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Dive Club Trip Report – Oyster Diving Club – Part 2

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Oyster Diving Club

OYSTER DIVING CLUB – BEST OF WRECKS RED SEA LIVEABOARD, OCTOBER 2014 – PART 2

(Read Part 1 here.)

Day 3

Overnight we made the 11 hour crossing from the Brothers to the Northern part of the Red Sea. A welcome lie in until 6am was received by many. There were a few less hangovers today.

Our first dive was on the Rosalie Moller, a fairly recently discovered wreck. Sitting upright on the sea bed, the top of the wreck is approximately 32m with the bottom somewhere around 50m.

Rosalie Moller Facts:

Launched in Glasgow in 1910 and was then named the Francis. At 110m the Rosalie Moller is larger than a football field and is 16m wide. In 1931 it was sold to the Royal Navy and changed its name to the Rosalie Moller. During WWII it served as a supply ship, supplying coal to the British Army. In 1940 it was ordered to anchor up as the Suez Canal was blocked due to a couple of broken wrecks. It was discovered by a German Heinkel Bomber who landed a direct hit on the main deck.

Having never dived this wreck I was really looking forward to it, as it is often described as one of the best wrecks in the Red Sea.

As we descended down the shot line the vis was a meagre 15m or so. The Rosalie Moller emerged slowly out of the gloom. Considering its age and the fact that it had been hit by a large bomb, loads of it was still very recognisable. Wrecks are generally a haven for marine life but the sheer size of the schools of glass fish and baby barracudas were unreal. Hunting Jacks and Snapper circled above darting in and out and were clearly well fed.

Inside the wreck you could still see the bathrooms and in the holds lay the coal that never reached its intended destination.

Due to the depth our bottom time was restricted to about 30 minutes. After breakfast we departed for the 1.5hr journey to the Thistlegorm.

The Thistlegorm is the most famous wreck in the Red Sea and is possibly the most famous in the world that is suitable for diving. Apparently it now generates more income for Egypt than the pyramids in Cairo.

Thistlegorm Facts:

The Thistlegorm was a British supply ship during the Second World War, supplying Montgomery much needed items. In 1941 three Heinkel bombers were searching the area searching for the Queen Mary that was reportedly in the area and was being used as a troop carrier. Their mission was to find it and destroy it. The planes had no luck finding her so were returning to base when they stumbled across the Thistlegorm. Armed with only 2 small anti-aircraft guns she had no chance. The Heinkels dropped their bombs of which two found their target and hit right in the middle of the hold carrying the ammo. Supposedly the explosion could be seen from Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada. The ship sank quickly and lay forgotten until the 1950’s when it was discovered by Jacques Cousteau. It was then forgotten about again until it was rediscovered by divers in 1985.

The two dives allowed us to pretty much explore every inch of the wreck. Outside you can still see the tenders from the steam engines, a couple of small tanks, explosive shells, the propeller, winches and 2 anti-aircraft guns. The jewel in the crown of this huge wreck is what’s contained in the forward holds that have remained undisturbed and intact since that fatal evening in 1941. Swimming through the holds you can see dozens of motorbikes still in their racks and tires still inflated, Bedford trucks, spare propellers meant for the RAF, Enfield rifles, Wellington boots, coal for the steam engines and plane wings to carry out repairs.

I’ve been asked to keep Melvin’s wife updated on the weather conditions. We saw a cloud in the sky around 2.14pm, the temperature is around 31 degrees and there is a nice cool breeze to keep us from over-heating. Just in case she is also interested, the water temperature is between 26-28 degrees.

Day 4

Last night over dinner we took a vote to decide which dives to do in the morning. The general consensus was to do an early 3rd dive on the Thistlegorm before the other 8 boats moored around and us descended upon the wreck.

After our 5am wakeup call and a quick brief we were soon descending down the shot line into the blue. On reaching the bow of the wreck the visibility was great at about 30m, and even better there were no other divers in sight. When it’s like this, it’s got to be one of the most exciting dive sites in the world. Having spent much of the day yesterday exploring the storage holds and its cargo, we decided to spend most of our time on the outside of the wreck. At the stern of the ship past the section torn apart by the explosion, the two anti-aircraft guns remain perfectly intact and unused since the day they were unsuccessfully fired to protect themselves from the Heinkels that tore it apart. As we made our way back to the mooring line dozens of divers from the other boats descended all around us, leaving us feeling totally vindicated for our decision to make such an early start. Needless to say a few of the group remained on board as they preferred to catch up on their zzzz’s.

Today’s weather update for Melvin’s wife: hot (34 degrees), lots of sunshine and flat calm seas.

Dive 2 of the day – The Kingston.

Kingston Facts:

Built 1871

Dimensions – 78m long x 6m wide

Route – London to Aden

Cargo – coal

Sank 1881

The Kingston is located on ‘Shag Rock’, which Melvin and I speculated was named after one of the girls on a previous trip of ours.

The wreck lies in shallow water from 3m to 14m. As it has rested on the seabed for over 100 years, only the hull and a few beams still exist. Coral has encrusted the remains of the wreck which gave those with cameras the opportunity to take some spectacular photos. Once we’d done a few circuits of the wreck we headed along the pristine reef back towards our boat. A gentle current made for a long relaxing dive and a welcome change to observing rusty metal. I caught Ric taking a cat nap at 8m but managed to resist the urge to steal his fins off his feet. The shallow depth and helping current meant that most people managed at least a 60 minute dive.

While waiting for lunch Melvin decided to pass the time by counting the cuts and bruises on Kara’s legs and arms, probably the clumsiest diver on the boat. A total of 34 different injuries were identified before he went off to take the mickey out of Philippe, our French-Canadian diver.

For our 3rd dive we moored up just off a sandy island called Gubal Seghir which is surrounded by the most beautiful turquoise coloured water. A couple of the guys decided to admire the view by staring at the thin tanned girl in the Orange bikini on the boat next to ours; as an engaged man I of course didn’t notice her.

Danepak, the term given to the other group of guys on our boat, seemed to be eager to get back in the water. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the group of scantily clad Italian female snorkellers that were now swimming our way; again, I barely noticed.

Dive 3 of the day – The Barge

The vessel was likely to have been a gun boat from the Egyptian / Israeli six day war in 1967, or possibly a barge from the Ulysses salvage operation. No one knows for sure.

Only the hull and some debris survives, but the wreck and the surrounding reef are home to many marine animals such as stonefish, crocodilefish, scorpionfish and George, the most famous Eel in the Red Sea. George is mammoth – his head is roughly the same size as Gladstone Small’s and has a body that seems endless.

Congratulations go to Kara and Wendy who have both now successfully completed their wreck and deep diver specialty courses.

Tonight about half the team went for a night dive on the same wreck & reef. The strong current helped to work up an appetite but was definitely worth it (apparently – I chose to enjoy a cold Sakara instead). The reef at night transforms into a playground for hunting lionfish, hermit crabs, shrimp, octopus, and of course George.

Come back to the site next Thursday to read the final part of the Oyster Diving Club trip report!

www.oysterdiving.com

Having worked as a Dive Instructor in the Virgin Islands, Thailand and Egypt, Mark returned to the UK in 2006 when he founded Oyster Diving. His principle aims for the new diving centre would be to appeal to the more discerning customer by offering the best facilities, having an integrated travel agency so customers can complete their dives abroad as well as in the UK. In 2010 Mark won Sport Diver magazines' 'Best Diving Instructor'. For more information on Oyster Diving, visit www.oysterdiving.com.

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Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 4

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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…


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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WIN an XDEEP Radical Frameless Mask!!!

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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.

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