The fun they had at TEKCamp

An awesome week of meeting the best UK technical divers and learning from them

Diving in The Red Sea

Warm water, clear visibility makes for a great holiday!

Malinbeg Harbour

Often, the simplest local dives are the best.

The Scuba Olympics



LONDON 2012


A few months ago i recall some fella, on the TV, running about with a big flaming torch thing. Even I, setting aside my lack of interest in all things sport, was able to comprehend it was related to the pending Olympics; affectinately known as London 2012.



I have to admit my interest was sparked, just a little, as The Games (it gets capitalised right?) was located so close to home; so close being a relative term of course, but closer than Beijing ... i think.


With my attention at it's peak, i took a good look at the 'Olympic Torch.' Upon closer inspection, i was a little disappointed. It's a bit modern isn't it? Don't get me wrong, i'm all about technology, up to date stuff, and anything with an "i" in front of it; but i just felt the torch was all wrong. 





The torch should be like one the used by Indiana Jones in Raiders of The Lost Ark; be a really archaic, rolled up piece of bark or parchment, filled with dried mulch, be lit in a cave by banging two rocks together; and finally handed off to the oldest man ever.



The old man would then begin the great race, coming to climax by igniting a giant petrol bomb and throwing it through the window of the Olympic shopfront.




Now that's an opening ceremony.




Perhaps a little bit too 'Northern Ireland' in retrospect.


TOO MUCH TV IS A BAD THING


When The Olympics were fully underway, it was impossible to avoid. My television was invaded by men in lycra leatards, and women with six packs. I found it rather intimidating.




That said, I got a little sucked in; and now it's all over i feel a void needs filling.




I watched a few bits and pieces; boxing, rowing, swimming, and surprisingly, i throughly enjoyed the archery; although a little absurd. I was expecting Robin Hood sorta shit, but the bows (and i use that term loosely) looked like an anorexic Decepticon; yet another Olypmpic failure. 

Although the whole Mo Farah thing really got me going!




A few days into The Games, the wheels came off completely as far as i was concerned. Some of the sports are a bit of stretch if you asked me; Ping Pong? Water Polo? Dresage? - are these really the sports of an Olympian?

The nail in the coffin was MENS beach volleyball. Never, since that scarring scene from Top Gun have i encountered such a penis-shrinking sensation.




It appears every sport under the sun is categorically an Olympic Event; apart from Scuba.

Regular readers of this blogish nonsense will know i have debated, "Is Scuba Diving a Sport?"; but yet again, scuba is cast aside, like the ginger step child of the sporting world.

Well; i'm not having it.



Bring forth - THE SCUBA OLYMPICS!




ARCHERY



Plenty of scuba divers are masters of the spear gun. Personally, i've never used one, but they look bloody difficult. I imagine that if a diver can hit a moving fish, underwater; tapping the stagnant, yellow 10 spot, on a glorified dart board, would be a piece of piss. 

With a strong historical success in spearfishing, AUSTRALIA take the gold. 



ATHLETICS



I appreciate Athletics encompasses a variety of things, but let's face it; it's mostly running. Yet of course the Olympics manage to sperate running into a million differenet events.

This could be applied to scuba easily.







100M - This is a pool orientated event over 2 lengths. Divers will opt for shortie, backplate only, and a single 7litre cylinder; to allow for fast movement through the water. Split fins will be a favoured piece of equipment also.

EGYPT take gold, as they dive like that all the time anyway.



10,000M - This is a deep sea event, in order to facilitate the span of the race. Due to the duration underwater, it is favoured by rebreather divers.

With all those rebreathers in the race, Kevin Gurr from VR Technology is the coach that every team wishes to have; and GBR take gold.


SAILING

Boating is a huge part of the scuba world. As much as i hate diving from them, the RHIB (Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat), it is an integral cog of a days diving. 

The sailing scuba race is a simple one, and is practiced on a weekly basis. We have all seen it; 2 rival clubs meet at the same pier on a Sunday morning, and what ensuses is a mad dash to the local shipwreck to secure the solitary mooring point.




Any diver will know that any local BSAC club will own a race of this nature, so GBR takes another gold.


CYCLING

Cycling is aggressive, fast, and all that, but in scuba we have one better; underwater motorbikes - aka the scooter.

Comparable to track cycling, the Scuba Olympic version is a similar oval layout, in which two divers, each equipped with the sought after Suex scooter, attempt a head to head race spanned over 3 laps. Competitors for this race are avid wreck divers, as they are used to flying around in circles in order to see every piece of wreck possible.




Jim Dowling was set for a win, but unfortunately his "scooter" broke down, and with some of the best scooter wreck dives being in NORWAY; they snap up the gold.



WEIGHT LIFTING

Lifting weight underwater is much easier than on land, all done with the aid of lift bags. I've never used a lift bag, but i always figured there was quite a technique to it. It's all about managing the air in the bag during the ascent; dumping gas at the appropriate levels, as the atmospheric pressure changes.

Unlike the land olympics, the Scuba Olympic weight lifting is a team event, in which a group of five divers attempt to lift the greatest weight possible.


USA, with their extensive quest for memorabilia from The Andrea Doria, took an early lead; but the unquenchable thirst for spidge from the Irish cannot be rivalled. Once the inverted oil drums, lashed to an entire wreck, were filled with several 15l cylinders of air, IRELAND had the gold in the bag.


DIVING

When it comes to the Scuba Olympics, the "diving" category refers to water entry. Entry includes the back roll from a rib, log roll, giant stride and so forth.

Points are awarded for clearing the shoreline, kit remaining in situ, remembering to have mask/regulator in place, and finally signalling OK to the shore cover.





A very popular event, as most divers can fall into the sea; however, due to the extensive shore diving in the country, Agnes Upton (Maltaqua fame) takes the gold for MALTA.


[I had the prviledge of meeting Agnes when taking my TDI tech course.]


EQUESTRIAN

I know, i know, there are zero horses in the sea, but we do have ponies. The pony event is very popular with older, heavily bearded gentlemen, with a fondeness for pies. Points are awarded for use of small ponies, creative attachment to the diver, multi-coloured hoses, and ingenius methods of routing the second stage.

Maximium points are acquired when a diver sucks their primary tank completely dry, and only switches to the pony at the last possible minute.




As exepected, BSAC club diver heroes GBR take the gold.


GYMNASTICS

Gymnastics is a display of elegance, control, finese and distinction. In short; buoyancy. In the Scuba Olympics, divers are encouraged to make fine adjustments to their bouyancy to naviagate hoops, tunnels, obstacles, and of course - never touch the silty bottom below.

PADI divemasters are often favourites for this event, due to their ability to simply hang in the water, keeping a watchful eye on instructors and students alike; but the Florida GUE cave divers secure another gold for USA.


SWIMMING

A whole new level of fitness is required for the diver that participates in a good surface swim. Most hate it, yet continually we see divers conduct the 'swim of shame' at inland quarries across the globe.

The rules are simple; the diver must scuba to the far end of the Olympic Quarry, planning their gas just right so they run out as far from the shore as possible. A rapid ascent must occur, followed by the long, hard, backwards swim to the entry point.




GBR looked good for gold, but the race isn't over until the diver exits the water, and unfortunately the British team had nothing left, being unable to haul their kit out. GERMANY take the gold. 


SYNCHRONISED SWIMMING

A beautiful sight to behold, the synchronise scubatics is simply mind blowing.

A group of ten students gather in a large semi-circle on the sea bed, facing one scuba instructor. The instructor always takes the lead, reaching slowly for the pimary regulator, removing it from the mouth, tossing it over the right shoulder, finally tracing the hose down to the second stage, and purging as it is replaced.




A graceful display from the PADI team gives USA a well deserved gold.


TRIATHLON

This is for the most accomplised and enthusiastic of scuba divers; often looked upon as the most difficult of all Scuba Olympic Games. The race begins at the divers home, where they must pack all their kit into bags and boxes, in order to be transported to the dive site.







  • Stage 1: All scuba kit, including cylinders, must be manually carried to the local bus stop. 
  • Stage 2: Scuba kit must be loaded onto the bus, manouvered to a safe area of the vehicle, then carried off in the same manner. 
  • Stage 3: Once at the local dive site, the diver must get changed into drysuit, don their kit, jump into the sea and conduct a recreational dive, as quickly as possible. 

Most divers fall at the first stage, taking their own car, and to be honest i have only ever heard of one diver to do such a mad thing. IRELAND take the gold.


I was going to design a scuba Modern Pentathlon; but i felt it was ridiculous enough as it stands.


THE RESULT


So there you have it; the definitive guide to how the Olympics could quite easily facilitate scuba diving. My only fear is that when Ireland finally hold the games we won't have the visibility, as the viz on The Alastor sucks; although the constant scooter crashes would be awesome viewing.


The Scuba Olympics was a close call, but amazingly GBR appear to be the clear winners; a sure sign this post is a piece of fiction; well not quite, as The Games showed.



Who is the scuba Mo Farah anyway?






Oh, and the closing ceremony consists of ale in the local pub. 



The End.







Did I miss anything?

TekCamp 2012: Part 1 - What Wifebuddy says


Most of my (many, many, many) regular readers will know; part of my master plan for 2012 was to attend TekCamp

TekCamp, of course, being the gathering of 12 top technical instructors, a load of tech divers that need improving, a quarry, a camp site, and 5 days of pure diving. TekCamp 2011 was awesome, and i purchased my TekCamp 2012 ticket the moment they went on sale.




Unfortunately, as with the best laid plans, work stuck it's big fat arse in the way, and ruined everything. I have to admit, i was devastated; i couldn't attend TekCamp after all.


However, being the wonderful husband i am, i granted Wifebuddy a weeks leave; and she went anyway.

So much for solidarity huh?






Upon her return, i figured; since she pissed off leaving me behind with the forever-shitting pretend French Bulldog, she could bloody well do a blog post.




So; i present to you my first ever guest post, by none other than; the one ... the only ... the forever neutrally buoyant ... WIFEBUDDY!!!




TEKCAMP 2012 

BY KERRI CLARKE



Leaving Andy and Mr Gibley (my beloved French Bulldog) behind in Belfast, I arrived with my 40kg of luggage at Stansted Airport. Having survived security checks, screaming children on the plane, and struggling to lift the ‘mini monolith’ from the luggage carousel, I was now waiting in the car park for Tara; who had kindly offered to collect me, and drive us to Tekcamp.



It was raining, and a weather warning had been issued for the South West of England; where Vobster Quay is located.


20 mins later, Tara and her 2000 Honda Accord ‘Taylor’ (long story, don’t ask) pulled into Stanstead; hugs followed, and we started to load my kit into the already packed car. 

By the time we had finished Taylor contained: 2 tents, 4 cylinders, 1 complete sidemount kit, 1 complete twinset kit, 2 drysuits, 2 airbeds, 2 sleeping bags, 1 duvet, 4 pillows, food, 2 sets of clothes and 72 carrot cake cupcakes. 




As we set off Tara declared that her ‘muffler’ (exhaust to the rest of us; she is Canadian) was beginning to go, and Taylor revved in confirmation to this. We headed down the M25 in the noisy beast, catching up on what had happened since we had last seen one another, and chatting about what Tekcamp was going to be like.



60 miles down the road it happened.



The curse of Kerri struck once again. One minute we were chatting away, the next Tara was nursing the spluttering, clattering Taylor onto the hard shoulder of the M25. The exhaust had fallen off.



I looked at Tara and said ‘Please tell me you have RAC cover?’ 


Yep’ she replied; and I breathed a sigh of relief.




The RAC lady said that we would be treated as priority because we were on the motorway but that we should get out of the car and sit behind the barrier. It was raining, but we took our chances.


40 minutes, 3 cupcakes, and one clever repair by the RAC man later and we were off again. Facebook had updated most people to our plight, but we phoned Trudy, who was already at the campsite, to let her know we were on our way.


When we arrived at the campsite several tents where already set up; Trudy had helpfully kept us a nice spot at the back of the field. Thankfully the rain held off long enough for us to erect our tents, whilst enjoying a quick drink and we waited on Linda. During that time there was more catching up to be done, and introductions to be made.

home from home


Once Linda was settled we all headed off down the pub for a drink and some tea. Following Andy’s difficulties last year, I decided at least one Clarke had to have a drink in the Vobster Inn.

Alas, I was also thwarted in my attempts, as it was closed. Undeterred, we headed down to the Talbot and enjoyed a few drinks.



Around 9pm we returned to the campsite, and retired to bed ready for the first day of Tekcamp.





Day 1


Tekcamp 2012 gave attendees two options:


  • Option 1 was to book 5 sessions with instructors, leaving time free to look around the manufacturers stalls, try out equipment, or go diving with their new buddies. 
  • Option 2 was to book 9 sessions with instructors, and spend the entire week in workshops.


I wanted the opportunity to try new gear, and go diving with Trudy, Linda and Tara; so I opted for the 5 sessions.

(c) BARDO Creative


Upon arriving at Vobster we sorted out our tag system for the week; allowing all our food and gas to be accumulated, and paid at the end of the week. I then went in search of the twinset I was hiring for the week.



Tim brought me into the compressor room and they were…



Twin 12 euro cylinders with a Halcyon manifold, filled with 32%. I was in GUE heaven. I quickly found a trolley (they are heavy big things) and started to set up my kit.

Slowly, all the other attendees and instructors started to arrive. Despite an increase in numbers from last year, the addition of extra kitting up benches in Vobster meant there was plenty of room for everyone.












After quick a quick ‘Hello’ to Jim Dowling, Paul, Toomer, Rich Walker and Jason Brown; event organiser Martin Stanton called us into the marquee for the first briefing.




All the memories from Tekcamp 2011 came flooding back.


MORNING WORKSHOP


On the first day everyone would be doing MOT’s which was basically a skill circuit in your chosen setup (twinset, sidemount or rebreather). I was with Paul Toomer with Graham Blackmore as safety diver. Tara was also in my group.




We met up with Paul and he ran through the skills we would be doing; which included a valve drill, S-Drill, mask removal and SMB deployment.



The first thing I noticed was, the briefing didn’t cause instant panic. Last year if more than 2 skills were mentioned I started to worry about how I would cope, and would have visions of floating to the surface. This year I was more confident in my buoyancy control, and ability to complete the required skills.

We all kitted up and met Paul in the water. As per the briefing we dropped down and completed the required skills with no major issues.





Following our debrief, and a bite of lunch, we attended two talks which included Rich Walker’s ‘Project Tiger’.



AFTERNOON WORKSHOP


That afternoon I was to join Linda and Vikki Batten for ‘Line Laying’



Vikki demonstrated a dry run of the skills on land, conducting various tie-offs around Vobster. Once we were confident, and had a good grasp of handling the reel, we jumped in to try it out in the Quarry.

Linda and I formed one team, and we had great fun completing our primary tie off, and then laying line through the concrete tunnels. We each had a turn, and then followed the line back with our eye’s closed. It was no Human Centipede, but it was fun none-the-less.




Vikki also concluded that Linda and I were awesome; and we headed off to the BBQ, which had the addition of free booze.



The evening talks were held at Vobster, rather than the barn of Tekcamp 2011, so we hung about for John Volanthen’s talk on Cave Diving in Spain. John brought a collection of cylinders, scooters and dry tubes with him, in order to demonstrate the sheer amount of kit that is necessary for extreme cave exploration.



Day 2


MORNING WORKSHOP


As I had completed 2 sessions on the first day, I was free to do as I pleased on Tuesday morning.



I immediately set about finding a buddy who would watch me complete a valve drill, as I suspected Rich Walker would be making me perform one to ‘Tech Pass’ standard later in the week.



Thankfully Steph was happy to jump in with me. Once I had stopped ogling Steph’s OSTC 2N, and Halcyon 21w HID, we ran through our buddy checks and got in.

We went for a bit of a swim, and I did my valve drill; which went well, bar the fact I turned my right post too tight and needed a bit of help to get it going again. The valves didn’t need as much force as my own!


Steph also completed a valve drill, and after mucking about around the plane, we both deployed SMB’s and ascended from 12 to 9 to 6 to 3 metres.




It was great fun todive with likeminded divers, and have a play Vobster. We got out and congratulated ourselves on being awesome.




AFTERNOON WORKSHOP


That afternoon I was back with Mr Toomer for a failures workshop. As Paul started listing the various problems we would be solving underwater, some of the anxiety started to creep back.

I took a minute just to remind myself I could manage them; I just had to take my time, and think about what I needed to do.









Paul stated he would point at various bits of our kit, indicating that it had broken, and we needed to deal with it. If it was a first stage, or manifold failure, we had to ask him if the bubbles had stopped; and, depending upon the answer, react appropriately.

At the end of the failure we would re-open all our valves, ready for the next drill.



In the 50 minutes that followed Paul failed: my second stages, my manifold, my left first stage, my wing inflator, and my drysuit inflator.

He then pointed at my wing inflate once again. As I stared at him, he grabbed it and started to inflate my wing. I started to dump gas from my kidney dump, and shut down my right post at the same time.


Only when my reg breathed dry did I remember to switch to my back up.






As I settled back on the platform I decided to give Toomer the finger, which he found hilarious, and then he began to torture Mark; by suddenly throwing the loop of his JJ behind his head and signalling out of gas.

As Mark dutifully donated his long hose, I thought it was clever that Toomer chose him and not me; I may have had to think twice!



Once we had deployed a SMB as a team, Paul sent his bail out down the line to Mark, and then an Ali 40 down the line to me; so we could experience what it felt like if you needed more gas to be sent down your line while on deco.


I did not like it.


Even with my arm stretched as far as it would go I was just waiting to get clunked on the head by a cylinder. Somehow I ended up with Paul’s Ali 80, and the Ali 40 clipped off onto me. The bastards then proceeded to let me swim them back to the exit point. Gits.



A lengthy debrief was conducted over tea, as Paul assured me he only inflated my wing as I had coped so well with the others drills. He also stated I should consider where my training was now going.



More tea followed, and I had a chat with Rich Walker about Project Baseline: Strangford Lough; and the work Andy and I had been completing for it.





EVENING TALK




The evening talk was from Phil Short on ‘20 years in diving.’



Phil had presented some of his crazy cave exploits last year at Tekcamp, but this years talk was very interesting; he started right back at completing his Open Water and ran through to the present day.

He had some fantastic photos, and great stories about his diving, be it in a cave or wreck, warm, or cold water.



I like Phil Short’s talks, but still maintain he is crazy.



So; 2 days and 3 workshops down, we headed back to the ‘moist’ campsite and indulged in a hot chocolate in Trudy’s tent.











I ARE DIVER says...

More of Kerri's TekCamp 2012 next week perhaps?