Too many Scuba incidents – Stress, and how to deal with it.

The background

I cannot explain why, but it seems as though more recently there appears to be a wave of scuba diving deaths or incidents that I am being made aware of. Maybe, it’s just a coincidence that it happens to be people within my social networks sharing this information, or maybe with the continued growth of social media has made it easier to have access or exposure to this information?! I don’t know. Either way, the incidents have come to my attention as of late and to me its something that cannot be ignored.

I am not a detective and I do not want to even open the door to try to suggest what has been the cause of such incidents but the interesting common denominator with the majority of these incidents is that the cause of death remains unknown. The diver has failed to surface. When I do hear of such incidents it does prompt me to examine and share with the diving community one topic that is simply impossible to ignore, and I can assure you with no doubt, that each diver that has failed to rejoin us for sure experienced this on their last fatal dive. Stress.

The problem

Stress is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil. It is a normal human emotion we all experience when we face threatening or difficult situations. Stress is not the same as fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat, whereas stress is the expectation of future threat. Associated with the secretion of adrenalin, stress can help us avoid dangerous situations or get out of them. It can make us alert and it can spur us to deal with a threat or other problem and not simply avoiding it (i.e., the “fight or flight” reaction). However, if feelings of foreboding become too strong or last too long, they can hold us back from many normal activities and have debilitating outcomes.

A more intense form of stress is panic, a sudden, unexpected but powerful surge of th-4fear. Panic can cause a wholesale flight from the immediate situation, a reaction that is especially dangerous for scuba divers. A diver who experiences panic at depth is subject to near-drowning, lung over-expansion injuries and death. Panic attacks are extremely dangerous under water, and sometimes its difficult to know what triggers them.

Out of a millions of certified scuba divers, a percentage of recreational scuba divers die each year, but little is known about the precipitating events for many of these deaths. A coroner’s report of “drowning” tells us nothing about what led to, or caused, a divers death. Reports by DAN (Divers Alert Network) and other agencies into scuba diving accidents state that:

“Researchers in diving accidents implicate panic, as a response to stress or anxiety as the major cause of diving fatalities”

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In Medical Examination of Sport Scuba Divers (1998), Alfred Bove states:

“Panic, or ineffective behaviour in the emergency situation when fear is present, is the single biggest killer of sports divers”.

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In 1998 the Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC) guideline for the Recreational Scuba Divers physical examination listed “a history of panic disorder” as an absolute contradiction to scuba diving.

However, we must be very clear that there is no way to determine that panic in accidents does result in fatalities, this is merely an assumption based on knowledge of the psychological and behavioural responses that people make to stress. What we do know is that many people feel stress before a dive especially when they are starting out on their scuba diving journey. It is completely understandable as it is a new alien world that is being explored. Beginners don’t know what it is going to feel like underwater or if they will enjoy it. In abnormal situations, stress is manifested by apprehension and dread, though it sometimes cannot be attached to a clearly identifiable stimulus. This stressful state usually occurs in response to a mishap, such as a dive mask flooding with water. This may cause the diver to panic unnecessarily and behave irrationally. The essential feature of a panic attack is a period of intense fear that is accompanied by a sense of imminent danger and an urge to escape, or a desire to flee from wherever the attack is coming from. An
expected result of a diver having a panic attack would be that the divers breathing rate increases, there by resulting in decreased efficiency or oxygen exchange, and a feeling of suffocation ensues. The diver would then typically try to make a rapid ascent to the surface or departure from a certain location or frantically grabs for air supplies and lack of concern for the safety of others.

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Another way that panic can show itself is what we call Passive panic. These divers are perceived as calm, they will sink, and perish without a call for help. The buddies of these divers thought their associates were non-stressed, and normal. Recognizing this form of panic is very difficult, the victims show no outward signs of any difficulty, but most will have “blank eyes”. Underwater they may lose their regulator and not try to replace it. They will not try to save themselves. Typically a passive victim will seem confused, or vague and then slip underwater. It is the divers total inability to look after themselves and willingness to sink that appears in most case studies.

Either way the panic manifests itself it arises when individuals lack a solution to a critical problem. Sometimes, experienced divers with hundreds of logged dives also experience panic for outwardly no clear reason. The panic most likely occurs because divers lose sight of familiar objects, become disoriented and experience a form of sensory deprivation. The likelihood of a victim of panic coping with any situation is slim to none. In the study of divers death, many still had the weight belt still in place, mouthpiece had been removed, buoyancy compensators were not inflated, and air was still in the tank. This all suggest panic.

One training goal of all scuba diving agencies at all diving levels is to provide the diver with these “solutions” which should become automatic behaviours.

The factors of stress and what to look out for.

Physical Causes of Stress:

Overloading

Sensory Deprivation

Time Pressure

Equipment

Cold Water

Poor Fitness/Swimming Ability

Strong Currents, Waves, Obstructions

Dangerous Marine Life

Psychological Causes of Stress:

Peer Pressure

Social Evaluation

Ego Threat

Fear of the Unknown

Fear of Evaluation

Pre-Dive Physiological Signs:

Increased Heart Rate

Rapid Respiration

Muscle Tension

Frequent Urination

Increased Perspiration

Voice Changes

Decrease in Skin Temperature

Pre-Dive Behavioral Signs:

Introversion

Mental Errors

Forgetfulness

Extreme Cockiness

Irritability

In-Water Symptoms:

Rapid Respiration

The “Wide-Eyed” Look

Inefficient Swimming

Clinging and Clambering

Fixation and Perceptual Narrowing

Sudden Surfacing

High Treading/Trashing

Equipment Rejection

The studies

Many studies have been conducted to examine divers with a history of panic attacks and what were their in water responses. Similarly, reports have been conducted with random scuba diving populations to examine if a panic attack has ever occurred and what the divers response was. This type of panic survey has quite interesting implications on diver training. From these studies and what I can read and interpret are some general conclusions:

  1. Generally the data collected by these various studies would suggest that training of how to deal with emergency situations is largely effective. There was a high percentage of panicking divers who stated that they did remember their training in the emergency situation and it enable them to deal with the situation.
  1. All divers benefit from repetitive skill practise. The more familiar divers are with skills, the more likely they are to respond appropriately to panic. Repeated practice in confined water, including spontaneous drills, raises the response availability levels.

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  1. Student divers who show more elevated levels of stress and anxiety may be more prone to panic. This may be clear if they show stress when dealing with a new skill. These individuals benefit greatly from repetition, through though the practise required may be higher than for other individuals.
  1. Studies would also suggest that women are much more likely to recognise and ask for help than men in a stressful situation. I am not sure why, but I guess that cultural influence is probably a good speculation. Male self-reliance is quite high in most cultures, asking for help may threaten their self-esteem, or men may be conditioned from a young age to not seek out assistance?! Emphasising diving as a team activity maybe help deal with these gender differences and enable men to be more receptive to assistance and may help to offset self-esteem issues.

Prevention techniques

 Training

Professional training builds your diving confidence, nobody can argue this point. Years of research and tried and tested techniques have gone into the created of today’s scuba diving courses. Modern scuba diving training has been specifically designed to ease stress and slowly build on skills to a point where divers are ready to go out into open water. Organizations, such as SSI, have skills and procedures that divers must learn in sequence – these standards are adhered to by SSI Instructors worldwide. Studying theory, watching videos and learning skills in the pool is followed by practicing in the sea with your instructor. This allows you to slowly develop at your own pace – only progressing when you are comfortable with each section.

This sequencing of training not only applies to the recreational diving world but also to those more experienced divers who are looking to extend their diving either to greater depths or to involve mandatory decompression. For these divers, their basic diving skills should be habitual, but more importantly they are now going to enter a world where sometimes to “go up” is simply not an option. Decompression diving, throws into the equation even more potential stress situations that need to be trained for and managed well.

Stress & Rescue Diver Course

Scuba divers describe the SSI Stress & Rescue Diver course as the most challenging, yet most rewarding course they’ve ever taken. Why? Because you learn to prevent and manage problems in the water, and become more confident in your skills as a diver, knowing that you can help others if needed. Through the course you will learn accident prevention, as well as how to handle problem situations is they occur. The programme is about avoiding, recognizing and solving problems on the surface and underwater.

The SSI Stress and Rescue course prepares you to deal with dive emergencies, minor and major, using a variety of techniques. Through knowledge development and rescue exercises, you learn what to look for and how to respond. During rescue scenarios, you put into practice your knowledge and skills.

Course Content:Diver Stress & Rescue

  • What Is Stress?
  • Stress In Diving: Causes And Prevention
  • Detecting And Dealing With Stress
  • Accident Management
  • Skills Needed To Deal With Panic And Rescues
  • Conditions That Complicate Rescues

Equipment familiarity

During scuba diving training, divers learn how to set up, adjust, check, and put on their equipment. Understanding how your equipment works will give you added confidence and reduce stress. Making sure everything is fitted correctly and securely, with the help of your instructor or buddy, is very important. One of the most important factors to think about when looking at equipment is to make sure that the type of equipment that you are wearing is suitable for the diving environment but most importantly making sure that you have the correct training to be able to use all the equipment in an efficient, habitual automatic way.

Confined Water Practice

This is probably the area of scuba diving at all levels that is simply overlooked. The majority of certified divers only going back into a confined water environment when making a new course and the shallow water skills being a mandatory part of the new course. As I mentioned earlier, as a diver learning to scuba dive their training is performance-based, and they have plenty of time to learn and practice scuba diving skills in the pool before heading out to the open water. Just have a think to yourselves honestly, when was the last time you personally made a review of all scuba diving skills and I mean more than can you clear a mask!

Relaxation and Visual rehearsal

All divers of all levels should begin their dive feeling relaxed and calm. Try not be rushed to get ready, give yourself time to go through the dive plan in your mind with your buddy to make sure you are both clear of the techniques, emergency procedures, entering and exiting methods and generally the diving route. At the start of the dive aim to become relaxed with slow, deep breathing and allow yourself time to get to get orientated to being underwater by pausing after your descent. Take an additional moment in the shallow waters to regulate your breathing. The key point is understanding that breath control and relaxation go hand-in-hand.  Check your equipment and computer, and to signal to your buddy that everything is OK. To not rush and do not be rushed by others. When you rush, you create stress and may not follow the procedures you have been taught. Similarly, don’t rush around underwater – take time to appreciate what nature has created and enjoy the full experience of breathing underwater. Having a good level of calmness will aid in control of stress levels in the water. Divers who also learn the “Calming Response” in Stress and rescue courses, learn a technique which involves stomach breathing. The calming response is a fast and effective way of improving relaxation and performance.  Scuba divers, using this technique, can significantly increase breath control and relaxation within 5 – 10 breaths.

Diving discipline

I have addressed the issue of training and that comfort through repetition of skills is essential in creating automatic habitual responses. However, as divers consider themselves to become more experienced a certain degree of complacency could become evident. This complacency to me is more of an issue than the novice diver with more limited experience. Dare I say it a sense of arrogance surrounds this type of diver and the perceived assumption that “it will never happen to me”. This type of diver no longer considers the underwater world to be a hazardous environment and as such may lack respect for the potential hostile conditions that scuba diving situation can present. Diving preparation falls to a minimal level, equipment is not maintained to an acceptable standard, and recommended diving guidelines no longer apply to them.

Don’t let yourself fall into this category. Have discipline, keep up to date with current training developments, equipment advances, stay mentally and physically active, keep the respect for the underwater world, keep your skills refreshed, plan a dive and dive the plan, and finally leave the ego at home!

Summary

The fact of the matter is that Scuba Diving has inherent risks that simply cannot be removed. However, though the techniques outlined above we can aim to make ourselves as divers as prepared as possible for the activity. Similarly, stress is an emotional factor that also cannot be eliminated from the human psychology. However, there are ways in which we can have better control on stress, awareness of where, when and how it can occur can enable us to keep a good handle on it.

The underwater world can be as unpredictable as it is amazing, this it what keeps drawing us back to it.

Dive safe everybody.

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Diving Manager & Owner

SSI Recreational & Technical Instructor Trainer

cat@tekstremediving.com

http://www.tekstremediving.com

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Scuba Diving Instructor – The Real Story

The Background

“When are you going to get a proper job?” is a question that has been asked to me for most of my adult life. Mostly from my mother, but the question was also heard from well-meaning family members. (Of course it was said in a joking manner but I am 100% sure that the belief was, at that time that I was wasting my life by not pursuing a “normal career.”) Coming from a family of teachers, Lawyers, Hoteliers and Engineers to name a few industries, I still think to this day heading into the Scuba Industry was not a respected profession by the people around me. However, saying that, that very same mother who would question me about a “proper Job” would also always remind me of the fact that you only get one life and you need to live it. I was blessed that my mother never tried to hold me back from anything that I wished to pursue.

However, believe me or not, I didn’t consciously set out to enter the diving industry on a full time basis. Becoming a scuba Instructor was merely a way to increase my qualifications, which was going to escalate my employment opportunities when I was looking for a “Real” job as a School Physical Education teacher.

Now, its 15 years later and I still have not got that “real job”!

The Scuba Industry.

There are as many reasons for why for people learn to dive so it is impossible to list them all. Some activities seem to be perfect precursors for scuba diving. Active swimmers take to diving pretty easily. People who enjoy snorkeling also have an advantage. They have already seen some of the fish life beneath the sea and so are “hooked” already. Snorkelers usually have an easy time transitioning to scuba diving.Lifestyle

People who currently enjoy active outdoor activities are also the type of persons who are drawn to scuba diving. With its increasing popularity, scuba has become “fashionable”. Take a look at the holiday section of most magazines and you will see the “him and her picture perfect” fully kitted out in neoprene and wearing scuba equipment whist walking along a lush white beach with palm trees in the background. Scuba diving is reaching a pinnacle in media pop culture. Scuba Diving has moved from an activity for a select few adventurous individuals into a global recreational activity available for all the family. Nearly half of all new divers are women and it is also used as non-discriminatory therapy for physically challenged individuals. Diving is no longer a sport for daredevils; it has become a lifetime activity that you can enjoy with your friends and family. It’s a means to learning more about the beauty and intricacies of life on our planet.

Why consider becoming an Instructor?

Teaching is a challenging job with many unique frustrations, but the rewards of teaching are unquestionable. Instructors get incredible joy in seeing the difference they make as students gain new insights, become more interested in a subject, physically develop skills and learn about themselves. As an Instructor, you see your efforts everyday as you use your intelligence and creativity to help students become excited about and learn about the scuba diving world.

 Success

For many people, their work is a means to an end. They work for a paycheck in order to live their lives. But those called to teach have a true vocation. To those with whom you interact most during your day of teaching – the students – you are not an employee but a friend, a mentor and a guide to the world. An Instructor makes a difference in the world by enabling each of his or her students to fully maximize their talents, skills and character. Being an Instructor is a job that offers a great deal of variety. Each day or week, instructors get to work with a new group of students with unique personalities, experiences and ideas.

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While scuba classes have mandatory standards that instructors are expected to follow, it is the instructor who will decide what will happen in the lesson. Not many jobs provide an individual with so much room to be creative and autonomous each day. Additionally, you will never learn a topic better than when you start to teach it. Students always ask the most interesting questions, prompting you to dig deeper, explore, investigate and learn more about the aspects of scuba diving.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve had the pleasure of training scuba divers of all ages and backgrounds. So I can tell you with all honesty that being a scuba instructor is one of those jobs you enjoy doing every day of your life, if it was not the case I would not still be doing it! But, believe it or not, having fun just isn’t enough, because after awhile, even having fun can get boring. What has continued to motivate me over the years is the challenge. What other activity allows a teacher to deal in subjects as diverse as physics, physiology, marine science, mechanics, physical education, psychology and even public relations? You also have to have some pretty good counseling skills. Scuba instructors bring a whole new meaning to the term “jack-of-all-trades.” Our job believe it or not is at times very tough, demanding and often unappreciated, but it’s never boring.

The Reality

To the outside person, the Scuba industry is full of young guys and girls running around in the sun with perfect tans, making a wetsuit look good and swimming with Dolphins in tropical warm waters. This, unfortunately, is a delusion and mistaken belief. Becoming a Scuba Instructor isn’t easy—and neither is actually being one. But remembering why you go into this industry in the first place helps to stay focused when those challenging days come around, and take pride in your successes. I will emphasis at this point that teaching is a passion, not a paycheck! If the idea is to make loads of money, then this is not the industry for you! It’s incredibly hard work but, it is the most rewarding job out there and every day is different.

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Is being an instructor for me?

Now, as much as the life of a Scuba Instructor has many benefits it for sure is not a suitable path for everybody! In fact, you may not be cut out for it at all. A scuba instructor has to enjoy and be capable of working with a wide range of personalities and circumstances. If your only motivation to become a diving educator is that you love diving, then forget about it. People skills are just as important and often more so than diving skills. Patience is perhaps the most important requisite; and a close second is flexibility coupled with the willingness to work long and highly irregular hours.

Effective communication and human relations skills are as essential as diving skills. What’s equally important is a professional appearance and demeanor. Scuba Divers are sophisticated travelers. The last thing they want to see after spending a good chunk of their paycheck is to visit a dive destination is some beach bum in a dirty T-shirt. They put their lives in our hands, so they expect someone who can instill professionalism and confidence.

The issue of responsibility is important to both understand, accept and cannot be ignored. Regardless of how much fun it may be, you can never take the responsibility of the instructor role lightly. If you do, people can die; it’s that simple. This can be a harsh realization, and anyone who lacks the commitment or maturity to accept such duties shouldn’t even consider the instructor route.

Preparation to become an instructor requires mastery of diving theory, which includes a thorough grounding in diving physics, physiology, equipment mechanics and even a little marine science and oceanography. You’ll also need near-perfect diving skills, and an ability to deal calmly with stressful and unexpected situations like entanglements or out-of-air emergencies. In terms of physical prowess, you will be expected to complete watermanship tests to prove your physical abilities in and on the water and that you hold a minimum level of physical fitness that is expected of an infidel in a responsibility role.

During your Instructor Training Course (ITC), you should expect to learn a great deal about teaching, both theoretical and practical. You will learn how to plan and conduct classroom, pool and open-water lessons. You’ll learn how to organize training activities to maximize safety and efficiency. And, you’ll learn the standards and logistics of conducting the various programs you’ll be certified to teachITC

Is it worth it?

Personally I have never regretted my decision to remain within the Scuba Diving industry. In the early days, I was blessed
to be able to work for one of the most reputable scuba diving operators who not only supported their instructors in the work place but also encouraged us as instructors to continue training and always strive for the next level whilst maintaining high levels of standards and service. Over the years I have continued to develop my personal skills and have learnt the scuba diving industry as a business. This has had a direct effect on the growth of my own scuba diving company and subsequent future scuba diving ventures.Blog-4

I now look to the future and see continued personal growth for me as an Instructor Trainer and scuba diving ambassador. I can think of nothing better than to open up this amazing industry to others who could take inspiration from me and look to also becoming the scuba instructor.

 

“Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do”

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Technical Manager & Owner

SSI Recreational and Technical Instructor Trainer

cat@tekstremediivng.com

http://www.tekstremediving.com

No decompression limits – When time is not long enough!

Picture the scene….It’s summer time, you have been working hard all year and waiting for your holiday to finally arrive where you can escape the chores of day by day life and spend one week in one of the best locations in the world for scuba diving. Yes, you are in the Red Sea. You have chosen to join one of the most popular safari routes that will take you to visit the famous Daedalus Reef to experience the schooling hammerheads.

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The dive guides have got you up at the crack of dawn to be in the water first to get to see these amazing pelagics. You are hanging at 30m alongside the east wall of Daedalus reef, the current is mild, the water is warm, and then out of the blue you see a shadow, as you sit patiently the shadow comes into focus and you see the outlined of something big, could it be, are you going to be lucky, is it one, is it 10, yes yes yes there they are. The majestic Hammerhead sharks moving in synchronisation as a group cruising up and down the reef. You cant take enough pictures to capture the moment, this adrenaline experience yet calming experience is hard to match up with anything else on this planet….and then….beep beep beep…..computer tells you that you have no decompression time left and you must leave to get to shallower waters! Damn damn damn!!!

Hammerhead Shark

Gutted comes to mind, you have plenty of gas but that bit of technology on your wrist is a reminder of one of the limitations of scuba diving, the No-decompression times. But does that have to be the case? No it does not. How about having some extra training to teach you how to plan a dive with some decompression to allow you just that little bit of extra time. That would be awesome would it not? You can do this training in your own existing equipment, that’s right, there is no requirement for any different equipment. You can continue to dive in your trusted comfortable BCD with your own reliable regulator and those pink fins that you have, these are also just fine. With just a few extra pieces you are all set to make your first decompression dives in a planned, safe manner.

XR equipment

You will learn the basics about dive planning and managing your gas volumes. You will learn about how to use the richer eanx gases in the shallow waters to manage your decompression. You will learn how to change gases in the water to optimise your dive and keep you in the water looking at those sharks longer than everyone else! Now that sounds good right?

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The training I am talking about can be found in the SSI Extended Range Nitrox Course. It can be training from a land based resort or on a safari trip. It’s specifically aimed at those divers who would like to extend their diving just a bit more than the recreational limits. It’s not about depth, in fact its only a 40m course, but more importantly its about time. By having some training in the basics of decompression diving it opens up so many more dive sites around the world. The demand for this type of diving is growly hugely as world wide travel rapidly expands and more dive sites within the 30 – 40m range are available. Its not deep, its not dark and its certainly not dangerous, its simply extending your current diving, that’s realdiving.

If you would like more information on the SSI Extended Range Nitrox program you can head to:

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

or email me directly

info@tekstremediving.com

Cat Braun

Tekstreme Manager

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” visits Malta

Tekstreme Wings

MALTA 2016

May 7th – 14th

Price = £600

 

The Maltese Islands’ clear blue Mediterranean sea is ideal for scuba diving. All three islands offer some unique diving experiences with an abundance of reefs, caves and wrecks that make diving here some of the most interesting in the Mediterranean. The calmness and clarity of the sea makes for excellent visibility whilst the risk of encountering dangerous fish is extremely low, creating the ultimate conditions for scuba diving. For the more experienced divers, there are plenty of challenging dives to choose from.

Price Includes:

  • 7 nights self catering accommodation in shared villas with equipment storage
  • Transfers to and from the airport
  • 5 days diving
  • Transfers to and from Dive locations
  • All ferry costs
  • 12 litre Twin set hire or CCR tank hire
  • 1 decompression tank
  • Technical guides

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This trip is aimed at diving some of the most popular wrecks and reefs of Malta and Gozo to with all dives between depths of 30 – 55m. It is preferably that divers should hold a certification to enable them to dive to 50m on either air or limited trimix. Lower certifications of certifications are also welcome and courses to achieve the higher levels are available during the trip.

For the shallower dives (30 – 40m) there will be planned two dives per day. For the deeper dives up to 55m it is planned for 1 dive a day. This makes for a minimum 8 dive trip. The dives are subject to weather conditions but hopefully will include the following: P31 patrol boat, Rosie Tug Boat, El Faroud, MV Karwela, MV Xlendi, HMS Stubborn and the Blue Hole to name a few.

Nitrox, Helium and extra Deco cylinders are available but not included in the overall price. All extras are to be paid directly to the Dive centre at the end of the trip.

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 Flights are available quite inexpensive from most major UK airports.

 Email to info@tekstremediving.com for more information.

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.

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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.

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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

SSI, Mares and an interesting end to the year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All I can say is watch this space…..

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

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

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

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Dummies guide to Side mount Scuba Diving

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

 

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

 

 Introducing Side mount diving.

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

 

What actually is Side mount diving?

It can be as simple as stating…

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

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

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

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

 

–       Less back strain

–       Easier movements top side

–       More manoeuvrability in the water

–       Redundant gas supply

–       Increased gas supply for longer dives

–       Ability to extend no decompression dives

 

 

Where do the tanks go?

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

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What about safety?

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

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Is it heavy?

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

 

Does it increase my dive time?

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

 

Where can I try it out?

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

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

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

 

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

 

A = Air flex hose

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

B = Bungee

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

C = Cave

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

D = D – Ring

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

E = Enriched Air Nitrox

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

 

F = Flexibility

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

H = Hybrid Harness

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

N = No Decompression time

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

P = Pressure gauge

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

R = Rig

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

S = Streamline

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

T = Trim

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

W = Wing

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

 

To summarise….

 

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

 

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

The safari dates with current availability this year are:

 15th August – 21st August 2014

10th October – 16th October 2014

 

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

 

Cat Braun 

Tekstreme Diving Manager

Brother Islands & Safaga Red Sea Technical safari.

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

 

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

The itinerary (weather dependant) should include:

 

Panarama Reef in Safaga

The stunning walls of Small Brother Island

The Wreck of the Numidia on Big Brother Island

The Wreck of the Aida on Big Brother Island

The Wreck of the Salam Express in Safaga

The Wreck of the Gulf Fleet in Hurghada

The Wreck of Colona V in Hurghada

 

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

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

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

The price for the trip is only 1172 euros.

This price includes:

7 nights accommodation

Food and soft drinks on board

All Marine Park fees & Fuel surcharges

Transfers to and from the airport

Twin set hire or CCR tank hire

2 x Decompression / Bailout tanks

All Oxygen fills for CCR

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

Cat & the Tekstreme Team