Our rebreather of choice.

As we move through the years the industry of scuba diving is continuing to grow with vengeance and with equipment constantly becoming more innovative and versatile. The rise of the underwater rebreathers has not gone unnoticed and is equally undergoing dramatic evolutionary changes on a year by year basis. I think back to my very first days as a recreational diver where I noticed the the world of technical diving, and if memory serves me right I can personally only recall the number of rebreather units that I was hearing about on one hand, maybe even with just a few fingers. These were the Kiss Classic, the Drager Dolphin and the AP Inspiration. Probably there were many more but for sure they were not significant at that time in my area. Now, the list of CCR units is considerably larger. We at Tekstreme Diving specialise in the training of divers on the rebreather units produced by Ambient pressure diving (AP diving); Inspiration, Evolution and the Evolution+. Obviously, it would make sense that as rebreather instructors we do actually own and dive these units personally. I wanted to give you an insight into why as individuals we have found ourselves in this situation. Its important to note that each member of our team has had additional training on other types of CCR unit but as individuals and as a company we still chose to focus and specialise in the rebreathers by AP Diving.

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Lets firstly have a look in more details about the Ambient pressure Diving as a company. Everything AP make is conceived, tested and assembled in their factory and research centre in the heart of Cornwall, UK. They aim to be the be the best in everything they do, and to help educate, support and inform the worldwide diving community wherever they can. Right now they are pushing the boundaries of technical and sport diving through advanced product development. They are currently on their 6th generation Inspiration range of closed circuit rebreathers! Through extensive research and punishing test regimes they aim to make equipment for divers that is built properly, works well and tackles the snag-points and problems we all come across underwater. Their products are routinely inspected and verified by third party agents Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance Ltd to achieve the essential ISO 9001 manufacturing standard. They manufacture 95% of all products – right down to the brass and plastic components – in-house. Experience has taught them that if ever there is a problem, it’s usually created by an external supplier. Keeping it in-house they retain that family-business ethos – pride in what they do and quality control over the whole process. Start to finish.

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For more than 45 years, AP has led the way in diving – innovating, designing and manufacturing equipment of the highest quality. Since its foundation in 1969, the company has grown at a phenomenal rate, from a small family-business to an internationally respected dive manufacturer with a global network of great dive instructors, distributors and support centres. Their customers range from individual sport and professional divers, to search & rescue services, the military, police, fire service, bomb disposal, ship’s divers and coastguards through to the commercial giants of the salvage, shipping and oil industries – in over 50 countries worldwide. There are currently 55 people working in the manufacturing and innovation centre in Cornwall, UK. Nearly all of them dive. They have product designers, engineers and test-divers working away at solving the problems divers face – constantly looking for ways to make your dive better, more comfortable, more exciting. They have attracted and retained some of the best people in the dive & manufacturing industries, who are not only proud of the products they make but are proud to offer an after-sales service that is second to none – clearly made so much easier by having continuous production and ready availability of spares.

Chris Armstrong – Inspiration & Evolution Advanced Trimix Instructor

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My interest in rebreathers started in 2005. At that time I learnt on an Inspiration Classic but at the same time used the Evolution for the vision electronics which at the time had only come out the year before.It wasnt until early 2009 that I used the unit seriously and became a trimix ccr diver. The Instructor trainer suggested I could teach on these units so a few months later I became a CCR air diluent instructor. I really enjoy teaching these units and over the years continued to become an Advanced Mixed gas instructor. I did a crossover to try something different in 2015 but always went back to the AP units. I like the fact they come in a complete package and have my own unit with the advent of back mounted lungs and rechargeable battery unit. The additional options from AP are varied to suit all and the service response is second to none. You can also find AP units around the world and parts are available in all continents. There is a good reason why AP units still have around 50% of the world market!

Duncan Spenceley – Inspiration Classic Advanced Trimix Diver & Air Diluent Deco Instructor

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I started ccr diving following an awesome open circuit technical dive on the Rosalie Moller. We were the only divers on the wreck and conditions were perfect. However I had to end the div e as I had reached my turn pressure. My buddy was diving an AP Inspiration and I was amazed how close he could get to the marine life. In fact I had to be extremely vigilant of where he was as he spent most of the dive enveloped in Glassfish. We then proceeded to complete our decompression. The swell was picking up and I spent an additional 20min of decompression over my CCR buddy! In my head I was already planning when I could fit in my CCR Course…I wanted one of those magic boxes….

The AP Inspiration was available to use on days off from work so it was a natural progression to qualify on the unit and build up some hours and save some money to purchase my own. I ended up buying a AP Inspiration Classic. The reason for this was I could afford it at that time and dive it now versus waiting to save up for a vision. AP were fantastic…they provided me with a full service history of the unit before I purchased it and I had it sent directly to them for checking before getting it sent out to Egypt.

The support and customer service from AP is second to none. A quick call or email and queries are answered almost immediately. You can’t fault that.

I love my little yellow box of magic…

Cat Braun – Evolution Advanced trimix diver & Air Diluent Decompression Instructor

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I personally choose to dive the Evolution+. I find that being slightly smaller in height, the length of the evolution unit is perfect for me. However, i found that the smaller scrubber unit was a time restriction on some of the deeper dives that i was wanting to make, hence i chose the Evolution+. One of the main features / attractions for me of the AP Units is the ability to dive them completely manually or completely automatically. This gives me great options when i am in the water depending on what i am doing. I love the fact that every part is user changeable (pretty much) and that as AP produce new technologies / advancements, that these are available to all existing AP divers with units. The support team at AP is second to none. I deal with them on a company and personal level and find that communication is prompt, precise and very customer friendly. I still have the yellow box attached, i like the fact that divers in the water can see me clearly and it does protect the whole back section of the unit. All in all no complaints from my side.

Shaun Fox – Inspiration Vision Advanced trimix Diver IMG_1454

As a recreational diver I was looking for something else to do in diving in Hurghada, Egypt where I currently live. I looked around and someone suggested trying a Rebreather course. This was in around 2008. After doing a 40m Air diluent rebreather course I purchased the KISS Sport from the training company. When I wanted to progress I found this was very difficult due to lack of instructors in my area and that spare parts were not readily available for the unit as they had to come from Canada. So once again I looked around for a different unit. I did research online, I read many articles, I went to the dive show in UK and looked at the units there. Some units to me looked messy and some looked home made. It then became clear that the only rebreather that meet all of my personal criteria was a unit from AP diving. It was CE approved, as AP Diving was based in the UK spare parts and replacement parts would be easy to get, servicing would be easy to get done, help was only a phone call away and last of all it was/is a neat unit and would fulfil all my diving needs both recreationally and technically. All in all it ticked all the boxes. So, as it been reliable? Yes it has. Have there been problems? Yes, but with all mechanical / electrical equipment things can happen. The good thing is that APD is only a phone call away and for me they have provided a first class service. Have I made any changes? Yes I have. I have taken of the “plastic box” that it is supplied with and have replaced it with a Stainless Steel frame. My reasons behind this were that the plastic box can crack at the base, a frame cannot. The unit stands up better with the frame in comparison to the plastic box. With the frame I have easier access to all the working parts of the unit more easily than having to open the box and finally its easier to see if there are any leaks in the water when I can see all working parts directly. One other big advantage with the frame is that I don’t need any additional weight with a 5mm wet suit and only a small amount with a dry suit in the type of water that I dive in. For the me the Inspiration has been very reliable and, If you follow the rules and do what it says in the book it can be for you too. Would I buy another one YES I would.

So, thats we we here at Tekstreme think, but what do other rebreather divers think…..

Richard Wait – Inspiration Vision Normoxic Diver richard wait

After considering many units on the market when I first looked at a rebreather back in 2011, the one that stood out the most was the AP units. From the proven history with the Classic to the renowned customer support, AP appeared a good choice. Now having dived many hours with mine, having dealt with the factory and dived with many others with other CCRs, I’m still very pleased with my decision. One of the aspects I really appreciate from AP, is they have been fully supportive of their existing clients – easily allowing new features / add-ons to be user installed to units even over 10yrs old!

Jason grey – Inspiration Vision Advanced trimix diver

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I chose the AP Inspiration Vision since it would suit my technical diving very well, but was also easily slimmed down for recreational use. I was lucky enough to make the jump to CC with some friends and it was a no brainer to go the AP route, not only for its technical diving capability, but also because the manufacturer is local, and very well respected as a market leader and innovator, with a well deserved reputation for customer service. My personal choice was to select the vision unit since it was 2nd generation, and the fully integrated single handset with Fibre Optic HUD offered the additional security I felt I needed from a CCR. The upgrade options produced since then have also added additional levels of personal comfort and security, future proofing my investment, and provide further confidence. Finally the support community for the AP products is awesome. Simply because they are so numerous you can almost guarantee to have someone on a boat or trip with either the knowledge or a spare part that can assist you should it come to that!  I’ve lost very few dives due to problems with the unit, and I’ve had some amazing experiences while diving with it that would not have happened if I was still on Open Circuit.  It’s good to be able to access the hard won experience of the AP community, and being one of the biggest and longest established/most dived units has to be a very good thing.

Peter Sullivan – Evolution + Vision Normoxic Diver

peter sullivan I chose and dive my Evolution+ after much deliberation. Firstly they are made in the UK, so parts and back up were not an issue. Secondly AP were the first mass produced units on the market and the problems they had originally had been worked out ( I shelved buying one for probably 10 Years ). Thirdly is there simplicity to dive. I like to be as independent as I can with as many options as I can . I use the FFM plumbed into gas switching block to off board bailout , with the option to plumb to onboard .All off board has O/C regs .

Steve Wilkinson – Evolution + Advanced trimix diver

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I dive an Evolution +.  The main reason I went for an AP unit was because they’re manufactured 20 mins from where I live and many of the local divers use AP. My little unit is compact so great for travelling and good for RHIB diving here in the UK. I get two long dives out of the 2 ltr cylinders. All AP kit is made to be tough enough for UK wreck divers so I’m happy with my unit. I’m  Advanced Trimix qualified with IART and TDI

Mattjin Buwalda – Inspiration Vision Normoxic Diver IMG_1463

All units are heavy, expensive and need a lot of training to be operated safely. But AP offers good reliable service and maintenance and that’s what you really need on the long run.

Ricky Ng – Evolution Vision Normoxic trimix diver

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Why I chose AP rebreather is because AP rebreather price is competitive with the others.  It is especially suitable for me because it’s size is compact, easy to travel, weight is less then others. The twin tanks weight is a bit heavy for me.  Rebreather can give me around 8kg less then the OC and AP have lot of instructors though the world.
The final is the outlook is attractive.  I can buy it online and configuration options is suitable from recreational to professional tec dive level.  It make the new CCR diver easy to afford to starts.
Chris Burrowswood – Inspiration Instructor
Chris Burrowswood

The AP Units are simple to use. Over the years repairs have been thorough. In the picture I am about to dive a Vision with trimix on the u-869.

Peter McCamley – Inspiration Air Diluent Instructor703996_4849178477896_142984492_o

I have had my Inspo for 7 years now, I have mod 3 for 6 years now and am a MOD 1 instructor for 5 years now. I also dive a Sentinel, which I love to bits, however for the dozens of sub 100m dives, the chosen weapon of choice is my Inspo. I have it on a Dive Lite Wing and an Alibox with a AP BOV just plumbed into my 3 litre for a Sanity breath or two until I get onto the bailout. After 2500 hrs last year it had its head serviced with new software…..then it had a blank handset twice on a 85 and 90m dive in The North Channell in Donegal. AP had a software glitch but wouldn’t admit it to me, but did to an Instructor mate and he gave me the new software. In the meantime I plugged in a Nerd and all is class. Front mounded lungs coming under my arms only allows for 2 breaths in the loop, but they are well out of the way. (Shown to me by Al Wright) I use a cell checker and AP16’s and have never had a cell issue. Like a car or any machine, it needs to be started every week and preferably dived at least once a week. I have just fitted two new 1st stages at £130 each, as its two years since I stuck a service kit into it. Service kit in the first stages is a must every year as the piston gives no warning of disintegration and if it does you will end up with cylinder pressure instead of 8 bar. Very bad if its your O2 1st stage, as Solenoid will stick open. Love the AP as i have had it round the world from South China Seas to Bikini to Australia to Middle East and Europe + America with around 1800 hours in Donegal. Best thing about it is that you can get bits for it at the back of the ditch. In conclusion I love my inspo for 3 reasons. 1: 110% reliable….2: Parts availability 3: Ease of use and amazing versatility.

David Street – Inspiration Vision Diver

I bought my AP Inspiration Vision in 2008 and over the years the unit has been significantly modified. The yellow box, comfort harness, weight pockets, wing and front counterlungs are all gone.

The reason for this is because the yellow box filled with water created drag. The comfort harness added buoyancy which meant that I needed extra lead to sink. The front counterlungs created too much “clutter”. I never liked them (or all the straps hanging around. So I got rid of them and replaced them with a 3mm stainless steel backplate and harness, back mounted counterlungs, a dual bladder wing and a Kent Tooling travel frame.

The only remaining original parts are the breathing loop, the head unit and scrubber. This setup works for me.

Summary

So as you can read from all of the contributors to this blog that there is so much versatility to the AP units which makes it one of the leading rebreather units and companies in the world. Their continuing support to the owners of their products is unquestionable and they continue to strive to respond to the CCR community and develop new technological advances.

Most of my description about AP diving as a company has come directly from their webpage and you can read more by heading to

http://www.apdiving.com/en/rebreathers/resources/

We at Tekstreme Diving offer the full range of rebreather courses for the AP inspiration and Evolution in the resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, El Gouna and on board our technical safari trips.

Courses

30m Air Diluent No decompression diver

45m Air Diluent Decompression diver

60m Mixed Gas Diver

100m Advanced Mixed Gas diver

Please feel free to email at info@tekstremediving.com us for more specific details on the CCR courses available or head to

http://tekstremediving.com/tdi-courses.php

Enjoy the silent world.

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Manager / Owner

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Southern Red Sea Exploration.

So finally on dry land and I am back in the office where I find some time to reflect and evaluate upon the “exploration trip” that my colleague Shaun and myself had recently undertaken.

I use the term “exploration” for lack of better terminology, but I feel an explanation is in order as “exploration” also is not really the correct word!   The term “Exploration” would suggest to the reader that we were finding new dive locations, new reef systems, when simply this was not the case. We were in fact visiting very well know reef areas but the “exploration” part was specific to the depth that we were diving and the area of the reef we were diving.

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During my very first years working in Egypt I had the pleasure and opportunity to visit most dive locations within the Egyptian side of the Red Sea, from as far north as the straights of Tiran down the southern reef systems of Elba which lie on the Sudanese border and everything and anything in between. These were the days where as a safari guide you were not “fixed” to any single route, you were moved around from boat to boat, route to route each week. What this created was a generation of safari guides which a huge expanse of diving knowledge and experience of the entire Red Sea. Sometimes I miss those days, now however, I don’t think the husband would be so happy with me being out at sea for 6 weeks each time!

Anyway, I am becoming side tracked….

So, I found myself back in the southern area of the Red Sea, of which the purpose of the trip was to “explore” each of the dive sites between the depths of 40m – 80m. Currently, there are no companies who offer specific technical diving trips to this area, OK, there are a few boats where they could cater for the odd deco dive but nobody is looking specifically at these dives sites though the eyes of the diver who would like to go that bit deeper. We had to find out why. Is it because there is nothing of interest below 40m in this area? Is it because the potential stronger currents pose a safety hazard to divers during decompression? Or is it lack of knowledge of the area? Or is there simply no demand. We at Tekstreme Diving wanted to try and answer these questions….

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The reef systems in the southern Red Sea are absolutely stunning in the shallow water and believe me this continues though to depth, actually, I would say even better in terms of quality of coral growth. As an example, the size and abundance of the Gorgonia fan corals that we were witnessing between 50m – 85m were mind-blowing. You need to trust me when I say it was like diving untouched reefs, reefs where no diver’s fin had accidentally clipped the coral and snapped off an entire branch, no damaged hard corals about from natural processes, this is what we were experiencing. It was amazing. You can see that not many divers are visiting these depths and the currents provide such a rich supply of nutrients that the soft corals especially can flourish.

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A particularly favourite of mine is a narrow tower of a reef, the local turn for it would be a “Habili”. This particular Habili looks like nothing on the surface but is simply one the reefs which is the most rich in life, its an aquarium for all creatures great and small. This cone shaped reef gets wider as you get deeper and provides marine life, colour and excitement all the way down to around 75m. We actually spent most of our dive at 50m watching as grey reef sharks smoothly cruised in and out unfazed by us as we were still and quiet. The world of having no bubbles on a rebreather comes into its own and the pelagics come closer to check us out. There is a potential for much current on these reefs but as these reef systems rise all he way to the surface you will always have a reference to swim alongside as you fulfil your decompression obligations. Plus, we will always have zodiacs to support us from the surface so if any divers find themselves away from the reef they will always be tracked and collected.

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Within the southern area there are also some wrecks. One in particular is sat at a maximum depth of 50m, this wreck attracts a huge array of marine life and has a great atmosphere. It’s at a nice depth to enjoy a longer bottom time having a scrape around and exploring the wreck in its entirety. There is also another more historic wreck, which is not greater in depth than 30m, but makes a great afternoon dive. Do dive it well it would still require some decompression due to its size so for sure a great feature of the area.

There is talk of another larger wreck within this approximate area but deeper which we aim to do a more specific search for on our next trip to this area. I am always a bit dubious when it comes to listening to tales of sunken wrecks as most of the time it turns out to be nothing, but when I have now had information from a few different sources all talking about a similar location, it certainly gets my attention.

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Moving a little bit further north there are some reefs that sit on the edge of a deep-water trench with walls dropping vertically down depths. These reefs are fed by a stong consistent currents that suppy the goodness for the corals to flourish. It’s on these reefs as you descend through the depth ranges the types and colours of corals here is changing quite dramatically. The colours of the soft corals are not restricted to the shallow waters they can be found through 50, 60, and 70m. Whip corals, black corals and Gorgonians’ in substantial volumes and sizes can be found at depth. Some of these reefs over the years have taken their toll on safari boats and the wrecks that are left behind may not have an exciting history but, what you find is that over time they have created a mini ecosystem and they attract a wide variety of marine life around the outside and inside. For sure it makes a nice feature of the dive.

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Of course we can’t be visiting the southern area without a stop at Elphinestone reef. This particular site needs no further exploration from us, this is one dive site that is already included in some of our other existing technical safari trips, but I include it here for those who have never had the opportunity to dive the reef. This finger long reef has dramatic plunging walls to the east and west, with plateaus on the north and south. You can dive to 100m all the way around this reef if you wanted to! Typically, we dive the northern plateau to any depth between 40 – 100m with eyes peeled with the to aim to find either Grey Reef sharks off the tip of the plateau or Hammerhead sharks. Its an area that gets a great current feed and so very nutrient rich. The colours of soft corals across the plateau are some of the best to be found in this area. As an alternative dive to the north, the reef has provided for us a natural landscape feature in the shape of an archway. Running directly under the southern plateau, this natural feature allows you pass from one side of the reef to the other. You can swim through this archway anywhere between 48m – 60m. It is also on this southern side of the reef where you have chance to find the Oceanic White Tip reef sharks patrolling the shallow waters.

Summary

As much as we have had a great week of diving and the exploration of the area at depth has begun there is a great deal more for us to do and hopefully more wrecks and natural features to be found. With the information that we now have, we have put together an itinerary for next year that will return to the sites that we have just visited but will also build in more time for further exploration. This means, for the divers on trip next year, will be just like us and exploring these areas for the first time. Is there a demand for this type of diving, this type of exploration, I absolutely believe the answer is yes.

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“Exploration is really the essence of human spirit”

Frank Boreman

Trip Details

Dates = 14/08/16 – 21/08/16

Vessel = Emperor Asmaa

Price = 999 euros

Contact info@tekstremediving.com for details on the trip and how to reserve your place.

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Techical Diving

Winter Warmer in The Red SEA

When the European summertime comes to an end and Christmas would be fast approaching take a final chance to escape to the warmer waters of the Red Sea for some scuba diving action.

In November 2015, Emperor Divers will be offering back to back trips to visit the northern wrecks and reefs of the Red Sea and have very kindly offered Tekstreme the opportunity to invite trained decompression divers to join the boat. Tekstreme will provide a guide for divers wishing to enjoy a safari trip made up of non-deco dives and deco dives.

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These trips are also the perfect opportunity for divers onboard the boat who currently do not have any decompression qualification to take the first level decompression course and maximize their times diving on some of the most amazing wrecks that the area has on offer. The SSI Extended Range Nitrox (SSI XR Nitrox) course enables you to continue to use your current scuba diving equipment whilst you learn the basics of decompression diving. You will be trained to dive to 40m utilizing eanx gases up to pure oxygen for decompression. You can do home study for the short course before hand, at your convenience, leaving the most enjoyable part of the course, the diving, to when you are on the boat with us.

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The Safari route

The Wrecks and reefs trip is the best of both worlds, where you visit famous wrecks in the northern Red Sea along with some stunning reef diving. This trip is not about depth, but it’s about having the time to explore the wrecks and reefs in all their glory within the 30 – 45m range.

Abu Nuhas has four well-known wrecks: Ghiannis D, Carnatic, Chrisoula and Kimon M. All wrecks offering spectacular dives and plenty of fish life, and how about to try diving all four wrecks in one dive!

Night dives can be superb as Gubal Island offers protected anchoring for the night. A small wreck at 8-10 metres makes for a spectacular night dive with lionfish, scorpion fish and its resident giant moray eel as well as the wreck of the Ulysses.

The wreck of the Rosalie Moller is a perfect example of where having some decompression training can transform a dive. Imagine not being stuck to having only 20 minutes on the wreck before decompression but to be trained to happily have 40 minutes instead! Now we are talking! Next onto the Kingston lying at Shag Rock; the Carina lying close to Sha’ab Ali and the Dunraven at Beacon Rock in Ras Mohamed National Park.

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Last but not least lets not forget the most famous wreck in the Red Sea, the Thistlegorm, at Sha’ab Ali.

The SS Thistlegorm was sunk in 1941 after being bombed by the German Luftwaffe while on a mission to deliver a cargo of ammunition and other war materials to the British troops in North Africa. The Rosalie Moller, carrying a cargo of coal, suffered the same fate just two days later. Many divers have yet to explore the wreck and the surrounding debris field in all its glory again because the computer says “no”! This does not have to be the way. During your SSI XR training you will learn how to combine the best eanx gas for deeper exploration, in combination with an efficient decompression gas to enable you to be the first in the water and for sure the last out the water!

Whilst in Ras Mohamed, you may have the chance to do a dive at Shark Reef; a sheer wall falling into the blue. From here the boat heads back towards Hurghada.

In between wreck dives you will also visit the reefs of the Straits of Gubal, Gulf of Suez and those to the north of Hurghada. A variety of deep walls and hard coral gardens with an abundance of reef fish make them well worth a visit.

All wrecks are subject to divers’ experience and weather conditions.

 

The Dates

November 20th – 27th 2015

November 27th – 4th December 2015

The Price

As a special winter deal Emperor Divers are offering either of these trips above for 899 euros.

This price includes:

Airport transfers

7 nights accommodation

Marine park fees

Fuel Surcharges

All food and soft drinks on the boat

Technical dive guide

This price does not include:

Technical diving supplies:

Twin set hire or CCR tank hire = 60 euros for the week

2 x Deco tank hire / bailout tank hire = 30 euros for the week

CCR oxygen gas fills = 5 euros per fill / top up

Eanx gases up to 39% = 5 euros per fill / top up

Eanx gases between 40% – 79% = 8 euros

Eanx gases 80% – 100% = 12 euros

Sofnolime = 11 euros per kg

Notes

Please note that this trip is not a specific technical safari. It is a traditional wrecks and reefs safari with the option to make some decompression dives or join the entry level SSI XR nitrox course with one of the Tekstreme team. Tekstreme will guarantee their normal high level of service with regards to:

Custom gas mixtures to 200bar

Technical guide(s) available for all dives

Safety procedures and dive awareness

Detailed dive site briefings from a decompression perspective

Emergency oxygen and additional emergency drop down gases

There are no minimum requirements in terms of how many divers would like to make decompression dives. One of our guides will be there even if there is only one person who would like to make decompression dives! There does not get better service than that!

Contact us for reservations or more information.

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Manager

info@tekstremediving.com

Tekstreme “The Tour”.

Did you know, that one of the most common questions that I get asked when guests are enquiring to me about Tekstreme and wanting to do some diving with us is, “Are Tekstreme located in other countries?” To date, I have had to reply that the answer is no.

Another black shirt for the team copy

Tekstreme have, since establishment, concentrated their time offering technical services throughout Egypt. As a technical company we are one of the largest in Egypt with operations, through the facilities of Emperor Divers, in Sharm El Shiekh, El Gouna and Marsa Alam plus offering multiple specific technical safaris throughout the year. I guess personally for me, before taking Tekstreme to other destinations I want to be sure that we have the right attitude, approach, business plan, commitment, audience and of course the desire. Right now I believe we can easily tick all of those boxes. However, these things are not to be rushed. Much research needs to be done on destinations, availability, profitability, demand etc etc. We see in our industry too many technical operations opening up around the world yet one year later they close their doors. As a reputable technical diving company we need to ensure that if we take on such a project outside of Egypt that our customers can be assured that we will be there to stay.

Tekstreme Wings

Now don’t get too excited, this blog is not Tekstreme announcing a new location, not quite yet, but what we are doing in the meantime is to take Tekstreme “On Tour”. Beginning in 2016 we are going to be offering technical diving trips to multiple other locations outside of Egypt. This way, our customers who want to have the benefit of diving multiple locations, but staying with Tekstreme are going to be very happy. Tekstreme will be organising diving trips including accommodation in various European destinations to begin with, before expanding to worldwide destinations. We will only be using the facilities of highly reputable dive centres in each location who we know will maintain high standards that our customers demand. On each trip one of our highly trained technical team members will be there with our customers to ensure that our high standards are kept and of course to offer technical courses on each trip.

For each trip, we are keeping them quite exclusive, small groups only. We plan to take a maximum of around 8 – 10 divers on each trip. For us, it has always been about quality, not quantity and this philosophy will not change. We want to have a more intimate group of divers that we can care for on a personal level, rather than a conveyer belt of divers!

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For us, these are really exciting times and we cant wait to take kick start Tekstreme “The Tour”, we hope that we are going to see many of our technical diver friends come and join us and make this the best technical tour ever.

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Diving Manager

info@tekstremediving.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 

Sealed with a KISS

Text by Paul Vinten, photos by Irena Tyfova, Kevin Moore & Simon Richards.
Images courtesy of Jetsam Technologies Ltd.

Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of divers jumping in the water without tanks on their backs, but instead carrying strange boxes or weird looking configurations of pony cylinders, hoses and cables. The Closed Circuit Rebreather is now an almost common sighting at most of the diving destinations around the world. While they started off as extremely expensive pieces of kit for just the hardcore technical and cave diving community to push back the frontiers of their diving exploration, the modern rebreathers on the market, while still by no means cheap, are more & more being aimed at the general diving population. Still more commonly purchased by the members of the technical diving community, there are increasing numbers of recreational divers discovering the advantages of silent, bubble -free diving. In buying a unit for myself, I looked at the various rebreathers on the market, their merits and limitations, their prices and, of significant importance to those in more far flung global locations, the ease of obtaining spare parts and servicing the unit. Classic Kiss I finally opted for the Classic KISS unit from Jetsam Technologies Ltd. based in Canada. My decision was based on the fact that is a manual CCR as opposed to an electronic CCR and so there are less parts to go wrong, and when things do go wrong, it is easier to get spares as they do not necessarily have to come only from the factory – there are several parts which are more widely available, with some parts even available from any good camping & outdoor activities shop! Added to this was the fact that due to its lack of electronics, the price tag is far less than that of the electronic CCR. Of course there are certain limitations to the KISS rebreather such as the maximum operating depth, but it was nevertheless more than suitable to the majority of my diving needs. So just how good is it? Well before I try to describe that, perhaps a brief explanation of just what a Closed Circuit Rebreather is might be in order.

In ‘normal’ scuba diving when a diver jumps in the water with a cylinder strapped to their back, they are diving what we call ‘Open Circuit’. In other words, the diver breathes in from the tank via a regulator, and then exhales all of the waste gas into the water, hence the breathing cycle is ‘open’ to the surrounding water. A Closed Circuit Rebreather, as the name suggests, has a closed breathing loop which recycles all of the diver’s exhaled gases back into the unit to be re-breathed by the diver. The result of this is that the diver can make a dive with a much smaller gas supply (often just using 2 or 3 litre tanks) as they only require an oxygen supply to provide the oxygen which his or her body is using for metabolism and a second tank containing air (or trimix), called the diluent gas, which maintains the volume of gas in the breathing loop so the diver can get a full breath even as they go deeper and the pressure causes the gas in the breathing loop to decrease in volume.
A diver’s body metabolises between 0.7 and 1 litre of oxygen per minute. A diver with a Surface Air Consumption (SAC) rate of 20 litres per minute will be inhaling approximately 4 litres of oxygen and 16 litres of nitrogen per minute. The body will use about 1 litre of this oxygen and so the remaining 19 litres of gas per minute are simply wasted on exhalation. At 30 metres (4 atmospheres pressure absolute) the same diver will be inhaling 80 litres of gas per minute, and so wasting 79 litres per minute into the water as the body’s oxygen requirement remains unchanged regardless of the depth. At 50 metres, 119 litres of the 120 inhaled per minute will be wasted.
Paul A Closed Circuit Rebreather keeps the gas a diver exhales, removing the carbon dioxide through a chemical scrubbing process, adds the tiny amount of oxygen the diver’s body requires, then feeds it back to the diver via the mouthpiece, hence the breathing loop is fully closed. The diver is breathing into and out of bags, called counterlungs which enable the breathing loop to contain enough gas to give a full breath every time, with the scrubber canister usually located between the two counterlungs. The counterlungs are connected to the diver through a breathing hose which is much wider than a normal regulator hose in order to minimise the breathing resistance to the diver. Then finally, somewhere in the breathing loop will be located oxygen sensors, similar to a nitrox analyser, in order that the diver can monitor their partial pressure of oxygen at all times and maintain the optimum breathing mixture for the depth they are at.
While all this sounds complicated, the end result is a much longer gas supply all in relatively small package when compared to twinsets and stage tanks, and all this combined with the fact that the diver will be breathing the optimum gas mix at every depth so maximising their no decompression time, or should decompression stops be required, the rebreather will enable accelerated decompression profiles without the need for carrying several stage tanks containing different decompression mixtures. In addition to this, because of the chemical reaction in the scrubber which removes the carbon dioxide, the diver is breathing warm, moist air rather than cold, dry air as in open circuit.
Add to all this the experience of bubble-free, silent diving and you really have a great piece of diving equipment.

The two general types of Closed Circuit Rebreather on the market are manual and electronic, with both essentially doing the same thing but with the electronic one monitoring the oxygen partial pressure and, through a computer, deciding when it needs to add oxygen automatically to maintain the diver’s breathing mixture. With a manual one, the diver still has the displays showing the partial pressure of oxygen, but it is up to the diver to decide when, and how much oxygen to add into the loop. This has advantages and disadvantages, like most things. The advantage is that there are no computers, solenoids (which control oxygen injection) and other electronic components to fail, especially in the event of water getting into the loop. Also the diver has full control over their oxygen partial pressure, being able to increase or decrease it at will without the need to reprogram computers under the water. The disadvantage of this is that the diver must monitor the unit closely, knowing there is no help in ‘flying’ the unit from an onboard controller and so this may increase the task loading on an already stressful dive. There is also a shallower maximum depth limit when compared to electronic units due to the oxygen injection method, although this is really only of great concern to those deeper trimix divers.

So why doesn’t everybody use a Closed Circuit Rebreather if they are so good? Well obviously the price is a big factor for the more infrequent diver, with prices ranging from in the region of 5000 euros for a manual rebreather up to in excess of 15000 euros for the more expensive electronic units. Costing aside, a rebreather diver also needs a different attitude towards their diving. It is no longer possible to just put a regulator on a tank, check it’s full, then leap into the water in the space of a couple of minutes. Setting up rebreather requires several steps and a number of pre-dive safety checks and tests. All this takes time and dedication, so if you are not prepared to spend time setting up your unit and doing the checks while others on the boat are sunbathing or getting a cup of tea or stripping your unit completely after a days diving while others are watching TV, then rebreather diving is just not for you.

Classic KISS on diver So I finally decided on the Classic KISS rebreather, a manual unit with a manufacturer’s depth rating of 75 metres. It is a small unit when compared to certain other rebreathers available – another thing which attracted me to it in the first place, and has a price tag at the cheaper end of the rebreather market. When it finally arrived in my hands via numerous shipping methods to the UK then Egypt it was in several small and not-so-small pieces. Having already downloaded the user manual from the Jetsam website I knew what to expect, and coupled with the DVD supplied with the unit, putting the right ‘o’-ring in the right place and bolting things together was a very simple and relatively quick (about half an hour) process. Admittedly, being a technical diver for a number of years and having worked with rebreather divers for much of that I probably had a significant advantage in at least knowing what everything did. For the diver who is completely new to the rebreather world, I would strongly recommend waiting until you make your course to assemble the unit so that your instructor can explain parts as you go along, and also ensure correct assembly. Obviously under no circumstances should a diver take the unit under the water without completing a proper course on the specific rebreather they are using. The large warning on the top of my unit said it all – ‘This device is capable of killing you without warning’.

The Classic KISS rebreather has back mounted counterlungs – meaning that they behind the diver, located in a solid case to protect them. Other rebreathers, such as the Evolution, have over the shoulder lungs and still other units have front mounted ones. The basic difference between the different counterlung locations is the work of breathing (WOB) as the gas in a breathing loop will always try to migrate to the highest point in the loop. The trick is to try to keep the counterlungs at the same depth as the diver’s lungs in the water, so slightly altering the attitude of the diver in the water while swimming.
Oxygen injection on the KISS is via two methods – there is a constant flow orifice which very slowly feeds oxygen at a fixed rate set slightly lower than the divers metabolic oxygen requirement, then all that is needed is for the diver to manually add small amounts of oxygen from time to time by pressing a button similar to a BCD inflator button in order to maintain the correct oxygen partial pressure in the breathing loop. There are three partial pressure displays coming from three separate sensors in the rebreather giving the diver complete redundancy in the event of one sensor failing or flooding and it is up to the diver to take the average reading or to decide if one reading is out.

Paul I so it was time to get on with the course with my instructor, Mickael from Tekstreme in Sharm. The theory sessions, as would be expected for something as complicated as a rebreather, are quite in depth covering all manner of things from rebreather maintenance and check lists to diving on fixed partial pressures as opposed to open circuit diving on fixed gas fractions. It’s a totally different concept and one which is covered at length. The diving started off with two confined water sessions lasting an hour each in which all the emergency procedures were covered, as with any diving course. Most emergencies on a rebreather are to do with the oxygen partial pressure being too high or too low, resulting in oxygen toxicity problems or hypoxic situations. For this reason, rebreather divers always carry some form of ‘bailout’ option which enables them to get off the rebreather loop and on to an open circuit option to get them back to the surface. In addition, skills were required to adjust to a different form of buoyancy control. In open circuit diving, the diver’s buoyancy changes with every breath as they inhale & exhale – a fact which is used in fine tuning that perfect hover. On a rebreather, the diver is not changing the volume of gas in the breathing loop as they breathe – they are simply moving a fixed volume of gas around a loop of which the diver’s lungs have become a part. This therefore means that the buoyancy control is done through the BCD alone, with a second consideration being the breathing loop volume which must be maintained on descent and ascent.
Rebreather Diving Following the confined water sessions, a further 6 hours of diving were required in open water at progressively deeper depths down to a maximum of 40 metres to practice the emergency skills and to get used to diving on a rebreather. It was quite clear from the start that becoming proficient on a rebreather was going to take a lot more diving and practice than the course could offer in just 5 days, a fact which was stressed from the start by my instructor. In switching over to closed circuit diving, you must realise that you taking a step backwards in your diving abilities and treat yourself like a newly qualified open water diver. Just because you have been diving to 30 metres or deeper regularly on open circuit doesn’t mean you can get on a rebreather and continue with exactly the same dive profiles. This has been the reason behind a number of accidents, some fatal, on rebreathers. It’s important to realise that you have to start shallow again and slowly build back up to your ‘regular’ diving depths. After over 130 dives and 110 hours on my unit, and I am still finding improvements that need to be made to my diving, be it trim, maintaining a ‘minimum loop volume’ or making adjustments to my kit.

I have to say though that I have become completely hooked on rebreather diving, finding that even a shallow 9 metre dive is now far more enjoyable now just because of the silence and the fact that the marine life now comes right up to me with no bubbles being produced to startle the fish. Of course, on the deeper dives, the highly efficient gas consumption and reduced decompression times simply speak for themselves in the great advantage to be had, especially when looking at the open circuit technical diver weighed down with a large twinset and two stage tanks.
I try not to laugh too much though – I used to be just like that!

Useful websites:
www.jetsam.ca for information on the KISS rebreathers
www.rebreatherworld.com to ask questions and talk to the rebreather diving community worldwide