Monday, 4 January 2021

2020; A YEAR IN REVIEW

So last year I predicted…..

As 2020 starts I’m writing this whilst deployed in Norway.  So what is planned for 2020?  If I’m honest, it’ll probably be quiet again.  As well as being away, and in addition to my daughter turning 2 my wife & I welcomed my son 2 months ago.  I also moved jobs in July as well as starting a BA (Hons) in Business and Management.  I do have some run BSAC Instructor Courses planned as well as 2 weeks diving in Gibraltar and a weeks Trimix diving off the south coast in June.  

 

So how right and wrong was I.  2020 was indeed quiet, in fact, all of the diving I mentioned was cancelled as was a host of other trips and courses, and we all know why.  And that will probably remain so as we enter lockdown 3.

 

Despite a personal battle with COVID, I’m clear, all renewed, insured, and have my HSE medical so fingers crossed that after Easter we’ll be back to normal(ish).

 

In the meantime, it’s back to my degree & BSAC course development.

 

The boring bit!

All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

 

Stay Safe diving!

 

Timothy Gort

BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training

l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: tim@rectotec.co.uk l



Thursday, 27 August 2020

JOINT SERVICE DIVING SAFETY CONFERENCE 2020

After years of driving down to Plymouth for the Conference, I decided to offer up the facilities at my branch and military unit in Surrey for this years conference.  Everything was going to plan until COVID and the rest is history.  






Rather than not have a conference, although delayed, the conference was finally held virtually.

 

Unusually for me, I’ll not be summarising each presentation as the majority were recorded and can be viewed via Defence Connect.













MOD Wrecks (Matt Skelhorn)

BSAC Developments (Dai Atkins)

Recent Changes at JSATW(C) (Ben Swinfield)

BSAC Safety Update (Jim Watson)

Thai Cave Rescue (Connor Roe MBE)

Balmaccara Exped Facility (Mick Stewart)

RN Sponsor & Revised BRd2806(5)

 

Summary

It was a great effort by Dom & his team & longer term, although personally don’t think that this should replace a physical conference due to the nature of the second and third order effects that can be achieved when the wider community get together.  But if physical dive conferences do re-start I think that they should also be streamed (such as Facebook live or MODNET Skype) to allow the wider diver community who are unable to attend physically at least join in remotely.

 

The boring bit!

All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

 

Safe diving!

 

Timothy Gort

BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training

l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: tim@rectotec.co.uk l



Saturday, 7 March 2020

HOW TO: CHANGE A SUUNTO DIVE COMPUTER BATTERY (NEWER MODELS)

I’ve seen the question “why do I have to pay £40 to fit a £2 battery?  Is this something I can do myself?” asked numerous times on forums and social media, and the answer is simply yes.  So when the time came to change one on my wife’s computer I thought it was time I wrote a blog about how it’s done.

This was the opening line to a very similar blog written almost 12 months ago where I showed you how to change a computer battery on older Suunto models such as the Vyper, Vytec and Gekko.  Earlier on this year one of my dive clubs needed to change some of their computer batteries prior to an overseas trip later that week so my wife stepped up, and given the computers were a newer model (Zoop) to the ones from my previous blog, I thought I’d write a second edition.

DISCLAIMER
Do not carry out any work if you are unsure.  Diving equipment is life support equipment.  If you are in any doubt please visit your local dive shop (LDS).

Furthermore Suunto strongly advises against changing the battery yourself and that it should be done professionally.  If you change your own battery and the computer fails or floods due to a lack of pressure test then you are doing so at your own risk.

Fitting the battery
Caveat.  Given the lack of pictures within this blog, my other blog may need to be consulted if you are unsure of the description.  

You will need the following:
1. 2450 battery.
2. Torx (size T6).
3. Replacement O-ring (optional but kits available on eBay often come with one).
4. Small flat thin screwdriver (optional).
5. O-ring grease (optional).

The battery cover opens by removing 3 screws with the Torx (size T6).
Remove the cover, and then finally the battery.

Swap out the battery and re-assemble, taking particular note of the O-ring.  Ensure it is laid flat and when replacing the cover it does not pinch.  If you decide to use grease ensure it is used sparingly and ensure that the O-ring is free of dust and lint.

Replace the cover and 3 screws.

Once you’ve checked that it works and fires up remember to reset the date & time.  If you’re still using the traditional strap, why not mount it in a Bungee Mount instead?

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: tim@rectotec.co.uk l

Friday, 6 March 2020

HOW TO: MAKE A PORTABLE CYLINDER RACK

Why?

I am sure that at some point, all divers have experienced the issue of transporting a single, or even multiple cylinders in their vehicle, only to have them roll around in the boot or footwell.  Which at best could ultimately damage the cylinder paintwork, cylinder valve, or your vehicle, and create a horrible banging noise.  Or it could result in the cylinder valve opening resulting in a loss of gas and again a horrible loud noise.  Or at worse, if the valve bursts it could blow out of the vehicle causing significant damage to life or property.  Therefore, it’s important when transporting cylinders to keep them safe and secure.  

If you always carry a car full of cylinders a cylinder rack isn’t required, however, the picture below is the exception and not the norm…
… so I decided to look at transportation options.

My original cylinder rack was made out of decking and carried 3 cylinders.  It was robust and secure; however, it was extremely large and took up a lot of boot space (especially when not in use).  After a short trial and deciding that it wasn’t suitable it has since been chopped and turned into my DPV stand (see below).  
The only option was to try and make something that was more lightweight and portable.  As with a number of my “How to’s”, such products are available to buy, however, in true Tim fashion, I thought that I could make something for a fraction of the cost.

Construction

You will need the following components:
1. Wooden dowel, stair bannister, pool noodles, plastic pipe, or similar for securing the cylinder.
2. Cave line from a spool.
3. Oxygen tubing.

And the following tools:
1. Hand saw.
2. Drill with bit.
3. Knife or scissors.
4. Lighter.

Start by cutting your dowel, pipe etc… into 1-2 foot sections.  You will require 2 for a single-cylinder followed by an additional one for each extra cylinder.

Next drill holes through each end, wide enough to fit the cave line.  

Next cut the oxygen tubing into the required lengths.  In the case of my cylinder rank, the wooden dowel is spaced at 6.5” centres or 6” knot to knot*.  My particular rack can take 12 or 15l steels (although in the case of the 15s not side by side) as well as ali 40, 7 and 80 stages.  The image below shows 2x 15l steels and an ali 40.  The reason for the tubing is because it gives some structure to the rack and acts as a separator preventing the dowel from sliding together.  

*Depending on the diameter of the pipe or dowel you intend to use these dimensions may vary so adjust accordingly.  

Starting off with a knot at one end, thread the cave line through the drilled hole, knotting it and adding the tubing between each dowel as you go.  Finish off with a knot at the opposite end and cut off the remainder of the line.
As you can see from the images, this works extremely effectively to prevent the cylinders from rolling around.  However, the setup may still slide if you have a plastic boot liner as I do due to the lack of friction.  And when not in use, it rolls up and stows away nicely.





















The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: tim@rectotec.co.uk l

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

2019; A YEAR IN REVIEW

So the last few years have been a bunch of highs and lows; just as soon as I get on a roll work or something else will mean I have to cancel courses or delay my plans.  2019 started on a low due to overseas deployments in 7 countries for the best part of 6 months.  There was also other issues following a dive trip in 2018 which resulted in one of my twinsets getting written off due to internal corrosion, and another resulting in shot blasting.  In total, 8 of the 12 divers had cylinder issues (but more to follow in a separate blog).

However, in the latter 6 months of 2019 I was involved in the development of a number of BSAC courses including DPV, as an Instructor Trainer (IT) I continued to teach and run BSAC Instructor Courses (IFC through to OWI) however I was also signed off as an Advanced Instructor IT (on both courses and exams).  I taught PADI Enriched Air Diver (Nitrox) and Emergency Oxygen Provider courses as well as a number of BSAC Ocean Diver and Sports Divercourses and SDI DPV courses whilst in Cyprus.  I also completed my TDI Normixic Trimix and DPV instructor courses.  Lastly I was back on the TEKDeck Stage at the NEC Dive Show.
As 2020 starts I’m writing this whilst deployed in Norway.  So what is planned for 2020?  If I’m honest, it’ll probably be quiet again.  As well as being away, and in addition to my daughter turning 2 my wife & I welcomed my son 2 months ago.  I also move jobs in July as well as starting a BA (Hons) in Business and Management.  I do have some BSAC Instructor Courses planned as well as 2 weeks diving in Gibraltar and a weeks Trimix diving off the south coast in June.  Despite that, if you’re interested in any courses in 2020 then please get in touch.

Safe diving.

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: tim@rectotec.co.uk l

Monday, 17 February 2020

SCAPA FLOW ON MV VALHALLA

From 2-7 September 2018 (diving days) I was luckily enough to be diving in Scapa Flow with Orkney and Shetland Charters, owned and run by Helen and Hazel, on their newest vessel MV Valhalla.  The group consisted of 12 like mind divers, all on CCR or twinsets with one aim; dive the hell out of the place.

So why Scapa Flow?
Scapa Flow is a huge natural harbour formed within the Orkney Islands with over 140 square miles of comparatively calm water within its bounds.  Used in both world wars as protection for the British Fleet, the islands became home to tens of thousands of service personnel. At the signing of the armistice the German fleet was interred with skeleton crews at Scapa until its fate could be decided.  Admiral von Reuter mistakenly believed war was about to break out, so on the 19th June 1919 he gave the order for the fleet to be scuttled.  This was carried out swiftly while the British guarding ships were out on exercise and could not stop them. In the end 51 ships went to the bottom of Scapa Flow, others were run aground to prevent them sinking.

Post war salvage raised most of the ships for scrap, but seven remain submerged forever in the waters of Scapa Flow.

Scapa Flow is one of the jewels in the crown of UK scuba diving.  The remains of the German Fleet still lie in the flow, heavily protected from any sort of salvage or interference by divers.  Their legacy is some of the best scuba diving in the world, the behemoths of the battleships rising from 45m to 22m, guns pointing into the green, seemingly on eternal patrol.  The stricken cruisers on their sides, their superstructures slowly falling to the seabed after nearly 100 years underwater.  All of the WWI German wrecks lie approximately 50 minutes from the port of Stromness.  All have a shotline on them.  Maximum depths to the seabed is around 44m.  Least depth to the seabed is around 12m.

So why Orkney and Shetland Charters, and in particular MV Valhalla?
On my previous Scapa trip the entire group that I was with were less than blown away with the boat we used and all vowed that next time around we would only go for the best, hence Orkney and Shetland Charters as they had won the Sport Diver Award for Best Liveaboard in 2014 and Best Runner Up in 2016 for MV Valkyrie.  Because of this I actually booked MV Valkyrie for a trip in 2016 but had to pull out at the last minute due to a military deployment, but, on that trip others from the group were shown around (the then work in progress) MV Valhalla and were so impressed that they booked this trip there and then, and the rest they say is history.  

The Valhalla was built for the Royal Navy as RNAS Loyal Factor but was quickly converted into a patrol boat and commissioned as HMS Vigilant to serve in Northern Ireland where she remained until the 1990s when she was handed back to the RNAS (Royal Naval Auxiliary Service) and served as the training vessel Sultan Venturer for the Naval engineering school in Gosport. Purchased in 2012 5 years was spent converting her into a purposeful, go anywhere, vessel.

The Valhalla has 6 cabins; 5 of these are on the lower deck, each with twin bunks and en-suite shower and washbasin and 1 cabin with twin bunks and an adjacent toilet and shower on the main deck.  A spacious lounge and inside changing room with charging area, make up the rest of the forward accommodation, while a galley and mess are situated towards the stern.

The reality is that she is indeed, a great diving platform.  The accommodation as expected is tight but spot on.  Each room has its own en-suite shower and basin (less room 1 which shares with the toilet), storage shelves and cubby holes, and ample charging facilities.  If further storage is required the big bags can be stored on the shelving provided in the lower corridor.  

There are however a few observations:
·CCR scrubber bench.  There is only the one on board, so if there are a number of CCRs this may be an issue?
·Cameras.  The boat could do with a dunk tank for cameras, but we improvised and it worked for the week.
·Briefs.  Very detailed, but done old school on a whiteboard.  With the TV setup inside this could be monitored.  
·Hazel.  Looks scary/grumpy (sorry), but in fact is a gentle giant and a fantastic skipper with loads of knowledge and is passionate about what she does.  

And then there’s the legendary food.  What can I say?  It tastes great, and there’s so much of it at meal times.  Not to mention the Tea, coffee and biscuits that are always out and always waiting for you post dive.

I’ve no pictures; sorry, however a short video of the trip can be found below... 
...or on Vimeo.

Summary
If you’ve not dived Scapa before then I can thoroughly recommend it; the wrecks, the history, the location, it’s simply amazing and the loss ass drive from down south is certainly worth it.  If you do intend to visit then you can’t go far wrong with either Helen & Hazel on Valkyrie or Valhalla.

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: tim@rectotec.co.uk l