Connect with us
background

News

Deptherapy’s Red Sea Wrecks – Part 3

Published

on

Part three of Gary Green’s account of the Deptherapy Red Sea Military and Forgotten Wrecks liveaboard expedition.

Day Four: Ras Gharib – MV Aboudy

Through the night when we had all been snoozing, the boat had travelled to Ras Gharib, a wreck laying in strong currents. With the currents blowing, we had a swim line connected to the mooring line so that we wouldn’t get swept away, which throughout the course we had learned was easily possible. The moor line wasn’t connected to the wreck itself, so once we were about six meters down we had a short swim to the bottom of the wreck which was completely on it’s side; this kept us in the ley of the current. As we reached the stern of the wreck, we found a load of medicine bottles along the sand, which had all come from the wreck itself.

When we turned to the structure of the wreck, we had the full view of the wreck as it appeared out of the blue. As you swim slightly away from the wreck you get an idea of just how big these ships are, especially when the bow and stern are still intact. The thing I was most interested in was that at the bow of the ship was the hull, which we were told was difficult to navigate and it was ‘optional’ whether you wanted to try and penetrate it; of course, I wanted to penetrate it!

I have some pretty intense footage on my GoPro from this dive as we penetrated some pretty narrow gaps. A couple of the entry points we penetrated  had only a couple of inches gap between us and the wreck and there were points I had to tuck my kit away so that I was able to pass. It was by far my favourite dive to date. We moved up decks through a passage where we had to pass back on ourselves. We actually found the engine room deep inside; the gap was just too small to pass through however we got our torch right inside and had a look around. My instructor told me afterwards that if I had been more experienced, he would have de-kitted and passed through; just the opportunity of that excited me. Having the honour to be able to experience a part of history that is unseen and untouched by such a large percentage of the population puts me into a small category of honoured people.

Day Four: MV Qtmos (RIB Dive)

After some very skillful searching by the on board team, they managed to find the MV Qtmos which had only ever been dived by two other teams. The wreck only sank last year and only a few people know its existence. The location is not actually mapped by anyone and is only noted by a few local fishermen. I do know that it is located very close to a few oil rigs and the vessel itself was a cargo ship for the rigs. As we drew closer to the location the sea was full of supply ships.

To get to the location we had to travel by zodiacs (RIBs) as it was so close to the oil rigs. This was a new and exciting experience in itself; this was to be my first RIB dive and I must admit the feeling grabbed me. It’s how I had seen diving done before, rolling off the back of the boat straight into the water. We had gone through embarking and dismounting drills in preparation so that nothing came as a surprise to us. However some must have listened more than others, as Luke Morrison found out. They were on the zodiac next to us and as they counted down from three, the group rolled backwards, everyone apart from Luke. The group were in the water looking up at him and he was still sat in the RIB on his own; we did have a good laugh at his look of confusion.

We rolled off of our RIB, as a team I might add, and as soon as our heads hit the water, we were in sight of the fully intact ship. We dropped to the sandy bottom (sounds like something you would get from sitting at the beach). We swam around to the front of the wreck where the whole of the intact super structure could be seen; there didn’t seem to be many penetrating opportunities but there was a lot to see. As we got to the bridge we could see that there was still glass in the windows, broken but still where it should be. Also something that we all found amusing, there is a lead hanging out of the window that is connected to a telephone. It doesn’t work despite my efforts to try and order a pizza delivery to our boat, although I think all of us had a selfie pretending to speak through it. After we had looked around the entire wreck, we headed out to the patches of coral that were all around the seabed.

Fish will always amaze me, I can honestly look at them for hours just watching their behaviour. I got some pretty footage of a baby red sea anemone fish with (what I assume were) its parents. I kept my distance and didn’t stick my camera right in their faces; I believe it scares them and antagonises them for no reason.

Another sea creature that I found absolutely terrified me and although I have footage of it, no one could identify it. I call it the sea tarantula, I poked my head just inside a tyre to see what was there, possibly the only reason you would go sticking your head inside a tyre I guess. What was inside I can only describe as some sort of giant underwater spider! It looked like something from a horror movie that had been sent to kill all of mankind. It was kind of crusty which would suggest it was a shellfish or urchin of some kind, even the pros on board could not identify it. It had six legs and moved slowly with a really thick body, it kind of looked hairy as well. I have no idea what it was and I never want to encounter it again. I suppose it may have just been a tarantula on a scuba diving holiday 🙂

Day Four: SS Scalaria

Our last dive of the day concluded on the SS Scalaria. Again there was a strong current that meant we had to follow a shot line onto the bow of the wreck. Once we were there we were still fighting quite strong currents and had to swim in between points of the wreck to make the swim easier. In our team we had three amputees, two that had both legs missing and one that had an arm missing and for this reason we had to be especially cautious of the currents. It’s amazing to see how they move in the water as they use about 400% more energy than we do. Some of the currents even the ablebodied divers struggled with, yet on every dive Ben Lee and Chris Middleton performed heroically under the water.

The wreck itself was in very bad condition and the middle of the ship was almost completely destroyed. The life on the wreck though was absolutely phenomenal. There was a giant free-swimming moray that moved below us from one part of the wreck to another and the whole group was completely captivated by the sight of it.

There is a calmness with fish in the water, the sound of the outside world disappears, and I believe it’s that calmness that transcends into divers. My mind is chaotic above the sea, yet as soon as my head goes under the water, the mind stops. When I’m looking down into the reef there is almost nothing else on my mind, except maybe checking my depth and air. It’s almost a barrier on top of the water surface, which as I enter the water stops the outside world coming with me; an instant remedy for all the troubles on the surface of the water.

The wreck was steeped in history and it was like a 3D documentary. There is a sadness with any wreck as it highlights the fact that something was alive and is now dead. You certainly have to bear in mind that there were fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters on these ships. It’s a solemn gift; you are only entitled the privilege to see the site of the wreck because of a tragedy that befell the people on board.

Once back on the boat we were all four days into diving and also four days institutionalised back into our previous squaddie language. Looking in on the group you would think that we were speaking a foreign language.

For example:

Squaddie 1 – “I saw a fish” – redundant conversation I know and strictly for example purposes.

Squaddie 2 – “What puka gen?” (Translation – did you really see a fish?)

Squaddie 1 – “yeah gen up” (yes I did see a fish)

Squaddie 2 – “f***g gleaming that” (oh ok)

Squaddie 1 – “wanna square some scoff away?” (Shall we sort out some food)

Squaddie 2 – “f***g roger” (yes we should)

Squaddie 1 – “be jack to not get other bods” (it would be selfish to not let the others know)

Squaddie 2 – “roger that” (yes you are correct)

A bad example to be honest but it’s just funny to see how after a short time together, after God knows how long talking in a professional tongue, that it all comes flooding back as if we were still in the forces. It’s that comfortable environment though that’s so important, completely conversing with some of the only people in the world that honestly understand you and what you are going through.

Come back tomorrow to read Part Four…

Donate to Deptherapy or find out more about their work at www.deptherapy.co.uk

Thanks to Dmitry Knyazev for the incredible photographs.

Gary Green is an author, team leader and PADI AmbassaDIVER. After being medically discharged from the British Army following an IED attack which left him blind in one eye and with PTSD, Gary was introduced to scuba diving through the rehabilitation charity Deptherapy. Gary is living proof of the healing power of scuba.

Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 4

Published

on

Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for part 4 of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

We are all back to the house reef today; the weather is lovely, the sea calm, the tide will soon be slack, so a great day’s diving in store.

A few yards away from the beach dive centre, on the Roots’ beach is their day time restaurant. It is where we take lunch when diving, and there is a continual supply of tea, coffee and soft drinks, and some marvellous lunches.  There are also male and female toilets and a fully accessible toilet for those using wheelchairs.

A few thoughts around working with amputees and those who have paraplegia. Firstly amputees – the part of the limb remaining is known as the ‘stump’, and we have worked with a substantial number of bilateral leg amputees (both legs), single leg amputees and single arm amputees.  The level of amputation can be above or below the knee or elbow, or through the knee. In one case the amputation was transpelvic and in another through the shoulder.  Some like Chris Middleton have one leg amputated above the knee and one below the knee.  This is rare, but each type of amputation offers a different challenge.

Many people think the amputation is clean and the skin neatly tidied up after surgery. Although that occurs in a few cases, in most the stump is rather rugged.  Elasticity of the skin around the stump is often exceptionally poor and can easily be damaged.  Some of our beneficiaries, as they were injured as young men, suffered from heterotopic ossification – this is where the bone tries to grow after amputation and often penetrates the skin, resulting in further surgery being required to cut back the bone and of course the stump needs to be restitched.  Very often stumps are sealed with skin from elsewhere on the body.

Swars kitting up

Few divers have never experienced a graze or cut underwater but such an experience for those with amputations can have serious consequences.  Stumps are more likely to get cut or grazed as the skin is so tight. We all know that there are lots of infections in seawater and if infected the cut or graze can cause very serious problems for the amputee.  Tailored wetsuits are one preventative measure, as are daily stump checks, making sure there is no damage and if there is, applying medication and or protecting the stump.

Those with paraplegia provide an additional challenge, not being able to feel their lower limbs they can easily damage them, so cuts, abrasions, and even sunburn can go unnoticed.  Donning a full-length wetsuit can be a challenge as toes can easily be broken and hairs pulled out of legs.  On the Deptherapy Education Professionals’ Course we show how to fit a wetsuit properly.

In recent discussions between our dive medicine advisor Mark Downs and our VP Richard Castle, who is a consultant psychologist, we have been looking at areas for further medical research in terms of diving for those with disabilities.  One area of suggested study is thermoregulation. The theory is that those with amputations and those with paraplegia suffer more with the cold as their body is unable to regulate heat. Certainly, in Corey’s case, he feels the cold more quickly than those diving with him. Chris Middleton can feel the cold more quickly than others with amputations but that may well be that Chris is muscle and bone where, to put it nicely, others have a more substantial covering.

Some AMEDs and Dive Referees will not sign off amputees as being fit to dive. That is their professional opinion and although we can show that even triple amputees are more than capable divers, capable of progressing to Rescue Diver standard even, they still refuse to sign them off. Last year Oli and Mark invited us to speak at the UK Annual Hyperbaric Medicine Conference in London where Josh Boggi, the world’s first triple amputee Rescue Diver and a Deptherapy beneficiary spoke about how amputees can become safe and successful divers.

Corey, Swars and Michael

For Corey, he wears full leg coverings and diving boots in the water; as he cannot use his legs there is no purpose in wearing fins.

Another point around amputations is that most of the general population make an assumption that a leg amputation is the result of a traumatic incident.  That is incorrect; by far the majority of leg amputations in the UK are the result of diabetes. Those whose legs are amputated as a result as diabetes are more likely to have poor healing of the stumps.  This also presents an issue of comorbidity that may well result in an AMED or Dive Referee declining to sign them off as ‘fit to dive’.  If signed off you would need to be very aware of the health of a stump; I certainly would not take someone with an open wound diving and the fact that they will be on medication for the diabetes.  You also have to be aware that they may well be on other medication to manage pain etc.

You need to be very clear with those who have paraplegia and other conditions that they must let you know if they start to feel cold.

Managing air – diving just using your arms for propulsion can, for many, be very tiring and a considerable amount of effort is required.  This, plus other factors, may result in enhanced air consumption by the diver.  This may increase if a current is encountered, even one which most divers who have use of their legs and dive with fins would not cause the least concern.

Within Deptherapy we very much work on the ‘rule of thirds’ – a third of your air to get you down and to see what you want to see, a third to get you back to the surface and a third in reserve.  This in most circumstances will ensure no ‘low on air’ or ‘out of air’ situations.

Say if we have 210 bar in a cylinder that means 70 bar out, so turn on 140 bar, 70 bar to return and to the surface so we should have 70 bar reserve at the surface.

We also work our students through SAC rates and looking at the air consumption of others in their team.

Checking the team’s air frequently during a dive is stressed to all our Pro team.

Keiron became very engaged with this concept as the result of the online RAID study for his Master Rescue Diver.

On expeditions we normally dive in small teams, a DM/TDM with three programme members.  They work as a team and understand each other’s air consumption. Of course, they also dive as buddy pairs.

Today offered perfect conditions for diving, and Keiron, Moudi, and this time TDM Oatsie were kitted up and in the water within minutes.

Pause for thought… those with paraplegia will have different toileting arrangements to those who do not have the condition. This also applies to some who have suffered traumatic limb loss.  They may use catheters for urination, some may have Stoma bags etc.  This all has to be planned into your dive schedule to ensure the safety and comfort of your student.  For young people talking about these very personal arrangements may be very difficult.  Those with Stoma bags may be embarrassed by people seeing them.  This is another part of seeing beyond the injury or condition – it is the person inside that you are dealing with.

Corey on the Roots House Reef

So, Corey, Michael and myself were joined by Swars.  Swars, although he joined the DM programme at the same time as the other guys, because of work commitments was unable to join us in September 2019 at Roots where we ran a DM introductory programme alongside the crossover of our Pro Team to RAID.  Swars has become a really good mate; he is a great diver, with an engaging personality.

Michael and Oatsie were a known quantity to me as they had been on the September 2019 programme and both have travelled to my home dive centre Divecrew in Crowthorne, Berkshire, to work on courses, pre-COVID.  During COVID Michael and I, plus a few of the guys from Divecrew, have dived at Wraysbury together.

Just as Roots is our base in Egypt, Divecrew is our base in the UK, and through this relationship, Martin (who owns Divecrew with his wife Sue) is one of our trustees. Together they have established a centre where pretty much 100% of the Pros are Deptherapy Education trained.

I asked Swars straight away to brief a dive for Corey. I gave him the briefing slate, a few tips and then ten minutes later he came back with a perfect briefing… and I mean perfect.  So, a great briefing under his belt; now to watch him work with Corey in open water. He looked the Pro, he knew what he should be doing, he understood his role. We assigned Michael as Corey’s buddy and said he would lead the dive. I was there to assess the TDMs and supervise very closely Corey’s skill demonstrations.

Again, it comes as no surprise that many beneficiaries in Deptherapy can move straight into dive management, as several were NCOs, as was Swars, and they are used to briefing individuals and teams.

We had decided that we would mix up the dives required to complete Corey’s OW 20 RAID dives with some general diving as trim and swimming arm action are all important. We also needed to concentrate on spatial awareness.

We agreed a signal for horizontal trim and Swars reinforced the swim stroke that Corey needed to do to get propulsion.  Every time Corey moved out of horizontal trim Swars was there reminding him about trim and reminding him of his swim stroke.

The Roots’ House Reef is amazing – at a metre you encounter a shoal of black Damselfish, at 3 metres a shoal of Unicornfish, there are Butterflyfish and all manner of other fishes in great profusion.  The coral is in great condition. It really is a place of beauty and tranquillity.

Oatsie and Swars relaxing by the Roots pool after a long day

Although we had problems getting Corey underwater again, once we got him in skill demonstration mode his anxieties disappeared.  We then took him diving. Steve Rattle, the owner of Roots joined us and was taking photos that provide a great record of the week’s diving.  Steve commented on the quality of Swars and Michael’s supervision and control underwater of Corey and gave them feedback on how impressed he was.

Meanwhile on the RAID Master Rescue Course, Oatsie who was in the same Regiment, same Platoon and Section as Keiron in Afghanistan was more than willing to be a very uncooperative victim for his brother-in-arms.  I think Keiron gave Oatsie some feedback about this!

For me this was a hard week, combining running the RAID OW 20 for Corey but also the assessment of our three TDMs.  A week underwater but no opportunity to dive for myself.  People often think Deptherapy Expeditions are holidays for the Dive Team; they are not, it is hard work and I mean hard work.

Tomorrow is Day 4 in the water Day 5 of our trip. We are on the House Reef again, and things are starting to come together. Join us back here on Monday 26th October…

Continue Reading

Competitions

WIN an XDEEP Radical Frameless Mask!!!

Published

on

Yes, XDEEP have now officially called their excellent frameless mask the ‘Radical’, and in this week’s competition, we’ve got another one to give away!

The XDEEP Radical Frameless Mask is a large single lens dive mask with a soft silicone skirt and traditional strap. The frameless design brings the lens closer to your face so you get a wider FOV and less internal volume that you have to equalise and clear. The larger nose pocket makes the mask more comfortable and easier to equalise, even with thick gloves.

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can find here), we reported that you can join Reef-World and a panel of industry experts at the first ever Scuba.Digital for an open discussion on green tourism and how this might be shaped by a post-corona world. But when can you join Reef-Word’s Sustainable Diving event on the main stage of Scuba.Digital 2020?

Is it:

  • A) 3pm BST on Friday 23rd October 2020
  • B) 3pm BST on Saturday 24th October 2020
  • C) 3pm BST on Sunday 25th October 2020

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Nautilus Diving XDEEP Frameless Mask October 2020

Competition
  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, employees of Nautilus Diving and their families, or XDEEP and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. This competition closes on 02/11/20. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Expires on:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

More Less

Instagram Feed

Facebook Feed

Facebook Pagelike Widget

Popular