JULY 2004
Photo Gallery

The wake up call came at 05h00 on 23 July 2004. It is time to get up. I have slept well. The team assembled in front of the Planet Divers’ compressor room at 05h30. Today is the day!

The equipment had been taken to the Ganet Sinai boat on the night of the twenty first. It had stayed on board the boat all the previous day because high winds had prevented us from diving. Today, all we had to do was to cast off. We travelled to a point four nautical miles off-shore, somewhere between Egypt and Saudia Arabia. This did not take long. Theo and Krzysztof together with the crew members deployed the weighted floating shotline. Theo performed the important role of communication support between deck and bridge as there are no two way communication devices.

Craig and Lenné assisted my kitting up process. Gareth and Zbyszek assisted me as I entered the water and guided me to the shotline. I started my descent at 07h00. I glanced down. It was fifty metres visibility and the shotline disappeared into the achingly blue water. My destination was 320 metres away. I used my first travel mix down to 70 metres. The second travel mix was used down to 160 metres, and then it was the bottom mixture. All went well until I had a technical problem at 271 msw. The dive had to be aborted. At this point I switched to my bail out system, which worked perfectly on ascent. I arrived at my first scheduled deco stop at 190 metres. I had been 2 minutes or 49 metres away from my target depth of 320 msw on 11 minutes of bottom time. This seems close, but it might as well have been the moon. It was not meant to be.

At the 190 deco stop I had already decided to complete the full decompression profile and spend 10 hours 45 minutes in the water. This profile had been designed for a much deeper dive. Psychologically I had already accepted the long decompression profile. Now I wanted to gather information and learn what the potential problems might be, when I returned to do the record dive in the future.

A silhouette defined itself from above. Pieter’s face was the first to appear at 120 metres. I had been on my own for the last 35 minutes and it was comforting to see the first support divers appear. Pieter deployed the signal buoy that would be the first communication to alert the team and crew on the boat that I had begun the ascent. Gareth delivered stages at 60 metres and supported me at this depth until further support arrived. Lenné was the next support diver. She supported me at 45 metres followed by Artur and Zbyszek at 35 metres. Craig at 30m, Boguslaw and Krysztof at 20m, Craig and Gareth at 12m, Ryszard and Stewart at 9m.

I spotted the oxygen tree a few metres away from the main shot line. The oxygen tree resembled a hanging trapeze and it had been constructed by Theo while we were in Egypt. Three thick horizontal parallel bars were hung at 9m, 6m and 3 metres. The oxygen tree allowed me to hang more comfortably in the water while I decompress. I transferred from the vertical shot line to the horizontal oxygen tree. I knew the surface was tantalisingly close but, despite being at 9 metres, I still had half the dive before me – five hours! For deep divers this is an integral part of the dive, but it still requires discipline. I was supported on the oxygen tree by Ela, Zbyszek and Lenné. Craig and Gareth alternated as surface support. After ten hours I was getting tired. I looked up and blinked. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Two Bedouin divers complete with red tea towel headgear were finning past at 5 metres. Craig and Gareth were in flowing white Arabian robes and putting on a cabaret! They disappeared. Ten minutes later they appeared again wearing a red Fez hat. I smiled. More sea water seeped into my mouth.

Hermie managed timekeeping and co-ordinated the support divers. They had to enter the water timeously. The support divers provided me with fresh cylinders and transferred my exhausted stage cylinders to a rubber duck. The conditions were too rough to attempt to transfer cylinders directly to the Ganet Sinai. Leszek, Krystof and Boguslaw assisted Theo, Krzysztof, Pieter, Gareth and Ganet Sinai crew members in recovering the floating weighted decent line. Stewart, Artur and Krysztof were the underwater cameramen and John-Wesley the surface cameraman.

Yes, I discovered a few new problems on my third dive below 250 metres. Sea water does not taste good. Every time I drank the energy drinks provide by GNC some sea water was also taken in, this together with the motion of the floating deco line (the wind had picked up considerably) resulted in vomiting 5 to 10 minutes after having taken any liquids. This and the fact that I had not eaten for nearly 24 hours caused dehydration. Eventually after 10 hours 45 minutes it was time to surface not with a World Record but with a New Red Sea Record. It had been a tough dive. Back on board I climbed out of my dry suite. I recounted my adventure to my support divers and the crew on the boat. Hermie decided to re-hydrate me with a saline drip. I did not feel cold but was drained of energy. Needless to say I slept well. After 24 hours I was well rested. The following evening the team gathered at one of our favourite restaurants in Dahab. We celebrated our new accomplishment and my new record under clear skies.


The Red Sea expedition was hosted by Planet Divers (Dahab) in Egypt from 12 July to 26 July 2004. Planet Divers offers excellent accommodation and diving facilities to divers. It was a challenge to set up a deep diving record to 271 msw in just 12 days. It was my first time in Egypt, as it was for my team. The record would not have been possible without the help of the following divers:


NUNO's TEAM

Pieter Venter
Dr Gareth Lowndes
Lenné Foster-Jones
Craig Kahn
Dr Hemie Britz
Theo Van Eeden

PLANET DIVERS DAHAB TEAM:

Dr. Peter Pszek
Zbyszek Stychno (Zibi)
Nevine A. El Ghany
Krzysztof Hrynczyszyn (Junior the master gas blender)
Artur Pazzi (Cameraman)
Ela Matuszewska – Benducka
Mohamed Ragab
Shaban Mahmoud

DR LESZEK CZARNECKI’S TEAM:

Dr Zdzislaw Sićko
Krysztof Sternewski (Cameraman)
Ryszard Paluszkiewicz (Eques)
Boguslaw Ogrodnik

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TEAM:

John-Wesley Chisholm (surface cameraman)
Stewart Dowds (underwater cameraman)

GANET SINAI TEAM:

Captains and crew of the Boat Ganet Sinai



It was a memorable expedition even though the target depth of 320 msw was not achieved due to technical problems. In retrospect 271 msw is quite a depth for a first attempt, a sea record and my deepest sea dive thus far. Besides the invaluable manpower which was provided by all the team members the sponsors are also thanked, for without their support this expedition could not have taken place.




THE FOLLOWING SPONSORS ARE THANKED:

Dr Leszek Czarnecki (Poland)
Planet Divers, Dahab (Egypt)
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)
Dr Adel Taher - DAN (Egypt)
Dr Hermie Britz – DAN (South Africa)
Dr Zdzislaw Sićko – DAN (Poland)
POSEIDON (Sweden)
BAUER (Germany)
VR3 (United Kingdom)
TUSA (Japan/South Africa)
CASIO (South Africa)
TRIPLE-L (United States of America)
GNC (South Africa)
AFROX (South Africa)
SAMSUNG (South Africa)
SIGN-A-RAMA (South Africa)
TOPROPE (South Africa)
ALTERNATIVE DIVE SUPPLY (South Africa)
SHARKY’S STAINLESS (Holland)
AGFA, FUJI (South Africa)
DURACELL (South Africa)
AQUA DIVERS INTERNATIONAL(South Africa)
ZERO (South Africa)

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