The M26 saga!

 

ImageSome time ago the bureaucrats in Brussels decided that some new regulations were needed regarding the transport of gases under pressure. They decided that each gas should have its own individual tank valve fitting, so that the wrong gas could never be put into a particular cylinder. There was already a DIN fitting for use with air cylinders (DIN being the German standards body), so they decided to stipulate an entirely different fitting for use with air mixes with a higher content of oxygen than normal – nitrox or oxygen.  They came up with the M26 valve thread, with a larger diameter than the now familiar DIN fitting.  This is the type of scuba cylinder valve that must be fitted to any new cylinder that is going to be used with any gas greater than 22% oxygen, this is a European directive that came into force in August 2008. These valves will match any regulator supplied in the European Union which has been designated for use with gas containing an oxygen content greater than 22%.

 

In simple terms if you buy a new set of regulators for nitrox use they will come with a M26 fitting and if you buy a new cylinder for nitrox use then it will come fitted with a M26 valve. It looks similar to the Din type of valve, just slightly bigger. The valve should have the information stamped or etched on the valve itself.

 

It is important for recreational scuba divers, technical divers and rebreather divers travelling outside of Europe who have these M26 regulators to recognize that this directive is purely within Europe. When you travel to other continents i.e Africa, Asia etc it is strongly advisable to check with the diving operator to ensure that either; there are tanks available with M26 threads or they can supply an adaptor. In many countries outside of Europe it is very difficult even, on some occasions not possible to purchase the specific M26 tanks or adaptors. If this is the case you will need to remember to take with you your own adaptor.

 

So remember if you have a M26 regulator check with your diving operator what the options are before you travel!

 

Cat Braun – Tekstreme Diving Manager

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Maidan Expedition Diary

So finally summer time arrived and our long awaited expedition to explore the wreck of the Maidan could begin.

The mission of the trip was to comprehensively map the wreck of the SS Maidan. Built by W Hamilton & Co, the Maidan was launched in March 1902 and officially described as Steel Screw Steamer. A very large ship for her day, She was 152.4m long, 17.7m wide and had a draught of 10m. The Maidan was owned and operated by T & J Brocklebank and 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 towards the southern end of the Red Sea.Image

The wreck was discovered a few years ago but due to its depth and remote location it has not been dived so much and as a result there is not much information available for an accurate description of its current condition and layout. There were a few pictures available on the web with a brief description but nothing in more detail. Hence, our expedition.

This trip is quite a unique expedition and run fairly in-frequently due to the experience level of the divers required. The shallowest part of the wreck is at 83m going down to a maximum depth of around 125m. It goes without saying that the trip is only available for Advanced Trimix divers. Realistically when diving to these depths the trip it is more geared at the Closed circuit rebreather divers. Open circuit divers can dive the wreck, and we in fact had two open circuit trimix divers on board, but the limitations of the gas that you can carry which has a direct affect on the bottom time possible becomes very apparent as does the gas bill for helium!

As a secondary mission we also planned to make a pit stop at the reef of Daedalus Reef to dive the wreck of the Zealot. The Zealot was a “spar decked double skinned iron hull screw steamship”. Originally named the Helme Park at John Readhead and Company, UK, for William Wright, an owner of numerous other merchant vessels. The ship was launched on 30 January 1873 with a length of 73 metres. Propulsion was provided by a compound steam engine which generated 120 horse power delivered to a single screw for a top speed of 12 knots. It was on the Zealot’s final voyage heading towards Bombay that it was once again a navigational error that led to its demise in either 1876 or 1887 (the exact date is still unclear)

Our floating luxury hotel for the week was provided by Emperor Divers in the form of their platinum boat called Emperor Elite of which we boarded in Port Ghalib marina, Marsa Alam. The 38m long wooden safari boat provided a spacious dive deck area for the multiple large cylinders of oxygen and helium on board, lots of tubs of sofnolime, as well as a twin piston booster pump and blending panel for custom mixing all desired gases.Image

After a local check dive to make sure all equipment and CCR units were functioning correctly we headed further afield to make our first decompression dive at the well known Marsa Alam reef of Elphinestone. Tucked underneath the southern plateau there is a spectacular feature that we refer to as the “Arch way”. It is a passage that can take you underneath the plateau from east to west or vice versa. Due to the large size of this passage way it looks like a giant archway on approach. The current on the day was fairly mild and so it was a nice gentle swim through the arch, but please note the current in this area can be quite strong and sometimes the arch way may not be advisable!Image

Once all divers we back on board we began our journey to Daedalus Reef. The weather conditions were perfect and it made for calm sailing into the night.  Once the sun was up it was time to go and find the wreck and get the exact GPS coordinates so that all the divers could be dropped directly onto the wreck. The rough location of the wreck is no secret and not rocket science to figure it out when looking at the journey the ship was taking when it came to meet its end, however, to get the exact position takes a bit of experience and knowledge of the reef. Myself and Chris Armstrong were the ones to go to pin point the exact coordinates of the wreck. From my previous trips to the wreck and with a good current check in multiple places I managed to drop Chris into the water relatively close to the wreck and within 5 minutes he gave a pre agreed signal that he was now on the wreck. Perfect, with a handheld GPS with me in the zodiac we now had the exact coordinates ready to drop the divers.

The sea conditions were flat like a lake and the currents were pleasantly mild which made entry, descent and diving along the wreck nice and easy. Even though the current was mild you will still find that where the current hits the reef there will be what we call a split. A split is where the current will hit an obstacle and then go in two directions around that obstacle, in that area you will find very little current but more importantly you will also find pelagic marine life. Traditional here the pelagics will be in the form of Hammerhead Sharks. The divers were not disappointed. At a depth of around 65m during the descent some of the divers were lucky enough to have a group of 4 hammerheads swimming by them. The divers who were already on the wreck were also pleased to also have Hammerhead sighting. The wreck of the Zealot is quite broken up due to its impact to the reef with a debris field covering a wide area, lots to explore. There has been confusion in the past about whether this wreck is in fact the Zealot or if it was a different wreck called the Daccar. The Daccar was a passenger ferry, the Zealot was a cargo ship. Upon diving the wreck the guests were swimming past parts of locomotive and railway tracks which would definitely not be typical of a passenger ferry, plus the ferry would have been considerably larger than what was dived. Once all divers were up and all pictures analysed, it was concluded that the wreck on the reef in this area is for sure the Zealot as other people have previously stated. This means the Daccar is still to be found! That’s a mission for the next trip!Image

After a overnight sail travelling down south we eventually arrived at Rocky Island. The weather conditions were still very favourable for us and we were the only boat at Rocky Island. Because of the depth of the wreck, the long decompression times that were going to be done and the fact we were going to be there for a few days we put a permanent shot line directly to the wreck from our boat. This made it easy for descent (no reason for anybody not to find the wreck!), but more importantly it gave the divers easy access to emergency gases if required. We staged various extra bailout gases on this shot line from 40m and shallower, so if anybody had an issue they knew where to get gas from easily. We also then hung a deco station from this shot line. This would provide the divers who wanted to decompress on the line a little bit of extra space. Hang bars were located at 12m, 9m and 6m to spread the divers out.Image

Over the next three days at Rocky island are mission was achieved. The divers had some awesome dives exploring all parts of the wreck. Most CCR divers we diving with very rich helium mixtures to offset the potential narcosis so that they could enjoy the wreck and remember it afterwards! Dive times were on average between 3 – 4 hours! Good job the trip was in the summer time to make use out of the warmer water temperatures, and the bonus of no drysuits so people could pee freely! A huge, huge thanks to John Rochester for taking pictures from all over the wreck and his magical computer skills to piece those pictures together to give what I believe is the first ever photo of the wreck almost in its entirety.Image

Sadly it was then time to leave Rocky Island, say goodbye to the Maidan for now and begin the journey back to the north. The weather conditions still held out and we have a very smooth sail back up to Elphinestone reef. A brief pit stop was made for the chef to produce a massive spread of food and BBQ for all the guests (don’t worry it was an electric BBQ not one with real flames) After everybody was fed and watered we continued the journey.

We arrived at Elphinestone early in the morning for our final dive to hopefully, see some more sharks before the trip ended. Ephinestone did not disappoint. After exploring the southern arch of Elphinestone on the first day of the trip we now headed to the northern plateau to see what we could find. There was a current running across the plateau on descent but as soon as we down alongside we had the shelter to then swim further up towards the north. After only a short period of time a couple of Hammerheads came to say hello followed by two grey reef sharks circling in and out. A great end to a great trip.

Back on land it was then time to head to WonderBar (The best European bar in Port Ghalib marina) and reminisce on the trip, share diving stories and discuss who’s CCR unit is the best! He he he

Tekstreme would love to thank John and Janet Rochester for their drive to make this trip happen and for the fantastic photos from the trip.  But of course we cannot forget Barry Woods, Chrissie Tyson, Dave Murphy, Dave Norton, Geoff Bridges, Shaun Fox, Norbert Miskolczi, Mel Ford and Ross Finlay for being a wonderful group of experienced divers to spend a week with. You are all more than welcome to come back and join us at any time.

Cat Braun – Tekstreme Technical Manager

 

The next big expedition being planned is a northern technical expedition to feature the wreck of the Yolanda in Ras Mohammed, and no we don’t mean to see the toilet seats!

 

The trip dates provisionally we are looking at is June 20th – 27th 2014.

Contact Tekstreme@emperordivers.com for more details.

How I got to 100m by Craig Chamberlain.

 

Today i dived to 100m on the wreck of the Gulf fleet at Shaabrugh Umm Gammar as a TDI Advanced Trimix diver. Here is my story of how i got there…

 

I started technical or “tech” diving at the age of 15 with the TDI Advanced nitrox course. Then for the next three years i was counting the days until my eighteenth birthday so that i could do decompression procedures and actually be trained to make accelerated deco dives to 45m. 

 

It was not long after taking this course that my hunger for slightly deeper dives grew. So i then took the TDI extended range course to learn the procedures for diving air to a maximum depth of 55m. As a deco procedures diver i could have progressed directly to a normoxic (approximately 21% O2) trimix diver but decided that learning the techniques for deep air diving first would make me appreciate the effects of helium more when i came to be a trimix diver.Image

 

After gaining some experience at my extended range level I found the Tekstreme Diving website and facebook page. Seeing the photos of guests making deep and long tech dives made me want to dive with this company. Reading through the facebook status on the Tekstreme page made me want to dive with Tekstreme even more. I emailed Cat Braun (Tekstreme general manager) telling her that i was moving to Hurghada and what my plans for the future in terms of technical diving were. After an almost instant reply i was certain that this was the place that i wanted to continue my adventure into the depths of the Red Sea.

 

The day after i arrived in Hurghada i had arranged to meet with Cat to discuss what i was going to do. The plan was for me to do a couple of days pleassure tech diving to get back into the swing of things and to brush up on my skills since it had been quite a while since my last planned deco dive.

 

The days went well and we did some nice dives in the 45 to 50m range. When Cat arrived back from her technical safari i was to begin my TDI entry level or normxic trimix course with her. This is when i think that i actually realised what proper tech diving was all about.Image

 

A 5 day course that turned into a 7 days course due to making sure i was fully ready for this level ended with a visit from a 3 meter long thresher shark on a  60m trimix dive on the southern side of Abu Ramada island. When Cat gave me the signal for a shark i thought that she was trying to trick me (again) into busting my maximum depth like i had done the previous day.

 

Now I was a certified trimix diver and what a feeling that was. It had been a dream of mine for a long time now that had finally came true!

 

On my days off from work (PADI Instructor) I would contact Cat and arrange dives with her and fellow tech guide Shaun Fox. After around 15 normoxic trimix dives i was back in England visiting family when i recieved and email from Tekstreme offering me the chance of a lifetime. A technical safari to the Brother Islands!!! To dive these deep coral walls and the wreck of the Numidia had been an ambition of mine since I had heard about them. And just to make things even better i was offered the chance to make the TDI Advanced Trimix course on the safari!! Of course i jumped at this chance.Image

 

Back in Hurghada, my first day was spent packing for the trip and counting the hours until boarding Emperor Elite, the platinum class safari boat that would be our home for a week. The first dive of the trip was at a local reef in the south of Hurghada called Ras Disha. For my diving buddies on the safari this was to be their check dive, being the first dive of my course, for me it meant three things: SKILLS SKILLS SKILLS. After surfacing from around an hour under the water doing SMB deployment, deco tank removal/replacement, unconsious diver lift, breathhold swims etc we set off futher south to safaga to dive the famous Salem Express. For some people this is a dive to sit out due to the amount of lives lost in the disaster. For me diving this wreck meant a lot, it was a sort of way of acknowledging what had happened.

 

Overnight we moved to Big Brother island were i would be doing the first real deep dive of my advanced trimix course, I was so excited but at the same time apprehensive for the dive. My instructor Chris Armstrong and I had planned for a 65m trimix dive on the wreck of the Aida.  After entering the water from the zodiac this is when i realised what diving at the brother’s really meant. As we descended the current was unbelievably powerful. In our 25 minute bottom time about 5 was actally spent on the wreck due to the current. But what an amazing place to dive, the coral wall rises from hundreds of meters covered in hard and soft corals of every colour imaginable.Image

 

The plan for the following day, an 80m hypoxic trimix dive that required a travel gas (i had been carrying one for the previous dives for training purposes only.) The dive went surprisingly easy with the only exercise being buddy breathing an 80% O2 deco gas and putting up an SMB at the same time. My instructor Chris came back to the boat minus 1 wrist slate, so I left emperor elite at the end of the trip minus 1 wrist slate and a few quid down in beer money.

 

We moved to the smaller of the Brother Islands next for our last dive at the islands which was planned as a 90m dive. This was probably the second best dive of the course, the best being the final one which i will talk about later. During out 15 minute bottom time we had our shark sighting that we had been waiting for, a white tip reef shark passing by.  After removing and replacing all of my deco tanks at 90m we only had a few minutes left before we began our long ascent. This is the nice thing about decompressing in the Red Sea, we actally have nice fish and coral to look at as surposed to a boring old shot line!Image

 

The last dive of my course was at another dream divesite. Elphinstone. It was to be my deepest dive so far. 97meters. With a 13 minute bottom time the dive seemed to go so fast and before i knew if i was in a zodiac on the way back to elite.

 

On the way back to port ghalib we did a couple of shallower pleassure dives in the Marsa Alam area. On the last night of the safari everyone ended up in Wunderbar sharing their deep fishy tales. Image

 

This was one of my best ever diving experiences and one that i will never forget – thankyou Tekstreme!!!!!

 

Back in Hurghada a month later i arranged three days deep trimix diving with Cat, the first was an 80m dive at Abu Ramada Cave. When we reached 80m after a prolonged descent due to Cat’s rebreather misbehaving, we had a Hammerhead shark swimming towards us, after only a couple of seconds it had dissappeared into the blue. Another one of my dreams had come true.

 

The next day we planned a 90m dive at Small Giftun, a really nice relaxing dive and we discovered an unknown wreck embedded into the reef.

 

So, today we were hopefullly going to Shaabrugh Umm Gammar if the wind would hold off to dive the wreck of the Gulf fleet 31 wreck. This was to be my first dive to 100m. As we made our way up to the north east side of the reef on the boat my heart was pounding with adreneline. Then the captain gave the signal for us to enter the water. We descened down the side of the reef after our bubble check at 6m. At around 75meters the wreck started comming into view. I was amazed how “clean” this wreck was, free of lines and damage. We swam down the port side of the wreck at aound 98m. Cat asked me if i wanted to swin under the hull and of course the answer was yes. It was just as i started to swim underneath the hull that that magical three figure number appeared on my computer. That was it i was now at 100m, 330 feet, 3937 inches underwater. Heading back up, following the contour of the wreck our 17 minute bottom time came to an end. I waved goodbye to the wreck and we bagan out 68 minute ascent. What a brilliant dive and an amazing expierence!Image

 

 

Thanks to Tekstreme for making my dreams come true.   See you soon in the abyss  🙂

Craig Chamberlain

 

Amazing summer time special. Technical safari for only 879 euros!! You must be mad not to book!!

 So Tekstreme have just got back from another amazing technical expedition to the Brother Islands and already we look forward to the next! In under four weeks time we have a sell out trip to visit the mighty wreck of the Maiden situated in the southern Red Sea off Rocky Island. Not a trip for the faint hearted. With the shallowest point of the wreck being at 90m and the deepest part at around 120m it is a dream wreck for all experienced advanced trimix divers.

 

Our specific Technical expeditions are very much in demand with availability selling out earlier and earlier. The next technical safari where we have available space will be to the northern sites of the Red Sea. This is a very popular trip that we run at the start and of each year and never fails to please.

 

The trip is open to all levels of technical diver, OC, SCR, CCR with a full range of courses available on board. We will be visiting sites such as:Image

 

– The wreck of Rosalie Muller

– The wreck of the Gulf Fleet

– The wreck of the Lara

– Thomas Canyon

– Wreckage of Yolanda

– Shark Reef

– Giftun Wall

 

And many more….

 

 

As a summer time special we will be offering an amazing deal for the first 10 customers to join the trip. We will offer the places at only 879 euros! This price Imageincludes:

 

–       Twin set hire

–       CCR tank hire

–       2 x Decompression

–       2 x bailout tank hire

–       All Twin set air fills

–       All CCR oxygen and air fills

–       7 nights accommodation

–       Airport transfers to and from boat

–       Marine Park fees

–       All food and soft drinks on boardImage

–       Minimum of 2 technical guides

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trip will be run on the platinum boat of the Emperor Fleet called “Elite”. You can find more info on the boat by heading to http://www.emperordivers.com/liveaboards-fleet-elite.php. The dates for the trip are February 21st – 28th 2014. The trip will be departing and returning from the port of Hurghada.

 

 Want to combine the trip with a flight also….simply contact Scuba Travel and they can put a whole package together for you. dive@scubatravel.com

 

Contact us now to take advantage of this amazing deal.

Tekstreme@emperordivers.com

Red Sea Advanced Technical Expedition to the wreck of the Maiden.

For all you advanced technical divers out there, the expedition trip of the year is about to happen.

 

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; beginning at 90 metres and going to a maximum of around 120m. Tekstreme will be running an expedition to go and dive this wreck this 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.

 

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 – 09/08/2013 – 15/08/2013Image

 

  • 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
  • Fury Shoal

 

 

(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)

 

Email us to place your booking tekstreme@emperordivers.com

Brothers Technical Expedition

Image

Basic Information

 

  • Port of Departure = Hurghada
  • Port of Return = Marsa Alam
  • Boat = Emperor Elite
  • Level of technical diver = All levels welcome
  • Courses Available = CCR and OC on request
  • Number of dives = minimum 8, / maximum 13
  • Number of technical divers = 16 divers
  • Recreational divers welcome on 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

 Image

 

 

Wreck Dives

 

  • El Mina @ Hurghada
  • Salem Express @ Safaga
  • Numidia @ Big Brother
  • Aida @ Big Brother

 

Reef Dives

 

  • Big Brother
  • Small Brother
  • Elphinestone @ Marsa Alam
  • Gota Abu Ramada @ Hurghada

 

 

(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 the Brother Islands)

 

Email us for more details on how you can fill the final few places

Brother Islands technical expedition – 05/07/2013 – 11/07/2013

Tekstreme@emperordivers.com

Our Top ten technical diving sites in the Red Sea

There are many dive sites within the Red Sea that are suitable for technical diving. Each of the sites having their own very unique and distinctive features and highlights.  Every diver has his or her own preference and opinion which combines to make them decide which are their favourite technical diving sites and we here at Tekstreme are no different. As a team we have put together 10 of our favourite technical diving sites from Egypt in the Red Sea. Please note they are in no particular order.

 

1. Elphinestone Archway @ Marsa Alam by Cat BraunImage

 

Situated off the coast of Marsa Alam lies the reef of Elphinestone. This finger long reef stretches from slightly off north to south with a plateau at both ends. Lying underneath the southern plateau is a wide passageway known as the “Arch” which you can swim through between the depths of 45m and 60m. Surrounding the entrance and exit is a mass of various soft corals, large gorgonian fan corals and whip corals. This dive site is well known for its currents hence the abundance of coral and marine life that brings the reef to life. As a result of the currents it is also the home to various pelagics. It is a well-known site for seeing Oceanic White Tip Reef Sharks, especially around the southern plateau. Hammerhead sharks are more frequently spotted on the northern tip but definitely not unknown to also frequent the southern edges of the plateau at depth.

 

 

2. Wreck of the Lara @ Sharm El Shiekh by Steve ParryImage

 

The Lara is a 137.5 metre long former cargo ship that ran aground on Jackson Reef in 1982. Originally intact and sitting atop the reef, she was salvaged in the mid-90s resulting in sections of the ship being allowed to be submerged.

 Today her remains lie against the reef immediately to the west of the surface-based remains. Descending next to the surfaced-based wreckage and swimming ‘reef left’, descend to 45m. There you will start to see her ghostly remains appear from the gloom. The remains start at 48m with her mast and sections that probably included workshops. Her bulkheads were removed during salvage allowing you to swim in and around this section. Laying on its starboard side you will then see her stern section with an impressively large propeller still attached at a depth of around 55m. Her superstructure and other sections lie at deeper depths.

This dive is very weather dependent as the wreck lies against the most northerly, and therefore exposed, side of Jackson Reef. For me this is why the dive is one of the best; it is a dive that many divers take years of failed attempts to complete and so as you enjoy the dive you have the privileged feeling of knowing you’re seeing a wreck only very few have enjoyed!

 

 

3. The Blue Hole @ Dahab by Steve ParryImage

 

One of the most famous technical dive sites in the Red Sea, the Blue Hole is a giant sinkhole in the reef-plate that drops directly down to 110m.

Starting the dive from the small wooden jetty, make your descent and turn ‘half-left’. As you descend to 50m there you will see the reason everyone want to dive this impressive site. A huge archway in the wall of the hole appears in front of you. Beautifully lit up by the sunshine on the outside of the hole, the archway seems like a massive cathedral window. Beware of dropping to deep though as you gaze into the light; this dive is best done as a trimix dive for this reason!

Swim through the arch, enjoying some healthy black gorgonians attached to the roof of the arch and come out onto the outside. From there turn ‘reef right’ and start your deco. From approximately 20m you will find a very colourful coral garden, culminating in a lip at 6m serving as the entrance back into the hole. From the lip, swim back into the hole whilst completing your deco and finish the dive back where you started.

 

 

4. The Canyon @ Dahab by Duncan SpenceleyImage

 

Situated a short drive to the north of Dahab Town, “The Canyon” is a popular dive site with both recreational and technical divers alike. Once your kit is prepared the first step is to walk your stage tanks out into the shallow, shore entry point. Open heeled fins and boots are highly recommended. You enter the site into a long narrow lagoon in the reef that is clearly visible from the surface and about 4-5m deep. Swim slowly to the end of this lagoon and you will see a dip in the perimeter that is about 2.5m deep. Exit the lagoon here. You will see directly in front of you a prominent pinnacle that starts at around 10m and tops out at around 6m. Remember this pinnacle as it marks the location of the lagoon for your exit! The seabed gently slopes and is a mixture of sand and coral out crops. Facing out from the pinnacle turn to face approx. 10 0’clock and swim out in this direction sticking to about 10-12m. The bottom will gently fall away from you. The entrance to the canyon is at around 22m. So when the bottom gets this deep, hang a left until a black opening appears in the seabed. It can take 5-10 mins to reach depending on the current. On reaching the entrance (you will usually see thin bubble trails coming out of the sand unless you are the 1st group in) scan the entrance for other divers. If the canyon is blocked just hang out @ 10m till they are clear. You descend into a large bowl that bottoms out at around 26m. Swim in the direction of the shore and the bowl narrows and looks like it ends. At this point look up and see the light filtering down through the ‘Fishbowl’ and hatchet fish and cave sweepers dancing in the shadows. You used to be able to exit through this passage vi the Fishbowl which took you up to 12m but the structure is now unstable and as a result this exit is closed to diver. Having had a little look there turn 180 deg and descend the slope further into the canyon. The passage narrows and deepens and wiggles down toward the deeper water. Be careful of your depth as it does slope fairly quickly and as the passage lies on a slope it can be quite disorientating. Towards the base of this passage at around 44m there is a small opening that can be used to exit to the open water, or you can carry on through a small narrowing and enter a smaller chamber at around 50m. At the end of this chamber is another opening to the open water. Pop out here and you will be on the reef wall / drop off. From here you can either enter the canyon and exit the way you came in swim back over the top of the canyon following the ribbon like crack back towards the reef wall or for the deeper qualified continue down into a depression and visit Neptune’s Chair at 65m or even Neptune’s caves at 75m.  When entering the ascent phase of the dive, follow the canyon up to the fringing reef wall; keep the reef on the right and deco out according to schedule. Keep an eye out for the pinnacle! If you continue slightly past the pinnacle you will see a pristine sandy slope that shallows to 3m, ideal if you are into lazy deco! Exit back out through the lagoon keeping an eye out for sea moths.

 

 

5. Yolanda Plateau @ Sharm El Shiekh by Duncan SpenceleyImage

 

Shark and Yolanda Reef is one of the most popular dive site for all divers in Sharm El Sheikh and as a result can be quite busy. If you want to guarantee some alone time on this popular site then what better way than to visit the Yolanda Plateau which is out of reach to most divers visiting the area. The dive site requires a blue water 70m descent so make sure you are comfortable with that!!! Once kitted, the boat is positioned between Yolanda Reef and Satellite reef and then moved approx. 100-150m out into the sea. And away you go. Descend fairly quickly as there can be strong currents to blow you off course. On reaching 70m, if you still just see blue, swim north until the plateau looms in front / below you. The tip of the plateau is around 98m and the plateau is marked with a large gouge marking the path the Yolanda took to its final resting place past sub 160m. Gaze down into the blackness and convince yourself you can make out some portion of the wreck below… Then follow the plateau up as is shallows keeping an eye out for cameras, dive computers etc. dropped by other clumsy divers! There are 4 containers on the plateau for you to explore and a section of mast. As you reach the reef wall and start ascent you will see more debris including toilets complete with lids! At around 45m is a anchor with a net around it; often you will find a big moray eel here. Continue up following the scar and it will lead you up to what the recreational divers see. At 26m view the stacks of bathtubs and on your journey up to 9m take in more toilets, rolls of linoleum, a BMW, and hand-sinks. All are encrusted with coral and full of marine life. Continue round the back of Yolanda reef and visit the beautiful shallow coral garden as you deco out. At the end of your dive move to the front of Yolanda reef and exit back to the boat.

 

 

6. Wreck of Gulf Fleet @ Hurghada by Cat BraunImage

 

Towards the north end of the Hurghada dive sites you will find the reef of Shaabrugh Umm Gammar. Located on the north east side of the reef you will find the wreck of a cable layer that was part of the Gulf Fleet. The ship hit the reef and then slid down the eastern reef wall to its current position where it got wedged on a hard coral mound. The wreck is lying pointing downwards with the stern section being the shallowest point at 85m, then angled down towards the bow section at around 100m. The wreck is completely in tact will minimal structural damage.  Due to the topography of the reef side it is possible to swim under the keel towards the box at around 105m. The visibility in the area is normally very good with natural light still penetrating down to this depth and so you can clearly see wreck without the essential need for torches. The wreck also does not receive large currents and so exploration is a relatively simple process. As the wreck is lying on the reef once you have finished exploring you then get a nice swim during your decompression of the reef side until eventually arriving at the southern end where your boat is normally moored.

 

 

7. Wreck of Numidia @ Brother Islands by Cat BraunImage

 

Situated towards the middle of the Red Sea you will find two islands that make up what we call the Brother islands; Big Brother and Little Brother. Small Brother is completely uninhabited but Big Brother provides accommodation for a small team of Egyptian workers who man the lighthouse, act as an outpost and sell Brother Island T Shirts! It is on Big Brother Island where you will find the wreck of the Numidia. The British cargo ship was a relatively large vessel at 137.4m long, 16.7m wide and had a draught of 9.2m. The Numidia struck the northern most tip of the reef due to a navigational error. The strong currents in this area combined with the winds that can be experienced in the Red Sea makes this dive suitable for a more experienced diver. The wreck can only dived by zodiac drop with your main boat being moored up on the more sheltered southern end to the reef. Once you roll into the water from the zodiac you will see the wreck directly beneath you starting at its shallowest point of around 10m, however, it is critical to make a swift decent to get shelter from the currents that can blow you off the wreck and potentially on top of the reef. Once you are down and have protection from the current you can follow the structure of the wreck to your planned maximum depth. The Wreck is sat up right alongside the reef with the bow section, all be it slightly broken up at the shallowest point at around 10m, and the stern section coming to rest at around 80m which is the deepest point. The first thing that most people will comment on is the absolute color that now adorns this vessel. Hard Corals and Soft Corals have colonized this ship in a manner making it amongst one of the most beautiful shipwrecks in the world. The railings, masts, lifeboat davits, windlasses and deck winches are all still in place – having become part of a living Reef of such vibrancy that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that this is a “wreck dive!” The wooden decking has gone and the cargo was salvaged. This, however, provides a great opportunity to investigate a large ship at whatever depth suits the personal requirement. Forward of the central bridge are two cavernous cargo holds with ventilation hatches along the starboard side. The decks are now a square pattern of steel in between which is the lower half of the forward mast. As you make your way up the wreck you will ultimately end up back at the eastern reef wall of the island ready to begin your deco. Head with the reef more commonly on the left hand side and don’t forget to keep an eye out in the blue. Multiple varieties of pelagics can be found on this Island.

 

8. Small Giftun @ Hurghada by Cat BraunImage

 

The Marine Park of Hurghada is made up of the two Giftun Islands; Big Giftun and Small Giftun. It is on Small Giftun Island that you will find one of the most popular drift dives in the area so titled “Small Giftun Drift”. You may come across this dive site by a few other names which could include; “The Police Station”, aptly named as there is a patrol outpost in the area, or “Gorgonia Gardens” due to the amount of Gorgonian fan corals that can be found on the site. The eastern wall of the island is where you begin you dive and it is a wall dropping to depths below150m, however, the best depth for the dive is between 60 – 70m. You will find yourself drifting along through a beautiful  green soft coral forest with long whip corals and Gorgonian fan corals along the way. With a bit of local knowledge you will also be able to time your ascent to swim through a narrow crack in the reef, commonly referred to as “The Giftun Archway”. You would make your entrance at around 47m and exit at 43m. The current in the area can be strong hence so much soft coral growth even at depth. Hurghada diving is not renowned for Pelagic’s but it is not unheard of to see a Thresher Shark who has made his home within this area cruising by.

 

 

9. Thomas Canyon @ Sharm El Shiekh by Chris ArmstrongImage

 

Situated in the straits of Tiran are 4 reefs stretching from North to South. The second reef from the south is Thomas reef. Halfway along this reef on the eastern side is a deep underwater fissure, what we commonly refer to as “Thomas Canyon”. The canyon is approximately 80m in length. It begins at a depth of 35m and gradually gets deeper.  At the shallowest point it is quite narrow and drops to a sand base at approximately 42m. As we proceed down through the Canyon you will see there are 3 Arches above you created by falling boulders. The first arch is at 42m; the second is at 50m and the third and final arch at 52m. To the right hand side and deeper at 62m is a short tunnel swim-through which exits between 66-69m. After passing the arches the canyon widens and can easily accommodate two divers side by side. Towards the northern end, the shallowest part of the canyon is 50m with the deepest at 90m under a rocky overhang.

 

This is an ideal site for all levels of technical diver and as there is no current in the canyon which makes for a relaxing dive although usually there will be current upon exit to ascend the wall for deco obligations. There is an abundance of marine life on the main reef wall and its common to see tuna, fusiliers and blue fin trevally patrolling by.

 

 

10. Wreck of Rosalie Muller @ Gobal by Cat BraunImage

 

 

The ship of the Rosalie Moller was 108.2m long. She was ideal for collier duties and was making a significant contribution by transporting anything up to 4,500 tons of best Welsh coal to whichever port the Royal Navy demanded. In July 1941, The Rosalie Moller entered the Red Sea and, on reaching the Gulf of Suez, was assigned “Safe Anchorage H”.  Late at night on 5th October 1941, two twin-engine Heinkels crossed the north Egyptian coast heading southeast in search of a prize. They attacked and sank the Thistlegorm at 0130 hrs 6th October 1941, detonating much of her ammunition. In so doing, the night sky was briefly illuminated revealing more vessels at anchor. 48 hours later, on the night of 7th October 1941, the Rosalie was hit and went down.

 

The Rosalie Moller now stands upright on the seabed. As you make you way down the shot line to the wreck you will notice that the visibility within this area is not as clear as most outside reefs. Instead of this being a negative comment it is actually meant as a positive as it gives the wreck a nice almost eerie atmosphere to it. There are normally two permanent mooring lines on this wreck but they do have a tendency to move around the wreck, so don’t always expect to find them where they were on your last diving trip! The first thing you may see as you approach the wreck was the forward mast, with the masthead lamp in place at 17m. Below this, the Bows are at 39m and the starboard anchor is deployed with the chain running down to the seabed at 47m and then out of sight. The cargo hatches are gone, revealing the full cargo of Best Welsh still in place. Pots and pans still hang in the Galley where they are now concreted to the walls above a large stove. Although the wooden decks have rotted away, all the portholes are still in place. Aft of the Bridge, the funnel is still standing – with only the slightest list to port. You will clearly see the major damage to made to the ship by the bomb, its like it has torn a hole out of the side of the ship and upper decking. The thing that I like the most about this wreck is the fact that it is has not been dived as much as its sister ship the Thistlegorm, and because of the fact that’s it is slightly deeper it means that it is not suitable for the novice diver, again keeping numbers of divers down. As a direct result of these factors the marine life is superb. You must descend through an upper deck area walled with glass fish and cave sweepers, big Tunas are patrolling the masts above your head, multiple peppered moray eels have made their homes along the path ways along with the thousands of tube works, nudi-branches and flat worms.  For me this is a wreck that combines history and marine life, and as it lies only at maximum 47 meters you can have a super long dive on the wreck without too much deco.

 

 

If you would like to dive Elphinestone Archway or the wreck of the Numidia we will be running a technical expedition to the Brother Islands departing from Hurghada on the 5th July 2013. Email us for more details on how you can join that trip.

 

Many thanks to Charles Hood and Duncan Spenceley for some excellent photos.

 

charleshood.com

redseasnapper.com

 

Tekstreme@emeprordivers.com

 

Tekstreme Team 

Top ten items to take when you go technical diving

So holiday time has arrived and you have a week of technical diving or a technical course booked. With the airlines these days clamping down on weight  allowance here is what we recommend as the Top 10 items that you need to fit within your quota.

 

1. Decompression planning software.Image

 

Being able to plan your decompression dive is a critical part of your diving day.

There are many varieties of deco planning software available on the market for desk top computer, I pad, smart phone or Android. Some programmes are free to download but may have limited features; others are available for a small fee. Examples can include V Planner, MV Planner, Baltic Planner, Deco Planner, Z Planner, Pro planner. Have a few practise runs on your new software before you arrive for your diving to ensure you have a basic understanding of the program.

 

2. Marker Tape and Permanent marker pensImage

 

After analysis of your gas you will need to clearly mark and label your cylinders with their contents and the maximum depths of the gas.  Marker tape like duct tape is a perfect option for this. Thick permanent marker pens are essential for clear labelling.

 

3.  Nail polish removerImage

 

Nothing cleans the pencil off your slate better than good old fashioned nail polish remover. A small amount goes along way so just bring a small bottle and it will last the week, or alternatively go back to school and bring a pencil eraser! Another option is to use marker tape on your wrist slate and write the plans on top with a permanent marker pen.

 

4. Basic ToolsImage

 

Be prepared for most equipment related issues by having a few specific tools in your box. Its handy to carry with you a set of Allan keys, a couple of small adjustable spanners, a small screwdriver, a cutting device of some kind, and a handful of cable ties go along way.

 

5. BatteriesImage

 

It does not matter how many times you check the battery life in your computers, rebreather electronics or cameras, you can guarantee that at some point a battery will die at the most inconvenient time. Be armed and ready with spare ones to hand. In some countries specific rebreather batteries may not be readily available so be organised and bring a few with you.

 

6. CellsImage

 

Attention all rebreather divers out there, oxygen cells are not that easy to come by once you leave home, especially if travelling abroad! Even if you have new cells for your trip take a spare one or two just in case. Worst case scenario you wont need to use them but your CCR guide may be more than happy to buy them off you to lighten you load on your return leg home!

 

7. A CalculatorImage

 

Most of these days most mobile phones can provide a calculator facility and it is a very useful tool to have around. Each time you need to work out the maximum depth of a gas, or your breathing rate, or gas volumes for a few examples a calculator will come in very handy. For sure if you are making a technical course your instructor will be throwing calculation questions at you left, right and centre, so be armed and ready!

 

8. A memory stick or hard driveImage

 

During your technical diving there may be other technical divers that you meet who have cameras or video cameras recording footage of your diving experience. What better way to easily keep the memories of your dives by supplying a storage device to save this evidence. You may also find that your guide or other technical divers may have some technical related articles or interesting information that you would like to have. Supply a memory stick and now the information is yours to keep. (you may to make a deal with your fellow divers over some beers to obtain these things!)

 

9. A Kindle or a few books.Image

 

After a longer decompression dive there is nothing better than off gassing with a good book or looking at the back of your eyelids in the sun!

 

10. An open mind and a relaxed temperament

Image

My trip to 100m by Johan Eriksson

Tekstreme have recently had a visit by returning guest Johan Eriksson. Johan has done all of his technical training with us and it was such a fantastic day when he made his first 100m dive.

 

Here is a small blog by Johan on this remarkable day.

“A little note to say I dived to 101 metres today along the reef wall off Shark Reef, one of the most amazing dive sites in the world, at the very tip of the Sinai peninsula in the Ras Mohammed marine park.

The wall extends down to about 800 metres which is a little bit too deep. It takes about five minutes to sink to 100 metres – and about 70 minutes to get back up, mainly because of the decompression requirements.

It was a little bit darker at 101m but everything is still clearly visible and my camera took good pictures without any need for a flash. The water was exceptionally clear, even more so than further up; however it was a bit chilly at 23 degrees vs 29/30 closer to the surface.

Swimming around at ~100m felt almost like a deep recreational dive; the gas, 11% oxygen, 53% helium and the remainder nitrogen, is calibrated to delivering the equivalent amount of partial pressure of nitrogen, and hence nitrogen narcosis, as you get from breathing air at 35-40 metres, so this isn’t so surprising – however the water pressure, at eleven times the pressure just under the surface, wasn’t very noticeable.

The gas we used doesn’t sustain life on the surface so you need to use one of the decompression gases on the way down, which adds a bit of drama, especially when you forget to open the tank. I had been to 88 metres at the same place before, and yesterday we dived to 85 metres inside a deep underwater canyon, and both dives felt more peculiar; in the first instance for having been on a training course, with the instructor (Chris) looking for errors (and finding them), and in the second because of the 50 metres of narrow canyon walls with arches, boulders and swim-throughs above. Swimming through a narrow tunnel at 75 metres is a bit spooky.

In terms of wildlife, below about 55 metres all I saw was one fish, in addition to my two fellow divers; Chris Armstrong, an excellent instructor at Tekstreme, and Ron Prowse, who also happens to be a technical diving instructor.

Above say 30 metres it’s a different story; literally millions of fish, from countless bright orange/red antheas, the signature fish of the Red Sea, which fringe all the equally but differently coloured coral outcrops, to a huge marble sting ray, massive moray eels, very large jacks and tunas. Most of the more common fish gather in great schools at this dive site, and there’s a lot of mating going on this time of year. In some places it’s like fish soup, and everywhere is incredibly beautiful”

Johan Eriksson.

 

Many thanks Johan for that in depth description of your dive i am sure many others would love to have the same opportunity to join the 100m club!

 

Cat Parfitt

Technical Manager

As we bid a fond farewell to 2011…

This is more than likely the final blog for 2011!

I don’t know about anybody else but this year has been a dramatic year with the very highest of the highs, and the lowest of the lows! It certainly has been a roller-coaster ride of a journey, and I pleased to say that we have come out the other end smiling.

Technical diving has proved itself to be a true addiction that keeps people coming back to Egypt for more. We have to say a huge thankyou to all of existing guests who have been out to visit us this year, all of the new friends we have made. Without you guys this year, who knows where we would have been or not been!

Also, huge thanks to all of the staff here at Tekstreme; Chris, Sarah, Mark, Duncan, Steve, Shaun, James and Claire. It has been a tough year for everybody, so I really want to say a massive thankyou for your commitment, professionalism, and patience to see these tough times through.

I wish you all the best for a Happy Christmas and hope that 2012 proves to be a good year for everyone.

 P.S Even Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has found Tekstreme!!

Check it out http://holidayblog.easyjet.com/deep-dark-dangerous-dives/