Wednesday, 17 July 2019

JACK INGLE TECHNICAL DIVING MALTA WRECK DIVING EXPEDITION

Last May my wife & I had been invited to a wedding in Malta so we thought, why not do some diving whilst we were out there?  We looked at local centres and discussed options, but before we booked anything we thought that we’d contact Jack Ingle as we’d both done our initial technical training with him and knew that he ran expeditions out there.  I’d also attended his UK South Coast expeditions, and spoke to individuals who attended his Malta expeditions, so I knew the quality of trip he ran.

So, what do Jack’s trips offer?  From the advert:

The diving is stunning with excellent visibility and fabulous wrecks. The dives are all around the 40 to 70 metre range with some excellent WW1 and WW2 wrecks. The expedition will cost £780 per diver, this includes, 5 days boat diving (from a Technical Dive Boat with Divers lift), self-catering accommodation (high quality apartments), group vehicle hire, transfers to and from airport and dive sites, air and hire of twinsets (or Rebreather cylinders). We shall also have a deco station with support Diver and back up gas on the line.

Nitrox, Helium and stage Deco cylinders are available but not included in the overall price.

Flights are available to Malta at around £180. Flight details and how to book them will be sent to you later once your place has been confirmed.

The actual dives planned will be arranged around the group of divers and will be dependent on their wishes, qualifications and experience. Please discuss this with Jack Ingle. All divers must be a minimum of Dive Leader, Dive master or equivalent.

Jack's expeditions are based out of Maltaqua in St Paul's Bay, and he uses Galaxy Charters as the diving platform, more about those later.

Caveat.  The diving week was from Tuesday 22 – Saturday 26 May, however as the wedding was on the 26thit was agreed that we would only dive 4 days. Furthermore, we stayed elsewhere due to the fact we brought family to babysit whilst we dived.  This meant the trip was discounted on both parts.  The trip price was £780 less accommodation at £210 less one days diving at £70 equalling a total per person of £500.

Day 1.  Monday 21 March 2018
Flying from London Heathrow into Malta, Jack met us at airport on our arrival, took our dive bags, and remained behind for the remainder of the divers who were on a later flight whilst we got a taxi to our Airbnb.  

At 1800 we rv’d with everyone at Maltaqua, where we were briefed on the weeks diving, completed the associated paperwork, setup our kit and arranged our gas for the following day.

Day 2. Tuesday 22 March 2018
·      Aim: Shakeout Dive.
·      Sites:  P29 and Rozi (Tug Boat).
·      Boat Dive.
·      Maximum depth: 33m.
·      Bottom Time: 40 minutes.
·      Total time:  77 minutes.
·      Cylinders: Twin 12s and 1x 7l stage.
·      Gas: Air & 50%

A leisurely morning meeting up at 0900 at Maltaqua, for a 0930 depart to Cirkewwa to meet Kevin the skipper.  After unloading the transport and loading the boat, changing, and receiving the obligatory briefs we set off to our dive sites, chosen due to the North Westerly winds.  These 2 wrecks are some of the most popular in Malta so they were both shotted and did not warrant a trapeze, so when everyone was ready we descended down the line. After 15 minutes we all met up and followed Jack to the second wreck, cutting the dive short at 40 minutes (bottom time).  2 lovely dive sites and unsurprisingly, we weren’t the only divers there.  Overall 2 lovely little wrecks, a first for me & Hen. But I wasn’t completely comfortable as I forgot to adjust my weighting to take into account my ali backplate.

Post dive we started the routine which would become groundhog; transport back to Maltaquarinse the equipment, put the cylinders in for a fill and hang the remainder of the kit up to try.  We’d then return around 1730/1800 to analyse and label gasses, rebuild, load the transport for the morning, and at some point during the evening, plan and write up the dive plan for the following day.

Day 3.  Wednesday 23 March 2018
·      Aim: Wreck Dive.
·      Sites: HMS Stubborn (Le Polynesien blown out).
·      Boat Dive.
·      Maximum depth: 57m.
·      Bottom Time: 25 minutes.
·      Total time:  83 minutes.
·      Cylinders: Twin 12s, 1x ali 80 and 1x 7l stage.
·      Gas: 18/35 (18/38), 50% and 80% (83).

An early start meant a 0625 RV for a 0630 departure, although this morning’s journey was only 5 minutes.  So much so it may have actually been quicker to walk from the jetty direct from the accommodation.  After loading the boat we shortly arrived at the site, and had completed an 83 minute dive and were back on the boat by 0910, and in the shop by 1030; probably before most people on holiday had eaten breakfast.

The dive was not without its mini-dramas as the sea was quite choppy, so much so that 2 didn’t dive due to sickness.  Furthermore, I also had an equipment drama – an o-ring.  Unfortunately, at 9m an o-ring went pop on my 80% on one of the 3/8 low pressure hose.  As I was on run times with my computer as a backup due to Hen being on runtimes only, and with 7@9m and 27@6m to go, I was left with a number of options available to me:
1. Use lost 80% runtime plan, breathing my 50% (which would result in extra 13 minutes of deco).
2. Continue to breath my 50% running the remaining deco on the computer.
3. Use Hen’s 80% (which would have resulted in an extra 34 minutes of deco).
4. Feather the valve for 34 mins and get out as planned.

Initially I only saw bubbles so I switched the regulator off & let Hen switch first whilst I remained on my 50%.  After her switch I identified the leak was a 3/8 low pressure hose o-ring rather than a loose DIN valve.  I ruled out no.2 to keep us both on runtimes and to avoid switching plans, and I didn't want to prolong the dive so ruled out no's 1 and 3.  There was always a 5thoption; purge the first stage, undo the offending hose and then re-screw it back in without the ‘pinch’.  I decided to rule this one out as it would have resulted in flooding the regulator, which in itself isn’t a drama, but without my tools to service it, I didn’t want to risk any damage that may have occurred and potentially ruined future dives.  So, the only option left to me was to feather the valve for 34mins.  It was easy and not uncomfortable or stressful, but given that it's a skill I teach it shouldn't have been an issue.

Day 4.  Thursday 24 March 2018
·      Aim: Wreck Dive.
·      Sites: Le Polynesien.
·      Boat Dive.
·      Maximum depth: 62m.
·      Bottom Time: 20 minutes.
·      Total time:  81 minutes.
·      Cylinders: Twin 12s, 1x ali 80 and 1x 7l stage.
·      Gas: 18/35 (18/34), 50% (53) and 80% (79).

An early start, although not as early as yesterday saw us meet at 0725 for a 0730 departure.  Predominately on the stern to mid-ships, the dive proved uneventful with minimal current, not enough to cause an issue but enough to lift the particulate so the vis wasn’t a clear as the previous dives.  Although we managed to drift 1.4 nautical miles during deco.  On the way back we stopped off for ice cream.

Day 5.  Friday 25 March 2018
·      Aim: Wreck Dive.
·      Sites: HMS Southwold (Bow).
·      Boat Dive.
·      Maximum depth: 63m.
·      Bottom Time: 18 minutes.
·      Total time:  71 minutes.
·      Cylinders: Twin 12s, 1x ali 80 and 1x 7l stage.
·      Gas: 18/35 (18/37), 50% (52) and 80% (81).

Back to a 0625 RV for a 0630 departure due to the longer transit time saw another eventful dive in near perfect conditions.  Back at Maltaqua we gave our kit an initial rinse in freshwater whilst we sorted out the final bill (to cover later), but we gave it a thorough rinse back in the apartment as we were there for another couple of days.

Day 6.  Saturday 26 March 2018
We didn’t dive due to the wedding but on Friday options were given to the group including the Schnellboot but instead opted to do the bow of the Le Polynesien.

Jack, Cylinder Hire, Gas, and overall costs
So, in addition to the costs mentioned at the start, how much did we spend in expenses?  To be honest, more than we expected at 4.5p per litre of helium and 2.5p per litre of oxygen.  Our gas bill was £232 for helium and £108 for oxygen (each), plus the stage hire of £40 per cylinder.  We were told that this was a weekly charge, even if we only needed it for one day.  However the shop prices were €9 per day, so it could potentially have been cheaper to hire it from the shop direct (cylinder and gas total £420 each).  
Caveat.  The fills were blended on top so other than the initial fill, you only paid for what you needed to top up, and not a fresh mix which was nice.
There was also the transfer costs.  Despite the advert saying transfers were included, because we brought family, we had an additional £70 taxi bill (€40 each way).  Therefore, the total between us was £910.  Plus food.  Plus flights.  Plus the exped costs (normally £780 as listed earlier).

That said, the trip was extremely well organised.  Jack and Kevin (the skipper) had a great rapport, the sites were chosen for the conditions, Jack jumped in first to check the location of the shot and to tie it in, briefed us on the site and conditions when he surfaced before we jumped in, and was wanting at the transfer line on the ascent to check we were all ok, and also hung around the trapeze.  There was also a drop tank on each side of the trapeze if required.  The only thing we had to do as divers was tag in/out at the bottom with the last pair cutting the tie in line.
Caveat.  And I when I say trapeze, don’t expect metal bars, like you might do in the UK, it was just rope, but it did the job perfectly.

Packing Lists
In addition to the usual dive kit required for the dives (which I’ll leave you all to decide what you need for these dives), I brought a small spares kit, deco tag, Duck tape, marker pen and Sellotape for stage markings, and rigging kits plus bungee/elastic stowage for the actual stages themselves.  One thing to note is that we only saw one v weight, so make sure you bring a belt just in case.

Maltaqua were really helpful.  Not only did Jack use it as his base, but because of the baby they allowed us to use the shop to express milk.  The shop is well stocked if you need anything.  The hire equipment appeared well looked after.  What could have made it better?  Possibly twin 15’s for oxygen thief’s like me to make the most of the bottom time, although bigger cylinders = bigger gas bills.  


Kevin’s Boat has changed since last time we visited. It’s recently got larger, and had a lift installed which was b.e.a.utiful.  No more clipping off stages and climbing out.  Post dives he provided coffee and biscuits.

Summary
Overall, it’s an excellent week.  The dives, the location, the weather in our case, and it was an extremely well organised week.  It’s hard to be critical because not only was Jack one of my early technical educators, he’s also a friend.  But I think the one thing that soured it ever so slightly was the costs of the stage cylinder hire.  But that’s my opinion.  If you wish to make your own then feel free to contact Jack as he runs these trips numerous times a year.  I guarantee you’ll have a great week.

A short vide of the trip can be found below…



…or on Vimeo.

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, 30 March 2019

HOW TO: ADD A BUNGEE STRAP USING A DSS MOUNT

I’ve seen the question “how do I fit a bungee mount?” asked numerous times on forums and social media so when the time came to re-thread one of my mounts I thought it was time I wrote a blog about how it’s done.

Why use a mount?
For me, it’s not so much about the mount but rather it’s about using bungee straps. Traditional instrument straps, for me at least, can be awkward to use with (dry) gloves, and depending on the compression of your exposure suit, may rotate at depth therefore requires tightening underwater which again is awkward.  

By replacing the traditional strap with bungee, tubing, or shock cord, putting on the instrument is easier as it simply slides over your wrist and compresses onto your arm.  Because of this compression effect no further adjustment is required at depth (unless your loops are too big to start off with), and, certainly in my case, the straps can be used for a variety of thickness suits without further adjustment.  

Additionally, a traditional strap is a single point of failure so if the strap breaks, you’ve lost your instrument unless you use a separate lanyard.  By using 2 separate loops (the method that I use and will show you) you have built in redundancy if one loop were to fail.

Once you’ve decided that bungee is for you, you then need to decide on how you’re going to mount it onto your instrument. Fortunately housings, or mounts are available for a number of instruments from Deep Sea Supply (DSS) or similar retailers.  However, they are not available for all instruments so you may need to modify the instruments original case and improvise, like I did with my Shearwater Petrel.

Fitting the mount – Compass
Caveat.  The method I am about to describe works with a Suunto SK7.  The actual method of mounting the compass may vary for other models.  Furthermore, for the purpose of mounting the compass, there is already bungee attached to the mount.  The threading is shown on the computer mount at the bottom of the blog.

My preference is to initially place the compass and mount into warm water to make the plastic more flexible.  

Remove the bezel from the mount and then slide out the compass capsule.

Press the compass capsule into the mount.  There should be a small notch inside the mount to assist with the orientation.

Press the bezel into the mount with the grove on the bezel sliding into the notch of the mount.  Once positioned correctly it should snap in place.









Fitting the mount – Computer
Caveat.  The method I am about to describe works with a Suunto Vytec.  The actual method of mounting the computer may vary for other models.

My preference is to initially place the computer and mount into warm water to make the plastic more flexible.  

Remove the existing strap rubber cover if applicable. Any plastic screen protector can remain on.  If you are unsure how you should be able to find out how in the manual.

Line up the computer with the mount, ensuring that if (in this instance) there is a recess for the battery compartment they are lined up. Press the computer into the mount.

Threading the mount
 You will need the following:
1. Approximately 50cm of 3-5mm bungee (depending on the mount and the size of the holes).
2. Lighter.
3. Scissors or a sharp blade.



Cut the bungee into half, and with the instrument facing away from you, thread both ends of the bungee through the outer holes (of one side).  Flip over the instrument and thread them back through the inner holes.  Size up the bungee based on your exposure suit (taking into account any dry cuffs that may impede donning and doffing if applicable) and then secure both ends using a reef knot (left over right, right over left). 
 










Top tip.  To estimate the length of bungee required, wrap the bungee around your arm (including exposure suit), plus a small amount for the knot.

Repeat on the other side.  Pull out the loops so that the knots are hidden into the mount recess.


















Voila.

Note.  DSS have never had a "recommended" lacing path, it has always been their intent that each customer can pick what works best for them.

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.ukl