Wednesday, November 30, 2011

LETS TEC!!

Hey ETD Readers!

I thought it was high time to talk about something dive related and close to my heart, so ETDers, Let's Tec!

Dahab is a wonderland of diving, a mecca for photographers, technical divers, divers learning to "go places, meet people and do things"...and dare I say it snorkel.. There I said it, and it's the only time I will - I will leave snorkelling and recreational diving reviews with Winnie. We all know what this post is leading towards, so lets chuck out the snorkels, leave single tanks on the beach and strap on some more equipment.




Diving in Dahab is easy, mostly from shore (unless you book one of the many camel safaris, or boat safaris that take you beyond the limits of roads, tracks and normal dive site entry points). Tec Diving in Dahab is what Dahab is Really all about. If you haven't done it, you will end up wanting to. Just a few days ago, Princess Suzie (part of NADs) asked me to take her on a "Discover Tec, but can we go to 50m and do proper deco, Gaffa?"... My response was obviously "choke, cough and splutter...laugh" but this just goes to show how the non-tec usually end up dreaming about this type of diving. A true wonderland. To technical dive in Dahab, you really wanna use one person: Tom Steiner. He is the (unofficial) Guru of Tec in Dahab, and anyone who is anybody in tec diving comes to Tom - we're talking Don Shirley, Peter Herbst, Pascal Bernabe, owners of several of Europe's bigger diving stores, the list continues. Tom Steiner is Swiss, and just as efficient as a Swiss Watch. He teaches with obvious depths of real experience, from the heart, from a depth of knowledge that initially overwhelmed me, then inspired me to beBETTER than I was being.

Tom Steiner runs a slick, professional dive centre: Dahab Divers Technical and it really is the positive talk of town. Tom runs Dahab Divers Technical with clear passion for diving and tec diving. He teaches diving programs for novice tec divers right through to running expedition tec diving for all other experienced tec divers. Yes he dives Open Circuit. Yes he dives Closed Circuit Rebreather also. His big thing is the relatively new Sidemount diving, which is something I was not expecting to love....but I did. If you're into tec, or want to be, Tom Steiner and his team are the One Stop Shop - you need look no further.

Dahab Divers Technical - The sign says it all.
Tom and I met on the internet, I was recommended to him by various people who "no longer do tec" in Dahab (Tom's tough competition). Tom approached me at the same time as I did to him. We discussed at length my objectives, and he explained my options - never once did he ask for money, deposits or credit card info. He and I arranged a meet and greet when I arrived in Dahab, and from that moment I knew he was the real deal. His dive centre is clean, gleaming and shiney new fill panels, organised tanks (filled, used and empty), a special area for twins to be stored, a special area for stages & sidemount tanks to be stored. The workshop is laid out like a professional engineer's tool room, everything has its place - a joy to observe. There was a customer equipment store/spare room and a local Egyptian staff member, mopping and cleaning around me - impressed? I was.

Tec is serious, and lots of fun too...
Tom runs DDT with his partner Audrey, who is the resident video/photo expert. If you follow their posts on Facebook, and You Tube you'll soon see the quality of the diving, thanks to Audrey (and some of Tom's) video skills. Audrey has a plethora of cameras, housings and edit software. Tom uses GoPro and Vee-Cam to take the deep videos.

After this meeting, I signed up. I have trained more here than anywhere in recent years - a learning experience to be proud of and a worn out credit card as proof! I have covered:
  • PADI Tec Rec Tec40/45/50 Instructor - Tec Deep - as a comprehensive Tec IDC
  • TDI Normoxic Trimix
  • PADI Tec Rec Tec Trimix 65
  • TDI Sidemount and Sidemount Instructor (including tec diving on sidemount)

Descending on my first tec teaching dive after certification.


"I've been a busy little frogman!"


So, before I continue, if you are interested in Sidemount take a look at Tom's other website:Technical Sidemount - which is what got me excited.

So... the diving for technical divers in Dahab IS phenominal. Forget Corals, Forget Fish, Forget Wrecks.....Think about Caves, Canyons, The Blue Hole and it's Arch... Think easy entry, think clip on your tanks and away you go. Into the blue, for you.

Dahab has more Canyons than I can recall or even talk about, but what I have seen here in Dahab has left me yearning to dive, dive, dive. If and when I leave, it will never be forever. I love the diving here too much.

I reached a personal milestone, twice whilst here in Dahab. I dived the "Arch" which has been something I've wanted to do since my last journey to Dahab in 2005/2006. I've dived the arch on air and on trimix. I've dived the Caves, deeper than that. I've enjoyed diving the FULL Canyon more than once, exiting and re-entering the canyon through the main holes (large enough for normal tec divers), and I've had fun squeezing thru holes in the same canyon (holes smaller than mosquito's backend) whilst tec diving on Sidemount, which is an added benefit of learning some new skills for sidemount diving. My favourites have been the Canyons, if you click the youtube link above you'll see me under the Blue Hole arch, which was a personal achievement...but still...Canyons have been my biggest exciting draw. The main Dahab Canyon, the canyon at Abu Talha, the 3 Valley Canyons and Abu Helal. Each dive phenomenal. Diving amongst the best tec divers around, supporting deeper tec divers, being involved in these dives have opened my eyes to a whole new level of dive safety, and team work.

Through the diving I have seen many gear configurations, many options I never thought possible. I have been privy to some very high level discussions about physiology of diving and I've been a student of diving once again....The experience has reminded me, learning is fun, exciting and rewarding - something we should never stop striving to do. Keep learning, stay fresh, stay current.

Tec diving here in Dahab spans from the depth ranges of the normal "mortal" in tec to the extreme (for those with a keen interest in depth). The Blue hole has dives from 40m to 110m, the outside of the hole goes even deeper.... Pascal Bernabe broke records diving to 330m with Tom Steiner a few years ago. Right now a Polish gentleman is preparing to go deeper still.. Dahab is the place for the serious to get serious. People like Pascal Bernabe and Nuno Gomes have dived here for that reason. I've stayed within the limits of my training, and I've been growing as a tec professional with Tom, at a nice pace. If I leave Dahab, it will happy for not pushing limits, but for having a new challenge to return to Dahab, and dive with Tom once more!

Diving here is warm, even when its cold! Temperatures on tec dives since August have been 28 degrees celsius to 20 degrees celsius, so a good quality wetsuit is appropriate for the diving I've been doing. The visibility is great, even when it's crappy! It ranges from infinite to 10-15m, with an average of around 20m...go figure. Warm water, good viz and a depth range to excite even the hardiest tec divers. On top of that there's interesting canyons, caves, deep reefs and the famous/infamous Blue Hole. Here's some of the only images I have of me tec diving, just to give you a taster.


Precise Buoyancy Control - An Important Skill for Tec Diving
Constant Depth Awareness - Important for holding long deco stops


Personally, I have had a favorite Dahab dive for many years, and until I succeed in Advanced Trimix diving, and push my limits with care and respect for my body, I have maintained that my favorite dive is still:

THE FULL CANYON

I love this dive, whole heartedly. I love the thrill of diving in the canyon. The pull of the elements, the sunlight beaming through the cracks in the roof, the bubbles working their way out of the cracks and from the sand surrounding the canyon. I love the euphoria that I get as I pass through the Canyon, past the restrictions and into the final chamber before exiting, at around 52m, and seeing that below me another pinnacle in my diving awaits me - Neptune's Cave sits at 75m, this is my next BIG thing for Dahab... that and working myself to 100m - clearly I'll be knocking on the door at DDT to continue my journey once more.

I get a lot from tec diving here in Dahab, things that make you stop and think. Seeing expert divers, technicians who are clinical in their own diving, professionals teaching high level tec diving - the whole package. It's inspiring, it makes me want to be. I've made friends here within this community, I've lost good friends from this community too (which is so sad). I've seen more than I ever dreamed of, and this is just the start of my next journey.

In the following post I will talk about each of the dive sites I have tec dived at. I don't have many photos or videos, so I will try to get some... I will also talk of my teaching experiences as a Tec Instructor....

What a cool Tec Diver? - Made from welded screws, bolts and misc metal bits...

5 comments:

  1. Thanks a lot for the great review, I enjoy working and diving with you, you are professional and just a nice guy to be with :-). So I can only highly recommend Gaffa if one day you want to employ him.
    Have a great day and thanks again.
    Tom

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gaffa,

    Very good review Sir - all well said.
    Fantastic to dive with you, Great photo :-)
    Keep up the good work

    Cheers,
    Tim

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks a lot for the review Gaffa :) Wish you the best for the future and safe dives :)
    Take care,
    Audrey

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for your lovely comments Tom, Tim and Audrey. I would love to dive with you all again someday soon. Take care and stay safe, please.
    GAFFA

    ReplyDelete

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