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Freedivecamp in Dahab 2004: January 05-19

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Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2002
After January 2003 (see Post: 51.2) I had another opportunity to train with a group of committed freedivers from Berlin: Wolle Neugebauer, Erasmus and Jonas. Wolfgang Dafert and myself from Vienna, Austria met them in Dahab. Later, Andi and Nina from Bremen would join us. I really would like to express my thanks to everybody in our group, my diving would not have been as successful without them. Here are the details:

Accomodation: This time I lived in a little shack on the roof of Alaska Hotel. The wind was blowing thru the holes and sometimes I had to turn over my sleeping bag in the middle of the night. Nevertheless I slept comfortably for only a little more than 1 Euro per night. The Germans stayed in Seven Heaven, the place where Lotta Ericcson is residing at the moment. Lotta was also diving with us for a couple of days.

Transportation: We went to the Blue Hole every day. It is a 30 min ride over rugged terrain. Sometimes the driver wanted to demonstrate his skills to us and except for the front passenger all were violently shaken during the ride. We were splitting up a daily taxi-fare of 60 L.E. between the six of us, that meant only 1.20 Euro/Person at the present exchange rate. (1 Euro was L.E. 8.30)

Weather: it was not as sunny as last time. When the sun was out it was windy. We also had days that were overcast with no wind, the average temperature: air 20°, water 22°

My personal goal: was to reach again 50mt in Constant Weight. Due to the mouthfill technique I went a little over -51m in 2003. I was asking myself, if this was a freak dive that happended coincidentally or if it was possible to do that again. In spite of difficulties, such as a stomach flu and an irritated nerve that caused much pain in my back I was able to reach -49-50m on a regular basis in the second week of my vacation. Last year a dive of this magnitude would take me more than two minutes. This year I purposed to work on my fin-style and reduced it down to 1:40. I am very happy and content with that, so I don't resent the fact that there was no more time/energy left to improve in unassisted constant ballast, as originally planned.

This time we were better equipped than ever before.
1. We had a permanent Free-Immersion-15mm rope set up at the Blue Hole right in front of the Arch.
2. We had Wolles' rope for Constant weight
3. A tank filled with pure oxygen to counteract saturation from multiple deep dives. We placed it in a little raft close to our diving line.
4. Suunto D3 depth gauges.
5. A laptop to evaluate profiles of dives between training sessions.

The owner of the Camel Restaurant at the Blue Hole kept an eye on our free immersion rope. On top of that we could rely on him whenever somebody left a piece of equipment behind. Nothing got lost or stolen!.

We made a lot of valuable experience that is worth sharing. We mutually encouraged each other to disciplined diving. Three of us have had already competition experience and even though not all of us were training for the next competition, we were all zealous to accomplish safe and clean dives. Personally I became aware how easy it is to "unlearn" good diving habits, if things go well for a while and I became sloppy and too familiar. It is easy to get the wrong kind of confidence but I had to abandon it in oder to re-establish a certain respect, almost some kind of humility.

I am still pondering over cjborgert's remark: "I'm convinced freediving is totally counter-intuitive. Unlike every other sport I've ever done, the less I try, the better I do". I agree that there seems to be a paradox in depth-hunting. (Like in deer-hunting!). We have to wait patiently for the right moment and then strike. On the other hand we have to be well prepared (ie well trained) to take advantage of this few moments. I discerned when it was time for me to take a break, skipping two of my last three days without worrying. Sure enough my last day was an easy and relaxed day with great performances.

I had to remind myself to:
1. stay close to the line towards the end of the dive. (last 15 meters of ascent)
2. hold on to the rope after surfacing - say nothing and do nothing, just breathe until full recovery.

We implemented a new technique at the end of our dives. For the first time Wolfgang and I practiced "hook-breathing". It is taking a deep breath after a long breathhold and bearing down on it for a couple of seconds to speed up the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body as well as to force blood up to the head and to keep the O2 moving. Clinics teach it and it really helps to recover faster. It reduces the urge to breathe, diminishes the risk of Samba/BO and keeps the diver from ventilating frantically after the dive. Just search in DB (criteria "hook breath") to learn more about it.

Do I really wanna know how deep I am? On the last day I used the FI-rope for a CW-attempt. The dive was more relaxed, because the rope didn't have any meter-marks. I found it less disturbing NOT to KNOW how deep I am but rather concentrate on my equalizations.

Of course I took the time to enjoy the submarine environment besides deep diving. I did several freedives through bells (only 200m north of Blue Hole), a canyon that terminates into an almost vertical tunnel (chimney) located between -22 and -28 meters. I also did a lot of dives on the outside wall of the Blue Hole. I remember a particular spot with a gorgonia sitting at -34m/110ft. One day I purposed to dive 6 metres below it and to look at it against the light blue background of the surface 40 meters above me- awesome! We also visisted the famous Canyon where we did several freedives to approx. -30 metres while Wolle made some pictures of us.


Wolle: He exceeded -60m in Constant Weight and -65m in free immersion. Because of his initiative I enjoyed the benefits of a professional training camp for the second time and was able to improve substantially. We had such an amazing time together. Thanks a lot!

Rasmus: He improved his personal best from -38m to -46m to -52m and finally to -57m. They were souvereign and easy performances with the last dive slightly exceeding a dive time of 1:30 (monofin!). Congratulations! Rasmus exhibited great cooperativeness. Very often he would get wet only to secure somebody else. He was a great dive buddy that we could count on and also great fun to be with.

Wolfgang: He succeeded to reach -53m in free immersion and on his last day -50m in Constant weight, two new personal bests. Congratulations to Wolfgang!

Jonas: In spite of having clogged ears and some other illnesses for most of the time, Jonas made amazing progress. He never complained but always took advantage, whenever his ears would let him go further. On my last day He reached -37m in Constant weight without breaking any sweat. I just got an email from Rasmus where he told me about his successful free immersion dive to -45m and his freedive thru the bells. I guess without his laid back, phlegmatic temperament he would never have been so successfull. By the way, he is only 19 Years old. Congratulations to Jonas for two personal records!

Andi: Andi joined us in the second week. Encouraged by our company he succeeded do -37m in Constant weight and dared a freedive thru the bells together with Jonas. Remember that a freedive thru the bells requires a minimum depth of -30m! Congratulations to Andi!

Like last year I took advantage of the opportunity for a scuba dive with my buddy Seddon Collier from Vienna, Austria. This year we entered thru bells and proceeded along the outside wall for approx. 200 meters until we finally returned into the Blue Hole via the shallow entry. Sad thing about it: even though both of us were certified and experienced scubadivers (hundreds of dives done thru the decades) we were supervised by a guide who had just one year of experience, including his dive-instructor certificate. He was very apprehensive as he was shoving us along the wall of the reef. We didn't even resent the fact that we were limited to a depth of -30m, but certainly irritated that we couldn't move along such an interesting divesite at our own pace. Nevertheless this was one of the most beautiful scuba-trips I have ever made. To dive thru the arch with scuba tanks remains an unfulfilled dream that we will keep on pursuing next year. By now regulations in Egypt have become so strict that it would be easier to escape Alcatraz state prison rather than diving a site in dahab without a guide. Besides, it is the guide that makes scuba diving expensive. You may have to spend a lot of money to hire somebody that puts You under awkward limitations. There are at least two reasons for these restrictions:
1. too many unexperienced divers die every year
2. The government is overprotective regarding it's submarine environment. Understandable if tourists break off corals carelessly.

:) PETS: If You come to Dahab You don't have to take Your pet with You. In almost all of the restaurants a cat or a dog will hop on Your lap. Even though they are not owned by anybody in particular, animals are treated well and are very clean.

Have safe and pleasant dives
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Freediving Camp Continued: hiking in Dahab

As some of You already know from my homepage, I am a passionate hiker. Whenever I discerned it was neccessary to take a break from my freedive training I explored the environment and made two major expeditions starting from the Blue Hole.

The first one took me along the coral coast towards the north. The Blue Hole is 10km north of Dahab. From there I continued further north for another 10km, past Ras Abu Gallum, a Bedouin village (5km north of Blue Hole) until I reached a beautiful lagoon. It was a cool and cloudy day, good for running around and taking pictures. Close to Ras Abu Gallum I discovered a beautiful freediving spot: I only had my camera, a water bottle, two oranges, a mask and a snorkel, enough for this moment. I sat on a coral block with the deep blue below me, took a few deep breaths and started an unassisted dive to -25m, right from the edge of the reef.

For the second one I planned to go westward along the southern boundary of Ras Abu National Park until I would eventuall reach the Highway between Eilat and Sharm El Sheik. (Air distance from Blue Hole: 8km). I was able to cross the first mountain range (approx 600mt/2000ft high) but because there wasn't enough time I decided not to cross the second mountain range (approx 900mt/3000ft). However I was partially successful because I returned back to the sea by another way, reaching it somewhere between the Blue Hole and Ras Abu Gallum. Then I followed the coast towards the south for 3km until I arrived at the Blue Hole, completing this awesome and beautiful round trip.

Hiking on the Sinai Peninsular is very difficult, because inland there are no hiking trails, marked paths or direction signs.

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Nice Pictures Gerald.....Keep the good work amigo



I submerge with the One that for many years I didn't know "My Creator." Each moment now feels so excellent and divine, and He himself with His peace invites me to continue...
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