REDTEC PART 5: Considerably Sicker Than Andy

Routine was well and truly established as we approached the midpoint of the RedTec adventure. Samir was bringing me tea every morning, gases were checked, and then we enjoyed a healthy breakfast in the dining room before the first dive.

Our group of tech divers was really getting to know each other, and as a result the banter was flowing splendidly. I especially enjoyed the breakfast discussions between bunkmates Laura and Geoff. The pair had obviously dived together previous to RedTec, although perhaps not operated in confined quarters, such as our posh cabins.

It was soon apparent the completely 'laid back' Geoff, was prone to irritating the slightly more 'efficient' Laura. I especially enjoyed the tales of pee-valves decorating the sink, pants on lamps, and the crème de la crème; Geoff used the final square of bog roll, leaving a bare cardboard tube in his wake. 

All of these crimes were addressed over breakfast, much to the amusement of our table. Geoff appeared no more concerned, and simply beamed unapologetically to the dismayed Laura; the man is a legend.   

Paul Toomer always appeared slightly later than everyone else, seemed mildly disappointed as his boiled egg solidified in front of him, and promptly smeared it over himself; and most of the table. Despite being a world-class scuba instructor, the man reverts to the missing link when confronted with a boiled egg. 

Go figure? 

I was extremely excited about the pending trimix dive. I knew all the theory required, but was completely curious about sucking on the squeaky stuff at depth. I learned the term "squeaky stuff" from other trimix divers; I use it a lot now, I think it makes me sound very "tech" and hardcore.

Paul talked us through the trimix analyser and as directed, Kerri went first, me following. There wasn't much to it really, pretty much the same as a nitrox jobbie, only with an extra button, for the helium ... apparently.

The twinsets were marked up as 20/20 and all was set.


The Lara on the surface

Jim delivered the briefing on The Lara, the wreck that was the focus of the first dive. 

The Lara was a peculiar wreck. It was constructed in Germany in 1956 and struck Jackson Reef in 1982, but didn't sink in the traditional sense. As it sat on the reef, attempts of salvage were made. Somewhere along the operation, someone made wrong cuts in wrong places; this resulted in the middle falling out of her. To be honest, I still can't get my head around it.

In short, half the wreck is visible from the surface; the remaining half is lying 70m below.

The Lara was the only dive where our tech training, or lack thereof, was restricting what we got to see. 45m was the deepest we could go, which meant we could just reach the top of the mast, but that was it. The dive plan was just that; follow Jim to the top of the mast, skulk around for 25mins and deco on the reef.

Twinsets on our back, we made our way down to the dive deck and the helpful crew clipped our deco bottles onto us. The Blue Voyager was positioned in such a way that it had to reverse to the entry point, Jim having already jumped in and got a visual on where we needed to go.

By that stage we were standing upright on the dive deck, in twinsets, with stages, wearing dry suits, in the 30C morning sun. Somewhere along the line the big ship was having problems maneuvering, and we had no choice but to continue waiting ... standing.

Initially a few of us made some jokes to lighten the situation, "It's good we're not wearing steel tanks" and the like. 

A few minutes later it was silent. 

I am not completely sure how long the ship took to park, but as time progressed, oh so slowly, we all moved into our own private hell. 

The weight of the tanks was taking its toll. I had to reach and hold onto the side rail, almost doubling over, in a vain attempt to alleviate the weight on my legs. 

I failed miserably, and I began to wonder if I could cope much longer, at which point 2 things crossed my mind:

1. How the hell was Kerri still on her feet?

2. How the hell were the guys with 2 stage bottles still on their feet?

I raised my head and stared through the stinging sweat as it ran into my eyes to see Kerri standing in the middle of the deck. I was bloody impressed; she seemed in good shape, slightly bent forwards, but appeared to be coping.

I then noticed Andy with his 2 stages; he didn't seem happy at all, and was in fact making his way towards the side rail as he dripped with sweat. 

Finally we got the OK, chivalry went out the window, and everyone fought to get into the cool water that had been taunting us; obsessed with anticipation of weightlessness that would follow.

I think Andy summed it up best as we bobbed on the surface: "That's better than a shag."

The decent was pretty quick, and we were soon at 40m and finning towards the wreck. When I say 'finning towards the wreck' I of course mean following Jim towards where we hoped he knew the wreck was. 

To be honest, it was a bit of a swim. After 10 mins or so I was getting a little tired, but thankfully the wreck came into view. Kerri and I made our way to the tip of the mast, looked down to see the back of twinsets and rebreathers as they descend into the dark blue, as pangs of envy ensued.

The mast was cool though, so we hung around until our bottom time ran out, and then slowly began our ascent. Gas switches were completed at the 21m mark and all was well with the world. The best thing about technical dives in Egypt is there is something to look at on deco. The 25min obligation went in nicely as we gently drifted alongside the awesome reef, which caused the demise of The Lara.

We also met up with all the "deep divers" who had made it onto the wreck, and decompressed alongside Pat, Andy and Keith. I later learned they had quite an exciting dive of their own - something about 50 bar at 60m ... I dare not comment, but they 'Survived The Lara' shall we say ... ahem.

The trimix had been a great experience. It definitely felt like my head was clearer, but I found the biggest thing was work of breathing. Helium is less dense than regular air, which makes it easier to breathe, and so the big swim to the wreck was possible; I don’t think I would have made it on air.

For some reason when we reached the 6m stop my ears began to really annoy me. 

In hindsight I was dehydrated initially, and as the dive progressed the problem amplified. Jim and Kerri closed in around me when I signaled I was rather unhappy; especially when my head began to hurt. Jim shot up his smb, handed me the spool, and instructed I was to ascend 10cm at a time.

At 3m my stupid ears finally gave in and equalised to the reducing pressure around me. Thank Christ. 
Later Kerri explained she too was having ear issues, and we made a mental note to improve our hydration levels.

The rib picked us up and we were soon around the lunch table.


Our second dive was conducted on 'shit mix.' This was basically the dregs of the 20/20 with an air top, it was still a little squeaky, and I like to consider it another trimix dive; so there. 

It was quite a difficult site to locate, but thankfully Jim and Paul had scouted the area, attaching an smb to mark the spot. Kerri and I stuck to our established dive plan of "follow Jim" and descended 40m into the canyon.

The canyon was fantastic. Jim had stalled by the entrance, allowing Kerri and I to catch up. As I finned gently over I could see Jim pointing at something along the canyon wall.

My eyes fixed on a lead weight block, attached was a cable tie, which in turn trailed off to a slate; a slate with something written on it...


Oh for fuck sake.

Of course Kerri and Jim found this hilarious, of course I gave Jim the fingers, then promptly swam off to enjoy the canyon.

Slate No. 2

The remainder of the dive was very relaxed and highly enjoyable, what little deco we accrued was off gassed along the picturesque reef.

I surfaced to find Jim and Kerri laughing, at my expense of course, and the rib scuttled over to pick us up. I merely sighed, and shook my head at Pat, who bobbed alongside me.

The crew of the rib soon had our twinsets secured, allowing Kerri, Jim and I to hop in. As Pat was preparing to lunge over the inflatable hull, those aboard thought it appropriate to poke fun at the giant South African.


Me and Pat

Be under no illusion, Pat is big, and I mean really big.

I don’t think I saw him upright on the ship the entire trip; he was always doubled over to avoid doorways, overhangs, the ceiling, and the sun.

Not only tall, Pat also casts a decent shadow, for which reason I often sat beside him on the upper deck; as he made a smashing wind breaker.


Anyway, on the rib there were various comments about whales coming over the boat, walrus jokes, and if he would ever make it over the side. As Kerri, Jim and I sat on the far side of the boat, to act as a "counterbalance" to the big man, laughing heartedly at our continued comedy, Pat appeared to bend the matrix.

He was up and over the side of the rib in a heartbeat, and growled as he followed through in our direction. 

Jim squealed like a bitch, Kerri cried to the heavens, I simply gawked in amazement as the monolithic South African bear hugged us 3 little tech divers, lifting us clear off the rib, and sent us all crashing into the ocean.

It was very funny, and we made no further comments about the big whale with a dive school. (You can't get me now wind-breaker!)

For the second time we all boarded the rib and chuckled our way back to the ship.


After dinner Kerri was especially tired, and retired to our posh cabin to read inappropriate holiday books, focusing mainly on concentration camps. She does worry me from time to time.

I used the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing beer in the comforts of the sky lounge with some of the guys and gals. Big Pat was reading, Phil and Morty were enjoying a bottle of wine, Laura, Geoff, Ben and I chatted over beers.

A while later the ship began, for only the second time on the trip, to display signs it was actually on the open ocean. A little rocking soon turned into very obvious swells. I decided beer was no longer an option, but continued to chat away to Ben about GUE and stuff.

10 minutes later the deck was silent. I hadn't experienced seasickness too often, and missed the early warnings that should have signaled an early retirement. A further 10 mins and various items were clattering around the deck, and I began to feel extremely ill.

Laura had already made a dash for her room, whereas Ben and I were trapped.

It was awful.

I wanted to go to bed, but couldn't face movement of any kind. I couldn't even distract myself by talking, as Ben had gone rather pale, and rather silent.

I didn't even care that my precious new iPad was dancing around the deck of it's own accord.

Irritatingly, Pat continued to read, unaffected, and Phil polished off the bottle of red wine ... legendary behavior. His son Morty was less than happy, sharing my concerns as we both began to experience pins and needles in our hands. It was very peculiar, and very unpleasant. 

Generously, Pat also explained why i was feeling sick, along with a visual demonstration of a pendulum.

Another concern was Wifebuddy. Kerri is prone to seasickness at the best of times, and the fact that I was suffering, suggested she might in fact have been dead.

Finally the ship began to show signs of steadying, just as Jim stuck his stupid red face around the door, took a swig of beer, and explained the rough bit was over. Git.

I rose on my wobbly legs, spoke to no one, and sauntered off to find what was left of my wife.

When I entered our posh cabin the lights were out and it was dead silent.



I hit the lights, the room was empty. I was confused.

"Halp..." whimpered from behind the bathroom door.

I switched on the bathroom light to find Kerri wedged between the toilet and the wall, puke soaked towels gently folded in the corner; she always managed to tidy up.

Moments from death I managed to get Kerri, and myself, into bed and sleep finally took over.

Thank Christ.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7


  1. My favourite cure for seasickness goes like this:

    Take one oar.
    Place over left shoulder.
    Walk inland.
    Keep walking.
    When someone asks, "What's that on your shoulder," stop.
    You will no longer be seasick!

    Thanks Andy.



  2. I was most impressed being able to get PVT to flood his mask laughing when I showed him the slate in its hidey hole!
    Keep the reports coming fella :0)


Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!

Safe diving buddy.