RED SEA SURRENDERS WORLD DEPTH RECORD (318.25 MSW /1044 FSW)

Autor: Lenne Foster-Jones

07h05, 10 June 2005. Nuno Gomes had minutes before started his descent to do the Deepest Scuba Dive in the Sea. It would be 40 minutes before his first support diver Pieter Venter would know his fate… One year ago the team was in Dahab, Egypt but on that day Nuno returned not with a World Record but with the Red Sea Depth Record of 271 metres. He vowed to return to prove that the impossible could be done successfully and safely. Planet Oasis provided the team with excellent accommodation and Planet Divers supported the expedition once again, delivering excellent technical assistance and providing gas blending. Build up dives started the day after arrival. At first it felt good just to be back in the warm clear Red Sea waters. We however realized that this was not a fun trip. The Blue Hole however offered some relaxing and challenging dives.  Later the dives started becoming intense with buildup dives planned, in the big blue and using the shot line, the NABQ Explorer provided an excellent platform 4 kilometres offshore. The first dive was planned to 82 metres that dive was followed by a 107 metre dive the day after. In the following days deeper dives were done leading up to a 152 metre dive on 06 June. The 152 metre dive was really a “practice dive” for the world record dive that would follow. Everything was checked and rechecked. The rehearsal went as planned with only minor adjustments. A little tweak here and there and all were set for the big day.
Three days in which to clear of all nitrogen and helium

Nuno had set aside three possible days on which the dive could be done, leaving a window period of at least three days in which to clear of all nitrogen and helium before the flight back to South Africa. Team discussion meetings were arranged for the following two days. Nothing was left to chance and no question left unanswered. Everyone knew exactly what role they would be performing on the day of the dive. There was no room for error, Nuno’s life was at stake!

08 June, the wind started picking up and conditions didn’t look good. Nuno decided that the 9th was out of the question for any diving, but for the day was not lost, the team packed the boat in readiness for the next day the 10th or 11th depending on the weather. 10 June, the team met at 04h30. The NABQ Explored had to depart at the latest by 06h00 in order for Nuno to be in the water by 07h00. That included finding the predetermined location using the GPS coordinates, four kilometers off shore, the 30kg weighted shot-line was dropped, with additional stages for  decompression deep down as deep as 180 metres and the signed tags  one of which Nuno would have to retrieve and surface with to prove his record.

It was time to kit up and Nuno donned an Eques inner garment and Poseidon Dry Suit. He needed to sit at the stern and the team assisted him with his equipment, ensuring that the correct cylinders were clipped on to his sides. Final checks were made. The knife on Nuno’s arm was in place, the knife would provide a location where to clip the tag (the handle had a perfect hole).

 First a kiss...

First a kiss from girlfriend Lenné and then it was time to go. He inserted the regulator in his mouth and gave the go-ahead nod. The team assisted him into the water and support divers flanked him swimming over to the shot line as the boat motored out of the way.

07h03 Nuno started his descent……….

Pieter Venter kitted up and he and his support diver Joseph Emmanuel entered the water approximately fourty minutes after Nuno. Pieter would be the first to know of Nuno’s fate at 124 metres.

45 minutes into the dive, as prearranged, Pieter deploys his red surface marker buoy. Pieter had the tags “Alert”, “OK” and “World Record” with him. Aboard the NABQ Explorer (the main boat), The Dive Boat (the second boat) as well as the Zodiac the team was anxious to know about Nuno’s wellbeing.

Theo van Eden scrambled into the Zodiac from the main boat and retrieved the marker buoy which he held up for all to see, the tags “OK” and “World Record” were displayed as the Zodiac passed by, the team was relieved and elated.

This marked the start of a grueling decompression marathon that would last further 11 hours and 35 minutes. Support divers assisted Nuno in relay one arriving with full cylinders – and the other one departing with empty – cylinders as directed by Lenne aboard the main boat. The team medic Sean French checked up on Nuno at regular intervals ensuring that sufficient liquid was consumed during the dive to prevent dehydration.

From 9 metres Nuno moved over to a decompression trapeze designed by Theo and deployed and towed with the aid of scooters by Andrzej and Zbyszek. Nuno surfaced at 19h16 utterly exhausted. The reality of the dive had not quite sunk in yet.

 

I still can not believe it!!!

In his own words “318.25 Metres (1044 feet) I still can not believe it!!! Well I have done it, with the assistance of my team”, what is more I can prove that I have done it, we were fortunate to have many independent witnesses who have testified to the authenticity of this dive.

It was not easy, no world record is, I was not prepared to have another go at it even if I had not been successful this time around; it is just too much work not to talk about the cost.

Why 318.25 metres (1044 feet)?

The answer is very simple. Going any deeper would have meant my death. I would go no further, the High Pressure Nervous Syndrome (HPNS) was so bad that my whole body was going into convulsions and I barely could do the necessary to return from that depth. I was in danger of loosing the regulator out of my mouth and I was not sure I could retrieve it and place it back in my mouth”. 

While relaying his experience of the dive back on board he was simultaneously intravenously re-hydrated.

The entire Dahab greeted Nuno on our return to the harbor. Greetings rang out and everyone rejoiced.

Nuno was hurried back to the hotel to be checked by Dr Adel Taher , Dr Zdzislaw Sicko and Sean French. He was given precautionary Oxygen for one hour after the dive and two hours later he was hungry.

Without the support of each and every sponsor and member of the team this record would not have been possible. Our gratitude and thanks goes out to every person who contributed to making Nuno’s dream come true!

Nuno’s kit

Nuno’s kit consisted of the following:

4 x 18l cylinders (3 manifolded together and one independent) with Poseidon tank valves
2 x 14l side slung’s
1 x 12l side slung
28 x 12l stages
Old Uwatec computer
VR3 Computer
Sabre torches
Tektite torches
Eques Fleece Inner
Poseidon Dry Suit
Poseidon Fins
Tusa Mask
Poseidon regulators (Cyklon’s and Xstream’s)
Poseidon SPG’s oilfilled for big depth
Casio G-Shock watches
“Nuno Gomes” wings by Triple-L

Nuno decided to use his Poseidon Cyclon 5000 regulators on both his main quad configuration cylinders as well as his side slungs. Special oil filled and glass toped Poseidon SPG’s were used on all deep regulators.

 Pure facts

Date:                          10 June 2005
Place:                         Dahab, Egypt
Depth:                        318.25 metres/1044 feet sea water
Support:                      15 Support divers, 1 medic and 1 surface marshal and 4 surface support
Dive time:                    12 hours and 20 minutes - Nuno descended at 07h03 and surfaced at 19h16
                                   (official)
Gasses:                       9 different gasses used
                                               1)Oxygen
                                               2)Air
                                               3)3 x Nitrox
                                               4)4x Trimix
Gas consumption:          +- 90 000 litres used
Training:                     Build up dives started in 2002 - Bushmansgat down to 194m in 2003
                                  and Red Sea 271m in 2004.
                                  Gym training including cardiac and weights 4 x per week 1.5 - 2 hours
                                  per day.
Water temperature:     15 degrees Celsius deep and 24 degrees Celsius shallow. 

Small pilot fish made the shot-line their personal reef and lots of jelly fish were encountered. 

Background: The Poseidon story

”What is hidden under the water?” was the question that Ingvar Elfstrom asked himself as a young man. He used to sit and try to see the bottom of the sea on his fishing trips together with his father. The problem was that there was no diving equipment to buy and so in order to explore this world he was forced to manufacture his own equipment.

 The first prototype of a breathing regulator was made in 1954. The very same year Ingvar started the diving club Poseidon, where he got the chance to exchange ideas with other interested people. The first series of twin hosed regulators with the name ‘Poseidon Senior’ was manufactured by Ingvar in his kitchen. After a few years he started to develop his regulators with the help of Rolf Tisrand, who had been with the company since 1957. Their next regulator was the ‘Cyklon Junior’, the first ever manufactured single hose regulator in the World designed for diving (today known as the ‘Cyklon 300’ and ‘Cyklon 5000’).

 Together with his friend Dennis Osterlund sales started to improve. Products were sold under the brand name Poseidon and marketed by a company called Aqua-Sport. The equipment that they could not produce was imported from foreign manufacturers. The company continued to grow so Ingvar and Dennis moved the production of regulators from their kitchen sink to a small rented garage. The first shop was opened in Gothenburg in 1958, shortly after followed by Stockholm and Malmo.

 The accessibility of a neoprene diving suit in the fifties was a big problem as everyone thought that the permeability of the neoprene would allow water to seep through. The American company Rubatex produced a think rubber material that after a small modification could be used in the manufacture of wet suits. Poseidon was now manufacturing regulators and wet suits, quite an improvement since the kitchen sink days.

 In 1963 Poseidon got a request from the Swedish Navy, would it be possible to produce a suit that could be used for longer exposure in their cold northern waters. After some research and experimenting with different materials and manufacturing techniques, they produced a dry-suit that met the Navy’s demands. The first gastight neoprene dry-suit the ‘UNISUIT’, was delivered to the Swedish Navy in 1963. A name that is synonymous with dry suits, as Hoover is to vacuum cleaners. The very same year Poseidon started to export products. 

Ingvar’s big dream came to be realised in 1984 when a factory fully adapted for diving equipment manufacturing was built. Ingvar died in 1998 at the age of 70 years. His life’s work was to make the exciting world under the surface of the sea possible to explore by everyone. Poseidon today enjoys a reputation as quality equipment built to a very high specification, used by the Military and commercial divers throughout the world and a brand leader in the Sports market. Ingvar would be pleased if he could see Poseidon now. Still run and owned by the same family, a rarity in these days of large amalgamations and takeovers.