMMES
ollowing a presentation at the GO Diving Show in Coventry, UK, at the end of February, scuba diving rehabilitation charity Deptherapy has announced that it is working on a series of exciting new programmes with diver training agency partner RAID. These new programmes are destined to transform scuba diving training for all abilities. Award-winning Deptherapy is the acknowledged world leader in Adaptive Teaching – training those with lifechanging mental and/or physical challenges through specially designed scuba diving programmes that enable divers to achieve standard agency certifications. Many of Deptherapy’s programme members have suffered limb loss and other significant physical injuries. 80 per cent of members are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other chronic mental illness. Sadly, people with all kinds of disability are still actively discriminated against inside and outside the scuba diving industry. However, the work of Deptherapy has shown that even those with massive injuries can still meet all the standards required to become main agency qualified divers without the stigma of ‘disability’ being shown on their certification card.
Successful Adaptive Teaching requires considerable additional effort from the instructional team, working very closely with the student, to think ‘out of the box’ so that the individual can achieve the required standard. Until now, the majority of Deptherapy programme members have been UK Armed Forces veterans, but the charity has long been a champion of the cause to make scuba diving accessible to all those with disabilities. Moving forwards with RAID, Deptherapy and its training arm Deptherapy Education are now working towards extending their programme to push the boundaries of Adaptive Teaching for a wider cohort, as well as offering an alternative for those with disabilities or medical conditions that mean standard certifications are unachievable. Richard Cullen, Chair of Deptherapy explains: “The Deptherapy Team is realistic, and we know from experience that some divers will not be able to achieve the standard certifications, even with Adaptive Teaching, due to the nature of their illness or injury. For instance, a quad amputee or a quadriplegic cannot complete all the skills required but they can still dive on a limited certification, providing they do so
ENRICH YOUR GAME
THE BEST THING IN NITROX DIVING SINCE NITROX
with the support of a qualified team trained to support a diver with extreme levels of disability. “In partnership with RAID we are working on a new model of Adaptive Teaching, but also we want to provide limited certifications similar to the old D1D3 levels for those divers who are unable to meet required standards.” A new training programme for dive professionals is being finalised to facilitate the new teaching models. The new Deptherapy / RAID course for Instructors and Divemasters will prepare trainers to teach adaptively, to understand disability, to make realistic assessments and, most importantly, to support their student through the challenges of becoming a diver. The diver training programmes will then be available through RAID dive centres worldwide. Paul Toomer, President of Diving at RAID, says: “Deptherapy is unique in its vast experience of working with divers with all types of challenges. The diving world does discriminate against those with disabilities and the easy way has been to qualify them as ‘disabled divers’. We want to see a new approach, one that firstly looks at how a student could reach mainstream certification by adapting skills. If that is not achievable, then we will work to qualify them under the D1-D3 system. We are bringing together professionals from the RAID community worldwide to work on this major project.” Depending on COVID-19, Deptherapy and RAID plan to run a pilot Dive Professionals course in Autumn 2020, with the remainder of the training courses rolling out from January 2021. For more information about Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education, visit www.deptherapy.co.uk
ENDEAVOUR FUND 2020 – DEPTHERAPY’S TOM OATES WINS HENRY WORSLEY AWARD
Inspirational members of the Armed Forces Community who were injured or fell ill in service have been named as the winners of the Endeavour Fund Awards, recognising their determination to recover, help support others and achieve excellence in their sport or adventurous challenge – and Deptherapy’s Tom Oates took a prestigious honour. The awards are held annually to celebrate the achievements of those injured in service and recognise the fortitude needed to take the next steps in their lives. Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, attended the ceremony to meet the inspiring winners and nominees from the life-changing Endeavour Fund work. Tom was one of three people put forward for the Henry Worsley Award. This award is presented to the individual who has best inspired others through the demonstration of determination in the face of adversity, while endeavouring to support others with their recovery through sport or adventurous challenge. This was presented to Tom by The Duke of Sussex and Max Worsley. Tom said: “I have never won anything in my life before so winning the Endeavour Fund’s Henry Worsley Award is unbelievable, Without the support of Deptherapy and the Endeavour Fund I would not be alive; this Award is a true milestone for me. I hope I can give back to the charity by being a Champion for our project ‘Protecting Our Oceans’ and by supporting veterans who are new to the Programme.”
Since we first opened the doors as a training agency, RAID has built a reputation for innovation, agility, and change. That’s the way we think. That’s the way we do business. But few things on our list of “firsts” come close to our online Nitrox Virtual Analyzer. In a response to the need for instructors to teach remotely, and considering the Nitrox course is one of the most popular diver specialties—plus the issues with certifying a diver at that level—we have released the Nitrox Virtual Analyzer app—Powered by RAID. Most nitrox students do not own—or, at least, have easy access to—a nitrox analyzer, and this is the most elegant and simple solution to the problem. Download the app to your mobile device (iOS and Android) now by following the links below and see for yourself. GOOGLE PLAY STORE
https://play.google.com/store/apps/ details?id=ds.VAnalyzer APPLE APP STORE
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ nitrox-virtual-analyzer/id1505174941?mt=8 We think it’s brilliant, and we hope you do too. Essentially, it’s designed to show divers who have enrolled in a Nitrox course the basic functions of an oxygen analyzer: turnon, calibrate, manage flow, note the result in a nitrox fill log, and apply the results to the dive plan. The Nitrox Virtual Analyzer helps take the mystery out of preparing for a nitrox dive. During a REMOTe-Training session with their instructor— via video conferencing —divers get to see the real thing being demonstrated. Of course, when they actually do a nitrox dive, they will use a real analyzer. At that point, though, they will already be comfortable with its functions. With RAID, and thanks to the Nitrox Virtual Analyzer, divers who earn a certification will have a level of familiarity with checking their gas before using it in the real world. GET STARTED Visit www.diveRAID.com to take your diving to the next level.
THE HIDDEN PLANET
NEWS ROUND-UP YOUR TICKET TO INNERSPACE How many times have you really looked at something so beautiful that it took your breath away? How many times have you looked around at your buddy and realized that, in the whole history of the world, there have only been a handful of people who have traveled to that place? Cave diving gives this kind of unparalleled experience every time. RAID’s cave diving program was written by people who have spent years sharing their love of the overhead environment with people like you. It has been their life’s work to train people to safely explore places that are incredibly stunning and unique—where the tracks of rain that fell thousands of years ago are traced in limestone formations RAID’s Cave 1 and Cave 2 Diver programs were created with a fresh and realistic approach to modern diving techniques and equipment. They take overhead diving to a level that sets our cave divers apart from the pack. Cave diving has always been considered a pinnacle diver program. The overhead environment demands respect and the sharpest technique. Without training, an overhead can swiftly become threatening and confusing. With training, caves are beautiful, intriguing challenges that reward certified cave divers with an unrivaled experience. History, geology, timeless and unique. If you agree, you should be cave diving the RAID way. WHAT YOU WILL LEARN • New student materials that reflect modern best practices • No cavern prerequisites • Making safety fun and accessible • Setting the bar higher • Comprehensive progression from Cave 1 Diver to Cave 2 Diver • Penetration of up to 300 meters/1000 feet for Cave 1 Diver; no limit in Cave 2 Diver PREREQUISITES Cave 1 Diver You must: • Be a minimum of 18 years old. • Be a certified diver for at least 3 months. • Be certified in RAID Nitrox, Deep 40, and Master Rescue Diver (or equivalent) and have experience in Navigation and Night and Limited Visibility diving. • Be certified in RAID First Aid and Oxygen Provider or equivalent. • Have logged 50 hours underwater or 75 dives using open circuit. Cave 2 Diver In addition to the Cave 1 prerequisites, you must: • Be certified as a RAID Cave 1 Diver or equivalent. • Be certified in RAID Deco 50 or equivalent. • Have logged at least 10 Cave 1 dives beyond training. GET STARTED Visit www.diveRAID.com to take your diving to the next level.
UK – Olivier van Overbeek has been appointed the position of RAID UK Training Manager. He has been a RAID Instructor Trainer for five years and has worked as a consultant for both RAID UK and RAID International. James Rogers, Managing Director for RAID UK, is thrilled with Oli’s decision to join RAID UK and commented that the agency would benefit greatly from his energy and experience. Given that Oli regularly works with RAID International on course design and consulting for the training department, it seemed only logical for him to fill this position and partner with the UK team. Oli’s role will include training support and the acquisition of new dive centres and professionals. He will also assist in creating regular HQ-led events to help RAID professionals and dive centres succeed. South Africa – PJ Prinsloo, Director of Technical Diving at RAID Southern Africa, has become a member of the prestigious Explorers Club. RAID President Paul Toomer said: “We are honoured to have PJ on our team, his role has been pivotal in so many projects and he has also been responsible for the development and release of several of our most-innovative courses.” PJ himself said: “So proud to be listed as a member of The Explorers Club. Thankful for the guidance of so many people but especially grateful to my nominating sponsors Jill Heinerth and Paul Vincent Toomer. Many great adventures to look forward to.” Australia – It is always great to see new recruits to the RAID professional family congratulations to the six brand-new RAID instructors from Pro Dive Sydney, who completed their Instructor Examination in March. Congratulations to Luke Davies, their Instructor Trainer, who did an amazing job getting everyone prepared to become RAID Instructors. From left – Hayden ‘Manly’ Van Vlimmeren, Eleni Kapeleris, Taylor Marin, Rafael Galdino, ‘Even’ Carlos Arteaga and Kristen Jia, with Steve Bates in the front.
There are many moments like this in the future.
TIME TRAVEL TODAY DIVE INTO FREE-LEARNING WITH RAID ADVENTURE AND EXPLORATION THROUGHOUT THE AGES “Shipwreck”—what an amazing word. Whether you’re a diver or not, the word conjures up magical images and stories in your imagination, regardless of your age. Pirates, Romans, fighter planes, destroyers, submarines—they’re all there, waiting to be discovered and dived. As wonderful as it is to dive on the outside of a wreck, wouldn’t you like a taste of what’s inside? Could there be treasure? You may not add gold to your bank account, but what you may find on a shipwreck dive will certainly be gold to your soul: passageways, portholes, engine rooms, and so much more. As you dive through the inside of a wreck, you cannot help but imagine what it must have been like to crew or captain that vessel. WE HAVE TWO RECREATIONAL WRECK SPECIALTIES • Wreck Diver for those who want to enjoy the view from outside (no wreck penetration) • Advanced Wreck for those who want to adventure inside (wreck penetration) These wreck specialties are designed to extend your knowledge and skills as a wreck diver, including the best and safest ways to explore the exterior and interior. WHAT YOU WILL LEARN You will learn about safe gear configuration and focus on history, industrial archaeology, and environmental consciousness. You will understand the challenges of finding, getting to, and meeting the special conditions of wrecks, including those that are casualties of war, intentional reefs, or victims of the weather or poor seamanship. You will also learn how to: • Choose appropriate wreck sites. • Recognize hazards and risks. • Recognize and use the appropriate gear for wreck diving, including the use of a two-meter/seven-foot long hose. • Lay line—externally and internally. • Enter the overhead environment without damaging it or yourself. PREREQUISITES Wreck Diver You must: • Be 12 years of age. • Be certified in Open Water 20 or equivalent. Advanced Wreck You must: • Be 15 years of age. • Be certified in Explorer 30 or equivalent. GET STARTED Visit www.diveRAID.com to take your diving to the next level.
RAID, always the innovator, has made sure that everyone, from non-divers to instructor trainers, can have complete access to every level of their extensive online academics and quizzes – for free. All RAID programmes will be available to everyone visiting and registering on: www.diveraid.com Paul Toomer, President of RAID International, said that opening up the company’s full curriculum for anyone to browse is part of what he referred to as ‘The RAID Way’. He explained: “We do not want to stand in the way of anyone staying engaged with the sport, especially now.” Peter Nohren, RAID Product Manager, added that the initiative will allow visitors to the RAID website to login and have immediate access to dozens of RAID diver training programmes. “That includes everything from Try Dive to Cave instructor. Even visitors who currently have not created a profile on the RAID site will find becoming a member of the RAID tribe and setting up a personal profile is a very simple process.” “Once that’s done,” Nohren said, “they can work their way through programmes chapter by chapter, quiz by quiz, and learn something interesting. Perhaps something they want to pursue and earn certification for when that’s possible. We realise that right now, most of us are not able to get our usual underwater fix, but with RAID’s FREe-Learning, you can get ready for when we can.” At that time, Toomer explained, “RAID members can pick a dive centre to finish their programme, open up the final exam for the courses they’ve completed (as long as they meet the prerequisites) and go diving, with their instructor of choice.”
ACCESS OPENED TO EIGHT NEW TECHNICAL-DEPTH WRECKS IN MALTA Malta is home to a multitude of wartime shipwrecks and airplane remains, and now this veritable underwater fleet has been bolstered by the announcement that eight new technical-depth wrecks have been made officially accessible to divers. The eight wrecks present a dive into history, and each of the sites has a story to tell – in some cases, a tragic one. Pre-Dreadnought battleship HMS Russell sank on 27 April 1916 when it struck a mine. She took 125 men to the bottom with her, and can now be found in 114m. World War One minesweeper HMS Nasturtium ironically sank into 67m after hitting a mine just one day after the HMS Russell, but thankfully only seven crew were lost. The sister ship to the HMS Southwold – already a popular techwreck off Malta – joined its sibling after hitting a mine on 16 Juner 1942. The HMS Oakley, at the time carrying the name ORP Kujawiak and in the Polish Navy, now lies in 90m. Making it a clean sweep for mines, the HMT Trusty Star – a trawler requisitioned during World War Two and put into action as a minesweeper – sank after hitting a mine on 10 June 1942 and plummeted to 85m. The final shipwreck is a British collier, SS Luciston, which was torpedoed on 29 November 1916 and can now be found in 105m. Rounding out the new sites are three aircraft remnants – a Junkers 88 bomber, which sits in 60m off Bahar ic-Caghaq, a Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber biplane that lies at 55m, and an unidentified plane down at 90m. At least four more tech-wrecks are due to be announced shortly.
Paul demonstrating some nifty cylinder handling skills
Paul Toomer is a true icon of the British dive industry, and after stints with both PADI and SSI, he became co-owner of his very own diving agency, RAID. We talked to Toomer about how he got into diving, what drives his interests, and where he sees himself in the future PHOTOGRAPHS BY DANNY BARBER, LISA TOOMER, OLIVIER VAN OVERBEEK, ROBIN ADAMS, ROZ LUNN AND VOLKER KONIETZKO 12
Q: It is safe to say that you can be classed as a living legend in the British diving industry. What do you think is the secret of your success, as you have seemingly risen from the ashes more times than the phoenix? A: You are far too kind, ‘they say you are what you eat, and I don’t remember eating a legend’. I don’t really have a secret, I guess my love and passion for this sport, and all the people who participate in it, is a major part of it. It has never wavered, in fact it’s always just got stronger. I still love teaching, exploring, writing and travelling. I refuse to ever give in, and ‘perseverance’ is essential. At the end of the day, I’m just a diver. I swear, with hard work and perseverance, anyone can do what I have done. Q: You are known for being a highly experienced technical diver, but do you still get that same rush from going on a recreational dive?
A: Absolutely! I don’t wear all the rebreathers and cylinders because I like the ‘bling’(well maybe, sometimes, ha ha), I use them because they allow me to do my dream dives. If I could get into a wreck at 100m and spend 20 minutes having fun down there, on a single tank, I would be doing it. I like to wear gear appropriate to the dive. If I’m doing a recreational nodeco dive, you’ll find me in a single tank, that’s for sure. I also teach a lot of new recreational Instructor Trainers, and I always wear the same equipment as my students, so single tank it is. I do use a wing and backplate with a long hose regulator set-up, however. Q: There are many dive training agencies out there. After holding high-level positions within both PADI and SSI, what do you think makes RAID stand out from the crowd, and how will this new acquisition by Kalkomey/Inverness Graham Investments shape the future of the company? A: There are many agencies out there, and I guess most people wonder if there is space for another one. Here is my take on it – there are seven billion people on this planet and between all the agencies, we issue around one-and-a-half million certifications per year. That’s not new diver certifications, but total certifications across the board. So, what about the other six billion something people that don’t dive. I believe we all have a huge opportunity. RAID is unique in that it is current. By this I mean - we are environmentally friendly, totally digital; we have never produced or shipped a single book; we are technologically advanced, being born from recreational rebreather means we had to merge recreational and technical from day one,
PAUL TOOMER WWW.DIVERAID.COM
times. You can’t go to a dive site or get on a boat without seeing at least one. Aside from slightly more complex training and their initial cost, there are huge benefits to diving a rebreather. You are warmer, your mouth is not dry, you can make longer no-decompression dives and the best of all, since rebreathers make no bubbles, the fish smother you, they don’t swim off when you exhale. With the advent of advanced electronics and some of the safety features available on most rebreathers, we feel it is safe to allow someone to climb onto a recreational rebreather really early in their diving career. Kevin Gurr, my friend and rebreather designer, once told me, ‘when you start rebreather diving, you have to unlearn how you dive’. With that in mind, if a diver is capable and wants to dive a rebreather, why should we make them do 1,000 open circuit courses before they can realise their dreams. This is, after all, 2020 and not 1978.
Chilling on the surface after a dive Paul loves his CCRs
and this still echoes through all our programmes; we protect our divers, instructors, trainers and centres through a dynamic quality assurance system. Our divers know, to the minutest detail, exactly what they need to achieve, and they have to sign off on it. One missing confirmation and the certification cannot be issued; we are totally paper free, even our medical and liability releases are online. This also means our student record files can never be lost, and our dive centres never have the responsibility to keep them; and we are a truly ‘neutrally buoyant while in trim’ agency. Our divers emulate our logo. Let’s face it, RAID is cool! Regarding the amazing merger with Kalkomey, we are simply thrilled. They are an online sports certification company and their knowledge of tech is amazing. They are perfect partners for us, they bring new ideas, new products and a massive new marketing drive. With Kalkomey, RAID can achieve all the goals that we dreamed of when we started this. RAID Kalkomey is the future, mark my words, ha ha. Q: You are a massive proponent of closed-circuit rebreathers, and through RAID you can qualify on one at an early level. What makes you think these advanced pieces of equipment are suited to freshly certified divers? A: Let’s get this perfectly straight, I don’t like rebreathers, I love them. I have a deep meaningful relationship with my rebreathers. Rebreathers have come on a long way in recent
Just in case we didn’t notice what light he was using...
The Toomer grin
Q: Having been in the industry for a very long time, who has been instrumental in guiding your development as a dive instructor? A: This answer is going to be looooooong! I have been tremendously lucky and the industry as a whole has nurtured me. It’s been very kind to me and I’ve managed to work with some incredible people. I learned to dive with Steve Axtell and Phil Short - that must
give you an indication of how my career ‘jump’ started. Both of them were, and still are, extremely influential in how I dive and the decisions I make. I have worked with incredible technical instructors and friends, like Jill Heinerth, Steve Lewis, Tom Mount, Randy Thornton, Simon Mitchell, Pete Mesley, Kevin Gurr, Dave Thompson… Man, there are so many amazing people in my life that to mention them all would probably fill your whole magazine. I am a lucky little b*****d, as my wife says. Q: Having dived all over the world for many, many years, can you name your top five locations to dive, and explain why they hold such a special place in your heart? A: This is a difficult question as there are so many amazing places out there. I’ll give it a go. In no particular order: Malin Head – 6,000 wrecks in one bay, and when you are done diving, you have the most-hospitable, funny people on the planet looking after you. Bikini Atoll – The wrecks here are like nothing you have ever seen or experienced. Super warm water, incredible wrecks and nuclear sharks. It’s not cheap to go. Sell a kidney, it’s worth it. Galapagos – I call it Benidorm for fish. All the world’s fish go here on holiday. I have never seen anything like it. Thousands of hammerhead sharks, turtles, whalesharks, Galapagos sharks, whitetips, sea lions, dolphins. Honestly, no ‘fish’ dive will ever be the same after Galapagos. Scapa Flow – I have been super lucky to have been invited to be part of an incredible expedition team up in Scapa. What an amazing place. If you have not dived here and you come from the UK, you need to have a word with yourself. It’s incredible. Malta – My home from home. The wrecks of Malta are now world-renowned, it’s like the Truk Lagoon of the Mediterranean. I am also extremely lucky to be involved with an amazing expedition team in Malta as well. I love Malta, not just for the wrecks, but the people, the atmosphere, the fun. Q: You have been involved in several high-profile expeditions and projects. Which ones will stay with you the most? A: Now this is difficult to answer, but I think the Phoenician wreck and the HMS Olympus in Malta, and, of course, the Hampshire in Scapa Flow. You have no idea how honoured I am to have been involved in these amazing expeditions. Watch this space… Q: Your son Sebastian is growing up fast. Will he be following in your footsteps as a diver, and what are your views on children getting into diving? A: He’s an amazing boy. He’s nuts about the water and desperate to dive. I’m teaching his cousin, who is 11 at the moment, and because Sebastian is only six, he cannot learn yet. He is not amused. Demonstrating skills
Paul in action...
...and young Sebastian following suit
Paul loves his adrenaline sports
I think learning at ten years old is wonderful. Our children are our future. As long as we keep our little ones safe, then I am all good with them diving. I think the industry has done a great job of involving them, while protecting them at the same time. I have little doubt that my Sebastian will follow in my footsteps. I have no doubt that he will eclipse everything I have done. He’s twice as crazy as I am, so get ready. Q: What is your most-memorable moment while diving? A: Seeing the Hampshire appear underneath me. I was at 50m and I could see the enormous props illuminated by these huge lights the 3D guys were using. I think a little bit of wee came out of me. Q: On the flipside, what is your worst moment while diving? A: I’d rather not make this sad, as I have been involved in some awful rescues, as have many of my peers. I guess my worst moment is when someone gives me the worst signal any diver can give to another. No, not the ‘bird’, but the thumbs up. How come on the surface the thumbs-up signal means all is cool, but in the water, it means I have to ascend and get out. I hate that signal. n
Light-hearted profile of RAID dive centres from all over the world. This issue, it is the turn of Pro Dive in Sydney.
Who is in
Names: Rod de Groot Rank: Instructor Trainer Date of first certification: November 1990 Number of dives to date: 5,500 WHAT’S YOUR STORY? I was raised into a family that ran a scuba diving business, so I have been surrounded by diving for all my life. To be perfectly honest, I had really no desire to become involved in scuba as a teennager growing up. I was working scuba retail from 15 years of age but even though I had been diving, it really wasn’t a passion at that point. A few schoolmates decided they wanted to learn to dive in 1990. Once we achieved that, we all had our own gear and just started diving on a regular basis. From there over the next few years, I became a dive pro and by July 1994, I was an Instructor. Scuba is a very social activity so teaching, and taking dive trips, really appealled to me. I guess you could say by that stage, I was hooked and have progressed to running and owning a few dive centres in Sydney.
Q&A Q: How would you describe your team at your dive centre? A: Very energetic, hard working and a lot of fun. Q: What is your most-embarrassing teaching moment? A: Gee, one that springs to mind is grabbing the wrong-sized wetsuit. The funny part was that that I was front zip and I couldn’t quite get it zipped up the front. It looked like a Freddie Mercury outfit underwater. I got quite a few laughs that day. Q: What is your favourite place to dive in your local waters? A: Shore dive at Shark Point and boat dive at Long Reef. Q: What is your favourite place to dive abroad? A: Cocos Island, Costa Rica. Q: If you could change one thing about diving, what would it be? A: The buoyancy of the wetsuit.
Q: Who is the worst air-guzzler in your team? A: We don’t have any gas guzzlers to mention at the moment. Q: Who is the biggest wimp out of the lot of you, and give a recent example? A: Daniel Giaro, our Portuguese Instructor. Had to hold his hand on his first dive at Shark Point as he was very nervous about diving here in Sydney. He is all good now! Q: Who attracts the most attention, good or bad? A: Turtle mainly, due to his loudness and ‘man bun’. Q: If you could teach a celebrity to dive, who would it be and why? A: Margot Robbie - do I need to explain myself? Q: What’s been the biggest fear factor in your diving career to date? A: Only one moment of slight concern was losing orientation in a wreck in Truk Lagoon for about 30 seconds. That elevated the heart rate but as we say, Stop, Think then Act!
Why you should
JOIN OUR CLUB LOCAL DIVING TRIPS Wooli Norther NSW, I would argue is as good as diving gets great location, and fantastic facilities. The diving is a combination of tropical and warm temperate. Water temperature varies between 18 degrees C/67 degrees F to 28 degrees C/82 degrees F, so you can see manta rays, turtles, tropical fish and coral plus colder species such as grey nurse sharks, blue grouper and a whole host of other marine life. FOREIGN DIVE TRIPS Cocos Island - Just an amazing amount of marine life, from schooling hammerhead sharks, whitetips, blacktips, silvertips, silky whalers, Galapagos and whalesharks. Then you have an incredible amount of pelagic fish, such as yellowfin tuna, jack, rainbow runner and the list goes on. Oh yeah, I forgot about tiger sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, marble rays and turtles. Did I mention on one trip we had multiple encounters with orca? TRAINING FACILITIES We have two facilities, one in Coogee, the other in Brookvale. We offer full dive training up to Instructor level, gear hire, gear sales and servicing, along with guided dives from the boat and shore. In addition, we also offer dive travel.
DIVE CENTRE factfile Contact details Pro Dive Coogee 27 Alfreda Street, Coogee Tel: +61 2 9665 6333 Website: www.prodive.com.au Pro Dive Manly 9 Sydenham Road, Brookvale Tel: +61 2 9977 5966 Website: www.prodive.com.au Opening hours 9am-5pm each day.
Courses available Learn to dive through to Instructors. Rental kit and brand / Shop Seac, Tusa, Cressi and Suunto. Gas mixes Air and nitrox. Servicing Yes.
Red Sea walls are dramatic and full of colour and life
Red Sea aficionado Mark Evans has dived the length and breadth of Egypt over the past 20-odd years, and here he showcases ten of the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;must diveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; sites/areas PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK EVANS
he Egyptian Red Sea is a hotspot for adventurous divers for several reasons. One, it has a great year-round climate. Two, it boasts some of the best diving in the world. Three, it represents exceptionally good value for money, both land-based trips and liveaboards. There are resorts and marinas scattered throughout Egypt, from Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab on the Sinai Peninsula, to El Gouna, Hurghada, Safaga, El Quseir and Marsa Alam. Dayboats and liveaboards can deliver you to fantastic reefs, exhilarating drift dives, awesome shipwrecks and mind-blowing walls, all smothered in colourful coral growth and myriad species of marine life. Here we showcase ten hotspots to add to your bucket list.
Manta ray cruises by off Daedalous Reef Giannis D
Turtle relaxing at Ras Mohammed
Red anemone on Woodhosue Reef
It would be hard to write about the best dive sites or areas in the Red Sea without mentioning the Thistlegorm. Sunk by German bombers in October 1941, this veritable underwater museum can vie for the title of ‘world’s best shipwreck’ with any rival from around the world, thanks to its cargo holds being chock-full of Allied military supplies, including motorcycles, Bren carriers, aircraft wings, trucks, trailers, rubber boots, Lee Enfield rifles, and ammunition of all shapes and sizes. Measuring over 128 metres in length and lying mostly intact and upright in 30-32m, it has suffered over the years from some careless mooring and pilfering divers, but it is still a force to be reckoned with.
The midships is smashed beyond all recognition, and the bow, which lies on its port side, is an impressive size and the mast is always surrounded by reef fish. However, it is the stern section which really makes this wreck special. It is fully intact from just before the rear superstructure, which means if you are appropriately trained, you can penetrate deep into the engine room, crew’s quarters and bridge. Carnatic - While the other three wrecks all went down in the 70s or 80s, the Carnatic is far, far older. She was a sleek 90-metre steam-and-sail-powered passenger and mail ship which hit the reef in 1869, eventually sinking and taking some five passengers and 26 crew down with her. The Carnatic now lies on her port side in 26m. Coral growth is profuse because she has been down almost 150 years, and she is almost part of the reef now. Much of the wooden decking has fallen away, revealing the holds and the fourcylinder steam engine and boilers. Chrisoula K/Marcus - The third-most-visited wreck on Sha’ab Abu Nuhas is the Marcus, which is sometimes known as the Chrisoula K. Regardless of its true name, what is known without a doubt is that this was another Greek-owned freighter which ran aground and sank in 1981 while carrying a vast cargo of Italian floor tiles, which gives the wreck its nickname ‘tile wreck’. Kimon M - The fourth wreck on Abu Nuhas is probably the most-infrequently visited, which is a shame, as it is still a great dive. This German-built freighter was carrying 4,500tons of lentils – hence its nickname, the ‘lentil wreck’ – when it drove hard onto the reef at full speed in 1978, destroying the bow section. It stayed on the reef top, before the weather conditions eventually took their toll and it slid off the reef into 30-32m of water. Fleet of dayboats ready for the off
SHA’AB ABU NUHAS
Sha’ab Abu Nuhas is an unassuming reef which would probably not even merit a mention on any diver’s hit-list if it wasn’t for the fact that it lies close to the major shipping lane to the Suez Canal, and thus it has claimed more than its fair share of ‘victims’ over the years. Giannis D - Of all the wrecks on Abu Nuhas, the Japanesebuilt, Greek-owned freighter Giannis D is by far the mostpopular. The ship was carrying a cargo of lumber and hit the reef in 1983 going at full speed – a fact made obvious when you see the twisted prop, which mangled itself as it ground into the coral – and now it is split into three distinct sections Lionfish
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Anthias swarm on Small Brother
Sunk by German bombers in October 1941, this veritable underwater museum can vie for the title of ‘world’s best shipwreck’ with any rival from around the world colours of the two siblings, but there are some giant hard coral formations, and the reef is renowned for shoals of scalloped hammerheads cruising off its sheer walls, along with tuna and trevally, and occasional visits from manta rays, silky sharks, thresher sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks.
SALEM EXPRESS THE BROTHERS
The Brothers Islands – Big Brother and Small Brother – are located some 60 miles offshore from the Egyptian mainland, and are essentially two gigantic pinnacles rising out of the depths. Swept by sometimes fierce currents, they are alive with soft coral growth, and a hotspot for sharks, particularly grey reef, thresher, oceanic whitetip and hammerhead. Big Brother also boasts two shipwrecks, the Numidia and the Aida II, which perch impossibly upright embedded into the sheer reef wall. The Numidia, in particular, is worthy of a couple of dives alone to give you the time to savour the sight of a massive ship smothered in soft coral growth disappearing down the wall to well beyond recreational diving depths.
The Salem Express is a tragic dive site, a 100-metre-long roll-on/roll-off ferry that was returning to the Egyptian port of Safaga with hundreds of pilgrims coming from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia when it collided with the Hyndman Reefs in the early hours of 17 December 1991. The ship was badly damaged, quickly took on water and sank within minutes, with enormous loss of life. Now lying on its starboard side in 29m, the Salem Express is slowly being colonised by marine life and due to its sheer size, makes an impressive, if somewhat eerie, dive, but there are still many reminders of the tragedy that occurred on that cold winter night and so divers are asked to treat the wreck with respect and not penetrate into the interior.
ROCKY ISLAND AND ZABARGAD DAEDALOUS
This massive circular reef, like the Brothers, rises up from abyssal depths in the middle of the Red Sea and is swept by occasionally very strong currents. It doesn’t have the vivid
Rocky Island and nearby Zabargad are often included in offshore marine park itineraries alongside the Brothers and Daedalous. Again, they both lie far out in the Red Sea, but while Rocky is reminiscent of Small Brother – being a
Shells on the Thistlegorm
desolate chunk of rock poking out of the sea and surrounded by deep, current-ripped waters – Zabargad is a full-blown island, punctuated by turquoise bays, sandy beaches and an impressive 235 metre hill at its centre. Zabargad means ‘topaz’ in Arabic, and you can still find evidence of the island community that mined the semi-precious stones here. As well as coral reefs and walls, there is the wreck of a USSR surveillance ship that sank in the 1970s and now lies upright in just 24m.
This torpedo-shaped, current-swept reef lies a few miles offshore from the southern Egyptian mainland, and was a favoured haunt of liveaboards for many years, mainly down to the regular sightings of oceanic whitetip sharks at the right time of year, but it is now also visited by large RIBs from the shore-based resorts. The oceanics still show up, and occasionally you see dolphins and other sharks, but it is not the adrenaline rush it used to be, though it is still well worth a visit.
Fury Shoals is a collection of some 20 or more reefs spread over a 30km stretch, and sites such as Sha’ab Claudio and Sha’ab Maksur, which benefit from prodigious coral growth, sheer walls, shallow reefs, plenty of marine life and occasional screaming drifts, have ensured that this area features heavily on Deep South liveaboard itineraries. The reefs are also visited from some of the land-based operations these days.
RAID DIVE CENTRES Roots Red Sea email@example.com | www.rootsredsea.com Red Sea Explorers firstname.lastname@example.org Scuba Dreamer email@example.com | www.scubadreamer.com Domina Diving Center firstname.lastname@example.org | www.sheikhcoast.com
Along with Fury Shoals, St John’s has become a regular fixture on Deep South liveaboard safaris, and is often referred to as having the healthiest coral reefs in the whole of Egypt. Whether that claim holds is up for debate, however there is no denying that the corals are extremely colourful and vibrant, and they are home to a multitude of reef fish, which in turn can bring in the predators from the blue. A famous site in this area are the caves, which comprise a network of tunnels and swim-throughs, and are lit up in an ethereal manner by sunlight shining through holes and cracks above.
This small bay near Marsa Alam would probably be better known for its glorious sandy beach than as a fantastic dive site if it wasn’t for the fact that it is a regular haunt of several endangered dugongs, large sea cows which forage around on the bottom for food. The seagrass seabed also attracts very large turtles, which can also be found lounging around, often with massive remoras in tow. The site is so shallow that snorkellers can also enjoy seeing the dugongs and turtles. n
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Each issue, a panel of RAID Instructor Trainers will give their insight into a specific topic, starting with the core skill of buoyancy
teve Lewis, RAID Director Diver Training (worldwide) – A cave-diving student years ago was having problems with buoyancy. A huge contributing factor was the wetsuit he’d opted to wear for his course. Well, truth is, his problems were legion… but, hey, that’s a story for another day. What was memorable was an assumption he made about his instructor. “It’s easy for you,” he mumbled. “You mastered all this stuff ages ago… it’s second nature to you now.” I thought to myself: “Mate, if only you knew!” There’s nothing more true about diving than all scuba skills are perishable. And that’s the take-home message from this issue’s contributors – Ian, PJ, and Oli – real pros who long ago learned that the secret to making it look like second nature is practice. Practice and being careful to mess up only when there are no cameras (or cave students) around.
Olivier van Overbeek – Buoyancy is the force exerted on an object that is wholly or partly immersed in a fluid, or in diving terms, does it float, sink or stay neutral. Buoyancy control is what we keep ourselves occupied with as divers, being able to control the amount of positive buoyancy during an ascent or the amount of negative buoyancy during a descent gives us that feeling safety and confidence during these two phases of our dive and takes away the need for frantically holding onto lines, or not being able to stray from sloping bottoms. Further fine-tuning of our buoyancy control around the neutral point is what we desire during most of the bottom phase of our dive. At RAID we do not believe that buoyancy control is a standalone subject - after we’ve achieved a balanced equipment set-up, we can start working on buoyancy control, and with some practice we’ll achieve sustained neutral buoyancy. Simply having neutral buoyancy isn’t quite enough - once we’ve established an ability to sustain neutral buoyancy, we’ll look at a flat, trimmed-out position in the water and a good body position (the manipulation of this position can greatly influence trim control!). Once we’ve achieved all that, we’ve got a nice solid platform to work from and this is the point where we’ll introduce effective propulsion as a stand-alone skill set. This provides a diving platform where buoyancy and propulsion are truly separated, and streamlining is optimum. How does this look in practice? Well, the diver could stop their fin motion at any time, turn towards their buddy, and simply not move, not up, not down, not forwards, etc. This creates a calm and confident diver and an asset to the team. Once the diver has mastered this at a constant depth, they can bring this skill set to their ascents as well, allowing for comfortable, in-control group ascents where communication is easy and clear.
OLIVIER VAN OVERBEEK Olivier van Overbeek (Oli for short) has been diving since 1998, and an active RAID Professional for over six years. His current roles within RAID include Training Manager for the UK, and Training Consultant for RAID International. He enjoys modernising and working on training materials, developing new techniques, and when not teaching or writing, thoroughly enjoys doing any type of archaeological diving.
Ian France – What is the key discipline of buoyancy? Buoyancy is defined as the force exerted on an object that is wholly or partly immersed in a fluid. Effective buoyancy reduces drag and promotes more efficient finning, with less gas to control with depth changes, allowing us to remain motionless while hovering and gliding through the water column. This helps to reduce our workload, fatigue, gas usage and stress, making for a more-relaxing and enjoyable dive, with less impact to our environment. So, what are the things that affect our buoyancy? Well, this includes water salinity, exposure protection, and the minimum gas required to exit the dive. With these factors in mind, how do we achieve pinpoint buoyancy control? Well, it’s no one thing, but made up of a number of building blocks. Firstly, equipment should be balanced, as poor positioning and ill-fitting equipment isn’t going to help at all. Then weighting is a key component - if you are carrying just the right amount of lead to offset you and your equipment, the less gas you’ll need, as remember, every 1kg of extra weight that a diver is wearing requires one litre of extra gas! Correct breathing is also important - your lungs play a big part because if you are breathing incorrectly, then buoyancy will be made much more difficult. Propulsion is another important factor as correct fin kicks, such as frog, flutter, back kicks and helicopter, help improve stability. RAID puts great emphasis on buoyancy and rightly so, as it’s a key discipline in diving and not just a skill that’s added on later. So, RAID divers - practice, and develop that muscle memory!
IAN FRANCE Ian France is an experienced, full-time technical diving Instructor Trainer, providing OC and CCR Cave, Mine and Technical diver training at diver and instructor level throughout the world. A member of the British Cave Diving Group (CDG, https://cavedivinggroup. org.uk/), founding member of the UK Mine/Cave Diving & Exploration Group (UKMC, www.ukminecave.com), a regular instructor at TEKcamp (www. tekcamp.co.uk) and Cave Camp (www.cavecamp. com), and when not teaching - a very active diver exploring caves, mines, and the ocean. RAID Instructors, remember when you first started diving, you weren’t perfect, so encourage your students to practice, sow those seeds of control, develop those skills, there is no reason why right from the outset RAID divers shouldn’t have a high level of buoyancy control. Practice those ascents and descents, holding those safety/deco stops, practice those fin kicks. Then start to add in extra skills, like mask replacement. Laying line is also a great exercise to practice buoyancy. To lay line effectively, you need good control of the key disciplines, especially buoyancy!
PJ Prinsloo – There are over 30 individual skills a new diver learns when they complete their Open Water course. Apart from learning how to breathe underwater, the most-important skill that needs to be mastered is buoyancy control. All divers, especially diving professionals, need to control all aspects of buoyancy. A diver that does not have positive buoyancy control at the surface can very quickly tire and start to panic as they struggle to keep their head above water. The act of diving requires us to get underwater, descending safely and with correct control of negative buoyancy. The last thing a diver wants to do is ‘crash land’ on the reef, so slowing your descent as you approach the bottom is crucial. Of course, while we are diving, the goal is to be neutrally buoyant. The benefits of being a truly neutrally buoyant diver are endless. Diving becomes effortless, you have improved freedom of movement but, most importantly, diving becomes safer. Every diver wants to have good air consumption and getting your buoyancy control perfected is one of the best ways to improve your gas usage. When did you last do a buoyancy check? Even seasoned diving professionals should do regular buoyancy checks. Over time your body changes, your equipment changes - these changes have an effect on your buoyancy. It all starts with the correct weighting. Perform a weight check without your fins and scuba gear first. Once you are weighted correctly for your exposure suit, then check your weighting with all your gear fitted. While holding a full breath and a deflated BCD, you should float with the top of your head at the surface. Avoid carrying too much unnecessary weight. I wish I had a dollar for every instructor that has told me they purposely over-weight themselves so they can assist students. An instructor should be spending adequate time ensuring their students’ weighting is correct and giving them ample to time in the pool to perfect their buoyancy. There should only be one anchor on a dive boat - and it shouldn’t be a diver’s weightbelt. n
If you want to know more about achieving this level of skill, find your local RAID Performance Diver Instructor, who can talk to you more about fine-tuning your buoyancy control.
PJ Prinsloo became a recreational scuba instructor in 1996 and has been an Examiner since 2008. He has been involved in a number of deep expeditions in South Africa and throughout Europe. In March 2017, he joined RAID and took on the position of Technical Diving Director for RAID Southern Africa. He has written several courses for RAID International, including the Liberty Rebreather and Performance Diver courses, with many other programmes still in development. PJ is a RAID Tec Examiner certified to teach at all levels, recreational and technical open circuit, recreational and technical rebreather, cave, wreck and sidemount.
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OF SOUTH SOLITARY ISLAND
Adrian Stacey embarks on a New South Wales drive-ndive roadtrip, this time stopping off at Coffs Harbour in an attempt to dive with the grey nurse sharks in the South Solitary Island marine park PHOTOGRAPHS BY ADRIAN STACEY
Between April and November, humpback whales make their annual migration from the frigid feeding grounds near Antarctica to the warmer waters of the Pacific to mate, and the coastline comes alive with their acrobatic displays
offs Harbour was the first destination on my New South Wales roadtrip. This small seaside town is just about equal distance from Sydney and Brisbane, around a five-hour drive from either city. The town is a great base for exploring the surrounding area’s numerous national parks and attractions. From the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest to stunning beaches and, of course, the iconic Big Banana fun park. The reason for my stay, however, was not to gaze in awe at a big Banana, or take a stroll along one of the many pristine beaches, or even to enjoy the humid tranquillity of a rainforest, the reason for my visit was to dive at South Solitary Island. The Solitary Island marine park stretches along the coast for almost 90km from Mutton Bird Island at Coffs Harbour up to Polver Island near the Sandon River. The marine reserve covers an area of 72,000 hectares and is home to 858 species of fish and 90 species of coral. Most importantly, the area offers protection to the endangered grey nurse sharks. Once hunted relentlessly, mainly because of their fearsome looks and the perception that they were maneaters, the grey nurse shark seems to be making a comeback. These amazing creatures can now be found throughout the park. They used to only venture into these waters in the winter when the water is a lot cooler, but recently they have taken up permanent residence at South Solitary Island, with their numbers swelling dramatically during the winter. The Solitary Island marine park is uniquely situated, it is where the tropical waters of the north collide with the temperate waters of the south to create an unusual and interesting mixture of aquatic creatures, plants and corals. The different seasons offer different diving experiences, each with its own merits. In the summer months, November to April, the waters are warmed by the East Australian Current, temperatures can reach up to 26 degrees C and a variety of tropical fish ride the current to South Solitary Island. Grey nurse sharks patrol a gully
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Grey nurse sharks are the star draw
Turtle resting on the reef
Stunning beaches are just one of the attractions
Grey nurse shark
Colourful soft corals
The summer months also attract the larger fish, crowd pleasers like manta rays and leopard sharks. In the winter, May to October, the warmer waters from the north are replaced but the cooler influence of the Southern Ocean and the temperature can drop to a bracing 18 degrees C. These cooler waters are favoured by the hypnotic giant cuttlefish and attract an influx of the buck-toothed grey reef sharks. South Solitary Island itself looks windswept and inhospitable. The only designable features are the nowunmanned lighthouse and several outbuilding. This barren outpost looks like an unforgiving place to live, and it seemed intent on making life as difficult as possible for its former inhabitants. With no easy or safe place to moor a boat, a gantry was built and cranes were used to unload supplies and building materials. The harsh conditions destroyed the first two gantries and the third one in now slowly succumbing to the elements. A good chunk of it is laying on the seabed. My first dive was at a site called Manta Arch, as the name suggests this is a place where mantas are often sighted, and in the right season grey nurse sharks congregate in large numbers. Unfortunately, this was not the right season for large numbers of grey nurse sharks and the mantas were
RAID DIVE CENTRES The Scuba Gym www.thescubagym.com.au Swim-through with shoals of fish
elegantly swooping around some other rock formation, away from interfering divers. However, a large school of tropical fish swirled around this rocky structure creating a pleasant introduction to the dive and giving us a taster of what was to come. After the arch, we made our way over sheer ridges and across a boulder-strewn plain, which was littered with wobbegong sharks, to the murky gutters that the resident grey nurse sharks like to congregate in. As we swam deeper into the gutter, along the steep walls of this imposing ravine, more and more of these elegant, toothy creatures casually swam past us, with perhaps up to 20 sharks meandering out of this single gutter - not a bad number of sharks be greeted by considering this is low season for them! After hanging around with the grey nurse sharks for as long as possible, it was time to make our way back to the boat, which had moored up on the other side of the island. Our route took us around the northern tip of South Solitary Island, through a jagged valley encrusted with hard coral and yet more wobbegong sharks and onto a shallow plateau. The second dive was a gentle drift that began at shark gutters and finished at The Gantry. For this dive, we were treated to an ever-changing topography and an interesting mixture of marine life and corals. We began by exploring the shark gutters where we came across one or two solitary grey nurse sharks and a curious number of nudibranchs. The underwater landscape was a latticework of deep ravines, sheer walls and swim-throughs, inhabited by swarms of cave sweeper and patrolled by the occasional large cod. Once we
Total Immersion Diving www.totalimmersiondiving.com.au had finished exploring the shark gutters we venture further along the dive site and the reefs cape changed to plateau of hard coral and boulders covered in soft corals. There was the usual smattering of wobbegongs, numerous turtles and a great variety of schooling fish - blue tangs, bannerfish and snapper to name a few. As we slowly glided along Boulder Wall, there was a proliferation of anemones before evidence of the gantry that had once served the island came into view. This metal structure that had fallen into the ocean decades ago is now encrusted in corals. Unfortunately, I only had two dives at South Solitary Island, but over the course of those dives I was treated to interesting topography, healthy coral growth and I saw over 20 grey nurse sharks, untold wobbegongs, turtles, huge schools of fish, numerous rays and plenty of nudibranchs. In my book this is a pretty impressive shopping list of creatures. The more I dive in the temperate / subtropical waters of Australia, the more of a fan I become, and South Solitary Island is certainly a great place to experience some of the best diving in the area. n
This metal structure that had fallen into the ocean decades ago has now become a home for a variety of creatures and is encrusted in corals
Q: What first ignited your passion in the underwater world, and when did you first start diving? A: Like many kids my age, I was inspired by watching Jacques Cousteau on television. It was also the Apollo Missions, too. Watching men drive around on the surface of the moon influenced me to explore. Q: You are perhaps best known as a cave diver. What is it about caves that capture your interest, and how did you initially get into cave diving? A: I suppose it is a bit of a primal drive. Caves are like the veins of Mother Earth and I am attracted to go into the body of the planet in a spiritual sense. But I was also drawn toward the opportunity of being able to document places that nobody has ever seen before. Sharing images from remote, unexplored territory is a great privilege in an age when most of humanity believes that the age of exploration has already passed them by. Q: You were the first person to dive in the ice caves of Antarctica? What was this momentous series of dives like? A: That National Geographic project was perhaps the most-dangerous undertaking I have ever been involved in. It felt like the closest thing to going to another planet. Every moment was wild and unscripted. I had to be at my very best at every moment for the entire 60 days in the Ross Sea. The caves inside the icebergs were stunningly beautiful in their own right, and the garden of life we found beneath the great ice masses was colourful and abundant. Q: You have been given many high-profile awards, including being a Fellow of the Explorers Club and Explorer-in-Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and as well as being inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. Which are you most proud of? A: Representing the Royal Canadian Geographical Society as Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chief explorer is perhaps the greatest honour of all. In my role, I spend a lot of time with the next generation of young explorers. That feels like my most-important mission to date.
In her element in a cave
Canadian Jill Heinerth is a world-renowned cave diver, photographer and film-maker. We talked to her about how she first became interested in diving, what drives her need for exploration, and what the future holds in store for her PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF JILL HEINERTH
Q: You are well known in the technical diving world for your ground-breaking explorations. Which endeavours mean the most to you, and have left you with the most indelible memories? A: My work at Wakulla Springs with the US Deep Caving Team feels like a stepping-stone for almost everything else I have done in my career. We began that mission over 20 years ago and yet those dives still stand as some of the most-ambitious dives ever conducted in technical and scientific diving. More importantly, it set the stage for my understanding of our water resources and my efforts as a water advocate. Since that time, I have continued to work with Dr Bill Stone on numerous efforts. The mapper we first deployed at Wakulla is now an artificially intelligent robot that will head to space. Q: Technical diving is quite a male-dominated discipline. Did you find being female a disadvantage, or were you accepted with open arms because of your impressive diving credentials. A: It hasn’t always been easy working within maledominated endeavours like cave diving and even underwater cinematography. There are time when I was flat out turned away as a woman. There are times when I got a job but got paid less than a male colleague. Believe it or not, I still face challenges as a woman in the sport today. We have a long way to go to reach full gender and racial parity in diving. Not all discriminatory behaviours are intentional. Many are a reflection of long-practiced societal norms. One day I hope that I won’t be celebrated as a pioneering woman in diving. I hope I will just be celebrated as a diver who did some cool work. I hope we won’t need a Women Divers Hall of Fame or scholarships to lift women into career mentoring and scholarships. I hope we will just be diverse figures in diving, working collaboratively to do great work.
Fantastical formations deep underground
open circuit bailout and dedication to safety procedures, I believe they can offer increased safety for deep and technical dives. They have offered me a chance to get closer to wildlife, do scientific work that leaves the water column undisturbed and do longer decompressions with a little less bulk. Q: You have worked with James Cameron. What was it like consulting with a massive Hollywood director, albeit one with a love of the underwater world? A: Numerous people warned me that James Cameron might be tough to work with. I absolutely loved working with him. He is indeed a taskmaster, but is right alongside working the long hours too. He is passionate about underwater exploration and technology and that can be infectious. I recall a moment when we surfaced after several hours of filming in a cave. We were really hungry and rather than getting out of the water, he and I shared a pizza at the surface before heading down again. Jill enjoys inspiring the next generation of divers
Q: You adopted closed-circuit rebreathers quite early on. What are the advantages of CCRs for the type of diving you are doing? A: I jumped into rebreathers in the mid-1990s as a tool to increase my range in exploration. Used properly with adequate
Jill has explored caves inside icebergs
Q: In all the amazing dives you have conducted, what is your most-memorable experience? A: That is actually a really tough question. I am so fortunate to have had many incredible and diverse experiences. A pod of a hundred humpbacks off Newfoundland, getting pulled to the surface by a stellar sea lion tugging on my drysuit hood, leaving an iceberg cave after being trapped for almost two hours, entering an unexplored room of the most-delicate crystalline speleothems in Mexico, returning to The Pit to shoot a photo that stuck in my head for 20 years, or diving into the Monte Corona volcano… how can I choose? Most days I simply pinch myself and plan for the next!
Q: On the flipside, what is the worst experience you have had while diving? A: Well, I would say the ‘most-memorable’ and ‘the worst’ are often intertwined. I have come home from some scary moments in diving. I have been trapped inside an iceberg cave from current that pinned me down. I have been stuck behind a scientist who got stuck in a tiny cave not much taller than my helmet. I have been bitten by a water moccasin, a fresh water eel and gotten bent deep in the jungle a long way from help. I have also had to write my fair share of eulogies for friends who died in caves. Those were horrible experiences but they all built the diver I am today. At times I was lucky, at other times smart. But today I carry all those experiences and friends with me as lessons on how to do things better and safer Q: So, what does the future hold in store for you, and what projects have you got coming up? A: This week I head to the Arctic. In a few days, I will be camping 800km north of the Arctic Circle and beginning a summer of filming a documentary on climate change. I feel like this is urgent work. The north is changing so rapidly and I feel a great need to communicate that to the world. I’ll be filming narwhal, bowhead, walrus, and skinny polar bears while documenting how the changes in sea ice are changing their territory and further affecting the people of the north. n
Jill thrives in arduous conditions
I hope we won’t need a Women Divers Hall of Fame or scholarships to lift women into career mentoring and scholarships An iceberg underwater
Jill exploring with her trusty camera
The Kittiwake may be making waves in the diving world now, but the Tibbetts, which celebrated 20 years on the seabed last year, is still well worth a visit
A TALE OF
ISLA N DS
The Cayman Islands are one of the top diving destinations in the Caribbean, if not the world. Mark Evans explains the attraction of these three very different islands PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK EVANS WWW.DIVERAID.COM
he Cayman Islands regularly score highly in polls for ‘best overall diving destination’, ‘best wall diving’, ‘best wreck diving’ and so on, and though they are only small, these three little islands can more than hold their own against some big-hitters from around the globe, more than living up to the hype generated by these accolades. Visitors can opt to stay on one island, or do a spot of island-hopping, as they are located close together and well served by regular internal flights. You can even jump on a luxury liveaboard and cruise around the three over the course of a dive-heavy week if you want to seriously rack up your inwater time. The islands are located in the western Caribbean some 150 miles south of Cuba and 167 miles northwest of Jamaica. Geographically, the Cayman Islands are part of the Cayman Ridge, which extends westwards from Cuba. The infamous Cayman Trench, the deepest part of the Caribbean at a whopping depth of over four miles, separates the three islands from Jamaica. There are no rivers on any of the three, which means no run-off into the surrounding sea, and this – together with the abyssal depths that envelop the Cayman Islands – ensures some of the most-phenomenal visibility you are likely to experience in the tropics.
Grand Cayman is the largest island in the chain, and home to the capital, George Town, which lies on the western shore towards the bottom of the famed Seven-Mile Beach, which is the hotspot for hotels, resorts and tourism. The island is approximately 22 miles long with an average width of four miles, and it has a huge 35 square mile shallow, reef-protected lagoon, the North Sound, which is the home of arguably the island’s most-famous dive site, Stingray City. Here, in just 4m, divers can interact with massive southern stingrays, which were initially drawn here eating scraps thrown overboard by fishermen gutting their daily catch, but now take morsels of squid from eager divers, who clamour to be mobbed by the friendly rays. Whether you agree with fish-feeding dives or not, it is certainly a spectacle to behold. Most of the 240-plus dive sites around the island tend to be located off the northwest, west, southwest and east coastlines. Typically, shallow reefs and sandy patches stretch out from the shoreline, before you come to the drop-off that Elephant ear sponge on a wall
Inside the Kittiwake
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plummets into the deep. In some places this is relatively close to the shore, at others a good few hundred metres away from dry land. The northwest and the east dive sites are generally considered the best wall diving locations, and here the reef is quite rugged, with pristine coral growth, the chance of some pelagic encounters – I have seen hammerheads on every dive in the East End, for instance – and jaw-dropping topography that is showcased by the mega-vis. The drop-off starts at different depths, but expect 15m-20m being the average for the top of the walls. The west and southwest has some great wall diving, but is also the location of some shallow wreck dives and other sunken attractions. The 20-metre-long cable layer Doc Poulson
– named after the country’s first diving doctor - was sunk in West Bay as an artificial reef back in 1981 and is now full of marine life. The LCM David Nicholson, a World War Two landing craft, lies in 16m off the Sunset House Dive Resort house reef, near George Town, and is actually named after the centre’s first Divemaster. The former US military vessel Oro Verde, also lying off the west coast, is a 54-metre vessel that has been on the bottom since 1980 and is also a haven for various reef fish and invertebrates. However, the jewel in the crown of Cayman wreck diving is undoubtedly the Kittiwake, a 76-metre, 2,200-ton submarine rescue vessel which was purpose sunk in 2011 for divers with plenty of features still in place, including recompression chambers, sinks, workbenches and so on. Multiple holes and hatches were cut out to allow for maximum light penetration, and while you can find your way around the five deck levels with this ambient light, a torch helps you spot all the details and little critters that call the wreck home. Photographers will love the large prop and rudder, and the bridge area. She was initially upright, but fierce storms moved her nearer the reef and tilted her over on to her side. For something a little different, check out the Guardian of the Reef, a mythological half-warrior/half-seahorse statue created by Canadian sculptor Simon Morris that was sunk off Lighthouse Point in the northwest in just 18m in April 2014, or Amphitrite, a three-metre bronze mermaid standing in a sand patch on the Sunset House house reef.
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Cayman Brac lies about 89 miles northeast of Grand Cayman, and is about 12 miles long with an average width of 1.25 miles. It may be fairly small, but it has the most-spectacular terrain of the trio, with the limestone outcrop named the Bluff rising some 40m above sea-level at the eastern end of the island, which is often used for topside activities. The Brac, as the island is often referred to, has over 60 decent wall and reef dives, but the dive site that put it on the map is the MV Captain Keith Tibbetts, which was the premier shipwreck in the Cayman Islands until it was eclipsed by the Kittiwake. The only diveable Russian warship in the Western Hemisphere, this 110-metre Koni II-class frigate was renamed the Keith Tibbetts after a local politician and purpose-sunk off the west coast in 1996. Storms have broken the vessel in two, making it feel more like a genuine wrecking, and inside you can find Cyrillic lettering on the control panels. The Kittiwake may be making waves in the diving world now, but the Tibbetts, which celebrated 20 years on the seabed last year, is still well worth a visit. Another underwater oddity worth seeking out is the Oceanic Voyagers, a two-metre-tall bronze statue of a pair of spotted dolphins cavorting with southern stingrays, which is a favourite with visiting photographers.
Little Cayman is just five miles west of Cayman Brac and is approximately ten miles long with an average width of just one mile. It is extremely low level, with only a few areas of the north shore rising to 12 metres above sea-level. Life here is much more laidback, and it is a great place to get away from it all, chill out and relax, with some excellent diving added in. The island may be small, but it still has some 60 dives
The west and southwest has some great wall diving, but is also the location of some shallow wreck dives and other sunken attractions sites, and chief among these is one of the world’s mostrevered wall diving areas, Bloody Bay. Starting in just 5m of water, this sheer drop-off heads off into over 1,800m. The wall is ablaze with vibrant sponges, encrusting soft corals, hard corals, whip corals and bright algaes, so much so that it appears not one section is not colonised by one form of life or another. Then throw all manner of reef dwellers and the occasional pelagic visitor into the mix and it is not hard to see the appeal of this immense site, which actually provides enough wall for several dive sites, such as Great Wall East (and West), Randy’s Gazebo, Donna’s Delight, Marylin’s Cut, Lea Lea’s Lookout and Coconut Wall.
As you can see, all three islands have their own vibe and attractions, and you can choose to visit one, two or all three. A great combo is to spend a week on Grand Cayman, and then hop over to Little Cayman for a few days. n
DIVER’S LOG BOOK: JEFFREY GLENN Australian born and bred, Jeff Glenn grew up by the coast, which helped develop his infectious enthusiasm for the ocean. In his inaugural column, he gives a potted history of his epic diving career so far – and alludes to what is to come in the future. PHOTOGRAPHS BY MIKKO PAASI
rowing up next to the ocean, I became a passionate surfer and trained lifesaver. This love of the water naturally guided me to pursue my entry-level diver certs. So, in 1994, I became an open water diver. The course, conducted over consecutive weekends, was a beautiful eye opener for me. A realisation there was fun to have both above and below the waves. Once my university studies were completed, and armed with my new dive certs, a surfboard and my trusty Hilux ute, I set out to explore the Aussie hotspots for both surfing and diving. Over the next few years, I was fortunate to discover the dive sites around Perth, WA. A highlight being a dive at the Opera House (Shark Cave) at Rottnest Island. Just wow! Then there were the reefs off Ningaloo, where I had my first experience of swimming with six-metre-long whalesharks and, off course, the iconic Exmouth Navy Pier, voted annually as one of Australia’s best dive sites. Eventually finding my way back to Queensland, I settled in Airlie Beach, completing my Divemaster course diving among the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. With travelling now firmly ingrained in my psyche, an overseas trip a bit further than the regular Indo surf trip jaunts was planned, culminating in landing in London town where, like most other Aussies on the planet in 1997, it seemed to be a base to explore the continent and earn some super strong pound sterling (not anymore). A liveaboard trip on the Angelina in Sharm in 1999, through Tony Backhurst Scuba Travel, introduced me to what life as a dive instructor may be like. My mate Deano was the instructor onboard and I just loved the adventure that my friend was having. On return to the UK, I handed in my notice as manager of the Walkabout Pub in Sheffield, and booked my IDC programme with Dive Careers on Koh Tao, Thailand. Over the next decade, I settled into island life, working as a dive instructor with Bans Diving Resort, certifying hundreds of divers a year while setting up a little side business, named
Choppers Sports Bar, in my down time. I also started working towards my Course Director rating and, in 2008, participated in the CDTC in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. Equipped with my new CD and Technical Instructor trainer ratings, I then launched myself into teaching one of the mostcomprehensive and modern professional diver development programmes that Koh Tao had at that time. After three years of conducting IDCs full time, I then stepped back from the recreational side and in 2011, focused solely on the technical diver and instructor programmes at Bans Technical. During this time, I gained my Full Cave Instructor / TDI Advanced Trimix Instructor and finally my Rebreather Instructor ratings on the JJCCR, SF2 and XCCR. The skills, knowledge and experience gained through my technical diving adventures has been a pure blessing and so invaluable in being able to deliver the higher quality dive training to my students that I aspire to. I have been involved in some amazing diving. Highlights so far include being the deep support diver on Will Goodman’s successful 300m CCR world record dive, exploring the deeper wrecks like the Olympus and the Russell in Malta, swimming through the caves of Cala Gonane in Sardinia, and being one of the first teams to explore the virgin caves of Muna Island in South Sulawesi. And of course, I absolutely love my annual visits to the epic cenotes of Mexico, where I join my mates and explore the passages for hours on my rebreather. In the future, upcoming adventures include the ‘Return to the Lagarto’ with Bottomline Projects. This is a project to survey, photogrammetry and place a plaque on the US submarine Lagarto, which 75 years ago, in the midst of battle, went down in the Gulf of Thailand. Another cave exploration into the wilds of South Sulawesi is also planned and scheduled as soon as international travel resumes. For the time being, I am now based back home, on Australia’s Gold Coast, enjoying the diving wonders of my homeland, surfing and enjoying time with my young family. n
DURING LOCKDOWN WE ARE CONTINUING TO SUPPORT THE DIVE INDUSTRY WITH DAILY DIVING NEWS & FEATURES FREEDIVE . OCEAN . SCUBA . TRAVEL
Light-hearted profile of RAID dive centres from all over the world. This issue, it is the turn of Roctopus in Thailand.
Who is in
Names: Jay Hayes, David Doyle, Wes Prosser and Mark Westwood Rank: Co-owners Date of first certification: Over 40 years Number of dives to date: 15,000-20,000 WHAT’S YOUR STORY? Jay – It was a business degree at university that sealed my fate and led me to the city when I should have been diving! It wasn’t until a school friend returned from tropical Instructor life with amazing stories that my life changed for the better! I retired from corporate and headed to Koh Tao to complete my pro certs! During this time, I met best friend and fellow professional Chris Haslam (now RAID Asia rep) and together we went to work on the Great Barrier Reef! With some valuable dive industry experience, I returned to Thailand with knowledge of a new shop, Roctopus Dive, recently opened and looking for staff. Having sold an OW course to a lovely Swedish traveller on the ferry from the mainland, together we turned up at the shop and I began a long and fruitful career with Roctopus the following day!
Q&A Q: How would you describe your team at your dive centre? A: Legends. The most welcoming, friendly and passionate crew ever. Q: What is your most-embarrassing teaching moment? A: Losing my boardshorts while climbing the ladder in front of a packed dive deck in Australia. Q: What is your favourite place to dive in your local waters? A: Sail Rock is a phenomenal dive in the Gulf of Thailand. Massive schools of fish, amazing topography and great vis. Q: What is your favourite place to dive abroad? A: Moyo Island, Sumbawa. Endless vis, depth, sharks everydive and the healthiest corals I’ve ever seen. Q: If you could change one thing about diving, what would it be? A: Student perspective: That ALL OWs go on to complete the Explorer 30 – I know we’d see far more lifetime divers. A: Personal: Re-invention of the scuba tank.
Q: Who is the worst air-guzzler in your team? A: Wes loves to breathe! Q: Who is the biggest wimp out of the lot of you, and give a recent example? A: No wimps on our team! Q: Who attracts the most attention, good or bad? A: Dave is 6’4” and when we visit Sumbawa, the locals think he’s a giant - he stops traffic! Q: If you could teach a celebrity to dive, who would it be and why? A: Student – Bill Murray – By all accounts a great guy, and strange like the rest of us! A: Dive Buddy – Sir David Attenborough – just massive respect for an amazing life. Q: What’s been the biggest fear factor in your diving career to date? A: Having the courage as a team to think big and expand our dive centres into remote areas.
Why you should
JOIN OUR CLUB LOCAL DIVING TRIPS We are a one-stop shop for all levels of diving. We take absolute beginners and create happy, safe and confident divers via the best Instructors on the island. We also cater for experienced fun divers, sidemount and wreck enthusiasts. The Roctopus Pro team look after our Divemaster internships and IDPs, while our Marine conservation programme runs eco-internships and eco-dives via our in-house Marine Biologist. All of this packaged up with an amazing team and great vibes! FOREIGN DIVE TRIPS Roctopus Dive, Nusa Lembongan is an island paradise close to Bali with a laidback vibe, epic surf and world-class diving. We swim with mantas and sharks everyday and during the right season we dive with mola-mola. Roctopus Dive, Moyo Island is our latest dive shop in the remote Flores Sea off Sumbawa with crystal-clear visibility, Technicolour corals and world-class marine life. TRAINING FACILITIES We have a beachfront location with several modern AC classrooms and a well-stocked retail area with comfy lounge sofas. Our gear shed and maintenance room are well ventilated and we have a gear technician on staff. Our compressor and tanks are housed separately with a full-time team. We have two dive boats with local captains and boat staff, and our beach bar is the perfect place to log dives and unwind with a Koh Tao sunset.
DIVE CENTRE factfile Contact details Roctopus Dive Sairee Beach, Koh Tao Tel: +66 (0) 77456611 +66 (0) 908631836 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.roctopusdive.com
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Dead manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fingers
Cornwall is one of the most-popular diving spots in the UK, mainly due to the fact that it boasts coastlines to the north and the south, so in inclement weather, you can usually still get a dive in somewhere PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK EVANS
reat Britain is unfortunately renowned for its decidedly unpredictable weather conditions. In the middle of summer you can get caught in a torrential downpour of Biblical proportions, even if it had been gorgeous blue skies and warm sunshine the day before. This can mean that organising a dive trip to our shores is a risky proposition, especially if you are travelling an extensive distance to get to your chosen location. No one wants to spend hours in the car just to then sit in the car park and watch the rain lash against the windscreen in gale force winds! That is where Cornwall plays a blinder. There are several reasons why this southwest county is one of the most-popular diving areas in the country, but first and foremost has to be the fact that it boasts both a north-facing and south-facing coastline, separated in some cases by as little as a 20-30 minute drive. This means that if a planned dive on the south coast is blown out, then it is more than likely you will be able to get wet somewhere off the north coast, and vice versa.
THE NORTH COAST
There are various hotspots along the northern coast where you can find shore-diving sites, or charter boats/dive centres to help you access offshore locations, but the main areas to look at include Newquay, St Ives and Padstow. Shipwrecks include the Princess Royal, a 2,000-tonne Scottish cargo vessel that sank in 40m after being torpedoed in 1918; the Syracusa, a 1,243-tonne schooner that went down in a storm in 1897 and now lies in 30m; the Sphene, an 815-tonne steam ship that sank in 25m in terrible weather conditions in 1946; and perhaps the most unusual, the St Chamond, also known as the Train Wreck due to its cargo of steam locomotives that litter the seabed around it in 28m. Reef dives that should be on your list are Poltexas Reef, a tidal pinnacle just off Newquay that is smothered in marine life; Newquayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Headland, an easy access shore dive which has plentiful seaweed and kelp beds hiding spider crabs, dogfish, pollock and other marine life; and Porthminster Reef (also known as The Carracks), near St Ives, which benefits from a shallow depth (15m) and lots of fish and invertebrate life.
When in Cornwall, make sure you sample some of the local delicacies, namely scrumptious pasties and, of course, the delicious cream teas. Now is it the jam first and then the clotted cream, or the other way around? I am not getting into that argument!
If we were logical, the future would be bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work.
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Spider crab sheltering in a rocky outcrop
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THE SOUTH COAST
Just like its northern sibling, the south coast is dotted with shore- and boat-diving sites, but benefits from a moredeveloped diving infrastructure. The main areas to focus on include Penzance, the Lizard, Falmouth and Plymouth. There are a multitude of shipwrecks off the south coast, but highlights out of Plymouth include the James Eagan Layne, an American liberty ship that sank in 1945 after being torpedoed. She is now well broken up, but is covered in marine life, and makes a fantastic second dive after the nearby HMS Scylla, the UK’s first – and still only – artificial reef. A 113-metre-long Leander-class frigate, she was scuttled in March 2004 and was swiftly colonised by marine growth and fish life. As she is fully intact, penetration is possible, but beware, much of the inside is very silty, and there have been several fatalities in the past where divers have ventured inside without the proper equipment or training. When the weather stops diving, there is always a ‘pub dive’
Other cracking wrecks in this vicinity include HMS Elk, a fishing vessel being used by the Royal Navy which sank in 1940 after hitting a mine, and now lies in 30m-35m with large shoals of fish always surrounding her. Off the Lizard you can barely dive anywhere without coming across some sunken metal, and as well as the Mohegan (see below), one of the better prospects is the Carmarthen, a 4,262-tonne cargo steamship which was torpedoed in 1917 and now lies well broken up in 20m. Reef dives to check out include Penzance’s Lamorna Cove, which boasts a plethora of marine life and is also an awesome night-diving location; Silver Steps, an easy shallow dive near Falmouth that can deliver seahorses and cuttlefish if you are lucky, as well as the remnants of several World War One German U-boats; Falmouth’s Pendennis Point, which offers dives to the east and west of a rocky peninsula, and is home to all manner of reef life, which finds solace in the numerous nooks and crannies; the Welps, a granite reef running southwest in Veryan Bay that drops to between 18m-25m and is truly spectacular; the Eddystone, a crop of rocks topped by a lighthouse south of Plymouth which provide some dramatic drop-offs and walls; and Porthkerris on the Lizard, which has a nice shore dive (Drawna Rock) as well as being a launching point to hit sites such as the Manacles, which features several extremely picturesque scenic dives including drop-offs and pinnacles covered in jewel anemones, sea fans, dead man’s fingers and plumose anemones, as well as numerous shipwrecks, including the tragic SS Mohegan, a passenger liner that went down in 1898, taking 104 people with her.
Just like its northern sibling, the south coast is dotted with shore- and boat-diving sites, but bene-fits from a more-developed diving infrastructure WWW.DIVERAID.COM
Urchins add a spot of colour
Returning from a great shore dive
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The waters can be crystal clear
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Topside, Cornwall is a truly breathtaking place and for divers who venture down for a week’s holiday, there is plenty to do on those non-diving days, including heading to top attractions like St Michael’s Mount, the Eden Project, Newquay Zoo, Trebah Gardens, Tintagel, Land’s End, Port Isaac and Geevor tin mine. Away from the crowds, the coastline is littered with small towns and villages, many boasting weathered coves and tranquil beaches. Aged pubs and ice cream parlours are a common sight and either of these can make for an enjoyable post-dive option during the day. Cornwall really does seem to have all its bases covered, but even then, particularly foul weather conditions can rule out diving on either side of the county. That’s when you can remember the most-important thing about UK diving - even if you’re blown-out, there’s always the pub. n
No one wants to spend hours in the car just to then sit in the car park and watch the rain lash against the windscreen in gale force winds! 50
Tip 350g self-raising flour into a large bowl with 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp baking powder, then mix. Add 85g butter cubes, then rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs, then stir in 3 tbsp caster sugar. Put 175ml milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm, but not hot. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and a squeeze of lemon juice, then set aside. Put baking sheet in the oven. Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife - it will seem quite wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over two to three times until it is smoother. Pat into a round about 4cm deep. Take a 5cm cutter and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. You may need to press what is left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four. Brush the tops with a beaten egg, then carefully place on the hot baking tray. Bake for ten minutes until risen and golden on top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, topped with jam and clotted cream.
Image by Franco Banfi
FREEDIVING HINTS & ADVICE
ARE YOU A GAS GUZZLER? Always the first one running low on air? In the first of a two-part article, RAID Freedive Training Director Emma Farrell offers some advice to scuba divers on ways to increase your SAC rate and extend your dive time PHOTOGRAPHS BY SIMON REID Freedivers exploring a shipwreck
ou know you’re a gas guzzler when you use a twinset for a 40-minute dive, or when you’re always the first one out of air. Men tend to be gas guzzlers more than women, and newbies more than experienced divers. However, it is possible to teach people how to use less air on a dive, and the benefits extend far beyond a longer dive time. I’ve been teaching scuba divers my Gas Guzzler course for the past 15 years, taking the methodology, techniques and exercises that apply to freediving, and teaching them to scuba divers. Best of all, the course is in the classroom, so perfect for scuba divers who have no intention of ever trying freediving! The course not only looks at how to breathe more efficiently, it helps you analyse all aspects of your dive, preparation and kit set up to help you see that using less air is not simply about breathing less. And when you tweak all aspects of your diving, the dives not only become longer, but much more comfortable and enjoyable. Scuba divers can significantly reduce the amount of oxygen they use during diving. The main focus is on slowing your breathing and relaxing your body. By learning to breathe deeply you will calm your mind and body, meaning your dives will be longer and more enjoyable. So let’s look at how you can reduce air consumption on a scuba dive.
KIT SET UP
Giving your kit set up an overhaul can make a huge difference to your air consumption. Ditch the weight - The biggest issue I’ve come across with scuba divers is being over-weighted. The more weight you wear, the more difficulties you can have with buoyancy, and the effort of maintaining a position is a sure-fire way to use more air. Another thing to consider is what kind of weight system you are using and where it is on your body. If you’re wearing a weightbelt then chances are it is around your waist. This is the absolute worst place for it to be as it stops you being able to breathe correctly and abdominally (more on that below!). If you wear a weightbelt then buy a rubber one. They are cheap and it means you can tie it tightly around your hips, leaving you free to belly breathe. Leave the toys at home - If you’re determined to have a longer dive then look at your gear and decide if you’re walking into the water looking sleek and ready for action, or like a Christmas tree with too many ornaments. Get back to basics. The more bits and bobs you have to worry about, the more your attention will be on them and not the dive. The worst offender for this is your new snazzy camera. So much to learn and deal with while you’re under the water fish wrangling for that perfect shot. My advice is to get the diving right first, then bring the camera into play. How hard is your bite? - Take a look at your mouthpiece and regulator. Do you have to clamp down to keep it in your mouth? Does your jaw ache after a dive? The more tense
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your jaw is, the more stress there will be in your body as you will be activating the sympathetic nervous response and breathing more. Look into an orthodontic mouthpiece and adjust the regulator so it is easy to breathe through it. Does your mask fit properly? - The bigger your mask, the more air you will use to equalise it. Granted this is a small amount of air, but if the mask doesn’t fit well then you will be using a lot of air clearing it. A common problem also with scuba divers is that when they equalise, they are used to having such a lot of air to play with that they lose air from their mask with every equalisation. Get your buddy to keep an eye on how much extra air you are using dealing with your mask and when you equalise. Wetsuit, drysuit or straightjacket? - If you are warm you use less air. If you are comfy you use less air. Did you buy your wetsuit years before middle-age spread set in? Is it time to upgrade your kit? Is your BCD working for you? It’s always worth trying a new set up and seeing if a different style of gear set up could make all the difference. Finning fast and furious - How efficient and effective is your finning? On a freediving course, we are constantly teaching style, technique and efficiency of movement. If you bicycle kick or fin too fast then you’ll use more energy for comparatively less results. Stiff fins are also more difficult to use, so look at your fins and try some other ones out if you think this is an area of your kit set up that could do with looking at.
More and more recreational and technical divers are using freediving techniques to improve their dive times and general underwater well-being
WHAT GOES IN…
It isn’t rocket science but it goes against the grain for some scuba divers when asked to adjust certain aspects of their diet and lifestyle. If this is you, then I suggest this is the point you skip forward to the bit about breathing! Dive reflex and metabolism - When you dive, the digestion process slows and foods ferment, causing heartburn, indigestion, burping and nausea. Food in the stomach also restricts full and easy belly breathing. Try to eat at least oneand-a-half hours before the dive. Can I eat a burger? - Not ideal… A heavy meal that mixes proteins, fats and sugars can take much longer to digest and cause the problems mentioned above. Eat something light that you know you can digest quickly and save your blow out for when the dive is over. Can I have a pint before I dive? - Of water? Yes. Dehydration makes the blood thicker, the heart work harder and you’ll breathe more. The mammalian dive reflex also means that you lose more water than you can take in through immersion diuresis. Therefore, it is very important to drink plenty, but not caffeine and other stimulants, which increase the heart rate; fizzy drinks also alter the PH of the blood. Alcohol dehydrates and impairs judgement. Smoking is alright though? - The biggest issue for smoking in terms of air use is that carbon monoxide binds much more strongly to haemoglobin than oxygen, therefore you deprive your body of oxygen and have to breathe more to compensate.
PSYCHOLOGY Every aspect of your dive has the potential to turn on your fight or flight reflex, your sympathetic nervous response. By identifying the triggers and setting a plan to reduce or remove
HERE ARE THE FIVE MOST-IMPORTANT THINGS FOR ALL GAS GUZZLERS TO REMEMBER: • Count your breaths and extend the exhalation • Never start a dive until comfortable. Take it at your own pace • Take an inventory of your kit and check it is working for you, not against you • Dive frequently with a buddy you trust • Relax and enjoy yourself! them, you can keep your body and mind in a relaxed and comfortable parasympathetic response. An example of this is on a dive holiday. You’re lining up on the back of the boat and the seas are rough. They want you into the water and under it as fast as possible. You’re hurried, not ready, and subtle stress sets in. Your heart and breathing rate goes up and before the dive has begun, you’re gulping for air. On my Gas Guzzler course, we deal a lot with the psychology of a dive and how to create a routine to reduce stress. Here are my tops tips when you’re being literally pushed into the water: • When lining up and standing still, close your eyes and focus on gentle, relaxed, abdominal breathing. • In the water, don’t leave the surface until your breathing is under control and you are calm. • On the way down, pause every 5-10m and check your breathing. Are you relaxed? Is your jaw tense? • From time to time, close your eyes for five to ten seconds and focus on relaxed and calm breathing. • Always keep your buddy close for reassurance and safety. n
Each issue of The Edge, our panel of underwater photography professionals will offer hints and advice on particular topics. This issue, the thorny subject of travelling with your camera system, and the best ways to pack your gear PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF MARIO VITALINI, MARTYN GUESS, PHIL AND ANNE MEDCALF AND PAUL DUXFIELD
“Packing is one of the moststressful bits about any MARIO holiday. I always recommend VITALINI starting early to keep your nerves in check. “The first think I do is to select what gear I may need. There is no reason to take every bit of equipment you own. Choose the kit more suited to the place you are visiting and consider a few spares. Ask yourself, is it a macro or a wide-angle destination? Will you need a fisheye lens? Do you need a remote strobe or a snoot? Avoid taking unnecessary equipment. “Once I have selected my equipment, I usually lay it all out on the floor and set it up at least once. It is a good time to test that everything is working. The last thing you want is get to your destination only to realise you left a vital bit of kit behind, normally a sync cable or a charger. I’m not good at lists, but if it helps have a spreadsheet of all the parts you need. “Not every bit of equipment needs to go in your hand luggage, I only take with me camera and lenses. Use your hold luggage to pack the lessfragile bits. I use a small soft case where I pack
housing, ports and strobes. Using bubble wrap and foam, I protect each piece of kit and organise them tightly. I then place the soft case in the middle of a lightweight hard case and use my clothes and dive kit to add protection. “I regularly pack all my dive kit, camera kit and cloth for a week in under 30kg. Enough to travel to any dive destination without any problems.”
“I always try to put as much of my camera gear in the hold luggage as ANNE possible to avoid having to carry a MEDCALF lot of weight in hand luggage around airports, this also avoids trying to fit lots of heavy things in my pockets when check in weigh the carry-on bag! Although the camera and lenses will always be in my hand luggage, pretty much everything else is robust enough to survive in my suitcase. I was always loathe to put any camera gear in the hold, but as you gain more gear and your kit expands, then you do need to be realistic when packing. “I have an aluminium housing which would always get me stopped by security if it went in hand luggage, but it is fine in the hold along with the tray, arms and clamps. My strobes and ports also go in the hold, well protected with bubble wrap and cushioned in my wetsuit and clothes. Tupperware is also useful for a bit of extra protection for kit and I take rechargeable AA batteries for the strobes in a clip-lidded box. All the chargers go in along with a four-gang extension lead with the right plug adaptor attached ready so it is easier to charge things when there is a shortage of sockets.” “Hand luggage limits can be restrictive but it is worth weighing everything PHIL before you buy, including bags, to MEDCALF make the most of the weight allowed. Anything delicate or irreplaceable
needs to stay in hand luggage and I use a lightweight photographer’s backpack so my camera and lenses are protected. The laptop and hard drives are also in hand luggage - we have two hard drives and as we travel as a couple, we take one each for extra security. Buying tough hard drives that can take a few bumps is also a good idea if you will be travelling a lot, as they are bound to get dropped at some point. “Have a checklist of your equipment so you don’t forget anything and you can take a picture of your bags to remind yourself how everything was packed. If you are optically challenged and need a prescription mask, then do take this in your carry-on too as you won’t be able to rent one - it can go in the hold on the way home. It’s also worth checking what extras you can carry on the plane, such as laptop bags, a small camera or handbag or a coat with space for more gear. Don’t forget to take your re-usable water bottles, but make sure you take them out of the bag and take the lids off when going through security so they don’t stop you. Whatever country you are in, be nice to check in and security staff, be ready with electricals and liquids out of bags and smile - they are doing their jobs and if you are grumpy or argue with them, you are the only one that will lose out. Remember, you are on holiday!”
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Dive Like a Pro
My pro tip is pretty obvious - and it’s to pack light. I carry the absolute bare PAUL minimum to do the job along with me DUXFIELD in my hand luggage. And along with my laptop and backup drive, I pack camera, housing, fisheye lens, dome port, basic arms and at least one Inon S2000 strobe. Along with chargers, cables and a set of AA Eneloop batteries. I prep everything, clean O-rings, charge batteries then put it all together as if I’m about to use it, take some test shots on a cleared memory card, then repack all this in my carry-on case. This means I can hit the ground running when I get onsite with the minimum of fuss and prep. I also keep a spare pair of shorts, pants and a T-shirt in this bag, so that if the SHTF and my main luggage doesn’t make it, I have some clean clothes to use while what I was wearing gets washed. This also acts as padding for the camera gear. Macro ports, lenses and other kit goes in my main luggage, packed in bubblewrap inside Tupperware-style boxes. This means I can take lighter, soft-sided main luggage, but still maintain adequate protection for the kit inside. I also now use a super-light-weight Rogue wing from Aqua Lung, which comes apart and packs very small in a packing cube. I also use very cheap and light but rigid pool fins for long-haul trips, further keeping the weight down from my usual Mares Avanti Quattros. That’s it really, no need to overcomplicate things.
Our underwater photography professionals are ideally placed to dispense advice as they have, between them, literally thousands of hours of dive time and countless hours spent travelling the world shooting underwater images and teaching workshops.
“My Nikon D5 is a beast of a camera weighing in at 1.4kg! Compared to other photographers with their compacts or their mirrorless systems, I have to contend with a considerable amount of weight, as having a big camera everything that goes with it is also weighty. “The first thing when packing is to consider, what I am going to shoot when I get where I am going. Is it mainly macro or mainly wide angle? If macro, then there is little point me taking my huge Subtronic strobes and huge Zen dome port, for example (I take a smaller dome). I see so many people who take everything they own in their camera cupboard – it’s best to be selective. “Make a list when you get back from a trip and check what you didn’t use. The next time you go away check back on the list and pack accordingly. “I found the lightest weight cabin roller bag that I could mine weighs 1.5kg. Into this I pack my housing and a couple of Inon strobes and MacBook. This normally takes me to the airline hand luggage limit. I then pack my faithful photographer’s vest stuffed to the gunwales, with camera body, lenses, magnifiers, batteries and loads more. This is removed when checking in and draped innocuously over a trolley or simply worn – it can weigh 12kg or more! The nice thing is that when not at the check in, the heavy load can be rolled around comfortably! “Next, I pack everything else, either in strong plastic boxes or wrapped in bubble wrap and then wrap my wetsuit, rash vest, clothes, etc, around the more-fragile items. This is all packed into the lightest, stiff-sided roller bag, suitable for the hold that I could find – one made by Rohan. All internal sides and any voids are stuffed with bubble wrap. “I am always looking for ways to shed luggage weight and have the obligatory travel wing, lightweight regulators and fins. Recently I changed nearly all my charging units to USB and plug these into a mains-powered USB hub – this saved me 1.5kg!” n
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Forget McGregor versus Mayweather, the big showdown when it comes to technical diving is sidemount versus backmount. Recreational diver Gavin Jones took the plunge with RAID Instructor Trainer Garry Dallas to try out both forms of twin-cylinder diving PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK EVANS
ack in the day, when it came to open-circuit technical diving, the default ‘base’ from which to develop your skill set was a trusty twinset, either manifolded or two independent cylinders. Having twin ten-litre or 12-litre cylinders on your back gave you ample gas and redundancy over a solitary tank to venture a little beyond so-called recreational diving depths, and then by adding one or more side-slung cylinders as your training in the world of technical diving progressed, you could really start to explore those alluring depths. Then sidemount burst on to the scene. Now diving with two cylinders, one on either side of your body, with a streamlined wing on your back for buoyancy, was nothing radically new – cave divers had been utilising this set-up for many years – but several years ago it became very en vogue, and suddenly diving sidemount on reefs and wrecks became the ‘in’ thing. It also provided a stable base from which to
add more cylinders as tech training developed. So you are a recreational diver, with a few years of diving under your belt and a couple of hundred dives in your logbook, and you are looking to enter the work of technical diving. Now you have a choice – sidemount or backmount? We recruited Gavin Jones, a keen single-cylinder RAID 40 diver from Shropshire who was showing an inclination to ‘go technical’ in the future, to be our ‘guinea pig’ and try out both forms of twin-cylinder diving. He has trained with Shrewsbury-based RAID centre Severntec Diving, and already uses a backplate-and-wing and long-hose set-up, so was well on his way to the technical ‘dark side’. Gavin said: “As I progressed through various courses and my depth limits, one thing that was always at the forefront of my mind was redundant gas supply. While I acknowledged the buddy system, I didn’t want to rely on the ability and skills of an unknown diver while diving on holiday.
Gavin had great trim in sidemount in no time
TO THE DELPH
Cylinders rigged securely either side
A bright, sunny morning greeted us as we rolled into the car park at the Delph. Garry maintains a classroom here, so it made sense to conduct the trydives at this location. After introductions and the obligatory coffees, we went into the classroom and Garry immediately went into ‘instructor mode’, explaining the differences between backmount and sidemount, and getting Gavin sized up with the right wings and harnesses. Although he is well known in sidemount circles, Garry also teaches and dives in backmount (as well as with rebreathers), so he was the perfect guide to show Gavin the ropes with both systems. First up was sidemount.
“As I reached the limits of recreational diving, I opted to always carry a stage cylinder with the same gas for non-deco dives deeper than 20m for my own peace of mind and to be self-reliant. This reduced my anxiety, gave me comfort and allowed me to enjoy the dive. “My first experience with a twinset was unloading our club’s van - I enquired how they managed to even stand up with that on! The reply was ‘you get used to it’, and ‘you don’t notice in the water’. Sidemount seemed easier to manage at the dive site, but the set-up looked nothing like my backplateand-wing, so I was sceptical if I’d be able to understand a different way of doing things.” We then roped in Garry Dallas, an Instructor Trainer with RAID UK and Malta, as our mentor to take Gavin on extended try dives both in backmount and sidemount so that he could see the pros and cons of both forms of technical diving.
One thing that Gavin did have to get used to was swapping between his regulator second stages to evenly deplete the gas out of his two cylinders 62
This was a totally new concept to Gavin. He commented: “I carried both cylinders to the water, placed them in the shallows and returned to get into my harness. I noted how easy it was to get set up and at no point was I carrying anything heavy. Once the sliding D-rings were correctly positioned and the cylinders were bungeed up, the whole system was very neat and streamlined - nothing protruded wider than my shoulders or deeper than my body.” It took a little while for him to get properly rigged up with the cylinders sitting in the correct position, but at least he was used to the long-hose set-up, and this meant that that aspect of sidemount didn’t feel completely alien to him. I know from back when I did my sidemount course with Garry, it does feel very odd to be in the water with nothing on your back, and to have the valves on two cylinders sitting either side of your chest. On the other hand, this positioning also helps you achieve a nice horizontal trim very quickly. One thing that Gavin did have to get used to was swapping between his regulator second stages to evenly deplete the
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THE GOSPEL OF GARRY
Gavin looking relaxed on sidemount Gavin practising his hover
There’s so much subjectivity regarding the pros and cons of backmount and sidemount, that it’s hard to see the wood for the trees - and egos. From an unbiased POV, given my earlier technical diving path on twinsets, from diver training through to trimix instructor, seeing the differences was obvious, hence I’m still diving religiously today. For the last 60/70 years, innovation has improved on all scuba systems, so now RAID have released, alongside the twinset, the most up-to-date sidemount training manual – the primary author being me. Fundamentally, every unit should keep you safe, redundancy being your safe, accessible back-up. For this main reason, sidemount cave divers found this configuration the safest choice. If anyone can’t - or really struggles to - reach their valves easily every time, without losing buoyancy, then they need to change configuration. Period! Other reasons you’ll learn on a RAID course are minor in comparison, for instance… carrying double the weight on land as opposed to singles, while L4 and L5 vertebrae screams on the way back to your vehicle. Can sidemount be a faff? Of course, when someone hasn’t trained on it. Everything is hard work when you don’t know what you should be doing. Train ‘hard’, dive easy!
gas out of his two cylinders. One sits round the neck on a bungee, as per normal long-hose recreational or twinset diving, while the long hose is equipped with a P-clip so that when that regulator is not in your mouth, it can be securely clipped off onto a D-ring on your right shoulder strap. Under Garry’s watchful eye and tutelage, Gavin soon got to grips with sidemount diving. His trim and position in the water was nicely horizontal within a matter of minutes, and I could see he was enjoying the ease of access to both pillar valves for shutdown drills, etc. Garry doesn’t do anything by halves, and really worked with Gavin to ensure he got the best possible introduction to this form of diving. He also put him through several skills and drills, including back-finning, turning, and so on. Gavin concluded: “The whole system felt very balanced, streamlined and stable. I liked the fact that everything was right there and accessible, I could easily see and manipulate valves, check SPG and hose routing. Entering and exiting the water was easy, and rigging up was much easier and quicker than I envisaged.”
Gavin immediately looked more comfortable out of the blocks with a traditional twinset on his back. As he was used to diving with a backplate-and-wing and a long-hose set-up, other than the fact he now had two cylinders on his back instead of one, everything else was very familiar and fell easily to hand. However, there was that weight to get used to. Gavin said: “I’ve suffered with a bad back on and off for many years from a motorcycle accident, so I wasn’t particularly looking forward to hoisting all that weight up and walking to the water. However, I was pleasantly surprised that once I’d got it up and everything secure, it wasn’t too bad - I managed the walk and the entry to the water without a problem.” One of the key skills when using a backmounted twinset is the S-drill, or shutdown drill, and Gavin found there was a definite knack to reaching up and over your shoulders to turn
the knobs on the cylinder pillar valves and the central manifold knob. Garry said the skill does become easier over time, as a result of muscle memory and increased flexibility, but this was the only aspect of twinset diving that Gavin appeared to find a bit awkward. He commented: “I instantly felt comfortable with how everything was set up and worked - until we discussed and went through shutdown procedures. In my drysuit I struggled to reach the valves to turn them. Maybe with some practice this wouldn’t become an issue.” Once under the water, Gavin’s trim and buoyancy in the water was very good, and he didn’t seem to have any major issues, even through all of the skill-and-drill circuits directed his way by Garry. He said: “I liked the instant familiarity with the set up and rig, and once on my back it wasn’t as heavy and bulky as I thought it would be. However, I wouldn’t of liked trying to get out on slippy rocks or up a boat ladder.”
So, which is best? Well, it isn’t quite as straightforward as that. What works well for one person doesn’t necessarily tick all the right boxes for someone else. Either set-up makes a sound starting point for technical diving. Sidemount allows a lot of flexibility – for example, it is a simple matter to just rig up one cylinder and go diving if that is a better option for a particular dive than needlessly lugging two tanks. Many sidemount devotees note the reduced strain on your lower back, and the enhanced freedom of movement from having the cylinders on your side rather than mounted on your back. On the flipside, you get those who see rigging sidemount as a real faff, and prefer just being able to sling a twinset on their back and go diving. Technical divers do tend to be tinkerers and are always fettling their kit anyway, but sidemount divers can take this to a whole new level of ‘tweaking’, so I understand this viewpoint to an extent. Which one came out on top for Gavin? Well, he was undoubtedly more comfortable in the twinset from the outset, however he liked the flexibility of the sidemount system and was looking very streamlined and trim in the water. A few weeks later, he bit the bullet and did his first course using two cylinders – in sidemount, in case you were wondering… n
A REBREATHER DIVER’S CODE OF CONDUCT In her first column, Jill Heinerth, RAID Examiner and underwater explorer, focuses her attention on closed-circuit rebreathers, a complex piece of equipment she has used for many years. PHOTOGRAPHS BY JILL HEINERTH
frequently engage in conversations with individuals who are weighing the risks of rebreather diving. They want me to offer guidance about whether they should ‘take the plunge’ into closed-circuit diving. I’ve been actively diving rebreathers since the 1990s, so I have had a long time to think about that answer! It is a big decision that has financial and personal considerations that extend to your entire family. I have assembled a riskassessment exercise that I hope will help people make the right choice. I’m not trying to steer people away from rebreather diving, but I do want them to know about the issues. As prudent divers, we have responsibilities to our loved ones and our community. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to consider the following statements before making a final decision about whether rebreather diving is right for you: • I will accept personal responsibility for my actions and carefully manage risk assessment with the recognition that poor choices will affect my family and diving community and may put others at considerable risk. • I will be patient and dive within the limits of my training and experience on my new rebreather. I understand that means stepping back to gain experience in shallow water before resuming the depth and complexity of my open water experiences, or experiences on other models of rebreathers.
• I am aware that complacency creeps into the practices of experienced divers, and I will be vigilant and unwavering with checklists, pre-, and post-dive safety procedures. • Recognizing that rebreather diving requires alertness and good health, I will carefully assess dive conditions in addition to my physical and mental preparedness before every dive. • I will ensure that I am familiar and up to date with my equipment, skills, and safe operating procedures, recognizing the need for practice and currency. • I recognize my role in an evolving sport by keeping current with developments and emerging knowledge within the industry. • I will personally analyze my gas and prepare my rebreather, recognizing my responsibility for its safe operation. • I will carry adequate bailout gas to allow me to recover from a catastrophic loop failure. • I will not rush in my preparation and am willing to skip a dive if rushed. • I will only partake in dives where I am capable of self-rescue and am willing and able to support a buddy rescue. • I will maintain adequate health and specialty diving accident insurance, such as DAN insurance, that will protect my family and me in the event of an accident. • I will share my motivations for rebreather diving with my family and have frank discussions about risk versus rewards, allowing them to participate in sensible family planning. • I will not enter the water if my rebreather has not passed pre-dive checks without conditions. • I will be truthful and open about mistakes and incidents to help the community learn. • I will be an active participant in improving the culture of dive safety. n
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Diving in the era of
RAID’s medical advisor Douglas Ebersole MD looks at the future of diving in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and gives a personal view of the situation having contracted – and recovered from – the virus PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF DOUGLAS EBERSOLE, MD
come to you as a recreational and technical diving instructor, as a physician consultant for Divers Alert Network, as the medical advisor for RAID - and as a COVID-19 survivor. For me, it was just an occupational hazard. I tested positive for COVID-19 after seeing a patient in my cardiology clinic for an unrelated condition who seemed quite short of breath. He was admitted to the ICU and tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, he did not require a ventilator and recovered after approximately two weeks in the hospital. I was notified of his positive test one week after my exposure. As I had been wearing my N95 mask when I saw him, I was advised to take my temperature daily and self-monitor for symptoms. I did well for a few days and then began developing a cough and profound fatigue, followed by fever. I ended up testing positive and spent the next couple of weeks quarantined at home. I have now recovered and will be going back to work this week and look forward to returning to diving. More on that later. I am definitely one of the lucky ones. Thousands of others have been hospitalised, required ventilators, and have died. Our thoughts and prayers should go out to those patients and their families. While this is a horrific global event, the diving industry will come out the other side. When we do, how do we safely get people diving? This is a multifactorial issue, involving dive shops, dive charters, instructors, and the individual diver/student.
The novel coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, is the cause of the disease COVID-19, which has killed almost 200,000 people worldwide as of today (25 April 2020). SARS-COvV-2 is part of the viral group known as ‘corona’ (Latin for ‘crown’ or ‘halo’) because of the pattern of proteins that stud its surface. Coronaviruses are responsible for 15-30 percent of acute respiratory infections each year. Human-to-human spread of
the virus is by way of large respiratory droplets (coughing, sneezing, speaking) and touching contaminated surfaces. The incubation period of the virus is two to 14 days, with a mean of 5.1 days. Medical experts believe a vaccine for COVID-19 is still at least 18 months away. Until a vaccine is available, or effective therapies are found, the disease will continue to spread. The impact of social distancing and ‘flattening the curve’ has been helping keep people safe and helping to avoid overwhelming our medical resources, but it has also had a massive economic impact on society. This impact has been felt especially severe in the diving industry as it is based on discretionary spending by consumers. Additionally, for many divers, their interest in diving is strongly linked to the ability to travel internationally. Until travel restrictions are lifted and consumers are confident in the ability of the airlines and cruise industry to keep them safe, the dive industry will likely continue to suffer economically. But enough doom and gloom. What can we do as a community to help the dive industry?
The diver or dive student needs to feel safe before they will go into a store to purchase gear or training, to board a dive charter, or simply to go diving. For the foreseeable future, this is going to mean wearing masks in public (in certain countries), social distancing in dive shops, fewer passengers spread out on dive charters, an emphasis on online training where possible, and smaller class sizes, again to allow students to practice social distancing. Pay by phone or curbside tank drop-off could also be effective interventions to reduce the chance of infection. One positive aspect of this pandemic is it has forced dive shops and training agencies to move towards more online training. E-learning has been growing in popularity for some time and has been embraced by various training agencies and dive centres to greater and lesser degrees. RAID now allows
students access to all of their training materials from open water diver through cave diving instructor at no cost. Webinars and Zoom conferences have become the new normal. There have been a number of outstanding live conferences put on by The Diver Medic, Dirty Dozen Expeditions, Dive Ninjas, Scuba Diver Live, Deeper Discussions and Shallow Thoughts, Divesoft Talk Live, and many others these past few weeks. I imagine dive centres will incorporate this mode of education into some aspects of their academic courses in Ready to head the future. off for a CCR dive Unfortunately, many dive centres will not be able to financially weather this storm, but as a community we need to do everything we can to help support our local dive centres. Take this time out of the water to get your gear serviced. For dive centres not located in diving hotspots, it is going to be really tough until travel restrictions are lifted and their customers feel comfortable getting on an airplane. If you have a trip that is in jeopardy, consider rescheduling rather than cancelling and asking for a refund. Buy gear in preparation for upcoming dive trips in advance of the quarantines and shelter in place orders being lifted. Sign up for continuing education and do the academic portions online, or via a conferencing app with your instructor. Every little bit helps. We are all in this together.
Rinsing off dive gear at the end of each pool session will no longer suffice. We need to truly disinfect any items that could be shared among divers, especially regulators and BCDs. Coronaviruses belong to a group of enveloped viruses, which means the virion (the form that the virus takes while outside the host cell) is protected by an oily lipid layer. As with most enveloped viruses, damaging or destroying this lipid layer will inactivate the virus. Studies of other coronaviruses have shown their infectivity can be reduced by heat, UV light and alkaline or acidic conditions. Because of this, and the fact that enveloped viruses are generally easily inactivated, surfaces can be disinfected using household cleaning products. Because research into SARS-CoV-2 is ongoing, there is debate about how long it can survive on surfaces. Recent studies have shown that it can survive up to three hours in an aerosol droplet (such as from a sneeze), four hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard, and two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. In water, however, it is unclear how long SARSCoV-2 survives. Studies on the SARS virus, called SARS-CoV-1 and the cause of an epidemic in 2003, have shown that it remained infectious for long periods in surface water (lakes, rivers, wetlands, etc.) and previously pasteurized sewage at both low and ambient temperatures. In chlorinated or bromated pools and hot tubs, the CDC specifies that SARSCoV-2 would be inactivated.
When selecting a disinfectant, it is of utmost importance to use a product that has proven efficacy against either SARS-CoV-2 or the harder-to-kill SARS-CoV-1. Consult your
local governing body’s pesticide registration system for its list of registered disinfectants if the products specified in the EPA’s List N are unavailable in your area. When using these products, be sure to follow the directions and use the specified personal protective equipment (such as gloves or eye protection) when disinfecting. To disinfect equipment to kill the virus that causes COVID-19, a disinfectant on the EPA’s List N should be used. Before using a product, check to see if it has been registered with the EPA for use on dive equipment, respirators or the materials these are made of. Alternatively, the CDC recommends a 4:100 bleach solution (1/3 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water) with a contact time of one minute. After disinfecting equipment, one must take care not to re-infect the equipment, such as by handling it when storing. Dive shop employees should take care to maintain good hygiene by washing hands frequently and regularly disinfecting high-touch areas, including fill stations. When using any disinfectant, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Follow this with a thorough rinse in fresh water, and allow the equipment to dry completely before use. Finally, consider updating your existing emergency action plan to include a potential COVID-19 infection by staff or customers. Be sure to outline all disinfection protocols and ensure that they are being diligently followed by all staff. The most-important consideration is the health and safety of your staff and customers.
The main issue with training divers is how do we effectively teach them the important skill of air-sharing without potentially putting their health at risk. Training agencies require students to demonstrate in-water ‘air-sharing’ exercises to meet general standards published by the various diving standards organizations. Widespread concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 infection have demanded we allow changes to the way this skill is demonstrated and practiced during both confined skills training and open water certification dives. Since RAID has a mandatory S-Drill and is a ‘primary’ gas-sharing agency, cross-contamination is impossible to reduce. Therefore, RAID has designed a new protocol that, with only a minor change, will still meet the requirements for certification. Other agencies are considering similar changes in their training standards. In simplified terms, to demonstrate a classic air-sharing
drill, one diver gives their buddy an out-of-air (OOA) signal, their buddy donates their primary regulator second stage, and the diver simulating OOA places it into their mouth and breathes from it. Under present circumstances, this method could present an opportunity for cross-infection, not just in chlorinated swimming pool water but also, certainly, in freshwater or the open ocean. In the interests of diver and instructor safety, and until further notice, RAID is asking its members to follow this revised protocol for S-Drills and in-place OOA simulations.
• Diver one, simulating OOA, signals their buddy ‘Out of Air!’ • Diver two presents a working second-stage regulator. In Iceland’s Silfra Rift...
unknown, but likely highly variable among individuals. We are in the midst of a generation-defining pandemic the world has not seen in 100 years. There is an appropriate amount of fear and uncertainty gripping the planet. Along with everyone else, we in the diving industry are concerned as to what the long-term effects of this pandemic will be on our livelihoods and the sport we all love. First of all, we need to make sure our sport is safe for our students, our certified divers, and for ourselves. This means changing disinfecting policies, changing some aspects of training, and allowing for social distancing in our dive centres, our dive charters, etc. The best advice at the moment is for any diver who has had a symptomatic case of COVID-19 to be examined by a physician with diving knowledge prior to resuming diving. As for myself, I am one of the lucky ones. My symptoms of COVID-19 were no worse than a bad case of the flu. I had a normal chest x-ray, normal oxygen saturations, and never had symptoms of shortness of breath. After about two weeks, all of my symptoms resolved and my exercise tolerance on my home rowing machine was back to baseline. I was able to slowly get back to scuba diving. Be safe. We will come out the other side of this – hopefully as better people in better nations, and living in a better world. I would like to thank DAN and the long list of diving educators, instructors, training agencies, and manufacturers whose input helped me put this paper together. n
... and enjoying warmer tropical waters
• Diver one takes the offered regulator and switches from their primary regulator to their back-up second stage while gently purging the donated second stage to check that it is working. • All the steps from a normal air-sharing drill are practiced – only the switch to the buddy’s regulator is simulated. • When the drill is completed (after horizontal swim, ascent, etc), diver one returns the donated regulator to their buddy. This method adequately demonstrates all of the component skills of an air-sharing drill, including having the OOA diver switch regulators without exposing either diver to an elevated risk of cross contamination.
RETURNING TO DIVING AFTER COVID-19
What about the diver, like myself, who has contracted COVID-19? When can they safely return to diving? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not known at the present time, but is not likely to be a ‘one size fits all’ answer. Like with any illness, the diver will need to completely resolve their symptoms and have good exercise tolerance before even considering a return to diving. However, COVID-19 in some cases aggressively attacks the pulmonary and cardiovascular system and the duration of these effects is
DOUGLAS EBERSOLE MD
Douglas Ebersole MD is an interventional cardiologist at the Watson Clinic LLP in Lakeland, Florida and is the Director of the Structural Heart Program at Lakeland Regional Health, an 850-bed tertiary referral hospital in Lakeland. He has been diving since 1974 and is an avid recreational diver, technical diver, rebreather diver, and cave diver. He is also a recreational, technical, and rebreather instructor for several training agencies, is a cardiology consultant to Divers Alert Network, and is the Florida Sales agent for KISS Rebreathers.
n a quiet little town in the suburbs of Cartagena in southern Spain, Cueva del Agua - meaning Cave of the Water - resurges literally on the edge of the main road through Isla Plana and is one of the most-popular and most-accessible sinkholes in Europe. This quaint little spot in the driest, warmest and sunniest region of Murcia has been my destination for the last five years where I dive and teach cave courses. The structure of this cave is similar to cenotes normally found in Mexico, where sinkholes in the ground naturally filled with water, or have water flowing through it. Originally the word ‘cenote’ was used by the native Mayans in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, which they pronounced ‘seh-noht’, meaning ‘sacred well’. When the Spanish settlers came to Mexico in 1519, they interpreted the word as ‘seh-note’. Over the years, the pronunciation has been better known as ‘cenote’ by people around the world. The Spanish terminology for this type of sinkhole has been used around the world and here in Spain for this cave. Cueva del Agua was formed in a geological Karst terrain, but unlike most solution caves where the colder water flow comes from the high mountains in these areas, extraordinarily, this cave is hypogenically and geothermally heated to 29.5 degrees C throughout the year, except for the first 6m of fresh drainage water from rainfall. As the water flows from the mountains, possible ancient seismic faults in the deep underground terrain cause this water to be heated and driven by hydrostatic pressure upward to the surface, where it meets the fresh/sweet-water halocline, before it goes out to sea. The water table has never been low enough here for speleological formations like stalactites and stalagmites to evolve, however due to the abundance and composite nature of the minerals and ores within the cave, she reveals some pretty stunning colours.
Dive teams from all over the world arrive here throughout the year, usually in drysuits based on the dive times they intend to make. Parking isn’t ample, so it does mean getting there early doors and be cautious leaving anything around. Once you’ve rigged up your tanks, sidemount here being marginally preferred, the ‘steps’ down to the water consist of small secure boulders modified by local teams to make life a bit easier, so take care, or you could use the pulley system left there by the Spanish exploration team. Fernando Gázquez, José María Calaforra, Tomás Rodríguez-Estrella, Andrés Ros, José L. Llamusí and Juan Sánchez are members of that original exploration team, some of whom I’ve met over the years, which was an honour. It’s hard not to notice on the left-hand wall of the entrance there are two plaques, always decorated with flowers, in honour of three experienced recreational divers who didn’t make it back home to their families. Kitting up in this crescent-moon-shaped pool is a doddle ample surface light means buddy checks and final plans can all be made without any difficulties.
Sout bein Cart G
Rock faces are covered in stunning fern-like calcite deposits which are extremely delicate, especially to exhaust bubbles from the open circuit diver 70
THE CAVE OF THE
DON’T BE A DRAG
DIVIDE AND CONQUER— SPREAD THE LOAD Regular scuba and twinsets, although convenient, can be quite cumbersome, especially out of the water. If you have back issues or are smaller in stature, they can be a real pain. Wearing cylinders on your sides not only makes entries and exits incredibly convenient—you can take the cylinder to the water’s edge and put it on in the water— but when wearing double sidemount cylinders, you build in a degree of accessibility and redundancy that is unparalleled in open circuit scuba. So, sidemount is easier on the back, easier to manage valves and regulators, and it is simple to pack up for travel. What’s not to love? For every diver, removing the cylinder on your back and putting it on your side reduces drag, conserves gas, increases dive time, and magnifies the senses you get of freedom and flying. This is why sidemount diving is one of the biggest and most popular trends in scuba. In fact, it’s so popular that you can do the course as an Open Water 20 diver or even during your Open Water 20 training. The RAID Sidemount Diver program is a modern one, designed around up-to-date techniques, proven practices, and current innovations in equipment. Moreover, it was written by instructors, who have used sidemount gear to enjoy recreational dives; by key members of technical expeditions; and to explore unvisited sections of the world’s most challenging wrecks and caves. So, if you are interested in applying sidemount practice to your diving, come and speak to the experts. WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
thern Spain is not the first place you’d think of ng home to a stunning sinkhole, but Murcia’s tagena has been a regular haunt for cave diver Garry Dallas for the last five years, and he is entranced by the Cave of the Water
As part of this extremely flexible program, you will learn: • How to certify using single and double sidemount configurations • Several styles of sidemount diving configurations • How redundancy increases safety • Recreational and technical applications PREREQUISITES You must: • Be a minimum of 12 years old. • Be certified in Open Water 20 or equivalent. Note: The RAID Sidemount Diver program may be combined with the Open Water 20 course. Also, it is not a decompression or overhead program, but it may be combined with other advanced programs. GET STARTED Visit www.diveRAID.com to take your diving to the next level.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY GARRY DALLAS
A diver approaches the entrance
RAID DIVE CENTRE Atlantida Buceo | www.atlantidabuceo.com
The cave features some amazing topography
Mind you, just watch out for the occasional happy jumper from the overhanging rocks! As you descend to make your primary tie-off out of sight from the tourists, visibility can be breath-takingly gin clear with a stunning light show piercing its way through the rock entrance and refracting through the water. Secondary tie-offs are plentiful in a few metres of water, large boulders provide reference with smaller rocks jutting out from them and the walls to attach your line to as you descend towards the dripline. At 6m you hit the halocline! What was charmingly warm suddenly feels like an emersion into a very warm bath. The temperature difference from 20-24 degrees C at the surface rises to 30 degrees C instantly as you descend past the 6m mark and continues for the rest of your dive throughout the entire cave system. You realise the size of this huge cavern as you make your way towards the main line using the bearings you took from the map. There are a few short permanent lines around this cavern that are definitely worth investigating. After 80-100 metres swim at 10-12m depth, belaying along the way and depending on the route you take, brings you to the main line concealed slightly behind a large rock formation hanging from the ceiling. The big white notice attached to the main line is clear for those not trained in cave diving. After connecting to the main line, a team confirmation of gases and attendance markers, you head off along
the clear large passages or detour along some interesting smaller ones. All the main lines at junctions are clearly marked from each direction which is the way home. Slightly different marking system from other country’s methods, but nonetheless, clearly marked to indicate the direction of the main line home. Around 200 metres from the entrance along the main line, as you look to your right and below, is a single tank attached to a BCD and regulators. This is a stark reminder of the misadventure of a diver who lost the line in zero visibility and didn’t have sufficient gas to return home. Training, practice and the realistic measure of one’s abilities and experience is something that can only be emphasised for this type of diving. As you reach the next junction, the second ‘T’, you check gases and place a team marker on the exit line. Taking a left brings you onto a lovely circuit dive, illustrating large areas of brilliant white quartz mineral as well as other calcite deposits on the walls and ceiling. Turning right takes you further into the cave. Moving further into the cave, if you just stare at the diver’s fins in front of you, or focus entirely on the line, you’ll miss the pictures on the walls and ceilings that show other geology and minerals in the rock. They are quite spectacular and decorative and not really what you’d expect to see in some caves. There are plenty of markers identifying ‘jumps’ to Not where you’d expect to find a cave dive!
There are several air bells along the way, so I must stress to anyone not to breathe the ‘air’ in these pockets as they have been recorded to contain less than 16 percent oxygen in them
Full cave training is needed in the deeper portions of the system
Garry often runs cave courses in Spain
Who says caves aren’t colourful!
other passages along the way, but these are for the moreexperienced cave diver. Visibility can soon deteriorate when percolation from the diver’s exhaust bubbles hits the ceiling around you. For some unknown reason, the letters SAS have been inscribed in the silt floor in a wide open passage around 350 metres in, which can only be described as graffiti. This is entirely frowned upon in the cave-diving community and disrespectful. Elevations will change some 400 metres into the cave and there’s a chance to see more haloclines as you pass through fresh and ‘sweet water’ around 8m or so. Sweet water is the slightly salty version of fresh water, with the notability of being somewhat warmer too. Cave dimensions tend to change a little from here on becoming narrower and wider, before you hit a maze of multi-directional lines. Good solid navigation techniques are required here, as well as ample gas before continuing towards Juan Sanchez’s Pass at 860 metres. It’s taken the Spanish exploration team several years and hard work to make the next part of the cave system ‘accessible’. The hole in the floor, where the hydrostatic pressure of the warmer water gives its name to this hypogenic cave system, is tricky to get through and this requires sidemount configuration, while reserves are left on the home side or planned and carefully transferred through. On the other side, it’s a different world. Temperatures are a little warmer still and the water has definitely got a more blue-ish tint to it. Rock faces are covered in stunning fern-like calcite deposits which are extremely delicate, especially to exhaust bubbles from the open circuit diver. Passages have a
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Cave diving represents the pinnacle of advanced or technical diving. RAID’s range of Cave Diver programmes allow you to develop your skills and knowledge of cave diving in a safe, progressive and controlled manner. www.diveraid.com totally different shape to them: one I passed and noticed was the size of two double decker buses next to each other, while the main passage was becoming more fissure-like. It was a wondrous and worthwhile experience to dive beyond the Juan Sanchez Hole with my buddy Victor and appreciate the work of the Spanish explorers before me to ascertain the phenomenon that resides in this cave. Over 4km of passages have been have been surveyed, including deeper levels going down to 22m. The expedition and study continues to this day as the team members are getting excited to reveal more of the nature of this cave system. n
DIVER’S LOG BOOK: PROF. TIMMY GAMBIN The Phoenicians occupied the coast of the Levant for over 1,000 years, but knowledge of their trade network and practices remains elusive. An ancient wreck discovered in 2007 may well be the key to unlocking this mystery, but there are challenges excavating a shipwreck 110m below sea level. PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF J WOOD AND DAVE GRATION
n 2007, a systematic survey of the seabed off the coast of Xlendi Bay in Gozo, conducted by the French National Science Foundation, revealed an anomaly on the seabed. Much to their excitement, the anomaly turned out to be an archaic Phoenician shipwreck, with a first layer of cargo lying exposed on the seabed and dated to the seventh century BC. While dozens of storage jars (amphorae) were clearly visible, an excavation at a depth of 110m was to be a serious challenge, since divers could only spend a few minutes at the site before having to return to the surface. From what can be assembled from various sources, such as Greek and Latin authors, the Phoenicians were maritime traders, often accredited as being the greatest sailors of the ancient world.
Given the delicate nature of the site, the first three years after its discovery were spent conducting remote sensing surveys and a team from the University of Malta participated in a well-funded project to produce a 3D photogrammetric image of the site – a process where multiple 2D images are digitally overlapped and turned into a 3D model. To do this a manned submersible was used in order to begin the recovery of objects, however, the expedition was cut short due to weather conditions, and a lack of funding meant that it would be another two years before object recovery could continue.
A SHIPWRECK AWAITS
The deep waters of the Xlendi shipwreck have thrown up many challenges and yet have offered opportunities to test various tools and technologies for deep-sea underwater archaeology. Like many shipwrecks of its date, the wreck itself is identified by its cargo rather than by the ship itself. However, it is possible that buried beneath the sediment part of the wooden elements of the hull could still survive. In fact, the 2014 season resulted in a 3D photogrammetric model, created through the use of the REMORA 2000 research submarine,
which revealed a wellpreserved site with the majority of its cargo buried beneath the sediment.
INTO THE DEEP
In 2016, a decade after discovery, the first divers descended on the shipwreck and 12 objects were recovered, including cultural material previously unknown in the archaeological record. However, the depth of the wreck meant that only a few highly disciplined experts had access to the site, with a 12-minute stay at the seabed followed by a two hour and 30 minute ascent to the surface. The extreme conditions of the site did not allow for manual recording techniques, instead the team turned towards an experimental technique, where all visible objects are digitally labelled. This process was initiated in 2014 and had already revealed that the ship was carrying at least seven types of ceramic containers.
Between 2014 and 2017 the team managed to retrieve a number of objects, including a 25kg volcanic rock grinding stone from the island of Pantelleria. Moreover, six whole ceramic objects and fragments were recovered. Each of these was meticulously recorded and modelled. Since 2018, this international team has carried out the first archaeological excavation by divers beyond 100m. Painstaking planning and the professional approach by all participants has ensured the project has become one of the most-innovative diving expeditions. Furthermore, evidence collected so far is not only contributing to a better understanding of Phoenician trading networks, but a small exhibition has also been opened in Gozo’s walled Citadel. This display is open for free and is proving highly popular due its historical content as well as the light it sheds on technical diving. n
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or most divers, Bikini is almost like an urban legend. A remote atoll in the middle of the Pacific where 23 nuclear tests were performed, where the Able and Baker blasts famously destroyed some of the most-significant warships of our time, and the local Bikini Islanders were left nuclear refugees to this day. It is a place where, after 40 hours of travel and a brief stop at a secret army base, you are still only halfway there. Historic wrecks, shark-filled waters, and exploration define it. Welcome to Bikini Atoll.
After World War One, and following a mandate from the League of Nations, Japan took over the administration of the Marshall Islands. In anticipation of World War Two, military presence in the islands intensified. Bikini, Truk Lagoon, and other low-lying coral atolls became strategic points of interest. Life for the Islanders wasn’t peaceful anymore as the Japanese began building watchtowers to keep an eye out for an American invasion. Kwajalein, in particular, became a key headquarters for the Japanese. American forces took Kwajalein and the Marshalls by force in February 1944. Japanese control was lost. There were five Japanese soldiers left on Bikini Atoll. Instead of allowing themselves to be captured, they blew themselves up with a grenade while hiding out in a foxhole. Post-World War Two, in December 1945, then-US President Harry Truman informed the US Forces the testing of nuclear weapons would be undertaken ‘to determine the effect of atomic bombs on American warships’. Unluckily for Bikini, its isolation from the sea and air routes meant it was chosen as a nuclear testing point - these tests came to be named Operation Crossroads.
Helmets found in a diving locker
Five-inch guns pointed towards the surface
BLAST Aron Arngrimsson, founder of The Dirty Dozen Expeditions, waxes lyrical about Operation Crossroads and how it made Bikini Atoll an iconic dive destination, as well as exploring the most-famous wreck â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the USS Saratoga PHOTOGRAPHS BY ARON ARNGRIMSSON, GEOFF CREIGHTON & JESPER KJOLLER
While the Saratoga itself is teeming with life - tiger sharks and even juvenile whalesharks like to hang out around the wreck - the sheer size combined with the number of artefacts is simply unparalleled
MORE DIVE TIME? RECREATIONAL DECO DIVING— NO FUSS, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. What is the worst signal you can ever be given on a dive where you’re having fun? It’s the “thumbs up” signal. It tells you that the fun is nearly over, and it means that you are going to have to head back to the surface. Even though you’re a Nitrox and Deep 40 diver and are super comfortable in the water, you just keep hitting that no decompression limit—especially when you’re a bit deeper—even though you have tons of gas left. Frustrating, right? Well, we have the answer for you. Our Deco 40 program is specifically designed for recreational divers that want to stay underwater just a little bit longer. With minimal kit adjustments, you can safely learn the basics of limited decompression diving. Decompression diving often has little to do with diving deeper. Sometimes, it’s simply about staying down longer. Let’s say your favorite wreck sits in 35 meters/115 feet of water, staying within the NDLs built into your computer gives you barely enough bottom time to say hello before it’s time to head back to the surface. With decompression training, you’ll have time to stay for a real conversation. We believe the benefits of conducting decompression dives should be available to every diver that’s interested—not just an elite few. Our commitment to stay at the forefront of diver training really shows in our Deco 40 program. Of course, Deco 40 dives also count as credit toward the Deco 50 program, should you fall in love with technical diving.
Commodore Wyatt, then-military governor of the Marshall Islands, went to Bikini in February 1946. After church on a Sunday, he gathered the native Bikini Islanders and asked them to leave their homes so the US could test bombs. He stated it was for ‘the good of mankind and to end all world wars’. King Juda, the Bikini monarch, was understandably confused but entered into discussions with his people. They decided to leave: ‘We will go believing that everything is in the hands of God’. While the Islanders were preparing for their enforced exodus, the US testing programme advanced swiftly. A total of 242 naval ships, 156 aircraft, 25,000 radiation recording tools, and 5,400 animals arrived. The latter were to serve as test subjects. More than 42,000 US personnel played a part in the testing programme. The Crossroads tests were the first of other nuclear tests in the Marshalls. They were also the first to be announced in public beforehand and were observed by a large audience, including press from around the world. Operation Crossroads was led by a joint Army and Navy Task Force. The target ships were placed in Bikini’s lagoon. They were hit with two rounds of Fat Man plutonium implosion weapons, the same type of nuclear bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. Each implosion yielded 23 kilotons of TNT. A total of 95 vessels - the equivalent of the sixth-largest navy in the world - were caught in the crossfire of the Able and Baker bombs. Among the sunken ships were four US battleships, two aircraft carriers, two cruisers, 11 destroyers, eight submarines, and three surrendered German and Japanese warships. These vessels had been bunkered and were filled with ammunition. Some even carried sheep and other animals acting as stand-in soldiers so that the effects of radiation could be observed. The first blast, Able, was dropped from a B-29 and detonated at an altitude of 158 metres at 9am on 1 July, 1946. Designed to replicate the Hiroshima bomb over water, it didn’t go as planned as the bomb missed its target, the USS Nevada battleship. It did, however, sink the USS Gilham, USS Carlisle, USS Anderson, USS Lamson, and IJN Sakawa. Baker, a bomb of the same yield, was used for the second test. It was detonated at 27m underwater beneath LSM-60 on 25 July, 1946. No part of LSM60 has been identified since, it’s presumed to have been completely vaporised. Doorway still sealed shut
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN This course is a sensible bridge between recreational and technical diving. You will learn how to: • Use traditional recreational equipment. • BCD or wing needs to have D-rings capable of attaching a stage cylinder. • Dive with a two-meter/seven-foot primary regulator hose for safety. • Dive to a maximum depth of 40 meters/130 feet. • Use any optional combination of air, nitrox, trimix, and oxygen. • Complete a maximum of 10 minutes’ decompression. PREREQUISITES You must: • Be a minimum 18 years old. • Have been a certified diver for at least three months. • Be certified as a RAID Nitrox and RAID Deep 40 diver or equivalent. • Have a minimum of 20 logged hours underwater or 40 dives using open circuit. GET STARTED Visit www.diveRAID.com to take your diving to the next level.
Following the mainline penetration
The way it makes you feel going down corridor after corridor is like no other, endless amounts of mindblowing exploration Sick bay sign
500lb bombs in elevator shaft
A Defense Nuclear Agency report detailing the weather briefing the day prior to Castle Bravo test stated there would be ‘no significant fallout for the populated Marshalls’. The 6pm briefing was contradictory though: ‘the predicted winds were less favourable; nevertheless, the decision to go ahead was reaffirmed, but with another review of the winds scheduled for midnight’. It was known that high winds were ‘headed for Rongelap to the east’. Furthermore, ‘it was recognised that both Bikini and Eneman islands would probably be contaminated’. The decision to go forward with the testing, knowing full well that the winds were blowing toward inhabited islands, was in essence a decision to contaminate the northern Marshalls. And to irradiate the people who were living there. A lot of the targets also represented symbolic killings. The Japanese battleship IJN Nagato is famously known as the vessel from which Admiral Yamamoto issued the order to attack Pearl Harbour, which brought the US into World War Two. During Operation Crossroads, the US Navy placed it in the direct crosshairs of the Able and Baker tests. For the few ships that survived the blasts, radioactive contamination in the lagoon proved more problematic than expected. Prinz Eugen, a German heavy cruiser, sank in December outside of Kwajalein just five months after the tests. The high radioactivity levels made repairs to the leaking hull impossible. Only nine surviving ships were decontaminated and then sold as scrap. Other vessels, when decontamination wasn’t successful, were sunk near Kwajalein. Bikini Lagoon became the graveyard for some of the mostsignificant naval ships in war history. Inside is like diving into a museum
SUPPORT LOCAL DIVING
"Since 1963, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve stood with this resilient industry every step of the way. Diving was built around a passionate local community of explorers and their quest for underwater discovery. To support our dealer network we are supporting an initiative to promote local diving which we hope will reset the way divers look at their options. The active local diving community is instrumental to the success of the retail network." Joe Stella, Group Vice President SCUBAPRO SCUBAPRO.COM
The business end of a gun barrel
The dangers of the radioactivity and the remoteness of the area led to an extremely limited exploration of this diving site for many years. Now, from the misery and destruction wrought by the nuclear tests, Bikini Atoll has risen as the world’s preeminent wreck-diving site.
THE USS SARATOGA
The USS Saratoga entered service in 1928 and spent her whole career with the Pacific Fleet. She was the third cruiser to be converted into an aircraft carrier. The Japanese claimed to have sunk the Saratoga seven times during World War Two. It was only when the vessel was struck by five kamikaze attacks on 21 February, 1945, killing 123 men and tearing a huge hole in the side of the ship, that the end started getting near for the Saratoga. In July 1946, the ship was part of Operation Crossroads. After surviving the first nuclear blast, the Saratoga was not so lucky during Baker. The explosion forced the vessel out of the water, knocking everything off the flight deck and destroying her funnel. Her ammunition and fuel loads were at 67 percent and 10 percent capacity respectively Eight hours after the blast, as he watched the aircraft carrier sink below the water, a correspondent for the New York Times wrote ‘Outside the reef... the observing ships cruised, while the Sara slowly died. There were scores who wanted to save her - and perhaps she might have been saved, had there been a crew aboard. But she died a lonely death, with no man upon the decks once teaming with life’.
Crockery still in one piece
LEVEL UP WITH RAID!
Shipwrecks, and the remnants of other man-made constructions such as airplanes, military vehicles and more, are often one of the mostpopular underwater attractions for divers. Learn how to safely explore these sunken objects by signing up for the RAID Wreck Speciality course, or depending on your level of certification, the RAID Advanced Wreck Diving Speciality course. www.diveraid.com
The huge bow of the Saratoga
The dentistry is a ‘must-see’
CCRs help on extended explorations
THE DIRTY DOZEN EXPEDITIONS
The USS Saratoga now rests 51m below the water in the lagoon at Bikini. The bridge is accessible at 18m, with the deck at 29m. The bombs and scattered Helldivers are on the bottom, flung from the carrier during the explosions, with their controls and dials still somewhat intact. The forward elevator shaft offers a range of penetrations including the sick bay, scullery, dive locker, and the blacksmith shop, among others. There are over 1,000 watertight compartments on the Saratoga with many closed doors still unexplored for over 70 years. The way it makes you feel going down corridor after corridor is like no other, endless amounts of mindblowing exploration. While the wreck itself Penetration is is teeming with life - tiger sharks and even possible, but occasional juvenile whalesharks like to hang beware the silt build-up around the wreck - the sheer size combined with the number of artefacts is simply unparalleled. That it was blown up by a nuclear device, and it is in one of the remotest places on the planet, stands testament to the old adage that the most-extraordinary things in life are hard to get, but for the most part, there is a very good reason for it. Saratoga is one of them. n
The Dirty Dozen Expeditions came about when two passionate wreck divers shared a beer, while running a boat in Truk Lagoon, Micronesia, and discussed their dream-trip itinerary. They decided to organise a special one-off trip and invite old friends and industry leaders to join. Since then, The Dirty Dozen Expeditions has gone from that first trip to 20-plus expeditions in Truk Lagoon, Bikini Atoll, and beyond. Dirty Dozen trips foster a close-knit family atmosphere between passionate wreck junkies and distinguished guest divers who conduct onboard workshops. Their unique itineraries are combined with full support for the most-demanding OC/CCR divers. The expedition-ready vessel Truk Master travels to Bikini Atoll between May and October every year and is the only regularly scheduled dive operator since the land-based dive centre was abandoned. The yacht provides ample space for relaxation, big cameras, rebreathers and all the tech kit their divers need. There are redundant oxygen generators onboard, ample supplies of helium and Sofnolime, underwater scooters, twinsets, and dedicated sidemount and rebreather cylinders. Logistical challenges in Bikini are about as hard as they can get because of the atollâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s isolation. But with their vast experience operating in remote areas, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find that the crew makes it look easy and you can have the wreck-diving trip of a lifetime in both style and comfort. Email: email@example.com for more information, pricing, and availability, or check out: www.thedirtydozen.org
Venturing inside the Saratoga
C a re fo r b reat h i n g, n at u r a l l y.
APA: ARIA Protection Adaptor ARIA mask + APA Adaptor + P3 Filter system is a certiﬁed third category Personal Protection Equipment. Challenges change through time, but we seem to continue to find a use for our expertise in Full Face Masks, naturally. When the World was rattled and shocked by terrorist attacks and wars, we engineered gas masks to guarantee and protect natural breathing in anti-terrorist, anti-riot and civil protection scenarios. When scuba diving seemed stuck in envisioning the sport only with conventional gear, we engineered full face scuba masks to guarantee and protect natural breathing while exploring the underwater world. When faced with the di±culties of many to try snorkeling for the ﬁrst time, we engineered full face snorkeling masks to guarantee and protect natural breathing while accessing the water world in the simplest way possible. When conventional PPE worldwide was su≠ering massive shortages, we engineered an adaptor for full face masks to protect natural breathing during the pandemic.
OCEAN REEF wants to take the time and thank Health Care workers around the World for protecting us, getting us healthy and ready to go back into the water.
Ocean Reef Group Geúk
APEKS MTX-RC STAGE 3 SET
Mark Evans: Apeks have built a solid global reputation for their high-performing and robust regulator systems over the years, from their TX range, through the ATX, to the current XTX, their lightweight travel-friendly XL4 and XL4+, and their range-topper, the MTX-R. The MTX-R, which stands out thanks to its whiteand-satin-finish colour scheme, was based on the MTX, a regulator that was developed in accordance with the United States Navy Experimental Dive Unit. Its heritage was immediately apparent – okay, the name gave it away (M in MTX stands for military, and the R for recreational version), but just look at that beautiful first and second stage. With its laser-etched, military-style lettering, which contrasted well with the vivid white plastic/elastomer and satin-finish brass, it was stunning, yet strangely purposeful. As you’d expect, coming from a military regulator, it was one super-tough, rugged, high-performance, go-anywhere regulator. It was purpose-built to meet all aspects of the NEDU (Navy Experimental Dive Unit) military requirements for diving in very cold water. It did this in several ways. The forged first stage had a unique over-balanced diaphragm design – as the diver descends, the over-balancing feature allows the medium pressure gas in the hose to increase at a faster rate than ambient. This results in superior performance at depth. So far, so good, but what made the MTX-R stand out further was the innovative world-first over-moulded first-stage endcap and sealed diaphragm, which helped prevent ice build-up that could cause first stage freeflow in extreme circumstances. This also had the handy ability to protect the first stage from impact damage – well, you know what divers can be like!
The first stage body, which had a ribbed diaphragm clamp for improved heat exchange in cold-water conditions, was equipped with five medium pressure ports (the fifth was covered with a protective bumper when it is not in use) on a rotating turret, and two high-pressure ports angled for optimal hose routing. The second stage featured a patented heat exchanger which surrounded the valve mechanism, dissipating the cold caused by gas expansion while drawing in the warmth of the ambient water. Large elastomer bumpers on the sides and on the top protected the second stage from impacts and
scratches in the most-vulnerable places. The exhaust tee was user-interchangeable, from a wide version to a narrow, smaller shape. A flexible nylon braided hose which has a better cold-water performance than a traditional rubber hose linked the first and second stages. The MTX-R breathed fantastically well, but Apeks were swift to realise that not everybody needed a regulator that was tuned to perfection to deal with extremely cold water use - and thus the MTX-RC was born. Effectively, the MTX-RC is an MTX-R (without the military-style laser-etching on the front) but with the addition of a venturi lever and a cracking resistance control, which allows the user to fine-tune the performance to the conditions they are diving in, or for their own personal preference. As well as the aforementioned venturi lever and cracking resistance control, the MTX-RC is instantly recognisable from its stablemate thanks to its subtle-but-effective grey-and-satin-finish colour scheme. In use, the MTX-RC provides a sublime breathe. With the cracking resistance dialled fully open and the venturi set to ‘dive’, inhalation is effortless and silky smooth, regardless of orientation, but in situations where you need to temper this performance – in extreme cold water, for instance, or if you were using a powerful scooter, you can increase the cracking resistance, which in its highest setting is more akin to the original MTX-R. From the fit in your mouth, with the excellent ComfoBite mouthpiece, it is much the same as any other Apeks reg (which is no bad thing), and the large purge is easy to locate and operate. The routing from the first stage is well thought out, and the primary reg benefits from having a swivel at either end, for greater freedom of movement and comfort. In short, just like its sibling MTX-R, it looks fantastic,
performs like a champion, and doesn’t hammer the bank account too much – what more could you want from a toplevel regulator? The MTX-RC is available with DIN and Yoke, and is nitrox compatible up to 40 percent out of the box. The ‘Stage 3’ set – Apeks uses this term to describe a regulator system that includes the primary regulator (first and second stage) and an octopus – includes a neat regulator bag. If, like me, you don’t tend to use a regulator bag to store/carry your regulator, you will be pleased to hear that the Apeks bag has been designed so that it is capable of holding a laptop, so you can use it as a more day-to-day accessory. The Velcro pad on the front flap can be personalised, and while it comes with Apeks and MTX-RC badges, any Velcrofastening patch will attach on here. Perfect for RAID recreational divers, the MTX-RC can also be purchased in a complete set-up for a single-cylinder, long-hose configuration, which comprises the first stage, second stages, long hose, bolt snaps, SPG, etc. www.apeksdiving.com
XDEEP NX ZEN Mark Evans: xDeep is a Polish brand which has cemented a reputation in the diving world - especially among technical divers - for producing some of the most-robust, well-built diving equipment out there. The company’s range of wings - for single cylinder, doubles and sidemount - have constantly garnered rave reviews. The NX Zen backplateand-wing has some design details that sets it apart from the competition, not to mention the undoubtedly solid build quality and superior materials. For instance, that eye-catching backplate is not just a work of art in itself, it is that shape and design for a reason - xDeep have sought to achieve better weight distribution, removing some of the load from the lumbar region. A 3D-mesh pad on the upper part of the backplate ensures it is comfy even if you are just wearing a rash guard. That backplate design also comes into play when you are putting the rig on and off. xDeep reckon that when the harness is unfastened, the shoulder straps are some 20 per cent longer than they would be on a classic harness. When you tighten up the waist strap, it pulls the shoulder straps snugly down, bringing the whole BCD close to your body. Another advantage of this is that there is no need to faff with your harness when swapping from wetsuit to drysuit. The NX series is also equipped with a doubleshell Cordura wing which has been designed with a narrow shape, so it nestles either side of your cylinder. This not only reduces drag, but aids the user’s buoyancy control. Despite its compact dimensions, it still generates nearly 42lb of lift. Then there is the location of the power inflator hose. Instead of being mounted over the left shoulder as is the norm, this one comes out from the top centre of the bladder. This means it is ultra-streamlined to reduce resistance as you glide through the water. This central location also aids with trim position, as when gas is injected, it is distributed evenly to both side of the wing. It is very comfortable and performs well, but perhaps most importantly, it looks the business. Look at the construction of that backplate, for instance - it is like a piece of modern art. You could hang that on your wall as a discussion piece. The workmanship is second to none. The xDeep NX Zen has some nice accessories that can be fitted if you so desire. We got the integrated weight system, which neatly attaches to the back-plate for security and slots over the waist webbing strap. I hate wearing weightbelts, and only need a couple of pounds when in warmer waters anyway, so compact pockets like these are perfect. They come in various
sizes, and you can get non-dumpable trim pockets too, so this would cover you for temperate water diving in a drysuit as well. If down the line you venture into the world of technical diving, just swap out the wing for a larger unit and you can use your NX Zen backplate and harness with doubles. You will see the ‘European made’ slogan several times on the NX Zen, and the team at xDeep are justifiably proud that their robust and well-constructed products are made in their native Poland and not farmed out to some cheap factory in the Far East. The feeling of high quality is hard to ignore or mistake. www.xdeep.eu
SANTI DIVING E.MOTION+ LADIES FIRST
Samara Ironside: Polish brand Santi Diving is becoming worldrenowned for producing some of the most-durable, stylish and best-fitting drysuits on the market. The E.Lite and E.Motion – and the ‘+’ variants – have all benefitted from the optimal combination of lightness, flexibility and durability, and now, with the E.Motion+ Ladies First, women can get in on the act with a bespoke, fitted suit designed from the outset for the female form. Available in unique and elegant colours, with black, steel grey and silver with fuchsia, lime or grey detailing, it certainly is very eye-catching, but it is not all looks. The special cut of the suit, which is made from Ripstop nylon, butylene and Polyester, was designed to emphasize the diver’s figure, while also ensuring the highest degree of flexibility and comfort. It comes as standard with the innovative Santi Smart Seals – soft rings which allow you to easily and quickly replace your wrist seal- and yet it still only tips the scales at 3.2kg. The latex neck seal is insulated by a 3mm neoprene collar, and it features a tried-and-tested Apeks inlet valve and high-profile Apeks outlet valve, as well as durable Kevlar kneepads. The twin cargo pockets on the thighs are spacious, and equipped with bungee strings, while the right pocket also has a partition for wet notes, and a useful additional zippered pocket. Inside, it is equipped with internal braces, and on the front there is a handy pocket which lines up perfectly with the main Aquaseal flexible plastic zipper – if you need to get your car keys, you don’t have to complete de-kit, you can just pull up the outer protective zipper and the main zipper 30-40cm and you can easily reach into this internal zippered pocket. Very well designed, and definitely thought of by a diver! The flexisole boots have a neat webbing strap that tightens around the ankles, helping to reduce any unnecessary air migration into the feet, but to be honest, the soft and supple booties fit my feet like a glove, and with a thick, warm pair of socks on underneath, there was not a lot of room for any air in the first place.
The Santi Diving E.Motion+ Ladies First drysuit fit me absolutely beautifully – it was obviously very worthwhile sending the extensive list of measurements to Santi, as it couldn’t have been a better fit if they had measured me up in their factory. The cut and layout is perfect for the typical female body, and completely destroyed my pre-conceived ideas that drysuits were big, loose-fitting ‘bags’. Mobility is a given, with the stretchy materials used in its construction, and this suit screams quality down to its seams. In the water, it maintains its comfort and flexibility. The shoulder-mounted release valve is easy to open and close, as well as having push-release in case of emergencies, which was very welcome for a new drysuit diver like myself. The thigh pockets are very large and easy to access, with large Velcro and zipper sections. Getting in and out of the suit is easy as can be with the telescopic torso and front-entry zipper – even for a drysuit newbie like me, I was getting in and out with ease after a couple of dives. All in all, this drysuit is a great option for any lady looking for a high-end suit that is comfortable, stylish, durable, and will last. It also comes with a water-repellent Ladies First travel bag, a 75cm hose, and a Ladies First after-dive beanie for warming up your head after a long, cold-water dive. www.santidiving.com
AQUA LUNG i200C Mark Evans: Dive computers from Aqua Lung just keep on coming, and the i200C represents fantastic value for money for a well-equipped and durable wristwatch-style unit. It uses the tried-and-tested Z+ algorithm, and has a segmented LCD display, which is easy to read – for low-light conditions, it has a push-button-activated back light, which is handy on night dives. It has got four operating modes – Air, Nitrox, Gauge (with run timer) and Free Dive. Handily, the latter tracks calculations to allow unrestricted switching between free and dive modes. In Nitrox mode, it can handle two gas mixes, up to 100 percent oxygen, so will cover the vast majority of divers for all of the diving they will ever want to do. It has a user-replaceable battery, so no sending it off to the manufacturer when it runs low, which is a bonus with a wristwatch unit, as many people will use this as a day-to-day watch. It comes in six funky colours, from the more-subtle Grey and Dark Grey to in-your-face Bright Pink, Aqua, Blue, and Hot Lime, and in the box you get the unit itself, plus a lens protector and a battery compartment opening tool. We tried out the Hot Lime, and it certainly stands out as a daily wear watch, often eliciting comments from even non-divers. It feels solid on your wrist, but is not what I’d call heavy. The best thing about the i200C is how easy it is to use – it literally takes a couple of minutes to get your head around the menu and navigation and then you are away. I let several of the Depthera-py divers have a trial dive with it in Egypt a couple of months ago, and they were all happily using it within a short time. It was also brought out for Ryan Arnold to use when he was doing his entrylevel RAID course. However, one of the i200C’s greatest attributes is down to how well it works with the Diver-Log+ app (which is available for iOS and Android). The i200C seamlessly interacts wirelessly via Bluetooth Smart technology, and you can control all aspects of the computer from your phone or computer. I found it easy to jump into DiverLog+ and adjust all the settings – gas mix, salt or fresh water, alarms, etc – and then it is a simple matter to just fire that over to the i200C and, you are ready to dive. Far quicker and easier than doing it all manually on the com-puter itself, to be honest. On completing your dive, you can then throw over all your dive data from the i200C into your DiverLog+ app logbook. Your dive profile, time and date, water temperature, etc, are all brought over from the i200C,
and you can then add additional information, such as what gear you were using, your location, buddy’s name, any photographs or videos you took, and so on. You can even get your buddy to digital ‘sign’ your logbook. Once complete, you just hit the ‘share’ but-ton and can send it out via all the usual channels – email, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, etc. The DiverLog+ app has many features beyond those described above – you can build up a file of buddies, locations, ‘gear bags’ for different conditions, and much more. Like the i200C it-self, it is very intuitive and easy to use. With a decent range of capabilities, and coming in at a very competitive price, it represents excellent value for money and is a nice user-friendly piece of kit, especially as it works so well with the DiverLog+ app. www.aqualung.com
When the time is right, we're here to help us all back into the water safely.
CLICK HERE for all available translated training updates www.diveraiduk.com/ raid-internationaltraining-updates
Welcome to the RAID Training Updates section, and thank you for taking the time to read these important pages. In combination with The Edge Newsletter, all RAID divers, Instructors and Instructor Trainers can use these pages to gain a better understanding of all that is happening in the training department. This is where youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find news about training initiatives, course updates, new course releases, changes to training standards (standards for new courses, too), and much more. We encourage to contact your local representative if you have any queries regarding any of the updates discussed. STEVE LEWIS â&#x20AC;&#x201C; TRAINING DIRECTOR
TRAINING UPDATES NEW INSTRUCTOR DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (IDP) The new IDP manual and support materials have been totally revamped. Some of it will be very familiar, and some is entirely new. Aside from looking better, we have made explanation and coaching advice clearer for instructors. The main changes that instructors and trainers need to be aware of are detailed below. The diving industry has used prescriptive teaching (presenting only the information that a student has missed) as a teaching method for many years now. However, the format that most instructor candidates are still taught to use in an Instructor Development Programme (IDP) to deliver these presentations, is based on a time when slide presentations were used in all academic teaching. This time has passed, and since online training has become common place in our industry, we knew it was time to develop something new. During an IDP, candidates are asked to develop and deliver a presentation on a missed quiz or exam questions. For a candidate, and their Instructor Trainer, this is one of the moststressful portions of an IDP, but why? The answer is simple - the candidate not only has to deliver the presentation, but also add in information regarding continuing education, equipment ownership, travel and local diving. We interviewed hundreds of Instructors and Instructor Trainers and understood that this was causing way too much stress, and it had even stopped Divemasters from entering an IDP. The biggest surprise was that it made Instructor Trainer candidates nervous as well. The question we got asked most was ‘how can I sell equipment, travel and continuing education easily, when I’m being asked to present on physiology or physics?’ As an agile, dynamic agency, we listened to our members and we’ve made changes. In the new IDP academic section, you will see that we do not ask our candidates to present anything more than the missed information. No continuing education, travel or equipment being forced into a presentation. But we all know that these additions are vital, as they provide customised information that training materials simply cannot. We also had another dilemma - what does an Instructor present if a student scores 100 percent in all quizzes and the exam? With all that in mind, we put our thinking caps on and developed three workshops that cover this material. These three workshops are focused on Con-Ed, Dive Travel, and Equipment Sales.
LEVEL UP WITH RAID!
RAID offers the perfect route to ‘go pro’ in the diving industry. The Divemaster qualification is the entry-level within the pro system, followed by Instructor, and then Master Instructor, as well as Rebreather Instructor and Tech Instructor. Whatever route your pro journey takes you, RAID has got you covered. www.diveraid.com
On all courses, RAID Instructors must now deliver these three workshops to all students, no matter what course is being taught. Furthermore, the workshops rely heavily on ‘role playing’ and interactive teaching. You will enjoy delivering them, and students will benefit from them. The other major change we made is the use of training aids. In times gone past, Instructors were asked to use slides, whiteboards and even ‘imaginative aids’. Candidates could only earn a point in this area if they used multiple aids. But how does this fit in with learning and teaching in this day and age? Well, it doesn’t. RAID has never demanded a classroom, so where would an Instructor find these aids in a real-life teaching situation. The answer is – they wouldn’t. Therefore, we have removed these styles of aids from our evaluation process. Instead, to earn this point, candidates must use the RAID training manuals. This seems so obvious since they can be found on the website, mobile site and also the App. We know Instructors and Instructor Trainers will love this new IDP format. The new IDP must be implemented by Instructor Trainers by 1 October 2020. We will be conducting a series of update webinars for Instructors and Instructor Trainers in the coming weeks. Dates will be announced in the Edge Newsletter. As always, if you have any queries, please contact your local regional office.
TRAINING UPDATES SANTI DRYSUIT COURSE
DRYSUIT DIVING, SANTI STYLE DRYSUIT DIVING FOR EVERYONE
Drysuit diving is becoming more and more common, and drysuits are being used in increasingly diverse environments. Gone are the days when drysuit diving was only for the hardcore enthusiast wanting to brave icy waters. Today, good drysuits offer advanced base layer designs and increased buoyancy control, making them suitable for temperate and even tropical waters. Did you ever call a great dive, not because you were bored or time was running out, but just because you felt too cold? We all hate to be beaten by the cold, but in most of the world, cold weather means cold water—and that’s the end of the fun. The arrival of cooler weather signals that it’s time to hang up the dive gear. But it doesn’t have to be that way. RAID is proud to announce that we have partnered with SANTI Diving to produce a brand-specific drysuit training program. SANTI offers a range of premium, handcrafted drysuits, undersuits and heating apparel to extend the possibilities and the joy that diving brings. RAID offers a complete range of online academic programs married to technologically advanced, hands-on diver training that is high quality, safe and inclusive. WHY SANTI? In drysuit design and production, the main challenge is finding the best methods to keep divers safe and dry. SANTI meets that challenge by offering elegance, durability and fit while providing a full range of motion and ensuring a drysuit’s most important feature: THE DIVER MUST STAY DRY. All of these elements are supported by SANTI’s excellent customer service. SANTI connects passion with business, just as we do at RAID. WHAT YOU WILL LEARN Throughout this program, you will learn about: • Drysuit operations • Buoyancy control and inflation systems • Common (and not-so-common) drysuit problems • Drysuit care and maintenance • Thermal protection—the real story • Your comfort zone and how to extend it • Undersuits and heated garments • Hypothermia risk factors • Seals, zips, valves and accessories • Buoyancy and inflation systems GET STARTED Visit www.diveRAID.com to take your diving to the next level.
Earlier this month, we announced the beginning of a working relationship with one of the best-known drysuit manufacturers. We are proud to announce RAID’s partnership with Santi Diving to produce a cutting-edge, brand-specific drysuit training programme. Santi Diving offers a range of premium, handcrafted drysuits, undersuits and heating apparel to extend the possibilities and the joy that diving brings. RAID offers a complete range of online academic programmes married to technologically advanced, hand’son diver training that is high quality, safe and inclusive. Both organisations share a passion for creating new benchmarks of excellence within the diving industry. Drysuit diving is becoming more and more common, and drysuits are being used in more diverse environments. Gone are the days when drysuit diving was only for the hardcore enthusiast wanting to brave icy waters. Today, good drysuits offer advanced base layer designs and increased buoyancy control, making them suitable for temperate and even tropical waters. This course has been written specifically for divers who will learn using Santi gear. The training course is a collaboration between the RAID and Santi teams, and the manuals contain generic information pertaining to safe drysuit diving, as well as specific information regarding Santi suits, materials, designs and undersuits. The Santi Drysuit Course supplements RAID’s existing and popular drysuit course. Like all RAID courses, it can be previewed online through RAID’s innovative FREeLearning platform. The Santi Drysuit Course will operate much like our Rebreather Specialty courses, wherein RAID designs a specific manual for each rebreather on offer. Our partnership with Santi is the first in an ongoing process of developing brandspecific programmes for more mainstream scuba products. “Here at Santi Diving, we believe that sharing knowledge and crosscollaboration with leading training organisations and other top equipment suppliers, is key to elevating diving’s profile to potential customers and the sports and recreational community in general,” explained Agnieszka Hrynkiewicz, COO and Managing Director at Santi Diving. “We teamed up with RAID as one of the leaders in modern approach to diving training, and, together, we have created an updated drysuit course manual for those who are looking for great skills development and extending the limits of their diving – which is exactly what a drysuit is for.” She added: “The Santi drysuit manual combines RAID’s knowledge of the theory and practice of diving a drysuit, with information from us covering Santispecific features. The course guides students to understand how to choose the best drysuit, and how to use it properly for the maximum comfort and benefit. It took hours of discussions and knowledge-sharing and now I strongly believe the course will be a great tool for Instructors to teach and for divers to learn the Santi Drysuit-specific RAID course. I hope this input will serve well the RAID and Santi Diving community.” As a RAID Drysuit Instructor, you are certified to teach the Santi programme with no further training. The generic knowledge, quizzes, exams and all skills in the Santi programme are identical to those in the generic RAID Drysuit course. Because of this design, divers that certify as Santi Drysuit divers will not need to certify again for a generic drysuit course.
The Liberty in the Sidemount configuration demonstrates an entirely encompassed system with gas delivery systems fully enclosed within the system. The unit in Sidemount configuration weights ready to dive with shortened scrubber 22,8 kg (50,3 lb) thus making the unit optimal for travel and expedition. www.divesoft.com firstname.lastname@example.org
REMEMBER YOUR BEST DIVE...
. .at least for now! #InThisTogether
TRAINING UPDATES FREE-LEARNING In a response to the current environment, and in an endeavour to engage divers and allow them to continue studying and learning, even when locked down, we have released FREe-Learning. It is unique because it allows a free preview of all our online academics and quizzes. It is designed to keep divers diving even when they are unable to attend a formal course at a dive centre. This could be due to a seasonal restriction (winter), travel restrictions or temporary financial restrictions. Divers accessing the FREe-Learning platform can complete all the associated quizzes (for free) but to certify, they must purchase the full course, including the certification, choose a dive centre and begin the formal training as required. All quizzes completed while participating in FREe-Learning will be retained by the system for when the diver chooses to proceed and seek certification. Once the diver has registered and logged in, the list of course previews available will be displayed on a smart list. The list shows every course that hasn’t already been taken.
REMOTE-TRAINING Since RAID started, all academic presentations and most practical dry workshops can be conducted remotely. Being an entirely digital agency means that there are no textbooks to deliver by hand; our course content, quizzes, and exams are online; we have a dynamic online audit trail; and tools that maximize productivity during the face-to-face time in the classroom. RAID courses are tailored to each particular student’s needs rather than a one-size-fitsall prescription. RAID has modified standards and materials to allow its Instructors to conduct virtual classroom sessions in lieu of traditional classroom sessions, resulting in certification for several of its courses. RAID Instructors can use their choice of online tools, including Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, RingCentral, WhatsApp, etc. As long as they have met all RAID Standards, the only stipulations are that students and Instructors must have two-way communication and screen-sharing ability. As with all things at RAID, we are not releasing REMOTe-Training as a pandemiconly option. Rather, this will become another cornerstone of RAID training as we move forward, alongside initiatives like RAID’s FREe-Learning. By combining these, we can all benefit by continuing to deliver effective training toward earning certification. Courses now open for REMOTe-TRAINING certification: 1. Nitrox (see above) 2. Equipment 3. Core Rebreather Knowledge 4. Eco Diver 5. Ecological Non-Diver Most importantly, we have opened REMOTeTraining not only to our diver levels, but also to our Instructor levels.
TRAINING UPDATES NEW INSTRUCTOR TRAINER PROGRAMME (ITP)
In tandem with the IDP, we’ve also made radical changes to the ITP. It’s been completely rewritten and is now entirely focused on ITP tasks rather than being an Instructor Trainer version of the IDP manual. The contents speak directly to Instructor Trainers and advise how to run an ITP - the IDP process, running an instructor crossover, scheduling suggestions, a breakdown of the workshops that now make up a core part of the programme, and an extensive section on the art of teaching. Instructor Trainers will find the new manual simpler to use, easier to follow and tracking what has to be completed during an IDP is obvious. Along with the new IDP, the ITP must also be implemented from 1 October 2020. And again, we will be conducting a series of update webinars for Instructor Trainers in the coming weeks. Dates will be announced in the Edge Newsletter. As always, if you have any queries, please contact your local regional office.
NITROX INSTRUCTOR The Nitrox Instructor guide has also been completely rewritten. Part of this was driven by the changes we made to standards to accommodate for the launch of FREe-Learning and REMOTe-Teaching (two other innovative RAID initiatives we created in the past few months). Like all the Instructor materials being produced now, you should find it easier than ever to use because it’s designed to make the nitrox course delivery standardised and straight-forward.
WORLD’S FIRST NITROX VIRTUAL ANALYZER APP A bonus to the new Nitrox IG is something that truly shook the industry up. In May – at the same time as the launch of REMOTEe-Training (see below) – we released the world’s first Nitrox Virtual Analyzer App. It became obvious to us that what was standing in the way of being able to certify a nitrox diver remotely was that the student needs to show their understanding of analyzer use. As a result, we created the world’s first Nitrox Virtual Analyzer App. Under the Instructor’s guidance, this app provides the student with the skills needed to operate an analyzer safely. This app may be used by all RAID Nitrox Divers and Instructors immediately. Instructors will demonstrate using a real cylinder and analyzer. Non-RAID Instructors and divers are welcome to use the app, but please check with your agency that you are working within their training standards. Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ds.VAnalyzer Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/nitrox-virtual-analyzer/id1505174941?mt=8
TRAINING UPDATES COVID NOTES, INCLUDING NEW MEDICAL FORM There have been some obvious changes to many of the procedures we took as ‘normal’ because of the pandemic, and we were quick to make changes to standards to accommodate for these changes. The most critical were modifications made to airsharing (OOA drills), and the S-drill.
AIR SHARING DRILL: DONATING THE LONG HOSE Widespread concerns surrounding Coronavirus and COVID-19 infection have demanded we make changes to some of the procedures we use when teaching RAID programmes. None is more pressing than the ‘sharing air’ drill that Instructors and students demonstrate during confined skills training, and during open-water certification dives. In simplified terms, this drill involves several related skills: buoyancy control, buddy awareness, responding quickly to a demand, and the skills involved in getting a known working source of ‘air’ to a distressed diver. The classic procedure is that one diver plays the role of an OOA diver and gives her buddy an out-of-air (OOA) hand signal, her buddy donates his spare regulator second stage, and the diver simulating OOA pops it into her mouth and breathes from it. Under present circumstances, this method presents a real opportunity for cross-infection, even in chlorinated swimming pool water, and certainly in freshwater or the open ocean. In the interests of diver and Instructor safety, and until further notice, RAID is asking its members to follow this revised protocol for S-drills and in-situ OOA simulations: • Drill begins. • Diver one simulating OOA signals to their buddy ‘out of air!’ • Diver two presents an alternate second-stage regulator. • Diver one takes the offered alternate, switches from their primary regulator to their back-up second stage, while gently purging the donated second stage to check it is working. NB: Diver one does not put the donated second stage in their mouth at any time, but simply holds it. • When the drill is completed (after horizontal swim, ascent, etc), Diver one returns the donated regulator to their buddy. This method adequately demonstrates all the component skills of an OOA/air-sharing drill, including having the OOA diver switching regulators, without exposing either diver to elevated risk of cross-contamination. In addition, a new Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire that takes COVID-19 into consideration has been released. It was created by the Diver Medical Screen Committee in
association with the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, DAN (US), DAN Europe, and the Hyperbaric Medical Division, University of California, San Diego, and has recently been formally adopted by DAN, WRSTC, RSTC, RSTC Europe and the Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society. The form can be found in your ‘My Documents’ section on the RAID website and is presently being prepared for the website, where it will form part of RAID’s paper-free initiative.
LETÂ´S EXPLORE. TOGETHER.
SUUNTO D5 If we can ascend the highest mountains and descend to the deepest depths, we can certainly make the most of this temporary situation for the greater good. Stay safe. Stay home. Stay strong www.suunto.com Suunto Diving UK