Now things have settled down after Christmas and New Year, Tekstreme can formally introduce to you the newest member of the Tekstreme Team.
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Paul Thewissen started diving 15 years ago. He learnt to dive in his native homeland of Holland before heading out on a holiday to Mexico to put his newly learnt skills into practice. It was on this holiday that he had his first taste of tropical scuba diving and the hooks were in! He decided to continue his diving education whilst back in Holland earning the level of CMAS Dive leader. It was at this time he was going on regular holidays in Europe and Egypt to expand his diving experiences.
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Nine years ago he decided that he wanted to turn his hobby into his work, so he decided to head to Egypt for an extended holiday to see if he liked it.  As there was not so much demand for CMAS in a touristic resort he made his crossover to become a PADI Divemaster and was lucky enough to get a job offer after only 5 days of being in the country and he has been here ever since!

 

Paul finally made his instructor course and achieved the rating of Master Scuba Diver Trainer the following year.  It was also during this year that SSI had approached Emperor Divers and Tekstreme to represent their agency that Paul completed the crossover to become a SSI instructor.
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Paul says that he was always interested in trying some technical diving as through CMAS all those years ago he had already learned some decompression diving and enjoyed some of the more deeper dives, so whilst he was working for Emperor Divers he had the opportunity with Tekstreme to pursue this interest even more…and subsequently got hooked….again!!
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The future for Paul is very exciting and he plans to continue with his technical diving and look forward to many years of deep diving ahead.
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Paul is a great assist to Tekstreme and his position within the team will only get stronger as time goes on. Being fluent in Dutch (native tongue), English and German, Paul can increase the opportunities for divers of other nationalities who do not speak English to be able to come and train with Tekstreme. He is currently working towards his technical divemaster level and the instructor levels will not be far behind! He has already mastered the art of filling tanks and servicing regulators so needless to say he does not have much free time. But, whatever free time he has will be in the water diving, diving, diving.
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Tekstreme welcome Paul to the team and look forward to the future years together.

 
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Cat Braun

 

Tekstreme Manager

Can anybody explain to me where the last 4 months have gone as I cant! One minute I am teaching courses in 30 degrees water looking forward to the world cup football to begin and the next thing I know Christmas decorations are up and we need to use the heater at night time!

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The second part of the year for me has been quite exciting. I guess one of the things that stands out the most for me is to receive an email from technical instructor Paul Toomer requesting a meeting somewhere on the out skirts of London. As it happens I happened to be heading to UK and so agreed to meet him. All I knew was he wanted to try and sell me his new product some thing called “SSI TXR”. In all honesty I was not so excited about this, why would I be, its just another training agency looking to increase its numbers and how can they achieve that by trying to recruit Tekstreme who is one of the largest technical training companies in Egypt. Makes sense really! What I was not prepared for was to be shown the new materials that he had written. Now you may think what is so special about another technical diving manual? Well, it seems as though these people in SSI have recognised the digital era that we are in and designed manuals specifically for viewing on tablets, Ipads etc . My husband has taught me, and is continuing to teach me about the wonderful world of digital technology and so of course it immediately got my attention. The layout was clear, the text informative but not overbearing and the structure of the manual was progressive and an easy read. But lets face it, there is more to a training agency than just the manual, now for the important stuff… the courses.

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There are not so many different ways that technical courses can be done, ultimately you start off shallow and you end up deep. You start of with one tank and further down the line you end up with 6 tanks! What was a key factor for me was how can we as the instructor teach the course. This was what was enlightening. We “as the instructors” were actually allowed / given the opportunity to use our judgment and experience to enhance the teaching process. Ultimately there are a set of standards that the agency wants us to adhere to, but within those we had the scope to vary training depending on conditions and the level of students. Paul was very passionate about this range of technical courses and it was nice to spend time with a fellow instructor who is actively looking to continue to improve our industry.

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Moving forward a couple of months in the year was when we heard some strange news. SSI were being brought by Mares. This immediately concerned me. Since the meeting in London I had spent a lot of time with the guys from SSI helping to organise staff crossovers, creating SSI events to increase awareness of SSI recreational and technical courses, helping them out on the SSI stand at the dive show for a few examples. A lot of time and effort had gone into this partnership and then they simply sold themselves out! You can’t help but think that it is just for the money and now SSI wont care! No sooner had these rumours began that Karim Salah who is responsible for SSI recreational training in Egypt spoke to me to reassure that my concerns were not needed and that this move was going to a positive feature. This move by Mares and SSI is probably the most innovative and unique partnership in the diving industry. Towards the latter part of the year SSI and Mares announced that they would host meetings / events around Egypt to bring everybody up to speed. Once again I was dubious but attended the meeting to hear things as they say “from the horses mouth!”.

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Robert Stoss opened the meeting. Robert is one of the founders of SSI along with Guido Waetzig and admirably has a level of energy and passion that makes you want to listen and spend more time around him. For sure this guy is not done with the diving industry yet! By far the opposite, he is driving the digital revolution of training forward, helping us as the service provider be able to provide to our customers with greater ease. Secondly, we were introduced to Dusan Runjajic. Dusan, or Dusko as he is more well known is one of the top dogs within Mares and is a man with equal to, if not even more drive than Robert about his products and the new venture. An engineer by trade he has truly made his mark with Mares. Mares has become a worldwide leader in the manufacturing and distribution of state of the art diving equipment. The constant investment in innovation, patient research in the field of manufacturing materials and processes, combined with the expertise of the staff and professional approach gives Mares its leading position. Mares actually makes up part of the larger “Head” group. “Head” Company is a leading global manufacturer and marketer of branded sporting goods serving the skiing, tennis, swimming and diving markets.

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Dusko then outlined for us the relationship between Head, Mares and SSI. Now, normally through presentations like this I tend to switch off after a period of time, as you tend to hear the same things over and over about how good their product is above everybody elses. But this was not the case, I found myself 2 hours later still eagerly listening. These guys from Mares have actually designed a range of equipment for the dive centres to make our lives easier! The presentation was good and the recreational equipment is great but what about my greatest passion, tech diving, tech equipment?!

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I had some time in between this event in Egypt and the DEMA dive show in America to have a think about a few things. The passion, drive and energy from all these people that I had met at SSI and Mares was astounding and I only knew that I wanted to be more involved. It was a breath of fresh air to find in todays diving industry a group of people with similar future ideas not only about business (which of course is fundamental) but about moving the industry forward in unique ways. The product line by Mares currently does not have a well known reputation in the technical diving world but what I can say is that I personally and Tekstreme will be helping in whatever way we can to test new products and aid the development of Mares technical diving equipment. We will be continually teaching SSI technical courses to show case the new products as they emerge and to increase awareness of the brand in the technical arena.

All I can say is watch this space…..

Many thanks to Guido, Robert, Dusko, Adam, Karim, and Tarek for all of what they have done for us in 2014 and we really look forward to 2015.

Note 1 – Paul Toomer is no longer with SSI. His role in SSI has been taken over by Adam Wood who is a gifted and professional technical instructor and who has already shown his commitment and will continue to drive SSI TXR where Paul left off.

Note 2 – Part of my blog with the description of Head and Mares has come directly from their presentation! I don’t claim that these are my words :-)

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Before anybody makes any comments, yes I have stolen the “Dummies guide to….” title from John Wiley & Sons, Inc but maybe in the future I actually find the time to write a full Dummies guide on this topic but until then I think the title for this article is very appropriate!

 

As professional divers we can have a tendency to get a bit carried away when we are writing articles or giving descriptions of the type of diving that we are so passionate about. The end result is that the reader / audience gets bombarded by terminology, jargon, slang and other code words which leaves them confused and exhausted. The aim of this article was to write a short article in basic diving language that not only the existing diver can understand but also to enable even the “diver to be” to have a basic insight into the topic of side mount diving.

 

 Introducing Side mount diving.

 If you are a keen scuba diver or have an interest in the area no doubt you may find you spend some of your free time reading the latest scuba magazines, browsing the scuba diving websites, looking at various scuba diving facebook groups. Does that sound familiar? If yes, you may have noticed that over the last two years the term “Side mount” has been popping its head up more and more frequently. Now, not everybody understands what “Side mount” is, let alone to want to try it, so let us here at Tekstreme Diving try to explain what it is all about and to let you know how you can give it a go.

 

What actually is Side mount diving?

It can be as simple as stating…

 “Side mount is an scuba diving equipment configuration in which a diver is able to wear a tank on each side of his body instead of on his / her back”

Historically, side mount diving actually finds it origins from more extreme divers who wanted to explore the inner parts of cave and cavern systems. What they were finding is that with the normal scuba tanks attached to their back it made their overall size very large and cumbersome and it ultimately prevented them from moving through smaller spaces and penetrating deep into cave systems. So, they found a way to move the tanks from their backs to the sides of their bodies where they could easily detach them and swim though the smaller spaces with the tanks in front of their body.

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Now the big question why has it moved over to mainstream diving?

The side mount configuration has tremendous adaptability and its many other advantages have been embraced by the recreational scuba diver of various different experience levels. Along with the advances in equipment development and production by leading manufactures side mount has become much more mainstream that you would realise. A few of the key features of side mount diving include:

 

-       Less back strain

-       Easier movements top side

-       More manoeuvrability in the water

-       Redundant gas supply

-       Increased gas supply for longer dives

-       Ability to extend no decompression dives

 

 

Where do the tanks go?

Side mount tanks lie parallel to the body, below the shoulders and alongside the hips. The diver has two separate and redundant sources of gas and will breathe first from one tank and then the other, switching back and forth between two independent regulators on airflex hoses throughout the dive. The clips on the bottom of the tanks are attached just below the hip, and the top of the tank is secured by a bungee system, which allows the tanks to sit alongside the body comfortably.

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What about safety?

Whether diving a wreck, cave or open sea reef, everybody has recognized the safety and benefits of side mount diving. A side mount configuration gives a diver easier access to tank valves in an emergency; to be able to make gas shut downs or switch to a different breathing supply. Side mount configuration also makes it easier when divers need to swap in and out extra tanks in the situation of a low on gas or out of gas situation. The position of the tanks also gives the diver’s head greater range of motion for enhanced vision and comfort. With all the tanks being alongside the body rather than behind the body the diver can see all of their equipment easily.

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Is it heavy?

Not at all, actually the complete opposite. One major advantage for side mount enthusiasts is simply the management of what can be a heavy load. It’s easy to see the appeal of a system that allows for the placement of tanks in the water, allowing him / her to enter the water in nothing more than a basic harness system. The tanks then clip in, but with the weight burden significantly reduced through buoyancy in the water. Of course, when the dive is done the process is easily reversed, allowing divers to exit the water with the same ease, simply passing their tanks out and then climbing out with just the harness still in place. Older divers, divers with pre existing back, knee, joint issues, and petite women are a few of the dive demographics increasingly embracing side mount diving for these very reasons.

 

Does it increase my dive time?

For divers who previously have felt that their dive times have been restricted by their higher breathing rates the bonus of side mount diving is massive. Of course by carrying two cylinders you have double the volume of gas that you would normally carry! Rather than having to dive with a larger, heavier 15 litre tank, now you can carry two 12 litre cylinders which you can put on in the water. No more heavy loads to carry, but loads of extra diving time gained!

 

Where can I try it out?

Like all forms of specialized diving, divers should seek training to learn about side mount diving. Both recreational and technical certification agencies now offer side mount training, making it easier to find an instructor and a dive centre that can offer such courses. More and more side mount divers are seen on boats and at dive sites; ask their opinion on why they choose to side mount and what safety features are critical to the dive environment. There’s a wealth of information out there just waiting for you to ask the questions.

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So how long will it take to be a side mount diver?

It will likely take a few dives to balance the rig just right and to make the operation intuitive. Divers who want to get started in diving with side mount should take a structured course. Proper training will include removing a bottle underwater and swimming while pushing the tank in front of the body, donning tanks while floating at the surface, air sharing, gas management and deploying a surface marker. Working with an instructor will help the diver configure the finer parts of the rig, set up the tanks properly and make sure the trim is correct in-water. Courses are typically run over two days. How about make it as a combination with learning how to dive nitrox then you will really reap the benefits. Before you plan your diving holiday get in contact with your preferred diving center to check of they have the availability of side mount courses (not all dive centres can currently offer these side mount courses)

 

So lets have a go at cutting through some of the jargon….

 

A = Air flex hose

Light and extremely flexible, Airflex hoses carry an average lifespan that is 3 x longer than standard rubber hoses. Built with durability in mind, Airflex hoses are designed with excellent protection against abrasion, damage caused by UV rays and gear pinches. Their kink-resistant design means you can tie the Airflex hose into a knot and still have continuous air flow. Burst pressure is several times that of traditional rubber hoses and our Airflex hoses are suitable for use with any gas mixture.

B = Bungee

Shock cord that can be used for multiple functions in the scuba diving world. Found in side mount diving for attachment of the tank valve to the harness. Comes in various lengths and thicknesses.

C = Cave

A cave is defined as “A large hole that is formed by natural processes in the side of a cliff or hill or under the ground”

D = D – Ring

There are many different types of attachment rings on the market that the diver can attach to their harness to make tank attachment easy. Typically they are called D rings. The D-ring is the best way to create an attachment point on soft webbing. D-rings are available in various sizes and with differing angles. Made of marine grade 316 stainless steel they will last in fresh and salt water environment

E = Enriched Air Nitrox

Enriched Air Nitrox refers to any gas mixture composed of nitrogen and oxygen; this includes normal air which is approximately 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases. However, in scuba diving, nitrox is normally differentiated and handled differently from air. The most common use of nitrox mixtures containing higher than normal levels of oxygen is in scuba, where the reduced percentage of nitrogen is advantageous in reducing nitrogen uptake in the body’s tissues and so extending the possible dive time, and/or reducing the risk of decompression sickness

 

F = Flexibility

The side mount diving approach offers divers significant benefits to the flexibility of their approach. Unlike back-mounted doubles, acquiring and transporting side mount suitable cylinders is often much more convenient and accessible. Side mount diving configuration allows the travelling diver to conduct technical and/or overhead environment dives without having to source traditional back-mounted twin cylinders.

H = Hybrid Harness

Specialised side mount harnesses are available ‘off-the-shelf’ commercially. Some of these are designed specifically for side mounting only, but others are ‘hybrid’ designs, enabling the diver to swap between side mount and back-mounted cylinders, as needed.

N = No Decompression time

A no-decompression limit (NDL) is a time limit. No-decompression limits vary from dive to dive. A diver who stays underwater longer than the no-decompression limit for his dive can not ascend directly to the surface, but must pause periodically as he ascends to avoid a high risk of decompression sickness. A diver should never exceed a no-decompression limit without specialised training in decompression procedures.

P = Pressure gauge

To monitor breathing gas pressure in the diving cylinder, a diving regulator usually has a high pressure hose leading to a contents gauge (also called pressure gauge). The contents gauge is a pressure gauge measuring the gas pressure in the diving cylinder so the diver knows how much gas remains in the cylinder. It is also known as submersible pressure gauge or SPG. Typically in side mount configuration the pressure gauge is attached to a short, typically 6 inch hose.

R = Rig

The term given to the total set up of side mount equipment. To be exact it can be defined as “a device or piece of equipment designed for a particular purpose”

S = Streamline

Side mount diving configuration places the cylinders under the diver’s armpits, in line with their body. This decreases water resistance (improving air consumption and reducing fatigue) whilst also allowing the diver to pass through smaller restrictions than would otherwise be possible in back-mounted cylinders. The flexibility to remove tanks, and propel them in front, allows the diver to pass through very small passages and holes when penetration diving – being limited only by the size of their bodies and exposure protection

T = Trim

Underwater trim is the diver’s attitude in the water, in terms of balance and alignment with the direction of motion. Accurately controlled trim reduces swimming effort, as it reduces the sectional area of the diver passing through the water.

W = Wing

An inflatable buoyancy bladder known as a wing, that is fixed between the backplate and the diver. Wings come in various sizes with varying lift volumes. Types of include the Hollis SMS 50, or the Dive Rite Nomad

 

To summarise….

 

So hopefully in this short article we have managed to give you the reader a better understanding of what side mount diving is all about. It is not just for the hard core technical deep cave divers, quite the contrary, it is readily available and can be of great benefit to the diver beginning his / her scuba adventures. You don’t need fancy mix gas computers or the most expensive fins or to wear all black equipment, no, you simply need to have an interest in a different style of diving, enthusiasm and an open mind to learn. The world of side mount diving is out there for everybody.

 

If you would like to join one of our recreational safaris where we will be running side mount courses simply drop us an email to info@tekstremediving.com

The safari dates with current availability this year are:

 15th August – 21st August 2014

10th October – 16th October 2014

 

There will be a maximum of 6 students per trip so email us early to secure your place.

 

Cat Braun 

Tekstreme Diving Manager

Way down in the middle of the Red Sea you will find an Island called Rocky Island. Situated on the surrounding reef lies quietly the wreck of the Maiden. This particular wreck is probably the least dived in the Red Sea due to its depth and remote location; beginning at 90 metres and going to a maximum of around 125m. Tekstreme will be running another expedition to go and dive this wreck next summer time. There are not many divers that can say that they have been and visited this wreck, it certainly is one for the log book! (if you even have a log book!). The trip only has a few remaining places left so contact us soon if you would like to join. We only put a maximum of 16 technical divers on board for your comfort so don’t miss out….

The Wreck

Built by W Hamilton & Co (Glasgow), the Maiden was launched in March 1902 and officially described as Steel Screw Steamer. A very large ship for her day, She was 152.4m (500 feet!) long, 17.7m wide and had a draught of 10m. The Maiden was owned and operated by T & J Brocklebank who were much respected throughout the world and something of a legend in Liverpool. The Maiden had been used exclusively on the Eastern Trade routes, operating between European Ports and India. It was in 1923 that a navigational error resulted in the ship hitting the south side of the Rocky island.

Basic Information – 18/09/15 – 25/09/2015

  • Port of Departure = Marsa Alam
  • Port of Return = Marsa Alam
  • Boat = Emperor Elite
  • Level of technical diver = Advanced Trimix diver CCR or OC
  • Courses Available = Trimix CCR and OC on request
  • Number of dives = minimum 7 / maximum 8
  • Number of technical divers = 16 divers
  • Recreational divers welcome upon request (subject to conditions)

Included in the price

  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Airport transfers
  • Marine Park Fees
  • Fuel surcharges
  • All food and soft drinks on board
  • Wine with evening dinner
  • Twin set hire
  • CCR tank hire
  • 2 x Decompression tank(s) hire with rigging
  • 2 x Bailout tank(s) hire with rigging
  • Twin set air gas fills
  • CCR oxygen fills
  • CCR air fills
  • Emergency Surface marker buoy hire

Wreck Dives

  • Zealot @ Daedalus
  • Maiden @ Rocky Island

 

Reef Dives

  • Daedalus Reef
  • Elphinestone

 

(Please note dive sites are subject change due to weather conditions and level of technical divers on board. Please also note that night dives are not permitted at Daedalus reef or Rocky Island)

 

Itinerary:

Day 1

Dive 1 – Local check out dive around Marsa Alam

Dive 2 – Elphinestone Reef Archway

 

Overnight travel to Daedalus Reef

 

Day 2

Dive 1 – Wreck of the Zealot

Dive 2 – Wreck of Zealot or Reef

 

Overnight travel to Rocky island

 

Day 3

Dive 1 – Wreck of Maidan

 

Day 4

Dive 1 – Wreck of Maidan

 

Day 5

Dive 1 – Wreck of Maidan

 

Day 6

Dive 1 – Elphinestone reef

Dive 1 – Local dive Marsa Alam

Email us to place your booking tekstreme@emperordivers.com.

The trip price is only 1318 euros per person.

Truly magnificent….that is how we can sum up our most recent northern technical safari!

Armed with a boat full of open and closed divers of all levels we set sail to go and explore the wrecks and reefs of the northern Red Sea. All the guests arrived on board the platinum boat Emperor Elite, our home for the week, on the Friday night. After a couple of hours of completing paperwork, setting up equipment and getting familiar with the boat, it was time for a sleep before we left the port the following morning. (I actually managed to find time to sneak away to watch Wales demolish France in the six nations rugby game! So for me it was already a great start to the week!)

The first reef we headed to was within the Hurghada region at a site called Gota Abu Ramada. This shallow reef provided the perfect location to check that all equipment was working correctly, make sure the weighting of the divers was fine and generally get back into the swing of things. After lunch we then began our journey towards the north, stopping off at the island of Umm Gammar to give the divers their first decompression dive. For most divers the planned maximum depth was between 40 – 50m with run times of anyway between 1hr – 1hr 30mins.

The plan for the following day was to visit the grandiose wreck of the Rosalie Muller. This second world wreck which lies in a maximum depth of 45m is a personal favourite of mine. The visibility in this area is typically less than on outside reefs which instead of being a negative point actually makes this dive more atmospheric and appealing. The bonus of this relative shallow depth is the huge bottom times that can be achieved to explore the wreck. As we were at the location all day the divers we able to make two long deco dives in the wreck, under the wreck, over the wreck, on the sides of the wreck, you can confidently say no part of the wreck was left unexplored!

Deck of Rosalie Muller

Deck of Rosalie Muller

After we left the Rosalie Muller we made the crossing over to the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula to sleep for the night before heading up to the straights of Tiran early in the morning. The first dive we had planned there was to dive the wreck of the Lara. This particular dive does require the wind strength to be lower due to the wrecks location on the north side of Jackson reef, which is the uppermost of the four reefs that make up the straights of Tiran. Upon arrival we were pleased to see that the weather conditions were good and we managed to take the zodiacs and drop directly onto the wreck. The wreck itself has split into a few sections as it came to its final resting place. With a maximum depth of around 80m it makes for an interesting dive to move from piece to piece getting progressively shallower. Jackson reef itself is a stunner. The amount of soft and hard corals growing on the walls makes for a dive in itself, how blessed are we that we get to dive wreck and reef in one.

Stern of the Lara

Stern of the Lara

The plan for the following morning was to visit the very well known Thomas Canyon. I don’t know anybody that has done this dive and said that they did not enjoy it. The topography is simply amazing. This narrow canyon that can be entered from as shallow as 43m slowly and steadily drops down to around 90m. There are natural arches formed by large boulders which make for some fantastic pictures and visual features. You are protected from the current completely once you are inside the canyon and so it makes for an effortless swim though. Upon exiting the canyon, the current was heading from south to north and was running quite well, for sure we do not swim into this current but instead, we get to fly along the reef enjoying this current all the way until the northern tip. The faces of all the guests when they came out of this dive is a perfect picture. Happy divers.

Inside the Thomas Canyon

Inside the Thomas Canyon

On this trip we were lucky to have a trained Hyperbaric doctor on board. Dr Mattjin Buwalda kindly offered to give an evening presentation on decompression sickness, treatments, preventions and general theory. This was very well received by all the guests and is always good knowledge to have and be up to date with the latest information. We hope to make Mattjin a regular feature of our trips to give his invaluable information to guests on our trips to come.

DCS Presentation

DCS Presentation

By now had reached the half way point of the week and began our journey travelling down to the south. Before sunset we stopped off at the wreck of the Dunraven located at Beacon Rock for some divers to make a second dive. It also gave myself and Chris an opportunity to try our Bonex scooters! We managed to dive from the boat, to the wreck and back again in under 40mins! (and of course wave at everybody on our way by!)

The following morning marked our last dive in the Sinai region, and what better dive to finish with but Shark and Yolanda Reef at Ras Mohammed. The surface conditions were flat like a lake and with a mild current a good dive was had by all. Most divers made a slightly shallower dive here, between 40 – 50m as they were saving their energy for the challenge of Abu Nuhas! Can they manage to do all four wrecks in one hit?!

The reef of Abu Nuhas has been the devil for many a boat captain over the years and the end result us that we have four large wrecks all on the north side of the reef just waiting for technical divers to come and try to dive all of them in one go. With the guests that were on the boat it was a given that they would try this challenge and for sure they would conquer! (I think they will all admit that they were quite tired at the end!) But, a great achievement nonetheless.

Structure of Ghiannis D

Structure of Ghiannis D

Our final dive of the week was to dive the deep wreck of the Gulf Fleet which lies off the side of the reef Shaabrugh Umm Gammar. At a maximum depth of 105m it would be a great dive to finish the week. Unfortunately the wind conditions had picked up substantially which made the dive unsafe to do. The current was mild but due to the location of the wreck it was unsafe to try and get divers in the water at that location. There were many disappointed faces, but for sure all divers appreciate that safety is first, and the wreck will be there for years to come. We did manage to still dive the wreck of the Colona V slightly further down the reef in more sheltered water so overall still a nice end to the diving week.

This week was a first for me to try my hand at videography. Please bare in mind I had never ever even used a video camera on land so the small clips produced are for sure from an amateur, but hopefully it will give you an idea of some of the sites that we visited. You can check out the videos by heading to:

 

Back in port there was only one thing left to do, go out into town to celebrate, remissness and look back over our amazing week. In the newly opened South Beach bar in the centre of town the drinks were flowing, the live music was excellent and the dancing skills of the guests was interesting (think we should all stick to diving!)

Final night out

Final night out

Many, many thanks to all the guests on board our trip for providing a great relaxed atmosphere and for sure a week to remember.

Our next technical safari is in June to go and visit the breath taking sites of the Brother Islands. Wrecks, reefs and sharks all in one trip, certainly one not to miss. If you would like to join us on this trip, you can get in contact we us at info@tekstremediving.com and we can provide you with all the details.

Cat Braun – Technical Manager

Part One – Port Ghalib (Marsa Alam)Port Ghalib

Since 2002, the Port Ghalib International Marina has been a crowning feature in the community. With space to accommodate up to 1,000 yachts, it makes for a stunning harbour display. The award-winning International Marina is fully staffed with Harbour Master, Customs and Immigration office for traveling ships, as well as fully equipped repair and fueling facilities.
As Egypt’s first private seaport, the marina is upheld to international standards by UK based marina company Camper and Nicholson, who have acted as the marina’s operator consultants since 1999.

The half a mile peninsula features multiple venues for dining, entertainment, boutique shopping, cultural expeditions into both antique and modern art, facilities for outdoor activities and a lively night life.

Further inland, discover a traditional Egyptian bazaar in the Khan, where history comes alive with the collection of perfumes, jewels and other treasures, creating an authentic experience of Egypt’s rich merchant culture.

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Port Ghalib is a waterfront premier integrated resort community situated on 18 kilometers of virgin shoreline. Located in the rising city of Marsa Allam, Port Ghalib is an investment that is already redefining the exotic coast of the Red Sea Riviera. The dazzling 8 million square meter master plan planned to contain a plethora of investment opportunities ranging from luxury beach front villas, elite golf estates, and superior Marina apartments to internationally renowned hospitals, schools, spas, water parks and international luxury hotel chains. With a variety of high-impact and low-impact land, water, and desert activities, Port Ghalib truly is A World of its Own.

 

Living up to the reputation of the marina the scuba diving options are also amazing. Lets have a look at some of the dive sites:

Torombi

Our furthest north site and one for good weather only, Torombi always gives a wilderness feel. Immaculate corals underwater, an undeveloped coastline view – and often you’ll be the only boat there! Usually a school of barracuda meets the divers under the boat in summer months and mesmerise with their movement. Moving around the pinnacles at the deeper part you will spot rays, Scorpionfish and Lionfish before ascending to the finger-like walls on the eastern side of the largest pinnacle. Here the colourful hard corals are host to thousands of small reef fish, and perhaps even a Hawksbill Turtle.

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Torfet Ali

Only 10 minutes north of Port Ghalib, the 5 sites of Torfet Ali all have deep, blue water and sections of steep drop-offs. While advanced divers will enjoy drifting along at depth, those who want to stay shallow will find sand shelves and reef tongues to explore. Whatever depth you are, keep an eye out in the blue.  Large tongues of coral form slopes and small canyons on this dive meaning the scenery is always changing. Expect large schools of fusiliers to accompany you as you explore the coral beds and the sand strips. Critters such as Whip Coral Gobies can be spotted here, but of course the shallows are packed with Butterflyfish, Angelfish and Goatfish.

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Marsa Mubarak

Our nearest and largest bay which provides a huge range of dive sites suitable for all levels of diver and snorkeller. If you would like to see the famous Dugong, you will have a good chance in this bay. A favourite for photographers due to the patient fish life, this site, named after the word ‘school’ due to it’s versatility for training course does not immediately ‘wow’ the diver like some of our others. However dive slowly and you will find stonefish, scorpionfish, pipefish, frogfish and crocodilefish living amongst the nooks and crannies. When you head around the corner, you are confronted with a set of pinnacles swarming with juvenile fish and their ever present predators, and even an anemone city. Quite often, this is the site people ask to dive again!

 

Halg Salmaan

Salmaan’s throat – a cut in the reef that doesn’t reach the shore – is a site that is relatively undived. 2 very different dive sites are available here, between them a lagoon that often welcomes pods of Spinner Dolphins.

 

Marsa Shouna (Shouni Kebir)

A favourite spot of liveaboards and daily boats alike, Shouna is one of those areas where you can have magic encounters. Littered in table corals of all shapes and sizes, pick your depth on the gradual slope and see what’s hiding beneath each one. Of course blue spot rays are abundant, but certain times of year bring in breeding guitar rays and other surprises. Cleaning stations up and down the reef serve the resident schools of snappers, batfish, goatfish and fusiliers. Crocodilefish, lionfish and scorpionfish lay in wait for the meals to come to them and the keen eye will spot more camouflaged critters on this site than any other. This is a dive you could do again and again…

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Ras El Torfa

Good visibility and excellent corals are a safe bet as Ras El Torfa and there is always the chance to see turtles, rays and even sharks. Hawksbill turtles are regular visitors and there is a pinnacle infested with boxer shrimp for the macro lovers, but the coral is the star with beds of goniopora mixing it with huge salad corals. Exploring further south you could spot a turtle or two, but on the way back watch out at 9mt for one of the most picturesque pinnacles in this area, complete with a totally undamaged table coral that plays host to the secretive lemon coral goby. For advanced divers only, seeing the ‘big ball’ loom out of the distance at a depth of 25metre and going downwards is a memorable experience. On the outer edge of this unique coral formation the drop off extends below 50mt and you are right out in the blue, meaning big life encounters are possible.

 

Marsa Shouni Soraya

A very narrow bay an hour south of Port Ghalib, Shouni Soraya provides easy access to 3 very different dives. Cross the sand plateau on the south reef, keeping your eyes out for large rays as you do. You then hit a series of 3 large pinnacles out in the blue, smothered in the bicolour chromis fish – giving the site its name ‘half and half’. Barracuda and rays can surprise you on these pinnacles, before you cruise back along the south reef wall.

 

Marsa Morena

Our furthest site accessible locally, this idyllic palm tree lined bay is a beautiful place to moor up and dive in. Best explored at depth to start with, the overhangs and whip corals make nice scenery. Shallow up and explore the pinnacle in the centre of the laggon for loads of critters before drifting over the reef tongues and sand patches, enjoying the table corals scattered across them. On the way over you’ll go across a deep patch of seagrass where we often spot small green turtles and even from time to time Dennis, the dugong of Abu Dabab fame. On the way back you’ll do your safety stop on a 5mt sand plateau covered in soles, flounders and partner gobies.

 

Sharm Abu Dabour

The housereef at our Moreen Beach Dive Centre. Known as one of the most beautiful shore dives in the region, stunning scenery and wonderful marine life combine for awesome diving days. Start from a shallow pool and follow a guideline underwater to twist you down to 4 metres through a coral canyon. Move into a shallow cavern and be awed at the light coming in from different angles around you. Exit the cavern at 7 metres and drop down the reef wall to depth. Follow the hard coral tongue down to your desired depth looking for turtles as you go. Look at every whip coral for gobies and shrimps, and keep an eye in the blue for bigger creatures. Shallow up and return back, either coming back through the cavern or doing a gentle stop in the lagoon. Large triggerfish can be found around here, and dolphins and eagle rays can make an appearance too.

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Sha’ab Abu Dabab

Accessible in less than 15 minutes by fast RIB from our Moreen Beach Dive Centre, these offshore sites have great visibility, fantastic marine life encounters, swim-thrus, pinnacles and even a small wreck. Sha’ab Abu Dabab 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 – Imaginatively numbered and not individually named, these rarely dived reefs leave a lot of room for exploration. Most have a deeper, East side facing into the waves and prevailing current and can be a place to drift dive and spot larger pelagic life. The West sides offer more protection, shallow slopes, pinnacles and swim-thrus. Every dive will be different and you’ll be very unlucky to see another dive group on your dive!

 

 

Elphinstoneoceanic

A world famous offshore reef, Elphinstone is the jewel in our crown. Sheer walls and sometimes currents at exhilarating speeds make this one for advanced divers only but it will be one you remember. Dive the east wall in the morning and the west in the afternoon to make the most of the sun, and light up the abundant soft corals. Anthias smother the walls and large gorgonian fans and black corals hide critters such as the infamous longnose hawkfish. Keep an eye out in the blue for resident schools of snapper, large barracuda and enormous Napoleon wrasse. The north and south plateaus drop to over 100 metre in depth but can be a place for very special encounters – manta rays, silvertip, tiger, grey reef and hammerhead sharks have all been seen here and cruising the shallows at the right time of year can be curious silky and oceanic whitetip sharks. Lying under the southern plateau at a depth of approximately 55 – 60m,  is a natural archway allowing divers to swim from one side of the reef to the other. An awe-inspiring image that will stick in the memory for a life time.

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How to get to Port Ghalib….

 

We’ve arranged a new, affordable way for you to come and dive in Marsa Alam!

Whether you’re a regular Marsa-lover, or want to try this great diving destination for the first time, finding good value or convenient flights to Marsa Alam Airport, especially from the UK, can be difficult. Monarch have announced that they are operating 3 flights this summer to Hurghada from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham. If you book soon you can get them at very reasonable prices. So how about a helping hand and a free ride? For all guests arriving in Hurghada on Fridays we will provide you with a free of charge transfer to and from Marsa Alam. But what if you can’t arrive on a Friday? Don’t worry we have a standard price of 25 Euro /£21 for a ‘round trip shared transfer’ Hurghada Airport – Marsa Alam Hotel – Hurghada Airport. Just book your Marsa Alam package and add the transfer – nice and simple.

If you would prefer to fly into Marsa Alam itself you can check out the flight options provided by Thomsons and Egypt Air. We can book your hotel for you and arrange for you to be collected form the airport.

Diving in Marsa Alam has just got a lot easier, so come and check it out with the Tekstreme Team

Cat Braun – Tekstreme Diving Manager

 

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So the dates have now been released and back by popular demand….

 

Tekstreme will be offering a fully equipped technical safari to include the Brother islands from the 6th June – 13th June 2014Image

The itinerary (weather dependant) should include:

 

Panarama Reef in Safaga

The stunning walls of Small Brother Island

The Wreck of the Numidia on Big Brother Island

The Wreck of the Aida on Big Brother Island

The Wreck of the Salam Express in Safaga

The Wreck of the Gulf Fleet in Hurghada

The Wreck of Colona V in Hurghada

 

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There will be only 16 places available, and these spaces are available for all levels of technical diver. Trimix certification is not  a requirement but would be of benfit. All levels of technical courses and Gas Blending courses can all be run on board.

The boat will be the Gold boat “Superior” from Emperor Divers. Check out http://www.emperordivers.com/liveaboards-fleet-superior.php for more details and specifications of the boat

For a more information on how to join our summer time technical safari contact me directly at tekstreme@emperordivers.com

The price for the trip is only 1172 euros.

This price includes:

7 nights accommodation

Food and soft drinks on board

All Marine Park fees & Fuel surcharges

Transfers to and from the airport

Twin set hire or CCR tank hire

2 x Decompression / Bailout tanks

All Oxygen fills for CCR

Dont hesitate to book yourself and join us on some of the greatest tech dives in the Red Sea.

Cat & the Tekstreme Team