Home Planet Blue rEvo rEvolution 2009

rEvo rEvolution 2009

In the summer of 2009 Paul Raymaekers of rEvo Rebreathers' went with his family to the ORCA Dive Club, Safaga, on the Red Sea. At the end of his holiday he was so impressed by the technical diving department he said with a smile, "Marc, I want to 'make my 200m one here". Marc smiled back and the two said goodbye for now. In September the "official" mail from Paul arrived in which he mentioned the 200 meter dive and even recalled the first time periods and individuals. Ok, who really takes seriously something they said in the summer, we thought. We answered and a little later everything became even more specific. Gas mix requirements and passenger lists were submitted, together with the threat of 20 rEvo divers arriving on 27 November who, among other things, would make the course with the Rebreather on 5 December and then the 200 meter dive.

Now everything was clear, and Marc and his staff Ahmed and Tom began making things ready. The special mixes for the three deep divers (Paul Raymaekers [Belgium], Pim van der Horst [Holland] and Marco Reis [Brasil]) were prepared (TX5/75 and 10/70), which we do not normally have available. The first bottles were labelled with names, checked for leaks and all gas mixes checked 3 times. Slowly, more and more bottles were coming into the workshop ...

The descent lines were prepared and marked, 2 decompression trapezes, 1 mobile and 1 stationary, as well as various
decompression habitats were also made ready.
The big day was approaching and we had to put in several hours overtime to ensure that everything was ready.

The journey went relatively well. Ok, two men missed their flight and arrived a day later. On Saturday finally everyone was here - in good spirits and full of beans! What was there to do? The schedule was that in the first four days they would make the instructor course with the rEvo and at the end of the course a trip to the Rosalie Muller was planned. Then on Thursday a test dive would be made at Panorama Reef with a dive-free day on Friday and the big day on Saturday!

And so it was. The courses went on late and you could see smoking heads at night. The test dives were completed, as planned, on the Rosalie Muller This called for an early start. We met at the dive center at 6:30 in the morning, loaded two pickups with equipment and stages, then set off to El Gouna. But it was worth it. Everyone was excited and we were able to test the mobile trapeze – it worked perfectly!

The big day was fast approaching. On Thursday morning, we set off on the “Amira Star" to Panorama Reef for the test dive. The plan was for the "Deep Diver" to go to 120 meters. The "deep" support team, consisting of Franc Robert (The Big Blue, Belgium) and Joel Gallien (IANTD, France), would wait at 100 meters, the 2nd support team with JP van Mele and Wim Vermehre (The Big Blue, Belgium) at 60 meters, and  then the Stage Monkey's, Tom Freibote and Stefan Weiss, both from the Orca Dive Club Safaga. 

The whole exercise was overseen by Marc Crane, the Surface Supervisor who made sure that the runtimes were strictly adhered to. For safety Ahmed Selim was used as a stand-by diver at the surface and was in contact with the divers. Everything went really well. Everything and everyone was well prepared and everyone knew exactly what he had to do. The only small fly in the ointment was that we far too late returning to the marina, which our friends from the Egyptian Coast Guard pointed out was not in the plan... "So we need to be better," joked Marc C. With these words, we discharged the boat and did nothing more except enjoy a wonderfully refreshing beer, because Friday  would be a dive free day and we in the Tek-Workshop could have an extra hour’s sleep.

The countdown had started. Everything was made ready and checked again; tanks, lines and plans.

In the evening Dr. Hossam Nassef from  "Hypermed" paid us a visit. He looked at our preparations, especially with respect to any potential diving accidents, and then gave us his blessing.

The boats were loaded at night so that in the morning we only had to go on board - that was the point which needed to be better! The boat left at 7:30a.m.The final plan was to use two boats, the "Amira Star" and "Alia 1". The "Amira Star" would set up the main decompression station fixed at about 20meters from the reef. Beneath the boat we would hang the main decompression trapeze with bars, reserve cylinders and oxygen at 12, 9 and 6 meters as well as the “shortline” to 50m. The “Alia 1" would be 40m from the “Amira Star "- this is where the dive would start. The 200-meter line, complete with “scooter parking" at 180m, was lowered into the depths. In the event of an accident the intention was to bring the casualty to the surface as quickly as possible and transfer them to the decompression chamber.

Saturday, punctually at 7.30a.m. both boats set off and about 1 hour later we reached Panorama Reef. The boats were moored in position near the South Plateau. "Everything okay?" asked Marc C. and then the lines were released. I pushed the 50-kg weight from the descent line into the water and the line ran out. After 150 meters was a short stop because here the Deepline and the Shortline are linked to allow divers to move safely through the blue water from the Deepline to the Shortline.

Ahmed from the "Amira Star" signalled that he was also at this point so the lines were allowed to continue into the depths. Suddenly a shock! The Deepline hit the sea bed at 192 meters! Our two experienced captains reacted quickly and the lines of "Amira Star” were eased out with 10 meters still to go. I signalled that the line was hung and we were ready to go. The decompression trapeze and zodiac had already been prepared.

Everyone put on their dry suits and took a deep breath. The Deep Divers and Deep Support Team lay their bottles on the diving platform in the right order and put them on in the water.

Then the Deep Divers and Deep Support Team went to 6 m for the "bubble check". Then came the next problem! Despite all the checks the bottle for Marco Reis’ dry suit was leaking from the regulator and had to be replaced at 6 m by the Support Team. But really everything was ok!

10:23 a.m: start the descent! After a few moments, Paul, Pim and Marco disappeared into the depths driving the three Dive-X-Scooters. Seven minutes later, the Deep Support Team began their descent. The goal was to meet in up with the other three in 17 minutes. It was a tense wait ... 17, 18, 19 minutes ... then finally the red lift bag appeared to signal that everything below was ok. 

The 2nd Support Team and the Stage Monkey's then prepared themselves because in the 40th minute they should be at 40m to collect the stages and gases that were no longer needed. This went smoothly. I dived towards Paul, who gave me a satisfied smile from inside his mask. I got a "double OK" and in answer to my question about the depth, Paul showed me his Shearwater - WOW: 211 meters! Paul signaled to me that the line where I had placed the markers had stretched.

We had a good laugh. Stefan and I, each with four 12 liter aluminum tanks, began the ascent, delivered everything back to the surface and then descended again to accompany the team for the rest of the dive.

We ended up without incident on the west side of Panorama Reef headed in the direction of the South Plateau. While everyone was carrying out the final decompression on the trapeze we had a lot of luck, two blue marlin came swimming by at 10 meters.

After 4:55 min. the three Deep Divers surfaced and were placed on oxygen for 10 minutes as a precaution. Everyone was very happy and pleased to find a large buffet lunch waiting.


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