Having successfully migrated to the bed we both struggled a pretty miserable nights sleep, and the morning didn't bring the relief we dearly longed for.
When I surfaced I have to admit I didn't feel great. Wifebuddy wanted to die. I felt for her, but I also felt for myself, as I questioned as to whether or not we would be able to dive at all.
The results were:
- Once upright, I felt like poo. That said I didn't feel like I was going to vomit on myself, and after a little wandering I started to come around; a bit.
- Wifebuddy was out of action completely. Kerri managed to make it to the breakfast table, but once she caught sight of the grub it was all over, and a swift exit followed.
I force-fed myself a pancake and attempted to stay hydrated, although even fluids weren't sitting the best. To be brutally honest, by that stage of the trip my belly had kind of gone to pieces.
I love the hot weather, but unfortunately my body does not. Dehydration is an outright hazard when on a dive holiday, and more so when technical dives are involved; and I was pretty concerned about it.
I mentioned it to Paul and he immediately prescribed rehydration powders, which I didn't have, so as with everything else that I wasn't sure about; I went to Jim. Minutes later I was presented with some horrendously, revolting, orange "flavoured" sachets of vile; apparently they were the 'nice ones.'
Temporarily hydrated I went back to the posh cabin to see how Wifebuddy was holding up.
It turned out Kerri had resorted to the sundeck, where fresh air had stabilized her slightly, but it was immediately apparent no diving would be happening.
Being the loyal husband, I got her a drink of purple juice, and then quickly scarpered off to find a new buddy.
A quick scan of the dive deck revealed everyone had there own buddy systems in place, and I didn't want to interfere with dive plans; the solution was simple - ask Jim.
I found the ever-reddening Brit and informed him Kerri was useless to me. He showed brief signs of concern for Kerri, and then grimaced as I explained I would be using him as a buddy for the day.
I knew deep inside he was joyful, and keen to learn from such a 'shit-hot' diver as myself.
THE ROSEALIE MOLLER
Everyone, except Kerri, gathered in the Sky Lounge for the dive briefing on The Rosalie Moller.
|(c) Shipwrecks of Egypt|
The Rosalie Moller is a sister ship of the famous Thistlegorm. It was bombed by a German airplane (Heinkel 111) and sunk in October 1941. The vessel is 108m long, 16m wide and sits on the seabed at around 50 meters; hence it is a dive only for experienced divers with a special license. Her masts reach up to 17-18 meters of depths, leading down to the decks at 35 meters. Much of the deck equipment is still in place, as are handrails and ladders. The ship's funnel is broken and lying over on one side, complete with the 'Moller Line' emblem on it. The bridge is easily penetrated, but the helm and all equipment have long since been removed.
Jim and Paul gave a super thorough briefing on the wreck, and promptly scared the crap out of us all.
Penetration of the wreck was obviously quite popular, but the condition of the ship made the prospect less than appealing. Paul explained "rusticles" formed on the wreck, a kind of icicle made of deteriorating metal, and made the visibility extremely challenging. It appeared, even with the most awesome of diver control, disturbing said rusticles was inevitable; hence the poor viz once inside.
The usual story followed: divers penetrating the wreck, disturbing the rust, becoming horrendously disorientated, and subsequently getting trapped; climaxing in dying a horrible lonely death.
I was completely put off any thoughts of entering the wreck, and even if Jim decided to have a look, I wasn't going in after him.
Buddying with Jim was very cool, although I have to admit I was a 'little' intimidating. I mean, the guy is a technical instructor and it would be almost impossible for him not to check out my skills on a dive. I was certainly curious, perhaps a bit nervous, but looked forward to the dive.
Kitted, checked off, my new buddy and me jumped in and descended 45m to the wreck below.
Upon reaching the wreck it was clear the site was very different from the other locations we had visited to that point. The visibility, although still good by UK standards, was a lot milkier than I expected.
A few others had signed up to The Dowling Party, and Jim led us around the wreck. Within a few frog kicks we appeared to have been heading in the direction of 'inside' the wreck. I was confused; Jim said we would die in there?
Needless to say, we all followed Jim regardless.
Within seconds of swimming through a damaged piece of hull, Jim had disturbed the rust; he's so shit. It was immediately clear why full penetration was a bad idea.
It was as if a tea bag had exploded in front of my eyes. I could barely decipher Jim's black fins, but I locked onto them like a homing missile and attempted to keep up.
I was perplexed.
I needn't have worried.
Within minutes we had exited through another tear in the rusted metal, and were back in the relative clarity of open water. I later learned that everyone else in The Dowling Party had finned around the outside, as by the time I got through, the vis was zero.
In truth, it wasn't really inside the wreck at all, just in and out of the twisted hull; a valuable experience nonetheless.
The rest of the dive was pretty much business as usual, and I really enjoyed the wreck. It did remind me of a UK dive for whatever reason. I think it was the combination of heavy silting and the duller visibility; well, that was until a clown fish attacked me!
The fallen funnel was especially cool, a giant embossed 'M' still visible, although Jim still felt it necessary to point it out to me; perhaps he had flashbacks of me not noticing the guns on The Thistlgorm? Who knows?
Bottom time done, we were soon ascending the shot line and switching to the deco bottles. Jim signaled he wanted me to switch first, I obeyed, he followed under my watchful eye, and the 28 min decompression obligation began.
It was soon apparent Jim got bored easily on deco, and I began to wonder how he amused himself on the stupidly long exploration dives he had been privy too. Various verbal attacks via slate took place, along with a failed attempt to kill me.
Perhaps “kill” is an exaggeration, but only mildly. Jim later explained he wanted to see how I would react to a deco gas regulator free flow, so he purged my reg ... that was in my gob at the time.
It led to an interesting discussion back on ship, and a rethink of my gas switching procedure.
After lunch I had a brief flashback I brought my wife aboard, so I ventured off to look for her. Kerri had sought solace in the posh cabin and was sleeping off the sickness, along with an inappropriate collaboration of anti-sickness pills.
I left her to it, and sloped off to prepare for the second dive on The Rosalie Moller.
Despite trying to kill me, I had no option but to dive with Jim again. Most of the guys didn't bother with a deco bottle, but I had a fair amount of 50% left, so I figured I might as well use it. Jim and I agreed we would end the dive once we hit a 20-minute decompression obligation.
I was getting very comfortable with decompression diving by that stage, which pleased me greatly. On the first few dives when my computer explained I couldn't surface for 27 minutes, it felt a little weird to know if I kept on ascending I would get bent.
The tech diving thing was beginning to feel normal - splendid.
The second dive was even more laid back than the initial effort, and Jim decided he would amuse himself further, at my expense; of course.
I didn't really know what was going on at the time, but hindsight, and a dive debrief, gave me the accurate account of proceedings I have now.
I recall finning along the deck, minding my own business, taking a few bad photos, enjoying all the beasties and various parts of the wreck.
At some point I did recollect 'feeling' something strange, but couldn't put my finger on it. After said 'feeling' I also noticed an increase in ‘OK’ signals I received from various other divers, for the entirety of the bottom stage.
Jim seemed to disappear occasionally during the bottom phase as well, I knew he was guiding, and there were plenty of our team around so I wasn't massively concerned; but I sensed something was going on.
Photos later emerged displaying a spool connected to my manifold, and a very amused Jim Dowling on the other end; effectively using me as a scooter to drag him around The Rosalie Moller.
Of course everyone else found this amusing too, hence all the OK signals and constant photographing. It may also have been caught on video camera.
I regret to use the term, but Jim Dowling "scootered" me.
All the tomfoolery interfered a little with the dive plan, and a few of those without deco bottles had to do a little begging on the shot line, and 50% stages were rotated.
Jim and I conducted our switches, and then he finned about annoying various other divers on the shot line.
BEN? WHERE ARE WE BEN?In the mean time I buddied up with Ben, as he asked me to watch his switch, which I watched a little too closely.
By that I mean, when I rose my awareness back to where it should have been, we had drifted completely out of sight of the rest of the group. I are useless.
A little mental slapping ensued, and then I signaled to Ben we needed to stay together, as we were now the only alternate gas sources for each other. Ben signaled he was damn happy with that arrangement, and we stayed bloody close together for the pending 20 minutes.
The deco was slow. Not only was I mildly concerned as to our location, but also we were also completely swamped in jellyfish.
We kept out hands tucked in and kept signaling and shouting through our rags every time a jellyfish drifted near our faces; it was a bit mental, but kind of funny.
What was more amusing was the jellyfish turned out to be stinger-free.
Just as I was about to shoot an smb a rope drifted into vision. Thank Christ.
Just as I was about to shoot an smb a rope drifted into vision. Thank Christ.
I pointed enthusiastically towards the line. Ben didn't need any encouragement and we completed our deco within spitting distance of the shot. The strange thing was that no one else was there. I soon established the only valid explanation was we were on the wrong shot.
I figured, worst case scenario, we would board the wrong ship, radio Tall Poomer, and he would get Samir to come and get us. Perfect.
"This isn't our boat is it?" I confessed.
"I dunno" Ben contributed.
A moment later I spied the name, 'Blue Voyager.'
"We're dickheads" I proceeded; "We're on the bow shot line!"
We gave a celebratory laugh, and drifted down to the stern, where the rest of our gang were exiting up the ladders.
I stuck my head below and spied Jim at the 6m mark blowing bubbles, still amusing himself apparently. I gave him a quick OK, which he saluted; and I left him to it...
Well, he did scooter me!
... and look what he did to my Helitrox certification!
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7