Sunday, 21 August 2016


In its sixth year TEKCamp has gone from strength to strength and other than the first event in 2011 I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in every one and in 2016 I again returned as a safety diver.

TEKCamp 2016 was definitely the year of the sidemount, as I would guess that there were at least as many sidemount attendees this year as backmount and CCR combined.

Monday 11th July
Similar to previous events I headed down to Vobster Quay in the early hours (0500) of Monday morning and set up my tent in the campsite located in the field adjacent to the entrance.  The field was already very full with a number of attendees, safety divers and instructors arriving the night before.  I substituted time over comfort, especially when walking back in the evenings, and positioned my tent adjacent to the main road rather than following the remainder of the tents.  The advantage of arriving early meant I could then drive down to the car park and secure a good parking space allowing me to leaving my car there for the week.  Unfortunately a few others must have had a similar idea as by 0700 there were already five attendees queueing up at the main gate. 

Once I was in and setup I ordered breakfast and caught up with some familiar faces whilst waiting for the initial brief. 

As usual, the goodie bag was excellent.  Contents included, but not limited to:
·     TEKCamp 2016 t-shirt.
·     DiveSigns MOD stickers.
·     Otter sidemount pouch.
·     Apeks line arrows.
·     Fourth Element dry bag.
·     Tecline mug
·    And various stickers, leaflets, pens etc, including a lucky few which contained rectotec stickers and cards.

The day started cloudy but it didn’t kill anyone’s enthusiasm as I started my first session.

Dive 1
Maximum depth: 17m.
Total time: 40 minutes.
Instructor: Vikki Batten.
Attendees: Konstantin, Tanith and Karen.
Workshop: Sidemount
Narrative: A little unexpected as Vikki and I were both on twinsets.  Configuration, valve drills, propulsion, DSMB deployment and teamwork.

The Lunchtime Tek Talks started with John Kendall following on from last year’s talk on  GUE’s Project Baseline Panarea and then Vikki Batten on Rebreather Diving Checklists.

Dive 2
Maximum depth: 15m.
Total time: 46 minutes.
Instructor: Vikki Batten.
Attendees: Martin and Collette.
Workshop: Stage cylinder handling. 
Narrative: Ascents, DSMB deployment, teamwork, stage placement and retrieve.

After the second dive, everyone’s equipment was stripped down and the cylinders placed inside the compressor room before enjoying the BBQ and the first Keynote Talk which was to be an ‘Ice Breaker’ with Vobster’s very own with Tim Clements and Gareth Lock from the Human Factors Academy.  After an initial discussion we were split into groups and had to build a raft to successfully transport our instructor to the free dive platform for some ‘Deco Pale Ale’.  The evening was a success but unfortunately my team came fourth out of five (but then I was formally told not to use squaddie ingenuity)

Tuesday 12th July
After an early morning run and shower I set up my equipment and waited for the groups to be announced.

Dive 3
Maximum depth: 18m.
Total time: 49 minutes.
Instructor: Martin Robson.
Attendees: Rich and Andy
Workshop: Sidemount.
Narrative: Following Martin’s talk on his CDG (Cave Diving Group) sidemount setup we headed over to the Jacquin and did cylinder manipulation through tight spaces.

Over lunch the RNLI were carrying out free health checks with Tek Talks by Leigh Bishop on wreck diving and Mark Powell on diving and fitness.
Dive 4
Maximum depth: 14m.
Total time: 69 minutes.
Instructor(s): Vikki Batten and Martin Robson.
Attendees: Martin, Nikalous and Toni
Workshop: Line laying.
Narrative:  Including line laying, silt out drills and touch contact. I also got to be included in the drills which I enjoyed as it’s good to be tested.

After the cylinders were reunited with the compressor monkeys for another long blending session and we had eaten the evenings Keynote Talk was Bell Island Project in Newfoundland Canada by Phil Short.

Wednesday 13th July
The sun was now out in force and today I was to be paired with Garry Dallas, but not before a series of breathing exercises run by Garry Dallas, Tim Clements and Ian France. 
Dive 5
Maximum depth: 11m.
Total time: 63 minutes.
Instructor: Garry Dallas.
Attendees: Sam, Tanith, Andy and Allister.
Workshop: Sidemount. 
Narrative: Sidemount skills including buoyancy and hovers with no fins.

Lunchtime Tek Talks were expedition planning by Paul Toomer and Jutland by Kieran Hatton.

Dive 6
Maximum depth: 10m.
Total time: 49 minutes.
Instructor: Garry Dallas.
Attendees: Dominic.
Workshop: Sidemount try dive

On this dive I was able to try out an Apeks XK1 drysuit and Kwark undersuit supplied by Shaw-Tek.  For me, the suit was marmite; people love it or hate it, but as with everything Apeks it was very well built.  As for the undersuit, I was sold.  It performed excellently, or at least much better than my current 6 year old Artic so one was immediately purchased.

The evenings Keynote Talk was HMHS Britannic, Titanic’s sister ship, by Edoardo Pavia.  For most keen wreck divers, the Britannic is at the top of one’s bucket list, and Edoardo has been lucky enough to dive it on five separate expeditions.  An excellent preview to the upcoming talk at Eurotek.  For more information, an excellent article on the HMHS Britannic can be found here. 

Thursday 14th July
The sun was back out however I had a lazy morning and decided to not go for a run, and just like TEKCamp 2015 when I was lucky enough to be paired with Jill Heinerth this year I was paired with Edoardo.

Dive 7
Maximum depth: 13m.
Total time: 91 minutes.
Instructor: Edoardo Pavia.
Attendees: Sam, Richard, David and Darren.
Workshop: Line work.
Narrative:  I laid a route from the 9m platform towards the plane, under the wing, and back through the fuselage.  The pairs then had a number of scenarios including OOG, no mask swims, unexpected lines T’d onto the main line, and valve drills.  Followed by a team, no datum (ie shot or DSMB) ascent.

Lunchtime Tek Talks were France in France (Cave diving in France by Ian France) and Oxygen; is narcotic and poisonous by Martin Robson.  A summary of which can be found on Martin’s blog here (which I should probably read after being publically caught with my eyes closed a little longer than normal).

Dive 8
Maximum depth: 13m.
Total time: 79 minutes.
Instructor: Edoardo Pavia.
Attendees: Ben and Mark.
Workshop: Line work.
Narrative: Similar to the first dive but with the addition of stage cylinders.

The evenings Keynote Talk was Jutland by Kieran Hatton.  Again, an excellent preview to the upcoming talk at Eurotek.  With Thursday being the traditional social evening, most attendees, instructors and staff talked rubbish over a few Deco Pale Ales until the early hours.  Martin Stanton of Vobster came up to me, asked how I've enjoyed the week and commented that Eduardo had praised my performance today.  I left smiling!

Friday 15th July
The last day :(

Dive 9
Maximum depth: 15m.
Total time: 56 minutes.
Instructor: Mark Powell.
Attendees: Robin and Dominic.
Workshop: Line Laying.
Narrative: Line laying and failures with as many obstructions and changes to the line as I could fit in.

TEKCamp concluded with talks on Ghost Fishing by Rich Walker and Eurotek by Roz Lunn, and the prize draw where thousands of pounds of prizes were given away.  Including £100 off a course donated by Suunto, a Britannic 2 drysuit from Otter, a Hollis SMS 75 sidemount system, a Dive Rite twinset backplate, wing and harness, Mares regulators, a Light-for-Me backup light and GoPro video set, Santi clothing, Apeks spools and Tek3 twinset regulators, Human Factors Academy course, a Suunto EON Steel dive computer, a Finn Sub torch, Miflex Hoses, Kubi dry gloves, a camera course by H20 Films, Eurotek weekend pass, £50 Dive Signs vouchers, and an Atomic mask. 

In addition to all of this there were a number of manufacturers and distributors onsite.  In addition to the manufacturers listed within this blog there was also CCR Liberty, Protus CCR, Max Show and Sea and Sea

Outside of my experiences, there were a number of other classes including DPVs and rebreather try-dives.  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.

Are you still unsure?  TEKCamp 2017 is 3 – 7 July 2017.

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: l

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