Friday, 24 July 2015


In its fifth year, TEKCamp has gone from strength to strength, and I’ve been lucky enough to be at 3 of the events.  After attending as a participant in 2012 (link), I was given the opportunity to attend in 2013 as a safety diver, however work got in the way.  I returned as a safety diver in 2014 (link) and again this year.  Below are my experiences of the week.

Monday 13th July
Unlike previous events, I decided to head down to Vobster Quay the evening before and set up camp*.  This gave the advantge of securing a good parking space on the first day and leaving my car there for the week.


*Campsite located in the field adjacent to the entrance.

Following an early morning run I headed down to site to secure a spot on the benches.  I was glad to be there early as the rain meant that the undercover spots would be a premium.  I built my equipment, attached my primary light and GoPro, analysed my gas, and did my final checks.  Once set up I headed off to find Amy to fill out all the paperwork and to hand in a copy of my HSE medical.  The carpark was starting to fill with people scurrying about everywhere but as I was all setup I decided to catch up with a few faces I hadn’t seen for a while.

All attendees, instructors and safety divers get a TEKCamp goodybag.  As usual, this years was excellent and included, but was not limited to:
·     TEKCamp 2015 t-shirt.
·     EUROTEK  t-shirt.
·     DiveSigns MOD stickers.
·     Neoprene iPad case.
·     Hollis cap.
·     Otter beanie hat.
·     Apeks line arrows.
·     Fourth Element dry bag.
·     Kit marker.
·     Various stickers, leaflets, pens etc…

At around 0830 we were all ushered by Tim Clements for the outline of the week and morning briefing and, which laid out your dive buddies, instructor, and safety diver. 

Dive 1:
Maximum depth: 13m.
Total time: 66 minutes.
Instructor: Mark Powell.
Atendees: Max and Nick.
Workshop: Buoyancy, trim, propulsion and ascents.
Narritive: S-drills, effects of the body position on trim (head, arms, and leg), effects of breathing on buoyancy, frog kick, back kick, and helicopter turns, and ascents pausing every 1m to the surface.

Unfortunately during the first dive, my suit had catastrophically flooded due to my dry glove system failing.  During the surface interval the students/participants had another chance to tweek their kit, visit the exhibitors, grab some lunch and listen to the ‘tech talks’; Antikythera and Mentor Shipwreck Projects by Phil Short and Ratio Deco by Rasmus Dysted.

After lunch it was briefing time again and I was back with Mark Powell.

Dive 2:
Maximum depth: 13m.
Total time: 68 minutes.
Instructor: Mark Powell.
Atendees: Marc, Ben and Claire.
Workshop: Buoyancy, trim, propulsion and ascents.
Narritive: S-drills, effects of the body position on trim (head, arms, and leg), effects of breathing on buoyancy, frog kick, back kick, and helicopter turns, and ascents pausing every 1m to the surface.

After the second dive, everyones equipment was stripped down and the cylinders placed inside the compressor room.  It was the first of many long blending sessions for the compressor monkeys.  After the BBQ there should have been a ‘Keynote Speaker’ talk, however Tim Clements, and Bryan Stanislas from H20 Films had a different idea.  All of the attendees and safety divers were randomly drawn into groups of 4-5  and were assigned a piece of diving memoribelia from an instructor.  Each group then had 24hrs to speak to the instructor and get the significance of the memoribelia, and make a 2-3 minute film, upload it to YouTube and send the link to Bryan.  The winning group would be chosen by Tim and Bryan and awarded a prize.  My group consisted of me, Angelo, Ben, Hugo, and Karen.  The 24hrs was basically a lie, as everyone would be on workshops the following day, so we basically had the evening to complete.  Our efforts can be seen on YouTube (link) and Vimeo (link).  How did we get on?  Wait and see,

Tuesday 14th July
No need for an alarm as my usual body clock had me up at 0600 and I headed out for a run, before walking down to the site and using the facilities to shower.  Following kit assembly we waited for Tim to herd us in for our morning briefing.

Dive 3:
Maximum depth: 12m.
Total time: 63 minutes.
Instructor: Rasmus Dysted.
Atendees: Jorgan, Zoe and Adam.
Workshop: Sidemount configeration, trim and ascents.
Narritive: Configeration tweeks on dry land before 12m platform for trim and buoyancy.

The weather started to improve slightly as we were given the first of todays ‘tech talks’; Mine Diving by Ian France.  This was followed by Tec Rescue by Vikki Batten.  Attendees were also treated by the arrival of Jill Heinerth.

Dive 4:
Maximum depth: 12m.
Total time: 74 minutes.
Instructor: Garry Dallas.
Atendees: Sam and Martin.
Workshop: Sidemount configeration, trim and body position, mask removal and replace, and DSMBs.
Narritive: Configeration tweeks on dry land before back to the 12m platform for trim and buoyancy.  Fins were removed to prove to the attendees that buoyancy and trim could be controlled by the wing/suit and sculling is not required.  This was followed by DSMB deployments and ascents.

After the BBQ we had the first of the ‘Keynote Speaker’ talks; Wreck Diving by Leigh Bishop.

Wednesday 15th July
The weather was still improving and the sun had come out.  Today I was to be paired with John Kendall.

Dive 5:
Maximum depth: 6m.
Total time: 40 minutes.
Instructor: John Kendall.
Atendees: Gaius and Colin.
Workshop: Stage cylinder handling (too many stages).
Narritive: Rather than the students handling the usual 1 or 2 cylinders, John decided to go for overload with the students eventually having 5 stages cylinders each.  John and I loaded up and descended to the 6m platform adjacent to the sheltered water area, passing the students 1 cylinder at a time.  The only rule was no more than 2 clipped off to the left and 3 per leash.  Every new cylinder added had to go to the inside which meant cylinder rotations.

The lunch times ‘tech talks’ were Mars the Magnificant by Rich Walker, the Ghost Fishing Project by Jim Standing of Fourth Element, and Sierra Leone by Leigh Bishop.

Dive 6:
Maximum depth: 13m.
Total time: 70 minutes.
Instructor: John Kendall.
Atendees: Jorgan and Zoe.
Workshop: Line Laying.
Narritive: Practical dry line laying, team order, line crossing and touch contact before heading to the shelf.  Nearly 100m of line laid prior to a blacked out mask return swim which took twice as long as the lay.  I had to recover the line due to time constraints.

The evenings ‘Keynote Speaker’ talk was by Jill Heinerth on a summary of her journys across the globe, including cave diving inside an iceberg.

Thursday 16th July
The sun had come out in force this morning and I was fortunate to be paired with Jill Heinerth.

Dive 7:
Maximum depth: 19m.
Total time: 57 minutes.
Instructor: Jill Heinerth.
Atendees: Claire, John, Matt and Andy.
Workshop: Line Laying.
Narritive: Practical dry line laying, team order and touch contact before heading to the Jaquin wreck.  Splitting into 2 pairs, Jill worked with one team whilst I stayed with the other as safety.  Skills included laying and retrieving line, as well as blacked out mask swims.

Following the dive Jill presented me with a signed copy of one of her books; The Basics of Rebreather Diving.


The lunch times ‘tech talks’ were Diving in the Crimeria by Martin Robson and Truk Lagoon by Kieran Hatton.

Dive 8:
Maximum depth: 17m
Total time: 70 minutes.
Instructor: Rich Walker.
Atendees: Claire, John and Matt.
Workshop: Ascents.
Narritive: Back to the Jacquin, there were 4 separate ascent dives, each with a 1 minute stop at 15m, 12m, 9m, 6m and 3m.  Starting off with no skills and just hitting runtimes, the dives progressed to carrying out various ‘tasks’ at each stop, and if required, completing them at the next stop, but ahering to the deco schedule. 

The evenings  ‘Keynote Speaker’ talk was the J2 Project by Phil Short.  The evening finished off with a few fun and games over a few beers.

Friday 17th July
With the rain back, any hopes of drying off kit before the weekend appeared to be gone.  Today I was back with Jill.

Dive 9:
Maximum depth: 9m.
Total time: 49 minutes.
Instructor: Jill Heinerth.
Atendees: Andy, Max and Neil.
Workshop: Rescues
Narritive: Dry discussions on the options available to a rescurer, followed by underwater horizontal tows, ascents, tow and blow, and de-kits.

TEKCamp was nearly over but not before a few more talks; EUROTEK 2016 by Rosemary Lunn, including a recording of Professor Simon Mitchells 5 Minute Pre-breathe talk which was presented last year, Project Baseline Mediterranean by John Kendall, and Deep Stops by Mark Powell.

Finally there was the prize draw.  Prizes included a Light-For-Me primary light and GoPro video set, Otter drysuit, Kwark undersuits, TecLine backplate, wing and harness, Miflex goodybag, Kubi dry-gloves, Apeks Tek3 twinset regulators, Atomic Masks, Hollis regulators, Dive-Rite sidemount system, Apeks Spools, Divesigns vouchers, Jill’s books and Mark Powells Deco for Divers to name a few. 

What about the prize for the winning video project? Unfortunately due to limited bandwidth at Vobster Quay only 4 groups (including mine) managed to upload a video so the results were delayed.  Once known I will post here.

All of the dives above were carried out by mixed teams; either OC back mount or side mount, or CCR.  This only enhances the attendees experience as they get to experience a variety of different equipment.  Outside of my experiences, there were a number of other classess conducted that I was unable to experience including DPVs, rebreather try-dives, sidemount try-dives and the Fourth Element ‘Underwater Shop’.  For a full list check out the website.  I cannot recommend TEKCamp enough to any diver, regardless of agency or certification level.

My video can be found on Vimeo here and YouTube here.

But it wasn’t quite over for me.  I completed a 10th dive of the week to help Martin Robson and Vikki Batten to strip out the underwater habitat/shop.

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 and SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: l