One year ago the team was in Dahab, Egypt but on that day Nuno returned not with a World Record but with the Red Sea Depth Record of 271 metres. He vowed to return to prove that the impossible could be done successfully and safely.
Planet Oasis provided the team with excellent accommodation and Planet Divers supported the expedition once again, delivering excellent technical assistance and providing gas blending.
Build up dives started the day after our arrival. At first it felt good just to be back in the warm, clear Red Sea waters. We however realized that this was not a fun trip. The Blue Hole however offered some relaxing and challenging dives.
Later the dives started becoming intense with build up dives planned, in the big blue and using the shot line, the NABQ Explorer provided an excellent platform - 4 kilometres offshore. The first dive was planned to 82 metres that dive was followed by a 107 metre dive the day after. In the following days, deeper dives were done leading up to a 152 metre dive on 06 June.
The 152 metre dive was really a “practice dive” for the world record dive that would follow. Everything was checked and rechecked. The teams’ rehearsal went as planned with only minor adjustments. A little tweak here and there and all were set for the big day.
Nuno had set aside three possible days on which the dive could be done, leaving a window period of at least three days in which to clear of all nitrogen and helium before the flight back to South Africa.
Team discussion meetings were arranged for the following two days. Nothing was left to chance and no question left unanswered. Everyone knew exactly what role they would be performing on the day of the dive. There was no room for error, Nuno’s life was at stake!
08 June, the wind started picking up and conditions didn’t look good. Nuno decided that the 9th was out of the question for any diving, but the day was not lost, the team packed the boat in readiness for the next day the 10th or 11th depending on the weather.
10 June, the team met at 04h30. The NABQ Explored had to depart by 06h00 at the latest, in order for Nuno to be in the water by 07h00. That included finding the predetermined location using the GPS coordinates, four kilometres off shore, the 30kg weighted shot-line was dropped, with additional stages for decompression deep down as deep as 180 metres and the signed tags one of which Nuno would have to retrieve and surface with to prove his record.
It was time to kit up and Nuno donned an Eques inner garment and Poseidon Dry Suit. He needed to sit at the stern and the team assisted him with his equipment, ensuring that the correct cylinders were clipped on to his sides. Final checks were made. The knife on Nuno’s arm was in place, the knife would provide a location on which to clip the tag (the handle had a perfect hole).
A wave to the support team and film crew and then it was time to go... he inserted the regulator in his mouth and gave the go-ahead nod. The team assisted him into the water and support divers flanked him swimming over to the shot line as the boat motored out of the way.
07h03 Nuno started his descent………
Pieter Venter kitted up and he and his support diver Joseph Emmanuel entered the water approximately forty minutes after Nuno. Pieter would be the first to know of Nuno’s fate at 124 metres.
45 minutes into the dive, as prearranged, Pieter deployed his red surface marker buoy. Pieter had the tags “Alert”, “OK” and “World Record” with him. Aboard the NABQ Explorer (the main boat), The Dive Boat (the second boat) as well as the Zodiac the team was anxious to know about Nuno’s wellbeing.
Theo van Eden scrambled into the Zodiac from the main boat and retrieved the marker buoy which he held up for all to see, the tags “OK” and “World Record” were displayed as the Zodiac passed by, the team was relieved and elated.
This marked the start of a gruelling decompression marathon that would last further 11 hours and 35 minutes. Support divers assisted Nuno in relay one arriving with full cylinders – and the other one departing with empty – cylinders as directed by Lenné aboard the main boat. The team medic Sean French checked up on Nuno at regular intervals ensuring that sufficient liquid was consumed during the dive to prevent dehydration.
From 9 metres Nuno moved over to a decompression trapeze designed by Theo and deployed and towed with the aid of scooters by Andrzej and Zbyszek.
Nuno surfaced at 19h16 utterly exhausted. The reality of the dive had not quite sunk in yet.
In his own words "318.25 metres/1044 feet (321.81metres/1056 feet with rope stretch) I still can not believe it!!! Well I have done it, with the assistance of my team”, what is more I can prove that I have done it, we were fortunate to have many independent witnesses who have testified to the authenticity of this dive.
It was not easy, no world record is, it was my second try at the sea record (also the last one) I was not prepared to have another go at it, even if I had not been successful this time around; it is just too much work not to talk about the cost.
Why 318.25 metres (1044 feet)? The answer is very simple. Going any deeper would have meant my death. I would go no further, the High Pressure Nervous Syndrome (HPNS) was so bad that my whole body was going into convulsions and I barely could do the necessary to return from that depth. I was in danger of loosing the regulator out of my mouth and I was not sure I could retrieve it and place it back in my mouth”.
While relaying his experience of the dive back on board he was simultaneously intravenously re-hydrated.
The entire Dahab greeted Nuno on our return to the harbour. Greetings rang out and everyone rejoiced. Nuno was hurried back to the hotel to be checked by Dr Adel Taher , Dr Zdzislaw Sicko and Sean French. He was given precautionary Oxygen for one hour after the dive and two hours later he was hungry.
Without the support of each and every sponsor and member of the team this record would not have been possible. Our gratitude and thanks goes out to every person who contributed to making Nuno’s dream come true!
Nuno thanks and salutes you!
Nuno decided to use his Poseidon Cyclon 5000 regulators on both his main quad configuration cylinders as well as his side slungs. Special oil filled and glass toped Poseidon SPG’s were used on all deep regulators. 9 different gas mixtures were used on the dive which consisted of Oxygen, Air, 3 x nitroxes, and 4 x trimixes. Nuno used nearly 90 000 litres of gas.
Lenné Foster-Jones - Surface Marshal
Jurek Blaszczyk - Support diver
Nevine A. El Ghany - Administration
Shareen Der Parthogh - United States of America
Dr Adel Taher - DAN Egypt