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Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2002
My trip to Dahab from January 05-12 2003:
My main purpose was to reach -50mt in CB. Right in the beginning I was awestruck when I least expected it: by the beauty of the Sinai desert. As I was flying into Eqypt, even before touching the ground I was overwhelmed by what I saw from the plane.

Within 10km up/down the coast of Dahab there are approx. 20 interesting dive sites of which the last two in the north are by far the most interesting ones (and only 200 mt apart): "Bells" and the "Blue Hole". What makes the Blue Hole so special? I would say it is a place of pilgrimage for freedivers. Not only is it spectacular, but it's coral wall serves as a shelter against the wind and waves from the ocean. It is offering perfect training conditions almost always.

To clarify: My last personal best was -45mt (CB) done in October 2001 in Croatia and this year is already my 34th year of freediving.

Because of perfect conditions (great buddies from germany, calm sea, good weather, I actually succeeded to -46mt, the next day to -47mt and on the last day to -51.2mt CB, right above the arch of the blue hole.

Interesting how I did my prep for the last one: instead of meditating and turning inward, I decided to inspect the blue hole, measuring the visibility. I took my little dive line (has 1Kilo of led on one end and a plastic-bottle serving as a floating reel on the other end). Each 10 metre-section of this line has another colour. I wrapped a white plastic bag around the weight at the bottom and lowered it down until it got a foothold on a narrow ledge at -27 mt from where the white plastic was still visible! That was part of my preparation before I started my breathe-up! This seemingly silly little ritual magnified my joy over this incredible place. The only thing I was counting on for my record dive: PURE JOY. Joy must not be underestimated, it provides incredible strength!

Then I went to the big line that my german buddies had put up in the meantime. It went down vertically, right along the inner wall of the blue hole, with the weight dangling in the blue nothingness right in front of the archway that leads to the open sea (starts below -55mt). Another rope, that was anchored to a rock in the shallow corals stabilized our diving rope and kept it from drifting. Then I did my attempt. Instead of looking at the rope on my way up, I chose to look at the coral wall passing by me. That was not only awesome, but it helped me to survive the dive without the help of the rope and still coming up "clean". The Suunto-Computer showed -51.2mt. I still can't believe I went so deep, I thought that would take years to happen. Nevertheless, had I only done rope dives, I would have missed a lot there. I am glad I took the effort and time just to slide down along the walls of the blue hole in a wild and unpredictable course. One of the nicest dives of my entire life was right after my record. I followed my little line (that was parked at 27mt) unassisted (no fins). At the bottom I felt so comfortable that I continued to -30mt looking down to the next ledge somewhere around a depth of 50mt.

One day I was diving with tanks at the lighthouse reef. SCUBA stations are very strict and don't allow people to scuba-dive without a guide. (Maximum depth: 30mt!) Because of my Brevet*** (3 star CMAS) licence I had the liberty to go by myself and take a buddy with me (was very cheap too!). During this dive I saw the greatest grouper ever: length: 1 Meter (depth: 40 metres)

The transport to/from the dive places afforded us breathtaking views into the Sinai desert and also across the Gulf of Aquaba towards the mountains of the arabian desert. The first reflected each sunrise, the latter each sunset in a spectacular, almost indescribeable way, taking on hundreds of different colours during the transition. (probably Ayers Rock in Australia has the same phenomena). I hope some of the pictures that I posted on my homepage give at least a remote idea of what I saw.

Room and board was incredibly cheap: (2 Euros/night for accomodation, 5 Euros/day for food). Dahab is still a place for trampers and hippies, although they slowly prepare it for mass-tourism. Pics from my "hotel" are also posted!

To sum up everything: I went there to pursue a freedive-goal and I returned in total awe of the beauty of creation around the Sinai Peninsular - below as well as above the water!

I would also like to express my thanks to Wolle (Wolfram Neugebauer) from Berlin who organized this trip to Dahab, and also to Christian Günther and Sebastian Petzet, who went right along with him. I would also like to thank Seddon Collier from Vienna, Austria for the great time we had together, SCUBA Diving. For the strangest reasons I didn't have a freedive-buddy in Austria for the last three years, except for my wife - waiting for me at the surface. She is an awesome moral support to me! Herbert Nitsch is very cooperative - however his crazy schedule (flying airplanes) affords him comparatively little time to dive - which makes his achievements even more remarkable. So far we were never free from our jobs at the same time.

Because of taking care at my family my time for freediving is limited to an average of one week in a year. Nevertheless I made substantial progress by applying the frenzel-fattah mouthfill-technique. It works wonderfully and made my trainingsweek worthwhile. It also helped Sebastian to improve his PB from -34mt to -44mt within a short week.

For those who are interested: The transcript of my record dive from a Suunto D3 to an excel-spreadsheet (first sheet: numbers and second sheet: chart): The dive was done with "normal" Cressi Gara 2000 and a Cressi super occhio mask. It was surprisingly slow, taking 2:04 instead of an expected time of 1:50.

I would also like to express my thanks to deeperBlue forum, that helps me to maintain a vivid exchange beyond the limitations of my geographical area with folks all over the world that share the same passion with me. I appreciate how people in this forum are willing to make an effort to share their secrets with others. At a recent seminar the definition of a mentor was given to me: someone passing on life's secrets. This is what is happening here! I also appreciate the liberty given to us as forum members. Even if I was not a freediver I would still enjoy it :D
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Great report Gerald. I miss Dahab, and want to return someday. Did you perchance run into our Austrian amigo Immerstlug (Roland) ?
Congrats on your new PB too.
Erik Y.
Thanks for the story Gerald and congratulations on getting that PB.

That's the sort of experience that just makes freediving so great for me. Lately, it seems that SCUBA just doesn’t compare anymore and I find myself drifting further and further away from it.

Can't say I miss it though, the freediving is just so good.

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Congratulations! The pics of Dahab brought back some great memories. Egypt is simply awesome!


Thanks for the input

Thank You all for Your responses. I am taking the liberty to quote Bill (author of Post: '64') from a recent private discussion, who has been at the game for 45 Years before freediving ever became popular:

2½ Years ago I felt like I had stepped into a time warp ....

Almost overnight there was so much information available about freediving. On one side it helped reaching a depth beyond my wildest dreams, on the other side I was reaching a place where I was torn into different directions. There I decided that I had to (re)define my personal values in freediving. Quoting Bill again:

Looking at 50 years of diving is very emotional ....

Is the pursuit of personal bests reconcileable with the pure joy of freediving? Yes, I believe, and this belief has been reconfirmed at my last freedive-vacation in Dahab. Soon after arrival my preoccupation with performance melted away in the beauty I saw there both above as well as below the water. Most of us can't describe the effect that the colour of crystal clear blue water with a seemingly endless visibility has on us. In Austria we would say: "Da haut's mir alle Sicherungen durch", rephrased in English: "that pops all my fuses". :D
There is a certain presence around Dahab that can only be personally experienced. My love for freediving has been definitely rekindled there.

To add to my original report: One of the first adventures I had there was a freedive through "bells", a dive-site only 200mt north of the blue hole. It is like a natural chimney with its upper entry at -22 Meters and the lower exit at a depth of -28 meters. My german buddy Wolle waited for me with his camera at -29 Meters, as I was passing through the tunnel, he also did that in one breath! Note that dive guides will recommend this dive site for a regular dive that requires the filling of a 10 Liter tank. The depth limit with a guide is set to -30m, so by taking scuba divers through "bells" they almost reach their limit.

@Eric: I forgot to mention in my original post: Yes, of course I met Roland (immerlustig). He is great fun to be with and it is a pleasure to watch him dive. He did a PB of -40mt while I was there. By now he may have outperformed himself already.

On a Good Friday I wish You all great diving experiences in the future that will always rekindle Your love and joy for freediving. Keeping it in that order will make progress and success inevitable.

I appreciate You all and wish you a happy easter!
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